The early part of Alexander's reign (1801-25) was a period of generous ideas and liberal reforms. Under the influence of his Swiss tutor, Frederick Cesar de Laharpe, he Alex- had imbibed many of the democratic ideas of the time, and he aspired to put them in practice, with the assistance at first of three young friends, Novosiltsov, Adam Czartoryski and Strogonov, who were his intimate counsellors and were popularly known as the Triumvirate, and later of Mikhail Speranski.
He had imbibed from his Swiss tutor, Frederic Cesar de Laharpe, the principles of Rousseau's gospel of humanity; from his military governor, General Soltikov, the traditions of Russian autocracy; while his father had inspired him with his own passion of military parade, and taught him to combine a theoretical love of mankind with a practical contempt for men.
For Russia was not ripe for liberty; and Alexander, the disciple of the revolutionist Laharpe, was - as he himself said - but " a happy accident " on the throne of the tsars.
Carried away by the enthusiasm of Laharpe, who had returned to Russia from Paris, Alexander began openly to proclaim his admiration for French institutions and for the person of Bonaparte.
Laharpe, after a new visit to Paris, presented to the tsar his Reflexions on the True Nature of the Consulship for Life, which, as Alexander said, tore the veil from his eyes, and revealed Bonaparte " as not a true patriot," but only as " the most famous tyrant the world has produced."
For Madame de Kriidener was not the only influence behind the throne; and, though Alexander had declared war against the Revolution, Laharpe was once more at his elbow, and the catchwords of the gospel of humanity were still on his lips.
(Leipzig, 1900); Laharpe, Le Gouverneur d'un Prince (F.
C. de Laharpe et Alexandre I.