THE EMPRESS OF RUSSIA’S BIRTH AND EARLY LIFE.
The name of the Empress of Russia (says a writer in a London paper) has been a good deal in people’s mouths lately. It may therefore interest my readers to read the following account of her birth and character, abridged from £ " Les Mysteres de la Russie,” by M. Frederic Lacroix, published in 1845 :—Travelling through Germany with the view to finding a suitable bride, Alexander arrived at the court of the Grand Duke of Hesse-Darmstadt, and was received with great pomp. The Grand Duke, anxious to become the father-in-law of the Czarewitch, presented two of his daughters to the young Prince. The latter, however, was polite, and nothing more. However, among the young ladies who composed the court of the Grand Duke, the Czarewich remarked one whose modest appearance and simple attire were in remarkable contrast to the luxury and formality which prevailed around her. Evidently she did not belong to the Grand Ducal family, for at table, at the play, everywhere, in short, she occupied the second rank, and seemed completely forgotten, not to say treated with contempt. This mystery provoked the curiosity and interest of Alexander, who ended by falling as desperately in love with the girl as his cold nature would allow. He made inquiries, and ascertained that her history was rather a singular one. One of the Grand Duke’s chamberlains allowed himself to become enamored of the Grand Duchess and there was reason to suspect that his love was returned. One day the Grand Duchess ■was confined of a daughter. The Grand Duke displayed great chagrin at the event. The child, whose undesired appearance caused so much grief and scandal, was brought up at the Grand Ducal Palace ; but, deprived of the care of her mother, who died while her daughter was still an infant, the poor little thing, though not formally disavowed, was made every day to expiate her mother’s fault by humiliations of every sort. From this unhappy lot she was delivered by her marriage with the Czarewitch, and it is she who is now the Empress of Russia.
An envelope, addressed to “H. Howell, Post-office, Foxton—to be left till called for,” was immediately despatched, and a constable in plain clothes was stationed in the locality of the Foxton post-office to await subsequent events. No great interval elapsed before a tap came to the office window and the enquiry made, “Any letters for H. Howell?” “Yes, sir, one,” replied the clerk, at the same time handing him the closed envelope in question. The stranger, having carefully deposited the supposed treasure in his coat pocket, at once marched home, and was followed by the policeman who had been an observer of the whole of the proceedings. Arrived at home, the man was arrested. It turned out to be Mr. Hermann Rockell, a member of the Manawatu Highway Board, and a justice of the peace. About the house were discovered slips of paper bearing evident attempts at producing the name of Arthur Ammond, and in a pocket was placed another slip containing the words “ Henry Howell,” which it is supposed served as a reminder to call for the letter. Mr. Rockell has- been brought before the Fielding Court, and committed for trial at the ensuing criminal sittings at Wanganui, having been let out on bail himself in LSOO, and two sureties of L 250 each.
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