The Works of Voltaire: A Contemporary Version [History of the Russian Empire under Peter the Great, V. I] - Vol. 34

The Works of Voltaire: A Contemporary Version [History of the Russian Empire under Peter the Great, V. I] - Vol. 34

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The Works of Voltaire: A Contemporary Version [History of the Russian Empire under Peter the Great, V. I] - Vol. 34

The Works of Voltaire: A Contemporary Version [History of the Russian Empire under Peter the Great, V. I] - Vol. 34

Read FREE!

Excerpt

At the beginning of the present century, the vulgar knew no other hero in the North than Charles XII. of Sweden. His personal valor (which was rather that of a private soldier than a great king) the lustre of his victories, and even of his misfortunes, made an impression on those who are easily struck with great events, but are not so clear-sighted in regard to more slow and useful labors. It was even much doubted at that time by foreign nations, whether Czar Peter I. would be able to go through with his great undertakings; yet they have not only continued, but been improved, especially under the empress Elizabeth, his daughter. This empire is at present reckoned in the number of the most flourishing states; and Peter is ranked among the greatest law-givers. Though his undertakings did not stand in need of success in the eyes of wise men, yet his success has perpetuated his glory. We now think that Charles XII. deserved to be the first general under Peter the Great; the one has left only ruins behind him; the other has been a founder of his empire in every sense. I ventured to pass much the same judgment about thirty years ago, when I was writing "The History of Charles XII." The memoirs with which I have been since furnished from the court of Russia, afford me the means of making this empire known, whose people are of such antiquity, while their laws, manners, and arts, are all of a new creation.

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