|Catherine II Autographed Document (21"x 14 3/4" ) signed by the Empress "Ekaterina" in Cyrillic by her own hand, dated St. Petersburg, Aug 8, 1769. It is accompanied by Latin translation signed "Cathrina" a rare form of her name. This is a diplomatic letter of introduction for a Russian Ambassador to Sardinia. Empress Catherine II signature is certified by Prince Alexander Golytsin a most powerful man of late 19th C. Russia. Document is affixed with the Great Seal of Catherine II Empress of Russia. - Image courtesy of Historic.us|
Almost all the ladies of the Court kept men with the title and office of favourites: I say not lovers, as that would imply intiment; while theirs was merely gross sensuality, or frequently wish to follow the fashion. This taste was become as common eating and drinking or dancing and music. No tender intrigues, and much less any strong affections. Debauchery and inhibition had banished love. Marriage was merely an association, in which convenience alone was considered; it was fortunate friendship sometimes came unsought, to lighten its chains."
In order to shield the Sovereign from error, to which all humanity was prone, the Sovereign would divide the business of the State into four departments and appoint a Secretary of State to each of these, the secretaries thus appointed to be, as it were, the representatives of the Sovereign in their respective departments, and to have vested in them to a certain extent the " solicitude" of the Sovereign in respect of such department. The Imperial Council is further defined as being " nothing else but the place in which we shall labour for the empire, and hence all business coming before us, i.e. before the Sovereign, shall be distributed, in accordance with the nature thereof, between these Secretaries of State who shall examine the same in their departments, have it made plain and lucid, and submit it to us in Council, dealing with it subsequently in accordance with our resolutions and decrees." The Council was to meet daily, Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays excepted, and in the presence of the Sovereign each Secretary of State was to submit matters of business for the Imperial decision and approval. The Privy Councillors, on the other hand, should debate these matters and put forth their opinions and arguments, whilst the Sovereign by autocratic decree settled the final decision.
Twenty years later, on the institution of the Holy Synod, Peter handed the ecclesiastical estates over to an Ecclesiastical Board of Government, but no progress was made, and for forty years the ecclesiastical lands continued in an unsettled state. At last Peter III promulgated on the 21st March 1762 his famous decree by which the peasantry, against a nominal pepper-corn rent, received the ecclesiastical lands to cultivate for their own benefit. By this decree, which revolutionized the condition of the clergy more than any other act, Peter III prepared his own downfall.
"Nobody, I think, will read this report without being surprised to learn that the Grand-Duke was so injudiciously brought up during his childhood. Dr. Foussadier assured me that this was due to the immoderate affection of the late Empress Elizabeth, who took the heir to the empire under her own wing from his birth. Although she was, generally speaking, a most solicitous Sovereign, she was, unfortunately, prejudiced in favour of certain old ladies, to whom she absolutely entrusted the education of the Grand-Duke."
"Catherine II, Empress of All the Russias, is above the middle height, she has so much grace and dignity, that assuming it to be possible to forget her exalted rank, she would be acclaimed even here as one of the most amiable persons of her sex. She adds to her natural charms, courtesy of manner and kindliness and benignity of the highest degree, besides manifesting on every occasion such clearness of judgment as to compel admiration. Her Majesty speaks Russian, German, and French perfectly, reads 11 alian without difficulty, and although she does not know enough English to be able to converse in that language, yet she can understand sufficiently well whatever is said; and this was of great service to me when I was unable to express my meaning in French. The Empress observes in an exemplary manner the rites of the Greek Church; at table she is most moderate, and never drinks more than one or two tumblers of water, with the addition of a little wine. She rises very early in the morning and devotes herself with indefatigable zeal to affairs of State. The promotion and encouragement of the liberal arts, the welfare of her subjects, these are the objects to which, in times of peace, she devotes all her splendid talents. Her exceptional ability did much towards bringing the war to an end, into which, in spite of the benevolent inclinations of the Empress, Russia was irresistibly forced, and I sincerely hope it may be followed by a durable and advantageous peace, thanks to which the Empress may again shine as the patroness of arts and commerce and advance the prosperity of her extensive dominions."
"Everybody is prejudicial against other countries, and against their manners and customs. Hence many English people, who are surprised at the character of the exalted persons described above [Dimsdale has also left us a thumbnail sketch of the Grand-Duke Paul], have a different opinion of the aristocracy and the people of Russia, and even believe that they preserve vestiges of barbarism in their midst. I shall not say anything of what they were before, but beg to observe that I am speaking of the years 1768 and 1769 only; at that period, the performance of my medical duties and the frequent invitations to the tables of the nobility gave me an opportunity of becoming acquainted with them and their families, and enabled me to form a more accurate idea of them than can possibly be obtained in the superficial and conventional acquaintanceships made at ordinary social gatherings. I can certify absolutely that persons of rank are polite, high-minded, and honourable, and, what may seem stranger still, extremely moderate in the use of strong drink. It may be easily imagined that I had no frequent intercourse with the lower orders, nevertheless, to the best of my observation, they always seemed ready to render any services in their power, and during any walks abroad, when I was alone, I had occasion to put their obliging kindliness to the test; frequently did I have to ask my way and make myself understood by signs only, and I always found the poorer classes to be most intelligent and ready to be of service."
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