( 381 )







On the sixth of August, O. S. the Feast of Apples commences, in which the common Russians frequently indulge themselves to such excess, that death is the consequence of their intemperance. And about this period the dog-killers, called Foornantshicks, go their rounds and destroy every dog they find unprotected by a collar, containing the name of his master. This measure, though apparently cruel, is very necessary: some winters past, before this regulation was made, a number of fierce and voracious dogs assembled together in the gloomy ground which surrounds the Admiralty, and at night have been known to attack and devour passengers.

As my time for quitting Petersburg drew nigh, I sent my first advertisement, describing my name, age, and profession, to the imperial gazette office, in which it was necessary to




three times before I could obtain my post-horse order, without which it is impossible to stir. The object of this ceremony is to prevent persons going away in debt, by giving timely notice to their creditors, and may be accomplished in ten days; or if a traveller is in great haste to depart, upon two householders of respectability undertaking, at the proper office, to pay all the debts he may owe,


may immediately depart. A foreigner may stay one month after the expiration of the first complete notice: if he exceed that period, he must advertise again. Immediately after the nuptials the court removed to Peterhoff, a country palace, about thirty versts from the residence, situate on the shores of Cronstadt Gulf, built by Le Blonde, where a magnificent ball and illumination, in honour of the nuptials, took place; at which nearly all the population of Petersburg were present.

As we proceeded in a line of carriages, extending several miles, drawn by four horses a-breast and two before them, we passed a small but memorable public house, on the roadside, about eight versts from Petersburg, called the Krasnoi Kabac; the first word meaning red, and the latter, as before related, a public house. It was at this house that the late Empress halted, when she was advancing against her husband, and slept for a short time upon the cloaks of her officers in one of the little rooms. Here, assisted by her then confidential and enthusiastic friend, the Princess Dashkoff, she con

[blocks in formation]

sumed a great number of letters. We also passed the Holy Trinity hermitage of Saint Sergius, a small monastery surrounded by quadrangular cloisters, having a church and three chapels. There is nothing in the building worthy of inducing a traveller to quit his carriage. A little farther on we saw the palace of Strelna, a vast building of brick stuccoed, built upon piazzas, and surrounded with undulating woods and pleasure-grounds belonging to the Grand Duke Constantine, the heir presumptive to the throne.

Upon our arrival we found the rooms, which were fitted up in a style of ancient splendour, and richly illuminated, filled with persons of all ranks and conditions in their best dresses, resembling a crowded masquerade, in which much of the costume of the empire was displayed. I was principally struck with the wives of the bearded merchants, who were rouged, and wore a head-dress of muslin, resembling a sugar-loaf, entirely enerusted with large pearls, with which their gowns were trimmed, and their stomachers covered.

The illuminations were beyond any thing magnificent; in front of the palace rolled a cascade of water, over various coloured lamps, which had a very novel effect, into a great. pond, which appeared to be in a blaze of light, from the sides and centre of which groupes of statues threw columns of water to a great height; a canal, more than a mile long, lined with



side lights of various coloured lamps, a glory at the end, and the imperial yachts illuminated in every part of their hull, masts, and rigging, stationed at a distance at sea, formed a brilliant and glowing coup-d'æil. Every avenue, and every part of these extensive gardens, were in a blaze. In a recess was a large tree of copper, and flowers of the same metal, painted to resemble nature, which threw water from every leaf, and produced a very pretty effect. In another part of the gardens we heard the celebrated horn music. Each performer can only produce one tone from his instrument, consequently the skill and attention requisite to play upon it in concert must be great. At a little distance the effect was very charming. A certain unfortunate class of miserables will hear with surprise, that the horn music is a necessary appendage to the ceremony of nuptials of the least respectability.

In Russia, marriages are generally effected through the agency of a third person.

person. During the childhood of their daughter, the parents fix upon a husband for her, a 'mutual female friend is sent to the gentleman with the proposals: if they are accepted, he presents the fair negotiatrix with a pelisse, according to custom. Many of the lower Russians married, as they frequently are, against their inclinations, make no scruple in taking their wives to such a scene of festivity as the one I have just described, and letting them out to prostitution for hire.

[blocks in formation]

In a corner of the grand saloon, in the centre of the palace, I saw the Georgian court, composed of the Prince of Georgia, and two princesses of his house, and their retinue.

The Prince was obliged to cede his country, a province of Asia, formerly belonging to Persia and Turkey, to the Russian empire, from which he 'receives a pension. I saw no traces whatever of Circassian beauty in the Princesses : one was old, fat, and plain, and the other pale, hollow-eyed, and lean: the Prince had a very handsome and noble appearance.

In one of the rooms are four celebrated pictures of Hackert, painted by order of Count Alexey Orloff, celebrating the victory over the Turkish fleet commanded by the Capudan Pasha, the merit of which the Count unjustly assumed to himself, as I have before observed. Upon the painter observing that he had never seen a ship on fire, Orloff ordered a Russian seventy-four to be cleared and burnt, to enable him to execute the subject with more fidelity.

After the Imperial family, glittering with jewels, and resembling a stream of brilliant light, had walked several polonaises, in which the Empress was attended by a little dwarf in a Turkish dress, they mounted their laneekas, open garden carriages, resembling Irish jaunting-cars, and visited the gardens; after which they sat down to a superb select supper under an awning, upon the top of one of the wings of the

« 上一页继续 »