I am glad you are reading this and preparing for old age. Please do not forget to read first two articles below:
The power of repose has lost
Mansfield’s Ivan is terrible. The Czar is not old in years but you can see that Death is sniffing close upon his track. Ivan has lost the power of repose. He cannot listen, weigh and decide.
He has no thought or consideration for any man or thing this is his habit of life. His bony hands are never still the fingers open and shut, and pick at things eternally.
He fumbles the cross on his breast, adjusts his jewels, scratches his cosmos, and plays the devil’s tattoo. He gets up nervously and looks behind the throne, holds his breath to listen.
When people address him, he damns them savagely if they kneel. And if they stand upright he accuses them of lack of respect. He asks that he be relieved from the cares of state. And then trembles for fear his people will take him at his word.
When asked to remain ruler of Russia he proceeds to curse his councilors. He accuses them of loading him with burdens that they themselves would not endeavor to bear.
He is a victim of amor senilis. If Mansfield took one step more his realism would be appalling. But then he stops in time and suggests what he dares not express.
This tottering, doddering, slobbering, sniffling old man is in love he is about to wed a young, beautiful girl. He selects jewels for her he makes remarks about what would become her beauty, jeers and laughs in cracked falsetto.
In the animality of youth there is something pleasing. It is natural but the vices of an old man, when they have become only mental, are most disturbing.
The people about Ivan are in mortal terror of him. He is still the absolute monarch he has the power to promote or disgrace.
He can take their lives or let them go free. They laugh when he laughs, cry when he does, and watch his fleeting moods with thumping hearts.
He is intensely religious and affects the robe and cowl of a priest. Around his neck hangs the crucifix. His fear is that he will die with no opportunity of confession and absolution.