This statue as completed is regarded as one of the grandest ever executed. The tzar is represented as on horseback, ascending a steep rock, the summit of which he is resolved to attain. In an Asiatic dress and crowned with laurel, he is pointing forward with his right hand, while with his left he holds the bridle of the magnificent charger on which he is mounted. The horse stands on his hind feet bounding forward, trampling beneath a brazen serpent, emblematic of the opposition the monarch encountered and overcame. It bears the simple inscription, “To Peter the First, by Catharine the Second, 1782.” The whole expense of the statue amounted to over four hundred thousand dollars, an immense sum for that day, when a dollar was worth more than many dollars now.
At the close of the year 1782, the Emperor of Germany and Catharine II. entered into an alliance for the more energetic prosecution of the war against the Turks. They issued very spirited proclamations enumerating their grievances, and immediately appeared on the Turkish frontiers with vast armies. The attention of Catharine was constantly directed towards Constantinople, the acquisition of which city, with the Bosporus and the Dardanelles, was the object which, of all others, was the nearest to her heart. On the banks of the Dnieper, eighteen hundred miles from St. Petersburg, she laid the foundations of Kherson as a maritime port, and in an almost incredibly short time a city rose there containing forty thousand inhabitants. From its ship-yards vessels of war were launched which struck terror into the Ottoman empire.
By previous wars, it will be remembered, the Crimea had been wrested from the Turks and declared to be independent, remaining nominally in the hands of the Tartars. Catharine II. immediately took the Tartar khan of the Crimea under her special protection, loaded him with favors, and thus assumed the guidance of his movements. He became enervated by luxury, learned to despise the rude manners of his countrymen, engaged a Russian cook, and was served from silver plate. Instead of riding on horseback he traveled in a splendid chariot, and even solicited a commission in the Russian army. Catharine contrived to foment a revolt against her protege the khan, and then, very kindly, marched an army into the Crimea for his relief. She then, without any apology, took possession of the whole of the Crimea, and received the oath of allegiance from all the officers of the government. Indeed, there appears to have been no opposition to this measure. The Tartar khan yielded with so much docility that he soon issued a manifesto in which he abdicated his throne, and transferred the whole dominion of his country to Catharine. Turkey, exasperated, prepared herself furiously for war. Russia formed an alliance with the Emperor of Germany, and armies were soon in movement upon a scale such as even those war-scathed regions had never witnessed before. The Danube, throughout its whole course,