The prince desired a little kingdom, in which he might administer justice in his own person, and see all the parts of government with his own eyes; but he could never fix the limits of his dominion, and was always adding to the number of his subjects.
Samuel Johnson, 1759
She wishes, at one and the same time, to form a middle class, to admit foreign commerce, to introduce manufactures, to establish credit, to increase paper-money, to raise the exchanges, to lower the interest of money, to build cities, to create academies, to people deserts, to cover the Black Sea with numerous squadrons, to annihilate the Tartars, to invade Persia, to continue aggressively her conquests from the Turks, to fetter Poland and to extend her influence over the whole of Europe.
Louis-Philippe, comte de Ségur, French ambassador to Russia, about Catherine the Great, 1787
Ships anchor at the foot of ravines, deep among green basins, … A gallery of ports & harbors, formed by the interchange of promontory & bay. Many parts like the Highlands of the Hudson, magnified. Porpoises sport in the blue; & large flights of pigeons overhead go through evolutions like those of armies. … No wonder the Czars have always coveted the capital of the Sultans. No wonder the Russian among his firs sighs for these myrtles.
Herman Melville, on a steamer traveling up the Bosphorus, 1856