Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

handsome building of the Poor's Hospital, and that of the Institute of St. Catherine. Directing our attention to the South-western part of the city, new wonders offered themselves to our view. The colossal pile of marble forming part of the intended new church of St. Isaac, the Palladian structure of the Post-office, the barracks and riding-house of the Gardes a cheval, the great and handsome portico of the Opera, with the picturesque church of St. Nicholas not far distant from it, successively presented themselves as objects for our admiration. The scene, too, in this direction, is pleasingly varied by the many intersecting canals which meet to mingle their waters with those of the gulf placed at the extreme point of our picture, and forming its distant horizon.'-vol. i. pp. 444-447.

The author thinks a journey of one thousand seven hundred miles, not too great a sacrifice of time and labour to make, in order to enjoy this fine panorama. We are told that it will be speedily rendered accessible to the inhabitants of London, through the medium of a model, which has been executed by Rossi.

Great improvements have been effected in Russia, within the last few years. Diligences are now in use there, quite as convenient as those which are to be found in France. A vehicle of this kind sets out for Moscow every day; it is four days and three nights on the road, stopping only for refreshments. There is also a diligence which runs from Petersburgh to Riga, to Revel, and on the line of roads to Radzivil, on the Austrian frontiers facing Brody. Light mails have been lately established on the Moscow road, which are said to be much superior to the public carriages usually met with on the continent.

A steam-boat plied for a short season last year, between London and Petersburgh; but the speculation did not succeed, as the fares were possibly too high. The vessel is now however engaged conveying passengers and goods between St. Petersburgh and Lubeck, which is only about forty miles from Hamburgh. From the latter port a regular steam-boat sails for London every week. Thus an idler who wishes to see Russia, may accomplish his object by taking the steam-boat to Hamburgh, and passing on to Lubeck, whence he will be speedily conveyed by another steamer to Petersburgh; from thence he may go by mail to Moscow, and after spending a week in each of the capitals, he may return to England without being absent for any longer period than six weeks at the utmost. We may therefore ask once more with our author-"Who will not travel?" "

The passport system is very rigidly enforced throughout Russia. On this subject Dr. Granville gives some very proper advice, to which travellers would do well to attend.

Our author records a very curious natural phenomon, which was observed at Petersburgh in the Autumn of 1826.

The sky was illuminated from the horizon to the zenith, extending east and west to a considerable distance. Masses of fire in the form of

columns, and as brilliant as the brightest phosphorus, danced in the air, and streaks of a deeper light, of various sizes, rose from the horizon and flashed between them. The brightness of the former seemed, at times, to grow faint and dim. At this conjecture the broad streaks would suddenly shoot with great velocity up to the zenith with an undulating motion and a pyramidal form. From the columns, flashes of light, like a succession of sparks from an electric jar, flew off and disappeared; while the streaks changed their form frequently and rapidly, and broke out in places where none were seen before, shooting along the heavens, and then disappearing in an instant. The sky in various places became tinged with a deep purple, the stars shone very brilliantly, the separate lights gradually merged into one another, when the auroral resplendence of the horizon increased and became magnificent. This phenomenon lasted nearly four hours; and at one time a large triangle of the strongest light occupied the horizon, illuminating in the most magnificent manner nearly the entire vault of heaven. From six to seven falling stars were observed at the time, leaving in their train a very brilliant light.'—vol. i. pp. 522:

During his short residence at Petersburgh, our author thought fit to qualify himself as a member of the scientific and medico-chirurgical academies established there, by giving a public lecture on the art of embalming! For this For this purpose, he had a favourite mummy transported from London to that capital. A more exotic subject the learned physician could scarcely have selected. He has been laughed at excessively in one of the Petersburgh journals for his taste on this occasion. As he is rather susceptible on the subject of his famous lecture, we shall abstain from joining in the mirth to which it gave rise.

We prefer to view the author under a more dignified aspect, on his introduction to court.

The first necessary step on such an occasion is an application to the ambassador, or minister, of the country to which the stranger belongs, who requests the Minister for Foreign Affairs to inform him of the day and hour when the Emperor will receive the stranger. Ambassadors, particularly the English, have instructions not to present, or cause to be presented, any other persons than such as have already had that honour conferred on them at home. Occasionally it happens that the answer of the Minister for Foreign Affairs is not forwarded until a long time after the application, and then the notice is probably very short, which notice is communicated by the Ambassador to the applicant in an official form. The hour appointed is generally two o'clock, after the parade, at which time the person to be presented, dressed either in a military or naval uniform, or in the court-dress of his own country, repairs to the Winter Palace, where he is received by an officer belonging to the Grand Master of the Ceremonies, who conducts him into a waiting-room in the Emperor's private suite of apartments. The last-mentioned Grand Officer himself next makes his appearance, and conducts the stranger into the apartment adjoining the sitting-room of his Majesty, opposite the doors of which he is desired to place himself. Some of the officers of the household, and one or two more Masters of the Ceremonies, are present in this

room; and when more than one stranger is to be presented, they are placed in an oblique line, at a short distance from each other, and facing the entrance into the Emperor's room. In a few minutes, two pages throw open the folding doors of the apartment; and his Majesty, dressed in his simple uniform, booted and spurred, with a single star on his breast, advances, smiling and bowing most courteously, in the same manner that a highly bred gentleman receives his guests; and having heard the name of the individual first to be presented pronounced aloud by the Grand Master of the Ceremonies, proceeds to address him, and to ask questions, concluding generally with some well-turned and flattering compliment. When his Majesty has thus addressed all those who have been presented, he retires in the same manner, bidding them conjointly farewell, while they remain still in their places until the folding doors are once more closed, when they are conducted to the apartments of the reigning Empress, and afterwards to those of the Empress-mother, both which Princesses are accompanied, on such occasions, by one or two ladies of honour, and as many Grand Officers of the Court, without any other pomp, and with both of whom precisely the same ceremony, in every respect, takes place. There is no kneeling to either the Emperor or the Empresses, and the kissing of hands takes place only with the two Empresses. The only manifestation of respect required on the appearance of the Sovereign, as well as at his departure, is a profound inclination of the head. It is curious that a more humble obeisance should be practised in the presence of a constitutional King, than before an absolute Monarch. On all these occasions, it is not the etiquette for the Ambassador or Minister to be present, unless required by his Majesty, or except when the Ambassador himself has requested a personal audience at the same time. When, however, the Emperor signifies his pleasure to receive the first presentation of a stranger at the Circle du Corps Diplomatique, the individual is presented by the Ambassador in person, and the ceremony takes place in the state apartments, with more pomp than I have described, but with much less of that gratification which cannot but be felt by all who have had the honour of a private introduction to the present leading members of the Imperial family of Russia. The names of those who have enjoyed that honour, are inserted on the following day in the Court Gazette, and the Journal de St. Petersburgh, from authority.

When his Majesty admitted me to the honour of being presented to him, I had an opportunity of witnessing the happy manner in which he studied to put those who were introduced to him at their ease, by entering at once, and with great fluency, upon the subject most likely to be interesting to them. To an English gentleman, who had been presented at the same time, and who was known to have recently travelled a great deal in Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, his Majesty put such questions respecting that journey, and the many natural beauties which it must have offered to his attention, as were likely to give him an opportunity of entering freely upon the subject. The apt remarks made by the Emperor upon several parts of the traveller's rapid narrative of his journey, evinced a facility of discoursing on the various topics connected with that narrative, and a degree of condescension, which could not fail to make a striking impression on our minds. In addressing me next, his Majesty with equal ease changed the topic of conversation,

[blocks in formation]

made inquiries respecting the state of science, and the progress of modern discoveries in England; was pleased to allude to the investigation on the art of embalming among the Egyptians, in terms which showed that he was acquainted with my experiments on that subject; asked my opinion of the civil, naval and military hospitals in St. Petersburgh; and spoke very highly of the Naval Hospital at Plymouth, which he had examined minutely, and to which he hoped I should find those in his capital not very dissimilar. He expressed his great satisfaction at the services rendered to Russia by several English physicians, among whom his Majesty particularly mentioned Sir James Wylie, Dr. Leighton, and Sir Alexander Crichton; inquiring at the same time, in a very particular and affectionate manner, about the latter, as to whether he was settled in London, and in practice, or living in the country. He said that nothing was more pleasing to him than to see foreign physicians visiting the public establishments of St. Petersburgh, as he hoped that the country might derive benefit from their observations, and that he himself recollected visiting St. Bartholomew's Hospital, with the nature of which institution he had been much pleased, but that there were improvements which at that time struck him as being called for in some of the wards. Having permitted me to make a reply to this as well as to several other observations which fell from him in the course of the interview, his Majesty withdrew with "J'espère que nous aurons le plaisir de vous voir souvent pendant vôtre sejour à St. Petersbourg," addressed to Mr. M. T-, the other gentleman presented; and "Je vous souhaite un bon voyage, to myself, whom he knew to be about to leave the capital. Having answered in the affirmative to a question of his Majesty, whether I intended going to Moscow; the Emperor observed, verrez une ville qui merite à tout égard l'attention d'un voyageur. nous voyez ici dans des habits tout neufs, que nous tachons de porter le mieux possible; mais à Moscow on voit le Russe tel qu'il est; on decouvre ce qu'il a été ; et on peut juger par lá ce qu'il pourra devenir un jour. Certes, l'ancienne capitale de la Russie doit offrir des reflections intéressantes à une personne instruite et sans préjugés."-vol. ii. pp. 37-41.

"Vous

Vous

Doctor Granville seems to have, as yet, not performed his intention in the latter respect. We thank him for it very sincerely, and hope that he will give up the project altogether, unless he pledges himself not to write another pair of volumes on the subject of that capital. A simple announcement among the fashionable departures-" Dr. Granville has gone to Moscow;" and among the winter arrivals-" Dr. Granville from Moscow," is quite as much as we have the least ambition ever to read upon the subject, if ever he should carry his threat into

execution.

After quitting the chamber of the young Emperor, the author had the honour of being presented to the Empress Mother, with whom he chatted a long time. This woman is the gem in all the line of the Imperial family of Russia. The influence which she possesses over her sons is of the most legitimate kind, and constantly exercised for the best purposes. Her attention to the charitable institutions of the capital is most exemplary. She has

exerted herself particularly in the department of education, which has been vastly improved under her care, particularly those branches of it which are most useful to females. The establishment of the College of Demoiselles Nobles, may be particularly styled her own. It will be the finest monument to her memory.

From the court we descend, by an easy gradation, to the nobility. These are generally, it seems, much improved in their social habits since the days of Dr. Clarke. There is a very great difference, indeed, between our author's account of Count Woronzow's menage, and that which Dr. Clarke bears testimony to, as the general style of living among the higher classes of Russia.

'We dined generally, and so did every body else I believe, at five o'clock. In one of the principal drawing-rooms there is a small table set out with a number of small dishes, containing carved cold tongue, dried herrings, caviar, preserves, anchovies, thin slices of bread and cheese, with small bottles of liqueurs, or brandy: most of the guests partake of some of these before dinner.

On entering the dining-room, the table decked out with a gilt or silver plateau of great value, in the centre, surrounded by vases of flowers, groups of fruit, and baskets of dry confitures, excites the attention of the stranger. Around this the guests take their seats with that intuitive attention to distinction of rank, which good breeding naturally imparts to people in every country. It is not true, however, (at least not true in about twenty of the first Russian houses in St. Petersburgh, with which I was. acquainted), as both English and French writers have, even so late as last year, asserted, that the ladies sit all on one side, that the guests of an inferior rank are all compelled to take the bottom of the table, and that only the worst fare and a particular set of trash wines are allowed to the latter. I never remarked any thing of the kind; and indeed there is no bottom of the table, since both the master and mistress take their places in the centre, and are consequently equally distant from their guests at each end of it, where I often remarked persons of the first rank and character.

'The Marchese Caraccioli, who was a great gourmand, and spent several years in England as Ambassador from Naples, used to observe, in reference to English cookery, “Il-y-a en Angleterre soixante sectes religieuses differentes, et une seule sauce, le melted butter! quel pays:" Had the Marquess been Ambassador at St. Petersburgh instead, he would have been spared the trouble of such an antithesis. I doubt whether any other national cookery can boast of a greater variety of dishes or sances than the Russia, and I feel convinced that Maître Anonyme, the editor of the Almanach des Gourmands, will be considered as not having done one half of his duty, if he expires before he has opened to the public the budget of Russian dishes. These are presented to the guests by the maitre d'hôtel and his assistants, already carved at the side tables, and one after the other, with the pleasing attention of whispering into your ears the nomenclature of each dish. One comes and another goes, and a servant follows with a decanter in each hand. The first commends to your attention a little vareniky; the second finding that you have already before you a dish of stchy, brings round the rastingay, or oblong pastry, to eat with it. He

« AnteriorContinuar »