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An Unhappy Ruler., Issue 7916, 25 May 1889
An Unhappy Ruler.
It is fortunate that Alexander 111. is e, man of Herculean build, and of a mind almost as powerful as his physique, otherwise he would end by being crushed under the accumulation of sorrows which have cast their shadows oyer his reign, and have blighted his whole life. Slighted by both father and mother, who for some reason loved him far less than any of their other chi'dren, his infancy and youth were exceedingly sad. He became still more distasteful to his parents after the death of his elder brother, who expired at Nice, on the eve of his marriage, from the effects of a malady due to an unintentional blow inflicted by the present Czar in the course of some rough horse-play. A man of uncompromising honesty, he made no effort to hide his indignation at the immorality and cor : ruption which were rife both among the Imperial family and at court here during the closing years of the last reign. He was thoroughly out of touch with the rtgime which then prevailed. The disgraceful neglect to which hie mother was subjedted, and which ultimately led to her death, created a deep impression on his mind, notwithstanding all her coldness towards him; and when, a few weeks after her demise, her husband went so far as to contract a morganatic alliance with his nristress, the Princess Jurieffsky, the relations between father and son became more strained than ever,' The tragedy which brought Alexander 111. to the throne eight years ago has been followed since then by repeated attempts to assassinate both himself and those most dear to him ; and though the efforts of the wouldbe murderers have in each case been frustrated, the constant peril and the frequently well-founded distrust of those with whom he is brought into contact have had a very saddening effect on his character and appearance. The crowning sorrow of his life has, however, just come upon him. His wife, to whom he is passionately devoted,-and who is the moat gracious and captivating woman that has ever adorned a European throne, has become entirely insane. Her nervous system" had already been completely shattered by the repeated attempts on her husband's life, and since the terrible railway accident at Borki a few months ago, when so many of her favorite attendants lost their live*, her mental depression has
increased to a most alarming degree. She passes whole days in absolute silence; on other occasions she refuses to touch a morsel of food, while at times she even fails to recognise the members of her family. Her dementia has assumed the same aggravated character as that which two years ago necessitated the detention of Her Majesty's younger sister, the Princess Thyra, in a private lunatic asylum near Vishna for the space of eight months. The extreme gravity of the Czarina's case can best be estimated by the fact that at the request of the Emperor and of his physicians, Dr Charcot, the famous Parisian mad-doctor, and Professor Von Leidesdorf, the director of Ihe celebrated lunatic asylum at Dobling, near Vienna, who had charge of the Duches3 of Cumberland's case, have both arrived in this city en route, to Gatschina. Serious fears are entertained that the Empress may attempt to destroy herself, and she is watched day and ijjyht without intermission by the physicians and trained nurses, lier recovery is extremely doubtful, for so long as her huubarid remains on the throne the danger of his assassination will exist, and hence she will never be permitted to enioy permanent relief from the horrible anxiety which has wrought such havoc in her brain.
Poor little Marie Feodorovna was the brightest, prettiest, and most charming of clever old Queen Louise of Denmark's daughters. Had the any inkling of the sad fate in Btore for her when on the morning of her departure from her father's palace at Fredensborg to become the bride of Alexander Alexandrowitch at St. Petersburg she drew a diamond ring from her finger and scratched on the window-pane of her little boudoir: " Mit elskede Fredensborg, farwell" (My beloved Fredeneborg, farewell) ? There were many at the time who made gloomy predictions concerning t'ae marriage, for the Princess Dagmar had been betrothed to Alexander's eldest brother, who had died at Nice, and only consented to marry her present husband in accordance with the dying wishes of her./ioKcrf. It must be admitted, however, that she benefited by the change, for the present Czar is a far more noble and sterling character than his eldest brother ever was, though perhaps less handsome and refined looking. No breath of scandal or intrigue has ever clouded their marital relations, and it is impossible to find anywhere a more affectionate and devoted couple than the Emperor and Empress of Russia.
A painful feature of the present state of affairs ia the complete isolation of Alexander 111. in his great grief, There is an utter absence of sympathy on the part of his cousins, his uncles, and even of his brothers. Indeed, for several months past his relations with the Grand Dukes Alexis and Vladimir have been decidedly strained, and he makes no pretence of concealing his sentiments toward them. He thoroughly disapproved of their conduct during their recent visit to Paris, and with the people with whom they associated while there. What, however, particularly offended him was their failure to return to Russia on hearing of the horrible railway disaster at Borki. The catastrophe had been so terrible, and the destruction of the Emperor, the Empress, and their children so narrowly averted, that it was only natural to suppose that the Czar's brothers would hasten to his side for the purpose of congratulating him on his providential escape. They, however, preferred to remain at Paris, and none of the Czar'a relatives were present hero at St. Petersburg to take part in the unparalleled display of loyal enthusiasm which attended the popular welcome of the Imperial party after the accident.—St. Petersburg correspondent of the 'New York Tribune.'
An Unhappy Ruler., Issue 7916, 25 May 1889
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