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THE RUSSIAN EMPIRE,
PETER THE GREAT.
GEORGE DEAR BORN, PUBLISHER.
THE RUSSIAN EMPIRE,
PETER THE GREAT.
Description of Russia.
The empire of Russia is the largest in the whole globe, extending from west to east upwards of two thousand common leagues of France,* and about eight hundred in its greatest breadth from north to south. It borders upon Poland and the Frozen Sea, and joins to Sweden and China. Its length from the Island of Dago, in the westernmost part of Livonia, to its most eastern limits, takes in near one hundred and seventy degrees, so that when it is noon in the western parts of the empire, it is nearly midnight in the eastern. Its breadth from north to south is three thousand six hundred wersts, which make eight hundred and fifty of our common French leagues.
The limits of this country were so little known in the last century, that, in 1689, when it was reported, that the Chinese and the Russians were at war, and that in order to terminate their differences, the emperor Camhi on the one hand, and the czars Ivan or John, and Peter, on the other, had sent their ministers to meet an embassy within three hundred leagues of Pekin, on the frontiers of the two empires. This account was at first treated as a fiction.
The country now comprehended under the name of Russia, or the Russias, is of a greater extent than all the rest of Europe, or than ever the Roman empire was, or that of Darius subdued by Alexander; for it contains upwards of one million, one hundred thousand square leagues. Neither the Roman empire, nor that of Alexander, contained more than five hundred and fifty thousand
and there is not a kingdom in Europe the twelfth part so extensive as the Roman empire ; but to make Russia as populous, as plentiful, and as well stored with towns as our southern countries, would require whole ages, and a race of monarchs such as Peter the Great.
The English ambassador, who resided at Pe
tersburgh in 1733, and who had been at Madrid, says, in his manuscript relation, that in Spain, which is the least populous state in Europe, there may be reckoned forty persons to every square mile, and in Russia not above five. We shall see in the second chapter, whether this minister was mistaken. Marshal Vauban, the greatest of engineers, and the best of citizens, computes, that, in France, every square mile contains two hundred inhabitants. These calculations are never very exact, but they serve to show the amazing disproportion in the population of two different countries.
I shall observe here, that from Petersburgh to Pekin, there is hardly one mountain to be met with in the route which the caravans might take through independant Tartary, and that from Petersburgh to the north of France, by the road of Dantzic, Hamburgh, and Amsterdam, there is not even a hill of any eminence to be seen. This observation leaves room to doubt of the truth of that theory, which makes the mountains to have been formed by the rolling of the waves of the sea, and supposes all that is at present dry land, to have been for a long time covered with water: but how comes it to pass, that the waves, which, according to the supposition, formed the Alps, the Pyrenees, and Mount Taurus, did not likewise form some eminence or hill from Normandy to China, which is a winding space of above three thousand leagues ? Geography, thus considered, may furnish lights to natural philosophy, or at least give room for rational doubts.
Formerly we called Russia by the name of Muscovy, from the city of Moscow, the capital of that empire, and the residence of the grand dukes; but at present the ancient name of Russia prevails.
It is not my business in this place to inquire, why the countries from Smolensko, to the other side of Moscow, were called White Russia, or why Hubner gives it the name of Black, nor for what reason the government of Kiow should be named Red Russia.
It is very likely that Madies the Scythian, who made an irruption into Asia, near seven hundred
* A French league contains three English miles,
years before our vulgar æra, might have carried his try, and a body of religious crusaders, called port arms into these regions, as Genzis-Kan and Ta- glaives, or sword-bearers, who were afterwards merlane did afterwards, and as probably others incorporated in the Teutonic order, made themhad done long before Madies. Every part of an- selves masters of this province in the thirteenth tiquity is not deserving of our inquiries; that of century, at the time when the fury of the crusades the Chinese, the Indians, the Persians, and the armed the Christians against every one who was Egyptians, is ascertained from illustrious and in- not of their religion. Albert, margrave of Branteresting monuments; but these monuments sup- denbourg, grand master of these religious conquerpose others of a far more ancient date, since it re- ors, made himself sovereign of Livonia and of quired many ages to teach men the art of trans- Brandenbourg-Prussia, about the year 1514.mitting their thoughts by permanent signs, and From that time, the Russians and Poles began to no less time was required to form a regular lan- dispute for the possession of this province. Soon guage; and yet we have no such monuments afterwards it was invaded by the Swedes, and for even in this polite part of Europe. The art of a long while continued to be ravaged by these writing was a long time unknown to all the North : several powers. Gustavus Adolphus having conthe patriarch Constantine, who wrote the history quered it
, it was then ceded to the Swedes in 1660, of Kiow in the Russian language, acknowledges, by the famous treaty of Oliva ; and, at length. that the use of writing was not known in these Czar Peter wrested it from these latter, as will be countries in the fifth century.
seen in the course of this history. Let others examine whether the Huns, the Slavi, Courland, which joins to Livonia, is still in vasand the Tartars, formerly led their wandering and salage to Poland, though it depends greatly upon famished tribes towards the source of the Boris- Russia. These are the western limits of this emthenes ;* my design is to show what Czar Peter pire in Christendom. created, and not to engage in an useless attempt, to clear up the chaos of antiquity. We should
Of the Governments of always keep in mind, that no family upon earth
REVEL, PETERSBURG, AND WYBURG. knows its first founder, and consequently, that no nation knows its first origin.
MORE northward is the government of Revel I use the name of Russians to designate the inha- and Esthonia. Rovel was built by the Danes in bitants of this great empire. That of Roxolanians, the thirteenth century. The Swedes were in poswhich was formerly given them, would indeed be session of this province, from the time that counmore sonorous, but we should conform to the cus
try put itself under the protection of that crown tom of the language in which we write. News- in 1561. This is another of the conquests of Pepapers and other memoirs have for some time used
ter the Great. the word Russians; but as this name comes too On the borders of Esthonia lies the gulf of near to that of Prussians, I shall abide by that of Finland. To the eastward of this sea, and at the Russ, which almost all our writers have given junction of the Neva with the lake Ladoga,* is them. Besides, it appeared to me, that the most situated Petersburg, the most modern and best extensive people on the earth ought to be known by built city in the whole empire, founded by czar some appellation that may distinguish them ab
Peter, in spite of all the united obstacles which solutely from all other nations.t
opposed its foundation. This empire is at present divided into sixteen
This city is situated on the bay of Kronstat, in large governments, that will one day be subdi
the midst of nine rivers, by which its different vided, when the northern and eastern countries
quarters are divided, in the centre of this city is come to be more inhabited.
an almost impregnable fortress, built on an island, These sixteen governments, which contain se- formed by the main stream of the river Neva : several immense provinces are the following: ven canals are cut from the rivers, and wash the
walls of one of the royal palaces of the admiralty,
of the dock-yard for the galleys, and of several The nearest province to our part of the world buildings of manufactories. Thirty-five large is that of Livonia, one of the most fruitful in the churches contribute to adorn the city; among whole North. In the twelfth century the inhabit- which five were allotted for foreigners of the Roman ants were pagans; at this time certain mer- Catholic, Calvinist, and Lutheran religions : these chants of Bremen and Lubeck traded to this coun- are as so many temples raised to toleration, and
* The Boristhenes, or Dnieper, is one of the largest examples to other nations. There are five palaces; rivers in Europe; it rises in the Walchonske Forest, the old one, called the summer palace, situated on runs through Lithuania, the country of the Zoporag Cossacks, and that of the Nagisch Tartars, and falls
the river Neva, has a very large and beautiful into the Black Sea near Oczakow. It has thirteen stone balustrade, which runs all along the river cataracts within a small distance.
| The reader will easily perceive, that the whole of * A collection of water lying between the gulf of this paragraph relates only to the French language, for Finland and lake Onega ; it is the largest, and said to in English we make no such distinctions in the name contain a greater number of fish than any other in Euof these people, but always call them Russians.
soon came in for a share of the trade of Archan. gel, then unknown to other nations.
Long before this time, the Genoese and Venetians had established a trade with the Russians by the mouth of the Tanais or Don,* where they had built a town called Tana. This branch of the Italian commerce was destroyed by the ravages of Tamerlane, in that part of the world : but that of Archangel continued, with great advantages both to the English and Dutch, till the time that Peter the Great opened a passage into his dominions by the Baltic Sea.
side. The new summer palace near the triumphal gate, is one of the finest pieces of architecture in Europe. The admiralty buildings, the school for cadets, the imperial college, the academy of sciences, the exchange, and the merchants' warehouses, are all magnificent structures, and monuments of taste and public utility. The town house, the public dispensary, where all the vessels are of porcelain, the court magazines, the foundry, the arsenal, the bridges, the markets, the squares, the barracks for the horse and foot guards, contribute at once to the embellishment and safety of the city, which is said to contain at present four hundred thousand souls. In the environs of the city are several villas or country-seats, which surprise all travellers by their magnificence There is one in particular which has water-works superior to those of Versailles. There was nothing of all this in 1702, the whole being then an impassible morass. Petersburg is considered as the capital of Ingria, a small province subdued by Peter 1. Wyburg, another of his conquests, and that part of Finland which was lost, and ceded by the Swedes in 1742, makes another govern
Higher up, proceeding towards the north, is the province of Archangel, a country entirely new to the southern nations of Europe. It took its name from St. Michael, the Archangel, under whose patronage it was put long after the Russians had einbraced Christianity, which did not happen till the beginning of the eleventh century; and they were not known to the other nations of Eu. rope till the middle of the sixteenth. The Englisn, in 1533, endeavouring to find out a northeast passage to the East Indies, Chancellor, captain of one of the ships, fitted out for this expedition, discovered the port of Archangel in the White Sea; at that time it was a desert place, having only one convent, and a little church, dedicated to St. Michael, the Archangel.
The English sailing up the river Dwina,* arrived at the midland part of the country, and at length at Moscow. Here they easily made themselves masters of the trade of Russia, which was removed from the city of Novogorod, where it was carried on by land to this sea-port, which is inaccessible indeed during seven months in the year; but, nevertheless this trade proved more beneficial to the empire, than the fairs of Novogorod, that had fallen to decay in consequence of the wars with Sweden. The English obtained the privilege of trading thither without paying any duties ; a manner of trading which is apparently the most beneficial to all nations. The Dutch
Of the Government of Archangel. To the west of Archangel, and within its government, lies Russian Lapland; the third part of this country, the other two belonging to Sweden and Denmark. This is a very large tract, occupying about eight degrees of longitude, and extending in latitude from one polar circle to the north cape.t The natives of this country were confusedly known to the ancients, under the name of troglodytes and northern pigmies; appellations suitable enough to men, who, for the most part, are not. above four feet and a half high, and dwell in caverns; they are just the same people they were at that time. They are of a tawny complexion, though the other people of the north are white, and for the most part very low in stature; though their neighbours, and the people of Iceland, under the polar circle, are tall: they seem made for their mountainous country, being nimble, squat, and robust; their skins are hard, the better to resist the cold, their thighs and legs are slender, their feet small, to enable them to run more nimbly amongst the rocks, with which their province is covered. They are passionately fond of their own country, which none but themselves can be pleased with, and are able to no where else. Some have affirmed, upon the credit of Olaus, that these people were originally natives of Finland, and that they removed into Lapland, where they diminished in stature: but why might they not as well have made choice of lands less northerly, where the conveniencies of life were to be had in greater plenty? How comes it that they differ so totally from their pretended ancestors in features, figure, and complexion ? Methinks we might, with as great reason, suppose that the grass which grows in Lapland is produced from that of Denmark, and that the fishes, peculiar to their lakes, came from those of Sweden. It is most likely that the Laplanders are, like their animals, the produce of their
* We must not confound this river with another of the same name that runs through Lithuania in Poland, and dividing Livonia and Courland, falls into the Baltic at Dunamunder fort, below Riga.
* This was by the ancients reckoned among the most famous rivers in the world, and the
boundary between Asia and Europe. It issues from St. John's Lake, not far from Tula, and after a long course, divides itself into three arms, and falls into the sea below Azoph.
| A promontory of the Island of Maggero in the north of Norway, and is the most northern point in Europe.