Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

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 rail-road 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 are exquisite throughout; nor am I sure that the 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, without frames, fitted into one another like a puzzle: the variety of size and colouring of the paintings gives to the whole rather the appearance of patchwork. The inn at which the rail-road train set us down, is about two versts from the palace, to which we went in an omnibus, and returned in the same manner; and after a very merry dinner, in spite of our number, which was thirteen, we embarked again on the rail-road, and steamed rapidly back to Petersburg, a distance of about sixteen miles.

Much as we have had reason to enjoy our visit to Russia, we are not sorry to feel ourselves on the eve of our return; and we shall not appreciate the merits of England the less, by comparing it with the scenes we are now about to quit.

304

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 ladiesResults of early marriages-Servants-Russian opinions of justiceAnecdote.—THE GREEK CHURCH — Its doctrines and practicesThe clergy-The fasts --Tendency of the system-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 aggressionOpinions 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-Famine—The present system bad--A change likely to be worse-Importance of the life of the Emperor to his country-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 every where 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 was 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 every where 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, I imagine, can be 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. I have more than once heard the opinion laid down, that no child ought to be tormented with lessons until it is seven years old. The boys generally remain much too long under female government, often until they are thirteen, or even fifteen years old; and the whole system of their management tending to check the growth of manly ideas, they remain children until they are almost men.

The discipline at all the public institutions or academies is military, whether the pupils are intended for the army or for civil professions; at these, therefore, a boy is allowed to think but little for himself; and if he is brought up at home, the usual system with those who can afford the expense of private tutors, he never feels the necessity of making his own way, or of acting for himself. A boy brought up at home runs every risk, either of being thoroughly spoiled, or of regarding his home as a school, and his parents as schoolmasters; he looks forward with impatience to the time when he will be released from domestic thraldom, and placed at liberty in the world, into which he is launched at length in the defenceless state of utter ignorance and inexperience, unprepared to guard against its temptations and seductions, heightened as they are by the dangerous charm of perfect novelty.

As to the acquirements which a Russian education professes to bestow, a knowledge of French, and, to a certain extent, German, with 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 not always followed up by much acquaintance with their literature. To French and German, English is sometimes added, but perfection in it is rare. The preceptors, who are engaged in

« ForrigeFortsett »