S.A. Bent, comp. Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men. 1887.
Peter the Great
[Peter I., Czar of Russia; born at Moscow, June 10, 1672; ascended the throne, 1682; visited Western Europe, and worked as a ship-carpenter in Holland, 1697; introduced reforms into Russia on his return; defeated Charles XII., 1700; founded St. Petersburg, 1703; engaged in war with Turkey; visited European countries, 1716; died 1726.]
I built St. Petersburg as a window to let in the light of Europe.
Charles XII. of Sweden said of Peters new capital, Let him build his wooden houses: we will soon come and burn them.
Peter exclaimed before Richelieus monument, during his visit to Paris in 1717, Ah, great man! if thou wert still alive, I would give thee one half of my kingdom to teach me to govern the other! A Frenchman standing by remarked, that if Richelieu had the one half, he would take and keep the other.
While in London, he attended a meeting of Quakers, and observed at the close of the service, How happy must be a community instituted on their principles!
During his visit to Westminster Hall, he asked who the busy people in black gowns and wigs were; and, being told they were lawyers, exclaimed, Lawyers! I have but two in my dominions, and I believe that I shall hang one of them the moment I get home!
Having violently assailed, in a fit of passion, Le Fort, his friend and the author of many administrative reforms, Peter bitterly exclaimed, It is my great desire to reform my subjects, and yet I am ashamed to confess that I am unable to reform myself.
When asked why he built ships when he had no ports, he replied, My ships shall make ports for themselves.
Seeing in Paris a courtier dressed every day in a different suit of clothes, he remarked, That gentleman seems to be much dissatisfied with his tailor.
His opinion of his great enemy, Charles XII. of Sweden, may be inferred from his saying, One word from my brother Charles is worth a hundred treaties.