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THE

REPUBLIC OF LETTERS;

REPUBLICATION

OF

STANDARD LITERATURE.

EDITED BY

MRS. A. H. NICHOLAS.

VOL. V.

NEW-YORK:

GEORGE DEARBORN, PUBLISHER.

1836.

UNIVERSITY
LIBRARY

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THE HISTORY

OF

THE RUSSIAN EMPIRE,

UNDER

PETER THE GREAT.

NEW-YORK.

GEORGE DEARBORN, PUBLISHER.

1835.

THE HISTORY

CHAPTER I.

THE RUSSIAN EMPIRE,

OF

UNDER

PETER THE GREAT.

Description of Russia.

THE empire of Russia is the largest in the whole globe, extending from west to east upwards of two thousand common leagues of France,* and about eight hundred in its greatest breadth from north to south. It borders upon Poland and the Frozen Sea, and joins to Sweden and China. Its length from the Island of Dago, in the westernmost part of Livonia, to its most eastern limits, takes in 1 near one hundred and seventy degrees, so that when it is noon in the western parts of the empire, it is nearly midnight in the eastern. Its breadth from north to south is three thousand six hundred wersts, which make eight hundred and fifty of our common French leagues.

The limits of this country were so little known in the last century, that, in 1689, when it was reported, that the Chinese and the Russians were at war, and that in order to terminate their differences, the emperor Camhi on the one hand, and the czars Ivan or John, and Peter, on the other, had sent their ministers to meet an embassy within three hundred leagues of Pekin, on the frontiers of the two empires. This account was at first treated as a fiction.

The country now comprehended under the name of Russia, or the Russias, is of a greater extent than all the rest of Europe, or than ever the Roman empire was, or that of Darius subdued by Alexander; for it contains upwards of one million, one hundred thousand square leagues. Neither the Roman empire, nor that of Alexander, contained more than five hundred and fifty thousand each; and there is not a kingdom in Europe the twelfth part so extensive as the Roman empire; but to make Russia as populous, as plentiful, and as well stored with towns as our southern countries, would require whole ages, and a race of monarchs such as Peter the Great.

The English ambassador, who resided at Pe

* A French league contains three English miles.

tersburgh in 1733, and who had been at Madrid, says, in his manuscript relation, that in Spain, which is the least populous state in Europe, there may be reckoned forty persons to every square mile, and in Russia not above five. We shall see in the second chapter, whether this minister was mistaken. Marshal Vauban, the greatest of engineers, and the best of citizens, computes, that, in France, every square mile contains two hundred inhabitants. These calculations are never very exact, but they serve to show the amazing disproportion in the population of two different countries.

I shall observe here, that from Petersburgh to Pekin, there is hardly one mountain to be met with in the route which the caravans might take through independant Tartary, and that from Petersburgh to the north of France, by the road of Dantzic, Hamburgh, and Amsterdam, there is not even a hill of any eminence to be seen. This observation leaves room to doubt of the truth of that theory, which makes the mountains to have been formed by the rolling of the waves of the sea, and supposes all that is at present dry land, to have been for a long time covered with water: but how comes it to pass, that the waves, which, according to the supposition, formed the Alps, the Pyrenees, and Mount Taurus, did not likewise form some eminence or hill from Normandy to China, which is a winding space of above three thousand leagues? Geography, thus considered, may furnish lights to natural philosophy, or at least give room for rational doubts.

Formerly we called Russia by the name of Muscovy, from the city of Moscow, the capital of that empire, and the residence of the grand dukes; but at present the ancient name of Russia prevails.

It is not my business in this place to inquire, why the countries from Smolensko, to the other side of Moscow, were called White Russia, or why Hubner gives it the name of Black, nor for what reason the government of Kiow should be named Red Russia.

It is very likely that Madies the Scythian, who made an irruption into Asia, near seven hundred

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