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MUSICAL COW-KEEPERS.

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stopped, Captain Elphinstone said, “Now, ladies, will you “ have a little more?” “ Not for the world, my dear Captain, not “ for the world, we are quite content,” was the universal cry.

Whilst I was upon a visit at the house of my

much respected and hospitable friend John Venning, Esq., I used

generally to be awakened by a cow-keeper, collecting, Orpheuslike, his cows together, by a very long pipe, from which he produced some strains by no means unpleasing. The dress and attitude of this fellow, with his instrument in his mouth, resembled very

much some of the figures which I have seen upon Etruscan vases. For two or three days, whilst the wind was northerly, we were much annoyed in the city by a dense smoky atmosphere, arising from a large forest, which had been burning for several days, about thirty versts from Petersburg : to prevent the spreading of this terrible conflagration, two regiments were marched to the spot, who, after great exertion, by felling trees and digging trenches, succeeded in impeding its progress.

Accidents of this kind are attributed to the reaction of intense heat from the rock, upon the dry moss which is frequently found upon

it.

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CHAP. XVII.

COURT CLOCK-WINTER PALACE, HERMITAGE-PLAYERS AND GO

VERNMENT CARRIAGES-CONVENT DES DEMOISELLES-INSTABI

LITY OF FORTUNE-GENEROSITY IN A CHILD-THE FOUNDLING

HOSPITAL.

In order to observe engagements with punctuality, it is necessary that a traveller's watch should be set by the clock of the winter palace, which is the sun's vice-regent in Petersburg, and is certainly more sovereign than that of the Horse-Guards in London. I learned this piece of important information, as I proceeded with a party of friends to the Hermitage; not the matted cell of an anchorite, but a magnificent modern palace built by the late Empress, and connected by a light elegant gallery with an enormous mass of building, called the winter palace, built of brick stuccoed, and consisting of a basement floor, a grand and lesser story, supported with Doric columns, and adorned with balustrades, and an immense number of statues, many of which are said to be excellent, but as they are associated with the chimnies, their beauties are not discernible to gazers on the ground. This pile was built by the Empress Elizabeth, is grand from its magnitude, but very heavy:

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within its walls are many courts, galleries, and passages, and stair cases without number. In the winter it requires fifteen hundred stoves, or as the Russians call them pitchkas, and the resident English, peeches, to warm it.

What could induce Catherine to call one of the most costly and elegant palaces in Europe by the name of the Hermitage I cannot imagine; not more preposterous would it be to hear Windsor Castle denominated the Nutshell. Its situation on the banks of the Neva is very beautiful; the apartments are still magnificent, although much of their rich furniture has been removed, and are embellished with the Houghton and other choice collections, to which artists have free access to copy. One room was entirely filled with some of the finest productions of Vernet; there is also a great number by Teniers. Upon the same floor with the picture galleries, which, with the state-rooms, occupy the second story, is a spacious covered winter garden, filled with orange trees, and foreign singing birds, opening into a summer garden upon the top of the palace, in which there is a beautiful long gravelled walk, lined with shrubs and large graceful birch trees, whose roots I should think must have for some tiine threatened to make their way through the ceiling of the drawing-rooms below. The whole is adorned with statues, elegant garden sophas, and temples, and on each side are magnificent galleries. In the cabinet of curiosities I was much pleased with a faithful and exquisite

364

POTEMKIN'S PEACOCK.

model of a Russian boor's farm-house in wax. In the music room adjoining to this are some large and admirable pictures, by Sneyder, representing fish, fowl, and fruit. In the cabinet of jewels there is a rich display of all sorts of jewelry; and amongst others, under a great glass case, are the celebrated mechanical peacock, owl, cock, and grasshopper, of the size of life, which was made in England, at a vast expence, and presented by Potemkin to the late Empress. The machinery is damaged: the cock, mounted on a tree of gold, no longer crows, nor hoots the owl, nor does the peacock spread his tail, at the expiration of the hour, but the grasshopper still skips round to denote the moments. This animal is nearly the size of his more animated brethren in Russian Finland, which are said to be an inch and a half long. There were also several ivory cups,

the fruits of the ingenuity of Peter the Great, whose versatility was such, that apparently with equal ease, he could bend from the founding of cities, leading armies into the field, and fighting battles, to building boats, turning wooden spoons and platters, and carving in ivory. Raphael's hall, one of the galleries running parallel with the garden, is superbly painted and decorated, and has a fine collection of minerals : its inlaid floor is uncommonly rich and exquisite.

I searched in vain for Sir Joshua Reynolds's celebrated Infant Hercules, purchased by the late Empress for the Hermitage. Upon enquiry I found that it had been removed

DRAMATIC CARRIAGES,

365

The space

into a private apartment below, and was seldom shewn; the reason assigned was, that the Russians have a superstitious horror of death, and that as the subject was the strangling of the serpent by the infant god, it was on that account unpopular. Upon our return through the rooms, we went to the court theatre, connected with the Hermitage by a gallery over an arch, which crosses a cut of water from the Neva to the Moika canal.

before the curtain is filled with seats rising amphitheatrically, and the whole, without being large, is elegant. The performers were rehearsing at the time : afterwards, as we were quitting the palace, my curiosity was excited by a number of Imperial coaches, presenting a gradation of qualities; some were tolerably good, some shabby, and others

very old and crazy, to which must be added a very long vehicle, such as is used in England for conveying wild beasts, having four horses abreast, all drawn up before that part of the palace where the theatre is situated. Upon the conclusion of the rehearsal, the players descended : the tragedians and genteel comedians occupied the better carriages, the low comedians the more ancient and defective ones, and the chorus-singers, to the amount of about thirty, skipped into the long coach, and were all driven to their respective homes. These machines are kept for the sole service of the players.

Not far from the Hermitage, and upon a line with it, is

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