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LET. XXV.) AUTOGRAPHS OF MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS.
Among those which I examined is a missal which was purchased in France, and which formerly belonged to Mary Queen of Scots. It is quite perfect, except that in the illuminations with which it is abundantly ornamented there have once been numerous coats of arms, every one of which, from the beginning of the book to the end, has been carefully erased, and the shield left vacant. It is difficult to guess with what object this has been done, as no other mutilation is apparent. The chief interest of this missal lies in numerous scraps of the Queen's hand-writing which are to be found in it, breathing in general a melancholy spirit in accordance with her unhappy fortunes. It must be owned that much cannot be said in favour of her poetry, the exact meaning of which is not always very clear. Near the beginning is written across the bottom of two pages, Ce livre est a moi, Marie reyne, 1553, * doubtless an autograph.
In another page are written the following lines in the Queen's hand :
Un cour que l'outrage martire,
Qui iamais davantage eust contraire le sort,
MARIE R. Below these lines the Queen has scrawled a memorandum, “escrire au Secretare pour Douglas.” I was afterwards shown, in a collection of original letters, one from Mary to the King of France, written during her imprisonment, in which, addressing the King as Monsieur mon Frere, and signing herself votre bonne seur Marie, she speaks of Douglas, recommending him to the future favour of his most Christian Majesty, whom she at the same time thanks for his attention to her former request in behalf of the same person. In another letter from Fotheringay
* The last figure is very indistinct, but it appears to be a 3.
Castle the unhappy Queen expresses her too well-grounded fear of never being released from prison. This collection includes autographs of Henry the Seventh, Henry the Eighth, Elizabeth, James the First, Charles the First and his Queen Henrietta, together with those of many distinguished persons of inferior rank. Among others is Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, in whose hand are two or three letters to the King of France, expressing the deepest gratitude and devotion to his most Christian Majesty, and entreating for a continuance of his favour. I am afraid Queen Elizabeth would not have been altogether pleased with the tone of these epistles. Among the most interesting letters was a long one dated at St. Germains, from Henrietta, Queen of Charles the First, to the Sieur Grignon, begging him, if possible, to procure from the Speakers of the two Houses and the General a pass for herself and her attendants, to enable her to visit her husband in England, and to remain with him as long as can be permitted. The Queen expresses her fears that this pass will be refused, but she reminds the Sieur Grignon how much she has the object at heart, and assures him of her eternal gratitude if he succeeds. She then offers to make out, for the inspection of the Speakers and the General, a list of the attendants whom she proposes to bring with her, in order that the name of any person to whom they object may be omitted in the pass.
With these short extracts I will conclude my letter; nor will I detail to you an expedition which we made lately by the railroad with some Russian friends to Tzarsko Celo, where we saw all that is to be seen—the armoury, which is well arranged; the park, which boasts of no fine trees; and the palace itself, which is magnificent. The saloon, the walls of which are entirely encrusted with amber, is celebrated, and is not only curious but beautiful. The floors throughout the palace are exquisite; nor am I sure that a famous parquet, which is ornamented by inlaid bouquets of mother-of-pearl, was the one I most admired. One room has a most singular appearance, from the walls being entirely covered to a certain depth with paintings of all sizes, unframed and fitted into one another like a puzzle; the variety of size and colouring of the paintings giving to the whole an appearance of patchwork. The inn at LET. XXV.] ABSURD PUNISHMENT OF SCHOOLBOYS.
which the railroad train set us down is about two versts from the palace, to which we went in an omnibus, and returned in the same manner. After a very merry dinner, in spite of our number, which was thirteen, we embarked again on the railroad and steamed rapidly back to Petersburg, a distance of about sixteen miles. *
* At Tzarsko Celo there is a public institution, under the authority of Government, for the education of boys and very young men. An order was lately issued that none of the pupils should wear their hair long. One of them disobeyed this order, and, as he persisted in disobedience, after repeated cautions, he was placed under arrest. Upon this a number of the young men, seventeen or eighteen years old, assembled round the President's house, breaking windows, and committing a great riot. This insubordination obviously required severe repression, but, instead of expelling the offenders, or inflicting such other punishment as our ideas would suggest, the authorities have treated the affair as a political demonstration; and some twenty of these unfortunate lads, all scns of gentlemen of good family, have been sentenced to the ranks of the army as common soldiers. Our Russian friends do not venture to comment on the cruelty and tyranny of such a punishment, but they do not scruple to express their opinion of its absurdity under the circumstances, and they hope that the Emperor may be induced to pardon these foolish boys.
CONCLUDING REMARKS ON RUSSIA.
Acknowledgment of Russian kindness and hospitality. — SYSTEM OF
EDUCATING BOYS — In public institutions — At home — Nature of their studies — Foreign preceptors — Amusements – Treatment of children - Military discipline – Village quarters - The young ladies — Results of early marriages — Servants. — THE GREEK CHURCH — The clergy – The fasts -- Religious tolerance - Children must always be Greeks if either parent is of that church. - PETERSBURG NOT RUSSIA — Character of the peasant — Of the tradesman Commercial spirit pervading all classes. — PROSPECTS OF RUSSIA — Probable effects of a political change - Want of independent classes – Light in which the Emperor is viewed by his subjects - Public functionaries — Their motives of action - Suspicions of Government Tend to deter Russia from foreign aggression – Opinions of four distinguished generals on the power of Russia, offensive and defensive — Reasons why disturbances should be apprehended in Russia — Elements of revolution - The conscription - Natural results of a revolution - Bloodshed and violence — Domestic servants — The revolt of the military colonies — Intrepid behaviour of the Emperor — The present system bad — A change likely to be worse
Character of the Emperor.
In adding to the preceding series of Letters a few general remarks on Russia, I feel reluctant to censure in any degree a country which, were I to describe it merely as it presented itself to me, and according to the treatment which I everywhere experienced from its inhabitants, would certainly be depicted by me under the influence of most favourable impressions. I should be extremely ungrateful were I not to acknowledge the very great kindness and hospitality which were shown to us by those whom it was the immediate object of our journey to visit, and which I often felt exceeded our natural claim upon them as relatives and foreigners. We also everywhere met with much attention and civility from those strangers with whom we became acquainted.
In the following remarks I shall endeavour carefully to
avoid all points which might affect private feelings, should this book ever fall into the hands of any Russian friend.
To begin with the subject of education. Nothing, according to my ideas, can be much worse than the system usually pursued with Russian boys. The commencement of their education is often so long deferred, that their minds are unopened from want of employment; and the boys generally remain much too long under female government, often until they are thirteen, or even fifteen years old; the whole system of management tending to check the gradual growth of manly
The discipline at all the public institutions or academies is military, whether the pupils are intended for the army or for civil professions; while, if the boy is brought up at home, the usual system in Russia with those who can afford the expense of private tutors, he is not sufficiently thrown on his own resources or accustomed to act for himself.
As to the acquirements which a Russian education professes to bestow, a knowledge of French, and, to a certain extent, of German, and a little history, geography, and arithmetic, form pretty nearly the sum total. French, indeed, is learned and spoken from the cradle, and children often know it as well as their mother tongue : the knowledge, however, of these languages is seldom followed up by much acquaintance with their literature. To French and German, English is sometimes added. The preceptors who are engaged in the houses of Russian gentlemen are almost invariably foreigners, and their time is chiefly occupied in teaching modern languages; a classical education being nearly unheard of.
The Russian boy is little accustomed to hardy and manly amusements. Athletic games appear to be almost unknown to him, and he seldom mounts a horse till he is grown up, or nearly so, when he learns to ride, if he learns at all, in a riding-school.
The Russians dine early, and their children, even from the age of two or three years, * almost invariably dine with them; the
* The young children are attended by nurses, who never appear to leave them for a moment. Nothing is more common than for a nurse to dine at table with her master and mistress and their guests, if the party happens to be small and private.