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certain air of desertion to the town, and impress one with the feeling that its glory is departed. The ancient glory of Moscow has, indeed, taken wings for Petersburg; but it is said that, although yearly more and more deserted by the courtly and fashionable, it is gradually rising into increased prosperity as a commercial and manufacturing capital.
We have driven in various directions about the streets ; have visited the boulevards, which are numerous, and much handsomer than anything of the kind at Petersburg; and have made a few purchases in the fashionable shops of the Blacksmiths' Bridge, as the Regent-street of Moscow is somewhat uncouthly named. Our chief attention, however, as you may suppose, has been devoted to the Kremlin. The view from the terrace in front of the imperial palace is most beautiful and striking; the river, which though small greatly enhances the scene, flowing immediately beneath, and the city lying stretched out under the gazer's feet. On the highest spot of ground in the Kremlin stands a lofty slender tower, which rises high above any other point in the city. This pillar-like edifice is called Ivan Veliki, or Long John; and from its top, to which we ascended by a time-worn winding stair, we had a most magnificent panoramic view of Moscow, and of the country around for many miles on every side. The sky was cloudless, the keen frosty air was bright and clear, and there was no smoke to obstruct the view, which I believe to be unequalled in its way. I need not describe the arsenal, which contains arms for a hundred and forty thousand foot-soldiers, and for eighty thousand cavalry, all apparently arranged in excellent order; nor the cannon, some of enormous size, which have at different periods been taken in action, and which are arranged in the square outside the arsenal.
The imperial palace contains a fine room, of singular form, richly decorated, and hung with crimson velvet, studded with the imperial eagle, and with the cipher of Nicholas I., in gold. There is a throne in the room ; and here the Emperor receives the congratulations of his subjects and of the foreign ambassadors immediately after his coronation, which takes place in the cathedral church, a small ancient building close by. A small set of apartments, which in former days formed at once the abode and the prison of the grand-duchesses for the time being, is curious, as showing how the Russian princesses were then lodged. These apartments consist of three or four small rooms, the windows of which are formed of small panes of coloured glass, affording no view but that of an old church opposite. The furniture is rich, but scanty and comfortless; for though the apartments have been recently fresh painted and re-gilt, the old ornaments and decorations are merely restored without any alteration or addition. In this small and cheerless dwelling were the daughters of the Czar, whether few or many, brought up and immured in ancient times, never being allowed to go forth until the day of their marriage.
The remainder of the palace is in no way remarkable, either as curious or splendid; but the prospect from the windows is magnificent, standing as the palace does on the elevated ground of the Kremlin, and raised above the town; and perhaps no sovereign in Europe has so fine a site as this for a residence in his capital. A new and magnificent palace has been determined on, and its erection will, I am told, be shortly commenced. I must not forget the “ great bell of Moscow, which can now be seen to much advantage. It was cast in the year 1733 ;. but, soon after it was hung, it fell and buried itself in the ground. In this state it remained until the year 1836, when, by orders of the Emperor, it was with some difficulty raised, and placed upon a circular wall about four feet high, on which it now stands. An iron gate in the wall enables one to see the interior of the bell, the diameter of which within is about fourteen feet, its weight being upwards of a hundred and eighty tons. A piece, which is now placed by its side, was broken out of the bell in its fall; and this fracture enables one to see the thickness of the metal, which is about half a yard.
There is a bell now hanging in the Kremlin which weighs between ninety and a hundred tons, and which is
twelve times a year. It takes three men to move the clapper for the purpose, the bell itself, as is always the case in Russia, being fixed, and the clapper alone moveable. There is probably no country in the world where there are so many fine bells, or where
there is so much ringing, as in this; but the Russians have no idea of a merry or harmonious peal, and their style of ringing is most discordant.
One of the gates of the Kremlin is called the Holy Gate, and while passing through it is necessary to take off the hat. Near to this gate is a circular stone platform, surrounded by a low parapet, where criminals were formerly executed.
The most ancient portion of Moscow is called the White City, and is surrounded by a wall, at one of the gates of which is placed a celebrated image of the Virgin, covered with diamonds and other jewels of great value. This image, which is endowed according to popular belief with miraculous virtues, is often carried to sick persons in their houses, and there is a copy with paste diamonds and false jewels, which does duty at home during the absence of the original, and which is found, we may presume, to be equally efficacious.
Near the Holy Gate of the Kremlin stands the church of St. Basil, an ancient building, remarkable not only for the singularity of its architecture and its spiral ornaments, but also for the fate of the architect, whose eyes were put out, as soon as he had completed the work, by his master, John the Cruel, in order that he might never build anything else like it.
One of the most remarkable modern buildings in Moscow is the Exercise-house, a magnificent room, in which troops of all arms are drilled and manoeuvred in winter. Eight thousand men can, I am told, be exercised in it at once. The floor is covered with fine gravel, and the room is effectually warmed by means of stoves at the corners and sides. Its dimensions are about five hundred and sixty feet by a hundred and fortyfive, with a proportionable height, and the roof is ingeniously supported without the aid of pillars. I was not so much struck by the immense size of this gigantic room on first entering, as when afterwards, on casting my eyes around, I saw here and there carts bringing in fresh gravel or water for laying the dust; the perspective calling my attention to the enormous proportions of the building.
I should have observed that, when we visited the palace, the servants who showed us over it refused to take any
money for their trouble, alleging that they were strictly forbidden to do so.*
To-morrow we start for Tamboff, about three hundred and eighty miles to the south, where, as you know, we intend to pass the winter with M—'s eldest brother. He has sent his carriage for us, with two servants well accustomed to travelling, whom we shall doubtless find highly useful upon the road. On a long Russian journey two servants are very desirable, one to relieve the other, or, on arriving at a station, one to busy himself in getting fresh horses, while the other is in attendance on the travellers.
Our passport is in due order, our padoroshna is procured, and the weather promises to be extremely favourable : a matter of no small importance, as I am told that after heavy rains the road we have to traverse is almost impassable in some places from the depth of mud. There are large tracts of land near Tamboff in which not a stone is to be found, and where no materials therefore for roads can be procured. I shall write again soon after we get to our journey's end; and as we shall after this remain stationary for some time, I shall probably take the opportunity now and then of sending you some general accounts of the country and the people, in default of any adventures of our own.
* Like the Royal servants at Windsor Castle.
Russian autumn - Journey from Moscow to Tamboff — Accident on the
road Eclipse of the moon - A coach and nine Character of the country near Tamboff — Game - Georgian horses.
Rascazava, near Tamboff, October 27th, 1837. ACCORDING to the calendar it is still but autumn, and even here we are now enjoying mild weather, yet I confess I felt much inclined a short time ago to believe it was winter, though I found it by no means disagreeable. While we were at Moscow we had ten degrees of frost by Reaumur, and since we came here we have had some days almost equally cold. This temperature was, however, generally compensated by a bright sun, and I was in no way disposed to complain of the season. The Russians will never allow that winter has begun, however cold it may be, until the snow has fallen and sledging has commenced.
We left Moscow, according to our intentions, on Wednesday, the 11th of this month, in the afternoon, and, travelling day and night without stopping, we arrived at this house on the Saturday at the same hour, having been exactly three days on the road. Here M— and I met with a most warm reception from her brother * and his wife, who are exceedingly kind, and with whom we spend our time most comfortably and pleasantly. In the course of the first stage from Moscow we met with an accident which at first looked rather formidable, though in the end no one was hurt, and we were soon enabled to proceed.
The road had been for some time sandy and heavy, so that we had gone at a gentle pace, till in a long straggling village, about twelve miles from Moscow, we suddenly increased our speed, and presently found ourselves driving along
* While this edition is preparing for the press, the painful intelligence of his death has reached us.