Catherine’s boat ride. It was 1787 and the Empress was showing off the wonders of her realm, which were many indeed. Question was, were they real,or fake? Only General Potemkin, the one-eyed giant, knew for sure. And he wasn’t saying…
…Behind the scenes and on all fronts, aiding and abetting Catherine’s whims, whether they were political, military, or amorous, was the one-eyed, nail chewing, lowering giant, Potemkin. He was a man of extremes whose erratic temperament alternated between exultant enthusiasms and deep melancholy, excesses of the flesh and monastic retreat.
According to the story he himself told, Potemkin was first noticed by Catherine during her coup d’etat against Peter. Her uniform as an officer in the Horse Guards was incomplete; she did not have the correct sword knot on her sword. Subaltern Potemkin gave her his own, and then, as it appeared, he had a certain charming- and not unnoticed- difficulty in persuading his horse to leave the Empress’s side and return to its place in the ranks. Catherine spoke of Potemkin a month later as one of the men who “directed everything with discernment, courage, and activity.” Thus began his advancement in the army, at court, and as a member of Catherine’s intimate circle, where he delighted her with his impertinent but uncanny imitation of her strong German accent.
He rose rapidly through his successes in the first Russo-Turkish war, returned from his victories in the south as a general, and the opportune moment had arrived. Catherine was seeking a new favorite. In 1774 Potemkin became her lover and the foremost power in the empire. “He is one of the greatest, most bizarre, and most entertaining eccentrics of this iron age,” Catherine wrote in a letter to the journalist and biographer Grimm. To Potemkin, in the myriad notes they exchanged from one corner of the empire to another, she wrote, “My cossack, heart of my heart, my golden pheasant…I love you as I love my soul…”ADDENDUM:
(see link at end)…As a ruler, Catherine professed a great contempt for system, which she said she had been taught to despise by her master Voltaire. She declared that in politics a capable ruler must be guided by “circumstances, conjectures and conjunctions.” Her conduct was on the surface very unstable. in a moment of candor she confessed that she was a great commenceuse — that she had a mania for beginning innumerable enterprises which she never pursued. This, however, is chiefly true of her internal administration, and even there it should be qualified. Many of her beginnings were carried on by others and were not barren. Her foreign policy was as consistent as it could be considering the forces she had to contend against. It was steadily aimed to secure the greatness and the safety of Russia. There can be no question that she loved her adopted country sincerely, and had an affection for her people, and an opinion of their great qualities which she did not hesitate to express in hyperbolic terms. Her zeal for the reputation of the Russians was almost comically shown by the immense trouble she took to compile an answer to the Voyage en Sibérie of the French astronomer Chappe d’Auteroche. The book is in three big quartos, and Catherine’s answer — which was never finished — is still larger. Chappe d’Auteroche had discovered that Siberia was not a paradise, and had observed that the Russians were dirty in their habits, and that masters whipped their servants, male and female. Her patriotism was less innocently shown by her conquests….Read More:http://www.nndb.com/people/575/000078341/