“Colonel, your countrymen are a pack of madmen. I would require only my grooms to stand by me, and we should soon bring them to their senses.”
Langeron replied, “Prince, I do not think you would be able to do it with all your army!”
These words so exasperated the Russian general that he rose in a rage, and threatened to send Langeron to Siberia. Conscious of his peril the French colonel fled, and entered into the service of the Austrians.
Emissaries of Catharine were sent through all the Greek isles, to urge the Greeks to rise against the enemies of the cross and restore their country to independence. Many of the Greeks rose, and Constantinople was in consternation. A Grecian embassage waited upon Catharine, imploring her aid for the enfranchisement of their country, and that she would give them her grandson Constantine for a sovereign. On the 20th of February, 1790, Joseph II., Emperor of Austria, died, and was succeeded by Leopold II., who, yielding to the influence of Prussia, concluded a separate peace with the Porte, and left Catharine to contend alone with the Ottomans. The empress now saw that, notwithstanding her victories, Russia was exhausted, and that she could not hope for the immediate accomplishment of her ambitious projects, and she became desirous of peace. Through the mediation of England terms of peace were proposed, and acceded to in January, 1792. In this war it is estimated that Russia lost two hundred thousand men, Austria one hundred and thirty thousand, and Turkey three hundred and thirty thousand. Russia expended in this war, beneficial to none and ruinous alike to all, two hundred millions of dollars.
The empress, thwarted in her designs upon Turkey, now turned to Poland. War was soon declared, and her armies were soon sweeping over that ill-fated territory. Kosciusko fought like a hero for his country, but his troops were mercilessly butchered by Russian and Prussian armies. In triumph the allies entered the gory streets of Warsaw, sent the king, Stanislaus Augustus, to exile on a small pension, and divided the remainder of Poland between them. Catharine now entered into the coalition of the European powers against republican France. She consented to a treaty with England and Austria, by which she engaged to furnish an army of eighty thousand men to crush the spirit of French liberty, on condition that those two powers should consent to her driving Turks out of Europe. Catharine was highly elated with this treaty. It was drawn up and was to be signed on the 6th of November, 1796.
On the morning of that day the empress, in her usual health and spirits, rose from the breakfast table, and retired to her closet. Not returning as soon as usual, some of her attendants entered and found her on the floor senseless. She had fallen in a fit of apoplexy, and died at ten o’clock in the evening of the next day without regaining consciousness or uttering a word, in the sixty-seventh year of her age, and after a reign of thirty-five years.