Paul, who was at his country palace, being informed of his mother’s death, and of his accession to the throne, hastened to St. Petersburg. He ordered the tomb of Peter III. to be opened and placed the coffin by the side of that of the empress, with a true love knot reaching from one to the other, containing the inscription, under the circumstances supremely ridiculous, “divided in life—united in death.” They were both buried together with the most sumptuous funeral honors.
The character of Catharine II. is sufficiently portrayed in her marvelous history. The annals of past ages may be searched in vain for her parallel. Two passions were ever predominant with her, love and ambition. Her mind seemed incapable of exhaustion, and notwithstanding the number of her successive favorites, with whom she entered into the most guilty connections, no monarch ever reigned with more dignity or with a more undisputed sway. Under her reign, notwithstanding the desolating wars, Russia made rapid advances in power and civilization. She protected commerce, excited industry, cultivated the arts, encouraged learning, promoted manufactures, founded cities, dug canals, and developed in a thousand ways the wealth and resources of the country. She had so many vices that some have consigned her name to infamy, and so many virtues, that others have advocated her canonization.
By the most careful calculation it is estimated that during the thirty five years of the reign of Catharine, she added over four hundred thousand square miles to the territory of Russia, and six millions of inhabitants. It would be difficult to estimate the multitude of lives and the amount of treasure expended in her ambitious wars. We know of no more affecting comment to be made upon the history of our world, than that it presents such a bloody tragedy, that even the career of Catharine does not stand out in any peculiar prominence of atrocity. God made man but little lower than the angels. He is indeed fallen.
THE REIGN OF PAUL I.
From 1796 to 1801.
Accession of Paul I. to the Throne.—Influence of the Hereditary Transmission of Power.—Extravagance of Paul.—His Despotism.—The Horse Court Martialed.—Progress of the French Revolution.—Fears and Violence of Paul I.—Hostility to Foreigners.—Russia Joins the Coalition against France.—March of Suwarrow.—Character of Suwarrow.—Battle on the Adda.—Battle of Novi.—Suwarrow Marches to the Rhine.—His Defeat and Death.—Paul Abandons the Coalition and Joins France.—Conspiracies at St. Petersburg.