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356

ANECDOTE OF CATHERINE,

rowed round the islands formed by the Petrovka, branching from the Neva, my gallant friend gratified me, by relating the following anecdote of the delicacy and fortitude of Catherine's mind. After the battle between the Russian and Swedish fleets off Cronstadt, in May 1790, Captain Elphinstone, then a very young lieutenant, was dispatched by his uncle, Admiral Creuse, to Catherine, who was at that time at the palace of Zarsko Zelo, with an account of the successful manæuvres of her fleet. For four days and nights preceding the Empress had taken no rest, and but little refreshment, the greater part of which time she had passed upon the beautiful terrace near the baths of porphyry; listening, with the greatest anxiety, to the distant thunder of the cannon, which was so tremendous, that several windows in Petersburg were broken by its concussion. It is said that, anticipating the last disaster, her horses and carriages were ready to convey her to Moscow. Young Elphinstone arrived at the palace late at night, in his fighting clothes, covered with dust and gunpowder, and severely fatigued with long and arduous duty. His dispatches were instantly carried to the Empress, who ordered her page in waiting to give the bearer refreshments and a bed, and requested that he might on no account be disturbed. The gallant messenger availed himself of her graciousness, and

Tir'd Nature's sweet restorer, balmy sleep!” never quitted his eye-lids till the dawn had far advanced, during which period Catherine had sent three times to see if he were awake.

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At length Captain Elphinstone, in all his dishabille, was conducted to her presence by her secretary, when she commenced an enchanting conversation, in which she complimented the gallantry and many naval achievements of his family; and after proceeding upon various topics for about half an hour, she said, calling him “ my son,” “ Now let us

proceed to business: I have received the dispatches, which “ have afforded me infinite satisfaction; I thank your “ bravery and zeal; I beg you will describe to me the po“sition of the ships,” which, as Captain E. explained, she indicated with her pencil upon a leaf of her pocket-book; and as she gave him her orders to the Commander in Chief, she presented him with a rouleau of ducats, a beautiful little French watch, and, although very young, promoted him to the rank of Captain.

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It was during this battle that the Swedish monarch behaved with his accustomed distinguished gallantry: As he was rowing in his barge, and giving his orders, in the thickest of the battle, a shot carried away the hand of the strokesman, and at this moment a small Russian vessel of war, discovering the King, bore down upon him; the brave and generous monarch, seeing the accident which bis poor bargeman had sustained, and his own personal peril at the same time, calmly took out his handkerchief, and bound it over the wound, then leaped on board one of his gun-boats, and miraculously escaped, by that good fortune which never favours little minds,

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ELEGANT COMPLIMENT.

at the instant when his barge was boarded by the enemy, the cushions of which were preserved in the apartment of Captain Elphinstone, in the marine barracks, as trophies of war and of humanity.

A short time after the Swedish fleet had retired, the gallant and venerable Admiral Creuse, who commanded the Russian fleet, paid his respects to his sovereign. Owing to the corpulency of the Admiral, the narrow plank floor of the presence-chamber shook with his weight, which the hero remarked with some little humour, to Catherine, when she turned this trivial circumstance into the following beautiful compliment:

My brave Creuse, wherever you go you make the “ earth shake under you, and your enemies tremble.” As we rowed along we passed several national baths, from which the people precipitately issued in a stream of perspiration, and plunged into the river. They regard these transitions from extreme heat to extreme cold as conducive to an invigoration of the frame. As we turned

As we turned up the little Nevka, we saw several beautiful country houses and grounds: the chateau of Count Narishkin was of this description; it had a centre, surmounted by a vast copper dome painted green,

dome painted green, and very extensive wings upon a ground floor; a flight of steps led to the principal entrance, shaded from the sun by a vast projecting awning of canvas; the whole edifice was built of wood, and painted of a light yellow. Several elegant yachts and pleasure barges with gay streamers, floating green houses and baths, were moored

SINGULAR ATTACHMENTS.

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before it; the whole had an Asiatic appearance. A superb pleasure barge with twelve rowers, covered with a rich awning from stem to stern, passed us, in which was a lady of rank, and a little yellow humpbacked female ideot, who had the good fortune of being her pet! The Russian nobility, whether from whim, genuine compassion, or superstition, I know not, are uncommonly fond of these little, sickly, shapeless, blighted beings: uniting man to monster, and apparently formed by Heaven to mock the proud presuming nature of those whom he has made after his own image. The imperial chateau is small, has a terrace in front towards the water, and a wood behind: as the Emperor was here we did not attempt to see the inside of it, but I understand most of the rooms are for use and comfort only. The Empress, who is one of the most amiable and the shyest being that ever wore a diadem, hurries with delight from the gaudy tumult of a court, to veil herself in the tranquil shades of this sequestered place; and the Emperor exhibits the same love of privacy. Is there no moral in their choice? Does it not point to the spot where only genuine happiness is to be found?

We went on board one of the imperial yachts, a beautiful. vessel, the state-room of which was most elegantly fitted up.. Soon after leaving Kammenoi-Ostroff, we passed Count Stroganoff's gardens, which are prettily laid out, and embellished with the customary decorations of hillocks, rustic temples, ar

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tificial rocks and waterfals. The Count very liberally opens his garden gates on Sunday to the public, when the walks are very

much crowded, and resemble, but in miniature, those of Kensington gardens. Upon our return, we rowed against the stream of the Neva a considerable way, and floated down with it, for the purpose of enabling our boatmen to take in their oars, and afford us a specimen of Russian vocal music. They first faced each other, and sat very close together, and upon a signal being given, the leader sang a little song alone, which, upon his striking a tamborine, all the party, steadfastly gazing upon each other, joined in, and although their voices at a distance frequently produce an agreeable harmony, such was the shrillness on the present occasion, that I could not help thinking the conclusion of the song by far the best part of it. When Captain E. was lying in his frigate a few years since, off Palermo, he invited a party, in which were two Italian princesses, to a marine breakfast, during which the latter requested to be indulged with a native Russ chorus, the fame of which had reached them; the sailors, who were assembled round the cabin light, commenced their national song before their fair auditors expected it, who, terrified at the screaming sounds which issued from the strained throats of these untutored warblers, instantly raised their hands to their ears, and implored Captain E. to stop his men; but, convulsed with laughter, and overpowered by the din of the chorus, he was obliged to let them make a natural finale. When they had

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