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Besides," he added, "young saya that
he does not repent of anything that was done; he believed he was doing his duty." Poor
! I never thought you would come to this.
But I must not write anything more about the sad affair—I am still in Russia, and—
On Friday we arrived in Moscow, and, on entering the city, we were obliged to leave the stage-coach and take droskies, one of the coach wheels having got again out of order, and we did not care about risking our necks over it. Arrived at the Post-office, we waited patiently for the arrival of our luggage by the coach. As soon as it arrived, I ordered a drosky, and
drove to Madame B 's, in the "Bolchoi
Labensky," a boarding-house kept by a Frenchwoman. I engaged a good room, ordered dinner, made my toilet, sent for a valet to serve me during my sojourn in Moscow, ate my dinner, and then, about six o'clock in the evening, in spite of my ride of two days and nights in a post-coach, sallied forth alone, on foot, to get a "first impression" of the Tartar city ; returned at ten o'olock, and was soon in the arms of Morpheus.
Would you know what were my impressions as I sauntered through the uneven streets of Moscow on Friday evening? They were those of regret and disappointment. I did not remark the strange buildings, the oriental type which I had understood was upon everything in Moscow; and the passers-by looked like the same long-bearded, dirty-looking, sheepskinclad fellows I had been accustomed to see every day in St. Petersburg. To be sure I saw, whichever way I turned my eyes, any quantity of grotesque-looking domes and minarets; still, nothing I saw seemed particularly to arrest the attention, or make any new impression upon me. The truth is, I must admit, that I was more fatigued last night than I wished to believe, and if old Ivan the Terrible had arisen from his quiet resting-place, and stood before me, with his heavy iron-pointed cane, which he used to delight in thrusting into the feet of his subjects as he passed them, I doubt whether I should have found in him anything more than an old bearded mujick. Do not, therefore, trust to anything I have thus far said of my first impression of Moscow; for I candidly admit to you here, that I am in love with it, and my love increases the longer I am in the city. The traveller who comes to St. Petersburg, and then leaves the empire, has seen hardly anything of Russia. As the Kmperor told Custine, "St. Petersburg—e'est Russe, mais cen'est pat la Ruaie." St. Petersburg has a European cachet, but Moscow has the Asiatic; and, in the multitude of new sights one sees,
the eye becomes lost. You may get a good idea of St. Petersburg in a day or two; but you must linger in Moscow, if you would understand it. I am writing this after having been in the city more than two days, and yet, when I think of venturing upon a general description of Moscow, I am bewildered. I know not where to begin or what to say.
This much I may note, that the city appears to have what the French would call "troti quartiers." The first, the Kremlin, which ig no more than a vast area upon a kind of eminence, surrounded by a high wall with battlements and towers, and containing the palaces, the arsenal, and the cathedral, and other public edifices within it: the second, the "China Moscow," so called on account of the wall and battlements which enclose it, and which contains divers buildings, with stores, shops, &c. &c.; and the third, "white Moscow," so called, in which I include all of Moscow not contained within the two walls just mentioned. I might also add, in the words of an English traveller when speaking of this interesting city, "one might imagine all the states of Europe and Asia had sent a building by way of representative to Moscow, and under this impression the eye is presented with deputies from the countries holding congress." Timber huts from the regions beyond the Arctic; plastered palaces from Sweden and Denmark, not whitewashed since their arrival; painted walls from the Tyrol; mosques from Constantinople; Tartar temples from Bucharia; pagodas, pavilions, and verandahs from China; cabarets from Spain; dungeons, prisons, and public offices from France; architectural ruins from Rome; terraces and trellises from Naples; and I might add, factory chimneys from Yankeedom.
But here I stop. To attempt to convey an idea of the effect of its thousand domes and minarets, profuse in gold and silver, and gaudy with the colours of the rainbow, would be fruitless. I am unequal to the task; I might, were I away from here, portray the picture in feeble colours at best; but I am now too full of what I have seen the last two days to write on generalities. I must take you with me, patient reader, to each sight I have seen, and perhaps with my description you will glean enough to make you sigh to see the ancient city of the Tsars, — the northern limit of Napoleon's victories.
Come with me then, this Saturday morning —as beautiful a morning as ever rose upon the Russian capital—and after making visits to sundry persons to whom I have brought letters from St. Petersburg, we will commence our "sight-seeing."
Here we are, upon an immense open space or square, just without the walls of the Kremlin, whose turrets and battlements look down upon us, to remind us of the Tartar invasions they have sustained, and the victories they have brought to the Russian Tsars; and before us is a building which a painter only can describe. I bought a picture of it, and you should see it to understand the original. It is called the Cathedral of St. Basil; and, as you look at it, you can only wonder how the ingenuity of man could have contrived such an odd-looking cluster of towers and domes; and I must tell you, before I go on, its history. It was built in about the year 1564, by .order of Ivan the Terrible, in gratitude for a victory gained over the Khan of Kazan. It is related that the architect was an Italian. John (or Ivan), was pleased with the work; and he called for the architect to pay him his money. He asked the latter if it were possible for him to build a more beautiful church if he was paid a higher sum? The Italian replied that he thought he could. He had no sooner pronounced the words, than the Tsar ordered him to be seized, and his eyes to be put out! "Now," said the tyrant, "I know that you cannot make a church that will surpass St. Basil."
The foundation of this edifice is of an oblong, square form, and from its centre arises a high, octagonal steeple or spire, with a large base, but small at Us termination, over which is a small gilt ball, surmounted by a simple gilt cross. On the north and south, and east and west of this central spire, rises a similar octagonal spire, greatly inferior in height, and surmounted by very large, variously painted and ornamented heads or domes, on which are placed gilt balls, all furnished with simple gilt crosses. In the space between the central tower and the above four towers, arise other four smaller, similar towers, ornamented in the same style; so that around the central spiretower, you find eight towers, forming a species of octagon. Every one of the domes of the towers is unlike the others, and is differently painted and ornamented, and the painting is extremely unique. This famous building was erected in such a manner, that service might be performed in different parts of it at the! same time; and it will astonish you when I tell you, that at this time twenty-one temples or places of worship are associated together, in which divine service may be celebrated at the same time! So much for the exterior of St. Basil, which, in vulgar parlance, resembles a cluster of beautiful pepper-boxes.
I entered the interior, and found it still more ourious than without. It is a collection of small passages and chapels, the walls of which are covered with gold, and paintings of saints, drawn when painting was in a primitive state in Russia. I noticed, too, several scriptural
paintings on the walls. One, I recollect, was that of the whale throwing Jonah out of his belly upon the dry land; where a group of ill shapen figures called children, were waiting to receive poor Jonah. The whale was as ugly a looking monster of the finny tribe as I ever beheld; and if the picture was a correct representation of the whales of Ivan the Terrible's time, they have improved in appearance wonderfully in this our day and generation. Many of the walls were also adorned with paintings of flowers, drawn and coloured after the fashion of the picture I have just described. The church has two stories or floors, and upon each floor an equal number of chapels. It is in this church that I was shown several tombs, which I understood my valet to say, were the tombs of the Tsars previous to Peter the Great. The tomb of " Ivan the Terrible" was pointed out to me; and on it was laid the heavy iron chain, to which an iron cross was suspended, that the Tsar wore constantly around his neck. Both of these, the chain and the cross, must have come from the blacksmith-shop, and at a time when the sons of Vulcan did not know their trade as well as their descendants do now. I observed, also, some other rude iron ornaments which the Tsar wore about him.
In one of the chapels I was shown the image, "the real image," as my guide termed it, of "our holy mother of Casan." Like most of the Russian images, the painting was excessively coarse; a quantity of precious stones encircled her brow, and below the frame of the picture I noticed, tied to a string, a quantity of pieces of gold and silver in the shape of legs, feet, eyes, and indeed almost every part of the human form divine. I asked what they meant; my guide informed me that, centuries ago, a lady in Moscow had a dream. She had been suffering, a cripple, for many years. She dreamed that a visit to this picture, which was then at Casan, would restore to her the use of her limbs. She repaired to Casan, and she was healed! She brought the image with her to Moscow, and here it has been ever since. And now it is visited with pious veneration by the lame, the halt, and the blind, who leave at the shrine the little trinkets that I have just been speaking of, accordingly as they are affected. I saw, also, in one of the chapels, some teeth, and other old bones of " remarkable saints," which are held in great veneration; for the opportunity of kissing which (for they are usually locked up in a glass case), the devotee must have influence, and no doubt a few pieces of gold—the latter given for "pious uses;" though in reality the coin goes into the priest's pocket. With this faint description of the Cathedral of St. Basil, I leave the subject for the present, perhaps to return to it again; it certainly is the most remarkable pile I ever beheld. I ought not, however, to leave it without telling you that it was from the main tower of this cathedral, that I beheld for the first time the magnificent panorama of Moscow; the. like of which I do not believe can be found upon the globe! But I will not speak of it here; for since Saturday morning, I have had a grander view of Moscow than that seen from St. Basil.
We are once more without the holy precincts of St. Basil, and in the open square, or the "beautiful place," so called, at the extremity of which, the cathedral I have just spoken of stands. In the distance, in front of the cathedral, we find a monument erected by the Emperor Alexander to Minin and Pojarski, the merchant and the prince who delivered Moscow from a Tartar invasion in the 17th century. It represents the merchant (I believe he was a butcher residing at Novgorod) laying his treasures at the feet of the prince, to enable him to raise his army against the Tartars. I have read of the deeds of both prince and merchant in some book, and only wonder that the monument was not erected by some one of the Czars before Alexander. But enough of the monument. Near to us, on our left, at a distance of one hundred yards, in the oentre of the Kremlin walls, rises a lofty white painted steeple, surmounted at its summit by large imperial eagles. A large, arched gateway passes through this steeple to the interior of the Kremlin. Crowds of people are passing in and out at this gate, and many are on their bended knees in reverence and prayer at its threshold, and every person I see has his head uncovered. It is the Spaskiya Vorotui or "Holy Gate." In passing through the Holy Gate, every individual, from serf to Emperor and Czar, having taken off his hat, goes uncovered, and the Russians always stop to cross themselves before the image of the Saviour at the entrance. At this gate are stationed sentinels to remind the foreigner, who is ignorant of the custom, of his duty. Different aocounts are given of the origin of this custom, but I doubt not it was a superstition of the dark ages, preserved down to this day. The Russians themselves seem not to have any clear notion on the subject. But you will be told even by intelligent Russians (and I quote the aneedote as illustrative of the existing prejudices) that in 1812, when Napoleon held his residence in Moscow, every time he attempted to pass through the Holy Oate, his horse pranced and fell with him, and always exactly on the same tpot! Long after he left Moscow, and even at present, a hollow in the pavement, said to have been made by the violent and indignant stroke of the horse, attracts many spectators. The
general opinion is, that the wicked Napoleon was reckoned unworthy of passing "the gates of our Saviour," and that his horse, like Balaam's ass, was inspired, and thus rebuked him!! If the pavements in Moscow were no better in 1812 than they are now, I do not wonder that Napoleon's horse stumbled. Through this "Holy Gate," with head uncovered, I passed, and I was now within the tapering towers and battlements of the Kremlin, the great object of my visit to Moscow. Hardly had I entered, and before I had time to look about me, I spied the "Big Bell," and regardless of other scenes around, I proceeded to it at once. It is a monster, there is no gainsaying it. This bell was cast in the reign of the late Empress Ann, and weighs, they say, 4K2,000 pounds. Soon after its erection, preparatory to its being hoisted into the belfry of the cathedral, the beam that supported it gave way, and the bell, in its fall, buried itself deep into the earth. Here it remained till 1837, when the present Emperor, justly regarding it as one of the wonders of the world, ordered it to be dug out, and placed upon a granite pedestal, where it now stands by the side of the cathedral. In its fall, a portion of the bell was broken out, and the piece now lies by the side of the pedestal. I found by measurement, that the thickest part of the metal broken out, was noarly the length of my three feet, one put before the other; the base of this piece I also measured in like manner, and found it about eight of my feet in length. The height of the piece broken out, is about seven feet, and through the aperture, two men, six feet high, can walk into the bell without touching either side. The bell, I was told, is about twenty-five feet high. The bell, it is said, cost a very great sum; for every one, ambitious to contribute towards it, threw some gold or silver into the furnaces.
So much for the bell, near which I spied the "monarch gun," the largest cannon ever cast, and another wonder of the world. Its weight is 86,400 pounds. It was cast in 1586, in the reign of Phedor Ivanowitch Gosudar, Autocrat of all the Russias. Its length is sixteen feet; the diameter of its calibre three feet, and it requires fifty pounds of powder to load it. It is placed on the south side of the grand entrance to the arsenal, and so long as Russian superstition shall exist', the gun will probably remain there. I will give you the reason for my belief, by repeating an aneedote which was told me to-day, in regard to this gun. Some one of the "Ivans," (it is of no consequence which Tsar it was,) was about to set out with his army for Casan, to fight the Tartars, and he wished to take the gun along with him. Twenty horses were harnessed to the gun, but it was too heavy, they could not start it. The Tsar then ordered fifty horses to be attached, but the gun would not budge an inch. The Tsar flew into a violent rage, and, obtaining some rods or sticks, he went to work and gave the gun a sound drubbing, said it was not worthy of him and his holy cause, and as a punishment to it, he issued a ukase that the big gun should never leave its present position! The Drobovick or great gun is placed at one of the corners of the arsenal within the Kremlin, and it has for its company around the arsenal, several hundred of the enemy's cannon and howitzers: if I had commenced counting them, the sentinel on duty would have stopped me. I understand, however, there are about 800. To each gun there is a tablet indicating the situation and number which once belonged to each of the different powers leagued with France, at the invasion of Russia. Among these guns, there are pieces formerly belonging to France, Austria, Naples, Bavaria, Westphalia, Saxony, Hanover, Italy, Wurtemburg, Spain, Poland, and Holland,—a handsome memorial of the visit of those potentates who accompanied Napoleon to Moscow.
The remaining objects of interest in the Kremlin, the palaces, the Cathedral, the treasury, and the arsenal, I could not visit to-day; a special permission must first be obtained. This I shall no doubt have as soon as I have
called upon Count B , the great man of
Moscow at present, a favourite of the Imperial family, to whom I have brought a letter of introduction.
Leaving the Kremlin, I stopped at the celebrated riding-school of Moscow, close by, one of the many wonders of this wonderful city. It is said to be the largest room in the world unsupported by pillars. Its length is about 170 yards, and its breadth about 90 yards. The interior of the building is adorned with several bas-reliefs of men in arms. This immense room was built for the exercise of the troops during the frosts of a Russian winter; and I should think 10,000 men could manoeuvre in it with ease. It is heated in winter by about 20 large stoves (or puches), which are placed at regular distances around the manege. I walked through the manege ; and then entering my carriage, which had come round to meet me, drove home.
After dinner, my valet proposed to me a visit to the Simeonouskoi Monastery, situated without the barriers of the city, and from which, he informed me, one of the best views of the beautiful panorama of Moscow might be obtained. I readily assented, and may tell you here that my reception at the Monastery was more than I expected, and all I could have desired. As long as I live I shall never forget this afternoon. After driving about a half hour
through the streets of Moscow, at every turn coming across some old church more grotesque in its appearance than those we left behind, whose domes, some of porcelain and others of .metal, represented all the hues of the rainbow, we found ourselves near the Simeonouskoi, whose fortress-looking walls and numerous towers, all varying in appearance,—some of them with large and others with slender bases, some of them white and others partly covered with reddish tiles,—seemed to warn us not to attempt an entrance into its holy precincts. It was indeed an imposing sight; the white walls, overtopped by various-shaped and coloured towers, the singularly-painted churches within the walls,—the green domes of one, the azure domes besprinkled with golden stars of another,—the red and yellow houses of the monks, and the tall rose-coloured tower and belfry, standing alone in its glory, presented, as you may conceive, a beautiful aspect as we ascended the "holy hill."
The Monastery is situated upon high ground, and from it one of the best views of Moscow is seen. When we had reached the top of the hill, and were driving along the gravelled road cut out at its brow, I ordered the carriage to stop, that I might feast my eyes upon the scene below and before me. It was magnificent! The Tartar capital was within the compass of my eye, and its countless gilded domes, mingled with the green roofs of the houses, glittered like sunbeams upon the sea. At my feet the Moscova was moving along its quiet waters, and the breeze was gently stirring the trees along its bank, and ever and anon the deep tones of the cathedral bells were coming up from the city. I thought how pleasant it would be to lead a monk's life at Simeononoff; but I forgot a Russian winter makes sad changes upon the face of summer's charms. On I drove, and entered the long, arched gateway, cut through the wall, and I stood upon the greensward in front of the churches of the Monastery. Directly before me was the church dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin, which was consecrated in the year 1405, and which stands in the middle of the oourt. Its five domes are green, and they are surmounted with gilded crosses and chains. Adjoining stands the singular Church of St. Sergii, the miracle-worker, with a large square trapeza curiously painted; near stands the Church of the Discovery of the Cross; near this the church of Ksenophont and his society; and lastly, the church of the Prodigies of the Most Holy Mother of God. We hoped to have arrived at the Monastery in time to hear the chant of the afternoon service by the monks; for the style of singing at this monastery is quite peculiar to it. and has a reputation all over Russia; but we were too late, the service was over. So, after visiting the churches, and drinking a cup of quaes with a monk in one of the rooms adjoining a chapel, we sauntered through the grounds and reached our carriage at the gateway, intending to go home. My valet, however, on our way, remarked, en passant, that the superior of this monastery was a very old and learned man; and that strangers were generally received very kindly by him. So, without a thought, before I got into the carriage, I sent the valet to the old archimandrate's house with my card and compliments. He soon returned, telling me that "Melchisedec" (for that was the name of the old man) would be charmed to see me. I immediately mounted the steps that led to his quarters, and, after waiting a moment in the reception-room, was received by the old gentleman, who approached me with both hands extended, and begged me to be seated. He was a man of about seventy years of age, and has been in the monastery over thirty years. He was habited in the monk's costume, a flowing black robe, with a black, inverted sugar-loaf hat upon his head. His snow-white beard extended down over his breast, and around his neck he wore a massive gold chain, to which was suspended in front a heavy cross, composed of amethyst, emerald, and diamond; a present, he afterwards told me, from the Emperor Nicholas. In his hand he carried a string of amber beads. He was short, and of very full habit. After we had been talking a moment, he proposed that we should go and sit out on the balcony of his house, and which hangs over the road, the view from which I have just been describing. I of course consented, and again had an opportunity of feasting my eyes on the panorama of Moscow, which, like Niagara, increases in interest and beauty at every visit. Here we became much engrossed in conversation. Ho asked me all kinds of questions about America, and told me a good many anecdotes about himself; gave me an account of a visit he received from the Emperor during his late visit to Moscow; had a good deal to say of the Emperor Alexander, &c. I seemed to have made a. very good first impression on the kindhearted old man, and repeatedly did he press my hand and bless me. At last he sent his servant to bring him a present for me, which he wished me to keep as a souvenir of "Melchisedec." It is a book written by the archimandratc, giving a history of the Monastery, and also the author's life. He wrote my name and his own in the book and then presented it to me, together with six large engravings, giving different views of the Monastery. Of course I felt much flattered by the old man's kindness, and could not refrain from following the Russian custom of always kissing the donor's hand!
This custom of kissing the hand has sometimes, a very pretty effect. What prettier domestic sight is there, for example, than that of the old and young children in a Russian family approaching their mother, after dinner, and kissing her hand in thankfulness for the bounty she has provided them? This custom is still preserved in every Russian family. The old gentleman then insisted that I should stop and break bread with him, and then, at seven o'clock, accompany him to the church and hear the monks chant the Saturday evening service. I readily consented, and soon the servant came to tell us that tea was ready. We went into a room adjoining the one leading out on the balcony, and very soon a monk brought us tea and two little loaves of warm bread upon a wooden plate. The old prelate then said, "You see my fare: I asked you to come and break bread with me, and I can give you nothing but a bit of my little loaf," and he broke the little loaf in two, and gave me half. As I said before, the loaves were warm, about the size of the little warm bread breakfast biscuits at home; and I thought of home as I was eating the half loaf Melchisedec had given me. The old man then began to talk of America again, and I astonished him when I told him some facts in relation to our country. He asked me if I was married, and to my negative answer he said, "You must marry, you must marry; you have my blessing;" and he continued, "when the present Emperor was married (or crowned) I gave him one of these little loaves of bread, with my blessing. His Majesty still has the loaf, he keeps it under a glass case, and he told me the other day, when he came to the Monastery, that it was still fresh. I present you also with a similar loaf, and with it I give you my blessing. Preserve the loaf till your wedding-day, when you must divide it with your bride." I felt so touched by the old reverend's kindness, that I could have fallen upon his neck. I thanked him over and over again, and assured him that I should preserve the little loaf as the apple of my eye.
It was now near seven o'clock, and the different convents and monasteries of Moscow were waiting to hear the deep tone of the Cathedral bell in the Kremlin to summon their own bells to ohime their evening hymn. And presently the sound from the Kremlin came wafted up to the Monastery, and of a sudden the chimes of Simeonouskoi were calling the monks to their service in the church. In about ten minutes the archimandrate thought we had better set out for the church. We descended the steps, and as soon as Melchisedec had reached the porch of his house, the big bell of the Monastery—the monarch of all the bells in the lofty tower I have before alluded to, and which till