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366

CONVENT DES DEMOISELLES.

the magnificent palace raised by Catherine II. for Gregory Orloff, and afterwards allotted, by the late Emperor, to the last of the Kings of Poland: it is built of grey

Siberian marble, and adorned with columns and pilasters of the same stone, of a brown and reddish colours. The balustrades of the balconies, and the frames of the windows, are of brass richly gilded. All the splendid furniture and moveable decorations have been removed, and the whole is now occupied by persons belonging to the court.

In consequence of the gracious orders of the Empress Dowager to that effect, we visited a very interesting institution under her immediate protection, the Convent des Demoiselles. This Imperial seminary, which has no equal in Europe, contains three hundred and seventy-two young ladies of nobility; and two hundred and forty daughters of citizens. There is also another institution under the same roof, called that of Saint Catherine, in which there are one hundred and eighty-eight children, of the inferior orders of nobility. The age of admission is six years. The noble young ladies are taught German, French, Italian, drawing, music, dancing, geography, embroidery, and every other elegant pursuit. The daughters of the bourgeois are instructed in what is useful alone, and can conduce to their making good tradesmen's wives. Their genius, or bias of mind, whenever it can be ascertained, is always consulted in their pursuits. The build

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ing is like a great town; it was formerly occupied by the monks of Smolnoi, who have been removed to accommodate much more useful and lovely members of society. In the centre is a vast neglected church, surmounted with a dome in the centre of four small cupolas, all of copper gilded. This edifice forms a venerable and prominent feature in the city. We were received at the grand entrance by some of the officers attached to the establishment, in full uniform, a dress which is worn by all male persons belonging to Imperial institutions, on account of the government being military. We were first conducted to the kitchen, where we saw and tasted a sample of the day's dinner, consisting of excellent soup, boiled beef, vegetables, and pastry. The young ladies are divided into classes of age, and distinguished by brown, blue, and green and white dresses. In the first school we were presented to her Excellency Madame Adlerberg, the directress of the convent, who appeared, decorated with the order of Saint Catherine, a lady of great beauty, and elegance of deportment; her mind and character were explained by the smiles and looks of affection which every where attended her, as we proceeded through the schools. In the sick room there were only three patients, who were most tenderly attended by the proper nurses; the name, age, disorder, and treatment of the invalid, is inscribed upon a little tablet fixed over her head to the back of the bed. The dormitories were remarkably neat, and even elegant. Some of the little girls surprised us

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by the excellence to which they had attained in drawing. In the Greek church belonging to the convent, we were attended by the priest in his full robes, who shewed us a magnificent

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of gold studded with jewels, used in devotion, the work of the Empress dowager.

The mortality among the children is very inconsiderable; upon an average only two die annually out of eight hundred, unless after filling up of several vacancies, occurring at the same time, when the children admitted from the provinces sometimes bring diseases with them. In the blue class we saw an instance of the mutability of fortune, in a little girl about eleven years

of age,

the Princess Sthe grand-daughter of the late King of Poland. In the dispersion of the family she was left destitute. Her mother, in a frenzy produced by the dethronement of her father, threw her son, a child, from a balcony into the street, and dashed out his brains. This orphan relic of an august and most unfortunate family, was saved from actual want by the humanity and feeling of the Princess Biron, with whose daughter she is educated in the convent. The young Princess Biron, in the blue dress of her class, underwent an examination in French and writing in our presence, and acquitted herself with infinite credit. In the green and white class, where the eldest young ladies are, we were entertained with some very delightful Russ and French airs and choruses, accompanied by the harpsichord.

NATIVE GENEROSITY.

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age, the

In the institution of Saint Catherine, under the direction of Madame Bredkoff, an elderly lady of distinguished talents, and sweetness of disposition, the following little circumstance occurred, which will prove that the Russian mind, whatever may have been said of it, is susceptible of feeling and generosity. In this institution, which is supported by the Empressdowager, a limited number only of young ladies are admitted, free of expence, by ballot; but others are received upon paying, as it is termed, a pension. At the last admission, two little girls, the eldest not exceeding ten years

of daughter of a naval captain, who in this country is noble, the father of a large family, presented themselves, and drew, the one a prize, the other a blank. Although so young, they knew that fate had, in this manner, resolved

separation; they felt it, and wept. Another young lady, to whom the next chance devolved, drew a prize, and observing the distress of the sisters, without holding any communicationn with their parents, or with any other person, spontaneously ran up to the luckless little girl, presented her with the ticket, and leading her up to the directress, said, See, Madam, I have “ drawn a prize, but my papa can afford to pay the pension, “ and I am sure will pay it for me: pray let one who is less

fortunate, enjoy the good that has happened to me.” This charming anecdote was immediately reported to the Empressdowager, who expressed the highest delight, and paid, out of her own purse, the pension of the little benefactress.

upon their

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A MISCONCEPTION CORRECTED.

An idea has gone forth, that when the period arrives for the fair pupils to quit the convent for the great theatre of the world, so many years of sequestration from it renders them totally ignorant, awkward, and that they enter society with little less surprise than that which a man born blind, and suddenly restored to sight, would express on his first contemplation of objects. But this remark is completely disproved by the good-breeding and polished manners which the young ladies displayed in the convent: in addition to which it may be observed, that every month, or oftener, they have a public and splendid ball, which is always crowded by people of fashion, their relations or friends, with whom, upon these occasions, they have unrestrained intercourse. At Easter, and other festivals, by the order of the Empress-dowager, they take a ride round the city to see the diversion of sliding down the ice-hills, or the various festivities incident to the occasion and season. The Empress-dowager takes great pleasure in visiting this institution; and whenever she appears, the young people crowd round her, to kiss the palm of her hand, as if she were their common parent. In other countries there may be insti

the same principle, but not one of the same magnitude; there the sovereign thinks he has discharged a splendid duty if he allot a sum of money for its support, without seeing to its appropriation, or cherishing the establishment by his presence; but here the Empress-dowager, the Empress, and other branches of the Imperial family, are personally and

tutions upon

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