Before the dethronement of his reason, the tzar had assembled around his bed the chief dignitaries of the empire, and had requested them, as soon as he should be dead, to acknowledge the Empress Catharine as their sovereign. He even took the precaution to exact from them an oath that they would do this. Peter died in the fifty-third year of his age. None of the children whom he had by his first wife survived him. Both of the sons whom he had by the Empress Catharine were also dead. Two daughters still lived. After the Empress Catharine, the next heir to the throne was his grandson, Peter, the orphan child of the guilty Alexis.
Immediately upon the death of the emperor, the senate assembled and unanimously declared Catharine Empress of Russia. In a body, they waited upon Catharine with this announcement, and were presented to her by Prince Menzikoff. The mourning for the tzar was universal and heartfelt. The remains were conveyed to the tomb with all the solemnities becoming the burial of one of the greatest monarchs earth has ever known. Over his remains the empress erected a monument sculptured by the most accomplished artists of Italy, containing the following inscription:
ALL THAT COULD DIE OF A MAN IMMORTAL,
IT IS ALMOST
SUPERFLUOUS TO ADD
GREAT EMPEROR OF RUSSIA;
WHICH, INSTEAD OF ADDING TO HIS GLORY,
BECAME GLORIOUS BY HIS WEARING IT.
LET ANTIQUITY BE DUMB,
NOR BOAST HER ALEXANDER OR HER CAESAR.
HOW EASY WAS VICTORY
TO LEADERS WHO WERE FOLLOWED BY HEROES,
AND WHOSE SOLDIERS FELT A NOBLE DISDAIN
AT BEING THOUGHT LESS VIGILANT THAN THEIR GENERALS!
WHO IN THIS PLACE FIRST KNEW REST,
FOUND SUBJECTS BASE AND INACTIVE,
UNWARLIKE, UNLEARNED, UNTRACTABLE,
NEITHER COVETOUS OF FAME NOR FEARLESS OF DANGER-CREATURES
WITH THE NAMES OF MEN,
BUT WITH QUALITIES RATHER BRUTAL THAN RATIONAL
YET EVEN THESE
HE POLISHED FROM THEIR NATIVE RUGGEDNESS,
AND, BREAKING OUT LIKE A NEW SUN
TO ILLUMINE THE MINDS OF A PEOPLE,
DISPELLED THEIR NIGHT OF HEREDITARY DARKNESS,
AND, BY FORCE OF HIS INVINCIBLE INFLUENCE,
TAUGHT THEM TO CONQUER
EVEN THE CONQUERORS OF GERMANY.
OTHER PRINCES HAVE COMMANDED VICTORIOUS ARMIES;
THIS COMMANDER CREATED THEM.
EXULT, O NATURE! FOR THINE WAS THIS PRODIGY.
BLUSH, O ART! AT A HERO WHO OWED THEE NOTHING;
THE REIGNS OF CATHARINE I. ANNE, THE INFANT IVAN AND ELIZABETH.
From 1725 to 1162.
Energetic Reign of Catharine.—Her Sudden
Death.—Brief Reign of Peter
II.—Difficulties of Hereditary Succession.—A Republic
Contemplated.—Anne, Daughter of Ivan.—The Infant Ivan Proclaimed
King—His Terrible Doom.—Elizabeth, Daughter of Peter the Great
Enthroned.—Character of Elizabeth.—Alliance with Maria
Theresa.—Wars with Prussia.—Great Reverses of Frederic of
Prussia.—Desperate Condition of Frederic.—Death of
Elizabeth.—Succession of Peter III.