The last lover of the Empress – Іван Корсак

On the penultimate day of February 1772 metropolitan, collecting the remnants of the forces, asked the guard to call a priest.

They broke the wall where there was a door, and rector of the Reval Church entered stone cage. He had scarcely entered when astonishment and terror swept over him: walls and ceiling were shining with a special light, and bishop was standing in the middle of the close chamber in full festive regalia, shining with unearthly radiance. Priest was impressed by silent and exciting music, sounds were pouring somewhere, they appeased, heart felt easy and relaxed, it was the church and not the church music, music of the high sky, emphasizing the futility of existence, the temporality of human vanity.

Priest rushed back to commandant with fear and misunderstanding, and they squeezed into a stone bag together.

But bishop in full festive regalia disappeared, walls didn’t shine with gilding, they only were covered with a green moss, unearthly music wasn’t heard – only a strolling musician was playing ancient local instrument.

A sick prisoner was lying on the prison bed instead of the bishop, dressed in worn cold clothing.

When prisoner closed his eyes after confession and communion the priest seemed to hear music not of ancient simple instrument, but another one, music which couldn’t be created by a man; world primitive colors and sounds returned, soot on the snow, accumulated during the winter, was disappearing behind a window, the sky enlightened and gained an immeasurable and boundless deep blue, smut and scale were falling off the world, not only strings created sounds, trees, snows, birds in the high sky sounded too, even heavy and severe walls covered with mold and moss sounded – music of high heaven and of eternal and irresistible Truth.

Instead of notes

Those events and facts at different times were described by…

***

French Ambassador to Russia Laurent Berenger in telegram to Foreign Minister of the 23rd July 1762,

“What a picture is before the eyes of the whole nation! On the one hand, a grandson of Peter I dethroned and put to death; on the other hand, grandson of czar John, languishing in chains, while the princess Anhalt Tserbskaya usurps the crown, starting her reign with a regicide.”

***

K.-K. Ryuler, secretary of the French ambassador, “Revolution in 1762” (p. 68-69),

“One can not truthfully say how the empress took part in these events; but it was known that she had been very funny, sitting at the table on that very day when it happened. Suddenly the same Orlov arrived, he was disheveled, in a sweat and dust, in torn clothes, his face was troubled, full of terror and haste. Entering the room, his fast and sparkling eyes were already looking for the empress. Without saying a word, she stood up, went to a cabinet, Orlov followed her; she called count Panin in some minutes, who was appointed her minister. She told him that the emperor died and asked how to inform people. Panin advised to miss one night and to tell news the next morning as if it happened at night. Accepting the advise, the empress returned with the same face and continued to have dinner with the same joy. In the morning, when everybody knew that Peter had died from hemorrhoidal colic, she appeared with blubbered face and heralded her grief.

***

Letter of Catherine II to Baron Grimm,

“… half of those who are alive, or fools, or madmen; try, if you can, live with such people!”

***

A. Pushkin about the reign of Catherine II,

“Catherine destroyed the title (rather the name) of slavery, but she gave away about a million of state peasants (free cultivators), and conquered free Mala Rus and Polish provinces. Catherine destroyed inquisition, but secret office prospered under her patriarchal rule; Catherine liked education, but Novikov, spreading its first rays, moved from Sheshkovskiy to prison where he was kept up to his death. Radishchev was exiled to Siberia…”

***

Alexander Pushkin characterizes Catherine II,

“Voice of betrayed Voltaire will not save her from the curse of Russia.”

“The very sensuality of this sly woman claimed her dominion. Producing a faint murmur among the people, who used to respect vices of their rulers, it caused nasty competition in higher states, because neither intelligence, nor deserts or talent were necessary to achieve the second place in the state.”

***

A. Herzen about the reign of Catherine II,

“… an uninterrupted orgy of wine, blood, depravity was running.”

“History of Catherine II shouldn’t be read in presence of ladies.”

***

Son was afraid of being poisoned by his mother, Catherine II.

L. L. Bennigsen, general in the reign of empress Catherine II,

“Pavel suspected even Catherine II of designs on him. Once he complained of a pain in a throat. Catherine II answered, “I’ll send you my doctor who had treated me well.” Pavel was afraid of poison; he couldn’t hide his embarrassment, hearing the name of his mother’s doctor. The empress noticed it and calmed her son, assuring him that it was the most harmless drug and he would decide himself to take it or not. When the empress was living in Tsarskoe Selo during summer, Pavel was living in Gatchina, there was a large detachment of troops. He surrounded himself with guards and pickets, patrols constantly guarded the road to Tsarskoe Selo, especially at night, to prevent all unexpected attempts. He even pre-determined a route where he could go away with the troops, if necessary: according to his order roads of this route had been studied previously by trusted officer.”

***

Voltaire about Russia,

“Customs are as hard there as the climate: envy at foreigners is the strongest, despotism is boundless, society is worthless.”

***

Historian and publicist, prince Shcherbatov in his treatise “On the injury of morals” writes about Catherine II,

“Does she believe in God’s Law? But – no! She is keen on unthinking reading of new writers. She doesn’t respect Christian law (although she pretends to be pious). She suppresses her thoughts, but much is revealed in talks with her… And one can say that this inviolable support of conscience and virtue collapsed during her reign.”

***

Karl Masson wrote about the reign of Catherine II,

“… it was particularly disastrous for the nation and empire. All springs of control were damaged: any general, any governor, any head of department became a despot in his field. Grades, justice, impunity were sold at public auction. About 20 oligarchs, led by a favorite, shared Russia, they were robbing or allowed to rob finance and competed in the robbery of unhappy people.”

***

A. Herzen about morals in the reign of Catherine II,

“Stupid princes, who were not able just to speak in Russian, Germans and children mounted the throne, were unthroned… handful of intriguers and condottieri managed the state.”

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