The result of this war, so humiliating to Russia, rendered Ivan very unpopular. Murmurs loud and deep were heard all over the empire. Many of the nobles threw themselves at the feet of the tzar and entreated him not to assent to so disgraceful a treaty, assuring him that the whole nation were ready at his call to rise and drive the invaders from the empire. Ivan was greatly incensed, and petulantly replied that if they were not satisfied with his administration they had better choose another sovereign. Suspecting that his son was inciting this movement, and that he perhaps was aiming at the crown, Ivan assailed him in the bitterest terms of reproach. The young prince replied in a manner which so exasperated his father, that he struck him with a staff which he had in his hand. The staff was tipped with an iron ferule which unfortunately hit the young man on the temple, and he fell senseless at his father’s feet.
The anguish of Ivan was unspeakable. His paroxysm of anger instantly gave place to a more intense paroxysm of grief and remorse. He threw himself upon the body of his son, pressed him fervently to his heart, and addressed him in the most endearing terms of affection and affliction. The prince so far revived as to be able to exchange a few words with his father, but in four days he died. The blow which deprived the son of life, for ever after deprived the father of peace. He was seldom again seen to smile. Any mention of his son would ever throw him into a paroxysm of tears. For a long time he could with difficulty be persuaded to take any nourishment or to change his dress. With the utmost possible demonstrations of grief and respect the remains of the prince were conveyed to the grave. The death of this young man was a calamity to Russia. He was the worthy son of Anastasia, and from his mother he had inherited both genius and moral worth. By a subsequent marriage Ivan had two other sons, Feodor and Dmitri. But they were of different blood; feeble in intellect and possessed no requisites for the exalted station opening before them.
THE STORMS OF HEREDITARY SUCCESSION.
From 1582 to 1608.
Anguish and Death of Ivan IV.—His Character.—Feodor and Dmitri.—Usurpation of Boris Gudenow.—The Polish Election.—Conquest of Siberia.—Assassination of Dmitri.—Death of Feodor.—Boris Crowned King.—Conspiracies.—Reappearance of Dmitri.—Boris Poisoned.—The Pretender Crowned.—Embarrassments of Dmitri.—A New Pretender.—Assassination of Dmitri.—Crowning of Zuski.—Indignation of Poland.—Historical Romance.