The Empire of Russia eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 503 pages of information about The Empire of Russia.

The revolt was speedily quelled.  The celebrity of her administration soon resounded from one end of Europe to the other.  She presided over the senate; assisted at all the deliberations of the council; read the dispatches of the embassadors; wrote, with her own hand, or dictated the answers, and watched carefully to see that all her orders were faithfully executed.  She studied the lives of the most distinguished men, and was emulous of the renown of those who had been friends and benefactors of the human race.  There has seldom been a sovereign on any throne more assiduously devoted to the cares of empire than was Catharine II.  In one of her first manifestoes, issued the 10th of August of this year, she uttered the words, which her conduct proved to be essentially true,

“Not only all that we have or may have, but also our life itself, we have devoted to our dear country.  We value nothing on our own account.  We serve not ourself.  But we labor with all pains, with all diligence and care for the glory and happiness of our people.”

Catharine found corruption and bribery everywhere, and she engaged in the work of reform with the energies of Hercules in cleansing the Augean stables.  She abolished, indignantly the custom, which had existed for ages, of attempting to extort confession of crime by torture.  It is one of the marvels of human depravity that intelligent minds could have been so imbruted as to tolerate, for a day, so fiend-like a wrong.  The whole system of inquisitorial investigations, in both Church and State, was utterly abrogated.  Foreigners were invited to settle in the empire.  The lands were carefully explored, that the best districts might be pointed out for tillage, for forest and for pasture.  The following proclamation, inviting foreigners to settle in Russia, shows the liberality and the comprehensive views which animated the empress: 

“Any one who is destitute shall receive money for the expenses of his journey, and shall be forwarded to these free lands at the expense of the crown.  On his arrival he shall receive a competent assistance, and even an advance of capital, free of interest, for ten years.  The stranger is exempted from all service, either military or civil, and from all taxes for a certain time.  In these new tracts of land the colonists may live according to their own good-will, under their own jurisdiction for thirty years.  All religions are tolerated.”

Thus encouraged, thousands flocked from Germany to the fresh and fertile acres on the banks of the Volga and the Samara.  The emigration became so great that several of the petty German princes issued prohibitions.  In the rush of adventurers, of the indolent, the improvident and the vicious, great suffering ensued.  Desert wilds were, however, peopled, and the children of the emigrants succeeded to homes of comparative comfort.  Settlers crowded to these lands even from France, Poland and Sweden.  Ten thousand families emigrated to the district of Saratof alone.

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The Empire of Russia from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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