RUSSIA UNDER ANNE AND ELIZABETH.
By the late R. NISBET BAIN.
Accession of Anne. Biren. 301
Russia dominated by Germans. 302
Osterman and the Austro-Russian alliance. 303
Beginning of the Russo-Turkish War. 304
Münnich and the first Crimean campaign. 305-6
Campaigns of 1737 and 1738. 307
Results of the Russo-Turkish War. 308
Death of Anne. Accession of Ivan VI. 309
Beginning of Wars of the Austrian Succession. Osterman. 310
The coup d'état of December 6., 1741. 311
Character of Elizabeth Petrovna. Dismissal of Osterman and Münnich. 312
The new Russian Chancellor, Alexis Bestuzheff. 313
Conclusion of the War with Sweden. 314
The "Botta-Lopukhina Conspiracy". 315
Frederick II intrigues against Bestuzheff. 316
Bestuzheff counsels war against Frederick. 317
Triumph of the Austrian party at St Petersburg. 318
Political duel between Frederick and Bestuzheff. 319
Treaties of Westminster and Versailles. 320
Accession of Russia to Franco-Austrian Alliance. 321
Fall of Bestuzheff. 322
Differences between the Allies. Choiseul. 323
Campaign of Kunersdorf. 324
Elizabeth holds the anti-Prussian alliance together. 325
Campaign of 1760. 326
Elizabeth iasists on the permanent crippling of Prussia. 327
Death of Elizabeth Petrovna. Accession of Peter III. 328
RUSSIA UNDER ANNE AND ELIZABETH.
THE government of Anne (whose accession has been described in a previous volume), prudent, beneficial, and even glorious, as it proved to be, was undoubtedly severe, and became at last universally unpopular. The causes of this unpopularity are to be sought in the character of the Empress and the peculiar circumstances under which she ascended the throne. Anna Ivanovna was in her seven and thirtieth year when, in 1730, she came to Russia. Her natural parts, if not brilliant, were at least sound ; but a worse than indifferent education, and a life-long series of petty vexations and humiliations had dwarfed her intelligence and soured her disposition. Her past had not been happy, and she was very uneasy about the future. Her earliest experience of the Russian nobility had been anything but agreeable. They had showed a dangerous disposition to limit, or, at any rate, to define her prerogatives. It was only the energetic intervention of the Guards that had saved the monarchy. Suspicious and resentful, Anne felt that she could never trust the Russian gentry with power. She felt that she must surround her throne with persons entirely devoted to her interests, and these persons, from the nature of the case, could only be foreigners-Germans, Livonians, Courlanders. The chief of these was the favourite Ernst Johann Bühren, or Biren, the grandson of a groom who had risen in the service of Duke Jakob III of Courland. Biren had supplanted Count Peter Bestuzheff in the good graces of Anne while she was still only Duchess of Courland. Handsome and insinuating, with sense enough to conceal his ignorance and roughness beneath a bluff bonhomie, his influence over his mistress was paramount and permanent. On the accession of the new Empress, honours and riches were heaped upon him. At her coronation (May 19,1730) he was made Grand Chamberlain and a Count of the Empire. During the latter years of the reign, Biren's power and riches increased enormously. His apartments in the palace adjoined those of the Empress ; his liveries, furniture, and equipages were scarcely inferior to her own. Half the bribes intended for the Russian Court passed into his coffers. He had estates in Livonia,
Courland, Siberia, and the Ukraine. A special department of State looked after his brood mares and stallions. His riding-school was one of the sights of the Russian capital. The magnificence of his plate astonished the French ambassador, and the diamonds of his Duchess (a Fräulein von Treiden) were the envy of princes. The climax of this wondrous elevation was reached when, in the course of 1737, the Estates of Courland, under considerable pressure, elected Ernst Johann their reigning Duke. Henceforth his Most Serene Highness received all the honours due to sovereigns and, together with his consort, took his seat at the imperial table.
Another Livonian, Carl Gustaf Löwenwolde, was created a Count and made Grand Marshal of her Majesty's household; while his brother, Reinhold, a few months later, was (September 30) nominated Colonel of the newly raised regiment of foot-guards, consisting of 2000 gentlemen, mostly Livonians, henceforth known as the Ismailovski regiment, from Ismailovo, the Empress' favourite summer residence near Moscow. The all-important post of Commander-in-chief was (in 1732) bestowed upon yet another foreigner, the great engineer and contractor of the famous Ladoga canal, Burkhard Christoph von Münnich, who had entered the service of Peter the Great in 1721 and became, in rapid succession, War Minister, Field-Marshal, a Count, and Governor of St Petersburg. Foreign affairs remained in the capable hands of a fifth German, Count Osterman, whom everyone now regarded as indispensable.
Thus the principle of Anne's government was a reversal of the patriotic golden rule of Peter the Great : natives first, aliens afterwards. For the first time in her history, Russia was now dominated by foreigners. It must be admitted that, to some extent at least, the Russians themselves were to blame for this unnatural state of things. No sooner had the controlling hand of Peter been withdrawn than his pupils began to quarrel among themselves, and their mutual jealousies and hatreds had ended in the extermination of the Russian party. MenshikofF had ruined Tolstoi, the Dolgorukis and the Galitsins had ruined MenshikofF, Yaguzhinski had destroyed the Dolgorukis and the Galitsins, and now Yaguzhinski himself, the sole survivor of the little band of capable native statesmen whom Peter the Great had left behind him, was honourably exiled by being accredited as Russian ambassador to Berlin, to prevent him from interfering with Osterman. The cruel persecution of the Dolgorukis and the Galitsins in 1732, and again in 1738-9, carried on chiefly to allay Biren's craven fears of purely imaginary conspiracies, exasperated the Russian gentry still more against the German tyranny; but it is only just to add that the unpopularity of Anne's rule was due quite as much to its rigorous enforcement of order and discipline as to its cruel unfairness to the great Boyar families. The policy of the two preceding reigns had been purposely and consistently easy-going ; and, although such laxity had been injurious to the State in many ways, it had made Catharine I
Anne, it must also be added, for all her vindictiveness towards individuals, seems really to have endeavoured to do her duty towards her subjects in the mass. She was, as a rule at any rate, prudent, careful, and conscientious. She had a natural turn for business; loved order and method ; took some pains to get at the truth of matters ; and was always ready to consult people more experienced in affairs than herself, notably Osterman and Munnich, both of them men of extraordinary talent, who-even the patriots could not deny this- devoted all their energy to promote the honour and glory of their adopted country. At the very beginning of the reign, shortly after the restoration of the Administrative Senate, Osterman persuaded Anne to establish an inner Council, or Cabinet, of three persons only (the Grand Chancellor, Count Golovkin, Prince Alexis Cherkaski, both of them nonentities, and Osterman himself), which was presided over by the Empress and acted as the sole intermediary between her Majesty and all the Departments of State. Established ostensibly for the prompter despatch of business, it enabled Osterman, at the same time, to shake off troublesome rivals, and certainly gave him a free hand in his own special Department of Foreign Affairs, which he thoroughly understood.
The pivot of Osterman's political "system" was the Austrian alliance, of which he was the original promoter and the most devoted champion. France, on the other hand, he regarded with ineradicable suspicion. In 1732 he persuaded the Cabinet to reject the offer of an alliance made by Louis XV, through Magnan, his chargé d'affaires at St Petersburg, on condition that Russia supported the candidature of the French King's father-in-law, Stanislaus Leszczynski, for the Polish throne on the next vacancy. It would be far better, Osterman urged on this occasion, to bring about a league between the three Black Eagles to protect the White Eagle. When, after the death of Augustus II, Stanislaus was actually elected King of Poland, Osterman, with the aid of Austria, drove him out and procured the election of Augustus III. He also accelerated the pace of the negotiations which ultimately concluded the War of the Polish Succession, by despatching Peter Lacy at the head of 20,000 men to unite with the Imperial forces on the banks of the Neckar-the first appearance of
The Turkish War of 1736-9 marks the beginning of that systematic struggle on the part of Russia to recover her natural and legitimate southern boundaries, which was to last throughout the eighteenth century, finally succeeding after the expenditure of millions of lives and an incalculable quantity of treasure. The possession of the shores of the Euxine and the circumjacent tracts was as necessary to the complete and normal development of the Russian Empire as was the possession of the recently acquired shores of the Baltic. Again, these regions, infested as they were by the innumerable predatory tribes dependent on the Porte, were a standing danger to the Russian Government. Moreover, even as late as the middle of the eighteenth century, Turkey had the entire control of the five great rivers-the Dniester, the
Bug, the Dnieper, the Don, and the Kuban-that drain southern Russia and, consequently, could control, and even suspend at will, no inconsiderable portion of her neighbour's commerce. The most powerful vassal of the Sultan in these parts was the Khan of the Crimea, who, from his capital at Bagchaserai, ruled over all the scattered Tartar hordes from the Dnieper to the Don. The Crimea at this time was very rich. The Steppes poured the inexhaustible wealth of their flocks and herds into it, and the trade between the peninsula and Turkey was enormous. Kosloff, the chief port on its western side, exported 200,000 head of cattle and an incalculable quantity of grain to Stambul every year, while the still more prosperous Kaff'a on the east coast was, perhaps, the largest slave-mart in the world. Hitherto the Crimea had been generally regarded as impregnable. On the land side the lines of Perekop, a deep trench, five-and-twenty fathoms broad, defended by an earthen wall eight fathoms high, and nearly five English miles long, protected the narrow isthmus which united the peninsula to the mainland, while the fortress of Azoff, at the head of the sea of the same name, commanded the Delta of the Don, and was thought a sufficient defence against any attack from the north-east. In order to keep out the Tartars from Central Russia, and, at the same time, to form a base for future operations against them, Peter the Great had conceived the gigantic project of connecting the rivers Dnieper and Donetz by a chain of fortifications a hundred leagues in length, to which he proposed to give the name of the lines of the Ukraine. The work began in 1731, six years after the Emperor's death, and, completed in 1738, only partially fulfilled its double purpose. The ground covered was too extensive to be adequately guarded. The forts were placed so far apart that the Tartars were able to pass and repass the lines continually, despite all the efforts of the Russians. Nevertheless, this system of fortification was to prove an invaluable point d'appui for armies operating against the Turks ; and here, in the early autumn of 1735, Marshal Münnich arrived for the purpose of collecting his forces.
The plan of campaign, as finally arranged by Münnich with his colleague and fellow Marshal Peter Lacy, was as follows. The enemy was to be attacked from all sides simultaneously, Münnich invading the Crimea while Lacy besieged AzofF. So soon as Münnich had stormed the lines of Perekop, he was to detach 12,000 against the fortress of Kinburn on Dnieper to prevent the Budjak Tartars from crossing that river by way of Ochakoff, whilst Lacy, after capturing AzofF, was to hasten to the support of Munnich's army. On April 20, 1736, Münnich began his march across the steppes to Perekop. His army, including the Cossacks, numbered 57,000 men. For 330 miles his way lay through a wilderness. The first brush with the Tartars, at Chernaya Dolina, was so easily repulsed that for the rest of the campaign these nomads were treated as a negligible quantity. So long as the army encountered them in square
On May 15, Munnich arrived at the lines of Perekop. On the evening of May 19 its central fortress, Or-Kapi, feebly defended by Janizaries and other Turkish regulars, was captured by assault, and the wealthy town of Perekop behind it was abandoned to pillage. From Perekop the Russians, who now began to suffer severely from dysentery and other diseases, advanced upon Kosloff, which was abandoned by 'the enemy on their approach (June 5). On the 17th the Crimean capital, Bagchaserai, was captured by the Cossacks, after a sharp fight which cost them 300 men. Münnich's further progress was arrested by a dangerous mutiny in his own army, which compelled him to return first to Perekop and thence to the lines of the Ukraine. Lacy, meanwhile, had been equally successful before Azoff, though there he had encountered a far stouter resistance than his brother Marshal had met with anywhere in the Crimea. The garrison consisted of picked men ; and the Seraskier inflicted so much damage upon the besiegers that, after a seven weeks' siege, they allowed him and his garrison to march out with all the honours of war (June 30). Then, on hearing that Munnich had already quitted the Crimea for the Ukraine, Lacy followed his example.
The campaign of 1736 had been very costly to the Russians. Munnich alone had lost no fewer than 30,000 men out of a total of 57,000, and of these not more than 2000 had fallen in action. At Court, people naturally began to ask what was the use of a campaign in which half the army had been thrown away for next to nothing. Nevertheless, dissatisfied as she was with Munnich, the Empress could not afford to lose him ; and, glad as the Russian Ministers would have been to see an honourable end put to the war (especially in view of the consistent ill-success of their Austrian ally on the Danube), they were, to quote the English envoy at St Petersburg, Claudius Rondeau, " ashamed to own it after all the great things they had proposed to do." Their hopes, too, were revived by the assurances of the new Russian resident at Stambul, Vishnyakoff, that everything in Turkey was in the utmost confusion, and that the slightest disaster would bring the crumbling edifice to the ground.
At the end of April, 1737, Munnich took the field for the second time. His army now consisted of 70,000 men, and he was supported by two officers of great ability, General James Francis Keith, who had
A Peace Congress, which assembled (1737-8) at the little frontier town of Nemiroff, having proved abortive, owing, chiefly, to the exorbitance of the Russian demands, the war had to be resumed. The campaign of 1738 was entirely barren. Munnich had intended to invade the Danubian Principalities ; but an outbreak of plague paralysed his operations. Indeed, in this campaign, he lost more men, horses and bullocks than in any other. Lacy was, from similar causes, equally unfortunate in the Crimea.
In the spring of 1738 the allies, weary of the war, accepted the mediation of France. But the Turks, elated by their recent victories in Hungary, and relieved from all pressure from the east (Kuli Khan, who in 1736 had ascended the Persian throne under the name of Nadir Shah, having, in the meantime, turned his arms against the Great Moghul), refused acceptance of the very moderate terms now offered by the Empress Anne, who would have been content with Azoff and its district. It was clear, therefore, to the Russian Cabinet that another campaign must be fought. It was resolved to cooperate, this time, energetically with the Austrians by invading Moldavia and proceeding to invest the fortress of Chocim on Dniester. At the end of May, 1739, Munnich quitted the Ukraine with an army 65,000 strong. On August 27, he defeated the Turks at the relatively bloodless battle of Stavuchanak, the Russians losing only 70 men during an action which lasted twelve hours, while the Turks left no more than 1000 dead on the field. The next day, Munnich advanced with all his siege artillery against Chocim,
Nevertheless, despite its seemingly meagre results, much more had been gained by this five years' war than was, at first sight, apparent. Miinnich had, at least, dissipated the illusion of Ottoman invincibility. The Tartar hordes might still, for a time, continue to be a plague, but they had ceased for ever to be a terror to Russia. Again, Russia's signal and unexpected successes on the steppe had immensely increased her prestige in Europe. The progress of the Russian arms had been followed with intense interest both at London and Paris. Horace Walpole, in acknowledging the receipt of Miinnich's map of the Crimea from Rondeau in 1736, remarked that the eyes of all the world were fixed upon the lines of Perekop. A year later, Rondeau himself observed of Russia, with some apprehension, that " this Court begins to have a great deal to say in the affairs of Europe." Cardinal Fleury was even more disturbed. " Russia in respect to the equilibrium of the north," he wrote, in his secret instructions to the Marquis de La Chétardie, the new French ambassador at St Petersburg, "has mounted to too high a degree of power and its union with the House of Austria is extremely dangerous." Indeed, after the Peace of Belgrade, the Russian alliance alone gave to Austria so much as the semblance of independence. The obvious way to render this alliance unserviceable to the Emperor was to involve Russia in hostilities with some other Power. Sweden which, even now, was, chiefly from her geographical position, of more account in the European concert than either Prussia or Holland, was regarded by the Court of Versailles as the instrument most useful for its purposes, especially after the rise at Stockholm, about this time, of the warlike Hat party, described below. Instigated by France, whose ample subsidies, paid three years in advance, replenished their empty coffers, the Hats in 1738 indulged in a series of warlike demonstrations, designed
The Empress Anne had been more perturbed than her Ministers by the Swedish complication, as Peterhof, where she resided during the summer of 1740, was within easy reach of a Swedish fleet. But all her alarms were forgotten when, in August of the same year, she held in her arms at the font the eagerly expected heir to the throne. This little Prince was the first-born of the Princess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, the Empress' niece, whom on the death of the girl's mother (her own favourite sister Catharine Ivanovna) she had adopted. From the first, Anne had determined that this young Princess (who, in 1733, was received into the Greek Church, changing her German name of Elizabeth Catharine Christina to that of Anna Leopoldovna) should be the mother of the future Tsar ; and in July, 1739, Anna Leopoldovna was married to the youthful Prince Antony Ulric of Brunswick-Wolfenbiittel, who was brought to Russia for that express purpose and educated there at the Empress' cost. Only six weeks after the birth of the child the Empress (October 16), while at table, had a fit of apoplexy and was removed insensible to her own room. On her death-bed, at Biren's urgent request, though greatly against her own better judgment, she appointed him Regent during the minority of her great-nephew, who was proclaimed immediately after her death as Ivan VI.
Anne died on October 17, 1740. Three weeks later the ex-Regent was on his way to Siberia in consequence of a smart little coup d'état organised by Marshal Munnich, who thereupon proclaimed the mother of the baby Emperor Regent, while he assumed all real power with the title of " Premier-Minister." By the ukase of February 8,1741, Osterman, who had been ousted by Munnich, was reinstated in the direction of foreign affairs by the Regent, who had begun to dread the restlessness of the Marshal. Munnich, in great dudgeon, and believing himself to be indispensable, hereupon sent in his resignation (March 14), which, to his chagrin, was accepted on the same afternoon. " Count Osterman," wrote La Chétardie to his Court shortly afterwards, "has never been so great or so powerful as he is now. It is not too much to say that he is Tsar of all Russia."
The new Government had scarce been constituted, when it was confronted by a political event of the first importance, the outbreak of
Elizabeth Petrovna was born on December 18, 1709, on the day of her father's triumphal entry into his capital after the victory of Poltawa. From her earliest years the child delighted everyone by her extraordinary beauty and vivacity. She was still one of the handsomest women in Europe ; and even six years later Lord Hyndford described her as " worthy of the admiration of all the world." Her natural parts were excellent ; but her education had been both imperfect and desultory. On the death of her mother, and the departure from Russia, three months later, of her beloved sister Anne, Duchess of Holstein-Gottorp (1727), the Princess, at the age of 18, was left pretty much to herself. As her father's daughter, she was obnoxious to the Dolgorukis, who kept her away from the Court during the reign of Peter II. Robust and athletic, she delighted in field-sports, hunting, and violent exercise ; but she had inherited much of her father's sensual temperament ; and her life in the congenial environment of Moscow had been far from edifying. During the reign of her cousin Anne, Elizabeth effaced herself as much as possible, well aware that the Empress, of whom she stood in some awe, regarded her as a possible supplanter. She never seems to have thought of asserting her rights to the throne till the idea was suggested to her by La Chétardie and his Swedish colleague, Nolcken, who communicated with her through her French physician Armand Lestocq. Frequent collisions with the Regent, Anna Leopoldovna, whom she despised, and with Osterman, whom she hated for setting her aside in favour of aliens and foreigners, though he owed everything himself to her father and mother, first awakened her ambition ; but her natural indolence was very difficult to overcome. Not till December 5, 1741, when the Guards quartered in the capital, on whom Elizabeth principally relied, were ordered to hold themselves in readiness to proceed to the seat of war, did she take the decisive step. That night a hurried and anxious conference of her partisans, foremost among whom were Lestocq, her chamberlain Michael VorontsofF, her favourite and future husband, the Cossack, Alexis Razum-offsky, and Alexander and Peter Shuvaloff, two of the gentlemen of her household, was held at her house. The result of their deliberations was that Elizabeth buckled on a cuirass, armed herself with a demi-pike, and, proceeding to the barracks of the Guards, won them over by a spirited harangue at two o'clock in the morning. Then, at the head of a regiment of the Preobrazheusk Grenadiers, she sledged, over the snow, to the Winter Palace, where the Regent lay sleeping in absolute security, arresting all her real or suspected adversaries, including Osterman and Münnich, on her way. The Regent, aroused from her slumbers by Elizabeth herself, submitted quietly and was conveyed to Elizabeth's sledge. The baby Tsar and his little sister followed behind on a second sledge. In less than an hour, bloodlessly and noiselessly, the revolution had been accomplished. Even so late as eight o'clock the next morning, very few people in the city were aware that, during the night, Elizabeth
Petrovna had been raised to her father's throne on the shoulders of the Preobrazhensk Grenadiers.
Thus, at the age of three and thirty, this naturally indolent and self-indulgent woman, with little knowledge and no previous training or experience of affairs, was suddenly placed at the head of a vast empire at one of the most critical periods of its existence. La Chétardie had already expressed his conviction that Elizabeth, once on the throne, would banish all foreigners, however able, give her entire confidence to necessarily ignorant Russians, retire to her well-beloved Moscow, let the fleet rot, and utterly neglect St Petersburg and "the conquered provinces," as the Baltic seaboard was still called. Unfortunately for his calculations, La Chétardie, while exaggerating the defects, had ignored the good qualities, of the new Empress. For, with all her short-comings, Elizabeth was no ordinary woman. Her possession of the sovereign gift of choosing and using able counsellors, her unusually sound and keen judgment, and her bluff but essentially business-like joviality, again and again recall Peter the Great. What to her impatient contemporaries often seemed irresolution or sluggishness, was, generally, suspense of judgment in exceptionally difficult circumstances, and her ultimate decision was generally correct. If to this it is added that the welfare of her beloved country always lay nearest to her heart, and that she was ever ready to sacrifice the prejudices of the woman to the duties of the sovereign, we shall recognise, at once, that Russia did well at this crisis to place her destinies in the hands of Elizabeth Petrovna.
It is true that, as La Chétardie had predicted, almost the first act of Elizabeth was to disgrace and exile all the foreigners who had held sway during the last two reigns. Osterman could expect little mercy from a Princess whom all his life long he had consistently neglected and despised. Elizabeth had often declared that she would one day teach " that petty little secretary" his proper place. She was now as good as her word. Osterman was charged with having contributed to the elevation of the Empress Anne by his cabals, and with having suppressed the will of Catharine I in favour of her eldest daughter. He replied, with dignity, that all he had ever done had been for the good of the State. His principal fellow-victim, Miinnich, was accused of having wasted his men during the Crimean campaigns. He referred to his own despatches in justification of his conduct, and declared that the only thing in the past he really regretted was having neglected to hang Prince Nikita Trubetskoy, the President of the Tribunal actually trying him, for malversation of funds while serving under him as chief of the commissariat. Osterman, Miinnich, and four other fallen dignitaries, were condemned to death ; but their sentences were commuted on the scaffold to life-long banishment in Siberia. Osterman died at Berezoff six years later. Münnich was sent to Pelim, to reside in the very house which he had himself designed for the reception of Biren, whom, by a singular irony of fate, he
The best justification of Elizabeth for thus abruptly extinguishing the illustrious foreigners who had done so much to build up the Russian Empire was that she placed at the head of affairs a native Russian statesman whom, personally, she greatly disliked, but whose genius and experience she rightly judged to be indispensable to Russia at that particular moment. This was Alexis Bestuzheff", the youngest and most precocious of Peter the Great's " fledglings," who had begun his diplomatic career at the early age of nineteen, when he served as second Russian plenipotentiary at the Congress of Utrecht. From 1717 to 1720 he had occupied the honourable but peculiar post of Hanoverian Minister at St Petersburg, subsequently representing Russia at Copenhagen from 1721 till the death of Peter I. For the next fifteen years, for some inexplicable reason, he fell into the background. Towards the end of the reign of Anne, however, Biren recalled him to Russia to counterbalance the influence of Osterman ; but he fell with his patron, and only reemerged from the obscurity of disgrace on the accession of Elizabeth. He drew up the first ukase of the new Empress, and at the end of the year 1741 was made Vice-Chancellor.
It is difficult to diagnose the character of this sinister and elusive statesman. He seems to have been a moody, taciturn hypochondriac, full of wiles and ruses, preferring to work silently and subterraneously. Inordinate love of power was certainly his ruling passion, and he hugged it the more closely as he had had to bide his time till he was nearly fifty. He was a man who remorselessly crushed his innumerable enemies ; yet, in justice, it must be added that his enemies were also, for the most part, those of his country, and that nothing could turn him a hair's breadth from the policy which he considered to be best suited to the interests of the State. This true policy he alone, for a long time, of all his contemporaries, had the wisdom to discern and the courage to pursue. BestuzhefF's most serious fault as a diplomatist was that he put far too much temper and obstinacy into his undertakings. His prejudices were always invincible. On the other hand, he was quite fearless and absolutely incorruptible.
The first care of the new Empress, after abolishing the Cabinet system which had prevailed during the reigns of the two Annes, and reconstituting the Administrative Senate, as it had been under Peter the Great, was to compose her quarrel with Sweden. As already indicated, the sudden collapse of Sweden had come as a disagreeable surprise to the Court of Versailles. To baulk Russia of the fruits of her triumph, by obtaining the best possible terms for discomfited Sweden, was now the main object of the French diplomatists in the north. La Chétardie was accordingly instructed to offer the mediation of France, and to use all his efforts for cajoling the new Empress into an abandonment OH. x.
The French Government had discovered that nothing was to be hoped from Russia, so long as Bestuzheff held the direction of foreign affairs. To overthrow him as speedily as possible, therefore, now became the primary object of the Court of Versailles and its allies. This determination to rid the league which proposed to partition the Habsburg dominions of the obnoxious Minister is the only clue to the unravelling of that intricate web of intrigue and counter-intrigue which has made the seven first years of the reign of Elizabeth Petrovna such a diplomatic puzzle. Bestuzheff, like Osterman before him, was on principle opposed to France, as the natural antagonist of Russia in Turkey, Poland and Sweden, where the interests of the two States were diametrically opposed to each other. Like Osterman, therefore, he leant upon the Austrian alliance. But the policy of the alert and enterprising Bestuzheff had a far wider range than that of the slow and cautious Osterman. Starting from the assumption that the norm of Russia's proper policy at this period was hostility to France, he insisted that all her enemies must necessarily be the friends, and all her friends the enemies, of Russia. The most active ally of France, the aggressive King of Prussia, was especially to be guarded against, whereas the friendship of Great Britain, the secular antagonist of France, must be sedulously cultivated. Bestuzheff consequently aimed at a combination of all the enemies of France and Prussia which, in the first instance, was to take the form of a quadruple alliance between
Russia, Austria, Great Britain and Saxony. Here, however, he was on dangerously slippery ground, where a single stumble might mean irretrievable ruin ; for the representatives of the three Powers whom he wished to bring into line with Russia had all been active and ardent supporters of Anna Leopoldovna, and as such had done their best to keep Elizabeth from the throne altogether. Of this the Empress was, by this time, well aware. Her antipathies, therefore, were very naturally directed against those Powers which had been her adversaries while she was only Tsesarevna ; and it required some courage on the part of Bestu/heff to defend a policy which, indispensable as it might be, was abhorrent to his sovereign for strong personal reasons. Moreover, the intimate personal friends of the Empress, headed by Lestocq, all of them extremely jealous of the superior talents and rising influence of Bestuzheff, were now in the pay of France and Prussia, and ready, at the bidding of the French chargé d'affaires, d'Allion, to embark in any project for overthrowing the philo-Austrian Vice-Chancellor. The expedient finally adopted was a bogus conspiracy alleged to be on foot for the purpose of replacing on the throne Prince Ivan (who, since the revolution, had been detained, provisionally, with his parents, at the fortress of Dunamunde)-a conspiracy which, very ingeniously, was made to include most of Elizabeth's former rivals at her cousin's Court, such as Natalia Lopukhina and the Countess Anna Garielevna, consort of Michael Bestuzheff, the Vice-Chancellor's elder brother. The former Austrian ambassador, Marquis de Botta, was alleged to be the chief promoter of the affair. This trumped-up conspiracy was "miraculously discovered" by Lestocq and burst upon the Empress in August, 1743. After a rigid inquisition of twenty-five days, during which every variety of torture was freely employed against the accused, " the terrible plot," says the new English Minister, Sir Cyril Wych, "was found to be little more than the ill-considered discourses of a couple of spiteful passionate women." Nevertheless, the two ladies principally concerned had their tongues publicly torn out before being sent to Siberia ; and the Russian ambassador at Vienna was instructed to demand Botta's condign punishment. This was done at a special audience ; whereupon Maria Theresa, with her usual spirit, declared that she would never admit the validity of extorted evidence, and issued a manifesto to all the Great Powers defending Botta and accusing the Russian Court of rank injustice.
Thus Lestocq, or rather the anti-Austrian League of which he was the tool, had succeeded in mutually estranging the Courts of St Petersburg and Vienna ; and the result of the "Lopukhina trial " was hailed as a great diplomatic victory at Paris. But the caballers had failed to bring Bestuzheff'to the block or even "to drive him into some obscure hole in the country," as d'Allion had confidently predicted they would. At the very crisis of his peril, when his own sister-in-law was implicated, the Empress, always equitable when not frightened into ferocity, had privately
In the extremity of her distress, Maria Theresa sent a special envoy, Count Rosenberg, to St Petersburg, to express her horror at Botta's alleged misconduct, and placed herself and her fortunes unreservedly in the hands of her imperial sister. For two months Elizabeth hesitated while the anti-Bestuzheff clique did all in its power to prevent any assistance being sent to the distressed Queen of Hungary. But Bestuzheff was now growing stronger and stronger every day. By the aid of his secretary, Goldbach, he had succeeded in unravelling La Chetardie's cipher correspondence and furnished the Empress with extracts alluding in the most disparaging terms to herself. These Bestuzheff accompanied by elucidatory comments. Furious at the treachery of the ever gallant and deferential Marquis, the Empress immediately dictated to Bestuzheff a memorandum commanding La Chétardie to quit her capital within 24 hours. On June 17,1744, he was escorted to the frontier. Six weeks later Elizabeth identified herself emphatically with the anti-French policy of her Minister by promoting him to the rank of Grand Chancellor. Bestuzheff now energetically represented to the Empress the necessity of interfering in the quarrel between Frederick II and the Queen of Hungary. He described the King of Prussia as a restless agitator, whose character was made up of fraud and violence. He had violated the Treaty of Breslau ; he was secretly stirring up Turkey against Russia ; he had impudently used neutral Saxon territory as a stepping-stone to Bohemia ; he had procured the dissolution of the Grodno Diet to prevent the discovery of his anti-Russian intrigues, thus aiming a direct blow at the supremacy which Russia had enjoyed in Poland ever since the days of Peter the Great. The balance of power in Europe should be restored instantly, and at any cost, by reducing Frederick to his proper place.
These representations, all of them substantially correct, profoundly impressed the Empress. In the beginning of 1745 she gave a clear proof of her reconciliation with Austria by bluntly refusing Frederick a succour of 6000 men, though bound by her last defensive treaty with Prussia to assist him. Bestuzheff then submitted to the British Government an intervention project, which was rejected as too onerous and exorbitant; while Frederick, thoroughly alarmed, offered Bestuzheff 100,000 crowns, if he would acquiesce in Prussians appropriating another slice of Silesia, an offer which the Russian Chancellor haughtily rejected. Frederick's subsequent declaration of war against Saxony greatly agitated the Russian Court ; and three successive Ministerial councils (August- September, 1745), inspired by Bestuzheff, unanimously advised an armed intervention. Elizabeth thereupon signed an ukase commanding that the 60,000 men stationed in Esthonia and Livonia should at once advance into Courland, so as to be nearer the Prussian frontier and ready for any emergency. A manifesto was also addressed to the King of Prussia,
Bestuzheff had been unable to prevent the conclusion of the Peace of Dresden, December 25, 1745 ; yet the menacing attitude of the Russian Chancellor had contributed to make the King of Prussia, despite his recent victories, moderate his demands. Moreover, Frederick now played into Bestuzheff's hands by indulging in one of those foolish jests for which he had so often to pay dear. Before departing for Saxony, he had requested the mediation of both Russia and Turkey, at the same time remarking with a sneer, at a public reception, that, in his opinion, the mediation of a Turk was every whit as good as the mediation of a Greek. Elizabeth, promptly informed of this, was wounded in her tenderest point. That she, the devout mother of all the Orthodox, should be placed in the same category with the successor of the False Prophet revolted her, and her sentiments towards "the Nadir Shah of Berlin," as she called the King of Prussia, completely changed. Henceforth political antagonism and private pique combined to make her the most determined adversary of Frederick II.
The political triumph of the Austrian party at St Petersburg is to be dated from the conclusion of the defensive alliance of June 2, 1745, whereby each of the contracting parties agreed to aid the other, within three months of being attacked, with 30,000 men or, in case Prussia was the aggressor, with 60,000. Frederick saw in this compact a veiled plan for attacking him on the first opportunity, and in the course of the same summer formed another plot to overthrow Bestuzheff, which only recoiled on the heads of its promoters in St Petersburg. Bestuzheff's subsequent endeavours to round off his system by contracting an alliance with Great Britain was partially realised by the Treaty of St Petersburg (December 9, 1747). The victories of Maurice de Saxe in the Austrian Netherlands, and the consequent danger to Holland, were the causes of the somewhat belated rapprochement. By the terms of this Treaty, the Empress, besides agreeing to hold a corps of observation, 30,000 strong, on the Courland frontier, at the disposal of Great Britain for ,£100,000 a year, engaged to despatch Prince Vasily Repnin with another corps of 30,000 to the Rhine, on condition that ,£300,000 a year was paid for these troops by England and Holland, four months in advance. The tidings of the approach of Repnin's army sufficed to induce France to accelerate the peace negotiations, and, on April 30, 1748, a preliminary
Never yet had Russia stood so high in the estimation of Europe as in the autumn of 1748 ; and she owed her commanding position entirely to the tenacity of purpose of the Grand Chancellor. In the face of apparently insurmountable obstacles, Bestuzheff had honourably extracted his country from the Swedish imbroglio; reconciled his imperial mistress with the Courts of London and Vienna ; reestablished friendly relations with these Powers ; freed Russia from the yoke of foreign influence ; compelled both Prussia and France to abate their pretensions in the very hour of their victory; and, finally, isolated the restless, perturbing King of Prussia by environing him with hostile alliances.
The seven years which succeeded the War of the Austrian Succession were little more than an armed truce between apprehensive and dissatisfied adversaries-an indispensable breathing-space between a past contest which everyone felt to have been inconclusive, and a future contest which everyone knew to be inevitable. Both the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle and that of Breslau had been forced from without upon active belligerents. In the first case, the unexpected intervention of Russia had arrested the triumphal progress of the French armies; in the second, the sudden desertion of England had compelled Austria to surrender Silesia to the King of Prussia. The consequences of these prematurely suppressed hostilities were an unnatural tension between the various European Powers, a loosening of time-honoured alliances, and a cautious groping after newer and surer combinations. But Frederick was uneasy in the midst of his triumphs, and, far from diminishing his armaments after the war was over, prudently increased them. He had, indeed, nothing to fear at present from exhausted Austria; but the attitude of Russia continued as menacing as ever. In the autumn of 1750, Frederick, incensed beyond measure by an imperial rescript issued by Bestuzheff ordering all Russian subjects natives of the Baltic Provinces actually in the Prussian service to return to their homes, deliberately insulted the Russian resident at Berlin, Gross, who was thereupon recalled (October 25), and diplomatic intercourse between the two countries was suspended.
All this time Bestuzheff had been doing his utmost to promote his favourite project of a strong Anglo-Russian alliance with the object of "still further clipping the wings of the King of Prussia." But the Empress, who throughout these protracted negotiations exhibited a truer political instinct than her Chancellor, was by no means disposed to tie her own hands in order to oblige England. She perceived clearly, what Bestuzheff did not or would not recognise, that the interests of the two States at this period were too divergent to admit of any alliance profitable to Russia being formed between them. For more than three years all the arguments of the Chancellor were powerless to move her. At
Frederick had been beforehand with his adversaries. Recognising the fact that decadent France could no longer be profitable to him, and alarmed by the rumours of the impending negotiations between Great Britain and Russia, he calculated that the chances, on the whole, were in favour of the superior usefulness of an English alliance, and (January 16, 1756) signed the Treaty of Westminster with Great Britain, whereby the two contracting Powers agreed to unite their forces to oppose the entry into or the passage through Germany, of the troops of any other foreign Power. The Treaty of Westminster precipitated the conclusion of the Franco-Austrian rapprochement which the Austrian Chancellor Kaunitz had been long preparing. On May 1, 1756, a defensive alliance, directed against Prussia, was formed at Versailles between the French and Austrian Governments. To this treaty Russia, Sweden, and Saxony were to be invited to accede.
The position of the Russian Chancellor was now truly pitiable. He had expended all his energy in carrying through an alliance with Great Britain which was now only so much '.»waste paper. He had repeatedly declared that Prussia could never unite with Great Britain, or Austria with France, and now both these alleged impossibilities had actually taken place. No wonder that the Empress lost all confidence in him, especially as he still clung obstinately to a past condition of things, and refused to bow to the inexorable logic of accomplished facts. He was well aware that, if Great Britain could no longer be counted upon for help against Prussia, the assistance of France would be indispensable ; yet so inextinguishable was his hatred of France that he could not reconcile himself to the idea of an alliance with that Power in any circumstances. Consequently, his whole policy, henceforth, became purely obstructive and therefore purely mischievous.
The course of events in Russia demonstrated that his influence was already gone. At the second sitting (February 22, 1756) of the newly established "Ministerial Conference," a permanent and paramount Department of State formed early in 1756, to advise the Empress on all matters relating to foreign affairs, Elizabeth decided that England's treaty with Prussia had nullified all the existing Anglo-Russian conventions. At its third session (March 14), the Conference determined to invite the Courts of Versailles, Vienna and Stockholm to cooperate with Russia " to reduce the King of Prussia within proper limits so that he might no longer be a danger to the German Empire," thus anticipating by nearly two months the Treaty of Versailles. It then decreed that the army should be mobilised forthwith, so as to spur Austria on to more rapid action. The Austrian ambassador at St Petersburg was, at the same time, instructed to inform his Court that the Russian Empress was ready to conclude a definite treaty with France whenever invited to do so. After this the inclusion of Russia in the grand alliance against Prussia was only a matter of time.
On December 31,1756, the Russian Empress formally acceded to the Treaty of Versailles, at the same time binding herself, by a secret article, to assist France if attacked by England in Europe ; France at the same time contracting a corresponding secret obligation to give Russia pecuniary assistance in the event of her being attacked by Turkey. The secret articles of the Versailles Treaty of May 1, as between France and Austria, were not, however, communicated to the Court of St Petersburg.
It is certain that at this crisis of his life the King of Prussia was by no means so well-informed as usual. Not till towards the end of June did he suspect the existence of the Franco-Russian understanding, and, till the end of August, he flattered himself that British influence would prove stronger than Austrian at St Petersburg. He was also mistaken, or misinformed, as to the relative attitudes of Russia and Austria. He was, for instance, under the false impression that Austria was urging on Russia against him, but that the latter Power was not prepared and would postpone an invasion till the following spring ; whereas, in reality, it was Russia who was urging on dilatory and timorous Austria. At the beginning of June Frederick learnt from the Hague that Russia had definitely renounced her obligations towards England. Early in July he told Mitchell, the English envoy at Berlin, that Russia was lost to them ; and on August 29, 1756, he invaded Saxony. The Seven Years' War had begun. It is beyond the scope of the present chapter to enter into the details of the struggle. Here only the salient facts, so far as they affected the policy of Russia and the general situation, can be very briefly adumbrated.
The lack of good generals, due to the neglect, during the last three reigns, of Peter the Great's golden rule of forming a school of native generals by carefully training promising young Russian officers beneath
The great political event of the year 1757 was the resumption of diplomatic relations between Russia and France. In the middle of June Michael Bestuzheff, the elder brother of the Russian Chancellor, was accredited to Paris ; and, simultaneously, the new French ambassador, Paul de l'Hôpital, Marquis de Châteauneuf, arrived at St Petersburg at the head of an extremely brilliant suite. His charming manners, ready wit, and truly patrician liberality made him a persona gratïssïma at the Russian Court ; and, in conjunction with the new Austrian ambassador, Prince Nicholas Esterhazy, he carried everything before him. It was through their influence that Aprakin and his friend the Chancellor Bestuzheff were arrested, early in 1758, on a charge of conspiring with the Grand Duchess Catharine and her friends to recall the army from the field and hold it in readiness to support a projected coup d'état in case of the death of the Empress, who on September 19, 1757, had had a slight apoplectic fit after attending mass at the parish church of Tsarskoe Selo. BestuzhefF's enemies had instantly connected the illness of the Empress with the almost simultaneous retreat of the army ; though we now know for certain that the two events were totally unconnected. The retreat of the army had been ordered by an unanimous council of war, held a full fortnight previously to the Empress' seizure ; while it is obvious that the Chancellor, especially in his own very critical position, had no object whatever in saving his old enemy the King of Prussia. BestuzhefF succeeded in clearing himself completely of all the charges brought against him ; but the Empress, while accepting his innocence and refusing to allow him to be put to torture, showed she had lost all confidence in him by depriving him of all his offices and dignities and expelling him from the Court. He was succeeded as Grand Chancellor by Michael Vorontsoff. an honest man of excellent intentions but mediocre abilities.
The campaign of 1758 was a repetition of the campaign of 1757. After occupying the whole of East Prussia, Aprakin's successor, General Count William Fermor, a pupil of Miinnich and Lacy, on August 25, defeated Frederick at Zorndorf, one of the most murderous engagements of modern times. But Fermor was incapable of making any use of his victory, even after being strongly reinforced ; and at the beginning of October, he retired behind the Vistula.
Fermor seems only to have been saved from the fate of Aprakin
Towards the end of the year, the hands of the Russian Empress were strengthened by the accession to power in France of a new and vigorous Minister of Foreign Affairs who fully shared her sentiments in the person of the Duc de Choiseul. The first act of the new Minister was to notify Michael Bestuzheff that pacific overtures had been made to Great Britain through the Danish Court with the object of isolating the King of Prussia, but that the English Ministers had steadily refused to separate their cause from his. Choiseul further informed the Russian ambassador that Louis XV had given his solemn word never to make peace without the consent of his Allies. Alexis Galitsin's despatches from London were, naturally, less satisfactory than Michael BestuzhefTs from Versailles. He reported "a fanatical enthusiasm of the whole nation for the King of Prussia," and a determination on the part of the English Ministers to make Prussia the leading German Power on the Continent instead of Austria. The damage done by Frederick II to the French monarchy was, no doubt, at the bottom of England's respect for him.
The increasing financial difficulties" of the Russian Government in 1759, prevented the army from taking the field till April ; and, on May 19, the incurably sluggish Fermor was superseded by Count Peter SoltikofT, an officer who hitherto had been mainly occupied in drilling
Although suddenly pitted against the most redoubtable captain of the age without having ever before commanded an army in the field, Soltikoff seems to have accepted his tremendous responsibilities without the slightest hesitation. On July 9, he reached headquarters ; on July 23, he defeated, near Kay, the Prussian general Wedell, who had attempted to prevent his junction with the Austrians; early in August he united with Laudon at Frankfort on Oder ; and, on August 12, the allies annihilated the army of the King of Prussia at Kunersdorf. Frederick was only saved from death or captivity, in the general stampede, by the devotion of Rittmeister Prittwitz and forty hussars. Late the same evening, 3000 repentant fugitives rallied to his standard, the sole remnant of a host of 48,000 men. Mortal indeed had been the hug of the " bears of the Holy Roman Empire," as he himself dubbed the Russians at the end of the year, when he had in a measure recovered from the shock of " that horrible catastrophe."
"Your Imperial Majesty must not be surprised at our serious casualties," wrote the triumphant Soltikoff to the Empress on the following day, "for you know that the King of Prussia always sells victory dearly. Another such victory, your Majesty, and I shall be obliged myself to plod staff in hand to St Petersburg with the joyful tidings, for lack of messengers." Soltikoff received the marshal's bâton from his own sovereign, and a diamond-ring, a jewelled snuff-box and 5000 ducats from Maria Theresa. His health was also drunk, " in imperial Tokay," at a grand banquet given at Versailles by Michael Bestuzheff in honour of the event, at which Choiseul and eighty of the most distinguished men in France were present. Nor were these rejoicings at all exaggerated. At that moment the ruin of the King of Prussia seemed imminent and inevitable ; and, as is related elsewhere, for the first time in his life he despaired. At the urgent request of Frederick, Pitt at once made pacific overtures to Russia on behalf of Prussia and proposed a peace congress, to be held at the Hague. Not till December 12 did the Russian Empress deliver her reply to these pacific overtures. She declared that she and her allies were equally desirous of peace, but of a peace that should be honourable, durable, and profitable. Such a peace, she opined, would be impossible if things were allowed to remain on the same footing as they were before the war. After this, it was plain to the British Ministers that no more could be said at present, and that the war must proceed.
Frederick was, indeed, only saved from instant destruction by the violent dissensions between Soltikoff and the Austrian Commander-in-chief, Count Daun, who refused to take orders from each other, and thus wasted all the fruits of Kunersdorf. Moreover, Soltikoff was so elated by his astounding victories that he even refused to submit to the behests of his own Court. In spite of repeated and urgent orders to follow up his successes without delay, he absolutely refused to remain in Silesia a day longer than October 15, "as the preservation of my army ought to be my primary consideration." At the beginning of November he deliberately marched off to his magazines at Posen.
It is not too much to say that, from the end of 1759 to the end of 1761, the unshakable firmness of the Russian Empress was the one constraining political force which held together the heterogeneous, incessantly changing elements of the anti-Prussian combination, and prevented it from collapsing before the shock of disaster. From the Russian point of view, Elizabeth's greatness as a ruler consists in her steady appreciation of Russian interests, and her determination to promote and consolidate them at all hazards. She insisted throughout that the King of Prussia must be rendered harmless to his neighbours for the future, and that the only way to bring this about was to curtail his dominions and reduce him to the rank of an Elector. Russia's share of his partitioned dominions was to be the province already in her possession-Ducal Prussia as it was then called-certainly a very moderate compensation for her preponderating success and enormous sacrifices. On January 1, 1760, the Empress told Esterhäzy that she meant to continue the war in conjunction with her allies, even if she were compelled to sell all her diamonds and half her wearing apparel ; but she also declared that the time had now come when Russia should be formally guaranteed the possession of her conquest, Ducal Prussia. The Court of Vienna was greatly perturbed. Maria Theresa was well aware that France would never consent to the aggrandisement of Russia ; yet she herself was in such absolute need of the succour of the Russian troops that she was obliged to yield to the insistence of Elizabeth. Accordingly, on April 1, 1760, fresh conventions were signed between Austria and Russia, providing for the continuation of the war and the annexation of Ducal Prussia to Russia. When Louis XV categorically refused to accept these conventions in their existing form, and compelled Maria Theresa to strike out the article relating to Ducal Prussia, the Empress Queen added to the conventions so amended a secret clause, never communicated to the Court of Versailles, virtually reinserting the cancelled article. The British Ministers were not less apprehensive than were the Ministers of France lest Russia should claim any territorial compensation from Frederick II ; for, in view of the unyielding disposition of the King of Prussia, such a claim meant the indefinite prolongation of the war, or,
Frederick himself has told us that in 1760 the Russians had only to step forward in order to give him the coup de grâce. Elizabeth was equally well aware of this, and the New Year was not three days old when she summoned Soltikoff to the capital to draw up a plan of campaign. The plan he finally submitted was simplicity itself. It may best be described as an ingenious method of avoiding a general engagement at all hazards, and keeping out of harm's way as much as possible. He was curtly informed that Russia's obligations to her allies demanded a more aggressive, adventurous strategy, and reminded that after the experience of Kunersdorf there was no longer any reason to be afraid " of hazarding our army in an engagement with the King of Prussia, however desperate and bloody." Elizabeth's own plan was that Soltikoff should proceed at once to Silesia to cooperate there with Laudon, who had, at her particular request, been appointed to an independent command on the Oder, and was there holding Prince Henry of Prussia in check, while Daun, with another Austrian army, stood face to face with Frederick in Saxony. Before quitting Posen for Silesia Soltikoff was also instructed to detach 15,000 men, to besiege for the second time the maritime fortress of Kolberg, as a first step towards conquering Pomerania. Soltikoff set out for the army early in the spring ; and nothing but captious criticisms, dolorous grumblings, and perplexing accounts of insignificant skirmishes, was heard of or from him for the next three months. His absurd caution more than neutralised the victories of Laudon at Landshut and Glatz, and the mere intelligence of the battle of Liegnitz drove him back into Polish territory. Simultaneous reports from General Chernuisheff informed the Empress that the whole army was in an anarchical condition and that the Commander-in-chief could do nothing but wring his hands and shed tears. It was now evident that Soltikoff's mind had become unhinged by his responsibilities. He was accordingly superseded, in the beginning of September, by the senior officer in the service, Field-Marshal Alexander Buturlin, who led the army back behind the Vistula. The closing incidents of this campaign were the occupation of Berlin (October 9-12) by Chernuisheff and Todtleben, which caused great rejoicings at St Petersburg and helped to refill the depleted Russian Treasury, the contributions levied amounting to 1,000,000 thalers, and the second siege of Kolberg, which proved to be an expensive failure.
If France and Austria had only with the utmost difficulty been persuaded to continue the War at the end of 1759, it may be imagined with what feelings they faced the prospect of another campaign at the end of 1760. Even in Russia itself there was now a very general desire for peace. The customary New Year illuminations in front of the Winter Palace at St Petersburg gave eloquent expression to this desire.
The principal transparency represented a winged genius (the New Year) with a gift in his hand, in the shape of a laurel wreath intertwined with an olive-branch, standing upon captured standards, cannon, and other military trophies, with the keys of Berlin in front of him. The contemporary Russian gazettes also emphasised the rumour that " Our most gracious Sovereign has expressly stated that the sole object of the glorious triumph of her arms is the restoration and the maintenance of peace." But peace was only obtainable by fresh exertions; these required plenty of money ; and where was the money to come from ? The new Commander-in-chief had demanded a minimum of 2,031,000 roubles (about J?457,000) for putting the army on a war footing, but only about three-quarters of that amount was available.
And there was yet another difficulty. The allies of Russia were fast approaching the limits of their endurance, and were becoming clamorous for peace. On January 22, 1761, the new French ambassador at St Petersburg, the Baron de Breteuil, presented a despatch to the Russian Chancellor to the effect that the King of France, by reason of the condition of his dominions, absolutely desired peace, especially as the King of Prussia, being at the end of his resources, would now doubtless listen to any reasonable propositions. On the following day the Austrian ambassador delivered a memorandum to the same effect. In her reply of February 12, Elizabeth declared that she would not consent to any pacific overtures until the original object of the League, " the essential and permanent crippling of the King of Prussia," had been accomplished. Even if Austria could not get back all she had a right to, she should at least retain possession of her actual conquests in Silesia. The King of Poland should also be compensated for the inhuman devastation of his lands by the duchy of Magdeburg and all the Prussian possessions in Lusatia. Sweden's Pomeranian frontier should also be "advantageously rectified." Russia demanded nothing for herself besides Ducal Prussia, or, in default thereof, adequate compensation elsewhere " from her loyal allies." This reply was accompanied by a letter from Elizabeth to Maria Theresa rebuking the Court of Vienna for its want of candour in negotiating with France behind the back of Russia, and threatening, in case of any repetition of such a violation of treaties, to treat with the King of Prussia directly and independently. Elizabeth declared, however, that she was not averse from a peace congress sitting while the war still went on, though she was firmly opposed to anything like a truce as being likely to be " extremely useful to the King of Prussia." To these propositions the allies yielded after some debate. A fresh Russian note, at the beginning of May, laid it down as an imperative necessity that France should leave America and the Indies alone for a time and concentrate all her efforts on the Continent. Thus Russia was assuming the lead in continental affairs, not only in arms but in diplomacy also.
The equally uncompromising attitudes of Russia and Prussia rendered