Bernardin de St Pierre arrived in Russia at the end of September 1762 with little money but with great aspirations. Writing later of this period, he says that he expected to find in Russia a place where he could establish a society of happy beings and where free men would work for the improvement of mankind. After a historical survey in which Bernardin describes various ways of establishing commerce with the East by a number of routes, he comes to the conclusion and the real purpose of the Projet: his offer to lead an expedition to establish exactly the kind of colony he has described. It would seem that Bernardin went to Finland at the request or command of Catherine, and that he undertook a mission that today might be regarded as a form of espionage. Clearly charged with describing the military potential of Finland, he was also interested in the country's defensive capabilities.