图书图片
PDF
ePub
[blocks in formation]

mony; after which they returned, and partook of some refreshments at the house of the archbishop. As soon as they had retired, some thousands of people flocked to the shrine of Saint Alexander, and to another of the Virgin adjoining, to touch them with their lips.

As the Empress Dowager passed, the musheeks or common boors said to one another, “ There goes our good mother.” All the male Russians, of equal degree in rank, address each other by the name of brat, or brother ; which is also used by any one speaking to his inferior. The Emperor calls his subjects brats. A friend of mine heard Paul one day say to a bearded workman, “ My brother take care, the ice is too thin “ to bear you.” When the low address their superiors they say batushka moia,“ my father.” Very near the monastery is the glass manufactory, where the vast mirrors, for which Russia is so celebrated, are rolled. The establishment resem·bles a little town: almost all the artists are Russians, and in their various departments displayed great taste and ingenuity.

From this place we visited the hotel of the Prince Usupoff

, a very noble edifice, but, like all the great houses of the nobility, presented a scene of uncommon neglect and dirt in the front and court yard; for example, several of the broken windows of the basement story were filled with hay, and in the yard lay offal-meat, bones, shells, and horse dung, here and there

[blocks in formation]

· half concealed by grass growing above the stones. The Prince has a fine gallery of paintings and statues, which he has collected at a vast expence in Italy : most of the subjects are in the highest degree voluptuous. Over one painting the Prince has extended a curtain : how little does he know of human nature, if he wishes to pay homage to modesty by exciting curiosity: I will venture to say there was more indecorum and peril in the curtain than in the picture. In the library, which is very excellent, we were attended by a frightful bilious dwarf, about forty years of age; a Polish laquais took him by his little shrivelled hand, and patting him on the head, observed to us, that he had been in a small island in the Mediterranean, which swarmed with dwarfs, many of whom he solemnly declared were not taller than cats set upon their hinder legs !!! In the language of Count Aranza,

« That's a lie.”

A few days before I left the city I applied, through a friend of mine, to the polatch or executioner, to purchase of him a knout, to bring with me to England : upon going to his house, which seemed to be a very comfortable one, he was from home, but his wife took up one of the thongs, and in a very gentle and tender manner began explaining the theory and practice of this instrument of torture, in the course of which she observed, that it was made, not of the skin of a wild ass, as has been asserted, for, excepting a small breed of that ani

[blocks in formation]

mal in Siberia, not one is to be found in any other part of the empire, but of ox's hide soaked in milk and dried, and that her husband was so expert, that he could cut a piece of flesh from the back of exactly its size. These functionaries of justice are held in such abhorrence, that although this very executioner offered to give four thousand rubles as a dowry with his daughter to a common droshka driver, she was rejected with scorn. The merciless Empress Elizabeth enjoyed the reputation of having abolished the punishment of death: she little deserved the homage which was paid to her: the fact was, knowing how hateful the appearance of death is to the Russians, she ordered a capital culprit to be knouted to such a degree, that he was only enabled to reach his prison alive, when his lacerated frame was thrown upon a bed of boards, and left to gangrene and mortify for want of medical application : such was the boasted humanity of Elizabeth! To the superstitious dread of seeing a corpse, which marks the Russian character, let me add an unconquerable aversion to receiving any thing as a present which has a sharp point: a gentleman presented a young Russ lady with an elegant female pocket: book, in which there was a row of needles; with some concern she took from her purse a little silver piece, and gave

it to the donor as the purchase money.

A number of interesting objects still remained to be seen, but my time, and an alteration in my intention of visiting

[blocks in formation]

Italy, made it necessary to bid adieu to a city, which I shall never reflect

upon

but with admiration, nor upon those of its inhabitants, to whom I had the honour of being known, without respect and esteem.

In the decline of the summer, (for I now speak of it as departed from these regions) the weather was very variable; a fiercely sultry day was succeeded by a very chilly one; within thirty hours, from being scarcely able to endure my dressinggown, I was glad to place myself before, a wonder in Russia, a blazing fire in an English stove; but the atmospheric fluctuations are certainly not so great as in our own climate, and this circumstance might, perhaps, have induced a Russ servant, who had just returned from England, to say, upon being asked whether he was soon familiarized with our country, “I understood

quick all tings dere, but de climate, dat I could no understand.” The harvest in the provinces near the capital, which is generally got in by the tenth of August, N. S. had been housed for more than a month, black clouds frequently obscured the sun, the winds began to blow loud and bleak, the leaves were rapidly falling, and each succeeding day grew visibly shorter : these were sufficient warnings for birds of passage to wing their way to milder regions. As some very agreeable countrymen and travellers were setting off for Berlin, I had the good fortune of being invited to join the party: to their barouche I added a Swedish carriage, requiring only one horse,

TRAVELLING CARRIAGES.

415

to assist in the general conveyance. As this little carriage excited uncommon delight and wonder in some countries through which we passed, and lost all its popularity in another, as will be hereafter told; and moreover as I grew attached to it in proportion as I saw its merits, and beheld them at one time acknowledged, at another derided, I must be indulged in describing it. A small-body of railing with a seat for two persons, a head of canvas, and a well for luggage, mounted upon two wheels about three feet high, and a shaft for one horse, composed the whole of this redoubted vehicle. In Russia, every traveller is obliged to purchase a travelling carriage, unless he is disposed to hazard a general dislocation in a kibitka.

« 上一页继续 »