Grodno: 1796. February 22, 1796. Original signed manuscript letter on single sheet of laid paper (ca. 36 x 25 cm), folded once vertically; 4 pp. Additional old fold lines; near fine.
Nicholas Repnin was one of the foremost Imperial Russian statesmen of the eighteenth century, second in fame only to Alexander Suvorov. Under Catherine the Great, he served as minister plenipotentiary in Poland, in effect ruling the country and playing a crucial role in the gradual dissolution of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. He was widely known for his ruthless tactics, which included dictating the Russian demands to the Polish diet and arresting and exiling his opponents, such as the bishops of Kiev and Warsaw. During the Russo-Turkish War of 1768-74, Repnin resigned in order to lead Russian troops into battle against the Ottoman forces. But it was during the next Russo-Turkish conflict (1787-1792) that Repnin rose to fame as the most successful Russian commander apart from Suvorov (1729-1800). The present letter was written in Grodno, during Repnin's tenure as governor-general of the Lithuanian provinces, and concerns an unsavory affair involving one of von Essen's subordinates, the subject of which is merely circumscribed and couched in an abundance of rhetorical flourishes. At the time of writing, Repnin was at the height of his fame, following his successful, if controversial role in the Russo-Turkish War, and shortly before his death in Riga in 1801. A rare private letter, written entirely in French and signed by the author. We are unable to find information about the addressee.
Book ID: P002323