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[153] to the palace in the evening, but the empress,
Chap. L.} 1775 Oct.
feigning indisposition, excused herself from seeing him.

Meantime the subject was debated in council, and objections without end rose up against the proposed traffic in troops, from the condition of the army wasted by wars, the divisions in Poland, the hostile attitude of Sweden, the dignity of the empress, the danger of disturbing her diplomatic relations with other European powers, the grievous discontents it would engender among her own subjects. She asked Panin whether granting the king such assistance would not disgust the British nation; and Ivan Ctzernichew, lately her ambassador at London, now minister of the marine, declared that it would give offence to the great body of the people of England, who were vehemently opposed to the policy of the king and his ministers.

Besides, what motive had the people of Russia to interfere against the armed husbandmen of New England? Why should the oldest monarchy of modern Europe, the connecting link between the world of antiquity and the modern world, assist to repress the development of the youngest power in the west? Catharine claimed to sit on the throne of the Byzantine Cesars, as heir to their dignity and their religion; and how could she so far disregard her own glory, as to take part in the American dispute, by making a shambles of the mighty empire which assumed to be the successor of Constantine's? The requisition of England was marked by so much extravagance, that nothing but the wildest credulity of statesmanship could have anticipated success.

The first suggestion to Catharine that the king of

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