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[107] court of Moscow, and the Russian ministers never
Chap. XLVII.} 1775. Aug.
spoke of the strife but as likely to end in American independence. Yet this coolness was not perceived by the British minister. One day Panin inquired of him the news; remembering his instructions, Gunning seized the moment to answer, that the measures in progress would shortly end the rebellion in America; then, as if hurried by excess of zeal to utter an idle, unauthorized speculation of his own, he asked leave to acquaint his king, that ‘in case the circumstances of affairs should render any foreign forces necessary, he might reckon upon a body of her imperial majesty's infantry.’ On the morning of the eighth of August, Panin reported the answer of the empress. Nothing was said specifically about troops; still less of placing Russian battalions under the command of a British general, or despatching them across the Atlantic; but she gave the strongest assurance of her entire readiness, from gratitude for favors received from England during her last war, upon this and upon every other occasion, to give the British king assistance, in whatever manner he thought proper. She charged Panin to repeat her very words, that ‘she found in herself an innate affection for the British nation which she should always cherish.’ The unobserving envoy drank in the words with delight; and interpreted a woman's lavish sentimentality as a promise of twenty thousand men to be forwarded from Asia and Eastern Europe to America. He flattered himself that he had conducted the negotiation with delicacy and success, and that the proposal, which was flying on the winds to other courts, was a secret to everybody but Panin and the empress.

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