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THE THREE CAPITALS.
LONDON—Paris-St. Petersburgh, par excellence the three capitals of Europe ! We love thy Prater, Vienna, and on thy Boulevards, Berlin, we look with a partial regard ; but to St. Petersburg, as the capital of the North, let us commend ourselves. To the eye of the stranger sailing up the Neva, it rises like a scene of enchantment, as fresh, and artificial, and glittering, as though it had just risen from the hand of the architect. Every house appears to the uninitiated newly erected, St. Petersburg, in truth, must, from the very nature of the materials employed in its architecture, ever remain a new city. An old building would be an anomaly. Formed of brick, and covered with stones, it is doomed to eternal reproduction. No weather-stains can ever soil the surface of its palaces. No crannies of “ olden times' can break their shining corners. The wrongs of winter are repaired in each successive spring. So it is now—so will it ever be. As each tenement begins to show symptoms of decay, it is pulled down, but only to make room for another, as closely resembling its predecessor as “ peas in a trencher.” The same bricks (not that production of ancient times which in the walls and gardens of Babylon bade defiance to all assaults) rise a second time; the same plaster, like a meretricious cosmetic, imparts to them the same look of unfading youth; the same dwarfish pilasters of wood and stucco mount guard over the same floridly ornamented doorways; and the son, as he occupies the chamber of his father, sees no soberer tint in the interior or exterior of the edifice than that which it wore without change or intermission in his infancy. Wooden houses are now as great a rarity in Petersburg as in London, and are only to be found in the suburbs, where they remain unoccupied during the winter, and are re-opened when the cuckoo, in the woods of the Kamennoy Ostroff or Krestossky, warn the Russian, who has been muffled in furs for six months, to retire for a season from the smoke and dust of the city; but the flimsy structures which we see on every side, promise to the future as little of a historical past, as though still more perishable materials had been used. Like the
May. 1840.--VOL. xxvii.-NO. CIX.