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THE WIBOURG BARRIER.

217

horses announced the arrival of the vehicle, and of all the ca

valcade.

The following day we beheld the shining cupola and spires of the capital, about ten versts from us, just rising above a long dark line of fir forests. At twelve o'clock we reached the barrier, a plain lofty arch of brick stuccoed white, from each side of which a palisado ran, part of the lines of this vast city. There is no custom-house here, but we were detained nearly an hour, owing, as we afterwards found, to the officer of the guard, a very fine looking young man, and I dare

say very brave withal, being somewhat of a novice in the mystery of reading and writing: our passports appeared to puzzle him dreadfully, at length a serjeant, who doubtless was the literary wonder of the guard-house, was sent for, and in two minutes relieved his officer and the Englishmen at the same time. A fair-complexioned cossac of the Don, habited in a pyramidal red velvet cap, short scarlet cloak, with a belt of pistols, a light fuzee slung across his shoulders, and a long elastic spear in his hand, mounted upon a little miserable highboned hack, was ordered to attend us to the governor of the city, and with this garde d'honneur we posted through the vast suburbs of Wibourg, and at length ascended the Emperor's bridge of pontoons or barges; here the most magnificent and gorgeous spectacle burst upon me, and for a time overwhelmed me with amazement and admiration.

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The sky was cloudless, the Neva of a brilliant blue, clear, and nearly as broad as the Thames at Westminster bridge; it flowed majestically along, bearing on its bosom the most picturesque vessels and splendid pleasure-barges; as the eye rapidly travelled several miles up and down this glorious river, adorned with stupendous embankments of granite, it beheld its sides lined with palaces, stately buildings, and gardens, whilst at a distance arose green cupolas, and the lofty spires of the Greek churches covered with ducat gold, and glittering in the sun. Immediately before us extended the magnificent railing of the summer gardens, with its columns and vases of granite, a matchless work of imperial taste and splendour.

In the capacious streets of this marvellous city, we passed through crowds of carriages drawn by four horses at length, and a variety of rich equipages, and of people from all parts of the world, in their various and motley costume. At the governor's office we presented our passports, and the cossac left us. The cossacs have a curious appearance upon their little shabby horses, which have the reputation, however, of being remarkably fleet and hardy ; their riders hold their spear, which is from fifteen to eighteen feet long, vertically resting upon their stirrup. It is said that they have the faculty of calculating from the appearance of trodden grass, the number of men and of cattle that have passed over it, and even to ascertain the period of their passing. The cossacs are never trained to attack in

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squadrons: they are always placed in the rear of the army, and act only in a desultory manner, upon the retreat of an enemy. At the governor's we were questioned by the officer upon duty, as to our motives of travelling, names, &c. &c.; a description of his room will serve to give a general idea of the arrangements which constantly occur in the Russian houses : the apartment was divided by a partition of wood, of about threefourths of the height of the room, indented at the top and ornamented with little crescents; behind this screen was his bed, and in a corner, suspended near the top of the cieling, was the framed and glazed picture of his favourite saint, before which a lamp was burning; this economy of space gave him the convenience of two rooms.

Amidst the tumult of ideas which the scenes around us excited, we drove into the yard of Demouth's hotel, I believe the best in Petersburg; it is kept by some civil Germans, and stands on the side of the Moika, a beautiful canal, having a rich iron railing and an embankment of granite. It may

be as well now to caution the traveller against the free use of the Neva water, which, like that of the Seine, is very aperient.

Our hotel was upon a scale with all the surrounding objects, and very crowded; it was with great difficulty that we obtained two uncomfortable rooms, which, according to the custom of the place, we were obliged to hire for a week certain. One of

220

STATUE OF PETER THE GREAT.

these apartments was divided as I have described, and afforded a place to sleep in for the servant.

The walls were covered with a complete crust of our old tormentors the flies, which in Russia, at this season of the year, are little inferior to the plague of Egypt. After discharging the dust of Finland in a copious ablution, and partaking of a good dinner, at which, for the first time since we left Stockholm, we tasted vegetables, I sallied forth, but the day was far

gone.

After hesitating some time, amidst such a blaze of novel magnificence, what object I should first investigate, I resolved to present myself at the base of the statue of Peter the Great. All the world has heard of this colossal compliment paid by the munificence of Catherine II. and the genius of Falconet, to the memory of that wonderful man, who elevated Muscovy to the rank of an European empire. Filled, as I was, with admiration of this glorious work of art, I could not help regretting that the artist had so much reduced and polished the granite rock, which, with great grandeur of conception, forms the pedestal of the statue. The horse, in the act of ascending its acclivity, is intended to illustrate the difficulties which Peter had to encounter in civilizing his unenlightened people. Had this rock retained the size and shape which it bore when, as if propelled by some vast convulsion of nature, it first occupied its present place, with only a few of its asperities removed, it would have encreased the dignity and expression of

FALCONET AND COLLOT.

221

the horse and his rider, and would have astonished

every

beholder with a stupendous evidence of toil and enterprize, which since the subversion of the Roman empire has no parallel. A gentleman, who saw this rock in Carelia, before its removal, describes it to have been forty feet long, twenty-two broad, and twenty-two high. It is of granite and onyx, and has a mixture of white, black, and grey colouring; if I may judge of it by a seal, which the learned Dr. Guthrie presented to me, it is susceptible of a very fine polish. In six months the rock was removed from its native bed to the spot where it now stands, partly by land and water, a distance of eleven versts, or forty-one thousand two hundred and fifty English feet, and cost four hundred and twenty-four thousand six hundred and ten rubles. So indefatigable has been the labour of the chisel

upon its enormous magnitude and rugged coating, that its history is its greatest wonder. The genius of Falconet was evidently jealous of the rude but stupendous powers of nature, and was fearful that her rock might engage more attention than his statue ; hence he reduced the former, until he rendered it disproportioned to the colossal figures which it supports; but he has thereby succeeded in bringing his work nearer to the eye of the beholder. Had he been content to have divided the homage with nature, he would not have been a loser. The head of Peter, which is very fine, was modelled by Madame Collot, the mistress of Falconet. The figure and the drapery are admirable, and the horse is worthy of being ranked next to his Venetian

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