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S.A. Bent, comp. Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men. 1887.

Nicholas I.

  • [Emperor of Russia; born July, 1796; succeeded Alexander I., 1825, by the voluntary renunciation of his elder brother, Constantine, and suppressed a military revolt; took the province of Erivan from Persia, 1827; declared war against Turkey, 1828, by which he gained territory on the Black Sea; suppressed the Polish insurrection, 1830; intervened against the Hungarians, 1849; demanded the protectorate of subjects of the Porte professing the Greek faith, and on refusal declared war against Turkey and her allies, October, 1853; died March 2, 1855.]
  • One law, one tongue, one faith.

  • The maxim upon which was built his theory of government, a theory which to-day is called Pan-Slavism (Une seule loi, une seule langue, une seule croyance). Daniel Webster gave as a toast, at a banquet in New York, 1837, “One country, one constitution, one destiny.”
  • Nicholas suppressed the insurrection which followed his proclamation as emperor, with merciless rigor. The exhibition of power was necessary to its preservation. “If I am an emperor only for an hour,” he said, “I will show that I am worthy of it.”
  • The sick man of Europe.

  • When in England in 1844, the emperor conversed with the Duke of Wellington and Lord Aberdeen respecting the prospective dissolution of the Turkish empire. On his return home he embodied his views in a memorandum drawn up by Count Nesselrode, which was transmitted to London, but kept secret until March, 1853. In January and February of that year he had conversations on the subject with the English ambassador at St. Petersburg, Sir George Hamilton Seymour, in which he used words like the following: “We have on our hands a sick man,—a very sick man. It will be a great misfortune if, one of these days, he should slip away from us before the necessary arrangements have been made.”—Blue Book, 1854. He accordingly made proposals to both England and France concerning a division of the sick man’s estate, which were, however, declined; Lord John Russell replying that the dissolution of the patient might be postponed a hundred years.
  • Montesquieu, in the “Persian Letters,” I. 19, saw with astonishment the weakness of the Ottoman power, “whose sick body was not supported by a mild and regular diet, but by a powerful treatment, which continually exhausted it.”
  • In the correspondence between Catherine II. and Voltaire, the latter said, “Your Majesty may think me an impatient sick man, and that the Turks are even sicker.”—Rundschau, April, 1878.
  • Sir Thomas Roe, ambassador of James II. to Constantinople, reported, in a letter quoted by Büchmann, 375, the Ottoman empire to have “the body of a sick old man, who tried to appear healthy, although his end was near.”