Imágenes de páginas

nance of the foundling hospitals both at St.JIf any Swedish ambassador ever gave the Petersburg and at Moscow, upon a scale un- head of the secret police so minute a de. precedented elsewhere--all consideration of scription of an individual, there could be little their immoralizing tendency yielding to that doubt what his intentions were ; in fact, the of the constant recruitage thus supplied to the only part of the anecdote which we must at army.

once reject is its point; to wit, the reality of Captain Jesse, having mixed very little in his astonishment. the native society, has reserved to himself the These volumes conclude with some careprivilege of unrestrained speech; and his is ful tables of Russian measurements, weights, the only recent book of any importance on and money; and what may prove to some a Russia in which such is the case ; but the ad- useful vocabulary of those Russian words of vantage here is less than may be at first glance most frequent occurrence ; though the uncesurmised. The sacrifices and suppressions remonious amalgamation of many words into to which the traveller, who domesticates him one reminds us of a similar liberty taken in self with the nation, is compelled, by his a Russian-Anglo dialogue-book, where what sense of private friendship, are amply com- are supposed to be our national terms of pensated by the light he is enabled to throw greeting are thus compactly rendered :on other subjects; while the very sense of "Howdodo, makeshakehans, toyorhellt, gubisolation in a multitude, which an opposite bye.' system entails, is apt to fill the note-book

We cannot part with Captain Jesse with. with details of those petty discomforts to out once more thanking him for much interwhich, under these circumstances, the stran- esting information-more especially on the ger is doubly exposed. Nor is this independ- military system of Russia. It is to be hoped ence by any means the guarantee for right that, on future occasions, he will learn to impressions or right reports. On the con- keep his mess-table propensity to eternal trary, there are in every country a number merriment under better restraint; and if so, of false anecdotes current like bad coin, we think him not unlikely to earn a very rewhich the foreigner thus situated runs the risk spectable rank among the living classics of the of pocketing, without any suspicion of their United Service. Meanwhile we must turn having been rejected by all others. We to another author, whose name we have not overheard a worthy German, who had shortly yet mentioned; but who, nevertheless, has before made a journey through England, lec- been much in our thoughts ever since we be. turing an untravelled circle on the tenacity gan our article. of forms in this country, and seriously stat- If some writers, from the minute accuracy ing, among other facts, that a gentleman of their details, have been likened to such actually refused to help a lady out of a piece painters as Mieris, Jan Steen, &c., M. Kohl's of water, where she ran every risk of being work on St. Petersburg is nothing less than drowned, not because he could not swim, or the Daguerreotype itself

. He has really given was afraid of wetting his feet, but because he us St. Petersburg hy winter and by summer had not been introduced to her! We fancy -by day and by night—with its Neva, can. we can detect sundry anecdotes of the same als, quays, markets, shops, and houses—each class in Captain Jesse's work; and here is one swarming with its respective population, not which, not being the fruit of his own observa- stiffly drawn, as if sitting for their picture, tion, we have less hesitation in noticing. but caught in full life and movement, song, Speaking of the terrors of the secret police, laugh, and talk-hit off in every shade and he relates the following circumstance, grade of mind, habit, speech, and costume• which happened to a Swedish ambassador at under every aspect of feasting and fastPetersburg a few years ago. This gentleman, ing, buying and selling, driving and walkmeeting the Benkendorf of his day in the street, ing, idling and working, teaching and learn, asked him, in a casual way, whether he had ing, baptising, marrying, and burying-and heard anything of a Swede lately arrived in the all with a truth and vivacity which it would capital, whom he was anxious to see on business. “I do not know his name," said the am

be impossible to surpass. "No doubt, when bassador, " but he is of such an age, height, and M. Kohl departs from his happy delineation appearance.” The chef de police knew him not, of nature, he indulges in a few profound but promised to make inquiries. About three speculations regarding the destination of a weeks after this they met again. “Ah, bon cannon-ball

, &c., and occasional elaborate jour," said the mouchard ; “ I have got your exemplifications of everyday truisms, which 1. My man?"" said the astonished diplomate; of too rare occurrence to injure the interest nan; we have had him in prison a fortnight.” sufficiently betray his nation; but these are “ what man?” after three weeks ago? did you not want him of the work even with us, and, of course, arrested ?”'Jesse, vol. ji., p. 217.

they will give it an additional value in the

eyes of his own countrymen. At all events, literally heaped to the brim with the precious he has richly redeemed the promise of his metal, but as, in process of time, the goblets title-page, Petersburg, in Pictures and were observed gradually to increase in capacity, Sketches,' for the work is truly a succession so that bis Majesty had always more and more

water to drink, and more and more gold to pay, of the most lively pictures, all agreeing in the sum was fixed at 200 ducats-an imperial general truth and style, and yet each so dis- price, after all, for a glass of water.'-Kohl, vol. tinct with individual character, that we can i., p. 37. imagine no reader likely to be so deeply interested and gratified with its pages as a Rus

Taking us back a few weeks previous sian himself—which is more than can be said to this ceremony, and describing the va. of most modern books relating to Russia. In rious stages of thaw and symptoms of such a varied and extensive field the only decay, he saysdifficulty becomes that of selection-especially as in a large octavo work of above

· Large holes may now be seen in the ice, seven hundred pages of the closest German while the whole surface is covered with dirty

snow-water. The frozen Neva, which, when print, we find every third page marked with animated with passing sledges and busy pedesour own hieroglyphics, as worthy of a second trians, was lively enough to witness, now bereading. We must, therefore, content our comes an oppressive sight to the city, and selves with translating such passages as bear every body seems impatient to be rid of its foul more especially on the peculiar locality of crust.

Weeks of fine and mild weather now St. Petersburg, with the addition of a few elapse, and still the Neva lies immovable. specimens from its street life. But, be it ob- Compared with wind and rain, the sun has but

little influence upon it-one smart shower, an served, that as M. Kohl, like a true painter, occurrence hailed with joy by all Petersburg at has drawn chiefly from the unsophisticated this time, will do more than three days of sunmasses of the people, without being led aside shine. So long as the water remains standing to dwell upon the composite and artificial upon the ice, even when deep enough to swim features of upper life; and, as St. Petersburg

a horse, passengers still venture over-its disis not the home, but the passing refuge, of appearance is a sign of the ice having both loos

ened itself from the shore, and become too his favourite Mougiks and Istvostchicks, his

porous to sustain the water, and is a sure fore. lively description of these classes may be re- runner of a speedy breaking-up. . The Neva garded as the standard of low life throughout usually breaks up between the 18th and 26th all the national portion of the empire. of April—the oftenest altogether on the 18th of

Upon the Pindaric principle we com- April—i. e. ten times in a hundred years. The mence with the Neva :

laiest period known was on the 12th of Mayonce in a hundred years—the earliest on the

18th of March-also once in a hundred years. 'For half the year the Neva nymph is wrap-On the other hand, the Neva generally closes ped in bands of frost. Not till the middle, for the winter towards the end of November, rarely at the beginning, of April, are the waters generally on the 20th of that month-i. e. nine sufficiently warm and vigorous to burst their times in a hundred years. In 1826, it did not yoke asunder. This moment is awaited with close till the 26th of December, and in 1805 it the greatest impatience, and no sooner have was frozen over as early as the 28th of October.' the dirty ice-masses urged themselves for- - Ibid. p. 38. ward, and laid bare a sufficient space of the stream's smooth surface to give passage to a M. Kohl, being, as a North German, faboat, than the event is announced to the inha-miliar with the phenomenon of the ice-pasbitants by the roar of cannon from the fortress.

* That instant, be it night or day, the com- sage, does not describe it here. Though mandant of the fortress, in full uniform, and ac- attended with the utmost grandeur of sound companied by all his staff, steps into a richly- and movement, its duration is but short, the decorated gondola, in order to proceed across to river being usually cleared in about twelve the Palace, bearing with him a magnificent hours. But the departure of the river's own crystal goblet filled with the fresh Neva water, ice by no means clears away the troubles of as an offering in the name of the Spring from

On the contrary, by far the greatthe river-god to the Czar. The commandant announces to his sovereign that the might of the est danger and interruption now arise from winter is broken, and that a prosperous naviga- the enormous masses of ice from the Lake tion may be expected; and then pointing to his Ladoga, in the interior, which rush down the gondola moored at the quay-the first swan Neva, and, passing through St. Petersburg on upon the waters—he presents the Neva goblet, their way to the gulf, block up the river for which his Majesty immediately drains to the days and even weeks together. Lake Ladoga health and prosperity of his capital. This is embraces a space of about 400 square miles. the dearest glass of water drunk on the whole surface of the globe—the Emperor

, according A great portion of its frozen surface is of to established custom, returning it to the com- course absorbed and melted in the lake, but mandant filled with gold. Formerly it was' much still remains to be discharged down the

[ocr errors]

the city.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Neva, while, the mouth of the lake being mum amount for each ice-cellar, our author contracted and hemmed in with adhesive ice, gives a return of 500,000 loads, or a load large masses are kept back, and only detached apiece for each inhabitant of the metropolis

. down the river long after the lake itself is Upon the whole he estimates that the concleared. Our author sets before us, with his sumption of ice does not cost St. Petersburg peculiar felicity of picture, how, when all St. less than from two to three millions of rub Petersburg is green with fresh spring and (i. e. from 40,0001. to 60,0001.) annually, mild with balmy airs, and the Neva speckled an expense, he adds, which no other capital with countless boats of pleasure, masses of ice knows. from Lake Ladoga will be seen slowly wend- The dangers which at all times beset the ing their way along, bearing on their surface imperial city, and the chances that the awful the fragments of a peasant's sledge, or the powers of nature which lie in ambush around skeleton of some poor horse that had perished it will one day prevail, are thus stated :in the winter.

• The Gulf of Finland stretches in its greatest His details as to the bridges are very curi- length in a straight line from Petersburg westous.

Hitherto all plans for erecting a stone ward. The most violent winds blow from bridge strong enough to resist the violence of this quarter, and the waters of the gulf are thus the ice, and yet not so heavy as to sink into driven direct upon the city. Were the gulf the swampy foundation, have failed. The spacious in this part, there would not be so Neva is, therefore, only passed by bridges of shores contract immediately towards Petersburg,

much to apprehend; but unfortunately the boats, which in the winter, in order to facili- which lies at its innermost point; while close tate the crossing at the main points of traffic, to the city the waters lie hemmed in and pent are placed upon the ice itself. Each bridge up in the narrow bay of Cronstadt. In addition has its appointed officer and detachment, to this, the Neva, which flows from east 10 and during the period of thaw their labours west, here discharges its waters into the gulf, are incessant. Such is the immense traffic west in a diametrically opposite direction. The

thus encountering the violent waves from the over these links of the city, and the necessity islands of the Neva delta, on which the palaces of communication with the islands on which of Petersburg take root, are particularly fat and the Exchange and other important edifices low. On their outer and uninhabited sides tostand, that the Isaac's Bridge has been known wards the sea they completely lose themselves to be taken up and put down three times in beneath the waters, and even those parts which one day, and as many as three-and-twenty are only raised from twelve to fourteen feet

lie highest, and are consequently most peopled, times in one spring! Each of these occa- above the level of the gulf. A rise of fifteen sions is of course attended with great expense, feet is sufficient, therefore, to lay all Petersburg so that M. Kohl reckons that the Isaac's under water, and one of thirty or forty feet must Bridge, in the short period of its existence, overwhelm the city. has already cost more than the massive stone

• To bring about this latter disaster nothing bridge at Ďresden, during its 300 years' span. should exactly concur with high water and ice

more is requisite than that a strong west wind As a proof how wisely national wants and

passage. tastes are adapted to the means most plenti- then be driven landward and those of the Neva

The ice-masses from the gulf would fully supplied them, our author dwells upon seaward, whilst, in this batıle of the Titans, the enormous consumption of ice for house the marvellous city, with all its palaces and hold purposes in Russia :

fortresses, princes and beggars, would be swal"The Russians cool all their drinks with ice Sea. Scarce may we speak thus lightly of the

lowed in the floods like Pharaoh in the Red -iced beverages of various descriptions are future, for in truth the danger lies so near that commonly sold in the streets throughout the summer-and, not satisfied with their iced wa- Their only hope lies in the improbability of

many a Petersburg heart quails at the thought. ter, iced wine, and iced beer, they even drink these three enemies, west wind, high water, iced tea, substituting for a lump of sugar a simi- and ice passage combining against them at one lar portion of ice. Their short but astonishingly and the same time. Fortunately for them there hot summer would spoil most of their provi- are sixty-four winds in the compass. sions, were it not for the means the winter bequeaths them for counteracting this evil. Ice- islands made their observations and bequeathed

· Had the old Finnish inhabitants of the Neva houses (or ice-cellars, as the Germans more them to their successors, the average chances properly call them) are therefore indispensable would have warned them how often in a thouappendages to every house, and as common with sand years such a combination must occur. In the simple peasant in the country as with the short, we shall not be astonished to hear any luxurious citizen of Petersburg: In this capital day that Petersburg, which like a brilliant me there are no less than 10,000 ice-cellars, and teor rose from the Finnish marshes, had just as the amount of labour requisite to fill them dur- suddenly been extinguished in the same. God ing the winter may be therefore imagined.'

protect it!'-Ibid. p. 49. Reckoning fifty loads of ice as the mini- The hand of man, he adds, can do nothing

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

here. New moles for keeping out the water, may be faintly conceived. But the distress and new canals for carrying it off, are talked of this day was surpassed, if possible, by that of and tried, as it were only to show the of the ensuing, when the retreat of the waters fruitlessness of such plans, and meanwhile St. showed the extent of the misery. Thousands Petersburg lies utterly defenceless. So in- of human beings had perished; whole rows sidious and unforeseen is the rise of the of houses which had resisted their first fury, waters, that public means are adopted to now fell down, as their foundations were warn the city of the danger :

drained from beneath them ;—the loss of

cattle, furniture, and other property, is esti• When, after a continuation of westerly mated at upwards of a hundred millions of winds, the water of the Neva is observed to roubles, or almost five millions sterling. As creep round the outermost points of the islands, a sequel to this, the public distress was wound a cannon is fired from the admiralty, and waterflags hoisted on all towers, to apprise the inha- up to its last pitch by the wasting pestilence bitauts that their city is besieged by the Nereids. which ensued. Dreadful as was this visitaAs the water increases, the cannon is fired once tion, it was nevertheless tempered with meran hour. As it advances further, and inundates cy. Had the inundation happened in the the lower outskirts of the city, the alarm is spring, the shock of the ice-masses, which no sounded every quarter of an hour ; when it building could have withstood, would have steals into the city itself

, signals are repeated been superadded to the violence of the waevery five minutes ; and in the last extremity ters, while the steaming exhalations from the minute guns summon, with desperate cries, every boat to help.'

heat of the ensuing summer, would have in

calculably multiplied the diseases of the surOur author proceeds to give an account of vivors. The height of this inundation is dethe dreadful inundation of the 17th Novem- signated upon the principal houses, with the ber, 1924, the worst the city had ever expe- date annexed; and our author quaintly obrienced, and the horrors of which are still in serves, "God grant that the Petersburg every mouth. The waters rose so gently and house-painters may never earn another rouble innocently (unschuldig') that, in those por- by such a job. For every inch higher that tions of the city too remote to hear the sig. they place their mark, the city will have had nals, the inhabitants had no suspicion of what to pay millions more of roubles, and hundreds was going forward, and only wondered to more of families will have been thrown into see the clear shining pols of water lying in mourning.' the street : thousands, therefore, continued But now, though the Neva is far from their usual avocations, and hundreds paid for being exhausted, we must turn to another this day's work with their lives. But as source and species of mutation. soon as the waters had fairly gained possession, they threw off the mask of peace.

* The population of this city, from the highest Lashed into fury by a strong west wind, and to the lowest classes, is in a state of incessant

ebb and flow. The nobility of the land come bearing all opposition before them, they shot and go; foreigners arrive, settle for a period, in lengthened currents through the streets, and then return to spend their gains in their filling the cellars and lower stories, and dash own countries, leaving new comers to supply ing upwards from the sewers under ground their places. The garrison is constantly shifiin violent columns. Every minute now in- ing, the Chinovniks are perpetually transferred creased their force and volume. The vehi. from one government to another; while of the cles on the public stands were lifted from of servants, workmen, carpenters, stonemasons,

lower classes, comprising hundreds of thousands their wheels; those horses which were de manufacturers, &c., most are serfs, who, having serted by their owners perished miserably in only a temporary leave of absence from their their harness, and many owners who stopped masters, swarm 'in the capital for a time, and to save their horses perished themselves. are then as surely succeeded by hosts of others. Stone houses fell, and wooden buildings were Even the istvostchiks (the back drivers) share lifted entire from their foundations, and with in the general spirit of circulation which per

vades the empire from one end to another, and all their contents went driving about the

every few months the droshky-seats will be streets. The trees in the squares hung thick found occupied by new faces from the Don, the with fugitives; cattle and horses were drag. Volga, and 'ihe Dnieper-who after a time thithged up stairs, on to a second story, and stood er disappear again. In one word, Petersburg, in landings and ante-rooms; and many fami- like every other city in Russia, is merely a place lies, whose members the waters had surprised where, for the better convenience of trade, the when apart, were doomed never to be re- dezvous, and not, like our towns, a home where

various tribes of the population appoint a renunited. The food rose for twenty-four

men live and die, and families vegetate, like hours; and the horrors of the night, with the house-leek on their roofs, for centuries toevery public lamp extinguished, and no moon, I gether. Every ten years the main mass of the VOL. LxIx.



population may be considered as quite new.'- that a little stays behind in their own, they Ibid. p. 119.

purchase a cheap set-out for themselves, and

start forth with on their own foundations. He devotes a whole chapter to the Istvost. Their craft, like every otber crası in Russia, is a chiks. It is calculated that in London there free one, and, if hay becomes tou dear in Peters. is one driver of a public vehicle for every off đo the south, and re-appear in the streets of

burg, they pack their few goods together, make sixty of the population; and that at St. Pe- Moscow. Thus they drive on, trying their luck tersburg there are 600 for the same number. first in one town and then in another, till they M. Kohl gives the aggregate at pretty nearly have laid by sufficient to remain siationary. this ratio-namely, 8,000; and in no city, In the provincial towns, where hay cosis next truly, is their help more requisite. The to nothing, they sport iwo horses, but in Pe. Russians are not a walking people, and, even tersburg their customers must be content with if they were, it would help them but little in With the first approach of winter they this great city, where the length of three gladly draw forth their favourite equipage, the

sledge, which they drive on through all the buildings alone, separated one from the other mud of spring as long as a morsel of frozen by a narrow canal, will take a quick walker foundation remains; and not till this is no lonabove five-and-twenty minutes—all, we need ger to be felt or imagined do they bring out not add, on level ground. An individual, their summer vehicle, the rattling, clatiering therefore, who should make a morning call droshky. No isivostchik drives a covered vehiin one portion of the city, take dinner in a

cle; the cloaks of the passengers are supposed second, and spend his evening in a third, carriage-head supplies.

to afford that protection wbich elsewhere a would, without at all diverging from the re- "As there is no police regulation for the fares gions of fashion, spend most of the day on of the istvostchiks, the passenger is obliged 10 foot. On this account, as well as from the make an agreement every time. Upon the heavy walking occasioned by the dust-like whole, however, they are very reasonable, and snow in winter, the real dust in summer, and will drive you a number of wersts for litle the wretched pavement at all times of the money. The weather greatly affects their

charges, and according also as the day is marked year, there is no wonder that the words, black or red in the Greek calendar are they

Davai, istvostchik,ʻi. e. 'Give here, istvost- more or less extortionate. On a feast-day (red) chik,' are so common a sound:

they will not abate a kopek. At noon-tide also,

when business is at its height, and the whole • This “ Davaineed scarcely be repeated. population seems driving about, they will hardly In most cases it is sufficient to think it, with a take you for two roubles where they would searching glance from the trottoir, to have half- otherwise take you for half a one. But morning a-dozen sledges shoot towards you. In a mo- and evening they are the most obliging creatures ment the nose bags are pulled off, the horses in the world, and will often, out of sheer good reined up, and each istvosichik sits ready on his temper, put you across the muddy street, from box, each alike confident of being engaged. one trottoir to another, for nothing.

«« Whither, Sudar ?" "To the admiralty ?" • The different nationalities of the istvostchiks “I'll take the Sudar for two roubles,"cries one. are easily recognisable in their different modes “I for a rouble and a half,” shouts another ; of driving and managing their horses. The and before you can answer, a third is at your German is the most rational-(of course)--he service for half a rouble. Of course you take speaks seldom, and only communicates with his the cheapest, generally the worst, and resign horse by means of reins or whip. The Fin sits yourself to a volley of jokes and sarcasms from as quiet and immoveable on his box as if he the party.

were part of it himself, repeating, in long • How now, Batuschka! why so stingy ? drawn-out tones, “ Nah, nah," and varying the what, just for the sake of a few kopeks, to be intonation of this monosyllable according to the driven by a ragged old fellow like that!-you'll exigencies of the case. The Livonian's word stick fast by the way with his three-legged of command is “ Nua, nua,” uttered only op horse. Don't trust to him; the old grey beard desperate occasions, when the horse either will is a regular drunkard; he's so tipsy now he go ihe wrong way, or won't go at all. The can't sit straight. He'll drive you to the butch. most restless is the Pole, perpetually working ers' shambles, and swear they are the admi- up and down on his seat, whistling, bissing, ralty !"Meanwhile the object of your choice and howling, cracking his whip and jingling his laughs in his beard, and grumbles out “ Nitche- reins. But the most eloquent of all is the Russ. voss - Nothing at all, Sudar ; we shall get on His whip he seldom uses, and generally only very well."

knocks with the handle upon the dashing-board, Most of these istvostchiks are Russians from to forewarn his horse, whom he apostrophises different governments of the empire. The rest as “Brother-little father-my beloved-my of the number are made up of Finns, Estonians, little white dove,” &c., and with whom he carLivonians, Poles, and Germans. They general. ries on a continual conversation. “Come, my ly come to Petersburg little fellows from twelve dove, use your feet. What's the matter? are to fourteen years of age; engage themselves to you blind cheer up, cheer up. There lies a some master istvostchik; and when they have stone-mind what you are about-don't you see earned so much money for their masters' purses I it?-all right-bravo-hop--hop-keep to the

« AnteriorContinuar »