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[151] concession as the best mode of suppressing a re-
Chap. L.} 1775 Sept.

Late on the twenty fourth, the first British courier reached Moscow a few hours after Catharine's departure for some days of religious seclusion in the monastery at Voskresensk, for she was scrupulous in her observance of the forms and usages of the Greek church. As no time was to be lost, Gunning went to Panin, who received him cordially, heard his communication without any sign of emotion, and consented to forward to the empress in her retirement a copy of the king's letter. It was the policy of the empire to preserve amicable relations with George the Third; the vice chancellor Ostermann, therefore, calmly explained the impossibility of conceding his request; but the British envoy persisted in his urgency, and wilfully deluded by the tranquil self-possession and friendly manner of the Russian minister, left him with the belief that if the British requisition should come to be a matter of debate, it would be supported by his voice.

The empress having returned to Moscow, Gunning, at five in the afternoon of the thirtieth, waited on Panin, by appointment. The autograph letter, which he wished to deliver in person, said positively that she had made him an offer of troops; Panin denied that any offer of troops had been made, and after much expostulation, Gunning confessed: ‘It is true; in your answer to me no explicit mention was made of troops.’

The message of the empress now was, that she was affected by the cordiality of the king, that in return, her friendship was equally warm, but that she had

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