Leaving his carriages with his suite to follow, he proceeded alone, incognito, on horse-back, as the avant courier. At each station he would announce that his master the emperor, with the imperial carriages, was coming on, and that dinner, supper or lodgings must be provided for so many persons. Calling for a slice of ham and a cup of beer, he would throw himself upon a bench for a few hours’ repose, constantly refusing to take a bed, as the expedition he must make would not allow this indulgence.
At Mohilef, the empress had provided magnificent apartments, in the palace, for the emperor; but he insisted upon taking lodgings at an ordinary inn. At St. Petersburg, notwithstanding the emperor’s repugnance to pomp, Catharine received him with entertainments of the greatest magnificence. Joseph, however, took but little interest in such displays, devoting his attention almost exclusively to useful establishments and monuments of art. He was surprised to find at Tula, manufactories of hardware unsurpassed by those of Sheffield and Birmingham. He expressed his surprise, on his return home, at the mixture of refinement and barbarism Russia had presented to his view.
The empress, seeing that so many princes visited foreign countries, decided to send her son Paul, with Maria, to make the tour of Europe. Obedient to the maternal commands, they commenced their travels through Poland and Austria to Italy, and returned to St. Petersburg, through France and Holland, after an absence of fourteen months. The empress had a confidential agent in their company, who kept her informed, minutely, of every event which transpired. A courier was dispatched every day to inform her where they were and how they were employed.
The relations between Turkey and Russia were continually growing more threatening. Turkey had been compelled to yield the Crimea, and also to surrender the navigation of the Euxine, with the Bosporus and the Dardanelles, to her powerful rival. Galled by these concessions, which had been forced upon her by bullet and bayonet, the Ottoman Porte was ever watching to regain her lost power. Russia, instead of being satisfied with her acquisitions, was eagerly grasping at more. The Greek Christians also, throughout the Turkish empire, hating their Mussulman oppressors, were ever watching for opportunities when they could shake off the burden and the insult of slavery. Thus peace between Russia and Turkey was never more than an armistice. The two powers constantly faced each other in a hostile attitude, ever ready to appeal to arms.