Peter the Great

Peter the Great

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Peter the Great

Peter the Great

Read FREE!

Excerpt

'Measure thy powers on thine undertaking--and not the undertaking by thy powers.'

THIS bold advice, the dictum of a poet and fellow-countryman of my own, has been the almost indispensable inspiration of this historical work of mine. The figure which forms its subject--towering above the history, bound up, to this very hour, with the existence, of the Russian nation--is not one to be lightly approached.

Therefore it is that I have come to him so late, that I have worked backwards, up the course of the years, from the great Inheritress to the creator of her inheritance.

Have I dared, then, at last, to exchange glances with that great bronze giant, who, so the poets say, 'steps down, on twilight nights, from his granite pedestal, hard by the Neva river-bank, and rides through the sleeping city'--triumphant even in death? Have I indeed--oh, mighty ghost! who, for well-nigh two hundred years, like some terrible and familiar demon, hauntest the places thou didst know in life,--have I, in good truth, happened on the magic formula which brings back speech to phantoms, and builds life up around them, out of the dust of bygone days?

I have lived those dead hours over again, in fancy. I have seen the faces, I have felt the warmth, of the beings and the things that filled them. I have laid my finger on the miracle of that legendary reign--the realisation of the fabled grain of wheat which sprouts and straightway grows into a . . .

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