clamours of an English audience. The curtain ascends at six o'clock precisely. No after-piece, as with us, only now and then a ballet, succeeds the opera, which is generally concluded by nine o'clock, when the company go to the Summer Gardens, drive about the city, or proceed to card and supper parties.

This theatre is as much dedicated to the Russian muses, as to those of more genial climates. In this respect Catherine II. pursued- the same plan of domestic policy, so wisely adopted by Gustavus III. but the plan since her demise has never been encouraged by the higher circlés. A Russ play has the same effect

upon fashion in Russia, as George Barnwell has upon the same class in England. Although in the former there are some inimitable performers, as in the hero of the latter, one of the most perfect and affecting imitations of nature, in that walk of the drama, ever exhibited upon any stage, is displayed by Mr. Charles Kemble.

I went one evening, in company with my amiable and gallant friend, Captain Elphinstone, to see a Russ opera, called

The School for Jealousy:" it is not much esteemed. As it proceeded Captain E. explained it to me: the sentiments were frequently coarse, sometimes very obscene; the actors, who were Russians, appeared to perform with great ability; the heroine of the piece was represented by a very pretty and inter

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esting girl, who was taken from the hospital of foundlings : she manifested grace, and a bewitching naiveté, and played and sung most sweetly. I am sorry I have forgotten her name; she is the principal Russ actress, and is a very great favourite. In the course of the play, to my astonishment, was introduced a scene of the inside of the mad-house at Petersburg, in which, amongst a number of horrible grotesque figures, a mad periwig-naker threw a handful of hair-powder into the face of a frantic girl, who ran raving about the stage with dishevelled locks, which excited strong risibility amongst the audience. I was so disgusted at the spectacle, and the applause, that I wished it had not happened; but as it did, I record it. Although an English audience has been delighted at a dance of undertakers, laughed at the feats of skeletons in pantomimes, and in Hamlet has expressed great mirth at seeing a buffoon grave-digger roll human skulls

upon and beat them about with his spade, it could not endure a sight in which those objects, whom pity and every tender feeling have consecrated, are brought forward with ridicule. But let it be remembered that madness is less frequent in Russia than in milder regions; and hence the people, for they are very far from being strangers to feelings which would do honour to the most civilized of the human race, are less acquainted with, and consequently less affected by its appearance; and when it is thus wantonly displayed upon the stage, it appears under the mask of buffoonery. The government would

the stage,



do well to suppress this and every similar exhibition, calculated only to imbrute a civilized mind, and postpone the refinement of a rude one.

I was much more pleased with the Russ opera of the Nymph of the Dnieper, which is so popular and attractive, that it never fails to fill the seats of fashion. It is chiefly intended to display the ancient costume and music of Russia. The story is very simple: A prince has sworn eternal constancy to a nymph, who is violently attached to him; his father, a powerful king, wishes him to marry a princess of an ancient house; the prince consents, but the nuptials are always interrupted by the stratagems of the jealous nymph, who appears in various disguises. The first scene was singularly beautiful: it displayed a river and its banks, and nymphs swimming; the manner in which they rose upon the water was admirably natural; the music of the ancient Russ airs, in which the celebrated Cossacka is introduced, were exquisite; the scenery was very fine, and displayed a number of pantomimic changes.

The Russian noblemen are fond of the drama; almost every country mansion has a private theatre. Those of the nobility, who, from disgust to the court, or some other cause, confine their residence to Moscow and the adjacent country, live in the voluptuous magnificence of eastern satraps : after



dinner they frequently retire to a vast rotunda, and sip their coffee, during a battle of dogs, wild bears, and wolves; from thence they go to their private theatres, where great dramatic skill is frequently displayed by their slaves, who perform, and who also furnish the orchestra. These people are tutored by French players, who are very liberally paid by their employers.

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It is with deep regret that I approach the delicate and awful subject of this chapter. Humanity would gladly cover it with the pall of oblivion; but justice to the memory of an unhappy monarch, and to the chief of the august family of Russia, demand a candid though careful developement of the events which preceded the fall of the last Emperor. The original source of my information is from one who beheld the catastrophe which I am about to relate, whom I can neither name nor doubt; a catastrophe which is too near the period in which I write, not to render an unrestrained disclosure of all the particulars with which I have been furnished, unfair if not imprudent. The causes that first created those well-known prejudices which Catherine II. cherished against her son, have perished with her; but all the world knows, that, during the many years which rolled away between the Grand Duke's

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