Lomonossov [that is, in the French-language transliteration of the original Cyrillic] was not content to state just once in the Prague Manuscript, that Peter the Great, the one who made of the Grand Duchy of Muscovy a modern European power, has something sent from the Divine in his make-up. Just a little further on, summarizing the comparison between Peter and Alexander the Great, of the fourth Century B.C. (a comparison that one can presume the Romantic educators and Classically-educated government officials of the first half of the nineteenth century A.D. to have been familiar with, if only at second remove on account of the renown of their author), Lomonossov says (p. 100)
La naissance du premier [of Alexander the Great, who refashioned the Ancient World] fut annoncée par divers présages qui marquent bien la grandeur de cet homme extraordinaire.
[The birth of the first was foretold by outstanding signs of the greatness of this extraordinary man.]
À la naissance du second [Peter I Romanov, 1672-1725] ne manquèrent pas non plus des pareils présages, mais je ne trouve pas à propos de les citer ici, sachant bien que dans ce siècle on révoque souvent en doute ce qui tient du merveilleux, quelque véritable qu’il soit d’ailleurs.
[At the birth of the second there were no fewer corresponding signs which I will forbear from citing, knowing well that in this century one prefers to leave in doubt that which has the touch of the miraculous, however well attested otherwise.]
Yes, Michael , or perhaps, since we are in French, so to speak, Michel. It sure is a shame that this century, namely the eighteenth, the one which awarded itself the sobriquet, “enlightened,” looks askance at “miraculous” announcements of the birth of Peter the Great. Or you would have been at no pains to provide the proofs, eh?
While the whole exchange reads quite well in the twenty-first century, Michel, the plain fact is, you reserve the right, do you not, to believe in all that Miracle stuff? I mean, if the Times refuses to credit the Miracle of Peter’s Birth Announcements, “however well attested otherwise,” then that doesn’t mean You and I can not so believe.
The Apotheosis of Peter the Great involves a running sub-text of miraculous proofs of the support of Divinity for the Work. This subverts the very piece of trace of thought-broadening I was searching for, Dear Reader. The scientific mind-set, so painfully won against the religious one, so subject to distortions and local variations given the intellectual history of the region (Greece in Antiquity practices a different science, do they not, from Copernicus in Renaissance Poland), has not secularized the most eminent Russian scientist of his day.
Nor had it secularized his correspondent, François Marie-Arouet de Voltaire.