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[104] these instructions Bonvouloir repaired to the Low
Chap. XLVII.} 1775. Aug.
Countries, and after some delay found at Antwerp an opportunity of embarking for the colonies. His report might open the way for relations and events of the utmost importance. Yet all the while the means of pacifying America were so obvious that Vergennes was hardly able to persuade himself they could be missed by the English ministers. The folly imputed to them was so great, and was so sure to involve the loss of their possessions, that he called in question the accounts which he had received. The ambassador replied: ‘You say what you think ought to be done, but the king of England is the most obstinate prince alive, and his ministers will never adopt the policy necessary in a great crisis, for fear of compromising their safety or their places.’

The affairs of the United Colonies were at that time under discussion in the heart of the Russian empire, the ancient city of Moscow, at the court of Catharine the Second. The ruling opinion in Russia demanded the concentration of all power in one hand. From the moment the empress set her foot on Russian soil, it became her fixed purpose to seize the absolute sway and govern alone. Though she mixed trifling pastime with application to business, and for her recreation sought the company of the young and the very gay, she far excelled those around her in industry and knowledge. Frederic said of her, that she had an infinity of talent and no religion; yet she went over to the Greek church and played the devotee. Distinguished for vivacity of thought and judgment, for the most laborious attention to affairs, very proud of the greatness and power of her empire,

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