Page images
PDF
EPUB

a woman of superior abilities and attainments, but miserably deficient in all that constitutes feminine worth.

“Madame du Chatelet maintained her power over him (Voltaire) for twenty years; during five of which they resided in her chateau at Cirey, under the countenance of her husband ; he was a good sort of man, but seems to have been considered by these two geniuses and their guests as a coraplete nonentity. He was · Le bon homme, le vilain petit Trichateau,' whom it was a task to speak to, and a penance to amuse. Every day, after coffee, Monsieur rose from the table with all the docility imaginable, leaving Voltaire and Madame to recite verses, translate Newton, philosophise, dispute, and do the honours of Cirey to the brilliant society who had assembled under his roof.” She died in her forty-fourth year. Madame de Gouverné was an earlier flame of Voltaire's:—they were soon separated, and after an absence of fifty years, the poet paid her a visit which terrified them both: a half century had played no gentle game with their personal appearance. Voltaire returned to his companions exclaiming—“Ah, mes amis! je viens de passer a l'autre bord du Cocyte," and the lady immediately sent him his youthful portrait, which she had preserved through the long interim of separation. Madame D’Houdetot, the Sophie of Rousseau, and the Doris of St. Lambert, is the theme of a few subsequent remarks; plain in figure and face, she owes her celebrity to the fascination of manner and conversation. She was rather profligate, in a very abandoned age; but with better culture, the soil was capable of better fruit. Our author concludes with several finely wrought allusions to the heroines of modern poetry; some, over whom the grave has recently closed, and “ some that even now move gracefully through the shades of domestic life.”

We close our notice of the Loves of the Poets, with an impression very favourable; the sickly and morbid feelings that so much disfigured the author's former production, the Diary of an Ennuyée, have been repressed; and notwithstanding the exaggeration into which she is at times betrayed by enthusiasm for her subject, we may commend the work as frequently beautiful, and throughout entertaining and correct.

Agr. II.-RUSSIA AND TURKEY.

1.-History of the Ottoman Empire, from its establishment,

till the year 1828. By EDWARD UPHAM, Esq. M. R. A. S. Author of "the History of Budhism,8 c. 2 vols. Edin

burgh: 1829. 2.-History of Russia and of Peter the Great. By GENERAL

Count PHILIP DE SEGUR, Author of the History of Napoleon's Expedition to Russia in 1812. London: 1829.

Je me défie de l'histoire et même de celle que j'ai écrite;such is the reflection with which the industrious Levesque closes the preface to the improved edition of his history of Russia; “I distrust History, and even that which I have written.” And yet Levesque has gained the approbation and the confidence of men who were well fitted to investigate the value of evidence, and has met with general acceptance even among the Russians themselves. As his narrative and its continuation approach our own times, the influence of the public mind in France may not unfrequently be discerned in the colouring which he gives to events, and his continuator must indeed be read with extreme distrust. For all this, the work of Levesque still continues to hold the reputation of being the most convenient and trustworthy history of the Russian empire.

The popular works, of which we have placed the titles at the head of this article, but which we shall follow very little, are convenient and interesting books, on topics to which public attention is at present very generally directed. The first, a portion of Constable's very neat miscellany, contains a concise, and, we believe, generally an accurate sketch of the public events in the history of the Turkish empire.* It is on the whole a convenient and satisfactory sketch.

The most elaborate work of Von Hammer, reaches as yet no farther than the year 1623. Thus far, we have four volumes of it, containing almost three thousand pages. The profound erudition of the

author gives it a high and permanent value. He is undoubtedly the most eminent oriental scholar that has ever appeared in Germany; he has, except in Sylvester de Sacy, no rival in Europe. But his acquisitions are not limited to the east. He is well versed in the several dialects of the cultivated nations of western Europe; and cherishes the language of Calderon as of Saadi. We mention it as a proof of the rapid circula

* We would observe, that the name Turks is never applied to themselves by the subjects of the Ottoman race. It is considered a term of reproach, and by them is always used to express contempt for rudeness and want of culture.

tion of literary productions in the present state of the world, that the American Philosophical Society of Philadelphia received, in September, the last volume of this work, which was published during the present year in Hungary. It was sent by the author himself, and we take it as a good omen, that the imperial historian should, in his own mind as well as in reality, embrace our community within the public for which he designs to write.

To Count Segur we have nothing to object, but his attempts at eloquence and passion; his splendid ejaculations and frequent bursts of excitement. But then we have his work only in a translation, and we ought not to complain too much of the style, even though it is evident, that this diffuse and impassioned manner exists in the original, and is plainly rather a favourite with the illustrious author.

It is our present purpose to explain the origin and trace the progress of hostilities between the Ottoman and Russian empires; and, in as brief a manner as is possible, to give a sketch of the various wars which have been waged between the two powers since their first collision, as well as to notice the political results of the victories, which the Russians have almost invariably won.

It was in the year 1477, that the Russian nation began to renew its independence and its glory. The victories of Tamerlane, by weakening the enemies of the Grand Prince of Moscow, had prepared the way for his successful refusal to send further tribute to the Golden Horde ; and the great mass of Russian strength, beginning to revive again after the languor of a servitude which had extended through almost two and a half centuries, made conquests in every direction, under three successive princes of the House of Rurik.

For fifteen years of his reign, Ivan the Great had not failed to pay tribute to the Tartars, and acknowledge their sovereignty. Yet in the year 1492, we find him already so firmly established in power, that he addressed the Sultan Bajažet as an independent prince. Some Russian merchants had been plundered by the Turks of Caffa. Ivan* expostulated in a letter to Bajazet. “ Whence arise these acts of violence ? Are you aware of them, or are you not? One word more: Mahomet, your father, was a great prince; he designed to send ambassadors to compliment me; God opposed the execution of this project. Why should we not now see the accomplishment of it?' And in 1498, the ambassador of the Grand Duke, (the title of Czar had not yet been assumed by the Russian sovereigns,) is expressly. charged "not to do any thing to compromise the dignity of his master; to compliment the Sultan standing, and not on his

Segur's History of Russia, in the English translation, page 128. VOL. VII. —NO. 13.

4

knees; to address his speech only to that sovereign himself, and to yield precedence to no other ambassador.”

At that time, there were, of course, no European ambassadors resident at the Turkish court; and the Russians, for another half century, remained unknown to the western kingdoms of Europe. Even after the conquests of Russia had extended to Kazan and Lapland, it remained without any maritime intercourse with the rest of the world.

In the year 1553, the English* sent forth three ships for the discovery of Cathay or China. They sailed to the north; two were wrecked; the third, commanded by Richard Chancellor, proceeded to "an unknown part of the world,” and came at last to a place where there was “no night at all, but a continual light and brightness of the sun shining clearly upon the huge and mighty sea.” At length they came to a bay, and the mouth of the Dwina, and report having announced them to the terrified natives as men of "a strange nation, of singular gentleness and courtesy,” Richard was able to travel into the interior. He found that the country was called Russia, or Muscovy, and that Ivan Vassilievitch II. “ruled and governed far and wide.” This was called the Discovery of Russia, and the fame of the enterprise spread through Spain the belief “ of a discovery of NewÍndies," and in England gave immediate impulse to the spirit of mercantile adventure.

We have alluded to this first voyage to Archangel, to show how completely Russia had been withdrawn from the eye of the rest of Europe, just as she was about to enter on a career of splendid, permanent, and increasing conquest. The first rencounter of the Russians and Turks in a field of battle, is assigned by Karamsin to the year 1541, on occasion of resistance shown to Sahib Gherai on the banks of the Oka. “There,” says the Russian historian, “there we for the first time beheld Ottoman trophies in our hands.” The trophiest were those of a Tartar Khan, and not of the Turks.

It was about the time that accident opened to the English merchants the avenue of Archangel, that the powers of the Ottoman empire had attained its height under the sway of Solyman the Magnificent. His private misfortunes, his weakness as a lover, and his cruelty as a father, are favourite historical topics for those who are curious to observe the workings of human passions in the great men who fill the world with their deeds.

Sharon Turner's Modern History of England. Reign of Edward the Vith. London, 1829; page 298–301. The description of the style of the court of the Czar is extremely curious.

f Von Hammer's Geschichte des Osmanischer Reichs. B. iii. p. 531, in a note.

# In Robertson's bistory of the Emperor Charles V., the whole romantic story is given.

But Solyman also had undoubted courage, a hardy spirit of enterprise, a love for letters, a fondness for the display of magnificence in architecture. He himself commanded in thirteen campaigns, and the terror of his name pervaded Asia and Europe. His fleets besieged Marseilles, and terrified Rome as they anchored in the mouths of the Tiber, while in the Persian Gulf they seized on Bassora at the mouths of the Tigris. The Mediterranean sea was filled with pirates that plundered in his name, and the Ararat was hardly a limit to his emissaries on land. He left* to his successor, Selim II., an empire extending in the east to Van, and the very districts which Russian arms have, during the past summer, been subduing; and on the west, to Gran, a town within less than a hundred miles of Vienna. On the south, the conquest of Algiers and Tripoli had extended the dominion of the Grand Sultans to Nubia and the deserts of Africa, while in the north, towards Poland and Russia, the country of the Cossacks was interposed, and the line of respective sovereignty was still undetermined. The Nile and the Danube flowed through the domains of the faithful descendant of Osman; the Khan of the Crimea was his tributary and ally; the rich provinces which had witnessed and sustained the luxu-: ry of the Seleucidæ, were his; Palestine and a part of Arabia had submitted to him ; Persia was overawed by his superior power, just as it now lies at the mercy of the czar; and finally the whole of the Black sea, and the Sea of Azoph was encompassed within the limits of the Turkish empire. Add to this, that the vast resources of these immense, populous, and opulent regions, were under the control of the will of one man, and might thus be extended with secrecy and despatch ; that the regular troops of Turkey were admirably disciplined; that its artillery had been brought to a high state of excellence by skilful engineers; and we shall gain some idea of the greatness of that power, at the period of its first aggression on Russia.

That aggression, the first wart between Russia and the

• Von Hammer, iii. 494, 495. All the works of Von Hammer are satisfactory. They exhaust the subject of which he treats. A student, consulting his works, will never fail to find in them all the information which he had any reason to expect. Nothing escapes and nothing alarms his industry.

# The history of these short hostilities may be found in the 8th volume of Karamsin's History of Russia. It is concisely detailed in Levesque's Histoire de Russie. Tom. III. p. 72–75 of the edition of 1812. See also Upham's history of the Ottoman Empire, vol. II. p. 47-50. It is an obvious error, when Upham calls the Russians, p. 47, “a people whose name had not yet reached the knowledge of their invaders." Intercourse bad existed, as we have mentioned above, so early as 1492, and again in 1498. A letter seems also to have been sent to Ivan the Terrible by Solyman, just thirteen years before. In that letter the sultan uses terms of great civility to the czar, acknowledging his prosperity and his wisdom, and recommending Turkish merchants to his good offices. See Von Hammer's Geschichte, III. 532. From such little errors the English are not free.

« PreviousContinue »