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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Russian Expansion West and South

By Alfred Rambaud (1842–1905)

From the ‘General History’

The Greek Project of Catharine II.

SHE intended, if successful in driving out the Turks, to create a Greek empire under a Russian Grand-Duke independent of Russia. She gave a Greek name, Constantine, a Greek nurse and playmates, to her grandson born in 1779; and invited the Emperor to visit her in South Russia and settle the European Turkish question. Her progress through New Russia in 1787 was a triumphal march, where all was not show; for the colonization of New Russia, lately a desert exposed to the incursions of Cossacks and Tartars (now peopled with six million human beings), was commenced. On Catharine’s return to her capital, war was declared (1787). Neither party was well prepared. French and Prussian officers drilled the Ottoman recruits.

Poland and Kosciuszko

POLAND was waking up from its intestine quarrels. The Jesuits were dismissed by a bull of Clement XIV. This was no misfortune: they had taught the Poles intolerance and the exterior forms of religion; moreover, they had taught Latin to the exclusion of Polish. On their disappearance there was a national awakening; at least in the hearts of the middle classes, who were educated better than the nobles, less apart from European civilization, already imbued with French ideas, and who were deeply saddened by the misfortunes of their country, which they compared to the wonderful success of the French Revolution against the allied kings. Some nobles were animated with the same sentiments.

Such was Thadeus Kosciuszko. Born in 1757, in the district of Novogrodek (Lithuania), he had entered in 1764 the cadet school founded by Czartoryski. This son of a country gentleman received, one after another, two cruel lessons of social equality: his father was assassinated by some exasperated peasants; while he himself, having fallen in love with the daughter of a nobleman of high rank, found himself scornfully refused.

In America, where Washington appointed him colonel, and where he distinguished himself at Saratoga, Kosciuszko learned what real liberty was, and completed the knowledge he had first sought in our philosophers. During the last war, he was the only Polish general who had been victorious. After the second partition of Poland he became a Russian subject, but refused to serve in the Russian army. He passed into Saxony, and thence to Paris on a mission. Already the Legislative Assembly had named him a French citizen.