Page images

manner, on the mattress which forms the Georgian bed; and her seven young children, the eldest hardly seven years old, were quietly sleeping round her. Lazaref addressed her by his interpreter in a disrespectful style, with these words: “Get up; we must depart.” The Queen calmly replied, “Why should I get up so early 2 Do you not see my children are all asleep round me? If I wake them suddenly, it will make them ill. Who gave you such a pressing order.” Lazaref replied that it was Tsitsianoff. Maria replied merely, “Shame on Tsitsianoff!” In the mean time she had placed on her lap the pillow on which she had rested her head during the night, and under it her husband's dagger. Lazaref, seeing that the Queen was resolved not to rise until her children should awake, approached the cushion on which she was sitting, and seeing her foot, which appeared from underneath the pillow, he stooped down, brutally endeavouring to seize upon it, and to pull her from her seat. Maria at the instant grasped her dagger, and plunged it into the left side of Lazaref with such force that the point came out on the opposite side. She then drew it out and threw it coolly at his face, saying, “Thus perish those who dare to add insult to injury " Lazaref expired almost instantly. The Armenian interpreter, Sorokin, drew his sabre, and struck the Queen with it several times on the left arm, wounding her deeply in the shoulder. The Queen's mother, Helen, who also slept in the same apartment, awoke at the noise; and at the sight of blood she ran towards the Queen, embracing her closely. Four officers, alarmed at the tumult, also ran into the chamber; and finding Lazaref in this state, they hastened to carry him into the open air. The whole house was soon filled with the soldiery, who tore the Queen from her mother's arms, beating her with the butt-ends of their muskets. She was dragged bleeding out of the house, and thrown with her children into the carriage prepared for her. During her passage through Georgia, and until they had passed the mountains, her carriage was guarded by a considerable armed force. Wherever she passed, the inhabitants eagerly came out to testify their regret at her departure, and with tears bade her farewell. One of her children, Heraclius, complaining of thirst, a Georgian brought a pitcher of water, and presented it to him; but a soldier beat him, and broke the pitcher. Gabriel, her second son, about six years of age, was heard to Say, “Mother, why did you kill that soldier?” The Queen answered, “To preserve your honour, my son.” “Well then, mother,” answered the child immediately, “ say it is I that have killed him, and then they will not hurt you.” Thus finished the kingdom of Georgia. The Queen Maria arrived in Russia, where she was confined in a convent to expiate her crime. She was afterwards released, and permited to reside in the country. The traitor Kalatusoff received as his reward one hundred ducats and the rank of an officer. He obtained also the situation of inspector of police in Carthalinia, a district of Georgia, where he died, miserable and hated by every one. Sorokin, who had brutally wounded the Queen with his sabre, was killed in a fight with the Lesgees in 1804. The general Tsitsianoff was assassinated near Baken, on the Caspian Sea, in the year 1806.


This doughty knight, poet, dramatist, and architect, did many other things for the first Duchess of Marlborough besides building Blenheim. Whenever their humours did not clash,_which, however, they did frequently, as the temper of neither of them was of the best,-he seems to have been a sort of factotum to her Grace, and old Sarah regularly employed him in going the rounds of the nobility to make matches for her grand-daughters. The following letter, written by Sir John during one of these negociations, is copied from the Marlborough correspondence in the Coxe papers, which are now preserved in the library of the British Museum. This immense mass of documents was collected by the late Archdeacon Coxe to aid him in the composition of his Life of the great Duke of Marlborough. Besides the letter we are about to quote, in which the Duchess only is engaged, there are many others, written by or relating to the Duke, and which do not tend to show him off in a very heroic light. Though most of these are postillated by the archdeacon's own hand, that reverend gentleman did not quote them in his memoir; his object being to draw the dignified portrait of a hero, and to represent John Churchill en grande tenue, while, in good truth, not a few of these letters savour more of Thersites than Achilles, and show the hero of Blenheim in grotesque deshabillé.

The business-like tone of our knight's letter, so naturally enlivened here and there by outbreaks of temper, will not escape the reader's notice.


MADAM, Whitehall, Nov. 6th, 1716.

WHEN I came to town from Blenheim, I received a letter from the Duke of Newcastle, out of Sussex, that he would in a day or two be at Claremont; and wanted very much to talk with me. But I having engaged to Mr. Walpole, to follow him into Norfolk, cou’d not stay to see him then: at my return from Mr. Walpole's, which was Friday last, I found another letter from the Duke, that he was at Claremont, and deferred returning back to Sussex till he cou’d see me; so I went down to him yesterday.

He told me the business he had with me was to know if anything more had past on the subject he had write to me at Scarborough relating to Lady H. and what discourse might have happen'd with your Grace upon it at Blenheim. I told him you had not mention'd one word of it to me. He said that was mighty strange, for you had talk'd with Mr. Walters upon it at the Bath, and writ to him since, in such a manner as had put him upon endeavouring to bring a direct negotiation. He then told me that, before he cou’d come to a resolution of embarking in any treaty, he had waited for an opportunity of discoursing with me once more upon the qualitys and conditions of Lady H. for that, as I knew his whole views in marriage, and that he had hopes of some other satisfactions in it than many people troubled themselves about, I might judge what a terrible disappointment he should be under if he found himself ty'd for life to a woman not capable of


being a useful and faithfull friend as well as an agreeable companion; that what I had often said to him of Lady H. in that respect, had left a strong impression with him: but it being of so high a consequence to him not to be deceived in this great point, on which the happiness of his life wou'd turn, he had desired to discourse with me again upon it in the most serious manner, being of opinion (as he was pleas'd to say) that I cou’d give him a righter character of her than any other friend or acquaintance he had in the world; and that he was fully perswaded that whatever good wishes I might have for her, or regards to my Lord Marlborough and his family, I would be content with doing her justice, without exceeding in her character, so as to lead him into an opinion of her now, which, by a disappointment hereafter, (should he marry her,) wou'd make him the unhappyest man in the world. He then desired to know in particular what account I might have heard of her behaviour at the Bath; and what new observations I might myself have made of her at Blenheim, both as to her person, temper, sense, behaviour, and many other very new enquirys. It wou'd be too long to repeat to your Grace what my answers were to him. It will be sufficient to acquaint you that I think I have left him a disposition to prefer her to all other women. When he had done with me on these personal considerations, he called Mr. Walters (who was there) into the room, and acquainted him with what had past with your Grace through me at several times, and then spoke his sentiments as to fortune, which Mr. Walters intends to give your Grace an account of, so I need not.

« PreviousContinue »