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is certainly one of the properties of genius; and it is a principle attached to great men to wish to conceal their weakness from the world; but which too often gives us cause of sorrow, as in the present instance, for the fatal consequences which may ensue. Thirty years longer of life, from the energy given by Peter to the nation, would have rendered it much more strong and complete : he saw, under his reign, that revolution which he had prepared, almost entirely accomplished. What good did he not perform for Russia? What long rooted abuses did he not destroy 2 What wonderful establishments did he not make : In a painful disorder, he took, like a timid child, in a private manner, and as if by stealth, the medicines of an empiric, brought him by one of his valets, and who, according to the state he was in, promised to cure him! He continued these remedies, and the disorder increased: vanquished, at last, by extreme pain, he had recourse to physicians. Doctors Blomenstrof and Bredlow, made use of ordinary methods, which might have succeeded in the commencement: but an inflammation having taken place, their cares were insufficient; the evil was irremediable. After undergoing some operations, he was in a fair way of recovery, but his cure was not yet established—he became impatient; this active being had not learnt to endure sickness, and he suffered from his confinement, as much as from his disorder: be went to visit the works of the canal at Ladoga; a great undertaking, conducted and directed by the Count of Munich; from thence he went to view the armories, the salt works, and forges; all those establishments created by himself, the fruits of his genius, and the information he had gained by his travels. It was at the latter part of the year, in the month of October, already very severe in the climate of Russia, he went by water, his favourite way of travelling, the cold seized him, and he felt it. The physician advised him to return immediately to Petersburgh; he was not yet ill, but he expected to become so. An honourable cause, worthy of his great soul, the cause of humanity, caused his relapse. He returned by the Achta; he saw a boat overset, and the sailors in danger of perishing, were struggling against the waves: he sent some of his crew to their assistance; they were unsuccessful, not being quick enough. Peter followed all their movements with his eye; his generous heart beat for the wretched, helpless beings; he could restrain himself no longer; he ordered his yatcht to advance, he plunged into the water, and hastened to succour the unfortunate 1 his strength and his lofty stature rendered him fit for an enterprise of this kind; he saved, and dragged all these sailors eut of the water! But he felt the cold and damp had deeply penetrated his body, though he was free from pain. When he arrived at Petersburgh he had a fatal relapse, a gangrene had taken place in the part affected, and he died at the age of fifty-three years.
THE ORIGINAL BLUE BEARD.
AS this extraordinary personage has long been the theme, not only of children's early study and terror, and as no afterpiece had ever a greater run than that splendid and popular musical entertainment which bears the title of Blue Beard, our readers will, no doubt, be gratified in perusing the character of that being, who really existed, and who was distinguished, in horror and derision, by that appellation.
He was the famous Gilles, Marquis de Laval, a Marshal of France, and a general of uncommon intrepidity, and greatly distinguished himself in the reigns of Charles the VI. and VII. by his courage; particularly against the English, when they invaded France. He rendered those services to his country which were sufficient to immortalize his name had he not for ever tarnished his glory by the most horrible and cruel murders, blasphemies, and licentiousness of every kind. His revenues were princely, but his prodigality was sufficient to render an Emperor a bankrupt. Wherever he went he had in his suite a seraglio, a company of players, a band of musicians, a society of sorcerers, an almost incredible number of cooks, packs of dogs of various kinds, and above two hundred led horses: Mezeray, an author of the highest repute, says, that he encouraged and maintained men who called themselves sorcerers, to discover hidden treasures, and corrupted young persons of both sexes to attach themselves to him, and afterwards killed them for the sake of their blood, which was requisite to form his charms and incantations. These horrid excesses may be believed, when we reflect on the age of ignorance and barbarity in which they were, certainly, but too of— ten practised. He was, at length, for a state crime against the Duke of Brittany, sentenced to be burnt alive in a field at Nantes 1440; but the Duke of Brittany, who was present at his execution, so far mitigated the sentence, that he was first strangled, then burnt, and his ashes buried. Though he was descended from one of the most illustrious families in France, he declared, previous to his death, that all his horrible excesses were owing to his wretched education.
FROM THE EuroPEAN MAGAz; Ng.
Particulars of the horrible imprisonment of the English in the Black Hole, after the capture of Calcutta by storm, in June 1756.
AT five the Nabob entered the fort, accompanied by his general Meer Jaffier, and most of the principal officers of his army. He immediately ordered Omichund and Kissendass to be brought before him, and received them with civility; and having bid some officers to go and take possession of the Company’s treasury, he proceeded to the principal apartment of the • factory, where he sat in state, and received the compliments of his court and attendants in magnificent expressions of his prowess . and good fortune. Soon after he sent for Mr. Holwell, to whom he expressed much resentment at the presumption of the English in daring to defend the fort, and much dissatisfaction at the smallness of the sum found in the treasury, which did not exceed 50,000 rupees. Mr. Holwell returning to his unfortunate companions, found them assembled, and surrounded by a strong guard. Several buildings on the north and south sides of the fort were already in flames, which approached with so thick a smoke on either hand, that the prisoners imagined their enemies had caused this conflagration, in order to suffocate them between the two fires. On each side of the eastern gate of the fort, extended a range of chambers adjoining to the curtain; and before the chambers a varanda, or open gallery: it was of arched masonry, and intended to shelter the soldiers from the sun and rain, but, being low, almost totally obstructed the chambers behind from the light and air; and whilst some of the guard were looking in other parts of the factory for proper places to confine the prisoners during the night, the rest ordered them to assemble in ranks under the varanda on the right hand of the gateway, where they remained for some time with so little suspicion of their impending fate, that they laughed among themselves at the seeming oddity of this disposition, and amused themselves with conjecturing what they should next be ordered to do. About 8 o'clock, those who had been sent to examine the rooms, reported that they had found none fit for the purpose. On which the principal officer commanded the prisoners to go into one of the rooms which stood behind them along the varanda. It was the common dungeon of the garrison, who used to call it, The Black Hole. Many of the prisoners knowing the place, began to expostulate ; upon which the officer ordered his men to cut down those who hesitated; on which the prisoners obeyed. But, before all were within, the room was so VOL. VIII. 2 K
thronged, that the last entered with difficulty. The guard immediately closed and locked the door; confining 146 persons in a room not twenty feet square, with only two small windows, and these obstructed by the varanda. It was the hottest season of the year; and the night uncommonly sultry, even at this season. The excessive pressure of their bodies against one another, and the intolerable heat which prevailed as soon as the door was shut, convinced the prisoners that it was impossible to live through the night in this horrible confinement; and violent attempts were immediately made to force the door, but without effect, for it opened inward ; on which many began to give a loose to rage. Mr. Holwell, who had placed himself at one of the windows, exhorted them to re-o main composed both in body and mind, as the only means of surviving the night, and his remonstrances produced a short interval of quiet; during which he applied to an old Jemautdar, who bore some marks of humanity in his countenance, promising to give him a thousand rupees in the morning, if he would separate the prisoners into two chambers. The old man went to try, but returning in a few minutes, said it was impossible; when Mr. Holwell offered him a larger sum; on which he retired once more, and returned with the fatal sentence, that no relief could be expected, because the Nabob was asleep, and no one dared to wake him. In the mean time, every minute had increased their sufferings. The first effect of their confinement was a profuse and continued sweat, which soon produced intolerable thirst, succeeded by excrutiating pains in the breast, with difficulty of breathing little short of suffocation. Various means were tried to obtain more room and air. Every one stripped off his clothes; every hat was put in motion; and these methods affording no relief, it was proposed that they should all sit down on their hams at the same time, and, after remaining a little while in this posture, rise all together. This fatal expedient was thrice repeated before they had been confined an hour; and every time, several, unable to rear themselves again, fell, and were trampled to death by their companions. Attempts were again made to force the door, which, failing as before, redoubled their rage; but the thirst increasing, nothing but “Water' water s” became, soon after, the general cry. The good Jemautdar immediately ordered some skins of water to be brought to the windows; but, instead of relief, his benevolence became a more dreadful cause of destruction; for the sight of the water threw every one into such excessive agitations and ravings, that, unable to resist this violent impulse of nature, none could wait to be regularly served, but each, with the utmost ferocity, battled against those who were likely to get it before him; and, in these conflicts, many were
either pressed to death by the efforts of others, or suffocated by their own. This scene, instead of producing compassion in the guard without, only excited their mirth ; and they held up lights to the bars, in order to have the diabolical satisfaction of viewing the deplorable contentions of the sufferers within; who, finding it impossible to get any water whilst it was thus furiously disputed, at length suffered those who were nearest to the windows to convey it in their hats to those behind them. It proved no relief either to their thirst, or other sufferings; for the fever increased every moment with the increasing depravity of the air in the dungeon, which had been so often respired, and was saturated with the hot and deleterious effluvia of putrifying bodies; of which the stench was little less than mortal. Before midnight, all who were alive, and had not partaken of the air at the windows, were either in a lethargic stupefaction, or raving with delirium. Every kind of invective and abuse was uttered, in hopes of provoking the guard to put an end to their miseries, by firing into the dungeon; and whilst some were plaspheming their Creator with the frantic execrations of torment in despair, Heaven was implored by others with wild and incoherent prayers; until the weaker, exhausted by these agitations, at length laid down quietly, and expired on the bodies of their dead or agonizing friends. Those who still survived in the inward part of the dungeon, finding that the water had afforded them no relief, made efforts to obtain air, by endeavouring to scramble over the heads of those who stood between them and the windows; where the utmost strength of every one was employed for two hours, either in maintaining his own ground, or in endeavouring to get that of which others were in possession. All regards of compassion and affection were lost, and no one would recede or give way for the relief of another. Faintness, sometimes, gave short pauses of quiet, but the first motion of any one renewed the struggle through all, under which ever and anon, some one sunk to rise no more. At two o'clock, not one more than fifty remained alive. But even this number were too many to partake of the saving air, the contest for which, and life, continued until the morn, long implored, began to break ; and, with the hope of relief gave the few survivors a view of the dead. The survivors then at the window, finding that their entreaties could not prevail on the guard to open the door, it occurred to Mr. Cooke, the secretary of the council, that Mr. Holwell, if alive, might have more influence to obtain their relief; and two of the company undertaking the search, discovered him, having still some signs of life ; but when they brought him towards the window, every one refused to quit his place, excepting captain Mills, who, with rare generosity, offered to resign his ; on which the rest likewise agreed to make room. He had scarcely begun to reco