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the small appearance there is of communication between the city and the country. Instead of the countless coaches, omnibuses, and travelling carriages of London, a solitary diligence, or a rare carriage with the appendage of trunks and imperials, is all that meets the eye.
We went yesterday to see the Hermitage, a friend having procured a ticket of admission for us. This palace is used as a picture gallery. Room after room is entirely covered with paintings, to examine which properly would require frequent visits for weeks together. The collection is fine, but there are no catalogues, at least none are placed in the hands of visitors, so that a stranger wanders on without knowing where to find the pictures most worthy of attention, a very serious drawback to his pleasure in so extensive a gallery. Besides the paintings, we saw some splendid vases of malachite, together with other works of art, as well as antiquities and curiosities.
From the Hermitage we passed into the Winter Palace, * which adjoins and communicates with it, and which is the town residence of the Imperial family. The Hall of St. George, in which the Emperor holds his courts, is a magnificent room, both in its proportions and its decorations. The White Hall, in which the court balls are given, is extremely beautiful, and when it is lighted up the effect must be most brilliant. Adjoining this hall is a smaller room, hung with crimson velvet, studded with the Imperial eagle, embossed in gold: this is used for the reception of foreign ambassadors. A gallery, which opens into the Hall of St. George, is filled with portraits of all the Russian generals who served, with that rank, during the French war: they were all painted by an Englishman named Dawes. The execution is tolerable, and they are said to be in general good likenesses : Dawes received a thousand roubles, about forty pounds, for each. In another room are the portraits of Field-Marshals only—a rank of which the Emperor is extremely chary. He has at present but two, of whom one only is actually in his service, viz. Count Paskievitch, Prince
* The Winter Palace was burnt, and everything but the bare walls was completely destroyed, a few months afterwards, viz. on the 29th of December, 1837.
of Warsaw; the other Russian Field-Marshal being the Duke of Wellington. Nothing can be more beautiful than are the private apartments in the Winter Palace : the decorations, which are chiefly in white and gold, are not only extremely rich, but in admirable taste. Gilding of every kind, and the imitation of marble, especially white marble, are arts carried to a high degree of perfection in Russia ; and the splendid plate-glass windows complete the beauty of the rooms. The last room which we were shown amused us much, being the play-room in winter of the young Grand Duke Constantine, who is now eleven or twelve years of age. It is full of ingenious and pretty inventions for the amusement of the young prince, There are diminutive carriages and droschkas, sledges upon concealed castors, so as to run on the floor; a boat with a mechanical contrivance, so that a boy may row himself about the room in it; and a ship fully rigged, with a mast large enough to climb. There is also a slide of polished wood, in imitation of an ice-hill, and in one corner stands a little guardhouse for playing at soldiers.* In short, this room, with all its contents, is a perfect little-boy's paradise, and a very amusing sight to grown-up people.
To an English eye, nothing perhaps at Petersburg is more striking than the number of military in the streets. The usual force quartered in and about the city amounts, I believe, to sixty thousand men; but at this time the greater part of them are absent, being encamped twenty or thirty miles off for training and manoeuvres; yet even now cocked hats, plumes, and uniforms encounter us at every step. We were at first somewhat surprised, in this hot weather, to see the soldiers always buttoned up in their great-coats,f and the officers wrapped in their cloaks. The former, however, thereby save their jackets, which they leave at home, and the latter are obliged to wear a cloak in the streets as a protection to the uniform, which would otherwise be very soon spoiled in this
* Eighteen years later-in 1855—we have had experience that “the boy was father of the man,” and that the tastes of the Grand Duke have been developed with his growth, but not changed.
† The grey great-coat, which rendered it so difficult for the English troops, fighting in their great-coats, at Inkerman, to distinguish friend from foe.
most dusty city. Though, however, economy or cleanliness may be one cause for this habit, the Russians are undoubtedly a very chilly race, and they delight in wrapping themselves up. Indeed they say that to do so is a necessary precaution, owing to the sudden changes from heat to cold which are experienced in this climate. Ladies walk about, even in this weather, enveloped in shawls and cloaks; and the peasants are always seen in their shoobs,* or coats of sheepskin, with the wool inside.
No soldier or officer, so long as he continues in the Emperor's service, even when he is on leave of absence or with his own family in the country, is allowed to appear on any occasion out of uniform.f The officers, when they retire from the service, if they have been well conducted, generally receive permission to wear the uniform of their regiment when they please, but without epaulettes. The persons employed in the civil service of the empire, in the public offices, the universities and institutions of every kind, including lawyers, doctors, and professors, have also uniforms, which, however, they are only obliged to wear when on duty. The undress is merely a plain coat of blue or green, with gilt buttons bearing a device. The full dress is worn with a sword, and much resembles a military uniform without epaulettes; it is completed by white breeches, shoes, and buckles, and a cocked hat. I must observe that a Russian has no idea of a member of any profession, however independent it may be according to our notions, being otherwise than “ in the service.”
I should suppose that in no other city of its size are there so many public buildings as in St. Petersburg. One-half of the town is crown property, and consists of Public Offices, Institutions, Palaces (of which the handsomest externally is the one lately built for the Grand Duke Michael), and Barracks, of which there are a vast number—sailors as well as soldiers being quartered in them.
Wednesday Evening.--The Nicolai steamer is just come in from * Any kind of cloak or coat lined with fur is called a shoob.
+ When an officer in this service goes abroad, he cannot lay aside the uniform till he has passed the frontier. If he goes by sea, he must retain it till he reaches the foreign port where he is to land, and he must resume it there on coming home.
Lubeck with the English post. She brings us the expected news of the death of King William the Fourth, on Tuesday last, and of the proclamation of her present majesty Queen Victoria in less than a month after reaching her majority.
The moment of our departure is still uncertain: we hope to leave Petersburg to-morrow, but no Diligence is yet to be had, and it seems very doubtful when one will be at our disposal.*
* This difficulty of meeting with a conveyance from Petersburg to Moscow had been removed some time before the commencement of the present war by the opening of the railroad. Mr. Oliphant, in his 'Russian Shores of the Black Sea,' gives a very amusing and graphic picture of the journey by railway in 1852.
Journey to Krasnoe – Diligence — Road — Bridges — Inns — Istvostchiks
– Peasants' dress — Dreary landscape – Novogorod -- Russian village - Military colonies — Torjok -- Arrival at Krasnoe - Description of the place — Russian farming — Peasants' houses — Hospital and bath.
Krasnoe, July 12th, 1837. You will be glad to see by the date of this letter that we have reached the place of our destination for the present, and that we are fairly established as visitors in a Russian country house. We are now in the province or government of Tver, and about four hundred miles south of Petersburg. In my last letter I told you we were anxious to start on our journey, but that no Diligence was to be had, and we were detained for two days longer, making frequent but fruitless inquiries at all the offices. On the evening of the 30th, however, as I was returning home after an unsuccessful search, I fortunately spied the object of which I was in quest, namely, a Diligence for four persons, passing slowly along through the street. My servant, who was with me as interpreter, ascertained that it had just arrived from Moscow, and, having set down its passengers, was proceeding to the office. To this place I lost no time in making my way, and at once engaged the Diligence, which I was told would be ready to start, if I chose, in two hours : I, however, preferred setting out in the morning.
Though we were only going as far as Torjok, which is but five hundred versts, we were obliged to pay for the Diligence all the way to Moscow, two hundred versts further. The price was three hundred and eighty roubles, somewhat more than sixteen pounds. A Russian verst is about three-quarters of a mile: and the rouble, if in coin, is worth about ten pence; if assignat, i. e. in paper, about ten pence halfpenny. In all payments the former is understood, unless the contrary be explicitly stated, and the rouble may in general be considered