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A RUSSIAN GRAND DUKE'S CAREER.

In deference to the urgent entreaties of the Queen of Greece, the Czar has %fc length consented to pardon and to restore to his former rank, his cousin, her Hellenic Majesty's brother, the Grand Duke Nicolas Constantinovitch. We take the ' following account of the career of this member of the Imperial Russian Family from the New York Morning Journal : — A perfect giant in stature, hot-headed, and with more of the Asiatic in his composition than is to be^ found in that of most Russians of the present day. The young Grand Duke in question became deeply infatuated in the year 1874 with the notorious Philadelphian adventuress known in Europe by her norn de guerre of Fanny Lear, and in the United States by that of Hattie Blackford.

Mrs Hattie Blackford first met the Grand Duke at a masked ball, and shortly afterwards the relations between them became of. such a notorious character that Nicolas was sent to join the Russian army in Asia, with the object of putting an end to the entangle- ' ment. Unlike most of his countrymen, who are exceedingly fickle, the young, Grand Duke's affection for the beautiful American remained undiminished during his temporary absence, and on his return nine months later he resumed his former relationi^whiehjbey^ came more scandalous than eyer.,^^^|||||s> Unfortunately there were at tbe^ltnOT^f few of his,relatives i whose lives were such.aiT - to enable them to preach to him on thesub- „ ject of immorality, and his father, Constah- , J tine, at that time Lord High Admiral of theji Navy, and renowned as one of the mos^fp talented and unscrupulous princes in Eur6pe?^< was known as a debauchee whose code ojr * of morality was far more suited to thetimesjs of the French Regency than to those of though present day.- Indeed, the only member of the Imperial Family whose private life is entirely above all reproach is ,tbfe reigning Emperor, at that time only Czarewitch. . Hattie Blackford, emboldened by the hold which she felt convinced that she possessed on her Imperial admirer's affections, became daily more exacting in her demands on his purse, and he experienced the greatest diffi-

culty in complying with her requests, for his I father, although extremely wealthy, required. J *uch large sums for his own dissipation that he I was able to spare but little for those of his sons. , Nicolas at length acquired the unpleasant experience that even the credit of a Russian Grand Duke may become exhausted} and finding it impossible to . obtain any further ftjnds by borrowing; he determined tp steai ! lje was impelled thereto by the declaration of the fair Hattie thattiriless he was.able tofurnish the sums, which she required for her existence in the Russian capital she would be obliged fo> jilt him and, leave Russia; , Frantic at the notion of her deserting him the young Grand Duke committed the unmanly crime of robbing his mother of her jewels in order to give them, to his mistress. Idolised as he was by his mother, he knew that far from attempting to .punish her firstborn for the robbery, her Imperial Highness would, on the contrary, do everything in her power to. conceal his' theffc. It is, indeed,: doubtful if the crime would ever have become known had it not been for the braaen effrontery of Mrs Blackford in wearing the , well -known jewels in public. A few weeks later the climax came. Encouraged by the immunity which she had until then enjoyed, and with an ever-in-creasing voracity for gold and jewels, she made still further demands .on young Nicolas. Some days afterwards an immense sensation wua created at St. Petersburg by the report that the magnificent gold' vases, crosses, and jewelled icons had been stolen from the Imperial Chapel of, the Winter Palace, and that the sacrilegious thief was no less a personage than his Imperial Highness the Grand Duke Nicolas Conatantinovitch. The offence on this occasion was too flagrant to be overlooked. The young Prince was exiled to a small town in the Ural Range, and was deprived of his honours and decorations, and Hattie Blackford, in whose possession the missing objects were found, was made to disgorge the proceeds of the two roberies, and escorted to the frontier. In 1883 young Nicolas, who had almost passed out of men's minds, drew attention to the fact that he was still in existence, and to his whereabouts, by the perpetration ot another scandal; which; in the" eyes of the Emperor; was almost as great a crime as the Sacrilegious, robbery of which he had been guilty in 1876. Ever hot-headed and reckless, the young Grand Duke had not only become enamoured, of the daughter of the postmaster of the small mountain town in which he was forced to' ] reside, but had even gone through- the cere-, mony of a religious marriage with her. To ■ make matters worse it was discovered that ■ ; the postmaster in question was one of the; ! most prominent chiefs of the Nihilists in the ; province ; that the daughter was likewise! , affiliated to- the secret order, and that the Grand Duke himself was regarded by the! conspirators as being in a fair way to become one of the Muscovite camorri. , : The Czar lost no time in dealing with this new scandal. In the first place, he caused the postmaster to be transported to the mines of Sangalhwn, a living tomb from which the man will never return. He like- . wise availed himself of his privilege as head of the Imperial Family, and as supreme head of the Orthodox Russian Church, to decree the annulment of the marriage of hiSj cousin with the postmaster's daughter. The latter was despatched to the extreme end of Siberia, and there are but few person 3 who' could tell to-day what hasbeen the ulterior fate either of the girl or of the child of the marriage. The young Grand Duke himself was declared insane, was incarcerated in i, fortress near Tiflis, and was deprived, nob only of his rank in the army, but even of his attributes as a member of the Imperial , Family., Such is the history of the Grand Duke, pardonedand rehabilitated- in honour of the marriage of his sister's child' to \the Czar's favourite brother.

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A RUSSIAN GRAND DUKE'S CAREER. Otago Witness, Issue 1976, 3 October 1889

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