A JOURNEY IN RUSSIA IN 1858
Sherratt and Hughes, Printers, 34 Cross Street, Manchester
A Journey in Russia in 1858
Of The Pike, Bolton
This account of a journey to Russia was read by Mr. Heywood at a meeting of the Bolton Mechanics' Institute, and the following is a copy of a resolution passed on the occasion, with the signatures attached.
WE, the undersigned members of the Committee of the Bolton Mechanics' Institution, having listened with much pleasure to Mr. Heywood's lecture on his recent visit to St. Petersburg and Moscow, and being desirous that the valuable information it supplies should be made available to our families, fellow workmen and others, who are greatly interested in the subject from the large commercial intercourse between this town and the capitals of Russia, beg leave most respectfully to request Mr. Heywood to publish the substance of his valuable paper for the gratification and information of the public. And we request the President of the Institution to wait upon Mr. Heywood with this requisition, and to use his best efforts to induce that gentleman to accede to our request.
GILBERT J. FRENCH. THOS. HOLDEN. JOHN WRIGLEY. ALFRED RIDINGS. JAMES FOGG. ALEX. LAWSON. EDWARD BLAND. JOHN LOMAX. WM. JACKSON. THOMAS WATERHOUSE. JOSH. PEAT. J. J. BRADSHAW. THOMAS BROMLEY. JOSEPH KIRKHAM. ISAAC BARROW. ADAM FERGUSON. WILLIAM A. FERGUSON. W. H. HORROCKS.
The request, however, was not put into execution.
M. H., 1918.
A JOURNEY IN RUSSIA IN 1858.
At the urgent request of our worthy and most active President, I have been induced to follow the example of several other friends of this Institution, and bring before you some account of a short visit to St. Petersburg and Moscow.
I may premise that about fourteen years ago, on our return from Egypt, via Constantinople, I and my companion, Mr. Charles Darbishire, were placed in quarantine at a station overlooking the Black Sea. Along with us we had a Russian nobleman and his tutor, who were returning from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
During the fifteen days' confinement, whilst occupying separate apartments, we frequently interchanged visits, and on such occasions the manners and condition of our respective countries became the frequent subject of conversation.
Such discussions did not terminate without receiving urgent invitations to visit Russia, offering, at the same time, to procure for us every facility for seeing the cities to advantage; and also an order from the gentleman's father, who was at the head of the postal department, which would command for us horses and conveyances through every part of Russia.
Since that time I have frequently contemplated visiting the north of Europe, but, from various causes, have deferred such undertaking till the last summer, when, finding my fellow traveller unwilling to leave home, I induced another individual to accompany me after much difficulty in reconciling herself to so long an absence from attractions usually found at home.
We set off on the 17th of June, and sailed the following day from Grimsby for St. Petersburg in the "Atlantic," a fine screw steamer, 1,600 tons burden, 284 feet long, and engines of 400 horse power, with thirty passengers.
On setting out the weather was delightful, with a smooth sea, so that we remained on deck all day, enjoying the promenade, though it was somewhat restricted by numerous bales of cotton.
The following day proved cloudy and much colder, followed by a stiff breeze through the night, rocking some of us without getting us to sleep.
On the 20th we rejoiced to see terra firma, and about ten in the evening landed a passenger at Elsinore.
Here the sea becomes much narrower, bringing into view more than fifty vessels, no longer delayed by the payment of Sound dues which were compounded for some years ago with the kingdom of Denmark.
Early the following morning we anchored opposite Copenhagen, and a boat being sent off for provisions, enabled some of us to go ashore and walk through some of the principal streets and take a glance at one of their numerous public gardens.
On resuming our course, we passed a long range of nets kept afloat by logs of wood every thirty or forty yards; and near Goat Island we observed a large number of planks floating by for several hours, the cargo of some unfortunate vessel. Here we saw three gulls, the only birds we had observed in all our passage, and no fish, not even a porpoise, which should more readily be excused as they are mostly seen in stormy weather.
In the course of conversation with one of the passengers we were glad to learn that our Russian friend was residing in one of the palaces at St. Petersburg, and also that he would be able to render us most valuable services.
We arrived at Cronstadt on the 24th, having had on the whole a pleasant voyage, with agreeable company, but not without some feeling of commiseration for the poor stokers working so hard in a dusty heated atmosphere.
Cronstadt is the chief station of the Russian navy, and the fortifications are very extensive, including two circular batteries a short distance from the shore, having three tiers and a range of guns at the top, but so ill-constructed, we were told, as to be rendered almost useless for want of ventilation.
Here our passports were examined, and the passengers along with their luggage were transferred to a smaller steamer to convey us up the Neva to St. Petersburg.
Soon after leaving Cronstadt, on the right are seen the gilded towers of the palace of Peterhof, and a little further we discern a large golden ball, the dome of St. Isaac, with the glittering taper spire rising from the Admiralty. Approaching nearer, we see numerous domes and spires, painted blue and green, with silver and golden stars.
Along the banks of the Neva are quays, constructed in the most substantial manner out of large blocks of granite.
Before being permitted to land there was a further inspection of our passports, and our luggage was conveyed to the searching house. Here we found a commissioner from the Miss Bensons, the proprietresses of a celebrated boarding-house, to whom we had written a short time before. Having but a few books, the examination passed off very quickly, and we were soon conveyed to their delightful establishment, beautifully situated on the English Quay.
It was well that we had written, as we found the house quite full, consisting chiefly of English travellers; everything proved so nice and comfortable that we soon found ourselves more at home than we could have expected.
So far I have proceeded as from a diary, but in future, though I shall confine myself almost entirely to such objects as come under our actual notice, I shall find it necessary in describing many particulars to quote largely from Murray and some other authorities.
The weather, we were told, had been very wet and cold for a much longer period than usual, but had suddenly changed to brighter skies and a delightful atmosphere. The days, of course, are here much longer, but what surprised us most was the brilliant twilight, eclipsing every star and enabling us to read the newspaper at midnight.
Our first business was to communicate by telegraph the important news of our safe arrival; and early the following morning we received the joyful intelligence of all being well at home.
To some of you this may be considered a circumstance hardly worth relating, but let such persons go a considerable distance from home leaving behind them valuable treasures and their views and feelings will undergo considerable change.
On enquiring about Adlerberg, my quarantine associate, we were sorry to learn that he had set off that morning with the Emperor for Archangel, proving himself by that circumstance, as well as from what we heard in all quarters, to be no unimportant personage, second only, they said, to the Emperor himself.
St. Petersburg—so called from its founder in 1703—is situated on a marshy plain so far north as to be locked up one half of the year, and, notwithstanding such unfavourable circumstances, has become one of the handsomest cities in Europe, containing a population of about 600,000. The streets are spacious and well laid out, some of them two or three miles long, and, though not often exceeding three storeys, the houses are very lofty.
It has been called another Venice on account of the numerous canals communicating with the river Neva, which afford a ready transit to all parts of the city and at the same time greatly assist the drainage, which otherwise would prove very imperfect.
The Neva is a beautiful river, about as wide as the Thames in London, but not so polluted. Above the city are numerous islands, on which are erected beautiful villas, mostly constructed of wood in a fanciful style, and painted various colours with gardens very tastefully laid out. Besides numerous delightful drives among these islands they are made further accessible by small steamers. They are also connected by wooden bridges resting on boats which are removed before the winter season sets in, being not then required and also liable to great injury by the breaking up of the ice. But lower down there is one bridge constructed of iron of seven arches and 1,050 feet long and 60 feet wide, costing a million and a quarter sterling.
Besides steamers there are many other boats, some very large rudely constructed, bringing wood from the lake of Ladoga, mostly birch, cut in short lengths for fuel, and others freighted with leather, hemp and various products from the interior. In discharging these boats with fuel the serfs make use of a sort of truck with a framework to hold the billets, and the wheels, being not more than six or seven inches in diameter, require a narrow plank to be laid across the street a little below the uneven pavement. They have also a very defective mode of watering the streets; fetching the water in buckets and putting it into a larger vessel upon wheels from which they sprinkle the streets, instead of pumping up the water into a machine and distributing it as it goes along.
On account of the boggy state of the ground the buildings are constructed on piles at an enormous expense, so that it has been said by an English resident that larger sums had been expended under ground than above, which I can the more readily believe after witnessing the extraordinary foundations of a new palace now in the course of erection.
Most of the buildings, including palaces and churches, are built of brick, and covered with a cement of various colours; often out of condition and presenting a less substantial appearance.
The pavement is generally in a bad state, consisting mostly of pebbles of every size mingled together, and all, I should say, wrong side up, in some places a yard or two without any at all.
This condition of the streets, with the droshkies, a small four-wheel carriage, holding two persons, sitting together behind the driver, or sometimes back to back, with the fore-wheels about twelve inches high, and drawn very rapidly over such a pavement, you may suppose, makes it no easy matter to keep your seat.
The droshky drivers have generally a round hat, and wear long loose dresses almost reaching to their heels, with a band round their waist. They carry a tin plate between their shoulders with a number on it; never drive with blinkers, and rarely use a whip, but having a rein in each hand, urge on their little horses at great speed over the uneven pavement without once coming down, so far as we observed.
There are other carriages like our English cabs drawn by one or two horses, but the droshky is in most general use.
We did not see many equipages, most of the nobility having left the city, and very few gentlemen on horseback save a few Cossacks or other military.
Passing through the streets, we were astonished at the vast number of pigeons flying in all directions, and frequently alighting in the most crowded parts of the city.
This bird, we were informed, is held sacred by the natives, and of course would soon become very numerous if they were not diminished by foreigners and others less scrupulous, who are supposed to convey them quietly from their roosting quarters to form an important part in culinary operations.
The working men go about in what we were used to call top-boots, and even little boys have them, with the upper part variously coloured, but mostly red, a favourite colour in Russia.
The serf wears a long coat reaching to the calves of his legs, with a number of gathers fastened together at the waist by a strap, in which he tucks his gloves, his whip or his axe. His shirt of checked linen, not often washed, and his neck entirely bare, with the lower garment consisting of wide linen trousers. With the use of stockings he appears totally unacquainted, wrapping his feet in linen rags. His shoes are a sort of sandal made of linden bark or leather, continuing his ragged wrapper up to his knees, binding it round with pack thread. The covering of his head is a deep crowned hat with narrow brim.
The serfs pay about ten or twelve roubles annually (about L2 sterling) to their nobles, and also a certain proportion from the women and children. If not able to make up the tribute they must beg, borrow or steal to make up the deficiency.
Their food consists chiefly of vegetables, and coarse fish, with black bread made of rye, but considered very nutritious.
Both sexes wear a crucifix on their breasts, suspended round their necks by a string, which is put on at their baptism and never afterwards taken off; those of the peasants are of lead, but the better sort have them of silver or gold.
In my several rambles over various parts of the Continent I have scarcely ever found any difficulty with a little knowledge of the French language in making myself understood, but here it was very different; in vain we addressed many respectable persons we met with in the streets respecting some public buildings, and we found every droshky man quite uncommunicative, so that directions had to be given at the hotel of our intended route, and if we changed our driver we managed to return by pointing the way, right or left. All this might have been obviated by the use of a few Russian words, but our time seemed too short to look into the vocabulary.
Our first drive was past the statue of Peter the Great, near the Admiralty, St. Isaac's Cathedral, and along the Nevskoi Prospect, the Regent Street of St. Petersburg, three miles long and very wide, having in some parts the advantage of a wooden pavement. In this street are numerous shops with large signboards containing some letters of an unusual form, but rendered more intelligible by drawings of some of the articles to be sold.
In the same street, on the opposite side, are also to be seen houses, or rather palaces, so large that fifty extend over an English mile.
At the end of this street is situated the monastery of St. Alexander Nevskoi, one of the most celebrated in Russia, containing within its walls towers, churches and gardens, with many paintings, and a very remarkable monument of Alexander Nevskoi, of massive silver, which, with its ornaments, weighs 5,000 lbs. of pure metal.
There is a library containing many valuable manuscripts, also a cemetery of such great repute that large sums are said to be paid for permission to repose in its holy ground.
Our second drive was to the Summer Gardens, which are laid out in long avenues of fine old trees, interspersed with varied walks, flower beds and numerous beautiful marble statues, forming a delightful retreat, but attended with an enormous expense, as many of the tender trees and shrubs, and even statues, require a careful covering through the winter.
From the gardens we proceeded to the original wooden palace, or cottage of Peter the Great, situated on one of the islands.
It consists of three small rooms, one his bedroom, another his reception room, and a third his chapel, where the pictures he worshipped are carefully preserved. Many relics are still to be seen, a boat and sails, with an old armchair, all which are said to have been made by his own hands.
The place was crowded by his devoted admirers, more particularly the chapel, which with numerous lighted candles purchased by the visitors, was heated almost to suffocation. The whole is covered over by a brick building to preserve it from the effects of the weather.
We then proceeded to the Botanical Gardens, situated on another island.
Here are numerous conservatories, comprising a great variety of camellias, heaths and ferns and several very large palm-houses, containing some very fine specimens.
We then visited the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, which we found undergoing extensive repairs.
In this church are deposited the remains of Peter the Great and all his imperial successors, the preceding Emperors having been buried at Moscow.
The very great simplicity and absence of all ornament form a striking but most becoming contrast to the usual display in many other churches.
The coffins, being placed in walls, are covered with a plain stone sarcophagus. On some the pall is embroidered in golden letters, on others nothing but the initial. From the roof are suspended numerous tattered banners, and on one side are hung the keys of Paris and other French fortresses.
Hitherto we had taken advantage of the fine weather in driving about the city, visiting the islands and the public gardens, but this favour not being continued we turned our attention to the palaces, of which, Murray says, no other modern city can boast an equal number.
The Winter Palace, the most splendid and largest royal residence in the world, is 700 feet in length, three storeys high, and nearly square, and is said to have 6,000 persons under its roof during the Emperor's residence in the capital.
Among the extensive suite of apartments, galleries and halls filled with marbles, precious stones, vases, and pictures may be mentioned, first, the hall of St. George, where the Emperor gives audience to foreign ambassadors. It is 140 feet by 60 feet, on the splendour of which the Russians most pride themselves.
The Empress's drawing-room is considered to be a perfect gem of taste.
Beyond this is the Salle Blanche, or White Saloon, a very chaste and most elegant apartment, its decorations and marble columns all in pure white relieved only in gilding, the dimensions being nearly the same as the hall.
Then the Diamond room, containing the crown and jewels of the Imperial family. Here diamonds, rubies and emeralds are ranged round the room in small cases, of such dazzling beauty that it is almost bewildering to look at them.
The crown of the Emperor is adorned with diamonds of an extraordinary size, and the Imperial sceptre contains the largest in the world, the Kohinoor excepted; it was purchased by the Empress Catherine for 450,000 roubles, or L75,000 sterling.
In addition to the splendid apartments just described there is also a small room occupied by the late Emperor Nicholas containing a very small hard bed on which he died, this being almost the only room he occupied in that grand building. This room is held in great respect, and everything remains in the same state in which he left it. His mind was bent on other objects than mere splendour.
About twenty years ago this gigantic pile of building fell a prey to the ravages of fire, and in a few hours were consumed much of those treasures and works of art which had been collected during the prosperous reigns of Elizabeth and Catherine.
Kohl, speaking of its immense extent, says: "The suites of apartments were a perfect labyrinth, so that even the chief of the Imperial household, who had filled the office for twelve years, was not perfectly acquainted with all its nooks and corners."
Though the crown jewels and most valuable articles were saved from the flames still the destruction of property must have been immense, spread over a surface of such enormous extent; the principal rooms alone, nearly one hundred in number, occupied on the first floor an area of 400,000 square feet.
So great was the daring exhibited by the watchmen to preserve the property that, to the credit of the Emperor Nicholas, it is said that he ordered some officers to go and smash the large mirrors in order to prevent the soldiers and people from sacrificing themselves in making any further attempts to save the property.
In one point of view this destructive fire has proved an advantage, for the custom of consigning to solitude those suites of rooms occupied by deceased sovereigns had here closed so many of the finest apartments that in a few more generations the reigning monarch would have been fairly turned out by the ghosts of his predecessors.
The Hermitage is connected with the Winter Palace by several covered galleries, and forms a sort of continuation of that vast building. It was erected by the Empress Catherine as a luxurious retreat.
The collection of paintings occupies about forty rooms, and is of immense value.
Three or four rooms are entirely filled with jewels and articles of vertu, among these a superb vase of Siberian jaspar of lilac colour, and others of malachite, with two magnificent candelabras valued at L9,000.
The ground floor with statuary.
Three rooms containing more than 30,000 specimens of engravings, and two rooms are occupied by a collection of coins and medals. The cameos amount to the number of 10,000, including specimens of the greatest beauty and scarcity.
Besides a theatre, there is a library containing more than 120,000 volumes, 10,000 in the Russian language.
The Marble Palace, so called, is built of red granite, and is the residence of the Grand Duke Constantine.
The Taurida Palace, now in a neglected state, is famous for its ballroom, 320 feet long by 70 feet wide, and lighted up with 20,000 wax candles.
Among other numerous palaces may be mentioned the Michaelhof, erected by the Emperor Paul with extraordinary rapidity, there being 5,000 men employed daily, and in order to dry the walls more quickly large iron plates were made hot and fastened to them. Yet after the Emperor's death it was abandoned as quite uninhabitable after a cost of eighteen millions of roubles, or three millions sterling.
The room in which the Emperor died is sealed and walled up, and the palace is now converted into a school of engineers.
The Imperial Library is one of the most extensive in Europe, containing 400,000 volumes and 15,000 manuscripts.
St. Petersburg has only about thirty churches, the four principal the Kazan, St. Isaac, the Smolnoi and St. Peter and St. Paul.
The first of these, Kazan, is a copy, though on a small scale, of St. Peter's at Rome, with its colonnade, and adorned with colossal statues. In the interior are fifty-six marble columns, each 52 feet in height, hewn out of a single block of marble.
The walls and flooring of the same are all beautifully polished.
That part which answers to our chancel, in all Greek churches is looked upon as the Holy of Holies, shut off from the rest of the building by a screen, called the Iconostat. This is set apart for the priests: laymen may enter, but no woman, not even the Empress, can go into this mysterious enclosure.
In this church, all its beams and posts are of massive silver, the three doors and arches being 20 feet in height above the altar.
We could not learn, says Murray, how many hundredweight of silver were employed, but doubtless many thousands of dozens of French and German spoons, and hundreds of soup tureens and tea pots must have been melted down by the Cossacks in 1813 and 1814 as offerings to the Holy Mother of Kazan, this Madonna being held by them in peculiar veneration.
The members of the Greek religion pray standing,—the interior of the church is always devoid of pew, bench, or chair; but in every church there is a place set apart for the Emperor to stand in, which is raised above the floor, and usually covered with a canopy.
An exception has been made in favour of the Dowager Empress on account of ill-health.
This standing during a service, continuing two hours, must prove very fatiguing, but is a sure preventive of sleeping.
Behind and in front the ceremonies are performed by numerous priests, fine looking men, with long flowing beards, in robes of most costly materials; the genuflexions are numerous and very low, incense is much used, and there are some good pictures, but no statuary and no organ or other instrumental music; but the chanting is peculiar and very striking.
Whilst in catholic countries the churchgoers are mostly women; in Russia we find both sexes engaged in such duties.
On entering the church a wax candle is purchased, and sinking on one knee, bowing his head to the pavement and crossing his breast respectively with the thumb and the two forefingers of his right hand, the worshipper proceeds to the shrine itself, he lights his candle at the holy lamp, and sets it up in one of the numerous sockets in a large silver stand; then, falling low on his bended knee, kisses the pavement before the altar. This we witnessed on another visit, carried out to a most extravagant extent. A young man, almost the only worshipper present, bowed down from a standing position more than sixty times, bumping his head with such force upon the marble floor as to be heard distinctly a considerable distance—a case of insanity, you will suppose, or likely soon to become so.
Flame is considered the best spiritual representation; no interment, baptism, or any sacred ceremony is thought of without lamp or taper, greatly exceeding what takes place in the Catholic church.
Even the Exchange is not without its Saint and lamp continually burning.
On the Sunday we went to the grand church dedicated to St. Isaac, commenced in 1817 and only opened a fortnight before our arrival.
This church, with almost the grandeur of St. Peter's at Rome, though not so favourably situated, excels in beauty both the interior and exterior of the Madeleine in Paris.
In the foundation of this wonderful structure were driven 10,762 piles, the work of ten engines for a whole year; on these were placed two layers of blocks of granite, carefully worked and never again to be seen, being 15 feet below the surface of the street. They serve as a base to the walls of the cathedral, of which the more important are granite, to the level of the pavement, the remainder being constructed with compact masonry, bed upon bed, costing L200,000.
The portico on each of the four fronts consists of twelve Corinthian columns, each 7 feet diameter, and 57 feet long, in one block.
The dome is surrounded by 24 columns, each 42 feet in height, and is constructed of metal, viz., 52 tons of copper, 321 tons of brass, 524 tons wrought iron, 1,068 tons of cast iron, and 247 lbs. of ducat gold.
Three of the doors are 30 feet high and 12 feet wide, four others 17 feet high and 8 wide.
The interior is the form of a great cross, with the dome in the centre, the altar screen 150 feet long and 70 feet high, of white marble, encrusted with porphyry, jasper and other precious stones, and enriched with eight Corinthian columns of malachite and two lapis lazuli 42 feet high, and the doors into the chancel of silver, containing scriptural expressions 35 feet high and 14 wide, the whole costing 52 millions of roubles, or say in round numbers, 8 1/2 millions sterling.
The day we attended proved a fete day, and of course was very much crowded by all ranks, from the richest noble to the humblest serf, in one general mass.
There were upwards of 20 priests officiating in their gorgeous robes, performing various ceremonies amidst frequent processions, and occasionally reading from one of their sacred books in so loud and distinct a tone as to be heard through the immense cathedral, and at other times chanting in deep bass tones, varied by the assistance of young choristers, with the sweetest voices, producing the most delightful harmony.
During the service, which lasted 2 1/2 hours, the cathedral was illuminated by seven chandeliers, containing each 130 candles, and other smaller ones, all of silver; in addition to these were many votive candles purchased by various worshippers and deposited in sockets of a silver frame work placed near the altar, amounting altogether to not fewer than 1,500 lights.
St. Petersburg can boast of several large monuments, the Ramanzof erected to the field-marshal of that name, and Suwaroff, one of their most distinguished heroes; also the column of Alexander, a single shaft of red granite, upwards of 80 feet in height. The base and pedestal is composed of one enormous block, above 25 feet square, and to secure the base there were no fewer than six successive rows of piles, the shaft of the column alone weighing nearly 400 tons.
On the pedestal is the following short and well-chosen inscription:
"To Alexander the Great; Grateful Russia."
But the most wonderful of all is the well-known equestrian statue of Peter the Great, representing the Emperor riding up a rock and subduing a serpent.
The huge block of granite which forms the pedestal, and weighs 1,500 tons, was brought from Lacte, a village four miles from St. Petersburg, at a cost of 70,000 roubles, or L11,000 sterling. It was originally 45 feet long, 30 feet high, and 25 feet in width, but broke into two pieces, which were subsequently patched together, the whole cost amounting to 424,610 roubles, or upwards of L70,000.
After surveying the palaces and public buildings in the city, we turned our attention to those in the environs, and proceeded in a steamer to Peterhof, about fifteen miles down the river.
Nothing can be finer than the situation of this palace, commanding an extensive view of the Neva from Cronstadt to St. Petersburg, with beautiful waterworks, considered little inferior to those at Versailles, with a magnificent jet called the Sampson, a colossal bronze figure, tearing open the jaws of a lion, whence rushes the water from a height of 80 feet.
Besides numerous other jets sending the water in all directions, there is a broad flight of steps, and on each side a range of marble slabs to the top of the hill, over which the water pours down, so far apart, as to allow on fete nights, variegated lamps to be arranged behind the water, forming the most beautiful cascade.
Passing through the palace, containing numerous pictures, marbles and vases that we had not time to inspect, we came to the gardens, kept in the strictest order. In the varied walks and borders of flowers are numerous seats to accommodate a large assemblage of people, and two bands of music playing alternately.
Descending from the palace to the seashore, the garden is laid out in terraces, and adorned with fountains, waterfalls, and statuary. Here are the oak and lime trees, planted by Peter himself, and at the end of one of the walks is situated Monplaisir, a low Dutch-built summer house, where the Great Peter breathed his last, and his bed remains untouched since his death, but is now fast crumbling to decay.
Another day we set off by railway to Tzarskoe Selo, a very extensive royal residence, and favourite resort of the Imperial family.
At the entrance to the grounds of the palace are two small towers, covered with Egyptian figures.
The facade of the palace is 1,200 feet in length. Originally every statue, pedestal and capital of the numerous columns, the vases, carving and other ornaments in front were covered with gold leaf, costing more than a million of ducats.
The rooms in this palace, like all others, are richly decorated with simple white and gold, or hung with rich silks. One very elegant room, called the lapis lazuli, has strips of this stone inlaid in the walls, and the floor of this apartment is of ebony, inlaid with large flowers of mother of pearl, forming one of the most splendid contrasts possible. But the wonder of this palace is the famous amber room, the walls of which are literally panelled with this material in various designs.
The state apartments are, as usual, lavishly covered with gold, one part occupied by a collection of the most splendid China vases, and other costly articles.
Here are pointed out the simple rooms occupied by the late Emperor Alexander I, whom all seem to remember with great affection.
His apartments have been kept exactly as he left them when he departed for Tagannag.
This account of the interior, I should observe, is taken from the guide book, as we could not obtain admission, being unfortunately on the wrong day, perhaps the only time we regretted not having with us the all-important order from Prince Adlerberg. Not gaining admission left us more time to spend in the grounds, which extend over eighteen miles in circumference.
The gardens are certainly kept in the very highest order, the trees and flowers are watched and inspected with the greatest minuteness. An old invalid soldier commands his 500 or 600 men as gardeners and overseers. Every leaf that falls in pond or canal is carefully fished up. They trim and polish the trees and paths in the gardens to the greatest nicety, and the grass borders are kept in the finest condition.
The cost of all this polishing and extreme attention is above 100,000 roubles yearly.
Very odd caprices are exhibited in the decoration of the grounds, several fanciful towers, a Dutch and Swiss cottage, a Gothic building, a marble bridge with Corinthian columns, bronze and other statues, and numerous monuments raised by Alexander to his companions in arms, intermingled with hermitages, artificial ruins, Roman tombs, grottoes and waterfalls.
Like almost all other royal buildings in Russia, Tzarskoe owes its origin to Peter the Great.
He erected the first house here, and planted the avenues of plane trees with his own hand.
We had a great desire to drive about the grounds, and made several attempts with the droshky drivers, but could not make ourselves understood either with regard to the terms or the route we should take.
At length we succeeded in getting a carriage to Pavlofsky, another imperial residence, by mentioning the name and offering a sum which we found afterwards was much more than the distance justified. The palace is not particularly distinguished, and the gardens are resorted to as a sort of Vauxhall, with bands of music and other similar entertainments.
Among other public buildings at St. Petersburg should be mentioned the Exchange.
A stately flight of steps leads to this great hall, which is lighted from above; on both sides are spaces in the form of arcades. In one of the first stands an altar with a lamp constantly burning for the benefit of the pious Russian merchants, who always bow to the altar and sometimes prostrate themselves to implore the favour of some favourite saint to prosper their undertakings.
Here I may mention the several sorts of money circulating in this country. One hundred kopecks make a rouble, about 3s. 4d. English money, always used as the basis in commercial transactions; a few silver coins, 25, 30, 50, and a few 100 kopecks, but of the last these generally appear in notes of 1, 3, 5, 10, and 20 roubles; some coppers, 1/4 to 3 kopecks.
The gold coins are the imperial, half imperial, and one between, but these we did not see, being, we suppose, as Cobbett used to say, unwilling to associate with dirty ragged companions.
They have a curious mode of reckoning by means of a frame with a number of parallel wires, on which are strung ten black balls and ten white balls, or sometimes a greater number, the lowest being taken as units, the next as tens, and the third as hundreds, &c.
Among the public buildings we also observed several towers or fire signals—high buildings, from which with rods of iron in various directions are given the earliest intimation of fire, which is communicated by a flag in the day or lamps in the night. These towers were formerly more necessary when a large part of the city was built of wood.
We should not omit to mention an immense Bazaar, of 400 yards frontage and nearly the same backward, containing almost every article for sale.
After staying a week at St. Petersburg we set off to Moscow by railway, starting at 12 o'clock at noon. After getting our tickets, paying about the same as in this country, with a little extra for luggage, we passed into a large waiting room, and there remained till the doors were opened upon the platform about five minutes before setting off.
Many of the travellers, particularly ladies, were seen carrying large pillows or cushions to repose upon, thereby filling the carriages to suffocation, and this in July.
The carriages are much like ours in appearance, but instead of three there are nine carriages joined together, with a passage down the centre, the same as in America.
The first class has a small compartment for one of the conductors or guards, then a saloon, with a sofa on each side, and the remainder, two seats on one side and one on the other, which, with the passage, require a wider gauge, something like the Great Western.
The second class is much the same, with rather less upholstering; and the third without cushions.
The rail appeared strong and very substantially laid, and is carried in a straight level line for miles together through forests of great extent. At each station a person goes round striking the wheels and axles to see that all is sound. The engines are supplied with wood fuel, and seemed powerful, dragging us along in some parts with great rapidity.
The forest trees, consisting chiefly of pine, birch, and mountain ash, with a few oaks and beech, did not appear so large as I expected, nor was our monotonous course enlivened by the sight of an occasional bear or eagle, being, we suppose, gone from home. Along some parts of the line we observed the corduroy road (trees laid close together), and gates formed of long poles counterpoised by a thicker part at the other end.
There are thirty-three stations built upon one plan, spacious and convenient, all on a level with the entrances to the carriages; two or three of these are well supplied with eatables and drinkables, which were by no means neglected; also a great consumption of tea, a very general beverage in Russia, served in glass tumblers with lemon juice instead of cream, which we did not consider a good substitute; though accompanied with good bread and butter, proved to us far more acceptable than many other dishes.
Smoking, everywhere so common, is here indulged to the greatest excess, and not confined to one sex, several ladies sporting their cigarettes.
If not many passengers, a lady is usually accommodated with a double seat.
I have mentioned the prevailing habit of bowing to the saints. This occurred on our journey, and on looking back, I found we had just passed a church at a considerable distance.
We arrived at Moscow at eight o'clock the following morning, having performed the journey, 400 miles, in twenty hours, stopping at the various stations about 1 1/2 hours, this journey formerly requiring twelve to fifteen days.
It was raining very hard, but by the kindness of a gentleman we were helped to a cab, and after giving the necessary directions, we proceeded to the hotel which had been recommended to us, but found it full.
With the second hotel on our list we were more successful.
After breakfast, the rain continuing, my secretary, engaged herself writing home, whilst I proceeded to present our letters of introduction.
One of these friends helped us to a guide, and also engaged a carriage to facilitate our future movements.
Moscow has a population of about 350,000, with innumerable churches, towers, gilded spires and domes. The roofs of the houses are constructed of sheet iron, and painted white, red and green, all of them glittering in the sun, and presenting a truly splendid appearance.
It was built about 700 years ago, and remained the metropolis of Russia till the beginning of the last century.
The exterior wall of the city is upwards of twenty English miles in extent and presents a striking contrast to St. Petersburg.
In some streets we come to a large palace and then to a wretched hovel. Another time we see a row of little cottages of one storey standing next to a stately mansion, and in other places little streets as in a country town.
In the centre of this vast collection of buildings is the Kremlin, situated on a hill nearly two miles in circumference; it is surrounded by high walls of stone and brick, with several towers and gates, the most important of which is the gate of the Redeemer. Over the arch of which is a picture of the Saviour, with a lamp constantly burning.
The passage through the tower is about twenty paces long and every one, be he what he may, Mahommedan, Heathen or Christian, must take off his hat and keep it off till he has passed through to the other side. It is a truly singular sight to watch the carriages coming along at full speed slackening their pace as they approach the sacred gate, while the lord and lackey cross themselves reverently and drive through hat in hand. The first time, forgetting to uncover, I was reminded by a sentinel at some distance, and also my companion to put down her parasol. The greatest care is taken not to allow dogs to enter through the gate.
Within the Kremlin are contained all the most interesting and historically important buildings of Moscow, the holiest churches, with the tombs of the ancient Tzars, Patriarchs and Metropolitans, the remains of the ancient palace of the Tzars, the new one of the late Emperor, the arsenal, the senate house and architectural memorials of every period of Russian history, for every Russian monarch has held it his duty to adorn the Kremlin with some monument.
In the new palace erected by the Emperor Alexander after the great conflagration of 1812, the most remarkable apartment is that of the Emperors containing a bed with a straw mattress, half a dozen leather-covered chairs, and a small looking-glass, making up the whole of the furniture.
The little palace erected by the Emperor Nicholas has some valuable paintings and a good library.
Here is also another bedroom more wonderful than that just described. The former Emperor slept on straw covered with leather, but it was loosely stuffed; the mattress of the Emperor Nicholas, on which he lay is stuffed so that a shutter in its absence would prove no great inconvenience.
It is difficult to say how many churches there are in Moscow, the several accounts differ so widely. Some speak of 1,500, others 500; the former number must include public and private chapels, and those in convents, but the holiest of them all are three in the Kremlin. Though not extensive, they are crowded with pictures and shrines, the heavy pillars that support the fine cupolas are covered with gold from top to bottom, and the walls the same with large fresco paintings, darkened by age.
Here is Mount Sinai, and a golden Moses of pure gold, with a golden table of the law, and also a golden coffer to contain the Host, said to weigh 120,000 ducats. A Bible, the gift of the mother of Peter the Great, the cover so laden with gold and jewels that it requires two men to carry it into the church; it is said to weigh 120 lbs. The emeralds on the cover are an inch long, and the whole binding cost 1,200,000 roubles, or L200,000 sterling.
In the house of the Holy Synod are thirty silver vessels containing the holy oil used in baptising all the children in Russia. It is made of the finest Florence oil, mingled with a number of essences, about three or four gallons serving all Russia for one and a half or two years.
Here one of our fellow travellers, impelled by that curiosity common to the sex, dipped her finger into one of the holy jars and forthwith anointed herself, bidding me to do the same; and, thus tempted, I followed her example and also tried its efficacy upon my other half, without finding, I must confess, any material change. I have since thought that such antics, though not done in derision, might have proved serious and led to our detention and perhaps final removal to a distant part of the empire.
In the church of St. Michael the Archangel are the tombs of the Russian sovereigns, which are raised sepulchres, mostly of brick, in the shape of a coffin and about two feet high.
In addition to the churches and palaces there is in the Kremlin an immense pile of buildings called the Senate.
In the upper storey are collected and arranged the crowns of the early Tzars, also a throne covered with crimson velvet and blazing with diamonds. The two long galleries which open out of this room contain innumerable treasures, the captured crowns of the various countries now forming provinces of this vast empire, as well as those of the Moscovite Tzars, one containing 881 diamonds, another 847, and that of Catherine, the first widow of Peter the Great, 2,536 fine diamonds, to which the Empress added a ruby of enormous size. In addition to these crowns are several rich diadems similarly ornamented.
Many thrones are to be seen in these rooms, one adorned with 2,760 turquoises and other precious stones—that of Michael Romanoff, the first of the reigning families, is enriched with 8,824 diamonds, and the throne of Alexis contains 876 diamonds and 1,220 jewels and many pearls.
Besides these numerous thrones, there are saddles, bridles, and reins and saddle cloths covered most lavishly with diamonds, amethysts and large turquoises—a large boss, adorning the horse's chest, in the centre of which is an immense diamond, and round this a circle of pink topazes, enclosed in pearls, and these again by diamonds, the whole encircled by a broad gold band.
But perhaps the greatest curiosity is a pair of old wooden chairs, used at the coronation of the Emperors. Though made of coarse wood they are said to contain 1,000 precious stones.
The whole extent of one wall is occupied by an array of boots, from the iron jack boots of Peter to the delicate beaver skin of the Emperor Alexander.
On the other side are suspended some Damascus scimitars, and very curious Chinese sabres.
The Arsenal contains nearly 900 cannon, weighing about 400 tons, a great number French, taken during the disastrous retreat in 1812. Among all these warlike trophies you will be proud to learn very few are English.
Close to the tower of Ivan Veliki is placed on a massive pedestal the mighty bell. It was cast by the command of the Empress Ann in 1730, and bears her figure in flowing robes on its surface, beneath which is a deep border of flowers. It is said the tower on which it was originally hung was burnt in 1737, and its fall buried the enormous mass deep in the earth, and broke a huge fragment from it.
In the spring of 1837, exactly a century after it fell, the Emperor Nicholas caused it to be removed and placed on its present pedestal, with the broken fragment beside it. The fragment is about 6 feet high and 3 feet thick.
The height of the whole bell is 21 feet 3 inches and 25 feet 5 inches in diameter, and weighs 443,722 lbs., or more than 153 tons, and is supposed to have cost L350,000, as in addition to the copper, many persons, during the process of casting, threw large quantities of gold and silver into each of the four furnaces.
The tower of John the Great is more than 200 feet high, surmounted by a gilded dome, of which there are about 60 in the Kremlin.
In the first storey hangs a bell, which but for its mightier neighbour below would appear stupendous, being 60 tons.
To ring it is impossible; even to toll it requires the united strength of three men pulling with separate ropes the vast clapper; above this are 40 or 50 more.
The cathedral of St. Basil, situated outside the Kremlin, is a truly grotesque building, having no less than 20 towers and domes, all of different shapes and sizes, and painted in every possible colour. Some are crowned with a network of green over a surface of yellow; another dome is bright red, with broad white stripes, and a third is gilded.
It is said to be a whim of the Tzar Ivan the Terrible to see how many distinct chapels could be erected under one roof in a given space of ground, so that services could be performed at one time without interrupting each other.
It is further related that the Tzar was so delighted with the architect that when the edifice was finished he sent for him, pronounced a high eulogium on his work, and then ordered his eyes to be put out so that he could never build such another.
The chapel of the Iberian Mother of God is situated in an archway; and at the further end is the saint herself in a kind of sanctuary.
Her complexion, like most of the Russian saints, is a dark brown, not to say black.
Round her head is a net of pearls, on one shoulder a large jewel is fastened, and another of equal brilliancy rests on her brow, above which, the whole being lighted up by thirteen silver lamps, glitters a splendid crown.
Pass whenever he pleases, the traveller will find the chapel beset by worshippers.
Her hand and the foot of the child are covered with dirt from the abundant kissing, and have almost disappeared.
None ever pass, however urgent their business, without bowing and crossing themselves; the greater part actually enter, kneel devoutly before the Mother, and pray with fervent sighs. Fashionable ladies leave their equipages and prostrate themselves in the dust along with the meanest beggars.
It is frequently visited by the Tzars, and it is said that Alexander the First never omitted to do so, and more than once in the middle of the night he wakened the monks that he might perform his devotions.
In addition to all these places of worship, there is an immense cathedral dedicated to Jesus, erected on rising ground a little out of the city.
It has taken 21 years in building, and will require as many more to complete it; the interior presenting only a forest of props placed in all directions.
The dome is very large, resembling that of St. Isaac, and equally splendidly gilt.
Besides the churches, there are numerous convents and monasteries. Two of the principal we visited, and found them to consist of several churches, surrounded by a high wall, with many towers and a few pieces of ordnance, having all the appearance of a fortress.
As usual, the churches were greatly ornamented with pictures and gilding, but the most attractive part of the Russian service is the singing, particularly at the Vespers, when the boys taking the soprano parts, accompanied by some most extraordinary deep bass tones of the men, swelling and filling the entire cathedral; all this, with occasional recitations from their sacred books, without any knowledge of their contents, excited in us the most serious and delightful sensations. There were about a dozen priests engaged in the various ceremonies, and the service was continued nearly three hours for the benefit of five or six worshippers.
In this country are two immense foundling hospitals. The one we visited at Moscow is said to receive annually upwards of 25,000 children.
The upper part of this immense building is appropriated to the infants and nurses, of each of which there are always 600, besides about 5,000 sent out to nurse in the adjoining villages.
They were all in uniform—dark cotton gowns and white aprons. All bowed as we went down the line. The next suite of rooms was occupied by children from four to seven years of age. The elder ones were in the schoolrooms.
Having seen various parts of the establishment, we were shown into the office where the infants are first received. The books were kept in excellent order, and the number of clerks proved that there was a good deal of business to be done.
When a child is brought the first question is, is it baptized? If not, the chaplain is called, and the child is taken into an adjoining room, where there is a small oratory and font. It is then taken back to the officer, and his name and number, with date of admission, entered in the books. A corresponding ticket was tied round its neck, and a duplicate given to the woman who had brought him. By the presentation of this ticket the child might be claimed at any future time. It is then carried into another room, well washed, dressed in his little uniform, and fetched by a nurse from the upper storey.
Though called a foundling hospital, it is in reality a general receptacle for all children, who are received up to a certain age, without exception, it being left entirely to the option of the parent to state their names and condition, and to contribute or not, to the future support of the child.
Parents paying L4 or L5 have the right to see that their child is brought up in the house and not sent out to nurse.
If a boy, and left by his parent without any deposit, he is brought up for the army as a common soldier, but if 250 roubles or L40 sterling be left with him, he will become an officer. All who show ability become engineers or are sent to the University.
The girls, according to their taste and ability, are instructed in painting or music, and if intended for governesses are taught German or French. The majority of girls, after receiving a common and useful education, are employed in manual labour, and all, without distinction of age or sex, can return to the hospital should they fall into distress in after life.
The annual expenses of the establishment amount, it is said, to nearly a million sterling.
The policy, and certainly the moral consequences of keeping up such an institution are more than doubtful.
There are two theatres, one very large, containing a suite of immense rooms, used for masked balls and similar entertainments, but is only open during the winter season; the other is chiefly carried on by French performers, and was well filled on the evening we attended.
The great Riding School is one of the wonders of Moscow, being 560 feet long and 158 feet broad and 42 feet in height; supposed to be the largest room in the world unsupported by pillars or props of any kind.
This vast enclosure gives ample room for two regiments of cavalry to go through all their manoeuvres unobstructed by stormy weather, being heated by upwards of twenty stoves.
The Bazaar is also an immense pile of building, three storeys high, comprising 5,228 shops, connected by an endless number of passages and steps. In these courts and galleries there is a continual fair throughout the year, attended by traders from every part of Europe, Siberia, China, and Tartary, numbering upwards of 1,000 merchants, all eager and very importunate to do business.
In the same neighbourhood are many streets of shops, arranged in masses, perhaps thirty shops for paper, another range for spices, a third for ornamental articles, and a fourth for pictures and saints.
Of this last article, and the numerous vessels, lamps, candlesticks, crosses, and amulets used in the celebration of the Mass, there is a vast demand in the holy city, there being scarcely a house or any room without a favourite saint.
The population at Moscow use at least three times as many votive tapers in honour of their saints as the inhabitants of St. Petersburg, and in numerous churches many a ton of wax is said to be used for pious purposes. Wax lights are a great trade, and occupy much space.
Great numbers of pigeons nestling under the eaves of the shops are fed by the owners with the sacred feeling that they are emblems of the Holy Ghost.
No idea can be given of the noise and pertinacity of the traders calling to you, and even pulling you by the sleeve; and in the midst of all this bustle there is an ample supply of edibles undergoing various culinary operations; along with fish and other sorts of meat, eaten with black bread made of rye; they have various fancy cakes, and in some places large dishes of soup, with a number of wooden spoons for each to help himself.
Besides these, there are second-hand markets, dealers in old clothes, books, and pictures, and others with bundles of ribbons round their bodies or a pile of hats one upon another making known such dealer to a considerable distance.
These densely-crowded districts form a striking contrast to other parts of the city, where scarcely a person is to be seen, and it should be further mentioned, to their credit, that we only observed one altercation, and another person in a state of intoxication, being the first disorderlies we had seen since entering the country.
The Sundays here, as in most Catholic countries, are spent as fete days or holidays, and having heard much of the singing gypsies, we proceeded one evening to Ratge public gardens, about a mile out of the city, and found a large assembly of persons promenading the grounds, with two bands of music playing alternately.
About eight o'clock we observed a general move towards a pavilion, brilliantly lighted with a great number of variegated lamps, and in a short time appeared seventeen ladies and ten gentlemen, all evidently of this peculiar tribe.
The singing of solos, duets, and occasionally a full chorus, was singularly wild, and strikingly delightful. So eminent have they been considered, that it is related of Catalini, that after one of the performers had finished, she tore off a cashmere shawl which had been presented to her by the Pope, and embracing the gypsy, insisted on her accepting the splendid gift, intended for the matchless songster.
The evening amusements closed with the siege of Canton, exhibiting such a display of fireworks, cannonading, and destruction of buildings and boats as I had never seen before.
The boulevards are nicely laid out with broad walks, with occasional seats, and planted on each side with trees and shrubs. Near to them is the flower garden, which consists of numerous small gardens, containing huts of painted wood filled with a variety of flowers and shrubs, mostly of a common sort, and some cherry and peach trees planted in pots.
In this country fruit is scarce, and of course dear, so different to the south of Europe, an important circumstance to the teetotaller.
We also visited the Moscow Hotel—not a coffee house, coffee being little used—but one of the largest tea houses in the city, where traders of all ranks assemble to settle their various bargains with copious libations of tea, which they drink out of large glass goblets.
I have not the dimensions of this establishment, but perhaps some idea of its size may be formed by the daily consumption of 14lbs. of tea, requiring about six tons of water. The waiters are all dressed in white jackets, pantaloons, and aprons.
Another day we took a drive to one of the cemeteries—of great extent, but not containing any remarkable monuments.
Here we visited Peterskoi, another palace, more comfortable, being of moderate extent and less decorated.
The chief interest attached to this chateau is that refugees, when Moscow was in flames, fled to it for safety, and an apartment is shown where by the light of the flaming city Napoleon dictated the dispatch conveying the sad intelligence to France.
A little further on is the racecourse, which to our great surprise we found attended by a concourse of people, and the riders mounted just ready to set off. After witnessing two heats, displaying no extraordinary speed, we left the ground. This sort of sport, we were told, is not much encouraged by the Russians, nor should we suppose there is much gambling, when a bet of L50 by Sir Robt. Peel occasioned the greatest surprise.
The following afternoon we set off to Sparrow Hill, and partook of some tea under a small tent commanding a splendid view of Moscow, and said to be the spot whence Napoleon had his first glance of this wonderful city.
Some parts of the road were exceedingly bad, very deep ruts, reminding me of some of the mud turnpikes in America. Whilst the horse was resting our guide partook of some quas, the common drink of the country, which we found to be a sort of weak muddy beer, rather acid.
A little further on the way we heard a shepherd amusing himself and his flock by playing on the green willow.
We visited the fish market, containing a great variety of fish, many of them all alive in large tanks of water, and others carefully preserved in blocks of ice.
On revisiting the Kremlin for the last time, we were fortunate in witnessing an extraordinary procession, more than 200 priests in their varied gorgeous robes, bearing canopies, holy standards, and other insignia, amidst the jingling of scores of bells, which only ceased after they had all entered the cathedral.
Before quitting this wonderful city I took a parting glance from the terrace on the roof of our hotel, whence I counted more than 250 domes and spires, many of them gilt, and others, with the roofs of many of the houses beautifully coloured, forming a truly splendid panorama.
On our return at 12 o'clock noon, the same hour we left for St. Petersburg; we took two second-class tickets, and found ourselves more comfortable than in the saloon of the first class, arriving very punctually at 8 o'clock the following morning.
The same day we renewed our visit to St. Isaac's Cathedral, which we found surrounded by a numerous concourse of people, with a military guard stationed at the chief entrance, and a splendid carpet covering the steps leading to the cathedral.
We hastened through one of the side doors, and secured a good position on the steps near to the altar, whence we had a fine view of the procession of the numerous priests in most gorgeous dresses, bearing a canopy over the Metropolitan and swinging incense from side to side, amidst the most beautiful chanting, sometimes in deep bass tones, followed by youthful choristers in the most delightful gentle strains, swelling forth into a grand chorus, and filling the centre of this vast cathedral.
When the music had ceased, and the priests had retired behind the altar, we had a most energetic sermon, which not being able to understand, left us time to survey once more the interior of this most magnificent edifice.
After the service was ended one of our friends from the hotel, a very intelligent lady from the Channel Islands, went up to two ladies standing near us, to make enquiry about certain parts of the ceremony, when after some explanation, they kindly invited us to call upon them in the evening, and bring along with us two other of our English travellers.
On showing their card to Miss Benson, she informed us the ladies were persons of high rank, the daughters of a distinguished general, but known to be greatly attached to the English.
Upon our calling in the evening we found the two ladies not returned from Court, but another sister received us most graciously, and after a long conversation, chiefly on the emancipation of the Serfs, which they did not approve of, having about 2,000 of them on their own estates, but at the same time giving the Emperor credit for the best intentions. Before leaving we were asked by the particular desire of the absent ladies to renew our visit the following evening, which we regretted not being able to do, having to make arrangements for our return home.
The manufactures at St. Petersburg are numerous, and some of them very extensive in tapestry, porcelain, glass, carpet, paper and cotton, all under the patronage of the State, but chiefly owned or managed by foreigners.
One of the cotton factories we visited, situated at Octi, about three miles up the river Neva, is a good-sized mill, worked by four engines of 250 and 260 horse power, spinning yarn about forty or fifty hanks, and employing 700 or 800 hands, chiefly serfs, from the neighbouring villages, with managers, mostly English, occupying cottages surrounding the establishment.
The proprietors, De Jerseys, well known in Lancashire, have other concerns in Russia, and are now erecting very large works in Finland for the purpose of spinning, weaving, bleaching, dyeing and printing.
At the Misses Bensons there were three English gentlemen, a Captain Glascott and two others, who had been engaged several years in an extensive survey through Russia and a part of Turkey. They kindly exhibited their plans, beautifully drawn upon a large scale.
Before leaving St. Petersburg you have to give two or three days' notice, so that your name may appear in the Gazette, and thereby ensure the due discharge of claims upon you. You are also furnished with a new passport, instead of viseing the one you brought with you, thereby supplying a few extra fees to the officials, which I consider to be the chief object in keeping up this abominable system.
We left St. Petersburg in a small steamer, and embarked at Cronstadt in the "Vladimer," a Russian steamer, very beautifully fitted up, with two cabins on deck, one for the captain and the other for the use of the passengers; the bulwarks, rather too high, and so obstruct the view, but at the same time protective in foul weather. The accommodation was very good, and the supply of provisions most ample, but not all suited to the English palate.
In the evening we had a glorious sunset, and the following day passed a lighthouse built upon a rock jutting out of the sea; then Reval, situated on a high coast, and in three days arrived at Stettin, having had a most enjoyable passage.
Among the passengers was a young Russian count, an officer in the army, and, though only 27, had been in several severe engagements without receiving a single wound. He was a most intelligent young man, well acquainted with the history of most of the countries in Europe, and free in his remarks upon the faults of his own, so much so that I did not fail to remind him of Siberia.
Approaching the Prussian coast, I observed the first star since entering the Baltic.
A few miles before landing we were boarded by a number of custom house officers, a very good arrangement, saving much time and inconvenience. The search was in no way strict after declaring that we had no tea or leather.
Having to wait three or four hours for the train to Berlin, we walked about the town, viewed a very remarkable statue of Frederick the Great, and also entered an old church containing a very ancient organ and pulpit wonderfully ornamented.
The railway carriages, like most others on the Continent, greatly excel ours; the 1st class have three spacious seats, the 2nd two double seats, and the 3rd much like our 2nd. It is a good line, and I should think made at a moderate cost, there being few cuttings or embankments, and not many bridges; the rails appeared to be about seven yards long. On both sides we observed extensive fields of grain, and many women among the reapers.
The city of Berlin is situated on a level sandy plain, and has many wide streets and numerous public buildings, boulevards and other delightful walks.
The king's palace, though very extensive, has a shabby appearance.
The state apartments are decorated with good paintings, tapestry, and large chandeliers of solid silver; and there is a beautiful chapel, with the floor ornamented with various marbles; also a library containing 500 Bibles in different languages and editions.
There is a most noble equestrian statue of Frederick the Great.
The Arsenal, a noble structure, containing arms arranged in excellent order for 200,000 men, probably like our guns at the Tower, more ornamental than efficient; also the rich accoutrements of the horse on which Frederick the 1st rode when he made his public entry, all the ornaments being of gold adorned with brilliants.
The Museum is very extensive, all the articles beautifully arranged.
In the Hall of Arts is a very large ale-cup belonging to Luther showing that he was no teetotaller.
Amidst the numerous fine streets in this city should be mentioned the Unter den Linden. On looking across from our hotel we observed it laid out in the following manner: First, a footpath of flags, then a pavement of large square sets, trees (acacias and other sorts); then a pavement of small pebbles, trees; a broad gravel walk, trees, small pebbles, trees; a pavement of large sets; and, last, a range of flags. The street is 60 yards wide, and so full of trees as almost to obscure the houses opposite, and looking down about one and a half miles, presented a very extraordinary appearance.
But the great defect in this beautiful city is the want of proper sewerage. In some of the principal streets the water is suffered to lie in open drains on each side of the street, in a most stagnant condition.
We went by railway to Potsdam, and after walking through numerous palaces, we visited Babelsberg Castle, the residence of the Prince Frederick William.
Its approach is along a fine gravel road, through a beautiful plantation of various trees and shrubs, gradually rising to a considerable eminence, so as to command a very extensive view of the most beautiful scenery all around.
This charming chateau, of very moderate extent, is surrounded by terraces and gardens, containing the choicest shrubs and flowers, and interspersed with fountains and statuary truly delightful.
All the rooms, which are fitted up in a simple style, without any of the usual costly decorations, were thrown open to the public excepting the more private apartments and the one then occupied by its regal owner.
We left it deeply impressed with the real comfort of such a dwelling, so vastly superior to all the magnificent display we had so lately witnessed.
At Charlottenhof there is a grand palace, containing an immense room, with the ceiling and walls entirely covered with shells of every variety, and forming the most curious figures.
And at Charlottenberg, about two miles from Berlin, there is another palace with a beautiful garden, orangery, and the choicest flowers; but the most attractive object here is the mausoleum, a beautiful structure, containing two most remarkable statues of the late King and Queen, on which the light is transmitted through richly stained windows, producing a very solemn and imposing effect, not excelled by the tomb of Napoleon recently erected at Paris, or that of Marie Louise and their son at Vienna.
From Berlin we proceeded to Hamburg, which on my former visit had suffered from an extensive conflagration. All that part of the city has been since rebuilt, and is now covered with streets of warehouses on a most magnificent scale.
There is also a very fine range of buildings along the Aster, a fine sheet of water connected with the Elbe, containing great quantities of fish and numerous swans floating on its surface.
There is also a very large Exchange, very numerously attended at high change time, presenting a very extraordinary spectacle to those in the gallery above, and leading some of us to wonder how many false statements were mingled in the sounds then produced.
We took a drive round the city, and on returning through some parts of the old town we found the streets so narrow and dirty that we thought the fire had hardly gone far enough.
As we approached nearer home our desire to arrive, like falling bodies, increased in intensity, and we engaged the first steamer to Hull.
It proved to be the "Transit," very improperly named, being one of the slowest on that station. We found it very small and the deck entirely covered with hampers of cherries and cucumbers, and the interior accommodation little better.
This, with unfavourable weather, made the three and a half days' sail appear very long and disagreeable, but at the same time rendered doubly dear, home, sweet home.
We completed the excursion in little over five weeks, and considered ourselves very amply repaid for all the trouble and expense, and do not hesitate to recommend the same trip to all persons having the three important requisites—means, time and inclination.
 Count Alexander Adlerberg.
 Count Vladimer Adlerberg, Minister of the Imperial Household and personal friend of the Tsar.
 Mrs. Heywood.
 Serfdom was abolished in 1861.
 Mrs. Heywood.