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long blue caftan buttoned on the left side, with black boots over his trowsers, and both with thick beards which have never felt a razor, are national figures which present themselves here at every step. The equipages also at Petersburg are, for the most part, quite unlike all that one has seen elsewhere. The private carriages, usually drawn by four longtailed horses, the wheelers being driven by a bearded coachman, and the leaders, with enormously long traces fastened to the pole, being managed by a boy mounted on the off horse. Coachman and postilion are each dressed in a caftan or wrapper without a collar, fastened by a gay sash round the waist, and they wear a low-crowned hat of a peculiar shape ; the coachman being adorned, if possible, by a handsome beard. The whole is frequently turned out in a wretched style; but the four horses keep up the dignity of the equipage. Many handsome carriages are indeed built at Petersburg, and many fine horses are to be met with ; but it is to be remembered that at this season the court is out of town, and that most fashionable people have followed its example.
There are plenty of vehicles, both open and close, plying for hire in the streets; but as the fares are not regulated by authority, it is necessary always to make a bargain before engaging one. The hack-cab of Petersburg is the droschka, a very primitive vehicle, consisting merely of a bench about five feet long, covered by a cushion, mounted on four low wheels, and hung on C springs. The driver sits astride in front, resting his feet on an iron bar which projects on each side, over the fore axletree, and the passenger sits in a similar way behind, with a low back to lean against, and with his feet on the steps on either side, protected from the mud only by splashing boards over the wheels. If there is a second passenger, he sits sideways in the middle of the droschka. It is but an uncomfortable conveyance, since the passenger is entirely exposed to the weather, and the position of sitting astride on a bench is not agreeable. There are, however, plenty of private droschkas to be seen, very neat and convenient little carriages for fine weather. They are, indeed, much like a pony phaëton, with a seat in front for the driver, and they are very easy, being hung upon C springs. Sometimes these vehicles are drawn by a pair of horses with a pole; but in general, like the hack-droschkas, they have shafts and are drawn by one horse, with his head borne up very high, a wooden arch resting on the ends of the shafts, and standing up over his head, with a ring at the highest part, to which the bearing-rein is attached. No carriage, waggon, or other vehicle with shafts is seen in Russia without this arch, which is called a dougu. An outrigger is frequently harnessed on the near side of the shaft-horse, without a bearing-rein, but with his head, on the contrary, drawn down almost to the ground, and turned outwards, as if he were flying away from the shafts. In this form he is made to canter and prance through the streets, while his companion trots steadily along. To droschkas occasionally, and to heavier carriages often, a third horse is harnessed in like manner on the opposite side. This team of three horses, which is exceedingly handsome, is called a tröika. The Russians always drive with snaffle bits and without blinkers ; * bearing-reins being never used except for horses in shafts.
The canals which run through Petersburg, as well as the sides of the Neva, are crowded with large clumsy barges, loaded with wood for winter consumption, and cut up into logs ready for use. Good-sized hay-stacks, thatched over, may also be seen · apparently floating by themselves upon the river; a second glance, however, showing that the foundation is a low barge, almost entirely covered and concealed by the mass with which it is loaded.
We have visited the Summer Garden, the principal public promenade of Petersburg. The garden has little beauty to boast of, but it is thickly planted with trees, and it, at least, offers abundance of shade. The walks are laid out in straight lines, and are adorned by marble busts and statues; but the prin
* From subsequent observation, it appears to me that the vice of kicking in harness is much less common with Russian horses than with English, though, from the manner in which the former are often harnessed, and the slight pains which are bestowed on breaking them in, the contrary might have been expected. The reason I take to be, that the Russian horse has the use of his eyes, while the English horse imagines an invisible enemy in every loose straw or other harmless object which touches him unexpectedly. No people habitually drive so fast as Russians.
cipal ornament is the celebrated palisade facing the river, which is exceedingly fine. The Russians have a myth of an Englishman who came to Petersburg on purpose to see this palisade, and who rowed up the river to it, gazed at it, and, having gratified his curiosity, returned home without having set foot on Russian soil. Though not quite worthy of so long a pilgrimage as this gentleman is supposed to have taken, it is a most beautiful work.
We drove, one lovely evening, through the islands formed by the different branches of the Neva, and crowded with pretty villas and gardens, which in this hot weather look exceedingly cool and tempting, but which are uninhabitable from damp, excepting in the height of summer. They, however, form at present a very gay and attractive scene as one drives among them, along a well-watered road, a luxury which, as I have already observed, the city itself does not furnish,
One evening, about seven o'clock, we went out to walk, crossing the Isaac Bridge, and following the bank of the Neva on the other side up to the Exchange, and the scene, as we walked slowly along, was exquisitely beautiful. We were on the shady side of the river, while the light fell directly on the opposite side, on the Admiralty, the Imperial Palace, and the other fine buildings which line the bank, as well as on the gay pleasure-boats which crowded the broad bright stream ; while facing us stood the well-known and splendid equestrian statue of Peter the Great on a granite rock as its pedestal. We could not help regretting that the ugly bridge of boats was not replaced by a structure worthy of the Neva and of the city which lay before us; for the beauty of the river, enhanced as it is by the fine granite quays facing it on either side, leaves nothing but a handsome bridge to be desired. The construction of one has hitherto been prevented by the extreme depth of water, which renders it impossible to build piers. A chainbridge is talked of, but here also there are, it is said, some serious difficulties to overcome. We returned home by the garden adjoining the custom-house; it is, however, remarkable for nothing but the immense numbers of birds of all sorts, from a parrot to a linnet, which are exposed here in cages for sale.
We are much struck, in walking about Petersburg, with
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 maneuvres; 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.