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is as unwelcome as mischievous, and we may hope the fire it seeks to kindle, in this instance, will consume, not the intended victim, but the vindictive aggressor. Those who study prophecy declare loudly, that the fulfilment of great events foretold in scripture, but as yet unaccomplished, is rapidly to be expected. Many theories have been promulgated on this subject, which have excited much interest, and would be more convincing, but that they are sometimes contradictory and not always intelligible. On one point only is there perfect unanimity of opinion ; namely, that Russia is to be the prime mover, the exciting cause in the mighty struggle about to commence; but whether she is to issue triumphant from the trial she has 80 wantonly provoked, or to be pared down from her overweening pretensions, and restrained within reasonable limits for the future, is another question in the argument which time only can bring to an uncontradicted solution. As far as the doctrine of chances is open to human calculation, or the transactions of men are regulated by human agency; inasmuch as a good cause is preferable to a bad one, and Providence smiles on the side of justice, we have little to fear for the result, and may buckle on our armour in the confidence of victory. The ambition of the King of the North, like a portentous comet "with fear of change per

THE DESTINY OF RUSSIA.

3

plexing nations,” has long hung over us, exciting undefined'terrors, and a perpetual feverish dread of ruin and combustionthe sword of Damocles for ever threatening to fall. The time appears to have arrived when the string by which it is suspended must be cut, the weapon wrested from the hands that have sharpened it, and turned in retribution on themselves. When Napoleon crossed the Niemen in 1812, with continental Europe obedient to his nod, and an invading army for which history had no parallel since the days of Xerxes, he exclaimed with oracular confidence, “ Let the destinies of Russia be accomplished ! They were, for a time (but in a manner opposite to what he had predicted), in his own discomfiture, and the annihilation of his gallant legions. Perhaps a similar impression stamped itself on the mind of Nicholas, when he ordered the passage of the Pruth, in the summer of 1853, and poured his unwelcome visitants into the defenceless Principalities. The deeply revolved and long-hoarded project of many years then declared itself in spite of diplomatic chicanery and plausible avowals of moderation. An able and well-informed writer (M. Schnitzler, “Secret History of Russia") has said, that the future prospects of his country depend mainly upon the present emperor, and that it seems as if Providence had reserved great

4

NORTHERN AMBITION.

things for him. The prediction may be fulfilled in *an inverted sense, as in the preceding example of Napoleon. Instead of furnishing a parallel in glory and success to the great Emathian conqueror, it seems more likely that he will

pass

into a proverb with Nebuchadnezzar, Crosus, Xerxes, and Darius. The world cannot submit to be periodically disturbed, but calls loudly for the final abatement of an intolerable nuisance. When the sword is once drawn it will not be safe to sheathe it, until the common enemy is effectually crippled, and we can apply to him in essence, if not in reality, the words which Shakspeare puts into the mouth of King Edward, when he brings in his disabled enemy, Warwick, on the field of Barnet:

“So, lie thou there; and with thee die our fear;

For Warwick was a bug, that fear'd us all.”

It is well known, that the Russian autocrat rejected the recent pacific overture of the French emperor peremptorily, and with sufficient want of courtesy. He will not allow the Western powers to interfere with what he calls his private misunderstanding with Turkey. As in a domestic quarrel between man and wife, he considers the interference of strangers unnecessary and impertinent. When he hears of our preparations for an

THE GREEK CHURCH.

5

immediate visit to the Baltic, he may say contemptuously, as his grandmother, Catherine the Second, did to the British ambassador in 1791, under similar circumstances:“ As your Court seems determined to drive me from St. Petersburgh, I hope it will permit me to retire to Constanti

nople.” *

Nicholas is either insane, blinded by systematic ambition, or urged on by fanaticism, and a belief that he is a chosen instrument to place the Greek faith above all other forms of worship, and to establish it as the true symbol of Christianity amongst the different races of men. All these causes have been assigned for his conduct, and either will suffice to carry out the probable consequences. The speeches which are put into the mouths of sovereigns in their desultory conversations on state affairs, are not much to be depended on, either as indicating their real sentiments, or as correctly delivered. If we can trust report, Nicholas has said, that Russia need not fear any coalition, and that after beating Charles the Twelfth, Frederick the Great, and Napoleon, her resources and armies are invincible. In this deduction, truth and falsehood are blended together in almost equal proportions. Some of the

* See “ Progress and Present Position of Russia in the East," London, 1854.

6

CHARLES THE TWELFTH.

abstract facts may be proved, but they bear neither resemblance nor parallel to the present state of affairs, Charles the Twelfth rushed in. cautiously to his own ruin, by holding his enemy in ill-judged contempt. The easy victory of Narva laid the foundation for the disaster of Pultowa. He fell more under his own mistakes than under the power or prowess of his enemy. Napoleon furnished a more memorable instance on a grander scale, and with less excuse, for he had the example of the Swedish monarch before his eyes, while at the same time he adopted, in many respects, and in leading points, the plan of campaign he so emphatically condemned in his predecessor. In either case, the natural obstacles, the elements, and the errors of the invaders, proved the most available defences of Russia. At Narva, on the 30th of November, 1700, ten thousand Swedes stormed the Russian intrenchments, and drove eighty thousand men before them like a flock of sheep. At Pultowa, on the 8th of July, 1709, an exhausted band of twenty-four thousand, containing not more than half the proportion of Swedes, attacked fifty thousand Russians, and almost snatched a victory, until fairly borne down and ovewhelmed by numbers. The king, unable to mount his horse from a previous wound, was not as usual at their head to lead them into the thickest

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