The History of Peter the Great, Emperor of Russiaby Voltaire
The empire of Russia is the largest in the whole globe, extending from west to east upwards of two thousand common leagues of France, and about eight hundred in its greatest breadth from north to south. It borders upon Poland and the Frozen Sea, and joins to Sweden and China. Its length from the island of Dago, in the westernmost part of Livonia, to its most eastern… See more details below
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The empire of Russia is the largest in the whole globe, extending from west to east upwards of two thousand common leagues of France, and about eight hundred in its greatest breadth from north to south. It borders upon Poland and the Frozen Sea, and joins to Sweden and China. Its length from the island of Dago, in the westernmost part of Livonia, to its most eastern limits, takes in near one hundred and seventy degrees, so that when it is noon in the western parts of the empire, it is nearly midnight in the eastern. Its breadth from north to south is three thousand six hundred wersts, which make eight hundred and fifty of our common French leagues.
The limits of this country were so little known in the last century, that, in 1689, when it was reported, that the Chinese and the Russians were at war, and that in order to terminate their differences, the emperor Camhi on the one hand, and the czars Ivan or John, and Peter, on the other, had sent their ministers to meet an embassy within three hundred leagues of Pekin, on the frontiers of the two empires, the account was at first treated as a fiction.
The country now comprehended under the name of Russia, or the Russias, is of a greater extent than all the rest of Europe, or than ever the Roman empire was, or that of Darius subdued by Alexander; for it contains upwards of one million one hundred thousand square leagues. Neither the Roman empire, nor that of Alexander, contained more than five hundred and fifty thousand each; and there is not a kingdom in Europe the twelfth part so extensive as the Roman empire; but to make Russia as populous, as plentiful, and as well stored with towns as our southern countries, would require whole ages, and a race of monarchs such as Peter the Great.
The English ambassador, who resided at Petersburg in 1733, and who had been at Madrid, says, in his manuscript relation, that in Spain, which is the least populous state in Europe, there may be reckoned forty persons to every square mile, and in Russia not above five. We shall see in the second chapter, whether this minister was mistaken. Marshal Vauban, the greatest of engineers, and the best of citizens, computes, that, in France, every square mile contains two hundred inhabitants. These calculations are never very exact, but they serve to shew the amazing disproportion in the population of two different countries.
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Very difficult to read due to wierd typos