the priests of the Greek church, themselves bred up
in superstition; so that the Slavonic race, which was neither Protestant nor Catholic—which had neither been ravaged by the wars of religion, nor educated by the discussions of creeds—a new and rising power in the world, standing on the confines of Europe
, not wholly Oriental
and still less of the West
, displayed the hardy but torpid vigor of a people not yet vivified by intelligence, still benumbed by blind belief, ignorance, and servitude.
Its political unity existed in the strength of its monarchy, which organized its armies and commanded them without control; made laws, and provided for their execution; appointed all officers, and displaced them at will; directed the internal administration and the relations with foreign powers.
The sovereign who held these absolute prerogatives was Catherine, a princess of a German Protestant house.
Her ambition had secured the throne by adopting her husband's religion, conniving at his deposition, and not avenging his murder.
Her love of pleasure solicited a licentiousness of moral opinion; her passion for praise sought to conciliate the good will of men of letters; so that she blended the adoption of the new philosophy with the grandeur, the crimes, and the voluptuousness of Asiatic despotism.
If she invaded Poland
, it would be under the pretext of protecting religious freedom; if she moved towards the Bosphorus, she would surround herself with the delusive halo of some imaginary restoration of the liberties of ancient Greece
At home respecting the property of the nobles, yet seeking to diminish the number of slaves;1
an apparent devotee to the faith of the Greek church, yet giving religious