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His character, in a few words, is well summed up by Voltaire. He carried all the virtues of a hero to that excess that they became as dangerous as their opposite vices. The obstinacy of his resolution occasioned all his misfortunes in the Ukraine, and kept him five years in Turkey. His liberality degenerating into profusion ruined his kingdom of Sweden. His courage pushed to temerity was the occasion of his death.


justice often amounted to cruelty; and in the last years of his life the maintenance of his authority approached to tyranny. His many great qualities, of which a single one might have immortalised another prince, were the ruin of his country. He never was the first to attack, but he was not always as prudent as he was implacable in his revenge. He was the first who had the ambition to be a conqueror without the desire of aggrandising his dominions. He wished to gain empires only to give them away. His passion for glory, for war, and for revenge, prevented his being a good politician, a quality, without which there can be no great conqueror. Before he gave battle and after he gained a victory he was all modesty; after a defeat he was all resolution, rigid to others as to himself; counting for nothing the fatigues or the lives of his subjects any more than his own. He was, in short, a singular man rather than a great one; a character more to be admired than imitated. His life ought to teach kings how much a pacific government is superior to the acquisition of the greatest glory.

The kingdom of Sweden gained by the death of Charles. She recovered her liberty by the

abolition of the arbitrary power of her sovereigns, and new-modelled the form of her government. His sister succeeded him in the throne, and raised to it her husband Frederick the Landegrave of Hesse Cassel.

The following was the form prescribed for the Swedish government in future. The legislative authority was to be in the diet, which consisted of a certain number of deputies chosen by the nobles, the clergy and the burgesses, and even the peasantry. The executive power was properly in the senate, composed of sixteen persons, where the king presided, and had only the casting vote in certain cases. It was the diet which named to vacancies in the senate, by presenting three subjects for the king to choose one. The principal employments, both civil and military, were filled up by the senate from the king's recommendation. The diet was appointed to be held every three years in the month of January. If it were not assembled at the usual time, every thing done in the interval was declared to be null. They could not declare war without the king's assent. When assembled they could neither conclude peace, truce, nor alliance, without his consent. All laws and ordinances were appointed to be published in the name of the king: but if he absented himself, or delayed his signature too long, the senate were empowered to supply the want of it and sign for him. On ascending the throne, he must take the oath of government before the diet, and was to be declared an enemy of the states, and ipso facto deprived of the throne, in case he violated his engagements.

When the new government was established, the

great plans of the Baron de Gortz were of necessity laid aside. He was adjudged a traitor to his country, for having projected a dangerous war when the nation was exhausted and ruined; and he lost his head for the bad counsels he had given to his late sovereign. The states of Sweden concluded a peace with the king of England, to whom, as sovereign of Hanover, they ceded for a sum of money the duchies of Bremen and Verden. They likewise made peace with Denmark, and soon after with the Czar, who kept all the provinces he had won.

Peter the Great, ever intent on projects of real utility, was at this time preparing for an expedition into Persia, with the design of securing the command of the Caspian sea, and thus bringing the commerce of Persia, and a part of India, into Russia. In 1722, he had gained three provinces of the Persian empire, by concession of the Sophi, to secure his protection against an usurper. Peter was at this time far advanced in life, and was without a child. His only son, Alexis Petrowitz, he had put to death some time before, in a very tragical manner. This youth would have undone all the works of his father. He was a barbarian by nature. He had declared himself an enemy to all improvement and innovation, and consumed his life in the practice of the meanest debaucheries. His father, seeing his disposition to be incorrigible, had ordered him to go into a monastery. The son corresponded with others disaffected as himself. He was at length arrested and condemned, by the voice of one hundred and forty judges, to suffer death as a traitor.

Peter the Great died in the year 1724, and was



succeeded by the czarina Catharine, formerly a young Livonian captive, whom he had taken in his first expedition into those provinces, and who certainly possessed merit equal to the station to

which she was raised.

Besides these various establishments, which we have already taken notice of as made by this illustrious man, in the beginning of his reign, he had during the course of it accomplished a variety of the most useful designs. A court of police was erected at St. Petersburg, a city which he had reared from a despicable collection of fishermen's huts to be one of the most magnificent towns in Europe. This court of police extended its jurisdiction over the whole provinces of the empire, regulating everything which regarded the maintenance of good order, watching over the improvement of trades and manufactures, and fixing the laws of commerce. The public laws of the empire were promulgated in a printed code. The courts of justice which were formerly filled with the nobility, without any trial of their capacity, or previous education requisite for that office, were supplied by Peter with judges of approved knowledge, education, and integrity. In ecclesiastical matters, instead of the office of patriarch which he had very early abolished, he instituted a perpetual synod of twelve members, over whom he himself occasionally presided; and to this tribunal was allotted the supreme ecclesiastical jurisdiction.

With respect to the government, or political constitution, of the empire of Russia, it must be considered as an absolute monarchy. Peter the Great, being the founder of a new constitution, was

sovereign without limitation. His will was law. He aimed, however, at setting some bounds to the power of his successors; and in that view he instituted a senate, which, like the parliament of Paris, should possess the power of ratifying or giving authority to the acts of the sovereign; but in fact, there has ever been so strict a conformity between the will of the prince, and the decrees of this assembly, that the imperial power, instead of being abridged, seems rather to have been strengthened by it.

Such is a brief sketch of the rise of this extraordinary power, which the singular genius of one man was able to rear from the most unpromising materials. By the influence of his single mind, an obscure and barbarous people, almost unknown to history, without arts; without laws; under no regular organisation of government; occupying a thinly-peopled and ill-cultivated country; possessed, in fact, of no political existence,-have, within the course of a single century, overleaped all the intermediate steps of progressive civilisation, and mounted at once to the highest rank among the powers of Europe.

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