صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

and cordial acclamation. The young emperor was overwhelmedy and, at the moment of mounting the throne of the most extensive empire under heaven, he was seen to turn from the grand and affect ing spectacle, and weep.

What followed is of very subordinate consideration ; but perhaps it will be eagerly asked, to what extremity did the avenging arm of justice pursue the perpetrators of the deed? Mercy, the brightest jewel of every crown, and a forlorn and melancholy conviction, that the reigning motive was the salvation of the empire, prevented her from being vindictive. Never upon the theatre of life was there presented a scene of more affecting magnanimity; decency, not revenge, governed the sacrifice. P Zwas ordered not to approach the imperial residence, and the governor of the city was transferred to Riga. As soon as madame Chevalier was informed of the demise of her imperial patron, she prepared, under the protection of her brother, a dancer, for flight, with a booty of nearly a million of rubles. A police officer was sent to inspect and report upon


property: amongst a pile of valuable articles, he discovered a diamond cross, of no great intrinsic value, which had been given by Peter I to a branch of the imperial family, and, on that account, much esteemed; it was to recover this that the officer was sent, who obtained it, after the most indecent and unprincipled resistance on her part. Passports were then granted to madame Chevalier and her brother. Thus terminated this extraordinary and impressive tragedy




It was impossible for an Englishman to visit Peterburg when I did, without feeling a justifiable national pride in finding his country represented by one of her most distinguished naval heroes, who, to the frankness and sincerity so peculiar to that character, unites the graceful attractions of the most courteous and polished manners. From the intrepid minister, and his elegant and enlightened lady, I experienced that urbanity and attention which eminently distinguished their conduct, and endeared them to the Russian court, and to their countrymen.

The emperor,

in his private circles, has often extolled the nautical skill and undaunted valour of Sir John Borlase Warren, and honoured him with his friendship. In no period of those political storms which have so long shaken, and still continue to convulse, the continent of Europe, has the cabinet of Russia manifested a more propitious and cordial disposition to the cause and interests of Great Britain, than during the diplomacy of the gallant admiral.

The house of embassy, a noble mansion, in the English line, was fitted up with great taste, and the hospitality which prevailed in it was truly Russian. The parties which assembled there were very select and agreeable. Amongst the most frequent visitors I met the Duc de Polignac and several of the members of that illustrious house, who, from the highest rank, and an influence equal to that of their sovereign, have been cast into the regions of the north, by the terrible tornado of the French revolution, where, in the sensibility and munificence of the emperor, they have found protection.

The noble fortitude of the Polignacs, and particularly the heroic and affecting eloquence of one of the brothers before the tribunal of Bonaparte, created at this period a strong sensation in the public mind, and in no part of the world more forcibly than at Petersburg.


In another age, when passion and prejudice shall repose in “ the tomb of all the Capulets,” the calm investigating historian may perhaps, but in better language, describe their crime, as I have ever considered it, a conspiracy of Bonaparte against himself, to enable him to assume the imperial purple.

Sunday is always at Petersburg a day of great festivity, but it only manifests itself after the hours of devotion. On this day the parade is well worthy the traveller's notice; it commences at ten o'clock, in that great area which lies between one side of the winter palace and the magnificent crescent, which formerly constituted the palace of Catherine's most cherished favourite, Lanskoi. The men amounted to four thousand, and presented a very noble and martial appearance; their uniform consisted of a round hat, with only a rim in front, and green feather, a short green coat, buttoned tight round the body, and white duck breeches cut very high, so that no waistcoat is necessary. The belly of the soldier is tightly strapped in, for the purpose of giving an artificial breadth to the chest. With an exception to the English and consular guards, I never saw finer men in my life, nor greater neatness in dress and person. The emperor came from the palace, mounted upon a beautiful grey charger, attended by two or three officers; he wore an amazing large cocked hat, fastened under his chin by a black leather strap, and buttoned to prevent the wind from occasioning that accident, for which a cruel disciplinarian (Frederick the great) once severely flogged a poor Prussian soldier. The rest of his dress was a short coat of dark olive-green colour, decorated with a small star and the cordon bleu, white leather breeches, and high military boots, with very long projecting spurs. Upon this occasion there is always a great concourse of the commonalty, and a great muster of officers to pay their respects to the emperor, who rode at an easy canter down the line. As he passed I was much surprised to hear each company salute him with deep-toned voices, and highly gratified when I was informed that the salutation was, “ Good day to our emperor.” The words seemed to bring down the haughty disdain of mijitary discipline to its proper level, and to place the hearts of the emperor and his brave soldiers in contact with each other. Upon his return he alighted and took his station in the centre, when the regiments passed the emperor (who stood uncovered all the time) in open order, the band playing and officers saluting. As the imperial colours passed, which time or war, or both, had re

duced to a few shreds of silk, all the officers and spectators bowed As the last company was marching off the ground, a lane was formed to the palace through the people, who gazed upon their young emperor with enthusiastic delight. The whole was a very interesting spectacle, for which, by the by, I had nearly paid rather dearly. Thinking, perhaps, that I was far removed from the nimble-fingered disciples of London, or what is more likely, not thinking about the matter, I carelessly carried my pocket-bock to the parade: a common Russian had for some time, it appeared, watched me with a cat-like eye, and at the moment the emperor passed me, he affected to relieve me from the pressure of the mob, and at the same time really endeavoured to relieve me of my letter of credit, some ruble notes, and what I fear the critics will wish I never had recovered, many of the memorandums from which I am now writing. A German valet, belonging to a gentleman who was with me, instantly seized him by the throat, ere his hand could leave my pocket, when he as speediiy relinquished his prey. The attempt was made with a skilful knowledge of seizing opportunities, by which some folks bea come wealthy, others imperial, and the dexterity and lightness of his finger would have obtained a medal of felonious honour in the academy of Barrington. However, as I lost no property by the fel low, I ordered the active servant to dismiss him; and the terrified Russian rushed rapidly from my sight, and was lost in the surrounding crowd.

The Russian is not naturally addicted to thieving: he is seldom seen in hostility to life, in order to obtain the felonious possession of another man's property. A rare instance of what, however, may be committed in an ebullition of passion, occurred at the preceding parade. An officer, in consequence of very improper behaviour, was put under arrest; in the bitterness of wounded pride, he slew the centinel who was placed at his chamber door: the emperor, instead of dooming him to death, ordered him to receive twenty-five strokes. of the knout, to be branded in the forehead with vor, or rogue, and be sent to Siberia.

As I was quitting the throng, two fellows, somewhat tipsy, began to quarrel; and, after abusing each other very violently as they walked along, they at last proceeded to blows. No pugilistic science was displayed: they fought with thie hand expanded, as awkwardly as women play at battledore and shuttlecock; no desperate contusion ensued. A

police officer soon appeared, and, taking out a cord from his pocket, tied the combatants back to back, and placing them upon a droshka, galloped them off to the nearest sieja. The police of England would do well to act with the same spirit and promptitude towards those academic bruisers, who, in the most daring manner, violate the public tranquillity, and bid defiance to the authority of the law.

A short time before my arrival, an affair, which in some degree illustrates the Russian character, had created considerable interest. A gallant English merchant conceiving himself rudely treated at the theatre by a Russian officer, one of the emperor's aid-du-camps, sent him a challenge. The officer declined the combat, and appealed to the emperor, which, according to the custom of his country, he might do without a stain upon his courage. Those martial notions of honour, which reign so imperiously in England and France, are but little known in Russia, where the feudal system, the judicial combat and its chivalrous concomitants, never obtained, and where the sword Inever forms, and never has formed, a necessary appendage to the dress of the people, which, till lately, has for ages been worn amongst their brethren in more southern latitudes.

It was with great pleasure that I availed myself of an introduction to the venerable doctor Guthrie, physician to the noble land cadet corps, a gentleman of the most amiable manners, a philosopher, and well known to the world for his various scientific and literary productions, and particularly for being the editor, as he has modestly announced himself, of the Letters of his deceased lady from the Crimea, whither she went, but in vain, in search of health. It is very generally believed, that the doctor very largely contributed to this able and beautiful work, which, from fondness to the memory of the departed, he is anxious should be considered as her own.

I found the doctor protected, by his philosophical knowledge, from one of the most sultry days I ever experienced. He was in a little study built of wood, raised upon piles, in a little meadow. Instead of his summer windows being open to admit the air, they were all closed and fastened without ; his servant occasionally moistened the branches of the trees, that were suspended over the building, with water from a garden engine ; and to prevent, as much as possible, the admission of the flies, the entrance was through an outer door, and an inner one of gauze, and in the centre of the room stood a tub filled with ice. By these means the doctor, whilst every other per

« السابقةمتابعة »