“Brimful of these ideas, I have never once thought of Catharine, who, at the age of forty-two, can increase neither in body nor in mind, but, in the natural order of things, ought to remain, and will remain, as she is. Do her affairs go on well? she says, so much the better. If they prosper less, she would employ all her faculties to put them in a better train.
“This is my ambition, and I have none other. What I tell you, is the truth. I will go further, and say that, for the sparing of human blood, I sincerely wish for peace. But this peace is still a long way off, though the Turks, from different motives, are ardently desirous of it. Those people know not how to go about it.
“I wish as much for the pacification of the unreasonable contentions of Poland. I have to do there with brainless heads, each of which, instead of contributing to the common peace, on the contrary, throws impediments in the way of it by caprice and levity. My embassador has published a declaration adapted to open their eyes. But it is to be presumed that they will rather expose themselves to the last extremity than adopt, without delay, a wise and consistent rule of conduct. The vortices of Descartes never existed anywhere but in Poland. There every head is a vortex turning continually around itself. It is stopped by chance alone, and never by reason or judgment.
“I have not yet received your Questions, or your watches from Ferney. I have no doubt that the work of your artificers is perfect, since they work under your eyes. Do not scold your rustics for having sent me a surplus of watches. The expense of them will not ruin me. It would be very unfortunate for me if I were so far reduced as not to have, for sudden emergencies, such small sums whenever I want them. Judge not, I beseech you, of our finances by those of the other ruined potentates of Europe. Though we have been engaged in war for three years, we proceed in our buildings, and every thing else goes on as in a time of profound peace. It is two years since any new impost was levied. The war, at present, has its fixed establishment; that once regulated, it never disturbs the course of other affairs. If we capture another Kesa or two, the war is paid for.
[Footnote 21: Questions sur l’Encyclopedie.]
“I shall be satisfied with myself whenever I meet with your approbation, monsieur. I likewise, a few weeks ago, read over again my instructions for the code, because I then thought peace to be nearer at hand than it is, and I found that I was right in composing them. I confess that this code will give me a considerable deal of trouble before it is brought to that degree of perfection at which I wish to see it. But no matter, it must be completed.
“Perhaps, in a little time, the khan of the Crimea will be brought to me in person. I learn, this moment, that he did not cross the sea with the Turks, but that he remained in the mountains with a very small number of followers, nearly as was the case with the Pretender, in Scotland, after the defeat at Culloden. If he comes to me, we will try to polish him this winter, and, to take my revenge of him, I will make him dance, and he shall go to the French comedy.