her intercourse with all her subjects was marked by
mildness and incomparable grace; and she made almost incredible exertions as a monarch to be useful even to the meanest, to benefit the future as well as the present age. Tragedy, comedy, music wearied her; she had no taste but to build, or to regulate her court; no passion but to rule and to make a great name; and this led her to undertake too much herself without sufficient aid from her ministers.
In the crowd of the ambitious, who were all eager for advancement and favor, she compared herself to a hare worried by many hounds; and among an unscrupulous nobility in a land which was not that of her birth, she was haunted by a feeling of insecurity, and revealed a secret unrest and discontent of soul.
But those around her were not offended at the completeness with which she belonged to a century representing the supremacy of the senses; the spiritual life that diffused itself over her form was a refinement of delight in physical pleasures; the blandishments of her manner, the smiles on her face, the flowers on her breast, covered fiery passions that coursed riotously through her veins.
Her first minister was Panin
, without whom no council was held, no decision taken in foreign or domestic affairs.
He alone could effectually promote her schemes of administrative greatness; though he was guided by experience rather than comprehensive views.
With the faults of pride, inflexibility, and dilatoriness, he also had incorruptness; and he was acknowledged to be the fittest man for his post.
At home his political principles led him to desire some limitation of the power of the sovereign by a