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the honours due to their rank, and the affe&tion borne to them by the Empress.
• The latter, though a wise and a great Princess, had her weaknefles; and her chief one was, an unmeasurable affection The bore towards one Biren, a man of mean original, whom the had preferred to be Duke of Courland. This ridiculous partiadity was by her carried to such a height, that it influenced all her actions; and it was thought, that could fe have done it with any degree of decency, or prospect of success, she would have made him her successor in the empire. She, however, ftreiched, or rather overstrained, her power to serve him; and thereby undid all that she had been so long labouring to effed. The Dutchess of Mecklenburgh had the uncommon fatisfaction of seeing her daughter treated as the presumptive heir of a mighty empire for three years before her death. Her husband, the Duke, though sensible how unwelcome his presence must be in Russia, could not refilt the impulses of curiolity, and, it is said, that he put himself in the train of an embally which he sent to Petersburgh, that he might have the satisfaction of beholding the high marks of distinction paid by the empress to his daughter. In 1739, the Czarina gave her niece in marriage to Antony Ulric, Prince of Brunswic-Wolfenburtle. This match was far from being agreeable to some of the greatest subjects of the Ruf(jan empire, who opposed it, as tending to introduce a German government into their country; but the power of the Empreis was by this time so well established, that their opposition was fatal only to themselves. In the event, the match itself was found to be a political contrivance between the Empress and Biren ;; for the Princess of Brunswic, who was in her own person, in the course of descent, preferable to her issue in the succession, being brought to bed of a son, whose name was Iwan, or John, the Empreis Anne, who survived the marriage but about twelve months, appointed Biren to be Regent of the empire during the minority of the young Prince, whose father and mother had no ether thare in the government, than the charge of his education, and that of the other children who might be born of the marriage ;' and who, in case of John's death, were to succeed in course to the enpire..
« This destination, though unjust and absurd in itself, was Nrengthened with all the precautions that human policy could fuggest to render it permanent. Baron Osterman, High Chancellor of Rufia, was appointed to be firft Minister; Count Münich, one of the greatett Generals of his time, was to command the army; and a council, the members of which were entirely in Biren's intereft, was appointed during the minority. Those arrangements were far from being pleasing to the Princess of
Mecklenburgh ; but her situation was very delicate. The va lidity of her son's nomination to the empire, rested entirely upon the will of the late Empress, which she could not pretend to set aside, without endangering her own fucceffion. Though se was entirely sensible of the injury that had been done to her, yet she was forced to dissemble. The right of the Duke of Holstein, grandson to Czar Peter the Great, was secretly abetted by many of the most powerful of the Ruffian Grandees. The Princess Elizabeth, daughter of the fame Czar and the Empress Catharine, was still alive; nor was there in all the civil constitution of Russia, a fundamental rule for succession, excepting the nomination of their several Sovereigns, which had been again and again broken into. All that the Princess of Mecklenburgh, under such circumstances, could do, was to form a party to countermine Biren, who had no family-interest in the en.pire, and who was hated by the great Nobility. To counterbalance this unpopularity, he made use of his powers as Regent, to fill the most important posts in the empire with his own creatures ; and this served only to haften his ruin. They became easily sensible, that having no support but the will of the late Empress, which was growing every day more and more contemptible, they could have no fure dependence upon him ; and therefore they privately connected themselves with the Prin-' cess of Mecklenburgh, who behaved with great prudence on this trying occasion,
• Upon the death of the Empress Anne, the young Iwan, though but two months old, was proclaimed Emperor; and Biren's conduct foon gave the Princess advantages which she could not otherwise have hoped for. His upstart quality rendered him odious to many of the chief Nobility, who, because they disdained his favours, were by bim sentenced to banilhment in Si-, beria. Even fuch of the Nobility as accepted them, were fhocked at the thoughts of being obliged for their promotion to one who was so much inferior to themselves. The Princess of Mecklenburgh omitted no opportunity of fomenting this general discontent; and Biren thought himself so secure, that he gave himself little trouble in prying into her conduct, by which she had an opportunity of strengthening her party, till her meafures being settled, the great Nobility of Russia, in the night preceding the 17th of November, 1740, assembled in the palace of the Princess of Mecklenburgh, who then bore the title of Grand-dutchess, and not only declared her Regent of the empire, but gave orders for arresting Biren as an ufurper and a ty-. fant; which was done accordingly. Soon after, he was legally tried, and sentenced to lose his head; but his sentence was by
the Grand-dutchefs commuted into that of banishment to Siberia, together with all his family and adherents.
« The exaltation of the Grand-dutchess to the regency of the Ruffian empire, gave her father some weight in the affairs of the North; though it does not appear that she interested herself much in the re-establishment of his fortunes. When fentence passed against Biren, he was declared to have forfeited the dutchy of Courland; a proceeding whịch, however, was afterwards judged to be irregular; and a new election being held, it went in favour of Prince Antony of Brunswic, husband to the Granddutchess, whose power was far from being so well secured as she imagined. The Swedes were particularly interested in resenting the injury that had been done to the Duke of Holstein, and had likewise some territorial disputes with the Ruffians, upon which a war broke out in 1741, in Fịnland. This war was but poorly managed on the part of Sweden. Lascy, the Russian General, took Wilmanstra, and gained many fignal advantages over the Swedes. The Great dutchefs, at the same time, thewed a moderation with which Ruffia was feldom acquainted. She gave orders, not only that the Swedish prisoners should be treated with all kind of humanity, but that all the subjects of that kingdom residing in Ruffia, should have security for their perfons and effects, and be permitted to reside in, or depart out of, the empire as they should think proper; but the Great-dutchess herself was now on the eve of a revolution that was to strip her and her family of all their power.
· Though her son was Emperor by a priority of descent from the elder brother of Czar Peter the Great, yet it was well known, that he filled the throne of Ruffia in direct violation of the testamentary dispositions of that Prince, whose memory was adored by the Russians. The Princess of Mecklenburgh and her aunt the Empress Anne were aware of this difficulty, and therefore they håd a strict eye over the Princess Elizabeth, the only surviving child of Peter the Great. This Princess resembled her father in his person, was graceful, majestic, affable, and prudent; and she had, through all the revolutions of government, behaved with so much wisdom and decency, that nothing could be laid to her charge. Notwithstanding this, she was fully fenfible of the wrong that had been done her, by being set aside from the succeflion; and the lived in the palace as a state-prifoner surrounded by spies. This circumstance of confinement awakened the compassion of the Russians; nor could all the precautions of the Court prevent her from having secret interviews with many Noblemen and Officers, who promised to stand by her, and affift her in mounting the throne. The difficulties,
however, that she had to encounter were so various, and seemaingly so unsurmountable, that after the scheme of a confpiracy was far advanced, her resolution was staggered at the thoughts of the danger to which the exposed her friends. As explanations, by discourse or writings, were dangerous, one of the Conspirators, who understood drawing, sketched her figure, with the head taken off by an executioner, himself lying stretched on the rack, and her other friends fuffering the mott horrible deaths. She comprehended the meaning of the drawing, and that it was far more safe for her and her party to advance than to recede. Matters, however, were not carried on with such impenetrable fecrecy, but that the Great-dutchess had an intimation of the conspiracy going forward, and repaired in person to the apartments of the Princess, who received her with so much ferenity and compofure, that her suspicions vanished, after queftioning her upon the subject of her vifit, which the Princess Elizabeth strongly disavowed.
Upon the departure of the Grand-dutchess, in the night, between the sth and 6th of December, the Conspirators, perceiving their designs could be kept no longer secret, resolved to proceed to immediate execution, and repaired to the apartments of the Princess Elizabeth, who had already concerted the plan of the Revolution. She was favoured by the universal defec. tion of the Russian army from the German government as it was called; and their Officers repairing to her lodging, the gave orders for securing all the German guards, and for preventing any alarm or noise from reaching the ear of the GreatDutchess. She then put herself at the head of a favourite regiment of guards, and marched to the principal apartments of the palace, where she placed centinels over the Greai-Dutchess. and all her chief domeftics, and fet guards upon the houses of alt her Ministers and Officers of State. All this was done with · so much fecrecy and regularity, that the Great-dutchess had no. fufpicion of what had happened, till, awakening in the morning, she found herself a prisoner ; and in a few minutes the un
doritood that the Princeis Elizabeth had been proclaimed Em8 press of the Russiads. Soon after, the new Empress, who had
by this time affumed all the spirit of her father, and who seemed to have lost all her timidity with her private station, entered the apartment of the Great-dutchess, and in person acquainted her with the catastrophe that had happened; exhorting her at the same time, to submit to her fate, which was, that the and her son should remove out of the palace to another houfe, from whence they were to be conducted to Germany.
It is to this day uncertain whether the new Empress was incere in this declaration; it is most probable that she was,
but that fhe was afterwards persuaded of the danger that muft attend the leaving such powerful competitors for her crown at lie berty. The Great-dutchess and her son, however, set out under a guard; and it was remarked, that she behaved with great equanimity. During her government, the Princess Elizabeth had been treated with less severity than under the preceding, and The had suffered her to keep all the valuable jewels that had been prefented or left her by the late Empress. The Great-dutchers had philosophy enough not to repine at her 'reverse of fortune. She had for some time been reconciled to her father, who had served her faithfully at the northern Courts, and whofe experience had now rendered him a valuable friend; so that she comforted herself with the prospect of passing the remainder of her days with him and her son. But she was disappointed in those pleasing hopes: the new Empress of the Rustias had issued a commission for trying the heads of the late administration; and it was pretended that such discoveries had been made as rendered it unsafe to trust the Great-dutchefs or her husband with their liberty. Accordingly, in January 1742, in their journey to Dantzic, they were arrested and carried to Riga, where they were put under confinement. All Europe, especially the Courts of Germany, were surprised at this proceeding, as no crime or act of delinquency could be charged against the Great-dutchess, who had done no more than submitted to the will of others, and that too in her own prejudice. The courts of Vienna and Bera lin presented memorials on this head; but all the answer they received from the Empress Elizabeth was, that the Princess of Mecklenburgh Thould be treated in her confinement with the regard due to her rank, till the state of affairs could admit of. her enlargement.
In the mean while, the fame defect in the succellion took place now as had done in the time of the Empress Anne, and the same remedy, was applied : for as that Empress reigned in prejudice of her elder sister and her daughter, so the Empress Elizabeth reigned in prejudice of her elder sister's son, the Duke of Holstein, who was at the same time next in blood to the crown of Sweden. To prevent any bad conséquences from this preposterous order of succession, the new Empress sent for the young Duke of Holstein, adopted him as her fucceffor in the empire, and married him in 1745 to the Princess Catbarine of Anhalt-Zerbst. His melancholy fate is well known; and his wife, who by birth is in no manner of degree related to the im: perial blood of Russia, is now the fole Sovereign of that empire. As to the Princess of Mecklenburgh, she died, after be ing about three years in her confinement; and it is uncertain