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Title: Incidents of Travel in Greece, Turkey, Russia, and Poland, 7th ed. Vol. 2 of 2
Author: Stephens, John Lloyd, 1805-1852
Language: English
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Punctuation and hyphenation have been normalised. Variable, archaic or
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can found at the end of the book. Italics indicated by _underscores_.



[Illustration: GREECE, TURKEY, _PART OF_ RUSSIA & POLAND.]



  INCIDENTS OF TRAVEL IN GREECE, TURKEY, RUSSIA AND POLAND.

  BY THE AUTHOR OF

  "INCIDENTS OF TRAVEL IN EGYPT, ARABIA PETRÆA, AND THE HOLY LAND."


  WITH A MAP AND ENGRAVINGS.


  IN TWO VOLUMES.

  VOL. II.


  SEVENTH EDITION.


  NEW YORK:
  HARPER & BROTHERS, PUBLISHERS,
  329 & 331 PEARL STREET,
  FRANKLIN SQUARE.
  1853.



  Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1838, by HARPER &
  BROTHERS, in the Clerk's Office of the Southern District of New York.



CONTENTS OF THE SECOND VOLUME.


    CHAPTER I.                                                      Page

    Choice of a Conveyance.--Hiring a Servant.--Another
      American.--Beginning of Troubles.--A Bivouac.--Russian Jews.--The
      Steppes of Russia.--A _Traveller's_ Story.--Approach to
      Chioff.--How to get rid of a Servant.--History of Chioff.        7

    CHAPTER II.

    A lucky Encounter.--Church of the Catacombs.--A Visit to the
      Saints.--A tender Parting.--Pilgrims.--Rough Treatment.--A Scene
      of Starvation.--Russian Serfs.--Devotion of the Serfs.--Approach
      to Moscow.                                                      28

    CHAPTER III.

    Moscow.--A severe Operation.--An Exile by Accident.--Meeting with an
      Emigré.--A civil Stranger.--A Spy.--The Kremlin.--Sepulchres of
      the Czars.--The great Bell.--The great Gun.--Precious Relics.   45

    CHAPTER IV.

    The Drosky.--Salle des Nobles.--Russian
      Gaming.--Gastronomy.--Pedroski.--A Sunday in Moscow.--A Gipsy
      Belle.--Tea drinking.--The Emperor's Garden.--Retrospective.    67

    CHAPTER V.

    Getting a Passport.--Parting with the Marquis.--The Language of
      Signs.--A loquacious Traveller.--From Moscow to St.
      Petersburgh.--The Wolga.--Novogorod.--Newski Perspective.--An
      unfortunate Mistake.--Northern Twilight.                        85

    CHAPTER VI.

    Police Requisites.--The Russian Capital.--Equestrian Statue of Peter
      the Great.--The Alexandrian Column.--Architectural Wonders.--The
      Summer Islands.--A perilous Achievement.--Origin of St.
      Petersburgh.--Tombs of dead Monarchs.--Origin of the Russian Navy.
                                                                      97

    CHAPTER VII.

    A Carroty Pole.--The Winter Palace.--Importance of a Hat.--An
      artificial Mine.--Remains of a huge Monster.--Peter the Great's
      Workshop.--The Greek Religion.--Tomb of a Hero.--A Saint
      Militant.--Another Love Affair.--The Hermitage.--The Winter and
      Summer Gardens.                                                118

    CHAPTER VIII.

    An Imperial Fête.--Nicolas of Russia.--Varied Splendours.--A
      Soliloquy.--House of Peter the Great.--A
      Boatrace.--Czarskoselo.--The Amber Chamber.--Catharine II.--The
      Emperor Alexander.                                             140

    CHAPTER IX.

    The Soldier's Reward.--Review of the Russian Army.--American
      Cannibals.--Palace of Potemkin.--Palace of the Grand-duke
      Michael.--Equipments for Travelling.--Rough
      Riding.--Poland.--Vitepsk.--Napoleon in Poland.--The Disastrous
      Retreat.--Passage of the Berezina.                             154

    CHAPTER X.

    Travel by Night.--A Rencounter.--A Traveller's
      Message.--Lithuania.--Poverty of the Country.--Agricultural
      Implements.--Minsk.--Polish Jews.--A Coin of Freedom.--Riding in a
      Basket.--Brezc.--The Bug.--A searching Operation.--Women
      Labourers.--Warsaw.                                            181

    CHAPTER XI.

    Warsaw.--A Polish Doctor.--Battle of Grokow.--The Outbreak.--The
      fatal Issue.--Present Condition of Poland.--Polish Exiles.--Aspect
      of Warsaw.--Traits of the Poles.                               199

    CHAPTER XII.

    Religion of Poland.--Sunday in Warsaw.--Baptized Jews.--Palaces of
      the Polish Kings.--Sobieski.--Field of Vola.--Wreck of a
      Warrior.--The Poles in America.--A Polish Lady.--Troubles of a
      Passport.--Departure from Warsaw.--An official Rachel.--A
      mysterious Visiter.                                            215

    CHAPTER XIII.

    Friendly Solicitude.--Raddom.--Symptoms of a Difficulty.--A Court of
      Inquisition.--Showing a proper Spirit.--Troubles
      thickening.--Approaching the Climax.--Woman's Influence.--The
      Finale.--Utility of the Classics.--Another Latinist.--A Lucky
      Accident.--Arrival at Cracow.                                  235

    CHAPTER XIV.

    Cracow.--Casimir the Great.--Kosciusko.--Tombs of the Polish
      Kings.--A Polish Heroine.--Last Words of a King.--A Hero in
      Decay.--The Salt-mines of Cracow.--The Descent.--The
      Mines.--Underground Meditations.--The Farewell.                254



INCIDENTS OF TRAVEL IN GREECE, TURKEY, RUSSIA, AND POLAND.


CHAPTER I.

    Choice of a Conveyance.--Hiring a Servant.--Another
      American.--Beginning of Troubles.--A Bivouac.--Russian Jews.--The
      Steppes of Russia.--A _Traveller's_ Story.--Approach to Chioff.--How
      to get rid of a Servant.--History of Chioff.


I HAD before me a journey of nearly two thousand miles, through a
country more than half barbarous, and entirely destitute of all
accommodation for travellers. Southern Russia was the Scythia of Darius,
"savage from the remotest time." "All the way," says an old traveller,
"I never came in a house, but lodged in the wilderness by the river
side, and carried provisions by the way, for there be small succour in
those parts;" and we were advised that a century had made but little
change in the interior of the empire. There were no public conveyances,
and we had our choice of three modes of travelling; first, by a Jew's
wagon, in which the traveller stretches out his bed, and is trundled
along like a bale of goods, always with the same horses, and therefore,
of necessity, making slow progress; secondly, the char de poste, a mere
box of wood on four wheels, with straw in the bottom; very fast, but to
be changed always with the posthorses; and, thirdly, posting with our
own carriage. We did not hesitate long in choosing the last, and bought
a carriage, fortunately a good one, a large calêche which an Italian
nobleman had had made for his own use in travelling on the Continent,
and which he now sold, not because he did not want it, but because he
wanted money more. Next we procured a podoroshni, under which, "By order
of his Majesty Nicolas the First, autocrat of all the Russias, from
Odessa to Moscow and Petersburgh, all the postoffices were commanded to
give ---- and ----, with their servant, four horses with their drivers,
at the price fixed by law." Besides this, it was necessary to give
security that we left no debts behind us; and if Mr. Ralli undertakes
for all Americans the same obligation he did for me, it may happen that
his office of consul will be no sinecure. Next, and this was no trifling
matter, we got our passports arranged; the Russian ambassador at
Constantinople, by-the-way, had given me a new passport in Russian, and
my companion, that he might travel with the advantages of rank and
title, got himself made "noble" by an extra stroke of his consul's pen.

The last thing was to engage a servant. We had plenty of applications,
but, as very few talked any language we understood, we had not much
choice, one, a German, a capital fellow, was exactly the man we wanted,
only he could not speak a word of Russian, which was the principal
qualification we required in a servant. At length came a Frenchman, with
an unusual proportion of whiskers and mustaches, and one of the worst of
the desperate emigrés whom the French Revolution, or, rather, the
Restoration, sent roaming in foreign lands. He had naturally a most
unprepossessing physiognomy, and this was heightened by a sabre-cut
which had knocked out several of his teeth, and left a huge gash in his
cheek and lip, and, moreover, made him speak very unintelligibly. When I
asked him if he was a Frenchman, he drew himself up with great dignity,
and replied, "Monsieur je suis _Parisien_." His appearance was a gross
libel upon the Parisians; but, as we could get no one else, we took him
upon little recommendation the day before our departure, and, during the
same day, threatened half a dozen times to discharge him. The police
regulation, obliging him to pay his debts before leaving Odessa, he
seemed to consider peculiarly hard; and, all the time he was with us,
kept referring to his having been obliged to fritter away thirty or
forty rubles before he could leave. We ought to have furnished ourselves
with provisions for the whole road to Moscow, and even cooking utensils;
but we neglected it, and carried with us only tea and sugar, a tin
teapot, two tin cups, two tin plates, two knives and forks, and some
Bologna sausages, trusting, like Napoleon when he invaded Russia, to
make up the rest by foraging.

Before beginning our journey we had a foretaste of the difficulty of
travelling in Russia. We had ordered posthorses three times, and had
sent for them morning and evening, and received for answer that there
were none in. At the third disappointment, our own consul being out of
town, my friend the Spanish consul went with me to the director of the
post, and found that during the time in which they had told us they had
no horses, they had sent out more than a hundred. Instead of taxing them
with their rascality, he talked the matter over very politely, paid the
price of the horses, gave them a bonus of ten rubles, and obtained a
promise by all the saints in the Russian calendar for daylight the next
morning.

The next morning at eight o'clock the horses came; four shaggy,
wild-looking little animals, which no comb or brush had ever touched,
harnessed with a collar and rope lines. They were tied in with rope
traces, all abreast, two on each side the pole, and a postillion with a
low wool cap, sheepskin coat and trousers, the woolly side next the
skin, who would make an English whip stare, mounted the box. Henri
followed, and my companion and myself took our seats within. The day
before we had a positive quarrel upon a point unnecessary here to
mention, in which I thought and still think he acted wrong, and the
dispute had run so high that I told him I regretted exceedingly having
made arrangements for travelling with him, and proposed even then to
part company; he objected, and as we had purchased a carriage jointly,
and particularly as our passports were prepared, our podoroshni made
out, and servant hired in our joint names, I was fain to go on; and in
this inauspicious humour toward each other we set out for a journey of
nearly two thousand miles, through a wild and desolate country, among a
half-civilized people, whose language we could not understand, and with
a servant whom we distrusted and disliked.

In spite of all this, however, I felt a high degree of excitement in
starting for the capital of Russia; and I will do my companion the
justice to say that he had been always ready to receive my advances, and
to do more than meet me half way, which I afterward learned was from an
apprehension of the taunts of his companions, who, not satisfied with
getting rid of him, had constantly told him that it was impossible for
an Englishman and an American to travel together, and that we would
quarrel and fight the first day. I believe that I am enough of an
American in my feelings, but such an idea had never entered my head; I
met many Englishmen, and with some formed a friendship which, I trust,
will last through life; and among all I met, these two were the only
_young_ men so far behind the spirit of the age as to harbour such a
thought. I did meet one _old_ gentleman, who, though showing me
personally the greatest kindness, could not forget the old grudge. But
men cannot be driving their elbows into each other's ribs, comparing
money accounts, and consulting upon the hundred little things that
present themselves on such a journey, without getting upon at least
sociable terms; and before night of the first day the feelings of my
companion and myself had undergone a decided change.

But to go back to Odessa. At the barrier we found a large
travelling-carriage stopping the way, in which was my friend Mr. Ralli,
with his lady, on his way to Nicolaif; part of his business there was to
erect a monument to the memory of a deceased countryman. Mr. Munroe, son
of a former postmaster in Washington, is another instance of the success
of American adventurers in Russia. He went out to St. Petersburgh with
letters from the Russian ambassador and others, and entered the army,
the only road to distinction in Russia. He accompanied the Grand-duke
Constantine to Poland, and was made one of his aiddecamps, and on the
death of Constantine was transferred to the staff of the Emperor
Nicolas. At the time of the invasion of Turkey by the Egyptians under
Ibrahim Pacha, Mr. Munroe held the rank of colonel in the army sent to
the aid of the sultan. While the Russians were encamped at the foot of
the Giant's Mountain, he visited Constantinople, and became acquainted
with the American missionaries, who all spoke of him in the highest
terms. He was a tall, well-made man, carried himself with a military
air, and looked admirably well in the Russian uniform. On the
withdrawal of the Russians from the Black Sea, Mr. Munroe was left in
some important charge at Nicolaif, where he died in the opening of a
brilliant career. I heard of him all over Russia, particularly from
officers of the army; and being often asked if I knew him, regretted to
be obliged to answer no. But, though personally unacquainted, as an
American I was gratified with the name he had left behind him.

To return again to our journey: a few rubles satisfied the officer at
the barrier that we were carrying nothing prohibited out of the "free
port" of Odessa, and we started on a full run, to the great peril of our
necks, and, to use the climax of a Dutch proclamation, "what's more, of
breaking our carriage." In less than an hour we brought up before the
door of a posthouse. Our wheels were smoking when we stopped. On our
hind axle we carried a bucket of grease; half a dozen bipeds in
sheepskin whipped off the wheels and greased them; four quadrupeds were
tied into the carriage, another bête mounted the box, and we were off
again at a full run. My companion undertook to keep a memorandum of
expenses, and we put a certain sum in a purse and paid out of it till
all was gone. This was a glorious beginning for a journey of two
thousand miles. The country possessed little interest, being mostly
level, and having but few villages. On the way we saw a natural
phenomenon that is common enough in Egypt and the East, where the
country is level, and known by the name of _mirage_. At a distance it
seemed a mere pond or lake, and a drove of cattle passing over it looked
as if they were walking in the water. We rolled on rapidly all day,
passed through Balgarha, Kodurseve, and Pakra, timing every post and
noting every village with a particularity which it would be tedious
here to repeat, and at about eight in the evening dashed into the little
town of Vosnezeuski, one hundred and thirty versts from Odessa. Here we
came to a dead stand. We had begun to entertain some apprehensions from
the conduct of Monsieur Henri, who complained of the hardness of his
seat, and asked if we did not intend to stop at night, recommending
Vosnezeuski as a place where we could sleep in the posthouse; we told
him that we had no idea of stopping but to change horses, and should go
on immediately.

Vosnezeuski lies on the river Bog, and is the chief town of the Cossacks
of the Bog. This river is navigable for large vessels one hundred and
fifty versts; beyond this for three or four hundred versts it is full of
cataracts. The Cossacks of the Bog are a warlike tribe, numbering from
six to seven thousand, and living under the same military system with
the Cossacks of the Don. But we fell into worse hands than the Cossacks.
The postmaster was a Jew, and at first told us that he had no horses;
then that he had no postillion, but would hire one if we would pay him a
certain sum, about four times the amount fixed by law. We had been
obliged before to pay a few extra rubles, but this was our first serious
difficulty with the postmasters; and, in pursuance of the advice
received at Odessa, we talked loud, demanded the book which is nailed to
the table in every posthouse for travellers to enter complaints in, and
threatened the vengeance of Count Woronzow and every one else, up to the
emperor; but the Jew laughed in our faces; looked in our podoroshni,
where we were described as simple travellers, without any of the
formidable array of titles which procure respect in Russia; told us we
were no grand seigneurs, and that we must either pay the price or wait,
as our betters had done before us. We found too soon, as we had been
advised at Odessa, that these fellows do not know such a character in
society as a private gentleman; and if a man is not described in his
podoroshni as a count, duke, or lord of some kind, or by some
high-sounding military title, they think he is a merchant or
manufacturer, or some other common fellow, and pay no regard to him. I
relied somewhat upon my companion's having been made "noble," but now
found that his consul had been rather chary of his honours, and, by the
Russian word used, had not put him up high enough to be of any use. We
had a long wrangle with the Jew, the result of which was, that we told
him, probably in no very gentle phrase, that we would wait a month
rather than submit to his extortion; and, drawing up the window of our
carriage, prepared to pass the night at the door of the posthouse.

One of our party was evidently well satisfied with this arrangement, and
he was Monsieur Henri. We had hired him by the day to Moscow, and, if we
wanted him, to St. Petersburgh, and very soon saw that he was perfectly
content with the terms, and in no hurry to bring our journey to a close.
From the moment of our arrival we suspected him of encouraging the
postmaster in his efforts to detain us, and were so much fortified in
this opinion by after circumstances, that, when he was about moving
toward the house to pass the night within, we peremptorily ordered him
to mount the box and sleep there; he refused, we insisted; and as this
was the first day out and the first moment of actual collision, and it
was all important to decide who should be master, we told him that, if
he did not obey, we would discharge him on the spot, at the risk of
being obliged to work our way back to Odessa alone. And as he felt
that, in that case, his debts would have been paid to no purpose, with a
string of suppressed sacrés he took his place on the box. Our carriage
was very comfortable, well lined and stuffed, furnished with pockets and
everything necessary for the road, and we expected to sleep in it; but,
to tell the truth, we felt rather cheap as we woke during the night, and
looked at the shut door of the posthouse, and thought of the Jew
sleeping away in utter contempt of us, and our only satisfaction was in
hearing an occasional groan from Henri.

That worthy individual did not oversleep himself, nor did he suffer the
Jew to do so either. Early in the morning, without a word on our part,
the horses were brought out and harnessed to our vehicle, and the same
man whom he professed to have hired expressly for us, and who, no doubt,
was the regular postillion, mounted the box. The Jew maintained his
impudence to the last, coming round to my window, and then asking a few
rubles as a douceur. Good English would have been thrown away upon him,
so I resented it by drawing up the window of the carriage and scowling
at him through the glass.

Many of the postmasters along this road were Jews; and I am compelled to
say that they were always the greatest scoundrels we had to deal with;
and this is placing them on very high ground, for their inferiors in
rascality would be accounted masters in any other country. No men can
bear a worse character than the Russian Jews, and I can truly say that I
found them all they were represented to be. They are not allowed to come
within the territory of old Russia. Peter the Great refused their
application to be permitted to approach nearer, smoothing his refusal by
telling them that his Russian subjects were greater Jews than they were
themselves. The sagacious old monarch, however, was wrong; for all the
money business along the road is in their hands. They keep little
taverns, where they sell vodka, a species of brandy, and wring from the
peasant all his earnings, lending the money again to the seigneurs at
exorbitant interest. Many of them are rich, and though alike despised by
rich and poor, by the seigneur and the serf, they are proud of
exhibiting their wealth, particularly in the jewels and ornaments of
their women. At Savonka, a little village on the confines of old Poland,
where we were detained waiting for horses, I saw a young girl about
sixteen, a Polonese, sitting on the steps of a miserable little tavern,
sewing together some ribands, with a headdress of brown cloth,
ornamented with gold chains and pearls worth six hundred rubles, diamond
earrings worth a hundred, and a necklace of ducats and other Dutch gold
pieces worth four hundred rubles; altogether, in our currency, worth
perhaps two hundred and fifty dollars.

Here, too, while sitting with Henri on the steps of the posthouse, I
asked him in a friendly way how he could be such a rascal as to league
with the postmaster to detain us at Vosnezeuski, whereupon he went at
once into French heroics, exclaiming, "Monsieur, je suis vieux
militaire--j'etais chasseur de Napoleon--mon honneur," &c.; that he had
never travelled before except with grand seigneurs, and then _in_ the
carriage, more as compagnon de voyage than as a servant, and intimated
that it was a great condescension to travel with us at all.

We passed through several villages, so much alike and so uninteresting
in appearance that I did not note even their names. As night approached
we had great apprehensions that Henri would contrive to make us stop
again; but the recollection of his bed on the box served as a lesson,
and we rolled on without interruption. At daylight we awoke, and found
ourselves upon the wild steppes of Russia, forming part of the immense
plain which, beginning in northern Germany, extends for hundreds of
miles, having its surface occasionally diversified by ancient tumuli,
and terminates at the long chain of the Urals, which, rising like a
wall, separates them from the equally vast plains of Siberia. The whole
of this immense plain was covered with a luxuriant pasture, but bare of
trees like our prairie lands, mostly uncultivated, yet everywhere
capable of producing the same wheat which now draws to the Black Sea the
vessels of Turkey, Egypt, and Italy, making Russia the granary of the
Levant; and which, within the last year, we have seen brought six
thousand miles to our own doors. Our road over these steppes was in its
natural state; that is to say, a mere track worn by caravans of wagons;
there were no fences, and sometimes the route was marked at intervals by
heaps of stones, intended as guides when the ground should be covered
with snow. I had some anxiety about our carriage; the spokes of the
wheels were all strengthened and secured by cords wound tightly around
them, and interlaced so as to make a network; but the postillions were
so perfectly reckless as to the fate of the carriage, that every crack
went through me like a shot. The breaking of a wheel would have left us
perfectly helpless in a desolate country, perhaps more than a hundred
miles from any place where we could get it repaired. Indeed, on the
whole road to Chioff there was not a single place where we could have
any material injury repaired; and the remark of the old traveller is yet
emphatically true, that "there be small succour in these parts."

[Illustration: Tumuli on the Steppes.]

At about nine o'clock we whirled furiously into a little village, and
stopped at the door of the posthouse. Our wheels were smoking with the
rapidity of their revolutions; Henri dashed a bucket of water over them
to keep them from burning, and half a dozen men whipped them off and
greased them. Indeed, greasing the wheels is necessary at every post, as
otherwise the hubs become dry, so that there is actual danger of their
taking fire; and there is a _traveller's_ story told (but I do not vouch
for its truth) of a postillion, wagon, and passengers being all burned
up on the road to Moscow by the ignition of the wheels.

The village, like all the others, was built of wood, plastered and
whitewashed, with roofs of thatched straw, and the houses were much
cleaner than I expected to find them. We got plenty of fresh milk; the
bread, which to the traveller in those countries is emphatically the
staff of life, we found good everywhere in Russia, and at Moscow the
whitest I ever saw. Henri was an enormous feeder, and, wherever we
stopped, he disappeared for a moment, and came out with a loaf of bread
in his hand and his mustache covered with the froth of quass, a Russian
small beer. He said he was not always so voracious, but his seat was so
hard, and he was so roughly shaken, that eating did him no good.

Resuming our journey, we met no travellers. Occasionally we passed
large droves of cattle, but all the way from Odessa the principal
objects were long trains of wagons, fifty or sixty together, drawn by
oxen, and transporting merchandise toward Moscow or grain to the Black
Sea. Their approach was indicated at a great distance by immense clouds
of dust, which gave us timely notice to let down our curtains and raise
our glasses. The wagoners were short, ugly-looking fellows, with huge
sandy mustaches and beards, black woolly caps, and sheepskin jackets,
the wool side next the skin; perhaps, in many cases, transferred warm
from the back of one animal to that of the other, where they remained
till worn out or eaten up by vermin. They had among them blacksmiths and
wheelwrights, and spare wheels, and hammer, and tools, and everything
necessary for a journey of several hundred miles. Half of them were
generally asleep on the top of their loads, and they encamped at night
in caravan style, arranging the wagons in a square, building a large
fire, and sleeping around it. About midday we saw clouds gathering afar
off in the horizon, and soon after the rain began to fall, and we could
see it advancing rapidly over the immense level till it broke over our
heads, and in a few moments passed off, leaving the ground smoking with
exhalations.

Late in the afternoon we met the travelling equipage of a seigneur
returning from Moscow to his estate in the country. It consisted of four
carriages, with six or eight horses each. The first was a large,
stately, and cumbrous vehicle, padded and cushioned, in which, as we
passed rapidly by, we caught a glimpse of a corpulent Russian on the
back seat, with his feet on the front, bolstered all around with
pillows and cushions, almost burying every part of him but his face, and
looking the very personification of luxurious indulgence; and yet
probably, that man had been a soldier, and slept many a night on the
bare ground, with no covering but his military cloak. Next came another
carriage, fitted out in the same luxurious style, with the seigneur's
lady and a little girl; then another with nurses and children; then
beds, baggage, cooking utensils, and servants, the latter hanging on
everywhere about the vehicle, much in the same way with the pots and
kettles. Altogether, it was an equipment in caravan style, somewhat the
same as for a journey in the desert, the traveller carrying with him
provision and everything necessary for his comfort, as not expecting to
procure anything on the road, nor to sleep under a roof during the whole
journey. He stops when he pleases, and his servants prepare his meals,
sometimes in the open air, but generally at the posthouse. We had
constant difficulties with Henri and the postmasters, but, except when
detained for an hour or two by these petty tyrants, we rolled on all
night, and in the morning again woke upon the same boundless plain.

The posthouse was usually in a village, but sometimes stood alone, the
only object to be seen on the great plain. Before it was always a high
square post, with black and white stripes, marking the number of versts
from station to station; opposite to this Henri dismounted, and
presented the podoroshni or imperial order for horses. But the
postmasters were high above the laws; every one of them seemed a little
autocrat in his own right, holding his appointment rather to prey upon
than to serve travellers; and the emperor's government would be but
badly administered if his ukases and other high-sounding orders did not
carry with them more weight than his podoroshni. The postmasters obeyed
it when they pleased, and when they did not, made a new bargain. They
always had an excuse; as, for instance, that they had no horses, or were
keeping them in reserve for a courier or grand seigneur; but they
listened to reason when enforced by rubles, and, as soon as a new
bargain was made, half a dozen animals in sheepskin went out on the
plain and drove up fifteen or twenty horses, small, rugged, and tough,
with long and shaggy manes and tails, which no comb or brush had ever
touched, and, diving among them promiscuously, caught four, put on rope
headstalls, and tied them to our rope traces. The postillion mounted the
box, and shouting and whipping his horses, and sometimes shutting his
eyes, started from the post on a full gallop, carried us like the wind,
ventre à terre, over the immense plain, sometimes without a rut or any
visible mark to guide him, and brought us up all standing in front of
the next post. A long delay and a short post, and this was the same over
and over again during the whole journey. The time actually consumed in
making progress was incredibly short, and I do not know a more beautiful
way of getting over the ground than posting in Russia with a man of high
military rank, who can make the postmasters give him horses immediately
on his arrival. As for us, after an infinite deal of vexation and at a
ruinous expense, on the morning of the fourth day we were within one
post of Chioff. Here we heard with great satisfaction that a diligence
was advertised for Moscow, and we determined at once to get rid of
carriage, posting, and Henri. We took our seats for the last time in the
_calêche_ gave the postillion a double allowance of kopeks, and in half
an hour saw at a great distance the venerable city of Chioff, the
ancient capital of Russia. It stands at a great height, on the crest of
an amphitheatre of hills, which rise abruptly in the middle of an
immense plain, apparently thrown up by some wild freak of nature, at
once curious, unique, and beautiful. The style of its architecture is
admirably calculated to give effect to its peculiar position; and, after
a dreary journey over the wild plains of the Ukraine, it breaks upon the
traveller with all the glittering and gorgeous splendour of an Asiatic
city. For many centuries it has been regarded as the Jerusalem of the
North, the sacred and holy city of the Russians; and, long before
reaching it, its numerous convents and churches, crowning the summit and
hanging on the sides of the hill, with their quadrupled domes, and
spires, and chains, and crosses, gilded with ducat gold and glittering
in the sun, gave the whole city the appearance of golden splendour. The
churches and monasteries have one large dome in the centre, with a spire
surmounted by a cross, and several smaller domes around it, also with
spires and crosses connected by pendant chains, and all gilded so purely
that they never tarnish. We drove rapidly to the foot of the hill, and
ascended by a long wooden paved road to the heart of the city.

During the whole of our last post our interest had been divided between
the venerable city and the rogue Henri. My companion, who, by-the-way,
spoke but little French disliked him from the first. We had long
considered him in league with all the Jews and postmasters on the road,
and had determined under no circumstances to take him farther than
Chioff; but as we had hired him to Moscow, the difficulty was how to
get rid of him. He might take it into his head that, if we did not know
when we had a good servant, he knew when he had good masters; but he was
constantly grumbling about his seat, and calculated upon three or four
days' rest at Chioff. So, as soon as we drove up to the door of the
hotel, we told him to order breakfast and posthorses. He turned round as
if he had not fully comprehended us. We repeated the order, and for the
first time since he had been with us he showed something like agility in
dismounting; fairly threw himself from the box, swore he would not ride
another verst that day for a thousand rubles, and discharged us on the
spot. We afterward paid him to his entire satisfaction, indemnifying him
for the money he had squandered in paying his debts at Odessa, and found
him more useful at Chioff than he had been at any time on the road.
Indeed, we afterward learned what was rather ludicrous, viz., that he,
our pilot and interpreter through the wilderness of Russia, knew but
little more of Russian than we did ourselves. He could ask for
posthorses and the ordinary necessaries of life, count money, &c., but
could not support a connected conversation, nor speak nor understand a
long sentence. This changed our suspicions of his honesty into
admiration of his impudence; but, in the mean time, when he discharged
us, we should have been rather destitute if it had not been for the
servant of a Russian traveller, who spoke French, and, taking our
direction from him, we mounted a drosky and rode to the office of the
diligence, which was situated in the Podolsk or lower town, and at which
we found ourselves particularly well received by the proprietor. He said
that the attempt to run a diligence was discouraging; that he had
advertised two weeks, and had not booked a single passenger; but, if he
could get two, he was determined to try the experiment. We examined the
vehicle, which was very large and convenient, and, satisfied that there
was no danger of all the places being taken, we left him until we could
make an effort to dispose of our carriage. Relieved from all anxiety as
to our future movements, we again mounted our drosky. Ascending the
hill, we passed the fountain where St. Vladimir baptized the first
Russian converts; the spring is held sacred by the Christians now, and a
column bearing a cross is erected over it, to commemorate the pious act
and the ancient sovereignty of Chioff.

The early history of this city is involved in some obscurity. Its name
is supposed to be derived from Kiovi or Kii, a Sarmatian word signifying
heights or mountains; and its inhabitants, a Sarmatian tribe, were
denominated Kivi or mountaineers. It is known to have been a place of
consequence in the fifth century, when the Suevi, driven from their
settlements on the Danube, established themselves here and at Novogorod.
In the beginning of the tenth century it was the capital and most
celebrated and opulent city in Russia, or in that part of Europe.
Boleslaus the Terrible notched upon its "golden gate" his "miraculous
sword," called by the monks "the sword of God," and the Poles entered
and plundered it of its riches. In the latter part of the same century
the capital of Russia again fell before the conquering arms of the
Poles. Kiev was at that time the foster-child of Constantinople and the
Eastern empire. The voluptuous Greeks had stored it with all the
luxuries of Asia; the noble architecture of Athens was festooned with
the gaudy tapestry of Lydia, and the rough metal of Russian swords
embossed with the polished gold of Ophir and Persia. Boleslaus II., shut
up within the "golden gate" of this city of voluptuousness, quaffed the
bowl of pleasure till its intoxicating draught degraded all the nobler
energies of his nature. His army of warriors followed his example, and
slept away month after month on the soft couches of Kiev; and in the
language of the historian, as if they had eaten of the fabled fruit of
the lotos-tree, at length forgot that their houses were without masters,
their wives without husbands, and their children without parents.

But these tender relations were not in like manner oblivious; and, after
seven years of absence, the Poles were roused from their trance of
pleasure by the tidings of a revolt among the women at home, who, tired
of waiting their return, in revenge gave themselves up to the embraces
of their slaves. Burning under the disgrace, the Poles hurried home to
wreak their vengeance on wives and paramours; but they met at Warsaw a
bloody resistance; the women, maddened by despair, urged on their
lovers, many of them fighting in person, and seeking out on the
battle-field their faithless husbands: an awful warning to married men!

For a long time Kiev was the prey alternately of the Poles, the
Lithuanians, and the Tartars, until in 1686 it was finally ceded by the
Poles to Russia. The city is composed of three distinct quarters; the
old, with its Polish fortifications, containing the palace of the
emperor, and being the court end; the Petcherk fortress, built by Peter
the Great, with ditches and high ramparts, and an arsenal capable of
containing eighty or a hundred thousand stand of arms; and the Podolsk,
or business part, situated at the foot of the hill on the banks of the
Dnieper. It contains thirty thousand inhabitants besides a large
military garrison, partly of Cossack troops, and one pretty good hotel;
but no beds, and none of those soft couches which made the hardy Poles
sleep away their senses; and though a welcome resting-place for a
traveller through the wild plains of Russia, it does not now possess any
such attraction as to put in peril the faith and duties of husbands. By
its position secluded from intercourse with strangers, Kiev is still
thoroughly a Russian city, retaining in full force its Asiatic style of
architecture; and the old Russian, wedded to the manners and customs of
his fathers, clings to it as a place which the hand of improvement has
not yet reached; among other relics of the olden time, the long beard
still flourishes with the same solemn dignity as in the days of Peter
the Great. Lying a hundred miles away from the direct road between
Moscow and the Black Sea, few European travellers visit it; and though
several of them have done so since, perhaps I was the first American who
ever passed through it.

We passed the morning in riding round to the numerous convents and
churches, among which is the church of St. Sophia, the oldest in Russia,
and, if not an exact model of the great St. Sophia of Constantinople, at
least of Byzantine design; and toward evening went to the emperor's
garden. This garden is more than a mile in length, bounded on one side
by the high precipitous bank of the hill, undulating in its surface, and
laid out like an English park, with lawn, gravel-walks, and trees; it
contains houses of refreshment, arbours or summer-houses, and a summer
theatre. At the foot of the hill flows the Dnieper, the ancient
Borysthenes, on which, in former days the descendants of Odin and Ruric
descended to plunder Constantinople. Two or three sloops were lying, as
it were, asleep in the lower town, telling of a still interior country,
and beyond was a boundless plain covered with a thick forest of trees.
The view from this bank was unique and extraordinary, entirely different
from anything I ever saw in natural scenery, and resembling more than
anything else a boundless marine prospect.

At the entrance of the garden is an open square or table of land
overlooking the plain, where, every evening at seven o'clock, the
military band plays. The garden is the fashionable promenade, the higher
classes resorting to it in carriages and on horseback, and the common
people on foot; the display of equipages was not very striking, although
there is something stylish in the Russian manner of driving four horses,
the leaders with very long traces and a postillion; and soldiers and
officers, with their splendid uniforms, caps, and plumes, added a
brilliant effect.

Before the music began, all returned from the promenade or drive in the
garden, and gathered in the square. It was a beautiful afternoon in
June, and the assemblage was unusually large and brilliant; the
carriages drew up in a line, the ladies let down the glasses, and the
cavaliers dismounted, and talked and flirted with them just as in
civilized countries. All Chioff was there, and the peasant in his dirty
sheepskin jacket, the shopkeeper with his long surtout and beard, the
postillion on his horse, the coachman on his box, the dashing soldier,
the haughty noble and supercilious lady, touched by the same chord,
forgot their temporal distinctions, and listened to the swelling strains
of the music till the last notes died away. The whole mass was then in
motion, and in a few moments, except by a few stragglers, of whom I was
one, the garden was deserted. At about ten o'clock I returned to my
hotel. We had no beds, and slept in our cloaks on settees stuffed with
straw and covered with leather. We had no coverlets; still, after four
days and nights in a carriage, it was a luxury to have plenty of kicking
room.



CHAPTER II.

    A lucky Encounter.--Church of the Catacombs.--A Visit to the
      Saints.--A tender Parting.--Pilgrims.--Rough Treatment.--A Scene
      of Starvation.--Russian Serfs.--Devotion of the Serfs.--Approach
      to Moscow.


EARLY in the morning, while I was standing in the yard of the hotel,
chaffering with some Jews about the sale of our carriage, an officer in
a faded, threadbare uniform, with two or three ribands at his buttonhole
and stars sparkling on his breast, came up, and, taking me by the hand,
told me, in capital English, that he had just heard of the arrival of
two English gentlemen, and had hurried down to see them; that he was a
great admirer of the English, and happy to have an opportunity, in the
interior of his own country, to show its hospitalities to the natives of
the Island Queen. At the risk of losing the benefit of his attentions, I
was obliged to disclaim my supposed English character, and to publish,
in the heart of a grinding despotism, that I was a citizen of a free
republic. Nor did I suffer for my candour; for, by one of those strange
vagaries which sometimes happen, we cannot tell how or why, this officer
in the service of Russia had long looked to America and her republican
government as the perfection of an ideal system. He was in Chioff only
by accident. Wounded in the last campaign against the Turks, he had
taken up his abode at Ismail, where, upon his pension and a pittance of
his own, he was able to live respectably as a poor officer. With no
friends or connexions, and no society at Ismail, his head seemed to have
run principally upon two things, apparently having no connexion with
each other, but intimately connected in his mind, viz., the British
possessions in India and the United States of America; and the cord that
bound them together was the wide diffusion of the English language by
means of these powerful agents. He told me more than I ever knew of the
constitution and government of the East India Company, and their plan of
operations; and, in regard to our own country, his knowledge was
astonishing; he knew the names and character, and talked familiarly of
all our principal men, from the time of Washington to the present day;
had read all our standard works, and was far more familiar with those of
Franklin, Irving, &c., than I was; in short, he told me that he had read
every American book, pamphlet, or paper he could lay his hands on; and
so intimate was his knowledge of detail, that he mentioned
Chestnut-street by name as one of the principal streets in Philadelphia.
It may be supposed that I was not sorry to meet such a man in the heart
of Russia. He devoted himself to us, and seldom left us, except at
night, until we left the city.

After breakfast, accompanied by our new friend with as unpronounceable a
name as the best in Russia, we visited the catacombs of the Petcherskoi
monastery. I have before remarked that Chioff is the holy city of the
Russians, and the crowds of pilgrims we met at every turn in the streets
constantly reminded us that this was the great season of the pilgrimage.
I was but imperfectly acquainted with the Russian character, but in no
one particular had I been so ignorant as in regard to their religious
impressions. I had seen Italian, Greek, and Turkish devotees, but the
Russian surpassed them all; and, though deriving their religion from
strangers, they exceed the punctilious Greeks themselves in the
observance of its minutest forms. Censurable, indeed, would he be
considered who should pass, in city or in highway, the figure of the
cross, the image of the Virgin, or any of the numerous family of saints,
without taking off his hat and making on his breast the sacred sign of
the cross; and in a city like Chioff, where every turn presents some new
object claiming their worship, the eyes of our drosky boy were rapidly
turning from one side to the other, and his hand was almost constantly
in a quick mechanical motion.

The Church of the Catacombs, or the Cathedral of the Assumption,
attached to the monastery, stands a little out of the city, on the banks
of the Dnieper. It was founded in ten hundred and seventy-three, and has
seven golden domes with golden spires, and chains connecting them. The
dome of the belfry, which rises above the hill to the height of about
three hundred feet, and above the Dnieper to that of five hundred and
eighty-six, is considered by the Russians a chef d'oeuvre of
architecture. It is adorned with Doric and Ionic columns and Corinthian
pilasters; the whole interior bears the venerable garb of antiquity, and
is richly ornamented with gold, silver, and precious stones and
paintings; indeed, it is altogether very far superior to any Greek
church I had then seen.

In the immense catacombs under the monastery lie the unburied bodies of
the Russian saints, and year after year thousands and tens of thousands
come from the wilds of Siberia and the confines of Tartary to kneel at
their feet and pray. In one of the porches of the church we bought wax
tapers, and, with a long procession of pilgrims, bareheaded and with
lighted tapers in our hands, descended a long wooden staircase to the
mouth of the catacomb. On each side along the staircase was ranged a
line of kneeling devotees, of the same miserable description I had so
often seen about the churches in Italy and Greece. Entering the
excavated passages of the catacombs, the roof of which was black from
the smoke of candles, we saw on each side, in niches in the walls, and
in open coffins, enveloped in wrappers of cloth and silk, ornamented
with gold and silver, the bodies of the Russian saints. These saints are
persons who have led particularly pure and holy lives, and by reason
thereof have ascended into heaven, where they are supposed to exercise
an influence with the Father and Son; and their bodies are left unburied
that their brethren may come to them for intercession, and, seeing their
honours after death, study to imitate them in the purity of their lives.
The bodies are laid in open coffins, with the stiffened hands so placed
as to receive the kisses of pilgrims, and on their breasts are written
their names, and sometimes a history of their virtuous actions. But we
saw there other and worse things than these, monuments of wild and
desperate fanaticism; for besides the bodies of saints who had died at
God's appointed time, in one passage is a range of small windows, where
men had with their own hands built themselves in with stones against
the wall, leaving open only a small hole by which to receive their food;
and died with the impious thought that they were doing their Maker good
service. These little windows close their dwelling and their tomb; and
the devoted Russian, while he kneels before them, believes that their
unnatural death has purchased for them everlasting life, and place and
power among the spirits of the blessed.

We wandered a long time in this extraordinary burial-place, everywhere
strewed with the kneeling figures of praying pilgrims. At every turn we
saw hundreds from the farthest parts of the immense empire of Russia;
perhaps at that time more than three thousand were wandering in these
sepulchral chambers.

The last scene I shall never forget. More than a hundred were assembled
in a little chapel, around which were arranged the bodies of men who had
died in peculiar sanctity. All were kneeling on the rocky floor, an old
priest, with a long white beard streaming down his breast, was in the
midst of them, and all there, even to the little children, were
listening with rapt attention, as if he were preaching to them matters
of eternal moment. There was no hypocrisy or want of faith in that vast
sepulchre; surrounded by their sainted dead, they were searching their
way to everlasting life, and in all honesty believed that they saw the
way before them. We ascended once more to the regions of upper air, and
stopped a few moments in the courtyard of the monastery, where the
beggar pilgrims were eating the hard bread distributed to them by the
monks from the bounty of government. No man seemed more relieved than
the major. He was a liberal in religion as well as in politics, but he
crossed himself everywhere most devoutly, to avoid, as he said,
offending the prejudices of his countrymen, though once he rather
scandalized a group of pilgrims by cross-questioning a monk about a new
saint, who seemed to be receiving more than a usual share of veneration,
and who, he said, had been canonized since he was there last.

But there is a time for all things, and nothing is more absolutely fixed
by Nature's laws than a time for dinner. Almost at the first moment of
our acquaintance the major had told me of an engraving representing a
scene in _New-York_, which was to be found at a second or third rate
hotel, and I proposed to him, in compliment to the honest publican who
had the good taste to have such a picture in his house, to go there and
dine. We went, and in a large room, something like a barroom in our
hotels, saw on one of the walls, in a black wooden frame, a gaudy and
flaring engraving representing the pulling down of the statue of George
the Second in the Bowling Green. The Bowling Green was associated with
my earliest recollections. It had been my playground when a boy;
hundreds of times I had climbed over its fence for my ball, and I was
one of a band of boys who held on to it long after the corporation
invaded our rights. Captain Cook mentions the effect produced upon his
crew by finding at one of the savage islands he visited a silver spoon
marked "London;" my feelings were, in a small way, of the same nature.
The grouping of the picture was rude and grotesque, the ringleader being
a long negro stripped to his trousers, and straining with all his might
upon a rope, one end of which was fastened to the head of the statue,
and the other tied around his own waist, his white teeth and the whites
of his eyes being particularly conspicuous on a heavy ground of black.
It was a poor specimen of art, but it was a home scene; we drew up our
table opposite the picture, and here, in the very headquarters of
despotism, I found a liberal spirit in an officer wearing the uniform of
the autocrat, who pledged me in the toast, "Success to liberty
throughout the world."

I had another occupation, which savoured more of home, and served to
keep my faculties from rusting; and that was the sale of our carriage.
We had made a calculation, and found that it would be cheaper, to say
nothing of other advantages, to give it away, and take the diligence to
Moscow, than go on posting. We accordingly offered it for sale, and
every time we returned to the house found a group of Jews examining it.
The poor thing found no favour in their eyes; they told us that we had
been riding in it at peril of our lives; that we might be thankful it
had not broken down on the road; and, in short, that it was worth
nothing except for old iron, and for that it was worth forty-five
rubles, or about _nine dollars_. We could not stand this. It had cost us
one hundred and forty less than a week before, was cheap at that, and as
good now as when we bought it. On the eve of departure, therefore, we
offered it to our landlord for three days' board; but the old Turk (he
was a Jew turned Christian, and in his regenerated worse than his
natural state) refused our offer, thinking that we would go away and
leave it on his hands. But we resolved to burn it first; and while
hesitating about offering it to our friend the major, he relieved us
from all delicacy by telling us that he did not want it, and had no
horses to put to it; to save us from imposition, he would willingly give
us the full value, but he was not worth the money. He had, however, a
piece of fifty rubles, or about ten dollars, in his pocket, and, if we
would take that, he would keep the carriage as a souvenir. We gladly
accepted his offer, and had the satisfaction of finding that we had
grievously disappointed both the Jews and our landlord.

In the morning the proprietor of the diligence, learning that we had
sold our vehicle, raised the price of places fifty rubles apiece; the
major heard of it, and insisted upon our taking back the carriage, when
the proprietor took another tone, talked of the expense of sending his
huge vehicle with only two passengers, and we listened and assented. We
started to accompany him, and just at the door of the hotel saw two
runaway horses coming furiously down the street with a drosky, and an
officer entangled and dragging on the ground. We picked him up and
carried him into the hotel. He was a noble-looking man, who but a few
minutes before had attracted my attention by his proud and manly
bearing, now a miserable mangled object, his clothes torn, his plume
soiled with mud, and his face covered with dust and blood, and, when we
left, it was uncertain whether he would live or die.

The major accompanied us to the office of the diligence, and our parting
was rather tender; he rubbed his mustache on both my cheeks, wrote his
name in my memorandum-book, and I gave him my address; he said that our
visit had been an interlude relieving the dull monotony of his life;
that we were going to new scenes, and would soon forget him, but he
would not forget us. Nor shall I forget him, although it is not probable
that he and I will ever meet again.

We took our seats in the diligence for Moscow, and set off with an
uncommon degree of satisfaction at having got rid of posting and of
Henri, and, with them, of all our troubles. We had nothing to do, no
wrangling with postmasters, no cheating to undergo from Jews, and were
in that happy state which made the honest Hibernian indifferent to an
upset or a breakdown; that is to say, we were merely passengers. With
great pomp and circumstance we drove through the principal streets, to
advise the Knickerbockers of Chioff of the actual departure of the
long-talked-of diligence, the conducteur sounding his trumpet, and the
people stopping in the streets and running to the doors to see the
extraordinary spectacle.

We descended the long wooden road to the river, and crossed the Dnieper
on a bridge about half a mile long. On the opposite bank I turned for
the last time to the sacred city, and I never saw anything more unique
and strikingly beautiful than the high, commanding position of "this
city on a hill," crowned with its golden cupolas and domes, that
reflected the sun with dazzling brightness.

For a short distance the country was rather undulating, but soon settled
into the regular steppe. We rolled on all day without anything to annoy
us or even to interest us, except processions of pilgrims on their way
to Chioff. They travelled on foot in bands of one or two hundred, men,
women, and children, headed by a white-bearded monk, barefooted, and
leaning on a staff. During the night I was roused by a loud chant, and,
looking out, saw a group of more than a hundred pilgrims gathered round
a fire, with an old monk in the midst of them, breaking the stillness of
night with songs of devotion; and all the night long, as we rode swiftly
by, I saw by the bright moonlight groups of forty, fifty, or a hundred
lying by the roadside asleep under the trees. More than fifty thousand
pilgrims that year visited the catacombs of Kiev, coming from every part
of the immense empire of Russia, and many from Kamschatka and the most
distant region of Siberia, performing the whole journey on foot, seldom
sleeping under a roof, and living upon the precarious charity of the
miserable peasants on the road. I have since seen the gathering of
pilgrims at Jerusalem, and the whole body moving together from the gates
of the city to bathe in the Jordan, and I have seen the great caravan of
forty thousand true believers tracking their desolate way through the
deserts of Arabia to the tomb of the Prophet at Mecca; but I remember,
as if they were before me now, the groups of Russian pilgrims strewed
along the road and sleeping under the pale moonlight, the bare earth
their bed, the heavens their only covering.

In the morning we stopped at a little town, where the posthouse had in
front four Corinthian columns supporting a balcony. Inside, mats were
placed against the broken windows, the walls were rough logs, the floor
of mud, with pigs and children disputing its possession, and the master
and mistress stood in special need of the purifying influence of a
Russian bath. We brought the teaurn out on the balcony, and had a cow
brought up and milked in our presence. After breakfast we lighted our
pipes and strolled up the street. At the upper end, an old man in a
civil uniform hailed us from the opposite side, and crossed over to meet
us; supposing him to be some dignitary disposed to show us the
civilities of the town, we waited to receive him with all becoming
respect; but, as he approached, were rather startled by the loud tone
of his voice and the angry expression of his face, and more so when, as
soon as within reach, he gave my pipe-stick a severe rap with his cane,
which knocked it out of my mouth, broke the bowl, and scattered the
contents on the ground. I picked up the stick, and should, perhaps, have
laid it over his head but for his gray hairs; and my companion, seeing
him tread out the sparks of fire, recollected that there was a severe
penalty in Russia against smoking in the streets. The houses are all of
wood; whole villages and towns are often burned down at once, and
probably the old man had begun by a civil intimation to that effect;
but, indignant at my quietly smoking in his face, had used more summary
measures. He was in a perfect fury; and calling at the top of his voice
to a man up the street, the latter went off with such a suspicious
looking-for-a-police-officer movement, that we hurried back to the
diligence, which happened to be ready and waiting for us, and started
from the town on a full run.

That night, in a miserable posthouse in a miserable village, we found an
old billiard-table. It seemed strangely out of place, and I had a great
curiosity to know how it had found its way there; but it was twelve
o'clock, and all were asleep but the postillion. I can give no account
of the rest of the night's work. I had a large cushioned seat of the
diligence to myself, certainly the softest bed I had yet had in Russia;
and when I put my feet out of the window, it was so comfortable that I
felt myself in some danger of falling into luxurious habits.

At daylight we arrived in a large village, the inhabitants of which were
not yet stirring, and the streets were strewed with peasants, grim,
yellow-bearded fellows, in sheepskin dresses and caps, lying on their
backs asleep, each of them with a log of wood under his head for a
pillow. I descended from the diligence, and found that the whole village
consisted of a single street, with log-houses on each side, having their
gable ends in front; the doors were all open, and I looked in and saw
men and women with all their clothes on, pigs, sheep, and children
strewed about the floor.

[Illustration: Russian Village.]

In every house was the image of the Panagia, or all holy Virgin, or the
picture of some tutelary saint, the face only visible, the rest covered
with a tin frame, with a lamp or taper burning before it; and regularly
as the serf rose he prostrated himself and made his orisons at this
domestic shrine.

About noon we passed the chateau and grounds of a seigneur; belonging to
the chateau was a large church standing in a conspicuous situation, with
a green dome, surmounted by the Greek cross; and round it were the
miserable and filthy habitations of his slaves. Entering the village, we
saw a spectacle of wretchedness and misery seldom surpassed even on the
banks of the Nile. The whole population was gathered in the streets, in
a state of absolute starvation. The miserable serfs had not raised
enough to supply themselves with food, and men of all ages, half-grown
boys, and little children were prowling the streets or sitting in the
doorways, ravenous with hunger, and waiting for the agent to come down
from the chateau and distribute among them bread.

I had found in Russia many interesting subjects of comparison between
that country and my own, but it was with deep humiliation I felt that
the most odious feature in that despotic government found a parallel in
ours. At this day, with the exception of Russia, some of the West India
Islands, and the republic of the United States, every country in the
civilized world can respond to the proud boast of the English common
law, that the moment a slave sets foot on her soil he is free. I respect
the feelings of others and their vested rights, and would be the last to
suffer those feelings or those rights to be wantonly violated; but I do
not hesitate to say that, abroad, slavery stands as a dark blot upon our
national character. There it will not admit of any palliation; it stands
in glaring contrast with the spirit of our free institutions; it belies
our words and our hearts; and the American who would be most prompt to
repel any calumny upon his country withers under this reproach, and
writhes with mortification when the taunt is hurled at the otherwise
stainless flag of the free republic. I was forcibly struck with a
parallel between the white serfs of the north of Europe and African
bondsmen at home. The Russian boor, generally wanting the comforts which
are supplied to the negro on our best-ordered plantations, appeared to
me to be not less degraded in intellect, character, and personal
bearing. Indeed, the marks of physical and personal degradation were so
strong, that I was insensibly compelled to abandon certain theories not
uncommon among my countrymen at home, in regard to the intrinsic
superiority of the white race over all others. Perhaps, too, this
impression was aided by my having previously met with Africans of
intelligence and capacity, standing upon a footing of perfect equality
as soldiers and officers in the Greek army and the sultan's.

The serfs of Russia differ from slaves with us in the important
particular that they belong to the soil, and cannot be sold except with
the estate; they may change masters, but cannot be torn from their
connexions or their birthplace. One sixth of the whole peasantry of
Russia, amounting to six or seven millions, belong to the crown, and
inhabit the imperial demesne, and pay an annual tax. In particular
districts, many have been enfranchised, and become burghers and
merchants; and the liberal and enlightened policy of the present emperor
is diffusing a more general system of melioration among these subjects
of his vast empire. The rest of the serfs belong to the nobles, and are
the absolute property and subject to the absolute control of their
masters, as much as the cattle on their estates. Some of the seigneurs
possess from seventy to more than a hundred thousand; and their wealth
depends upon the skill and management with which the labour of these
serfs is employed. Sometimes the seigneur sends the most intelligent to
Petersburgh or Moscow to learn some handicraft, and then employs them on
his own estates, hires them out, or allows them to exercise their trade
on their own account on payment of an annual sum. And sometimes, too, he
gives the serf a passport, under which he is protected all over Russia,
settles in a city, and engages in trade, and very often accumulates
enough to ransom himself and his family. Indeed, there are many
instances of a serf's acquiring a large property, and even rising to
eminence. But he is always subject to the control of his master; and I
saw at Moscow an old mongik who had acquired a very large fortune, but
was still a slave. His master's price for his freedom had advanced with
his growing wealth, and the poor serf, unable to bring himself to part
with his hard earnings, was then rolling in wealth with a collar round
his neck; struggling with the inborn spirit of freedom, and hesitating
whether to die a beggar or a slave.

The Russian serf is obliged to work for his master but three days in the
week; the other three he may work for himself on a portion of land
assigned to him by law on his master's estate. He is never obliged to
work on Sunday, and every saint's day or fête day of the church is a
holyday. This might be supposed to give him an opportunity of elevating
his character and condition; but, wanting the spirit of a free agent,
and feeling himself the absolute property of another, he labours
grudgingly for his master, and for himself barely enough to supply the
rudest necessaries of life and pay his tax to the seigneur. A few rise
above their condition, but millions labour like beasts of burden,
content with bread to put in their mouths, and never even thinking of
freedom. A Russian nobleman told me that he believed, if the serfs were
all free, he could cultivate his estate to better advantage by hired
labour; and I have no doubt a dozen Connecticut men would cultivate more
ground than a hundred Russian serfs, allowing their usual non-working
days and holydays. They have no interest in the soil, and the desolate
and uncultivated wastes of Russia show the truth of the judicious
reflection of Catharine II., "that agriculture can never flourish in
that nation where the husbandman possesses no property."

It is from this great body of peasantry that Russia recruits her immense
standing army, or, in case of invasion, raises in a moment a vast body
of soldiers. Every person in Russia entitled to hold land is known to
the government, as well as the number of peasants on his estate; and,
upon receiving notice of an imperial order to that effect, the numbers
required by the levy are marched forthwith from every part of the empire
to the places of rendezvous appointed. It might be asked, What have
these men to fight for? They have no country, and are brought up on
immense levels, wanting the rocks, rivers, and mountains that inspire
local attachments. It is a singular fact, that, with the Russian serf,
there is always an unbounded love for him who stands at the head of the
system of oppression under which they groan, the emperor, whom they
regard as their protector against the oppression of their immediate
masters; but to whatever cause it may be ascribed, whether inability to
estimate the value of any change in their condition, or a feeling of
actual love for the soil on which they were born, during the invasion of
Napoleon the serfs of Russia presented a noble spectacle; and the spirit
of devotion which animated the corps of ten thousand in the north
extended to the utmost bounds of the empire. They received orders to
march from St. Petersburgh to meet the advance of the French army; the
emperor reviewed them, and is said to have shed tears at their
departure. Arrived at the place appointed, Witgenstein ordered them to
fall back to a certain point, but they answered "No; the last promise we
made the emperor our father was, that we would never fly before the
enemy, and we keep our word." Eight thousand of their number died on the
spot; and the spirit which animated them fired the serfs throughout the
whole empire. The scholar may sneer, but I defy him to point to a nobler
page in Grecian or Roman history.

I shall make amends for this long discussion by hurrying on to Moscow.
We rode hundreds of miles without meeting a hill; the country was bare
of trees, and almost everywhere presenting the same appearance. We saw
the first disk of the sun peeping out of the earth, watched it while
soaring on its daily round, and, without a bush to obstruct the view,
saw it sink below the horizon; and woke up at all times of night and saw
the stars,

    "Rolling like living cars of light
    For gods to journey by."

The principal and only large towns on our road were Orel and Toula, the
former containing a population of four or five thousand, and presenting
an imposing display of churches and monasteries gaudily painted and with
gilded domes; the houses were principally of wood, painted yellow. Toula
is the largest manufacturing town, and is called the Sheffield of
Russia, being particularly celebrated for its cutlery. Everywhere the
diligence created a great sensation; the knowing ones said it would
never do; but at Orel one spirited individual said if we would wait
three days for him he would go on with us. It can hardly seem credible,
in our steamboat and railroad community, that a public conveyance could
roll on for seven days and nights, through many villages and towns,
toward the capital of an immense empire, and not take in a single
way-passenger; but such was the fact; and on the morning of the seventh
day, alone, as we started from Chioff, we were approaching the burned
and rebuilt capital of the Czars, Moscow with gilded cupolas, the holy
Moscow, the sanctified city, the Jerusalem of Russia, beloved of God,
and dear to men.



CHAPTER III.

    Moscow.--A severe Operation.--An Exile by Accident.--Meeting with an
      Emigré.--A civil Stranger.--A Spy.--The Kremlin.--Sepulchres of
      the Czars.--The great Bell.--The great Gun.--Precious Relics.


AT daylight we arrived at the last post; and here, for the first time,
we saw evidences of our approach to a great city. Four or five
travelling-carriages were waiting for horses, some of which had been
waiting all night; but our diligence being a "public accommodation," we
were preferred, and had the first that came in. We took our places for
the last time in the diligence, and passed two or three fine chateaux,
our curiosity and interest increasing as we approached, until, at about
five versts from Moscow, as we reached the summit of a gentle eminence,
the whole city broke upon us at one view, situated in the midst of a
great plain, and covering an extent of more than thirty versts. Moscow
is emphatically the city of churches, containing more than six hundred,
many of which have five or six domes, with steeples, and spires, and
crosses, gilded and connected together with golden chains like those of
Chioff. Its convents, too, are almost innumerable, rivalling the
churches in size and magnificence, and even to us, coming directly from
the capital of the Eastern empire, presenting a most striking and
extraordinary appearance. As we passed the barrier, two of the most
conspicuous objects on each side were the large Greek convents, enclosed
by high walls, with noble trees growing above them; and as we rode
through the wide and showy streets, the first thing that struck me as
strange, and, in this inhospitable climate (always associated in my mind
with rude and wintry scenes), as singularly beautiful, was the profusion
of plants and flowers, with the remarkable degree of taste and attention
given to their cultivation. In Greece and Turkey I had seen the rarest
plants and flowers literally "wasting their sweetness on the desert
air;" while here, in the heart of an inhospitable country, every house
had a courtyard or garden, and in front a light open portico or veranda,
ornamented with plants, and shrubs, and flowers, forced into a glowing
though unnatural beauty. The whole appearance of the city is Asiatic;
and as the exhibition of flowers in front of the better class of houses
was almost universal, Moscow seemed basking in the mild climate of
Southern Asia, rioting in its brief period of vernal existence, and
forgetting that, in a few weeks, a frost would come and cover their
beauty with the dreary drapery of winter.

At the office of the diligence my companion and myself separated. He
went to a hotel kept by an English woman, with English company, and I
believe, too, with English comfort, and I rode to the Hotel Germanica,
an old and favourite stopping-place with the Russian seigneurs when they
come up from their estates in the country. Having secured my room, I
mounted a drosky and hurried to a bath. Riding out to the suburbs, the
drosky boy stopped at a large wooden building, pouring forth steam from
every chink and crevice. At the entrance stood several half-naked men,
one of whom led me to an apartment to undress, and then conducted me to
another, in one end of which were a furnace and apparatus for generating
steam. I was then familiar with the Turkish bath, but the worst I had
known was like the breath of the gentle south wind compared with the
heat of this apartment. The operator stood me in the middle of the
floor, opened the upper door of the stove, and dashed into it a
bucketful of water, which sent forth volumes of steam like a thick fog
into every part of the room, and then laid me down on a platform about
three feet high and rubbed my body with a mop dipped in soap and hot
water; then he raised me up, and deluged me with hot water, pouring
several tubfuls on my head; then laid me down again, and scrubbed me
with soap and water from my head to my heels, long enough, if the thing
were possible, to make a blackamoor white; then gave me another sousing
with hot water, and another scrubbing with pure water, and then
conducted me up a flight of steps to a high platform, stretched me out
on a bench within a few feet of the ceiling, and commenced whipping me
with twigs of birch, with the leaves on them, dipped in hot water. It
was hot as an oven where he laid me down on the bench; the vapour, which
almost suffocated me below, ascended to the ceiling, and, finding no
avenue of escape, gathered round my devoted body, fairly scalding and
blistering me; and when I removed my hands from my face, I felt as if I
had carried away my whole profile. I tried to hold out to the end, but I
was burning, scorching, and consuming. In agony I cried out to my
tormentor to let me up, but he did not understand me, or was loath to
let me go, and kept thrashing me with the bunch of twigs until,
perfectly desperate, I sprang off the bench, tumbled him over, and
descended to the floor. Snow, snow, a region of eternal snow seemed
paradise; but my tormentor had not done with me; and, as I was hurrying
to the door, he dashed over me a tub of cold water. I was so hot that
it seemed to hiss as it touched me; he came at me with another, and at
that moment I could imagine, what had always seemed a traveller's story,
the high satisfaction and perfect safety with which the Russian in mid
winter rushes from his hot bath and rolls himself in the snow. The grim
features of my tormentor relaxed as he saw the change that came over me.
I withdrew to my dressing-room, dozed an hour on the settee, and went
out a new man. In half an hour I stood in the palace of the Czars,
within the walls of the Kremlin.

Toward evening I returned to my hotel. In all the large hotels in Russia
it is the custom for every man to dine in his own apartment. Travelling
alone, I always avoided this when I could, as, besides my dislike of the
thing itself, it prevented my making acquaintances and acquiring such
information as I needed in a strange city; and I was particularly averse
to dine alone the first day of my arrival at Moscow; but it was the
etiquette of the house to do so, and as I had a letter of introduction
which I intended to deliver, from Count Woronzow to Prince Galitzin, the
governor of Moscow, I was bound to make some sacrifice for the credit of
my acquaintance. After the table was spread, however, finding it too
severe a trial, I went down stairs and invited myself to dine with my
landlord. He was a German of about fifty-five or sixty, tall, stout,
with gray hair, a frank, manly expression, and great respectability of
appearance and manners; and before the dinner was over I regarded him
emphatically as what a Frenchman would call _un brave homme_. He had
been in Russia during the whole of the French invasion, and, among the
other incidents of a stirring life, had been sent in exile to Siberia;
and the curious part of it was, that he was sent there by mistake.
Rather an awkward mistake, though, as he said, not so bad as being
knouted or hanged by mistake; and in his case it turned out a rather
interesting adventure. He was taken by the French as a Russian spy, and
retaken by the Russians as a French spy, when, as he said, he did not
care a fig for either of them. He was hurried off to Siberia, but on the
journey succeeded in convincing the officer who escorted the prisoners
that there was error in the case, and on his arrival was merely detained
in exile, without being put to hard labour, until, through the medium of
friends, he had the matter brought before the proper tribunal, and the
mistake corrected, when he came back post, in company with a Russian
officer, smoking his pipe all the way, at the expense of the government.
He gave me many interesting particulars in regard to that celebrated
country, its mines, the sufferings of the noble exiles; and much also,
that was new to me, touching its populousness and wealth, and the
comfort and luxury of a residence there. He spoke of Tobolsk as a large,
gay, and populous city, containing hotels, theatres, and all kinds of
places of amusement. The exiles, being many of them of rank, have
introduced there all the luxuries of the capital, and life at Tobolsk is
much the same as life at Moscow.

As the rage for travelling is excited by hearing from the lips of a
traveller stories of the countries he has visited, before dinner was
over I found myself infected with a strong disposition for a journey to
Siberia. Small matters, however, produce great changes in the current of
a man's feelings, and in a few moments I had entirely forgotten Siberia,
and was carried directly home. While we were smoking our pipes, an old
gentleman entered, of singularly aristocratic appearance, whom my host
received with the greatest consideration and respect, addressing him as
the Marquis de P----. He was a Frenchman, an old militaire, and a noble
specimen of a race almost extinct; tall, thin, and gray-headed, wearing
a double-breasted blue frockcoat, buttoned up to the throat, with a cane
in his hand and a red riband in his buttonhole, the decoration of the
Knights of Malta; and when my host introduced me as an American
traveller arrived that day in Moscow, he welcomed me with more than the
usual forms of courtesy, and told me that, far off as it was, and little
as he knew of it, he almost regarded America as his own country; that,
on the downfall of "the emperor," and in a season of universal
scattering, some of his nearest relatives, particularly a sister married
to a fellow-soldier and his dearest friend, had taken refuge on the
other side of the Atlantic; that, eighteen years before, he had met an
American secretary of legation who knew them, but since that time he had
not heard from them, and did not know whether they were living or dead.
I asked him the name, with very little expectation of being able to give
him any information about them; and it was with no small degree of
pleasure that I found I was particularly acquainted with the condition
of his relatives. His brother-in-law and old comrade was dead, but I
brought him a satisfaction to which he had long been a stranger, by
telling him that his sister was still living, occupying a large property
in a neighbouring state, surrounded by a family of children, in
character and standing ranking among the first in our country. They were
intimately connected with the family of one of my most intimate friends,
letters to and from different members of which had very often passed
through my hands; I knew the names of all his nieces, and personally one
of his nephews, a lieutenant, and one of the most promising officers in
our navy; and about a year before I had accompanied the friends to whom
I refer on a visit to these relatives. At Philadelphia I left them under
the charge of the lieutenant; and on my return from Washington,
according to agreement, the lieutenant came down to an intersecting
point on the railroad to take me home with him; but circumstances
prevented my going, and much as I regretted my disappointment then, I
regretted it far more now, as otherwise I might have gladdened the old
man's heart by telling him that within a year I had seen his sister. His
own history was brief. Born to the possession of rank and fortune, and
having won honours and decorations by long service in the field, and
risen to the rank of inspector-general in the army of Napoleon, he was
taken in the campaign against Russia in eighteen hundred and thirteen,
and sent a prisoner of war to Moscow, where he had remained ever since.
Immediately on their arrival, his brother-in-law and sister had written
to him from America, telling him that, with the wreck of their fortune,
they had purchased a large landed estate, and begging him to come over
and share their abundance; but, as he told me, he scorned to eat the
bread of idleness and dependance; manfully turned to account the
advantages of an accomplished education; and now, at the advanced age of
seventy-eight, sustained himself by his pencil, an honoured guest at
every table, and respected by the most distinguished inhabitants of
Moscow. He had accidentally given up his rooms a few days before, and
was residing temporarily at the same hotel with myself. He was much
agitated by this unexpected intelligence from friends he never expected
to hear of more, and left me with a promise to call upon me early in the
morning.

Too much interested myself to go back to Siberia with my host, I went to
the French theatre. The play was some little every-day thing, and the
house but thinly attended. I took my seat in the pit, which was on a
dead level, instead of ascending from the stage, containing large
cushioned seats, and sprinkled with officers talking with ladies in the
boxes above. At the end of the first act, as whole benches were empty
above me, I moved up to put myself nearer a pair of bright eyes that
were beaming from the box upon a pair of epaulettes below. I was hardly
seated before one of the understrappers came up and whispered, or rather
muttered, something in my ear. As I did not understand a word he said,
and his manner was exceedingly rude and ungracious, I turned my back
upon him and looked at the lady with the bright eyes. The fellow
continued muttering in my ear, and I began to be seriously annoyed and
indignant, when a Frenchman sitting two or three benches behind me came
up, and, in an imperious tone, ordered him away. He then cursed the
Russians as a set of canaille, from the greatest seigneurs to the lowest
serf; remarked that he saw I was a stranger, and, with the easy freedom
of a man of the world, took a seat by my side. He was above six feet
high, about thirty-three or thirty-four years of age, in robust health,
with a large pair of whiskers, rather overdressed, and of manners good,
though somewhat imperious and bordering on the swagger. He seemed
perfectly at home in the theatre; knew all the actors and, before the
evening was over, offered to introduce me to all the actresses. I was
under obligations to him, if not for the last offer, at least for
relieving me from the impertinent doorkeeper; and, when the curtain
fell, accepted his invitation to go to a restaurant and take a petit
souper. I accompanied him to the Restaurant au coin du pont des
Mareschaux, which I afterward ascertained to be the first in Moscow. He
was perfectly at home with the carte, knew exactly what to order, and,
in fact, he was a man of great general information, perfectly familiar
with all continental Europe, geographically and politically, and
particularly at home in Moscow; and he offered his services in showing
me all that was curious and interesting. We sat together more than two
hours, and in our rambling and discursive conversation I could not help
remarking that he seemed particularly fond of railing at the government,
its tyranny and despotism, and appealing to me, as an American and a
liberal, to sustain him. I did not think anything of it then, though in
a soldier under Charles the Tenth, driven out, as he said, by the
revolution of July, it was rather strange; but, at any rate, either from
a spirit of contradiction or because I had really a good feeling toward
everything in Russia, I disagreed with him throughout; he took upon
himself the whole honours of the entertainment, scolded the servants,
called in the landlord, and, as I observed, after a few words with him,
went out without paying. I saw that the landlord knew him, and that
there was something constrained and peculiar in his behaviour. I must
confess, however, that I did not notice these things at the time so
clearly as when I was induced to recur to them by after circumstances,
for we went out of the house the best friends in the world; and, as it
was then raining, we took a drosky and rode home together, with our arms
around each other's neck, and my cloak thrown over us both. About two
o'clock, in a heavy rain, I stopped at my hotel, bade him good-night,
and lent him my cloak to go home with.

The reader, perhaps, smiles at my simplicity, but he is wrong in his
conjecture; my cloak came home the next morning, and was my companion
and only covering many a night afterward. My friend followed it, sat
with me a few minutes, and was taking his departure, having made an
appointment to call for me at twelve o'clock, when there was a knock at
the door, and my friend the marquis entered. I presented them to each
other, and the latter was in the act of bending his body with the
formality of a gentleman of the old school, when he caught a full view
of my friend of the theatre, and, breaking off his unfinished bow,
recovered his erect position, and staring from him to me, and from me to
him, seemed to demand an explanation. I had no explanation to give, nor
had my friend, who, cocking his hat on one side, and brushing by the
marquis with more than his usual swagger, stamped down stairs. The
marquis looked after him till he was at the foot of the stairs, and then
turning to me, asked how, in the name of wonder, I had already contrived
to pick up such an acquaintance. I told him the history of our meeting
at the theatre, our supper at the restaurant, and our loving ride home,
to which he listened with breathless attention; and after making me tax
my memory for the particulars of the conversation at the restaurant,
told me that my friend was a disgrace to his country; that he had, no
doubt, been obliged to leave France for some rascality, and was now
entertained by the Emperor of Russia as a _spy_, particularly upon his
own countrymen; that he was well fed and clothed, and had the entrée of
all the theatres and public houses without paying. With the earnestness
of a man long used to a despotic government, and to seeing slight
offences visited with terrible punishments, the marquis congratulated me
upon not having fallen into what he called the snare laid for me.

It is almost impossible for an American to believe that even in Russia
he incurs any risk in speaking what he thinks; he is apt to regard the
stories of summary punishment for freedom of speech as bugbears or
bygone things. In my own case, even when men looked cautiously around
the room and then spoke in whispers, I could not believe that there was
any danger. Still I had become prudent enough not to talk with any
unnecessary indiscretion of the constituted authorities, and, even in
writing home to my friends, not to say anything that could prejudice me
if the letter should fall into wrong hands; and now, although I did not
consider that I had run any great risk, I was rather pleased that I had
said nothing exceptionable; and though I had no apprehension,
particularly since I had been put on my guard, I determined to drop my
new acquaintance, and did not consider myself bound to observe any great
courtesy in the mode of doing it. I had had a supper, which it was my
original intention to return with a dinner; but I did not consider
myself under any obligation to him for civilities shown in the exercise
of his despicable calling. The first time I met him I made no apology
for having been out when he called according to appointment, and did not
ask him to come again. I continued to meet him in the streets and at
every public place, but our greetings became colder and colder, and the
day before I left Moscow we brushed against each other without speaking
at all. So much for acquaintances who, after an intimacy of three or
four hours, had ridden home under the same cloak, with their arms around
each other's neck.

But to return: as soon as the marquis left me I again went to the
Kremlin, to me the great, I had almost said the only, object of interest
in Moscow. I always detested a cicerone; his bowing, fawning, and
prating annoyed me; and all through Italy, with my map and guide-book
under my arm, I was in the habit of rambling about alone. I did the same
at Moscow, and again walked to the Kremlin unaccompanied. Unlike many of
the places I had visited, all the interest I had felt in looking forward
to the Kremlin was increased when I stood within its walls. I had
thought of it as the rude and barbarous palace of the Czars; but I found
it one of the most extraordinary, beautiful, and magnificent objects I
ever beheld. I rambled over it several times with admiration, without
attempting to comprehend it all. Its commanding situation on the banks
of the Moskwa river; its high and venerable walls; its numerous
battlements, towers, and steeples; its magnificent and gorgeous palaces;
its cathedrals, churches, monasteries, and belfries, with their gilded,
coppered, and tin-plated domes; its mixture of barbarism and decay,
magnificence and ruins; its strong contrast of architecture, including
the Tartarian, Hindoo, Chinese, and Gothic; and, rising above all, the
lofty tower of Ivan Veliki, with its golden ball reflecting the sun with
dazzling brilliancy, all together exhibited a beauty, grandeur, and
magnificence strange and indescribable.

[Illustration: The Kremlin.]

The Kremlin is "the heart" and "sacred place" of Moscow, once the old
fortress of the Tartars, and now the centre of the modern city. It is
nearly triangular in form, enclosed by a high brick wall painted white,
and nearly two miles in extent, and is in itself a city. It has five
gates, at four of which there are high watch-towers. The fifth is "our
Saviour's," or the Holy Gate, through whose awe-commanding portals no
male, not even the emperor and autocrat of all the Russias, can pass
except with uncovered head and bended body. Bareheaded, I entered by
this gate, and passed on to a noble esplanade, commanding one of the
most interesting views of Moscow, and having in front the range of
palaces of the Czars. I shall not attempt to describe these palaces.
They are a combination of every variety of taste and every order of
architecture, Grecian, Gothic, Italian, Tartar, and Hindoo, rude,
fanciful, grotesque, gorgeous, magnificent, and beautiful. The churches,
monasteries, arsenals, museum, and public buildings are erected with no
attempt at regularity of design, and in the same wild confusion of
architecture. There are no regular streets, but three open places or
squares, and abundance of room for carriages and foot passengers, with
which, in summer afternoons, it is always thronged.

Having strolled for some time about the Kremlin, I entered the Cathedral
of the Assumption, the most splendid church in Moscow. It was founded in
1325, and rebuilt in 1472. It is loaded with gorgeous and extravagant
ornaments. The iconastos or screen which divides the sanctuary from the
body of the church is in many parts covered with plates of solid silver
and gold, richly and finely wrought. On the walls are painted the images
of more than two thousand three hundred saints, some at full length and
some of a colossal size, and the whole interior seems illuminated with
gold, of which more than two hundred and ten thousand leaves have been
employed in embellishing it. From the centre of the roof is suspended a
crown of massive silver, with forty-eight chandeliers, all in a single
piece, and weighing nearly three thousand pounds. Besides the portraits
of saints and martyrs, there are portraits of the old historians, whose
names, to prevent confusion, are attached to their resemblances, as
Aristotle, Anarcharsis, Thucydides, Plutarch, &c. Some of the paintings
on wood could not fail to delight an antiquary, inasmuch as every
vestige of paint being obliterated, there is abundance of room for
speculation as to their age and character. There is also an image of the
Virgin, painted by St. Luke's own hand!!! The face dark, almost black,
the head encircled with a glory of precious stones, and the hands and
the body gilded. It is reverenced for its miraculous powers, guarded
with great care, and enclosed within a large silver covering, which is
never removed but on great religious festivals, or on payment of a ruble
to the verger. Here, too, is a nail from the cross, a robe of our
Saviour's, and part of one of the Virgin's!!! And here, too, are the
tombs of the church patriarchs, one of whom, St. Phillippe, honoured by
a silver monument, dared to say to John the Terrible, "We respect you as
an image of the Divinity, but as a man you partake of the dust of the
earth."

The Cathedral of the Assumption is honoured as the place where the
sovereigns of Russia are crowned, and there is but a step from their
throne to their grave, for near it is the Cathedral of the archangel
Michael, the ancient burial-place where, in raised sepulchres, lie the
bodies of the Czars, from the time when Moscow became the seat of empire
until the close of the seventeenth century. The bodies rest in raised
tombs or sepulchres, each covered with a velvet pall, and having on it a
silver plate, bearing the name of the occupant and the date of his
decease. Close by is an odd-looking church, constantly thronged with
devotees; a humble structure, said to be the oldest Christian church in
Moscow. It was built in the desert, before Moscow was thought of, and
its walls are strong enough to last till the gorgeous city shall become
a desert again.

After strolling through the churches I ascended the tower of Ivan
Veliki, or John the Great, the first of the Czars. It is about two
hundred and seventy feet high, and contains thirty-three bells, the
smallest weighing seven thousand, and the largest more than one hundred
and twenty-four thousand pounds English. On festivals they are all
tolled together, the Muscovites being extremely fond of Ivan Veliki's
music. This celebrated tower rises above every other object in the
Kremlin, and its large gilded dome and cross are conspicuous from every
part of the city. From its top I had the finest view of Moscow and the
surrounding country, and, perhaps, the finest panoramic view in the
world. Hundreds of churches were in sight, with their almost innumerable
domes, and spires, and crosses glittering with gold, Tartaric
battlements, terraces, balconies, and ramparts. Gothic steeples, Grecian
columns, the star, the crescent, and the cross, palaces, mosques, and
Tartar temples, pagodas, pavilions, and verandas, monasteries peeping
out over high walls and among noble trees, the stream of the Moskwa
winding prettily below, and in the distance the Sparrow Hills, on which
the French army first made its appearance on the invasion of Moscow. It
may seem strange, but I did not feel myself a stranger on the top of
that tower. Thousands of miles away I had read its history. I knew that
the magnificent city at my feet had been a sheet of fire, and that, when
Napoleon fled by the light of its conflagration, a dreadful explosion
shook to their foundation the sacred precincts of the Kremlin, and rent
from its base to its top the lofty tower of Ivan.

I descended, and the custode conducted me to another well-known object,
the great bell, the largest, and the wonder of the world. It is only a
short distance from the foot of the tower, in an excavation under
ground, accessible by a trapdoor, like the covered mouth of a well. I
descended by a broken ladder, and can hardly explain to myself the
curiosity and interest with which I examined this monstrous piece of
metal. I have no knowledge of or taste for mechanics, and no particular
penchant for bells, even when spelled with an additional e; but I knew
all about this one, and it added wonderfully to the interest with which
I strolled through the Kremlin, that, from accidental circumstances, I
was familiar with every object within its walls. I impeach, no doubt,
my classical taste, but, before seeing either, I had dwelt with more
interest upon the Kremlin, and knew more of it, than of the Acropolis at
Athens; and I stood at the foot of the great bell almost with a feeling
of reverence. Its perpendicular height is twenty-one feet four inches,
and the extreme thickness of the metal twenty-three inches; the length
of the clapper is fourteen feet, the greatest circumference sixty-seven
feet four inches, its weight upward of four hundred thousand pounds
English, and its cost has been estimated at more than three hundred and
sixty-five thousand pounds sterling. There is some question whether this
immense bell was ever hung, but it is supposed that it was suspended by
a great number of beams and crossbeams; that it was rung by forty or
fifty men, one half on either side, who pulled the clapper by means of
ropes, and that the sound amazed and deafened the inhabitants. On one
side is a crack large enough to admit the figure of a man. I went inside
and called aloud, and received an echo like the reverberations of
thunder.

[Illustration: The Great Bell.]

Besides the great bell, there is another noisy musical instrument,
namely, the great gun, like the bell, the largest in the world, being a
four thousand three hundred and twenty pounder. It is sixteen feet long,
and the diameter of its calibre nearly three feet. I jumped in and
turned round in its mouth, and sat upright, my head not reaching the
top. All around were planted cannon taken from the French in their
unhappy expedition against the capital of Russia; immense fieldpieces,
whose throats once poured their iron hail against the walls within which
they now repose as trophies. I was attracted by a crowd at the door of
one of the principal buildings, which I found to be the treasury,
containing what a Russian prizes as his birthright, the repository of
sacred heirlooms; the doorkeeper demanded a permit, and I answered him
with rubles and entered the treasury. On the first floor are the ancient
imperial carriages; large, heavy, and extraordinary vehicles, covered
with carving and gilding, and having large plate glass windows; among
them was an enormous sleigh, carved and profusely gilded, and containing
a long table with cushioned seats on each side; all together, these
vehicles were most primitive and Asiatic in appearance, and each one had
some long and interesting story connected with it.

I ascended by a noble staircase to the _belle etage_, a gallery composed
of five parts, in the first of which are the portraits of all the
emperors and Czars and their wives, in the exact costume of the times in
which they lived; in another is a model of a palace projected by the
Empress Catharine to unite the whole Kremlin under one roof, having a
circumference of two miles, and make of it one magnificent palace; if it
had been completed according to the plan, this palace would probably
have surpassed the Temple of Solomon or any of the seven wonders of the
world. In another is a collection of precious relics, such as the crowns
worn by the different emperors and Czars, loaded with precious stones;
the dresses worn at their marriages; the canopies under which the
emperors are married, surmounted by magnificent plumes; two canopies of
red velvet, studded with gold, and a throne with two seats. The crown of
Prince Vladimir is surmounted by a golden cross, and ornamented with
pearls and precious stones, and, until the time of Peter the Great, was
used to crown the Czars; the crown of the conquered kingdom of Cazan was
placed there by the victorious hands of John Vassilivitch. Besides these
were the crowns of the conquered countries of Astrachan and Siberia.
That of John Alexius has eight hundred and eighty-one diamonds, and
under the cross which surmounts it is an immense ruby. There were also
the crown of Peter the Great, containing eight hundred and forty-seven
diamonds; that of Catharine the First, his widow, containing two
thousand five hundred and thirty-six fine diamonds, to which the Empress
Anne added a ruby of enormous size, bought by the Russian ambassador at
Pekin; and, lastly, the crown of unhappy Poland! It is of polished gold,
surmounted by a cross, but no other ornament. And there were other
emblems of royalty: a throne or Greek fauteuil of ivory, in arabesque,
presented to John the Great by the ambassadors who accompanied from Rome
to Moscow the Princess Sophia, whom he had demanded in marriage. She was
the daughter of Thomas Paleologus Porphrygenitus brother of Constantine
Paleologus, who died in fourteen hundred and fifty-three, after seeing
his empire fall into the hands of the Turks. By this marriage John
considered himself the heir of Constantine, and took the title of Czar,
meaning Cæsar (this is one of the derivations of the name), and thus the
emperor and autocrat of all the Russias has the fairest claim to the
throne of the Cæsars, and, consequently, has always had an eye upon
Constantinople; then there are the throne of Boris, adorned with two
thousand seven hundred and sixty turquoises and other precious stones;
that of Michel, containing eight thousand eight hundred and twenty-four
precious stones; that of Alexius, containing eight hundred and
seventy-six diamonds, one thousand two hundred and twenty-four other
jewels, and many pearls, bought of a company of merchants trafficking to
Ispahan; the throne of the Czars John and Peter, made of massive silver,
separated in the middle, the back a cloth of gold, concealing a hole
through which the Czarina used to dictate answers to the foreign
ambassadors; and, lastly, the throne of Poland!

In the armory are specimens of ancient armour, the workmanship of every
age and nation; coats of mail, sabres adorned with jewels, swords,
batons, crosses in armour, imperial robes, ermines in abundance, and,
finally, the clothes in which Peter the Great worked at Saardam,
including his old boots, from which it appears that he had considerable
of a foot. These memorials were all interesting, and I wandered through
the apartments till ordered out by the footman, when I returned to my
hotel to meet my old friend the marquis, who was engaged to dine with
me. At his suggestion we went to a new restaurant, patronized by a
different set of people from those who frequented the Restaurant au coin
du pont des Mareschaux, being chiefly Frenchmen, manufacturers, and
small merchants of various kinds, who, while they detested the country,
found it a profitable business to introduce Parisian luxuries and
refinements among the barbarous Russians. A party of about twenty sat at
a long table, and relieved the severity of exile by talking of their
beautiful and beloved France; many of them were old militaires; and my
octogenarian friend, as a soldier distinguished under the empire, and
identified with the glory of the French arms, was treated with a
consideration and respect honourable to them and flattering to himself.
At another table was another circle of strangers, composed almost
exclusively of Swiss, forming here, as elsewhere, one of the most
valuable parts of the foreign population; keeping alive by intercourse
with each other the recollections of home, and looking to the time when,
with the profits of successful industry, they might return to their wild
and beloved native mountains.

    "Dear is that hill to which his soul conforms,
    And dear that cliff which lifts him to the storms."

Before we rose from table my friend of the theatre came in and took his
seat at one end; he talked and laughed louder than any one else, and was
received generally with an outward appearance of cordiality; but the old
marquis could not endure his presence. He said he had become too old to
learn, and it was too late in life to temporize with dishonour; that he
did not blame his countrymen; fair words cost nothing, and it was not
worth their while wilfully to make an enemy who would always be on their
haunches; but as to himself, he had but a few years to live, and he
would not sully the last moments of his life by tolerating a man whom he
regarded as a disgrace to his country. We rose from the table, the old
marquis leaning on my arm, and pouring in my ears his honest indignation
at the disgraceful character of his countryman, and proceeded to the
Kitaigorod, or Chinese Town, the division immediately encircling the
Kremlin. It is enclosed by a wall with battlements, towers, and gates;
is handsomely and compactly built, with wide, clean, and regular
streets, and thronged with every variety of people, Greeks, Turks,
Tartars, Cossacks, Chinese, Muscovites, French, Italians, Poles, and
Germans, in the costumes of their respective nations. The quarter is
entirely Russian, and I did not find in the shops a single person who
could speak any language but Russian. In one of them, where I was
conducted by the marquis, I found the old mongik to whom I before
referred, who could not agree with his master for the price of his
ransom. The principal shops resemble the bazars in the East, though they
are far superior even to those in Constantinople, being built of stone,
and generally in the form of arcades. They are well filled with every
description of Asiatic goods; and some of them, particularly their tea,
and tobacco, and pipe shops, are models of propriety and cleanliness.
The façade of the great bazar or market is very imposing, resting the
whole length on Corinthian columns. It fronts on a noble square, bounded
on the opposite side by the white walls of the Kremlin, and contains six
thousand "bargaining shops." The merchants live at a distance, and, on
leaving their shops at sundown, each of them winds a piece of cord round
the padlock of his door, and seals it with soft wax; a seal being with
the Russians more sacred than a lock.

In another section of the Kitaigorod is the finest part of the city,
containing the hotels and residences of the nobles, many of which are
truly magnificent. The hotel at which I put up would in Italy be called
a palace. As we moved slowly along the street by the Pont des
Mareschaux, we discoursed of the terrible inroads at this moment making
by the French in the capital of the north, almost every shop having an
inviting sign of nouveautés from Paris. Foiled in their attempt with the
bayonet, they are now advancing with apparently more feeble but far more
insidious and fatal weapons; and the rugged Russian, whom French arms
could not conquer, bows to the supremacy of the French modistes and
artistes, and quietly wears the livery of the great mistress of fashion.



CHAPTER IV.

    The Drosky.--Salle des Nobles.--Russian
      Gaming.--Gastronomy.--Pedroski.--A Sunday in Moscow.--A Gipsy
      Belle.--Tea drinking.--The Emperor's Garden.--Retrospective.


EARLY the next morning I mounted a drosky and rode to a celebrated
garden or springs, furnished with every description of mineral water. I
have several times spoken of the drosky. This may be called the Russian
national vehicle, for it is found all over Russia, and nowhere else that
I know of, except at Warsaw, where it was introduced by its Russian
conquerors. It is on four wheels, with a long cushioned seat running
lengthwise, on which the rider sits astride as on horseback, and so low
that he can mount from the street. It is drawn by two horses; one in
shafts, with a high arched bow over the neck called the douga, and the
other, called "le furieux," in traces alongside, this last being trained
to curb his neck and canter while the shaft-horse trots. The seat is
long enough for two besides the driver, the riders sitting with their
feet on different sides; or sometimes there is a cross-seat behind, on
which the riders sit, with their faces to the horses, and the drosky
boy, always dressed in a long surtout, with a bell-crowned hat turned up
at the sides, sits on the end. But to return to the springs. The waters
are prepared under the direction of medical men, who have the chymical
analysis of all the principal mineral waters known, and manufacture them
to order. As is universally the case in Russia, where there is any
attempt at style, the establishment is upon a magnificent scale. The
building contains a room perhaps one hundred and fifty feet long, with a
clean and highly-polished floor, large looking-glasses, elegant sofas,
and mahogany chairs and tables. The windows open upon a balcony
extending along the whole front, which is furnished with tables and
rustic chairs, and opens upon a large garden ornamented with
gravel-walks, trees, and the most rare and valuable plants and flowers,
at the time of my visit in full bloom. Every morning, from sunrise till
noon, crowds of people, and particularly the nobility and higher
classes, frequent this establishment, and that morning there was a
larger collection than usual. Russian hospitality is conspicuous at a
place like this. A stranger, instead of being avoided, is sought out;
and after one or two promenades I was accosted by more than one
gentleman, ready to show me every civility. In the long room and on the
balconies, scattered about at the different tables, I saw the gourmand
who had distended his stomach almost to bursting, and near him the gaunt
and bilious dyspeptic, drinking their favourite waters; the dashing
officer and the blooming girl, the lover and coquette, and, in short,
all the style and fashion of Moscow, their eyes occasionally turning to
the long mirrors, and then singly, in pairs and in groups, strolling
gently through the gardens, enjoying the music that was poured forth
from hidden arbours.

Returning through a street not far from my hotel, I saw a line of
carriages, and gentlemen and ladies passing under a light arcade, which
formed the entrance to a large building. I joined the throng, and was
put back by the doorkeeper because I was not in a dresscoat. I ran to my
hotel and changed my frockcoat, but now I had no biglietto of entrance.
A few rubles obviated this difficulty and admitted me to the _Salle des
Nobles_, a magnificent apartment surrounded by a colonnade, capable of
containing more than three thousand persons, and said to be the finest
ballroom in Europe. It belongs to a club of the nobility, and none are
admitted as members but nobles. All games of hazard are forbidden; but,
nevertheless, all games of hazard are played. Indeed, among the "on
dits" which a traveller picks up, gambling is said to be the great vice
of Russia. Young men who have not two rubles to rub together will bet
thousands; and, when all other resources fail, the dishonourable will
cheat, but the delicate-minded will kill themselves. It is not uncommon
for a young man to say at the cardtable over night, "I must shoot myself
to-morrow;" and he is as good as his word. The Salle was open for a few
days, as a sort of fair, for the exhibition of specimens of Russian
manufacture; and, besides tables, workboxes, &c., there were some of the
finest living specimens of genuine Russian men and women that I had yet
seen, though not to be compared, as a Russian officer said, to whom I
made the remark, with the exhibition of the same specimens in the waltz
and mazourka, when the Salle was lighted up and decorated for a ball.

I returned to my hotel, where I found my old friend the marquis waiting,
according to appointment, to dine with me. He would have accompanied me
everywhere, but I saw that he suffered from the exertion, and would not
allow it. Meeting with me had struck a chord that had not been touched
for years, and he was never tired of talking of his friends in America.
Every morning he breakfasted in my room, and we dined together every
day. We went to the restaurant where I had supped with my friend of the
theatre. The saloon was crowded, and at a table next us sat a seigneur,
who was dining upon a delicacy that will surprise the reader, viz., one
of his own female slaves, a very pretty girl, whom he had hired to the
keeper of the restaurant for her maintenance and a dinner a volonté per
annum for himself. This was the second time he had dined on her account,
and she was then waiting upon him; a pretty, modest, delicate-looking
girl, and the old noble seemed never to know when he had enough of her.
We left him gloating over still untasted dishes, and apparently mourning
that human ability could hold out no longer. In going out my old friend,
in homely but pithy phrase, said the only difference between a Russian
seigneur and a Russian serf is, that the one wears his shirt inside his
trousers and the other outside; but my friend spoke with the prejudices
of a soldier of France aggravated by more than twenty years of exile. So
far as my observation extended, the higher classes are rather
extraordinary for talent and acquirements. Their government is
unfortunate for the development and exercise of abilities. They have
none of the learned profession; merchandise is disgraceful, and the army
is the only field. With an ardent love of country and an ambition to
distinguish himself, every nobleman becomes a soldier, and there is
hardly an old or middle-aged individual of this class who was not in
arms to repel the invasion of Napoleon, and hardly a young man who did
not serve lately in a less noble cause, the campaign in Poland. The
consequence of service in the army seems to have been generally a
passion for display and expensive living, which sent them back to their
estates, after their terms of service expired, over head and ears in
debt. Unable to come often to the cities, and obliged to live at their
chateaux, deprived of all society, surrounded only by slaves, and
feeling the want of the excitement incident to a military life, many of
them become great gourmands, or rather, as my French friend said,
gluttons. They do not eat, said he, they swallow; and the manner in
which, with the true spirit of a Frenchman who still remembered the
cuisine of the Palais Royal, he commented upon their eating entremets,
hors d'oeuvres, rotis, and desserts all pellmell, would have formed a
proper episode to Major Hamilton's chapter upon Americans eating eggs
out of wineglasses. The old marquis, although he retained all his French
prejudices against the Russians, and always asserted, as the Russians
themselves admit, that, but for the early setting in of winter, Napoleon
would have conquered Russia, allowed them the virtue of unbounded
hospitality, and enumerated several principal families at whose tables
he could at any time take a seat without any express invitation, and
with whom he was always sure of being a welcome guest; and he mentioned
the case of a compatriot who for years had a place regularly reserved
for him at the table of a seigneur, which he took whenever he pleased
without any questions being asked, until, having stayed away longer than
usual, the seigneur sent to inquire for him, and learned that he was
dead.

But to return. Toward evening I parted with the marquis, mounted a
drosky, and rode to the country theatre at Pedroski. Pedroski is a place
dear to the heart of every Russian, having been the favourite residence
of Peter the Great, to whom Russia owes its existence among civilized
nations. It is about three versts from the barrier, on the St.
Petersburgh road. The St. Petersburgh Gate is a very imposing piece of
architecture. Six spirited horses rest lightly upon the top, like the
brazen horses at St. Mark's in Venice. A wide road, divided into avenues
for carriages and pedestrians, gravelled and lined with trees, leads
from the gate. The chateau is an old and singular, but interesting
building of red brick, with a green dome and white cornices, and
enclosed by a circular wall flanked with turrets. In the plain in front
two regiments of Cossack cavalry were going through their exercises. The
grounds around the chateau are very extensive, handsomely laid out for
carriages and promenades, public and retired, to suit every taste. The
principal promenade is about a mile in length, through a forest of
majestic old trees. On each side is a handsome footpath of continual
shade; and sometimes almost completely hidden by the luxuriant foliage
are beautiful little summer-houses, abundantly supplied with all kinds
of refreshments.

The theatre is at a little distance from the extreme end of the great
promenade, a plain and unpretending building; and this and the grand
operahouse are the only theatres I have seen built like ours, merely
with continued rows of seats, and not partitioned off into private
boxes. The opera was some little Russian piece, and was followed by the
grand ballet, the Revolt of the Seraglio. He who goes to Russia
expecting to see a people just emerging from a state of barbarism, will
often be astonished to find himself suddenly in a scene of Parisian
elegance and refinement; and in no place will he feel this wonder more
than in an operahouse at Moscow. The house was rather full, and
contained more of the Russian nobility than I had yet seen at any one
time. They were well dressed, adorned with stars and ribands, and, as a
class of men, the "biggest in the round" I ever saw. Orders and titles
of nobility, by-the-way, are given with a liberality which makes them of
no value; and all over Russia princes are as plenty as pickpockets in
London.

The seigneurs of Russia have jumped over all intermediate grades of
civilization, and plunged at once into the luxuries of metropolitan
life. The ballet was, of course, inferior to that of Paris or London,
but it is speaking in no mean praise of it to say that at this country
theatre it might be made a subject of comparison. The dancers were the
prettiest, the most interesting, and, what I was particularly struck
with, the most modest looking I ever saw on the stage. It was
melancholy to look at those beautiful girls, who, amid the glare and
glitter of the stage, and in the graceful movements of the dance, were
perfectly captivating and entrancing, and who, in the shades of domestic
life, might fill the measure of man's happiness on earth, and know them
to be slaves. The whole troop belongs to the emperor. They are selected
when young with reference to their beauty and talents, and are brought
up with great care and expense for the stage. With light fairy figures,
seeming rather spirits than corporeal substances, and trained to inspire
admiration and love, they can never give way to these feelings
themselves, for their affections and marriages are regulated entirely by
the manager's convenience. What though they are taken from the very
poorest class of life, leaving their parents, their brothers and
sisters, the tenants of miserable cabins, oppressed and vilified, and
cold and hungry, while they are rolling in luxuries. A chain does not
gall the less because it is gilded. Raised from the lot to which they
were born, taught ideas they would never have known, they but feel more
sensibly the weight of their bonds; and the veriest sylph, whose
graceful movements have brought down the loudest thunders of applause,
and whose little heart flutters with the admiration she has excited,
would probably give all her shortlived triumph for the privilege of
bestowing that little flutterer where it would be loved and cherished.
There was one among them whom I long remembered. I followed her with my
eyes till the curtain fell and left a blank around me. I saw her go out,
and afterward she passed me in one of a long train of dark blue
carriages belonging to the direction, in which they are carried about
like merchandise from theatre to theatre, but, like many other bright
visions that broke upon me for a moment, I never saw her again.

At about eleven I left the steps of the theatre to return home. It was a
most magnificent night, or, rather, it is almost profanation to call it
by so black a name, for in that bright northern climate the day seemed
to linger, unwilling to give place before the shades of night. I
strolled on alone, wrapped in lonely but not melancholy meditations; the
carriages rolled rapidly by me, and I was almost the last of the throng
that entered the gate of Moscow.

A Sunday at Moscow. To one who had for a long time been a stranger to
the sound of the church-going bell, few things could be more interesting
than a Sunday at Moscow. Any one who has rambled along the Maritime
Alps, and has heard from some lofty eminence the convent bell ringing
for matins, vespers, and midnight prayers, will long remember the sweet
yet melancholy sounds. To me there is always something touching in the
sound of the church-going bell; touching in its own notes, but far more
so in its associations. And these feelings were exceedingly fresh when I
awoke on Sunday in the holy city of Moscow. In Greece and Turkey there
are no bells; in Russia they are almost innumerable, but this was the
first time I had happened to pass the Sabbath in a city. I lay and
listened, almost fearing to move lest I should hush the sounds; thoughts
of home came over me; of the day of rest, of the gathering for church,
and the greeting of friends at the church door. But he who has never
heard the ringing of bells at Moscow does not know its music. Imagine a
city containing more than six hundred churches and innumerable
convents, all with bells, and these all sounding together, from the
sharp, quick hammer-note, to the loudest, deepest peals that ever broke
and lingered on the ear, struck at long intervals, and swelling on the
air as if unwilling to die away. I rose and threw open my window,
dressed myself, and after breakfast, joining the throng called to their
respective churches by their well-known bells, I went to what is called
the English chapel, where, for the first time in many months, I joined
in a regular church service, and listened to an orthodox sermon. I was
surprised to see so large a congregation, though I remarked among them
many English governesses with children, the English language being at
that moment the rage among the Russians, and multitudes of cast-off
chambermaids adventuring thither to teach the rising Russian nobility
the beauties of the English tongue.

All over the Continent Sunday is the great day for observing national
manners and customs. I dined at an early hour with my friend the
marquis, and, under his escort, mounting a drosky, rode to a great
promenade of the people called _L'Allée des Peuples_. It lies outside
the barrier, and beyond the state prisons, where the exiles for Siberia
are confined, on the land of Count Schremetow, the richest nobleman in
Russia, having one hundred and thirty thousand slaves on his estate; the
chateau is about eight versts from the city, and a noble road through
his own land leads from the barrier to his door.

This promenade is the great rendezvous of the people; that is, of the
merchants and shopkeepers of Moscow. The promenade is simply a large
piece of ground ornamented with noble trees, and provided with
everything necessary for the enjoyment of all the national amusements,
among which the Russian mountain is the favourite; and refreshments were
distributed in great abundance. Soldiers were stationed at different
points to preserve order, and the people seemed all cheerful and happy;
but the life and soul of the place were the Bohemian or gipsy girls.
Wherever they moved, a crowd gathered round them. They were the first I
had seen of this extraordinary people. Coming no one knows whence, and
living no one knows how, wanderers from their birth, and with a history
enveloped in doubt, it was impossible to mistake the dark complexion and
piercing coal-black eyes of the gipsy women. The men were nowhere to be
seen, nor were there any old women with them; and these young girls,
well dressed, though, in general, with nothing peculiar in their
costume, moved about in parties of five or six, singing, playing, and
dancing to admiring crowds. One of them, with a red silk cloak trimmed
with gold, and a gold band round her hair, struck me as the very _beau
ideal_ of a gipsy queen. Recognising me as a stranger, she stopped just
in front of me, struck her castanets and danced, at the same time
directing the movements of her companions, who formed a circle around
me. There was a beauty in her face, combined with intelligence and
spirit, that riveted my attention, and when she spoke her eyes seemed to
read me through. I ought, perhaps, to be ashamed of it, but in all my
wanderings I never regretted so much my ignorance of the language as
when it denied me the pleasure of conversing with that gipsy girl. I
would fain have known whether her soul did not soar above the scene and
the employment in which I found her; whether she was not formed for
better things than to display her beautiful person before crowds of
boors; but I am sorry to add, that the character of my queen was not
above reproach; and, as I had nothing but my character to stand upon in
Moscow, I was obliged to withdraw from the observation which her
attention fixed upon me.

Leaving my swarthy princess with this melancholy reflection, and leaving
the scene of humbler enjoyment, I mounted a drosky, and, depositing my
old friend in the suburbs of the city, in half an hour was in another
world, in the great promenade of Pedroski, the gathering-place of the
nobility, where all the rank and fashion of Moscow were vying with each
other in style and magnificence. The extensive grounds around the old
chateau are handsomely disposed and ornamented with trees, but the great
carriage promenade is equal to anything I ever saw. It is a straight
road, more than a mile in length, through a thick forest of noble trees.
For two hours before dark all the equipages in Moscow paraded up and
down this promenade. These equipages were striking and showy without
being handsome, and the Russian manner of driving four horses makes a
very dashing appearance, the leaders being harnessed with long traces,
perhaps twenty feet from the wheel horses, and guided by a lad riding
the near leader, the coachman sitting as if nailed to the box, and
merely holding the reins. All the rules of good taste, as understood in
the capitals of Southern Europe, were set at defiance; and many a
seigneur, who thought he was doing the thing in the very best style, had
no idea how much his turnout would have shocked an English whip. But all
this extravagance, in my eyes, added much to the effect of the scene;
and the star-spangled Muscovite who dashed up and down the promenade on
horseback, with two Calmuc Tartars at his heels, attracted more of my
attention than the plain gentleman who paced along with his English
jockey and quiet elegance of equipment. The stars and decorations of the
seigneurs set them off to great advantage; and scores of officers, with
their showy uniforms, added brilliancy to the scene, while the footmen
made as good an appearance as their masters.

On either side of the grand promenade is a walk for foot passengers, and
behind this, almost hidden from view by the thick shade of trees, are
little cottages, arbours, and tents, furnished with ices and all kinds
of refreshments suited to the season. I should have mentioned long since
that tea, the very pabulum of all domestic virtues, is the Russian's
favourite beverage. They say that they have better tea than can be
obtained in Europe, which they ascribe to the circumstance of its being
brought by caravans over land, and saved the exposure of a sea voyage.
Whether this be the cause or not, if I am any judge they are right as to
the superiority of their article; and it was one of the most striking
features in the animating scene at Pedroski to see family groups
distributed about, all over the grounds, under the shade of noble trees,
with their large brass urn hissing before them, and taking their tea
under the passing gaze of thousands of people with as much unconcern as
if by their own firesides.

Leaving for a moment the thronged promenade, I turned into a thick
forest and entered the old chateau of the great Peter. There all was
solitude; the footman and I had the palace to ourselves. I followed him
through the whole range of apartments, in which there was an appearance
of staid respectability that quite won my heart, neither of them being
any better furnished than one of our oldfashioned country houses. The
pomp and show that I saw glittering through the openings in the trees
were unknown in the days of the good old Peter; the chateau was silent
and deserted; the hand that built it was stiff and cold, and the heart
that loved it had ceased to beat; old Peter was in his grave, and his
descendants loved better their splendid palaces on the banks of the
Neva.

When Moscow was burning, Napoleon fled to this chateau for refuge. I
stopped for a moment in the chamber where, by the blaze of the burning
city, he dictated his despatches for the capital of France; gave the
attendant a ruble, and again mixed with the throng, with whom I rambled
up and down the principal promenade, and at eleven o'clock was at my
hotel. I ought not to forget the Russian ladies; but, after the gay
scene at Pedroski, it is no disparagement to them if I say that, in my
quiet walk home, the dark-eyed gipsy girl was uppermost in my thoughts.

The reader may perhaps ask if such is indeed what the traveller finds in
Russia; "Where are the eternal snows that cover the steppes and the
immense wastes of that Northern empire? that chill the sources of
enjoyment, and congeal the very fountains of life?" I answer, they have
but just passed by, and they will soon come again; the present is the
season of enjoyment; the Russians know it to be brief and fleeting, and,
like butterflies, unfold themselves to the sun and flutter among the
flowers.

Like them, I made the most of it at Moscow. Mounted in a drosky, I
hurried from church to church, from convent to convent, and from quarter
to quarter. But although it is the duty of a traveller to see
everything that is to be seen, and although there is a kind of
excitement in hurrying from place to place, which he is apt to mistake
for pleasure, it is not in this that his real enjoyment is found. His
true pleasure is in turning quietly to those things which are
interesting to the imagination as well as to the eyes, and so I found
myself often turning from the churches and palaces, specimens of
architecture and art, to the sainted walls of the Kremlin. Here were the
first and last of my visits; and whenever I sauntered forth without any
specific object, perhaps to the neglect of many other places I ought to
have seen, my footsteps involuntarily turned thitherward.

Outside and beneath the walls of the Kremlin, and running almost the
whole extent of its circumference, are boulevards and a public garden,
called the Emperor's, made within a few years, and the handsomest thing
of the kind in Moscow; I am not sure but that I may add anywhere else. I
have compared it in my mind to the Gardens of the Luxembourg and
Tuileries, and in many respects hold it to be more beautiful. It is more
agreeably irregular and undulating in its surface, and has a more rural
aspect, and the groves and plants are better arranged, although it has
not the statues, lakes, and fountains of the pride of Paris. I loved to
stroll through this garden, having on one side of me the magnificent
buildings of the great Russian princes, seigneurs, and merchants, among
the finest and most conspicuous of which is the former residence of the
unhappy Queen of Georgia; and on the other side, visible through the
foliage of the trees, the white walls of the Kremlin, and, towering
above them, the domes of the palaces and churches within, and the lofty
tower of Ivan Veliki. Thence I loved to stroll to the Holy Gate of the
Kremlin. It is a vaulted portal, and over the entrance is a picture,
with a lamp constantly burning; and a sentinel is always posted at the
gate. I loved to stand by it and see the haughty seigneurs and the
degraded serf alike humble themselves on crossing the sacred threshold,
and then, with my hat in my hand, follow the footsteps of the venerating
Russian. Once I attempted to brave the interdict, and go in with my head
covered; but the soldier at the gate stopped me, and forbade my
violating the sacred prohibition. Within the walls I wandered about,
without any definite object, sometimes entering the great church and
beholding for a moment the prostrate Russian praying before the image of
some saint, or descending to look once more at the great bell, or at
other times mounting the tower and gazing at the beautiful panorama of
the city.

On the last day of my stay in Moscow a great crowd drew me to the door
of the church, where some fête was in course of celebration, in honour
of the birth, marriage, or some other incident in the life of the
emperor or empress. The archbishop, a venerable-looking old man, was
officiating, and when he came out a double line of men, women, and
children was drawn up from the door of the church to his carriage, all
pressing forward and struggling to kiss his hands. The crowd dispersed,
and I strolled once more through the repository of heirlooms, and
imperial reliques and trophies; but, passing by the crowns loaded with
jewels, the canopies and thrones adorned with velvet and gold, I paused
before the throne of unhappy Poland! I have seen great cities desolate
and in ruins, magnificent temples buried in the sands of the African
desert, and places once teeming with fertility now lying waste and
silent; but no monument of fallen greatness ever affected me more than
this. It was covered with blue velvet and studded with golden stars. It
had been the seat of Casimir, and Sobieski, and Stanislaus Augustus.
Brave men had gathered round it and sworn to defend it, and died in
redeeming their pledge. Their oaths are registered in heaven, their
bodies rest in bloody graves; Poland is blotted from the list of
nations, and her throne, unspotted with dishonour, brilliant as the
stars which glitter on its surface, is exhibited as a Russian trophy,
before which the stoutest manhood need not blush to drop a tear.

Toward evening I returned to my favourite place, the porch of the palace
of the Czars. I seated myself on the step, took out my tablets, and
commenced a letter to my friends at home. What should I write? Above me
was the lofty tower of Ivan Veliki; below, a solitary soldier, in his
gray overcoat, was retiring to a sentry-box to avoid a drizzling rain.
His eyes were fixed upon me, and I closed my book. I am not given to
musing, but I could not help it. Here was the theatre of one of the most
extraordinary events in the history of the world. After sixty battles
and a march of more than two thousand miles, the grand army of Napoleon
entered Moscow, and found no smoke issuing from a single chimney, nor a
Muscovite even to gaze upon them from the battlements or walls. Moscow
was deserted, her magnificent palaces forsaken by their owners, her
three hundred thousand inhabitants vanished as if they had never been.
Silent and amazed, the grand army filed through its desolate streets.
Approaching the Kremlin, a few miserable, ferocious, and intoxicated
wretches, left behind as a savage token of the national hatred, poured a
volley of musketry from the battlements. At midnight the flames broke
out in the city; Napoleon, driven from his quarters in the suburbs,
hurried to the Kremlin, ascended the steps, and entered the door at
which I sat. For two days the French soldiers laboured to repress the
fierce attempts to burn the city. Russian police-officers were seen
stirring up the fire with tarred lances; hideous-looking men and women,
covered with rags, were wandering like demons amid the flames, armed
with torches, and striving to spread the conflagration. At midnight
again the whole city was in a blaze; and while the roof of the Kremlin
was on fire, and the panes of the window against which he leaned were
burning to the touch, Napoleon watched the course of the flames and
exclaimed, "What a tremendous spectacle! These are Scythians indeed."
Amid volumes of smoke and fire, his eyes blinded by the intense heat,
and his hands burned in shielding his face from its fury, and traversing
streets arched with fire, he escaped from the burning city.

Russia is not classic ground. It does not stand before us covered with
the shadow of great men's deeds. A few centuries ago it was overrun by
wandering tribes of barbarians; but what is there in those lands which
stand forth on the pages of history, crowned with the glory of their
ancient deeds, that, for extraordinary daring, for terrible sublimity,
and undaunted patriotism, exceeds the burning of Moscow. Neither
Marathon, nor Thermopylæ, nor the battle of the Horatii, nor the defence
of Cocles, nor the devotion of the Decii, can equal it; and when time
shall cover with its dim and quiet glories that bold and extraordinary
deed, the burning of Moscow will be regarded as outstripping all that we
read of Grecian or Roman patriotism, and the name of the Russian
governor (Rostopchin), if it be not too tough a name to hand down to
posterity, will never be forgotten.



CHAPTER V.

    Getting a Passport.--Parting with the Marquis.--The Language of
      Signs.--A Loquacious Traveller.--From Moscow to St.
      Petersburgh.--The Wolga.--Novogorod.--Newski Perspective.--An
      unfortunate Mistake.--Northern Twilight.


UNABLE to remain longer in Moscow, I prepared for my journey for St.
Petersburgh. Several diligences run regularly between these two great
cities; one of which, the Velocifère, is superior to any public
conveyance on the Continent of Europe. I took my place in that, and two
days beforehand sent my passport to be _viséd_. I sent for it the next
day, and it was not ready. I went myself, and could not get it. I knew
that nothing could be done at the Russian offices without paying for it,
and was ready and willing to do so, and time after time I called the
attention of the officer to my passport. He replied coolly, "_Dans un
instant_," and, turning to something else, kept me waiting two hours;
and when at length he took it up and arranged it, he led me down stairs
out of sight to receive the expected _douceur_. He was a well-dressed
man, with the large government button on his coat, and rather distingué
in his appearance and manners. I took the passport, folded it up, and
put it in my pocket with a coolness equal to his own, and with
malicious pleasure put into his hand a single ruble, equal to twenty
cents of our money; he expected at least twenty-five rubles, or about
five dollars, and his look of rage and disappointment amply repaid me
for all the vexation he had caused by his delay. I bade him farewell
with a smile that almost drove him mad.

Bribery is said to be almost universal among the inferior officers of
government, and there is a story of a Frenchman in Russia which
illustrates the system. He had an office, of which the salary was so
small that he could not live upon it. At first he would not take bribes,
but stern necessity drove him to it, and while he was about it he did
the thing handsomely. Having overreached the mark, and been guilty of
being detected, he was brought before the proper tribunal; and when
asked, "Why did you take a bribe?" his answer was original and
conclusive, "I take, thou takest, he takes, we take, you take, they
take!"

I told the marquis the story of my parting interview at the
police-office, which he said was capital, but startled me by suggesting
that, if there should happen to be any irregularity, I would have great
trouble in getting it rectified; even this, however, did not disturb my
immediate satisfaction, and, fortunately, all was right.

The morning of my departure, before I was out of bed, the marquis was in
my room. Meeting with me had revived in him feelings long since dead;
and at the moment of parting he told me, what his pride had till that
moment concealed, that his heart yearned once more to his kindred; and
that, if he had the means, old as he was, he would go to America. And
yet, though his frame trembled and his voice was broken, and his lamp
was almost burned out, his spirit was as high as when he fought the
battles of the empire; and he told me to say to them that he would not
come to be a dependant upon their bounty; that he could repay all they
should do for him by teaching their children. He gave me his last
painting, which he regarded with the pride of an artist, as a souvenir
for his sister; but having no means of carrying it safely, I was obliged
to return it to him. He remained with me till the moment of my
departure, clung to my hand after I had taken my place in the drosky,
and when we had started I looked back and saw him still standing in the
road. It seemed as if the last link that bound him to earth was broken.
He gave me a letter, which I forwarded to his friends at home; his
sister was still living, and had not forgotten her long-lost brother;
she had not heard from him in twenty years, and had long believed him
dead. Pecuniary assistance was immediately sent to him, and, unhappily,
since my return home, intelligence has been received that it arrived
only at the last moment when human aid could avail him; in time to
smooth the pillow of death by the assurance that his friends had not
forgotten him. And perhaps, in his dying moments, he remembered me. At
all events, it is some satisfaction, amid the recollections of an
unprofitable life, to think that, when his checkered career was drawing
to its close, I had been the means of gladdening for a moment the old
exile's heart.

I must not forget my host, the quondam exile to Siberia. In his old days
his spirit too was chafed at living under despotism, and, like the
marquis, he also hoped, before he died, to visit America. I gave him my
address, with the hope, but with very little expectation, of seeing him
again. A travelling companion once remarked, that if every vagabond to
whom I gave my address should find his way to America, I would have a
precious set to present to my friends. Be it so; there is not a vagabond
among them whom I would not be glad to see.

My English companion and myself had seen but little of each other at
Moscow. He intended to remain longer than I did, but changed his mind,
and took a place in the same diligence for St. Petersburgh. This
diligence was the best I ever rode in; and, for a journey of nearly five
hundred miles, we could not have been more comfortably arranged. It
started at the hour punctually, as from the Messagere in Paris. We
rolled for the last time through the streets of Moscow, and in a few
minutes passed out at the St. Petersburgh Gate. Our companions were a
man about thirty-five, a cattle-driver, with his trousers torn, and his
linen hanging out ostentatiously in different places, and an old man
about sixty-five, just so far civilized as to have cut off the long
beard and put on broadcloth clothes. It was the first time the old man
had ever been on a journey from home; everything was new to him, and he
seemed puzzled to know what to make of us; he could not comprehend how
we could look, and walk, and eat like Russians, and not talk like them.
My place was directly opposite his, and, as soon as we were seated, he
began to talk to me. I looked at him and made no answer; he began again,
and went on in an uninterrupted strain for several minutes, more and
more surprised that I did not answer, or answered only in unintelligible
sounds. After a while he seemed to come to the conclusion that I was
deaf and dumb and turned to my companion as to my keeper for an
explanation. Finding he could do nothing there, he appeared alarmed, and
it was some time before he could get a clear idea of the matter. When he
did, however, he pulled off an amazingly white glove, took my hand and
shook it, pointed to his head, shook it, and touched my head, then put
his hand to his heart, then to my heart; all which was to say, that
though our heads did not understand each other, our hearts did. But
though he saw we did not understand him, he did not on that account stop
talking; indeed, he talked incessantly, and the only way of stopping him
was to look directly in his face and talk back again; and I read him
long lectures, particularly upon the snares and temptations of the world
into which he was about to plunge, and wound up with stanzas of poetry
and scraps of Greek and Latin, all which the old man listened to without
ever interrupting me, bending his ear as if he expected every moment to
catch something he understood; and when I had finished, after a moment's
blank expression he whipped off his white glove, took my hand, and
touched significantly his head and heart. Indeed, a dozen times a day he
did this; and particularly whenever we got out, on resuming our seats,
as a sort of renewal of the compact of good fellowship, the glove
invariably came off, and the significant movement between the hand,
head, and heart was repeated. The second day a young seigneur named
Chickoff, who spoke French, joined the diligence, and through him we had
full explanations with the old Russian. He always called me the American
graff or noble, and said that, after being presented to the emperor, I
should go down with him into the country.

My worthy comrade appeared at first to be not a little bored by the old
man's garrulous humour; but at length, seized by a sudden whim, began,
as he said, to teach him English. But such English! He taught him, after
a fashion peculiarly his own, the manner of addressing a lady and
gentleman in English; and very soon, with the remarkable facility of the
Russians in acquiring languages, the old man, utterly unconscious of
their meaning, repeated the words with extraordinary distinctness; and
regularly, when he took his place in the diligence, he accompanied the
significant movements of his hand, head, and heart to me with the not
very elegant address taught him by my companion. Though compelled to
smile inwardly at the absurdity of the thing, I could not but feel the
inherent impropriety of the conduct of my eccentric fellow-traveller;
and ventured to suggest to him that, though he had an undoubted right to
do as he pleased in matters that could not implicate me, yet,
independent of the very questionable character of the joke itself (for
the words savoured more of Wapping than of St. James's), as we were known
to have travelled together, a portion of the credit of having taught the
old Russian English might fall upon me--an honour of which I was not
covetous, and, therefore, should tell the old man never to repeat the
words he had been taught, which I did without assigning any reason for
it, and before we arrived at St. Petersburgh he had forgotten them.

The road from Moscow to St. Petersburgh is now one of the best in
Europe. It is Macadamized nearly the whole way, and a great part is
bordered with trees; the posthouses are generally large and handsome,
under the direction of government, where soup, cutlets, &c., are always
ready at a moment's notice, at prices regulated by a tariff hanging up
in the room, which, however, being written in Russian, was of no
particular use to us. The country is comparatively thickly settled, and
villages are numerous. Even on this road, however, the villages are
forlorn things, being generally the property and occupied by the serfs
of the seigneurs, and consisting of a single long street, with houses on
both sides built of logs, the better sort squared, with the gable end to
the street, the roofs projecting two or three feet from the houses, and
sometimes ornamented with rude carving and small holes for windows. We
passed several chateaux, large, imposing buildings, with parks and
gardens, and a large church, painted white, with a green dome surmounted
by a cross.

In many places on the road are chapels with figures of the Panagia, or
all holy Virgin, or some of the saints; and our old Russian, constantly
on the lookout for them, never passed one without taking off his hat and
going through the whole formula of crosses; sometimes, in entering a
town, they came upon us in such quick succession, first on one side,
then on the other, that, if he had not been engaged in, to him, a sacred
ceremony, his hurry and perplexity would have been ludicrous. During the
night we saw fires ahead, and a little off the road were the bivouacs of
teamsters or wayfarers, who could not pay for lodging in a miserable
Russian hut. All the way we met the great caravan teams carrying tallow,
hides, hemp, and other merchandise to the cities, and bringing back
wrought fabrics, groceries, &c., into the interior. They were generally
thirty or forty together, one man or woman attending to three or four
carts, or, rather, neglecting them, as the driver was generally asleep
on the top of his load. The horses, however, seemed to know what they
were about; for as the diligence came rolling toward them, before the
postillion could reach them with his whip, they intuitively hurried out
of the way. The bridges over the streams and rivers are strong,
substantial structures, built of heavy hewn granite, with iron
balustrades, and ornamented in the centre with the double-headed eagle,
the arms of Russia.

At Tver we passed the Wolga on a bridge of boats. This noble river, the
longest in Europe, navigable almost from its source for an extent of
four thousand versts, dividing, for a great part of its course, Europe
and Asia, runs majestically through the city, and rolls on, bathing the
walls of the city of Astrachan, till it reaches the distant Caspian; its
banks still inhabited by the same tribes of warlike Cossacks who hovered
on the skirts of the French army during their invasion of Russia. By its
junction with the Tverza, a communication is made between the Wolga and
Neva, or, in other words, between the Caspian and Baltic. The impetus of
internal improvements has extended even to the north of Europe, and the
Emperor Nicolas is now actively engaged in directing surveys of the
great rivers of Russia for the purpose of connecting them by canals and
railroads, and opening steam communications throughout the whole
interior of his empire. A great number of boats of all sizes, for
carrying grain to the capital, were lying off the city. These boats are
generally provided with one mast, which, in the largest, may equal a
frigate's mainmast. "The weight of the matsail," an English officer
remarks, "must be prodigious, having no fewer than one hundred breadths
in it; yet the facility with which it is managed bears comparison with
that of the Yankees with their boom mainsail in their fore-and-aft
clippers." The rudder is a ponderous machine, being a broad piece of
timber floating astern twelve or fifteen feet, and fastened to the
tiller by a pole, which descends perpendicularly into the water; the
tiller is from thirty to forty feet long, and the pilot who turns it
stands upon a scaffold at that distance from the stern. Down the stream
a group of Cossacks were bathing, and I could not resist the temptation
to throw myself for a moment into this king of rivers. The diligence
hurried me, and, as it came along, I gathered up my clothes and dressed
myself inside.

About eighty versts from St. Petersburgh we came to the ancient city of
Novogorod. In the words of an old traveller, "Next unto Moscow, the city
of Novogorod is reputed the chiefest in Russia; for although it be in
majestie inferior to it, yet in greatness it goeth beyond it. It is the
chiefest and greatest mart-town of all Muscovy; and albeit the emperor's
seat is not there, but at Moscow, yet the commodiousness of the river,
falling into that gulf which is called Sinus Finnicus, whereby it is
well frequented by merchants, makes it more famous than Moscow itself."
Few of the ruined cities of the Old World present so striking an
appearance of fallen greatness as this comparatively unknown place.
There is an ancient saying, "Who can resist the gods and Novogorod the
Great?" Three centuries ago it covered an area of sixty-three versts in
circumference, and contained a population of more than four hundred
thousand inhabitants. Some parts of it are still in good condition, but
the larger portion has fallen to decay. Its streets present marks of
desolation, mouldering walls, and ruined churches, and its population
has dwindled to little more than seven thousand inhabitants. The
steeples in this ancient city bear the cross, unaccompanied by the
crescent, the proud token showing that the Tartars, in all their
invasions, never conquered it, while in the reconquered cities the
steeples all exhibit the crescent surmounted by the cross.

Late in the afternoon of the fourth day we were approaching St.
Petersburgh. The ground is low and flat, and I was disappointed in the
first view of the capital of Russia; but passing the barrier, and riding
up the Newski Perspective, the most magnificent street in that
magnificent city, I felt that the stories of its splendour were not
exaggerated, and that this was, indeed, entitled to the proud
appellation of the "Palmyra of the North." My English companion again
stopped at a house kept by an Englishwoman and frequented by his
countrymen, and I took an apartment at a hotel in a broad street with an
unpronounceable Russian name, a little off the Newski Perspective. I was
worn and fatigued with my journey, but I could not resist the
inclination to take a gentle promenade along the Newski Perspective.
While in the coffee-room refreshing myself with a cup of the best
Russian tea, I heard some one outside the door giving directions to a
tailor, and presently a man entered, whom, without looking at him, I
told he was just the person I wanted to see, as I had a pair of
pantaloons to be mended. He made no answer, and, without being able to
see distinctly, I told him to wait till I could go up stairs and change
them, and that he must mend them strongly and bring them back in the
morning. In all probability, the next moment I should have been
sprawling on the floor; but the landlady, a clever Frenchwoman, who saw
my error stepped up, and crying out, "Ah, Monsieur Colonel, attendez,
attendez," explained my mistake as clearly as I could have done myself,
and I followed closely with an apology, adding that my remark could not
be intended as disrespectful to him, inasmuch as even then, with the
windows closed, I could scarcely distinguish his person. He understood
the thing at once, accepted my apology with great frankness, and,
instead of knocking me down, or challenging me to fight with sabre or
some other diabolical thing, finding I was a stranger just arrived from
Moscow, sat down at the table, and before we rose offered to accompany
me in my walk.

There could be no mistake as to the caste of my new friend. The landlady
had called him colonel, and, in repelling the imputation of his being a
tailor, had spoken of him as a rich seigneur, who for ten years had
occupied the front apartments _au premier_ in her hotel. We walked out
into the Newski Perspective, and strolled along that magnificent street
down to the Admiralty, and along the noble quays of the Neva. I had
reached the terminus of my journey; for many months I had been moving
farther and farther away, and the next step I took would carry me toward
home. It was the eve of the fourth of July; and as I strolled through
the broad streets and looked up at the long ranges of magnificent
buildings, I poured into the ear of my companion the recollections
connected with this moment at home: in boyhood, crackers and fireworks
in readiness for the great jubilee of the morrow; and, latterly, the
excursion into the country to avoid the bustle and confusion of "the
glorious fourth."

At Moscow and during the journey I had admired the exceeding beauty of
the twilight in these northern latitudes but this night in St.
Petersburgh it was magnificent. I cannot describe the peculiar shades of
this northern twilight. It is as if the glare and brilliancy of the sun
were softened by the mellowing influence of the moon, and the city, with
its superb ranges of palaces, its statues, its bridges, and its clear
and rapid river, seemed, under the reflection of that northern light, of
a brilliant and almost unearthly beauty. I felt like rambling all night.
Even though worn with three days' travel, it was with me as with a young
lady at her first ball; the night was too short. I could not bear to
throw it away in sleep. My companion was tough, and by no means
sentimental, and the scene was familiar to him; but he told me that,
even in his eyes, it never lost its interest. Moonlight is something,
but this glorious twilight is a thing to enjoy and to remember; and, as
the colonel remarked when we sat down in his apartment to a comfortable
supper, it always gave him such an appetite. After supper I walked
through a long corridor to my apartment, threw myself upon my bed and
tried to sleep, but the mellow twilight poured through my window and
reproached me with the base attempt. I was not restless, but I could not
sleep; lest, however, the reader should find himself of a different
humour, I will consider myself asleep the first night in St.
Petersburgh.



CHAPTER VI.

    Police Requisites.--The Russian Capital.--Equestrian Statue of Peter
      the Great.--The Alexandrine Column.--Architectural Wonders.--The
      Summer Islands.--A perilous Achievement.--Origin of St.
      Petersburgh.--Tombs of dead Monarchs.--Origin of the Russian Navy.


JULY FOURTH. I had intended to pass this day at Moscow, and to
commemorate it in Napoleon style by issuing a bulletin from the Kremlin,
but it was a long time since I had heard from home. At Constantinople I
had written to Paris, directing my letters to be sent to Petersburgh,
and, notwithstanding my late hours the night before, I was at the
postoffice before the door was open. I had never been so long without
hearing from home, and my lips quivered when I asked for letters, my
hand shook when I received them, and I hardly drew breath until I had
finished the last postscript.

My next business was at the bureau of general police for a _carte de
sejour_, without which no stranger can remain in St. Petersburgh. As
usual, I was questioned as to my reasons for coming into Russia; age,
time of sojourn, destination, &c.; and, satisfied that I had no
intention of preaching democratic doctrines or subverting the government
of the autocrat, I received permission to remain two weeks, which,
according to direction, I gave to my landlord to be entered at the
police-office of his district. As no stranger can stay in Petersburgh
without permission, neither can he leave without it; and, to obtain
this, he must advertise three times in the Government Gazette, stating
his name, address, and intention of leaving the empire; and as the
Gazette is only published twice a week, this formality occupies eight
days. One of the objects of this is to apprize his creditors, and give
them an opportunity of securing their debts; and few things show the
barbarity and imperfect civilization of the Russians more clearly than
this; making it utterly impossible for a gentleman to spend a winter in
St. Petersburgh and go away without paying his landlord. This must
prevent many a soaring spirit from wending its way hither, and keep the
residents from being enlivened by the flight of those birds of passage
which dazzle the eyes of the denizens of other cities. As there was no
other way of getting out of the dominions of the Czar, I caused my name
and intention to be advertised. It did not create much of a sensation;
and though it was proclaimed in three different languages, no one except
my landlord seemed to feel any interest in it. After all, to get in debt
is the true way to make friends; a man's creditors always feel an
interest in him; hope no misfortune may happen to him, and always wish
him prosperity and success.

These formalities over, I turned to other things. Different from every
other principal city I had visited, St. Petersburgh had no storied
associations to interest the traveller. There is no Colosseum, as at
Rome; no Acropolis, as at Athens; no Rialto, as at Venice; and no
Kremlin, as at Moscow; nothing identified with the men and scenes
hallowed in our eyes, and nothing that can touch the heart. It depends
entirely upon itself for the interest it creates in the mind of the
traveller.

St. Petersburgh is situated at the mouth of the Neva, at the eastern
extremity of the Gulf of Finland. It is built partly on islands formed
by the Neva, and partly on both sides of that river. But little more
than a century ago, the ground now covered with stately palaces
consisted of wild morasses and primeval forests, and a few huts tenanted
by savage natives, who lived upon the fish of the sea. In seventeen
hundred and three Peter the Great appeared as a captain of grenadiers
under the orders of one of his own generals, on the wild and dreary
banks of the Neva, drove the Swedes from their fortress at its mouth,
cut down the forests on the rude islands of the river, and laid the
foundations of a city which now surpasses in architectural magnificence
every other in the world. I do not believe that Rome, when Adrian reared
the mighty Colosseum, and the Palace of the Cæsars covered the
Capitoline Hill, exhibited such a range of noble structures as now
exists in the Admiralty Quarter. The Admiralty itself is the central
point, on one side fronting the Neva, and on the other a large open
square, and has a façade of marble, with ranges of columns, a quarter of
a mile in length. A beautiful golden spire shoots up from the centre,
towering above every other object, and seen from every part of the city
glittering in the sun; and three principal streets, each two miles in
length, radiate from this point. In front is a range of boulevards,
ornamented with trees, and an open square, at one extremity of which
stands the great church of St. Isaac, of marble, jasper, and porphyry,
upon a foundation of granite; it has been once destroyed, and reared
again with increased splendour, enormous columns of a single block of
red granite already lifting their capitals in the air.

On the right of the façade, and near the Isaac Bridge, itself a
magnificent structure, a thousand and fifty feet long and sixty feet
wide, with two drawbridges, stands the well-known equestrian statue of
Peter the Great. The huge block of granite forming the pedestal is
fifteen hundred tons in weight. The height of the figure of the emperor
is eleven feet, that of the horse seventeen feet, and the weight of the
metal in the group nearly thirty-seven thousand pounds. Both the idea
and the execution of this superb monument are regarded as masterpieces
of genius. To immortalize the enterprise and personal courage with which
that extraordinary man conquered all difficulties and converted a few
fishermen's huts into palaces, Peter is represented on a fiery steed,
rushing up a steep and precipitous rock to the very brink of a
precipice; the horse rears with his fore feet in the air, and seems to
be impatient of restraint, while the imperial rider, in an attitude of
triumph, extends the hand of protection over his capital rising out of
the waters. To aid the inspiration of the artist, a Russian officer, the
boldest rider of his time, daily rode the wildest Arabian of Count
Orloff's stud to the summit of a steep mound, where he halted him
suddenly, with his forelegs raised pawing the air over the brink of the
precipice. The monument is surrounded by an iron railing, and the
pedestal bears the simple inscription, Petro Primo, Catharina Secunda,
MDCCLXXXII.

On the other side of the square, and in front of the Winter Palace,
raised within the last two years, and the most gigantic work of modern
days, rivalling those magnificent monuments in the Old World whose ruins
now startle the wondering traveller, and towering to the heavens, as if
to proclaim that the days of architectural greatness are not gone by for
ever, is the great Alexandrine Column, a single shaft of red granite,
exclusive of pedestal and capital, eighty-four feet high. On the summit
stands an angel holding a cross with the left hand, and pointing to
heaven with the right. The pedestal contains the simple inscription, "To
Alexander I. Grateful Russia."

[Illustration: Column of Alexander I.]

Surrounding this is a crescent of lofty buildings, denominated the Etat
Major, its central portion having before it a majestic colonnade of the
Corinthian order, placed on a high rustic basement, with a balustrade of
solid bronze gilt between the columns. In the middle is a triumphal
arch, which, with its frieze, reaches nearly to the upper part of the
lofty building, having a span of seventy feet, the entablature
sculptured with military trophies, allegorical figures, and groups in
alto relievo. Next on a line with the Admiralty, and fronting the quay,
stands the first of a long range of imperial palaces, extending in the
form of a crescent for more than a mile along the Neva. The Winter
Palace is a gigantic and princely structure, built of marble, with a
façade of seven hundred and forty feet. Next are the two palaces of the
Hermitage, connected with it and with each other by covered galleries on
bold arches; the beautiful and tasteful fronts of these palaces are
strangely in contrast with their simple and unpretending name. Next is
the stately Grecian theatre of the Hermitage. Beyond this are the
barracks of the guards, then the palace of the French ambassador, then
the marble palace built by Catharine II. for her favourite, Prince
Orloff, with a basement of granite and superstructure of bluish marble,
ornamented with marble columns and pillars. In this palace died
Stanislaus Poniatowsky, the last of the Polish sovereigns. This
magnificent range, presenting an uninterrupted front of marble palaces
upward of a mile in length, unequalled in any city in the world, is
terminated by an open square, in which stands a colossal statue of
Suwarrow; beyond this, still on the Neva, is the beautiful summer garden
fronting the palace of Paul II.; and near it, and at the upper end of
the square, is the palace of the Grand-duke Michael.

Opposite is the citadel, with its low bastions of solid granite, washed
all around by the Neva; beautiful in its structure, and beautifully
decorated by the tall, slender, and richly gilded spire of its church.
On the one side of the Admiralty is the senatorial palace, and beyond
opens the English Quay, with a range of buildings that might well be
called the residence of "merchant princes;" while the opposite bank is
crowded with public buildings, among which the most conspicuous are the
palace of the Academy of the Fine Arts; the Obelisk, rising in the
centre of a wide square, recording the glory of some long-named Russian
hero; the building of the Naval Cadet Corps, with its handsome front,
and the barracks of the Guard of Finland; finally, the great pile of
palace-like buildings belonging to the Military Cadet Corps, reaching
nearly to the palace of the Academy of Sciences, and terminating with
the magnificent Grecian front of the Exchange. I know that a verbal
description can give but a faint idea of the character of this scene,
nor would it help the understanding of it to say that it exhibits all
that wealth and architectural skill can do, for few in our country know
what even these powerful engines can effect; as for myself, hardly
noting the details, it was my greatest delight to walk daily to the
bridge across the Neva, at the summer gardens, the view from which more
than realized all the crude and imperfect notions of architectural
magnificence that had ever floated through my mind; a result that I had
never found in any other city I had yet seen, not excepting Venice the
Rich or Genoa the Proud, although the latter is designated in
guide-books the city of palaces.

Next to the palaces in solidity and beauty of structure are the bridges
crossing the Neva, and the magnificent quays along its course, these
last being embankments of solid granite, lining the stream on either
side the whole length of its winding course through the city.

I was always at a loss whether to ride or walk in St. Petersburgh;
sometimes I mounted a drosky and rode up and down the Newski
Perspective, merely for the sake of rolling over the wooden pavement.
This street is perhaps more than twice as wide as Broadway; the gutter
is in the middle, and on each side are wooden pavements wide enough for
vehicles to pass each other freely. The experiment of wooden pavements
was first made in this street, and found to answer so well that it has
since been introduced into many others; and as the frost is more severe
than with us, and it has stood the test of a Russian winter, if rightly
constructed it will, no doubt, prove equally successful in our own city.
The road is first covered with broken stone, or Macadamized; then logs
are laid across it, the interstices being filled up with sand and stone,
and upon this are placed hexagonal blocks of pine about eighteen inches
long, fitted like joiner's work, fastened with long pegs, and covered
with a preparation of melted lead.

When I left Paris I had no expectation of travelling in Russia, and,
consequently, had no letter of introduction to Mr. Wilkins, our
minister; but, long before reaching St. Petersburgh, I had made it a
rule, immediately on my arrival in a strange place, to call upon our
representative, whatever he might be, from a minister plenipotentiary
down to a little Greek consul. I did so here, and was probably as well
received upon my own introduction as if I had been recommended by
letter; for I got from Mr. Wilkins the invitation to dinner usually
consequent upon a letter, and besides much interesting information from
home, and, more than all, a budget of New-York newspapers. It was a long
time since I had seen a New-York paper, and I hailed all the well-known
names, informed myself of every house to let, every vessel to sail, all
the cotton in market, and a new kind of shaving-soap for sale at Hart's
Bazar; read with particular interest the sales of real estate by James
Bleecker and Sons; wondered at the rapid increase of the city in
creating a demand for building lots in one hundred and twenty-seventh
street, and reflected that some of my old friends had probably grown so
rich that they would not recognise me on my return.

Having made arrangements for the afternoon to visit the Summer Islands,
I dined with my friend the colonel, in company with Prince ---- (I have
his name in my pocketbook, written by himself, and could give a
facsimile of it, but I could not spell it). The prince was about
forty-five, a high-toned gentleman, a nobleman in his feelings, and
courtly in his manners, though, for a prince, rather out at elbows in
fortune. The colonel and he had been fellow-soldiers, had served in the
guards during the whole of the French invasion, and entered Paris with
the allied armies as officers in the same regiment. Like most of the
Russian seigneurs, they had run through their fortunes in their military
career. The colonel, however, had been set up again by an inheritance
from a deceased relative, but the prince remained ruined. He was now
living upon a fragment saved from the wreck of his estate, a pension for
his military services, and the bitter experience acquired by a course of
youthful extravagance. Like many of the reduced Russian seigneurs, he
was disaffected toward the government, and liberal in politics; he was a
warm admirer of liberal institutions, had speculated upon and studied
them both in France and America, and analyzed understandingly the spirit
of liberty as developed by the American and French revolutions; when he
talked of Washington, he folded his hands and looked up to heaven, as if
utterly unable to express the fulness of his emotions. With us, the
story of our revolution is a hackneyed theme, and even the sacred name
of Washington has become almost commonplace; but the freshness of
feeling with which the prince spoke of him invested him in my eyes with
a new and holy character. After dinner, and while on our way to the
Summer Islands, we stopped at his apartments, when he showed me the
picture of Washington conspicuous on the wall; under it, by way of
contrast, was that of Napoleon; and he summed up the characters of both
in few words, by saying that the one was all for himself, the other all
for his country.

The Summer Islands on Sundays and fête days are the great promenade of
the residents of the capital, and the approach to them is either by land
or water. We preferred the latter, and at the Admiralty took a boat on
the Neva. All along the quay are flights of steps cut in the granite,
and descending to a granite platform, where boats are constantly in
attendance for passengers. These boats are fantastically painted, and
have the stern raised some three or four feet; sometimes they are
covered with an awning. The oar is of disproportionate thickness toward
the handle, the blade very broad, always feathered in rowing, and the
boatman, in his calico or linen shirt and pantaloons, his long yellowish
beard and mustaches, looks like anything but the gondolier of Venice. In
passing down the Neva I noticed, about half way between low-water mark
and the top of the quay, a ring which serves to fasten vessels, and is
the mark, to which if the water rises, an inundation may be expected.
The police are always on the watch, and the fearful moment is announced
by the firing of cannon, by the display of white flags from the
Admiralty steeple by day, and by lanterns and the tolling of the bells
at night. In the last dreadful inundation of eighteen hundred and
twenty-four, bridges were swept away, boats floated in some parts of the
town above the tops of the houses, and many villages were entirely
destroyed. At Cronstadt, a vessel of one hundred tons was left in the
middle of one of the principal streets; eight thousand dead bodies were
found and buried, and probably many thousands more were hurried on to
the waters of the Gulf of Finland.

It was a fête day in honour of some church festival, and a great portion
of the population of St. Petersburgh was bending its way toward the
Summer Islands. The emperor and empress were expected to honour the
promenade with their presence, and all along the quay boats were
shooting out loaded with gay parties, and, as they approached the
islands, they formed into a fleet, almost covering the surface of the
river. We were obliged to wait till perhaps a dozen boats had discharged
their passengers before we could land.

These islands are formed by the branches of the Neva, at about three
versts from St. Petersburgh. They are beautifully laid out in grass and
gravel-walks, ornamented with trees, lakes, shrubs, and flowers,
connected together by light and elegant bridges, and adorned with
beautiful little summer-houses. These summer-houses are perfectly
captivating; light and airy in their construction, and completely buried
among the trees. As we walked along we heard music or gentle voices, and
now and then came upon a charming cottage, with a beautiful lawn or
garden, just enough exposed to let the passer-by imagine what he
pleased; and on the lawn was a light fanciful tent, or an arbour hung
with foliage, under which the occupants, with perhaps a party of friends
from the city, were taking tea, and groups of rosy children were romping
around them, while thousands were passing by and looking on, with as
perfect an appearance of domestic _abandon_ as if in the privacy of the
fireside. I have sometimes reproached myself that my humour changed with
every passing scene; but, inasmuch as it generally tended toward at
least a momentary satisfaction, I did not seek to check it; and though,
from habit and education, I would have shrunk from such a family
exhibition, here it was perfectly delightful. It seemed like going back
to a simpler and purer age. The gay and smiling faces seemed to indicate
happy hearts; and when I saw a mother playing on the green with a little
cherub daughter, I felt how I hung upon the community, a loose and
disjointed member, and would fain have added myself to some cheerful
family group. A little farther on, however, I saw a papa flogging a
chubby urchin, who drowned with his bellowing the music from a
neighbouring arbour, which somewhat broke the charm of this public
exhibition of scenes of domestic life.

Besides these little retiring-places or summer residences of citizens,
restaurants and houses of refreshments were distributed in great
abundance, and numerous groups were sitting under the shade of trees or
arbours, taking ices or refreshments; and the grounds for promenade were
so large and beautifully disposed, that, although thousands were walking
through them, there was no crowd, except before the door of a principal
refectory, where a rope-dancer was flourishing in the air among the
tops of the trees.

In addition to the many enchanting retreats and summer residences
created by the taste, luxury, and wealth of private individuals, there
are summer theatres and imperial villas. But the gem of the islands is
the little imperial palace at Cammenoi. I have walked through royal
palaces, and admired their state and magnificence without one wish to
possess them, but I felt a strong yearning toward this imperial villa.
It is not so grand and stately as to freeze and chill one, but a thing
of extraordinary simplicity and elegance, in a beautifully picturesque
situation, heightened by a charming disposition of lawn and trees, so
elegant, and, if I may add such an unpoetical word in the description of
this imperial residence, so comfortable, that I told the prince if I
were a Rasselas escaped from the happy valley, I would look no farther
for a resting-place. The prince replied that in the good old days of
Russian barbarism, when a queen swayed the sceptre, Russia had been a
great field for enterprising and adventurous young men, and in more than
one instance a palace had been the reward of a favourite. We gave a sigh
to the memory of those good old days, and at eleven o'clock returned to
the city on the top of an omnibus. The whole road from the Summer
Islands and the great street leading to the Admiralty were lighted with
little glass lamps, arranged on the sidewalks about six feet apart, but
they almost realized the conceit of illuminating the sun by hanging
candles around it, seeming ashamed of their own sickly glare and
struggling vainly with the glorious twilight.

The next morning the valet who had taken me as his master, and who told
others in the house that he could not attend to them, as he was in my
service, informed me that a traveller arrived from Warsaw the night
before had taken apartments in the same hotel, and could give me all
necessary information in regard to that route; and, after breakfast, I
sent him, with my compliments, to ask the traveller if he would admit
me, and shortly after called myself. He was a young man, under thirty,
above the middle size, strong and robust of frame, with good features,
light complexion, but very much freckled, a head of extraordinary red
hair, and a mustache of the same brilliant colour; and he was dressed in
a coloured stuff morning-gown, and smoking a pipe with an air of no
small dignity and importance. I explained the purpose of my visit, and
he gave me as precise information as could possibly be had; and the most
gratifying part of the interview was, that before we separated he told
me that he intended returning to Warsaw in about ten days, and would be
happy to have me bear him company. I gladly embraced his offer, and left
him, better pleased with the result of my interview than I had expected
from his rather unprepossessing appearance. He was a Frenchman by
descent, born in Belgium, and educated and resident in Poland, and
possessed in a striking degree the compounded amor patriæ incident to
the relationship in which he stood to these three countries. But, as I
shall be obliged to speak of him frequently hereafter, I will leave him
for the present to his morning-gown and pipe.

Well pleased with having my plans arranged, I went out without any
specific object, and found myself on the banks of the Neva. Directly
opposite the Winter Palace, and one of the most conspicuous objects on
the whole line of the Neva, is the citadel or old fortress, and, in
reality, the foundation of the city. I looked long and intently on the
golden spire of its church, shooting toward the sky and glittering in
the sun. This spire, which rises tapering till it seems almost to fade
away into nothing, is surmounted by a large globe, on which stands an
angel supporting a cross. This angel, being made of corruptible stuff,
once manifested symptoms of decay, and fears were entertained that he
would soon be numbered with the fallen. Government became perplexed how
to repair it, for to raise a scaffolding to such a height would cost
more than the angel was worth. Among the crowd which daily assembled to
gaze at it from below was a roofer of houses, who, after a long and
silent examination, went to the government and offered to repair it
without any scaffolding or assistance of any kind. His offer was
accepted; and on the day appointed for the attempt, provided with
nothing but a coil of cords, he ascended inside to the highest window,
and, looking for a moment at the crowd below and at the spire tapering
away above him, stood up on the outer ledge of the window. The spire was
covered with sheets of gilded copper, which, to beholders from below,
presented only a smooth surface of burnished gold; but the sheets were
roughly laid, and fastened by large nails, which projected from the
sides of the spire. He cut two pieces of cord, and tied loops at each
end of both, fastened the upper loops over two projecting nails, and
stood with his feet in the lower; then, clinching the fingers of one
hand over the rough edges of the sheets of copper, raised himself till
he could hitch one of the loops on a higher nail with the other hand; he
did the same for the other loop, and so he raised one leg after the
other, and at length ascended, nail by nail, and stirrup by stirrup,
till he clasped his arms around the spire directly under the ball. Here
it seemed impossible to go any farther, for the ball was ten or twelve
feet in circumference, with a smooth and glittering surface, and no
projecting nails, and the angel was above the ball, as completely out of
sight as if it were in the habitation of its prototypes. But the daring
roofer was not disheartened. Raising himself in his stirrups, he
encircled the spire with a cord, which he tied round his waist; and, so
supported, leaned gradually back until the soles of his feet were braced
against the spire, and his body fixed almost horizontally in the air. In
this position he threw a cord over the top of the ball, and threw it so
coolly and skilfully that at the first attempt it fell down on the other
side, just as he wanted it; then he drew himself up to his original
position, and, by means of his cord, climbed over the smooth sides of
the globe, and in a few moments, amid thunders of applause from the
crowd below, which at that great height sounded only like a faint
murmur, he stood by the side of the angel. After attaching a cord to it
he descended, and the next day carried up with him a ladder of ropes,
and effected the necessary repairs.

But to return. With my eyes fixed upon the spire, I crossed the bridge
and entered the gate of the fortress. It is built on a small island,
fortified by five bastions, which, on the land side, are mere ramparts
connected with St. Petersburgh quarter by drawbridges, and on the river
side it is surrounded by walls cased with granite, in the centre of
which is a large gate or sallyport. As a fortress, it is now useless;
but it is a striking object of embellishment to the river, and an
interesting monument in the history of the city. Peter himself selected
this spot for his citadel and the foundation of his city. At that time
it contained two fishing-huts in ruins, the only original habitations on
the island. It was necessary to cut down the trees, and elevate the
surface of the island with dirt and stone brought from other places
before he commenced building the fortress; and the labour of the work
was immense, no less than forty thousand workmen being employed at one
time. Soldiers, Swedish prisoners, Ingrians, Carelians, and Cossacks,
Tartars and Calmucs, were brought from their distant solitudes to lay
the foundation of the imperial city, labouring entirely destitute of all
the comforts of life, sleeping on the damp ground and in the open air,
often without being able, in that wilderness, to procure their daily
meal; and, moreover, without pickaxes, spades, or other instruments of
labour, and using only their bare hands for digging; but, in spite of
all this, the work advanced with amazing rapidity, and in four months
the fortress was completed. The principal objects of interest it now
contains are the Imperial Mint and the Cathedral of St. Peter and St.
Paul. Brought up in a community where "making money" is the great
business of life, I ought, perhaps, to have entered the former, but I
turned away from the ingots of gold and silver, and entered the old
church, the burial-place of Peter the Great, and nearly all the Czars
and Czarinas, emperors and empresses, since his time. Around the walls
were arranged flags and banners, trophies taken in war, principally from
the Turks, waving mournfully over the tombs of the dead. A sombre light
broke through the lofty windows, and I moved directly to the tomb of
Peter. It is near the great altar, of plain marble, in the shape of a
square coffin, without any ornament but a gold plate, on one end of
which are engraved his name and title; and at the moment of my entrance
an old Russian was dusting it with a brush. It was with a mingled
feeling of veneration and awe that I stood by the tomb of Peter. I had
always felt a profound admiration for this extraordinary man, one of
those prodigies of nature which appear on the earth only once in many
centuries; a combination of greatness and cruelty, the sternness of
whose temper spared neither age nor sex, nor the dearest ties of
kindred; whose single mind changed the face of an immense empire and the
character of millions, and yet who often remarked with bitter
compunction, "I can reform my people, but I cannot reform myself."

By his side lies the body of his wife, Catharine I., the beautiful
Livonian, the daughter of a peasant girl, and the wife of a common
soldier, who, by a wonderful train of events, was raised to wield the
sceptre of a gigantic empire. Her fascination soothed the savage Peter
in his moodiest hours. She was the mediatrix between the stern monarch
and his subjects; mercy was ever on her lips, and one who knew her well
writes what might be inscribed in letters of gold upon her tomb: "She
was a pretty, well-looked woman, but not of that sublimity of wit, or,
rather, that quickness of imagination which some people have supposed.
The great reason why the Czar was so fond of her was her exceeding good
temper; she never was seen peevish or out of humour; obliging and civil
to all, and never forgetful of her former condition, and withal mighty
grateful."

Near their imperial parents lie the bodies of their two daughters, Anne
of Holstein and the Empress Elizabeth. Peter, on his deathbed, in an
interval of delirium, called to him his daughter Anne, as it was
supposed, with the intention of settling upon her the crown, but
suddenly relapsed into insensibility; and Anne, brought up in the
expectation of two crowns, died in exile, leaving one son, the
unfortunate Peter III.

Elizabeth died on the throne, a motley character of goodness, indolence,
and voluptuousness, and extremely admired for her great personal
attractions. She was never married, but, as she frequently owned to her
confidants, never happy but when in love. She was so tender of heart
that she made a vow to inflict no capital punishment during her reign;
shed tears upon the news of every victory gained by her troops, from the
reflection that it could not have been gained without bloodshed, and
would never give her consent for the execution of a felon, however
deserving; and yet she condemned two noble ladies, one of them the most
beautiful woman in Russia, to receive fifty strokes of the knout in the
open square of St. Petersburgh.

I strolled for a few moments among the other imperial sepulchres, and
returned to the tombs of Peter's family. Separate monuments are erected
over their bodies, all in the shape of large oblong tombstones,
ornamented with gold, and enclosed by high iron railings. As I leaned
against the railing of Peter's tomb, I missed one member of his imperial
family. It was an awful chasm. Where was his firstborn child and only
son? the presumptive heir of his throne and empire? Early the object of
his unnatural prejudice, excluded from the throne, imprisoned, tortured,
tried, condemned, sentenced to death by the stern decree of his offended
father!

The ill-starred Alexius lies in the vaults of the church, in the
imperial sepulchre, but without any tomb or inscription to perpetuate
the recollection of his unhappy existence. And there is something awful
in the juxtaposition of the dead; he lies by the side of his unhappy
consort, the amiable Princess Charlotte, who died the victim of his
brutal neglect; so subdued by affliction that, in a most affecting
farewell to Peter, unwilling to disturb the tranquillity of her last
hour, she never mentioned his name, and welcomed death as a release from
her sufferings.

Leaving the church, I went to a detached building within the fortress,
where is preserved, in a separate building, a four-oared boat, as a
memorial of the origin of the Russian navy. Its history is interesting.
About the year 1691 Peter saw this boat at a village near Moscow; and
inquiring the cause of its being built differently from those he was in
the habit of seeing, learned that it was contrived to go against the
wind. Under the direction of Brandt, the Dutch shipwright who built it,
he acquired the art of managing it. He afterward had a large
pleasure-yacht constructed after the same model, and from this beginning
went on till he surprised all Europe by a large fleet on the Baltic and
the Black Sea. Twenty years afterward he had it brought up from Moscow,
and gave a grand public entertainment, which he called the consecration
of the "little grandsire." The fleet, consisting of twenty-seven
men-of-war, was arranged at Cronstadt in the shape of a half moon. Peter
embarked in the little grandsire, himself steering, and three admirals
and Prince Mendzikoff rowing, and made a circuit in the gulf, passing by
the fleet, the ships striking their flags and saluting it with their
guns, while the little grandsire returned each salute by a discharge of
three small pieces. It was then towed up to St. Petersburgh, where its
arrival was celebrated by a masquerade upon the waters, and, Peter again
steering, the boat proceeded to the fortress, and under a discharge of
all the artillery it was deposited where it now lies.

Returning, I took a bath in the Neva. In bathing, as in everything else,
the Russians profit by the short breath of summer, and large public
bathing-houses are stationed at intervals along the quay of the river,
besides several smaller ones, tasteful and ornamental in appearance,
being the private property of rich seigneurs. I went into one of the
former, where a swimming-master was teaching a school of boys the art of
swimming. The water of the Neva was the first thing I had found
regularly Russian, that is, excessively cold; and though I bathed in it
several times afterward, I always found it the same.

At five o'clock I went to dine with Mr. Wilkins. He had broken up his
establishment and taken apartments at the house of an English lady,
where he lived much in the same style as at home. He had been at St.
Petersburgh but a short time, and, I believe, was not particularly well
pleased with it, and was then making arrangements to return. I had never
met with Mr. Wilkins in our own country, and I consider myself under
obligations to him; for, not bringing him any letter, I stood an entire
stranger in St. Petersburgh, with nothing but my passport to show that I
was an American citizen, and he might have even avoided the dinner, or
have given me the dinner and troubled himself no more about me. But the
politeness which he had shown me as a stranger increased to kindness;
and I was in the habit of calling upon him at all times, and certainly
without any expectation of ever putting him in print. We had at table a
parti quarré, consisting of Mr. Wilkins, Mr. Gibson, who has been our
consul, I believe, for twenty years, if, he being still a bachelor, it
be not unfriendly to carry him back so far, and Mr. Clay, the secretary
of legation, who had been twice left as chargé d'affaires at the
imperial court, and was then lately married to an English lady in St.
Petersburgh. After dinner, three or four American merchants came in; and
at eleven o'clock, having made an appointment to go with Mr. Wilkins and
see a boatrace on the Neva, Mr. Clay and I walked home along the quay,
under that enchanting twilight which I have already so often thrust upon
the reader, and which I only regret that I cannot make him realize and
enjoy.



CHAPTER VII.

    A New Friend.--The Winter Palace.--Importance of a Hat.--An
      artificial Mine.--Remains of a huge Monster.--Peter the Great's
      Workshop.--The Greek Religion.--Tomb of a Hero.--A Saint
      Militant.--Another Love Affair.--The Hermitage.--The Winter and
      Summer Gardens.


EARLY in the morning, while at breakfast, I heard a loud knock at my
door, which was opened without waiting for an answer, and in stalked a
tall, stout, dashing-looking young man, with a blue frock, white
pantaloons, and a vest of many colours, a heavy gold chain around his
neck, an enormous Indian cane in his hand, and a broad-brimmed hat
brought down on one side, over his right eye in particular. He had a
terrible scowl on his face, which seemed to be put on to sustain the
dignity of his amazing costume, and he bowed on his entrance with as
much _hauteur_ as if he meant to turn me out of my own room. I stared at
him in unfeigned astonishment, when, putting his cane under his arm, and
pulling off his hat, his intensely red head broke upon me with a blaze
of beauty, and I recognised my friend and intended fellow-traveller, the
French Belgian Pole, whom I had seen in an old morning-gown and
slippers. I saw through my man at once; and speedily knocking in the
head his overwhelming formality, came upon him with the old college
salutation, asking him to pull off his clothes and stay a week; and he
complied almost literally, for in less than ten minutes he had off his
coat and waistcoat, cravat and boots, and was kicking up his heels on my
bed. I soon discovered that he was a capital fellow, a great beau in his
little town on the frontiers of Poland, and one of a class by no means
uncommon, that of the very ugly men who imagine themselves very
handsome. While he was kicking his heels over the footboard, he asked me
what we thought of red hair in America; and I told him that I could not
undertake to speak the public voice, but that, for myself, I did not
admire it as much as some people did, though, as to his, there was
something striking about it, which was strictly true, for it was such an
enormous mop that, as his head lay on the pillow, it looked like a bust
set in a large red frame. All the time he held in his hand a pocket
looking-glass and a small brush, with which he kept brushing his
mustaches, giving them a peculiar twirl toward the ears. I told him that
he was wrong about the mustache; and, taking the brush, brought them out
of their twist, and gave them an inclination à la Turque, recommending
my own as a model; but he soon got them back to their place, and,
rising, shook his gory locks and began to dress himself, or, as he said,
to put himself in parchment for a walk.

My new friend was for no small game, and proposed visiting some of the
palaces. On the way he confided to me a conquest he had already made
since his arrival; a beautiful young lady, of course, the daughter of an
Italian music-master, who resided directly opposite our hotel. He said
he had applied for an apartment next to mine, which commanded a view of
the window at which she sat, and asked me, as a friend, whether it would
be interfering with me. Having received my assurance that I had no
intentions in that quarter, he said he would order his effects to be
removed the same day.

By this time we had arrived at the Winter Palace, presenting, as I have
before remarked, a marble front on the Neva of more than seven hundred
feet, or as long as the side of Washington Square, and larger and more
imposing than that of the Tuileries or any other royal palace in Europe.
We approached the large door of entrance to this stately pile, and,
notwithstanding my modest application, backed by my companion's dashing
exterior, we were turned away by the imperial footman because we had not
on dresscoats. We went home and soon returned equipped as the law of
etiquette requires, and were admitted to the imperial residence. We
ascended the principal story by the great marble staircase, remarkable
for its magnificence and the grandeur of its architecture. There are
nearly a hundred principal rooms on the first floor, occupying an area
of four hundred thousand square feet, and forming almost a labyrinth of
splendour. The great banqueting-hall is one hundred and eighty-nine feet
by one hundred and ten, incrusted with the finest marble, with a row of
columns at each end, and the side decorated with attached columns, rich
gilding, and splendid mirrors. The great Hall of St. George is one of
the richest and most superb rooms on the Continent, not excepting the
pride of the Tuileries or Versailles. It is a parallelogram of one
hundred and forty feet by sixty, decorated with forty fluted Corinthian
columns of porphyritic marble, with capitals and bases of bronze richly
gilded, and supporting a gallery with a gilded bronze balustrade of
exquisite workmanship. At one end, on a platform, is the throne,
approached by a flight of eight steps, covered with the richest Genoa
velvet, embroidered with gold, with the double-headed eagle expanding
his wings above it. The large windows on both sides are hung with the
richest drapery, and the room is embellished by magnificent mirrors and
colossal candelabra profusely gilded.

We passed on to the _salle blanche_, which is nearly of the same
dimensions, and beautifully chaste in design and finish. Its elevation
is greater, and the sides are decorated with pilasters, columns, and
bas-reliefs of a soft white tint, without the least admixture of gaudy
colours. The space between the Hall of St. George and the _salle
blanche_ is occupied as a gallery of national portraits, where the
Russians who distinguished themselves during the French invasion are
exhibited in half-length portraits as rewards for their military
services. The three field-marshals, Kutuzow, Barclay de Tolly, and the
Duke of Wellington, are represented at full length. The symbol which
accompanies the hero of Waterloo is that of imperishable strength, the
British oak, "the triumpher of many storms."

I will not carry the reader through all the magnificent apartments, but
I cannot help mentioning the Diamond Room, containing the crowns and
jewels of the imperial family. Diamonds, rubies, and emeralds are
arranged round the room in small cases, of such dazzling beauty that it
is almost bewildering to look at them. I had already acquired almost a
passion for gazing at precious stones. At Constantinople I had wandered
through the bazars, under the guidance of a Jew, and seen all the
diamonds collected and for sale in the capital of the East, but I was
astonished at the brilliancy of this little chamber, and, in my
strongly-awakened admiration, looked upon the miser who, before the
degrading days of bonds and mortgages, converted his wealth into jewels
and precious stones, as a man of elegant and refined taste. The crown of
the emperor is adorned with a chaplet of oak-leaves made of diamonds of
an extraordinary size, and the imperial sceptre contains one supposed to
be the largest in the world, being the celebrated stone purchased by the
Empress Catharine II. from a Greek slave for four hundred and fifty
thousand rubles and a large pension for life. Eighty thousand persons
were employed in the construction of this palace; upward of two thousand
habitually reside in it, and even a larger number when the emperor is in
St. Petersburgh. The imperial flag was then floating from the top of the
palace, as an indication to his subjects of his majesty's presence in
the capital; and about the time that his majesty sat down to his royal
dinner we were working upon a cotelette de mouton, and drinking in vin
ordinaire health and long life to Nicolas the First; and afterward, in
talking of the splendour of the imperial palace and the courtesy of the
imperial footmen, we added health and long life to the Lady Autocrat and
all the little autocrats.[1]

After dinner we took our coffee at the Café Chinois, on the Newski
Perspective, equal, if not superior, in style and decoration to anything
in Paris. Even the rules of etiquette in France are not orthodox all
over the world. In Paris it is not necessary to take off the hat on
entering a café or restaurant, and in the south of France a Frenchman
will sit down to dinner next a lady with his head covered; but in
Russia, even on entering an apartment where there are only gentlemen, it
is necessary to uncover the head. I neglected this rule from ignorance
and want of attention, and was treated with rudeness by the proprietor,
and afterward learned the cause, with the suggestion that it was
fortunate that I had not been insulted. This is a small matter, but a
man's character in a strange place is often affected by a trifling
circumstance; and Americans, at least I know it to be the case with
myself, are, perhaps, too much in the habit of neglecting the minor
rules of etiquette.

That night my new friend had his effects removed to a room adjoining
mine, and the next morning I found him sitting in his window with a book
in his hand, watching the young lady opposite. He was so pleased with
his occupation that I could not get him away, and went off without him.
Mr. Wilkins having offered to accompany me to some of the public
institutions, I called for him; and, finding him disengaged, we took a
boat on the Neva, and went first to the Academy of Arts, standing
conspicuously on the right bank opposite the English Quay, and, perhaps,
the chastest and most classical structure in St. Petersburgh. In the
court are two noble Egyptian Sphynxes. A magnificent staircase, with a
double flight of granite steps, leads to a grand landing-place with
broad galleries around it, supporting, by means of Ionic columns, the
cupola, which crowns the whole. The Rotunda is a fine apartment of
exquisite proportions, decorated with statues and busts; and at the
upper end of the Conference-room stands a large table, at the head of
which is a full-length portrait of Nicolas under a rich canopy. In one
room are a collection of models from the antique, and another of the
paintings of native artists, some of which are considered as indicating
extraordinary talent.

From hence we went to the _Hotel des Mines_, where the name of the
American minister procured us admission without the usual permit. The
_Hotel des Mines_ was instituted by the great Peter for the purpose of
training a mining engineer corps, to explore scientifically the vast
mineral resources of the empire, and also engineers for the army. Like
all the other public edifices, the building is grand and imposing, and
the arrangement of the different rooms and galleries is admirable. In
one room is a large collection of medals, and in another of coins.
Besides specimens of general mineralogy of extraordinary beauty, there
are native iron from the Lake Olonetz, silver ore from Tobolsk and gold
sand from the Oural Mountains; and in iron-bound cases, beautifully
ornamented, there is a rich collection of native gold, found either in
the mines belonging to government or in those of individuals, one piece
of which was discovered at the depth of three and a half feet in the
sand, weighing more than twenty-four pounds. The largest piece of
platinum in existence, from the mines of Demidoff, weighing ten pounds,
is here also; and, above all, a colossal specimen of amalachite weighing
three thousand four hundred and fifty-six pounds, and, at the common
average price of this combination of copper and carbonic acid, worth
three thousand seven hundred and fifty pounds sterling.

But the most curious part of this valuable repository is under ground,
being a model of a mine in Siberia. Furnished with lighted tapers, we
followed our guides through winding passages cut into the bowels of the
earth, the sides of which represented, by the aggregation of real
specimens, the various stratifications, with all the different ores, and
minerals, and different species of earth, as they were found in the
natural state; the coal formation, veins of copper, and in one place of
gold, being particularly well represented, forming an admirable
practical school for the study of geology, though under a chillness of
atmosphere which would be likely very soon to put an end to studies of
all kinds.

From here we passed to the imperial Academy of Sciences, by far the most
interesting part of our day's visiting. This, too, was founded by the
Great Peter. I hardly know why, but I had already acquired a warm
admiration for the stout old Czar. There was nothing high or chivalric
about him, but every step in Russia, from the Black Sea to the Baltic,
showed me what he had done to advance the condition of his people. I
knew all this as matter of history, but here I felt it as fact. We
strolled through the mineralogical and zoological repositories, and
stopped before the skeleton of that stupendous inhabitant of a former
world, denominated the mammoth, whose fame had been carried over the
waste of waters even to our distant country, and beside which even the
skeletons of elephants looked insignificant. What was he? where did he
live, and is his race extinct? It gave rise to a long train of
interesting speculation, to endow him with life, and see him striding
with gigantic steps, the living tenant of a former world; and more
interesting still to question, as others had done, whether he was not,
after all, one of a race of animals not yet extinct, and perhaps
wandering even now within a short distance of the Polar Sea.

There is also in this part of the museum a collection of anatomical
specimens and of human monsters; an unpleasing exhibition, though, no
doubt, useful to medical science; among them was a child with two heads
from America. More interesting to me was a large collection of insects,
of medals, and particularly of the different objects in gold found in
the tumuli of Siberia, consisting of bracelets, vases, crowns, bucklers,
rings, sabres with golden hilts, Tartar idols, &c., many of them of
great value and of very elegant workmanship, which have given rise to
much interesting speculation in regard to the character of the people
who formerly inhabited that country. The Asiatic museum contains a
library of Chinese, Japanese, Mongolese, and Tibetan books and
manuscripts; Mohammedan, Chinese, and Japanese coins; an interesting
assemblage of Mongolese idols cut in bronze and gilded, and illustrating
the religion of Buddha. There is also an Egyptian museum, containing
about a thousand articles. The cabinet of curiosities contains figures
of all the different people conquered under the government of Russia,
habited in their national costumes; also of Chinese, Persians, Aleutans,
Carelians, and the inhabitants of many of the Eastern, Pacific, or
Northern Islands discovered or visited by Russian travellers and
navigators, as well as of the different nations inhabiting Siberia.

But by far the most interesting part of the museum is the cabinet of
Peter himself, consisting of a suite of apartments, in which the old
Czar was in the habit of passing his leisure hours engaged in some
mechanical employment. In one room are several brass cylinders turned by
his own hands, and covered with battle-scenes of his own engraving. Also
an iron bar forged by him; bas-reliefs executed in copper, representing
his desperate battles in Livonia; an ivory chandelier of curious and
highly-wrought workmanship, and a group in ivory representing Abraham
offering up his son Isaac, the ram and the angel Gabriel cut out entire.
In another room is his workshop, containing a variety of vessels and
models etched in copper, and a copperplate with an unfinished
battle-scene. His tools and implements are strewed about the room
precisely in the state in which he left them the last time he was there.
In another chamber were the distended skin of his French body-servant,
seven feet high; the Arabian horse which he rode at the bloody battle of
Pultowa, and the two favourite dogs which always accompanied him; and in
another the figure of the old Czar himself in wax, as large as life; the
features, beyond doubt, bearing the exact resemblance to the original,
being taken from a cast applied to his face when dead, and shaded in
imitation of his real complexion. The eyebrows and hair are black, the
eyes dark, the complexion swarthy, and aspect stern. This figure is
surrounded by the portraits of his predecessors, in their barbarian
costumes, himself seated in an armchair in the same splendid dress which
he wore when with his own hands he placed the imperial crown on the head
of his beloved Catharine. Here, also, are his uniform of the guards,
gorget, scarf, and sword, and hat shot through at the battle of Pultowa;
and the last thing which the guide put into my hands was a long stick
measuring his exact height, and showing him literally a great man, being
six Russian feet. I must not forget a pair of shoes made by his own
hands; but the old Czar was no shoemaker. Nevertheless, these memorials
were all deeply interesting; and though I had seen the fruits of his
labours from the Black Sea to the Baltic, I never felt such a strong
personal attraction to him as I did here.

I was obliged to decline dining with Mr. Wilkins in consequence of an
engagement with my friend the Pole; and, returning, I found him at the
window with a book in his hand, precisely in the same position in which
I had left him. After dinner a servant came in and delivered a message,
and he proposed a walk on the Admiralty Boulevards. It was the
fashionable hour for promenade, and, after a turn or two, he discovered
his fair enslaver, accompanied by her father and several ladies and
gentlemen, one of whom seemed particularly devoted to her. She was a
pretty little girl, and seemed to me a mere child, certainly not more
than fifteen. His admiration had commenced on the Boulevards the first
afternoon of his arrival, and had increased violently during the whole
day, while he was sitting at the window. He paraded me up and down the
walk once or twice, and, when they had seated themselves on a bench,
took a seat opposite. He was sure she was pleased with his admiration,
but I could not see that her look indicated any very flattering
acknowledgment. In fact, I could but remark that the eyes of the
gentlemen were turned toward us quite as often as those of the lady, and
suggested that, if he persisted, he would involve us in some difficulty
with them; but he said there could not be any difficulty about it, for,
if he offended them, he would give them satisfaction. As this view of
the case did not hit my humour, I told him that, as I had come out with
him, I would remain, but if he made any farther demonstrations, I should
leave him, and, at all events, after that he must excuse me from joining
his evening promenades. Soon after they left the Boulevards, and we
returned to our hotel, where he entertained me with a history of his
love adventures at home, and felicitations upon his good fortune in
finding himself already engaged in one here.

Sunday. Until the early part of the tenth century the religion of Russia
was a gross idolatry. In nine hundred and thirty-five, Olga, the widow
of Igor the son of Runic, sailed down the Dnieper from Kief, was
baptized at Constantinople, and introduced Christianity into Russia,
though her family and nation adhered for a long time to the idolatry of
their fathers. The great schism between the Eastern and Western churches
had already taken place, and the Christianity derived from
Constantinople was of course of the Greek persuasion. The Greek Church
believes in the doctrines of the Trinity, but differs from the Catholic
in some refined and subtle distinction in regard to what is called the
procession of the Holy Ghost. It enjoins the invocation of saints as
mediators, and permits the use of pictures as a means of inspiring and
strengthening devotion. The well-informed understand the use for which
they are intended, but these form a very small portion of the community,
and probably the great bulk of the people worship the pictures
themselves. The clergy are, in general, very poor and very ignorant. The
priests are not received at the tables of the upper classes, but they
exercise an almost controlling influence over the lower, and they
exhibited this influence in rousing the serfs against the French, which
may be ascribed partly, perhaps, to feelings of patriotism, and partly
to the certainty that Napoleon would strip their churches of their
treasures, tear down their monasteries, and turn themselves out of
doors. But of the population of fifty-five millions, fifteen are divided
into Roman Catholics, Armenians, Protestants, Jews, and Mohammedans, and
among the Caucasians, Georgians, Circassians, and Mongol tribes nearly
two millions are pagans or idolaters, Brahmins, Lamists, and worshippers
of the sun.

For a people so devout as the Russians, the utmost toleration prevails
throughout the whole empire, and particularly in St. Petersburgh.
Churches of every denomination stand but a short distance apart on the
Newski Perspective. The Russian cathedral is nearly opposite the great
Catholic chapel; near them is the Armenian, then the Lutheran, two
churches for Dissenters, and a mosque for the Mohammedans! and on Sunday
thousands are seen bending their steps to their separate churches, to
worship according to the faith handed down to them by their fathers.

Early in the morning, taking with me a valet and joining the crowd that
was already hurrying with devout and serious air along the Newski
Perspective, I entered the Cathedral of our Lady of Cazan, a splendid
monument of architecture, and more remarkable as the work of a native
artist, with a semicircular colonnade in front, consisting of one
hundred and thirty-two Corinthian columns thirty-five feet high,
somewhat after the style of the great circular colonnade of St. Peter's
at Rome, and surmounted by a dome crowned with a cross of exquisite
workmanship, supported on a large gilded ball. Within, fifty noble
columns, each of one piece of solid granite from Finland, forty-eight
feet high and four feet in diameter, surmounted by a rich capital of
bronze, and resting on a massive bronze base, support an arched roof
richly ornamented with flowers in bas-relief. The jewels and decorations
of the altar are rich and splendid, the doors leading to the sanctum
sanctorum, with the railing in front, being of silver. As in the
Catholic churches, there are no pews, chairs, or benches, and all over
the floor were the praying figures of the Russians. Around the walls
were arranged military trophies, flags, banners, and the keys of
fortresses wrested from the enemies of Russia; but far more interesting
than her columns, and colossal statues, and military trophies, is the
tomb of the warrior Kutuzow; simple, and remarkable for the appropriate
warlike trophy over it, formed of French flags and the eagles of
Napoleon. Admiration for heroism owns no geographical or territorial
limits, and I pity the man who could stand by the grave of Kutuzow
without feeling it a sacred spot. The Emperor Alexander with his own
hands took the most precious jewel from his crown and sent it to the
warrior, with a letter announcing to him his elevation to the rank of
Prince of Smolensko; but richer than jewels or principalities is the
tribute which his countrymen pay at his tomb.

The church of our Lady of Cazan contains another monument of barbarian
patriotism. The celebrated leader of the Cossacks during the period of
the French invasion, having intercepted a great part of the booty which
the French were carrying from Moscow, sent it to the metropolitan or
head of the church, with a characteristic letter, directing it to be
"made into an image of the four Evangelists, and adorn the church of the
Mother of God of Cazan." The concluding paragraph is, "Hasten to erect
in the temple of God this monument of battle and victory; and while you
erect it, say with thankfulness to Providence, the enemies of Russia are
no more; the vengeance of God has overtaken them on the soil of Russia;
and the road they have gone has been strewed with their bones, to the
utter confusion of their frantic and proud ambition."

    (Signed) "PLATOFF."

From the church of our Lady of Cazan I went to the Protestant church,
where I again joined in an orthodox service. The interior of the church
is elegant, though externally it can scarcely be distinguished from a
private building. The seats are free, the men sitting on one side and
the women on the other. Mr. Law, the clergyman, has been there many
years, and is respected and loved by his congregation. After church I
walked to the convent of Alexander Newski, the burial-place of Prince
Alexander, who obtained in the thirteenth century a splendid victory
over the allied forces of Sweden, Denmark, and Livonia; afterward became
a monk, and for his pure and holy life was canonized, and now ranks
among the principal saints in the Russian calendar. The warrior was
first buried at Moscow, but Peter the Great had his remains transported
with great ceremony to this place, a procession of a thousand priests
walking barefoot all the way. The monastery stands at the extreme end of
the Newski Perspective, and within its precincts are several churches
and a large cemetery. It is the residence of the distinguished prelates
of the Greek Church and a large fraternity of monks. The dress of the
monks is a loose black cloak and round black cap, and no one can be
admitted a member until the age of thirty. We entered a grand portal,
walked up a long avenue, and, crossing a bridge over a stream, worked
our way between lines of the carriages of nobles and ladies, and crowds
of the people in their best bell-crowned hats; and, amid a throng of
miserable beggars, penetrated to the door of the principal church, a
large and beautiful specimen of modern Corinthian architecture. I
remarked the great entrance, the lofty dome, the fresco paintings on the
ceilings, and the arabesque decorations on the walls; the altar-piece of
white Carrara marble, paintings by Rubens and Vandyck, the holy door in
the iconastos, raised on a flight of steps of rich gilded bronze, and
surmounted by the representation of a dazzling aureola of different
colored metals, and in the centre the initials of that awful name which
none in Israel save the initiated were permitted to pronounce. I walked
around and paused before the tomb of the warrior saint.

A sarcophagus or coffin of massive silver, standing on an elevated
platform, ornamented in bas-relief, representing scenes of battles with
the Swedes, contains his relics; a rich ermine lies upon the coffin, and
above is a silver canopy. On each side is a warrior clothed in armour,
with his helmet, breastplate, shield, and spear also of massive silver.
The altar rises thirty feet in height, of solid silver, with groups of
military figures and trophies of warriors, also of silver, as large as
life; and over it hangs a golden lamp, with a magnificent candelabrum of
silver, together with a vessel of curious workmanship holding the bones
of several holy men, the whole of extraordinary magnificence and
costliness of material, upward of four thousand pounds weight of silver
having been used in the construction of the chapel and shrine. The dead
sleep the same whether in silver coffins or in the bare earth, but the
stately character of the church, dimly lighted, and the splendour and
richness of the material, gave a peculiar solemnity to the tomb of the
warrior saint.

Leaving the churches, I strolled through the cloisters of the monastery
and entered the great cemetery. There, as in the great cemetery of Père
la Chaise at Paris, all that respect, and love, and affection can do to
honour the memory of the dead, and all that vanity and folly can do to
ridicule it, have been accomplished. There are seen epitaphs of
affecting brevity and elaborate amplification; every design, every
device, figure, emblem, and decoration; every species of material, from
native granite to Carrara marble and pure gold. Among the simpler tombs
of poets, warriors, and statesmen, a monument of the most gigantic
proportions is erected to snatch from oblivion the name of a rich
Russian merchant. The base is a solid cubic block of the most superb
marble, on which is a solid pedestal of black marble ten feet square,
bearing a sarcophagus fourteen feet high, and of most elegant
proportions, surmounted by a gold cross twenty feet in height. At each
of the four corners is a colossal candelabrum of cast iron, with
entwining serpents of bronze gilded. The ground alone cost a thousand
pounds, and the whole monument about twenty thousand dollars. Near the
centre of this asylum of the dead, a tetrastyle Ionic temple of the
purest white marble records the virtues of an interesting lady, the
Countess of Potemkin, and alto relievos of the most exquisite execution
on three sides of the temple tell the melancholy story of a mother
snatched from three lovely children. The countess, prophetically
conscious of her approaching fate, is looking up calmly and majestically
to the figure of religion, and resting with confidence her left hand on
the symbol of Christianity. In front are the inscription and arms of the
family in solid gold.

But what are the Russian dead to me? The granite and marble monument of
the merchant is a conglomeration of hides, hemp, and tallow; a man may
be excused if he linger a moment at the tomb of an interesting woman, a
mother cut off in her prime; but melancholy is infectious, and induces
drowsiness and closing of the book.

In consideration for my valet, at the grand portal I took a drosky,
rolled over the wooden pavement of the Newski Perspective, and, with
hardly motion enough to disturb my revery, was set down at the door of
my hotel. My Pole was waiting to dine with me, and roused me from my
dreams of the dead to recount his dreams of the living. All day he had
sat at his window, and a few straggling glances from the lady opposite
had abundantly rewarded him, and given him great spirits for his
evening's promenade on the Boulevards. I declined accompanying him, and
he went alone, and returned in the evening almost in raptures. We
strolled an hour by the twilight, and retired early.

It will hardly be believed, but early the next morning he came to my
room with a letter on fine pink paper addressed to his fair enslaver.
The reader may remember that this was not the first time I had been made
a confidant in an affaire du coeur. To be sure, the missionary at Smyrna
turned out to be crazy; and on this point, at least, my Pole was a
little touched; nevertheless, I listened to his epistle. It was the
regular oldfashioned document, full of hanging, shooting, drowning, and
other extravagances. He sealed it with an amatory device, and, calling
up a servant in his confidence, told him to carry it over, and then took
his place in my window to watch the result. In the mean time, finding it
impossible to dislodge him, and that I could not count upon him to
accompany me on my visits to the palaces as he had promised, I went to
the Hermitage alone. The Great and Little Hermitages are connected with
the Winter Palace and with each other by covered galleries, and the
theatre is connected with the two Hermitages by means of another great
arch thrown over a canal, so that the whole present a continued line of
imperial palaces, unequalled in extent in any part of Europe, measuring
one thousand five hundred and ninety-six feet, or one third of an
English mile. If I were to select a building designed to realize the
most extravagant notions of grandeur and luxury, it would be the
gorgeous palace known under the modest name of the Hermitage. I shall
not attempt any description of the interior of this splendid edifice,
but confine myself to a brief enumeration of its contents. I ascended by
a spacious staircase to the anteroom, where I gave, or, rather, where
my cane was demanded by the footman, and proceeded through a suite of
magnificent rooms, every one surpassing the last, and richer in objects
of the fine arts, science, and literature; embellished throughout by a
profusion of the most splendid ornaments and furniture, and remarkable
for beauty of proportion and variety of design. In rooms and galleries
appropriated to the separate schools and masters are upward of thirteen
hundred paintings by Raphael, Titian, Guido, Andrea del Sarto, Luca
Giordano, the Caracci, Perugino, Corregio, and Leonardi da Vinci; here
is also the best collection in existence, of pictures by Wouvermans and
Teniers, with some of the masterpieces of Rubens and Vandyck, of the
French Claude, Poussin, and Vernet. The celebrated Houghton collection
is here, with a gallery of paintings of the Spanish schools, many of
them Murillos. In one room is a superb vase of Siberian jasper, of a
lilac colour, five feet high, and of exquisite form and polish; in
another are two magnificent candelabras, said to be valued at two
hundred and twenty thousand rubles, or about fifty thousand dollars; I
must mention also the great musical clock, representing an antique
Grecian temple, and containing within a combination of instruments,
having the power of two orchestras, which accompany each other; two
golden tripods, seven feet high, supporting the gold salvers on which
salt and bread were exhibited to the Emperor Alexander on his triumphal
return from Paris, as emblems of wisdom and plenty, a large musical and
magical secretary, which opens spontaneously in a hundred directions at
the sound of music, purchased by the late emperor for eight hundred
guineas; a room surrounded with books, some of which were originals,
placed there by Catharine for the use of the domestics, as she said, to
keep the devil out of their heads; a saloon containing the largest
collection of engravings and books of engravings in Europe, amounting to
upward of thirty thousand; a library of upward of one hundred and ten
thousand volumes; an extensive cabinet of medals, and another of gems
and pastes; a jewel-cabinet, containing the rich ornaments which have
served for the toilettes of succeeding empresses, innumerable precious
stones and pearls, many of extraordinary magnitude; a superb collection
of antiques and cameos, amounting to upward of fifteen thousand, the
cameos alone affording employment for days. In one room are curious
works in ivory and fishbones, by the inhabitants of Archangel, who are
skilled in that species of workmanship; and in another is the celebrated
clock, known by the name of L'Horloge du Paon. It is enclosed in a large
glass case ten feet high, being the trunk of a golden tree, with its
branches and leaves all of gold. On the top of the trunk sits a peacock,
which, when the chimes begin, expands its brilliant tail, while an owl
rolls its eyes with its own peculiar stare, and, instead of a bell
striking the hours, a golden cock flaps his wings and crows. The clock
is now out of order, and the machinery is so complicated that no artist
has hitherto been able to repair it.

But perhaps the most extraordinary and interesting of the wonders of the
Hermitage are the Winter and Summer Gardens. As I strolled through the
suites of apartments, and looked out through the windows of a long
gallery, it was hardly possible to believe that the flourishing trees,
shrubs, and flowers stood upon an artificial soil, raised nearly fifty
feet above the surface of the earth. The Winter Garden is a large
quadrangular conservatory, planted with laurels and orange trees, in
which linnets and Canary birds formerly flew about enjoying the freedom
of nature; but the feathered tribe have disappeared. The Summer Garden
connected with it is four hundred feet long; and here, suspended, as it
were, in the air, near the top of the palace, I strolled along
gravel-walks, and among parterres of shrubs and flowers growing in rich
luxuriance, and under a thick foliage inhaled their delightful
fragrance. It is idle to attempt a description of this scene.

I returned to my Pole, whom I found at his window with a melancholy and
sentimental visage, his beautiful epistle returned upon his
hands--having, in sportsman's phrase, entirely missed fire--and then
lying with a most reproving look on his table. My friend had come up to
St. Petersburgh in consequence of a lawsuit, and as this occupied but a
small portion of his time, he had involved himself in a lovesuit, and,
so far as I could see, with about an equal chance of success in both.
L'amour was the great business of his life, and he could not be content
unless he had on hand what he called une affaire du coeur.

FOOTNOTE:

[1] The Winter Palace has since been destroyed by fire. The author has
not seen any account of the particulars, but has heard that the contents
of the Diamond Chamber were saved.



CHAPTER VIII.

    An Imperial Fête.--Nicolas of Russia.--Varied Splendours.--A
      Soliloquy.--House of Peter the Great.--A
      Boatrace.--Czarskoselo.--The Amber Chamber.--Catharine II.--The
      Emperor Alexander.


THE next day was that appointed for the great fête at Peterhoff. In
spite of the confining nature of his two suits, my Pole had determined
to accompany me thither, being prompted somewhat by the expectation of
seeing his damsel; and, no way disheartened by the fate of his first
letter, he had manufactured another, by comparison with which the first
was an icicle. I admitted it to be a masterpiece, though when he gave it
to a servant to carry over, as we were on the point of setting off,
suggested that it might be worth while to wait and pick it up when she
threw it out of the window. But he had great confidence, and thought
much better of her spirit for sending back his first letter.

The whole population of Petersburgh was already in motion and on the way
to Peterhoff. It was expected that the fête would be more than usually
splendid, on account of the presence of the Queen of Holland, then on a
visit to her sister the empress; and at an early hour the splendid
equipages of the nobility, carriages, droskys, telegas, and carts, were
hurrying along the banks of the Neva, while steamboats, sailboats,
rowboats, and craft of every description were gliding on the bosom of
the river.

As the least trouble, we chose a steamboat, and at twelve o'clock
embarked at the English Quay. The boat was crowded with passengers, and
among them was an old English gentleman, a merchant of thirty years'
standing in St. Petersburgh. I soon became acquainted with him, how I do
not know, and his lady told me that the first time I passed them she
remarked to her husband that I was an American. The reader may remember
that a lady made the same remark at Smyrna; without knowing exactly how
to understand it, I mention it as a fact showing the nice discrimination
acquired by persons in the habit of seeing travellers from different
countries. Before landing, the old gentleman told me that his boys had
gone down in a pleasure-boat, abundantly provided with materials, and
asked me to go on board and lunch with them, which, upon the invitation
being extended to my friend, I accepted.

Peterhoff is about twenty-five versts from St. Petersburgh, and the
whole bank of the Neva on that side is adorned with palaces and
beautiful summer residences of the Russian seigneurs. It stands at the
mouth of the Neva, on the borders of the Gulf of Finland. Opposite is
the city of Cronstadt, the seaport of St. Petersburgh and the anchorage
of the Russian fleet. It was then crowded with merchant ships of every
nation, with flags of every colour streaming from their spars in honour
of the day. On landing, we accompanied our new friends, and found "the
boys," three fine young fellows just growing up to manhood, in a
handsome little pleasure-boat, with a sail arranged as an awning,
waiting for their parents. We were introduced and received with open
arms, and sat down to a cold collation in good old English style, at
which, for the first time since I left home, I fastened upon an
oldfashioned sirloin of roastbeef. It was a delightful meeting for me.
The old people talked to me about my travels; and the old lady
particularly, with almost a motherly interest in a straggling young man,
inquired about my parents, brothers, and sisters, &c.; and I made my way
with the frankhearted "boys" by talking "boat." Altogether, it was a
regular home family scene; and, after the lunch, we left the old people
under the awning, promising to return at nine o'clock for tea, and with
"the boys" set off to view the fête.

From the time when we entered the grounds until we left at three o'clock
the next morning, the whole was a fairy scene. The grounds extended some
distance along the shore, and the palace stands on an embankment perhaps
a hundred and fifty feet high, commanding a full view of the Neva,
Cronstadt with its shipping, and the Gulf of Finland. We followed along
the banks of a canal five hundred yards long, bordered by noble trees.
On each side of the canal were large wooden frames about sixty feet
high, filled with glass lamps for the illumination; and at the foot of
each was another high framework with lamps, forming, among other things,
the arms of Russia, the double-headed eagle, and under it a gigantic
star thirty or forty feet in diameter. At the head of the canal was a
large basin of water, and in the centre of the basin stood a colossal
group in brass, of a man tearing open the jaws of a rampant lion; and
out of the mouth of the lion rushed a jet d'eau perhaps a hundred and
fifty feet high. On each side of this basin, at a distance of about
three hundred feet, was a smaller basin, with a jet d'eau in each about
half its height, and all around were jets d'eau of various kinds,
throwing water vertically and horizontally; among them I remember a
figure larger than life, leaning forward in the attitude of a man
throwing the discus, with a powerful stream of water rushing from his
clinched fist. These basins were at the foot of the embankment on which
stands the palace. In the centre was a broad flight of steps leading to
the palace, and on each side was a continuous range of marble slabs to
the top of the hill, over which poured down a sheet of water, the slabs
being placed so high and far apart as to allow lamps to be arranged
behind the water. All over, along the public walks and in retired
alcoves, were frames hung with lamps; and everywhere, under the trees
and on the open lawn, were tents of every size and fashion, beautifully
decorated; many of them, oriental in style and elegance, were fitted up
as places of refreshment. Thousands of people, dressed in their best
attire, were promenading the grounds, but no vehicles were to be seen,
until, in turning a point, we espied at some distance up an avenue, and
coming quietly toward us, a plain open carriage, with two horses and two
English jockey outriders, in which were a gentleman and lady, whom,
without the universal taking off of hats around us, I recognised at once
as the emperor and empress. I am not apt to be carried away by any
profound admiration for royalty, but, without consideration of their
rank, I never saw a finer specimen of true gentility; in fact, he looked
every inch a king, and she was my beau ideal of a queen in appearance
and manners. They bowed as they passed, and, as I thought, being outside
of the line of Russians and easily recognised as a stranger, their
courtesy was directed particularly to me; but I found that my companion
took it very much to himself, and no doubt every long-bearded Russian
near us did the same. In justice to myself, however, I may almost say
that I had a conversation with the emperor; for although his imperial
highness did not speak to me, he spoke in a language which none but I
(and the queen and his jockey outriders) understood; for, waving his
hand to them, I heard him say in English, "To the right." After this
_interview_ with his majesty we walked up to the palace. The splendid
regiments of cavalier guards were drawn up around it, every private
carrying himself like a prince; and I did not admire all his palaces,
nor hardly his queen, so much as this splendid body of armed followers.
Behind the palace is a large plain cut up into gravel-walks, having in
one place a basin of water, with waterworks of various kinds, among
which were some of peculiar beauty falling in the form of a semiglobe.

A little before dark we retired to a refectory under a tent until the
garden was completely lighted up, that we might have the full effect of
the illumination at one coup d'oeil, and, when we went out, the dazzling
brilliancy of the scene within the semicircular illumination around the
waterworks was beyond description. This semicircular framework enclosed
in a large sweep the three basins, and terminated at the embankment on
which the palace stands, presenting all around an immense fiery scroll
in the air, sixty or eighty feet high, and filled with all manner of
devices; and for its background a broad sheet of water falling over a
range of steps, with lighted lamps behind it, forming an illuminated
cascade, while the basins were blazing with the light thrown upon them
from myriads of lamps, and the colossal figures of a reddened and
unearthly hue were spouting columns of water into the air. More than two
hundred thousand people were supposed to be assembled in the garden, in
every variety of gay, brilliant, and extraordinary costume. St.
Petersburgh was half depopulated, and thousands of peasants were
assembled from the neighbouring provinces. I was accidentally separated
from all my companions; and, alone among thousands, sat down on the
grass, and for an hour watched the throng passing through the
illuminated circle, and ascending the broad steps leading toward the
palace. Among all this immense crowd there was no rabble; not a dress
that could offend the eye; but intermingled with the ordinary costumes
of Europeans were the Russian shopkeeper, with his long surtout, his
bell-crowned hat, and solemn beard; Cossacks, and Circassian soldiers,
and Calmuc Tartars, and cavalier guards, hussars, with the sleeves of
their rich jackets dangling loose over their shoulders, tossing plumes,
and helmets glittering with steel, intermingled throughout with the gay
dresses of ladies; while near me, and, like me, carelessly stretched on
the grass, under the light of thousands of lamps, was a group of
peasants from Finland fiddling and dancing; the women with light hair,
bands around their heads, and long jackets enwrapping their square
forms, and the men with long greatcoats, broad-brimmed hats, and a bunch
of shells in front.

Leaving this brilliant scene, I joined the throng on the steps, and by
the side of a splendid hussar, stooping his manly figure to whisper in
the ears of a lovely young girl, I ascended to the palace and presented
my ticket of admission to the bal masqué, so called from their being no
masks there. I had not been presented at court, and, consequently, had
only admission to the outer apartments with the people. I had, however,
the range of a succession of splendid rooms, richly decorated with vases
and tazzas of precious stones, candelabra, couches, ottomans, superb
mirrors, and inlaid floors; and the centre room, extending several
hundred feet in length, had its lofty walls covered to the very ceilings
with portraits of all the female beauties in Russia about eighty years
ago. I was about being tired of gazing at these pictures of
long-sleeping beauties, when the great doors at one end were thrown
open, and the emperor and empress, attended by the whole court, passed
through on their way to the banqueting-hall. Although I had been in
company with the emperor before in the garden, and though I had taken
off my hat to the empress, both passed without recognising me. The court
at St. Petersburgh is admitted to be the most brilliant in Europe; the
dresses of the members of the diplomatic corps and the uniforms of the
general and staff-officers being really magnificent, while those of the
ladies sparkled with jewels. Besides the emperor and empress, the only
acquaintance I recognised in that constellation of brilliantly-dressed
people were Mr. Wilkins and Mr. Clay, who, for republicans, made a very
fair blaze. I saw them enter the banqueting-hall, painted in oriental
style to represent a tent, and might have had the pleasure of seeing the
emperor and empress and all that brilliant collection eat; but, turning
away from a noise that destroyed much of the illusion, viz., the clatter
of knives and forks, and a little piqued at the cavalier treatment I had
received from the court circles, I went out on the balcony and
soliloquized, "Fine feathers make fine birds; but look back a little, ye
dashing cavaliers and supercilious ladies. In the latter part of the
seventeenth century, a French traveller in Russia wrote that 'most men
treat their wives as a necessary evil, regarding them with a proud and
stern eye, and even beating them after.' Dr. Collins, physician to the
Czar in 1670, as an evidence of the progress of civilization in Russia,
says that the custom of tying up wives by the hair of the head and
flogging them 'begins to be left off;' accounting for it, however, by
the prudence of parents, who made a stipulative provision in the
marriage contract that their daughters were not to be whipped, struck,
kicked, &c. But, even in this improved state of society, one man 'put
upon his wife a shirt dipped in ardent spirits, and burned her to
death,' and was not punished, there being, according to the doctor, 'no
punishment in Russia for killing a wife or a slave.' When no provision
was made in the marriage contract, he says they were accustomed to
discipline their wives very severely. At the marriage the bridegroom had
a whip in one boot and a jewel in the other, and this poor girl tried
her fortune by choosing. 'If she happens upon the jewel,' says another
traveller, 'she is lucky; but if on the whip, she gets it.' The
bridegroom rarely saw his companion's face till after the marriage,
when, it is said, 'If she be ugly she pays for it soundly, maybe the
first time he sees her.' Ugliness being punished with the whip, the
women painted to great excess; and a traveller in sixteen hundred and
thirty-six saw the grand duchess and her ladies on horseback astride,
'most wickedly bepainted.' The day after a lady had been at an
entertainment, the hostess was accustomed to ask how she got home; and
the polite answer was, 'Your ladyship's hospitality made me so tipsy
that I don't know how I got home;' and for the climax of their barbarity
it can scarcely be believed, but it is recorded as a fact, that the
women did not begin to wear stays till the beginning of the present
century!"

Soothed by these rather ill-natured reflections, I turned to the
illuminated scene and the thronging thousands below, descended once more
to the garden, passed down the steps, worked my way through the crowd,
and fell into a long avenue, like all the rest of the garden,
brilliantly lighted, but entirely deserted. At the end of the avenue I
came to an artificial lake, opposite which was a small square two-story
cottage, being the old residence of Peter the Great, the founder of all
the magnificence of Peterhoff. It was exactly in the style of our
ordinary country houses, and the furniture was of a simplicity that
contrasted strangely with the surrounding luxury and splendour. The door
opened into a little hall, in which were two oldfashioned Dutch mahogany
tables, with oval leaves, legs tapering and enlarging at the feet into
something like a horseshoe; just such a table as every one may remember
in his grandfather's house, and recalling to mind the simple style of
our own country some thirty or forty years ago. In a room on one side
was the old Czar's bed, a low, broad wooden bedstead, with a sort of
canopy over it, the covering of the canopy and the coverlet being of
striped calico; the whole house, inside and out, was hung with lamps,
illumining with a glare that was almost distressing the simplicity of
Peter's residence; and, as if to give greater contrast to this
simplicity, while I was standing in the door of the hall, I saw roll by
me in splendid equipages, the emperor and empress, with the whole of the
brilliant court which I had left in the banqueting-hall, now making a
tour of the gardens. The carriages were all of one pattern, long, hung
low, without any tops, and somewhat like our omnibuses, except that,
instead of the seats being on one side, there was a partition in the
middle not higher than the back of a sofa, with large seats like sofas
on each side, on which the company sat in a row, with their backs to
each other; in front was a high and large box for the coachmen, and a
footman behind. It was so light that I could distinguish the face of
every gentleman and lady as they passed; and there was something so
unique in the exhibition, that, with the splendour of the court dresses,
it seemed the climax of the brilliant scenes at Peterhoff. I followed
them with my eyes till they were out of sight, gave one more look to the
modest pillow on which old Peter reposed his careworn head, and at about
one o'clock in the morning left the garden. A frigate brilliantly
illuminated was firing a salute, the flash of her guns lighting up the
dark surface of the water as I embarked on board the steamboat. At two
o'clock the morning twilight was like that of day; at three o'clock I
was at my hotel, and, probably, at ten minutes past, asleep.

About eight o'clock the next morning my Pole came into my room. He had
returned from Peterhoff before me, and found waiting for him his second
epistle, with a note from the mother of the young lady, which he read to
me as I lay in bed. Though more than half asleep, I was rather roused by
the strange effect this letter had upon him, for he was now encouraged
to go on with his suit, since he found that the backwardness of the
young lady was to be ascribed to the influence of the mother, and not to
any indifference on her part.

In the afternoon I went to a boatrace between English amateurs that had
excited some interest among the English residents. The boats were badly
matched; a six-oared boat thirty-two feet long, and weighing two hundred
and thirty pounds, being pitted against three pairs of sculls, with a
boat twenty-eight feet long and weighing only one hundred and eight
pounds. One belonged to the English legation and the other to some
English merchants. The race was from the English Quay to the bridge
opposite the Suwarrow monument at the foot of the Summer Garden, and
back, a little more than two miles each way. The rapidity of the current
was between two and three miles an hour, though its full strength was
avoided by both boats keeping in the eddies along shore. It was a
beautiful place for a boatrace; the banks of the Neva were lined with
spectators, and the six-oared boat beat easily, performing the distance
in thirty-one minutes.

The next morning, in company with a Frenchman lately arrived at our
hotel, I set out for the imperial palace of Czarskoselo, about seventeen
versts from St. Petersburgh. About seven versts from the city we passed
the imperial seat of Zechenne, built by the Empress Catharine to
commemorate the victory obtained by Orloff over the Turks on the coast
of Anatolia. The edifice is in the form of a Turkish pavilion, with a
central rotunda containing the full-length portraits of the sovereigns
cotemporary with Catharine. Since her death this palace has been
deserted. In eighteen hundred and twenty-five, Alexander and the empress
passed it on their way to the south of Russia, and about eight months
after their mortal remains found shelter in it for a night, on their way
to the imperial sepulchre. There was no other object of interest on the
road until we approached Czarskoselo. Opposite the "Caprice Gate" is a
cluster of white houses, in two rows, of different sizes, diminishing as
they recede from the road, and converging at the farthest extremity;
altogether a bizarre arrangement, and showing the magnificence of
Russian gallantry. The Empress Catharine at the theatre one night
happened to express her pleasure at the perspective view of a small
town, and the next time she visited Czarskoselo she saw the scene
realized in a town erected by Count Orloff at immense expense before the
gate of the palace. The façade of the palace is unequalled by any royal
residence in the world, being twelve hundred feet in length. Originally,
every statue, pedestal, and capital of the numerous columns; the vases,
carvings, and other ornaments in front, were covered with gold leaf, the
gold used for that purpose amounting to more than a million of ducats.
In a few years the gilding wore off, and the contractors engaged in
repairing it offered the empress nearly half a million of rubles
(silver) for the fragments of gold; but the empress scornfully refused,
saying, "Je ne suis pas dans l'usage de vendre mes vielles hardes." I
shall not attempt to carry the reader through the magnificent apartments
of this palace. But I must not forget the famed amber chamber, the whole
walls and ceilings being of amber, some of the pieces of great size,
neatly fitted together, and even the frames of the pictures an elaborate
workmanship of the same precious material. But even this did not strike
me so forcibly as when, conducted through a magnificent apartment, the
walls covered with black paper shining like ebony, and ornamented with
gold and immense looking-glasses, the footman opened a window at the
other end, and we looked down into the chapel, an Asiatic structure,
presenting an _ensemble_ of rich gilding of surpassing beauty, every
part of it, the groups of columns, the iconastos, and the gallery for
the imperial family, resplendent with gold. In one of the staterooms
where the empress's mother resides, the floor consists of a parquet of
fine wood inlaid with wreaths of mother-of-pearl, and the panels of the
room were incrusted with lapis lazuli.

But to me all these magnificent chambers were as nothing compared with
those which were associated with the memory of the late occupant.
"Uneasy rests the head that wears a crown;" and perhaps it is for this
reason that I like to look upon the pillow of a king, far more on that
of a queen. The bedchamber of Catharine II. is adorned with walls of
porcelain and pillars of purple glass; the bedclothes are those under
which she slept the last time she was at the palace, and in one place
was a concealed door, by which, as the unmannerly footman, without any
respect to her memory, told us, her imperial highness admitted her
six-feet paramours. In the bedchamber of Alexander were his cap, gloves,
boots, and other articles of dress, lying precisely as he left them
previous to his departure for the southern part of his empire. His bed
was of leather, stuffed with straw, and his boots were patched over and
over worse than mine, which I had worn all the way from Paris. I tried
on his cap and gloves, and moralized over his patched boots. I
remembered Alexander as the head of a gigantic empire, the friend and
ally, and then the deadly foe of Napoleon; the companion of kings and
princes; the arbiter of thrones and empires, and playing with crowns and
sceptres. I sat with the patched boots in my hand. Like old Peter, he
had considerable of a foot, and I respected him for it. I saw him, as
it were, in an undress, simple and unostentatious in his habits; and
there was a domestic air in his whole suite of apartments that
interested me more than when I considered him on his throne. His
sitting-room showed quiet and gentlemanly as well as domestic habits,
for along the wall was a border of earth, with shrubs and flowers
growing out of it, a delicate vine trailed around and almost covering a
little mahogany railing. The grounds around the palace are eighteen
miles in circumference, abounding in picturesque and beautiful scenery,
improved by taste and an unbounded expenditure of money, and at this
time they were in the fulness of summer beauty. We may talk simplicity
and republicanism, but, after all, it must be a pleasant thing to be an
emperor. I always felt this, particularly when strolling through
imperial parks or pleasure-grounds, and sometimes I almost came to the
unsentimental conclusion that, to be rural, a man must be rich.

We wandered through the grounds without any plan, taking any path that
offered, and at every step some new beauty broke upon us: a theatre;
Turkish kiosk or Chinese pagoda; splendid bridges, arches, and columns;
and an Egyptian gate; a summer-house in the form of an Ionic colonnade,
a masterpiece of taste and elegance, supporting an aerial garden crowded
with flowers; and a Gothic building called the Admiralty, on the borders
of an extensive lake, on which lay several boats--rigged as frigates,
elegant barges and pleasure-boats, and beautiful white swans floating
majestically upon its surface; on the islands and the shores of the lake
were little summer-houses; at the other end was a magnificent stone
landing, and in full view a marble bridge, with Corinthian columns of
polished marble; an arsenal, with many curious and interesting objects,
antique suits of armour, and two splendid sets of horse trappings,
holsters, pistols, and bridles, all studded with diamonds, presented by
the sultan on occasion of the peace of Adrianople. Nor must I forget the
dairy, and a superb collection of goats and lamas from Siberia. Amid
this congregation of beauties one thing offended me; a Gothic tower
built as a ruin for the sake of the picturesque, which, wanting the
associations connected with monuments ruined by time, struck me as a
downright mockery. We had intended to visit the palace of Paulowsky, but
time slipped away, and it was six o'clock before we started to return to
St. Petersburgh.



CHAPTER IX.

    The Soldier's Reward.--Review of the Russian Army.--American
      Cannibals.--Palace of Potemkin.--Palace of the Grand-duke
      Michael.--Equipments for Travelling.--Rough
      Riding.--Poland.--Vitepsk.--Napoleon in Poland.--The Disastrous
      Retreat.--Passage of the Berezina.


EARLY the next morning I went out about twelve versts from the city to
attend a grand military review by the emperor in person. The government
of Russia is a military despotism, and her immense army, nominally
amounting to a million, even on the peace establishment numbers actually
six hundred thousand, of which sixty thousand follow the person of the
emperor, and were at that time under arms at St. Petersburgh. When I
rode on the parade-ground, the spectacle of this great army, combining
the élite of barbaric chivalry with soldiers trained in the best
schools of European discipline, drawn up in battle's stern array, and
glittering with steel, was brilliant and almost sublime; in numbers and
military bearing, in costliness of armour and equipment, far surpassing
any martial parade that I had seen, not excepting a grand review of
French troops at Paris, or even a _fourth of July parade at home_. I
once had the honour to be a paymaster in the valiant one hundred and
ninety-seventh regiment of New-York State Militia; and I can say what,
perhaps, no other man who ever served in our _army_ can say, that I
served out my whole term without being once promoted. Men came in below
and went out above me; ensigns became colonels and lieutenants generals,
but I remained the same; it was hard work to escape promotion, but I was
resolute. Associated with me was a friend as quartermaster, with as
little of the spirit of a soldier in him as myself, for which we were
rather looked down upon by the warriors of our day; and when, at the end
of our term, in company with several other officers, we resigned, the
next regimental orders were filled with military panegyrics, such as,
"the colonel has received, with the greatest regret, the resignation of
Lieutenant A.;" "the country has reason to deplore the loss of the
services of Captain B.;" and wound up with, "Quartermaster G. and
Paymaster S. have tendered their resignations, _both of which are hereby
accepted_." But when strains of martial music burst from a hundred
bands, and companies, and regiments, and brigades wheeled and manoeuvred
before me, and the emperor rode by, escorted by general and field
officers, and the most magnificent staff in Europe, and the earth shook
under the charge of cavalry, I felt a strong martial spirit roused
within me, perhaps I was excited by the reflection that these soldiers
had been in battles, and that the stars and medals glittering on their
breasts were not mere holyday ornaments, but the tokens of desperate
service on bloody battle-fields.

In a body, the Russian soldiers present an exceedingly fine appearance.
When the serf is enrolled, his hair and beard are cut off, except on the
upper lip, his uniform is simple and graceful, a belt is worn tightly
round the waist, and the breast of the coat is thickly padded,
increasing the manliness of the figure, though sometimes at the expense
of health. In evolutions they move like a great machine, as if all the
arms and legs were governed by a single impulse.

The army under review was composed of representatives from all the
nations under the sway of Russia; Cossacks of the Don, and the Wolga,
and the Black Sea, in jackets and wide pantaloons of blue cloth, riding
on small horses, with high-peaked saddles, and carrying spears eight or
ten feet in length. One regiment had the privilege of wearing a ragged
flag and caps full of holes, as proofs of their gallant service, being
the only regiment that fought at Pultowa. And there were Calmucs in
their extraordinary war-dress; a helmet with a gilded crest, or a chain
cap with a network of iron rings falling over the head and shoulders,
and hanging as low as the eyebrows in front; a shirt of mail, composed
of steel rings matted together and yielding to the body, the arms
protected by plates, and the back of the hand by steel network fastened
to the plates on each side; their offensive weapons were bows and
arrows, silver-mounted pistols peeping out of their holsters,
cartridge-boxes on each side of the breast, and a dagger, sword, and
gun.

The Kirguish, a noble-looking race, come from the steppes of Siberia.
Their uniform is magnificent, consisting of a blue frockcoat and
pantaloons covered with silver lace, a Grecian helmet, and a great
variety of splendid arms, the yataghan alone costing a thousand rubles.
They are all noble, and have no regular duty, except to attend the
imperial family on extraordinary occasions. At home they are always at
war among themselves. They are Mohammedans; and one of them said to an
American friend who had a long conversation with him, that he had four
wives at home; that some had more, but it was not considered becoming to
exceed that number. A bearded Russian came up and said that these
Kirguish eat dogs and cats against which the Kirguish protested. The
same Russian afterward observed that the Americans were worse than the
Kirguish, for that a patriarch of the church had written, and therefore
it must be true, that the number of human beings eaten by Americans
could not be counted; adding, with emphasis, "Sir, you were created in
the likeness of your Maker, and you should endeavour to keep yourself
so." He continued that the Russians were the first Christians, and he
felt much disposed to send missionaries among the Americans to meliorate
their condition.

The Imperial Guards are the finest-looking set of men I ever saw. The
standard is six feet, and none are admitted below that height. Their
uniform is a white cloth coat, with buckskin breeches, boots reaching
up to the hips, and swords that Wallace himself would not have been
ashamed to wield. But perhaps the most striking in that brilliant army
was the emperor himself; seeming its natural head, towering even above
his gigantic guards, and looking, as Mr. Wilkins once said of him, like
one who, among savages, would have been chosen for a chief. In the midst
of this martial spectacle, the thought came over me of militia musters
at home; and though smiling at the insignificance of our military array
as I rode back in my drosky, I could but think of the happiness of our
isolated position, which spares us the necessity of keeping a large
portion of our countrymen constantly in arms to preserve the rest in the
enjoyment of life and fortune.

The next morning my Polish friend, hopeless of success either in his
lawsuit or his lovesuit, fixed a day for our departure; and, with the
suggestion that I am about leaving St. Petersburgh, I turn once more,
and for the last time, to the imperial palaces. Not far from the
Hermitage is the marble palace; a colossal pile, built by the Empress
Catharine for her favourite, Count Orloff, presenting one of its fronts
to the Neva. All the decorations are of marble and gilded bronze, and
the capitals and bases of the columns and pilasters, and the
window-frames and balustrades of the balconies, of cast bronze richly
gilded. The effect is heightened by the unusually large dimensions of
the squares of fine plate glass. A traveller in seventeen hundred and
fifty-nine says "that the prodigies of enchantment which we read of in
the tales of the genii are here called forth into reality; and the
temples reared by the luxuriant fancy of our poets may be considered as
a picture of the marble palace, which Jupiter, when the burden of cares
drives him from heaven, might make his delightful abode." At present,
however, there are but few remains of this Olympian magnificence, and I
think Jupiter at the same expense would prefer the Winter Palace or the
Hermitage.

The Taurida Palace, erected by Catharine II. for her lover, Potemkin, in
general effect realizes the exaggerated accounts of travellers. The
entrance is into a spacious hall, which leads to a circular vestibule of
extraordinary magnitude, decorated with busts and statues in marble,
with a dome supported by white columns. From thence you pass between the
columns into an immense hall or ballroom, two hundred and eighty feet
long and eighty wide, with double colonnades of lofty Ionic pillars
decorated with gold and silver festoons, thirty-five feet high and ten
feet in circumference. From the colonnade, running the whole length of
the ballroom, you enter the Winter Garden, which concealed flues and
stoves keep always at the temperature of summer; and here, upon great
occasions, under the light of magnificent lustres and the reflection of
numerous mirrors, during the fierceness of the Russian winter, when the
whole earth is covered with snow, and "water tossed in the air drops
down in ice," the imperial visiter may stroll through gravel-walks
bordered with the choicest plants and flowers, blooming hedges and
groves of orange, and inhale the fragrance of an Arabian garden. Paul,
in one of his "darkened hours," converted this palace into barracks and
a riding-school; but it has since been restored, in some degree, to its
ancient splendour.

The palace of Paul, in which he was assassinated, has been uninhabited
since his death. But the triumph of modern architecture in St.
Petersburgh is the palace of the Grand-duke Michael. I shall not attempt
any description of this palace; but, to give some notion of its
splendours to my calculating countrymen, I shall merely remark that it
cost upward of seventeen millions of rubles. But I am weary of palaces;
of wandering through magnificent apartments, where scene after scene
bursts upon my eyes, and, before I begin to feel at home in them, I find
myself ordered out by the footman. Will the reader believe me? On the
opposite side of the river is a little wooden house, more interesting in
my eyes than all the palaces in St. Petersburgh. It is the humble
residence of Peter the Great. I visited it for the last time after
rambling through the gorgeous palace of the Grand-duke Michael. It is
one story high, low roofed, with a little piazza around it, and contains
a sitting-room, bedroom, and dining-parlours; and Peter himself, with
his own axe, assisted in its construction. The rooms are only eight feet
in height, the sitting-room is fifteen feet square, the dining-room
fifteen feet by twelve, and the bedchamber ten feet square. In the first
there is a chapel and shrine, where the Russian visiter performs his
orisons and prays for the soul of Peter. Around the cottage is a neat
garden, and a boat made by Peter himself is suspended to one of the
walls. I walked around the cottage, inside and out; listened
attentively, without understanding a word he said, to the garrulous
Russian cicerone, and sat down on the step of the front piazza. Opposite
was that long range of imperial palaces extending for more than a mile
on the Neva, and surpassing all other royal residences in Europe or the
world. When Peter sat in the door of this humble cottage, the ground
where they stood was all morass and forest. Where I saw the lofty spires
of magnificent churches, he looked out upon fishermen's huts. My eyes
fell upon the golden spire of the church of the citadel glittering in
the sunbeams, and reminding me that in its dismal charnelhouse slept the
tenant of the humble cottage, the master-spirit which had almost created
out of nothing all this splendour. I saw at the same time the beginning
and the end of greatness. The humble dwelling is preserved with
religious reverence, and even now is the most interesting monument which
the imperial city can show.

And here, at this starting-point in her career, I take my leave of the
Palmyra of the North. I am compelled to omit many things which he who
speaks of St. Petersburgh at all ought not to omit: her magnificent
churches; her gigantic and splendid theatres; her literary, scientific,
and eleemosynary institutions, and that which might form the subject of
a chapter in her capital, her government and laws. I might have seen
something of Russian society, as my friend Luoff had arrived in St.
Petersburgh; but, with my limited time, the interchange of these
civilities interfered with my seeing the curiosities of the capital.

My intimacy with the colonel had fallen off, though we still were on
good terms. The fact is, I believe I fell into rather queer company in
St. Petersburgh, and very soon found the colonel to be the most thorough
roué I ever met. He seemed to think that travelling meant dissipating;
he had never travelled but once, and that was with the army to Paris;
and, except when on duty, his whole time had been spent in riot and
dissipation; and though sometimes he referred to hard fighting, he
talked more of the pleasures of that terrible campaign than of its toils
and dangers. In consideration of my being a stranger and a young man, he
constituted himself my Mentor, and the advice which, in all soberness,
he gave me as the fruits of his experience, was a beautiful guide for
the road to ruin. I have no doubt that, if I had given myself up
entirely to him, he would have fêted me all the time I was in St.
Petersburgh; but this did not suit me, and I afterward fell in with the
Pole, who had his own vagaries too, and who, being the proprietor of a
cloth manufactory, did not suit the aristocratic notions of the colonel,
and so our friendship cooled. My intimacy with his friend the prince,
however, increased. I called upon him frequently, and he offered to
accompany me everywhere; but as in sightseeing I love to be alone, I
seldom asked him, except for a twilight walk. Old associations were all
that now bound together him and the colonel; their feelings, their
fortunes, and their habits of life were entirely different; and the
colonel, instead of being displeased with my seeking the prince in
preference to himself, was rather gratified. Altogether, the colonel
told me, he was much mistaken in me, but he believed I was a good fellow
after all; excused my regular habits somewhat on the ground of my
health; and the day before that fixed for my departure, asked me to pass
the evening with him, and to bring my friend the Pole. In the evening we
went to the colonel's apartments. The prince was there, and, after an
elegant little supper, happening to speak of a Frenchman and a Prussian
living in the hotel, with whom I had become acquainted, he sent down for
them to come up and join us. The table was cleared, pipes and tobacco
were brought on, and Champagne was the only wine. We had a long and
interesting conversation on the subject of the road to Warsaw, and
particularly in regard to the bloody passage of the Berezina, at which
both the colonel and the prince were present. The servant, a favourite
serf (who the next day robbed the colonel of every valuable article in
his apartment), being clumsy in opening a new bottle of Champagne, the
colonel said he must return to army practice, and reaching down his
sabre, with a scientific blow took off the neck without materially
injuring the bottle or disturbing the contents. This military way of
decanting Champagne aided its circulation, and head after head fell
rapidly before the naked sabre. I had for some time avoided emptying my
glass, which, in the general hurry of business, was not noticed; but, as
soon as the colonel discovered it, he cried out, "Treason, treason
against good fellowship. America is a traitor." I pleaded ill health,
but he would not listen to me; upbraided me that the friend and old ally
of Russia should fail him; turned up his glass on the table, and swore
he would not touch it again unless I did him justice. All followed his
example; all decided that America was disturbing the peace of nations;
the glasses were turned up all around, and a dead stop was put to the
merriment. I appealed, begged, and protested; and the colonel became
positive, dogged, and outrageous. The prince came to my aid, and
proposed that the difficulty between Russia and America should be
submitted to the arbitration of France and Prussia. He had observed
these powers rather backing out. The eyes of France were already in a
fine phrensy rolling, and Prussia's tongue had long been wandering; and
in apprehension of their own fate, these mighty powers leaned to mercy.
It was necessary, however, to propitiate the colonel, and they decided
that, to prevent the effusion of blood, I should start once more the
flow of wine; that we should begin again with a bumper all around; and,
after that, every man should do as he pleased. The colonel was obliged
to be content; and swearing that he would drink for us all, started
anew.

The Prussian was from Berlin, and this led the colonel to speak of the
stirring scenes that had taken place in that capital on the return of
the Russian army from Paris; and, after a while, the Prussian,
personally unknown to the colonel, told him that his name was still
remembered in Berlin as a leader in Russian riot and dissipation, and
particularly as having carried off, in a most daring manner, a lady of
distinguished family; and--"go on," said the colonel--"killed her
husband." "He refused my challenge," said the colonel, "but sought my
life, and I shot him like a dog." The whole party now became uproarious;
the colonel begged me, by all the friendly relations between Russia and
America, to hold on till breakfast-time; but, being the coolest man
present, and not knowing what farther developments might take place, I
broke up the party.

In the morning my passport was not ready. I went off to the
police-office for it, and when I returned the horses had not come, and
the valet brought me the usual answer, that there were none. My Pole was
glad to linger another day for the sake of his flirtation with the
little girl opposite, and so we lounged through the day, part of the
time in the bazar of a Persian, where I came near ruining myself by an
offer I made for a beautiful emerald; and after one more and the last
twilight stroll on the banks of the Neva and up the Newski Perspective,
we returned at an early hour, and for the last time in Russia, slept in
a bed.

At nine o'clock the next morning a kibitka drove up to the door of our
hotel, demanding an American and a Pole for Warsaw. All the servants of
the hotel were gathered around, arranging the luggage, and making a
great parade of getting off the distinguished travellers. The travellers
themselves seemed equipped for a long journey. One wore a blue
roundabout jacket, military cap and cloak, with whiskers and a mustache
tending to red; the other, a tall, stout, Herculean fellow, was habited
in the most outré costume of a Russian traveller; a cotton dressing-gown
of every variety of colours, red and yellow predominating; coarse gray
trousers; boots coming above his knees; a cap _tout a fait farouche_,
and there was no mistake about the colour of his hair and mustaches; he
was moving slowly around the kibitka in his travelling dress, and
looking up to the window opposite, to give his dulcinea the melancholy
intelligence that he was going away, and perhaps to catch one farewell
smile at parting. The carriage of these distinguished travellers was the
kibitka, one of the national vehicles of Russia, being a long,
round-bottomed box or cradle on four wheels, probably the old Scythian
wagon, resting, in proud contempt of the effeminacy of springs, on the
oaken axles; the hubs of the wheels were two feet long, the linchpins of
wood, the body of the carriage fastened to the wheels by wooden pins,
ropes, and sticks; and, except the tires of the wheels, there was not a
nail or piece of iron about it. The hinder part was covered with
matting, open in front somewhat like an oldfashioned bonnet, and
supported by an arched stick, which served as a linchpin for the hind
wheels; a bucket of grease hung under the hind axle, and the bottom of
the kibitka was filled with straw; whole cost of outfit, thirteen
dollars. Before it were three horses, one in shafts and one on each
side, the centre one having a high bow over his neck, painted yellow and
red, to which a rein was tied for holding up his head, and also a bell,
to a Russian postillion more necessary than harness. The travellers took
their places in the bottom of the kibitka, and the postillion, a rough,
brutal-looking fellow, in gray coat and hat turned up at the sides,
mounted in front, catching a seat where he could on the rim of the
wagon, about three inches wide; and in this dashing equipage we started
for a journey of a thousand miles to the capital of another kingdom. We
rolled for the last time through the streets of St. Petersburgh, gazed
at the domes, and spires, and magnificent palaces, and in a few moments
passed the barrier.

I left St. Petersburgh, as I did every other city, with a certain
feeling of regret that, in all probability, I should never see it more;
still the cracking of the postillion's whip and the galloping of the
horses created in me that high excitement which I always felt in setting
out for a new region. Our first stage was to Czarskoselo, our second to
Cazena, where there was another palace. It was dark when we reached the
third, a small village, of which I did not even note the name. I shall
not linger on this road, for it was barren of interest and incident, and
through a continued succession of swamps and forests. For two hundred
miles it tried the tenure of adhesion between soul and body, being made
of the trunks of trees laid transversely, bound down by long poles or
beams fastened into the ground with wooden pegs covered with layers of
boughs, and the whole strewed over with sand and earth; the trunks in
general were decayed and sunken, and the sand worn or washed away,
reminding me of the worst of our western corduroy roads. Our wagon being
without springs, and our seats a full-length extension on straw on the
bottom, without the bed, pillows, and cushions which the Russians
usually have, I found this ride one of the severest trials of physical
endurance I ever experienced. My companion groaned and brushed his
mustaches, and talked of the little girl at St. Petersburgh. In my
previous journey in Russia I had found the refreshment of tea, and on
this, often when almost exhausted, I was revived by that precious
beverage. I stood it three days and nights, but on the fourth completely
broke down. I insensibly slipped down at full length in the bottom of
the wagon; the night was cold and rainy; my companion covered me up to
the eyes with straw, and I slept from the early part of the evening like
a dead man. The horses were changed three times; the wagon was lifted up
under me, and the wheels greased; and three times my companion
quarrelled with the postmaster over my body without waking me. About six
o'clock in the morning he roused me. I could not stir hand or foot; my
mouth was full of dust and straw, and I felt a sense of suffocation. In
a few moments I crawled out, staggered a few steps, and threw myself
down on the floor of a wretched posthouse. My companion put my
carpet-bag under my head, wrapped cloaks and greatcoats around me, and
prepared me some tea; but I loathed everything. I was in that miserable
condition which every traveller has some time experienced; my head
ringing, every bone aching, and perfectly reckless as to what became of
me. While my companion stood over me I fell asleep, and believe I should
have been sleeping there yet if he had not waked me. He said we must go
on at all risks until we found a place where we could remain with some
degree of comfort. I begged and entreated to be left to myself, but he
was inexorable. He lifted me up, hauled me out to the kibitka, which was
filled with fresh straw, and seated me within, supporting me on his
shoulder.

It was a beautiful day. We moved moderately, and toward evening came to
a posthouse kept by a Jew, or, rather, a Jewess, who was so kind and
attentive that we determined to stay there all night. She brought in
some clean straw and spread it on the floor, where I slept gloriously.
My companion was tougher than I, but he could not stand the fleas and
bugs, and about midnight went out and slept in the kibitka. In the
morning we found that he had been too late; that the kibitka had been
stripped of every article except himself and the straw. Fortunately, my
carpet-bag had been brought in; but I received a severe blow in the loss
of a cane, an old friend and travelling companion, which had been with
me in every variety of scene, and which I had intended to carry home
with me, and retain as a companion through life. It is almost
inconceivable how much this little incident distressed me. It was a
hundred times worse than the loss of my carpet-bag. I felt the want of
it every moment; I had rattled it on the Boulevards of Paris, in the
eternal city, the Colosseum, and the places thereabout; had carried it
up the burning mountain, and poked it into the red-hot lava; had borne
it in the Acropolis, on the field of Marathon, and among the ruins of
Ephesus; had flourished it under the beard of the sultan, and the eyes
and nose of the emperor and autocrat of all the Russias; in deserts and
in cities it had been my companion and friend. Unsparing Nemesis, let
loose your vengeance upon the thief who stole it! The rascals had even
carried off the rope traces, and every loose article about the kibitka.

Notwithstanding this, however, I ought not to omit remarking the general
security of travelling in Russia and Poland. The immense plains; the
distance of habitations; the number of forests; the custom of travelling
by night as well as by day; the negligence of all measures to ensure the
safety of the roads, all contribute to favour robbery and murders; and
yet an instance of either is scarcely known in years. It was difficult
on those immense levels, which seemed independent of either general or
individual proprietors, to recognise even the bounds of empires. The
Dwina, however, a natural boundary, rolls between Russia and Poland; and
at Vitepsk we entered the territories of what was once another kingdom.
The surface of Poland forms part of that immense and unvaried plain
which constitutes the northern portion of all the central European
countries. A great portion of this plain is overspread with a deep layer
of sand, alternating however, with large clayey tracts and extensive
marshes; a winter nearly as severe as that of Sweden, and violent winds
blowing uninterruptedly over this wide open region, are consequences of
its physical structure and position. The Roman arms never penetrated any
part of this great level tract, the whole of which was called by them
Sarmatia; and Sarmatia and Scythia were in their descriptions always
named together as the abode of nomadic and savage tribes. From the
earliest era it appears to have been peopled by the Sclavonic tribes; a
race widely diffused, and distinguished by a peculiar language, by a
strong national feeling, and by a particular train of superstitious
ideas. Though shepherds, they did not partake of the migratory character
of the Teutonic or Tartar nations; and were long held in the most cruel
bondage by the Huns, the Goths, and other nations of Asia, for whom
their country was a path to the conquest of the west of Europe.

In the tenth century the Poles were a powerful and warlike nation. In
the fourteenth Lithuania was incorporated with it, and Poland became one
of the most powerful monarchies in Europe. For two centuries it was the
bulwark of Christendom against the alarming invasions of the Turks; the
reigns of Sigismund and Sobieski hold a high place in military history;
and, until the beginning of the last century, its martial character gave
it a commanding influence in Europe.

It is unnecessary to trace the rapid and irrecoverable fall of Poland.
On the second partition, Kosciusko, animated by his recent struggle for
liberty in America, roused his countrymen to arms. But the feet of three
giants were upon her breast; and Suwarrow, marching upon the capital,
storming the fortress of Praga, and butchering in cold blood thirty
thousand inhabitants, extinguished, apparently for ever, the rights and
the glories of Poland. Living as we do apart from the rest of the world,
with no national animosities transmitted by our fathers, it is
impossible to realize the feeling of deadly hatred existing between
neighbouring nations from the disputes of ancestors centuries ago. The
history of Russia and Poland presents a continued series of
bloodstained pages. Battle after battle has nourished their mutual hate,
and for a long time it had been the settled feeling of both that Russia
or Poland must fall. It is perhaps fortunate for the rest of Europe that
this feeling has always existed; for, if they were united in heart, the
whole south of Europe would lie at the mercy of their invading armies.
Napoleon committed a fatal error in tampering with the brave and
patriotic Poles; for he might have rallied around him a nation of
soldiers who, in gratitude, would have stood by him until they were
exterminated.

But to return to Vitepsk. Here, for the first time, we fell into the
memorable road traversed by Napoleon on his way to Moscow. The town
stands on the banks of the Dwina, built on both sides of the river, and
contains a population of about fifteen thousand, a great portion of whom
are Jews. In itself, it has but little to engage the attention of the
traveller; but I strolled through its streets with extraordinary
interest, remembering it as the place where Napoleon decided on his
fatal march to Moscow. It was at the same season and on the very same
day of the year that the "grand army," having traversed the gloomy
forests of Lithuania in pursuit of an invincible and intangible enemy,
with the loss of more than a hundred thousand men, emerged from the last
range of woods and halted at the presence of the hostile fires that
covered the plain before the city. Napoleon slept in his tent on an
eminence at the left of the main road, and before sunrise appeared at
the advanced posts, and by its first rays saw the Russian army, eighty
thousand strong, encamped on a high plain commanding all the avenues of
the city. Ten thousand horsemen made a show of defending its passes; and
at about ten o'clock, Murat le Beau Sabreur, intoxicated by the
admiration his presence excited, at the head of a single regiment of
chasseurs charged the whole Russian cavalry. He was repulsed, and driven
back to the foot of the hillock on which Napoleon stood. The chasseurs
of the French guards formed a circle around him, drove off the assailant
lancers, and the emperor ordered the attack to cease; and, pointing to
the city, his parting words to Murat were, "To-morrow at five o'clock
the sun of Austerlitz."

At daylight the camp of Barclay de Tolly was deserted; not a weapon, not
a single valuable left behind; and a Russian soldier asleep under a bush
was the sole result of the day expected to be so decisive. Vitepsk,
except by a few miserable Jews and Jesuits, like the Russian camp, was
also abandoned. The emperor mounted his horse and rode through the
deserted camp and desolate streets of the city. Chagrined and mortified,
he pitched his tents in an open courtyard; but, after a council of war
with Murat, Eugene, and others of his principal officers, laid his sword
upon the table, and resolved to finish in Vitepsk the campaign of that
year. Well had it been for him had he never changed that determination.
He traced his line of defence on the map, and explored Vitepsk and its
environs as a place where he was likely to make a long residence; formed
establishments of all kinds; erected large ovens capable of baking at
once thirty thousand loaves of bread; pulled down a range of stone
houses which injured the appearance of the square of the palace, and
made arrangements for opening the theatre with Parisian actors. But in a
few days he was observed to grow restless; the members of his household
recollected his expression at the first view of the deserted Vitepsk,
"Do you think I have come so far to conquer these miserable huts?"
Segur says that he was observed to wander about his apartments as if
pursued by some dangerous temptation. Nothing could rivet his attention.
Every moment he began, stopped, and resumed his labour. At length,
overwhelmed with the importance of the considerations that agitated him,
"he threw himself on the floor of his apartment; his frame, exhausted by
the heat and the struggles of his mind, could only bear a covering of
the slightest texture. He rose from his sleepless pillow possessed once
more with the genius of war; his voice deepens, his eyes flash fire, and
his countenance darkens. His attendants retreat from his presence,
struck with mingled awe and respect. His plan is fixed, his
determination taken, his order of march traced out."

The last council occupied eight hours. Berthier by a melancholy
countenance, by lamentations, and even by tears; Lobau by the cold and
haughty frankness of a warrior; Caulaincourt with obstinacy and
impetuosity amounting to violence; Duroc by a chilling silence, and
afterward by stern replies; and Daru straightforward and with firmness
immoveable, opposed his going; but, as if driven on by that fate he
almost defied, he broke up the council with the fatal determination.
"Blood has not been shed, and Russia is too great to yield without
fighting. Alexander can only negotiate after a great battle. I will
proceed to the holy city in search of that battle, and I will gain it.
Peace waits me at the gates of Moscow." From that hour commenced that
train of terrible disasters which finally drove him from the throne of
France, and sent him to die an exile on a small island in the Indian
Ocean. I walked out on the Moscow road, by which the grand army, with
pomp and martial music, with Murat, and Ney, and Duroc, and Daru,
inspired by the great names of Smolensk and Moscow, plunged into a
region of almost pathless forest, where most of them were destined to
find a grave. I was at first surprised at the utter ignorance of the
inhabitants of Vitepsk, in regard to the circumstances attending the
occupation of the city by Napoleon. A Jew was my cicerone, who talked of
the great scenes of which this little city had in his own day been the
theatre almost as matter of tradition, and without half the interest
with which, even now, the Greek points the stranger to the ruins of
Argos or the field of Marathon; and this ignorance in regard to the only
matters that give an interest to this dreary road I remarked during the
whole journey. I was so unsuccessful in my questions, and the answers
were so unsatisfactory, that my companion soon became tired of acting as
my interpreter. Indeed, as he said, he himself knew more than any one I
met, for he had travelled it before in company with an uncle, of the
Polish legion; but even he was by no means familiar with the ground.

We left Vitepsk with a set of miserable horses, rode all night, and at
noon of the next day were approaching the banks of the Berezina,
memorable for the dreadful passage which almost annihilated the wretched
remnant of Napoleon's army. It was impossible, in passing over the same
ground, not to recur to the events of which it had been the scene. The
"invincible legions," which left Vitepsk two hundred thousand strong,
were now fighting their dreadful retreat from Moscow through regulars
and Cossacks, reduced to less than twelve thousand men marching in
column, with a train of thirty thousand undisciplined followers, sick,
wounded, and marauders of every description. The cavalry which crossed
the Niemen thirty-seven thousand in number was reduced to one hundred
and fifty men on horseback. Napoleon collected all the officers who
remained mounted, and formed them into a body, in all about five
hundred, which he called his sacred squadron; officers served as
privates, and generals of divisions as captains. He ordered the
carriages of the officers, many of the wagons, and even the eagles
belonging to the different corps, to be burned in his presence; and
drawing his sword, with the stern remark that he had sufficiently acted
the emperor, and must once more play the general, marched on foot at the
head of his old guard. He had hardly reorganized before the immense pine
forests which border the Berezina echoed with the thunder of the Russian
artillery; in a moment all remains of discipline were lost. In the last
stage of weakness and confusion they were roused by loud cries before
them, and, to their great surprise and joy, recognised the armies of
Victor and Oudinot. The latter knew nothing of the terrible disasters of
the army of Moscow, and they were thrown into consternation and then
melted to tears when they saw behind Napoleon, instead of the invincible
legions which had left them in splendid equipments, a train of gaunt and
spectral figures, their faces black with dirt, and long bristly beards,
covered with rags, female pelisses, pieces of carpet, with bare and
bleeding feet, or bundled with rags, and colonels and generals marching
pellmell with soldiers, unarmed and shameless, without any order or
discipline, kept together and sleeping round the same fires only by the
instinct of self-preservation.

About noon we drove into the town of Borizoff. It stands on the banks
of the Berezina, and is an old, irregular-looking place, with a heavy
wooden church in the centre of an open square. As usual, at the door of
the posthouse a group of Jews gathered around us. When Napoleon took
possession of Borizoff the Jews were the only inhabitants who remained;
and they, a scattered, wandering, and migratory people, without any
attachment of soil or country, were ready to serve either the French or
Russians, according to the inducements held out to them. A few noble
instances are recorded where this persecuted and degraded people
exhibited a devotion to the land that sheltered them honourable to their
race and to the character of man; but in general they were false and
faithless. Those who gathered around us in Borizoff looked as though
they might be the very people who betrayed the Russians. One of them
told us that a great battle had been fought there, but we could not find
any who had been present at the fatal passage of the river. We dined at
the posthouse, probably with less anxiety than was felt by Napoleon or
any of the flying Frenchmen; but even we were not permitted to eat in
peace; for, before we had finished, our vehicle was ready, with worse
horses than usual, and a surlier postillion. We sent the postillion on
ahead, and walked down to the bank of the river. On the night preceding
the passage, Napoleon himself had command of Borizoff, with six thousand
guards prepared for a desperate contest. He passed the whole night on
his feet; and while waiting for the approach of daylight in one of the
houses on the border of the river, so impracticable seemed the chance of
crossing with the army that Murat proposed to him to put himself under
the escort of some brave and determined Poles, and save himself while
there was yet time; but the emperor indignantly rejected the proposition
as a cowardly flight. The river is here very broad, and divided into
branches. On the opposite side are the remains of an embankment that
formed part of the Russian fortifications. When the Russians were driven
out of Borizoff by Oudinot, they crossed the river, burned the bridge,
and erected these embankments.

Besides the sanguinary contest of the French and Russians, this river is
also memorable for a great battle between my companion and our
postillion. In the middle of the bridge the postillion stopped and
waited till we came up; he grumbled loudly at being detained, to which
my companion replied in his usual conciliatory and insinuating manner,
by laying his cane over the fellow's shoulders; but on the bridge of
Borizoff the blood of the Lithuanian was roused; and, perhaps, urged on
by the memory of the deeds done there by his fathers, he sprang out of
the wagon, and with a warcry that would not have disgraced a Cossack of
the Don, rushed furiously upon my friend. Oh for a Homer to celebrate
that fight on the bridge of Borizoff! The warriors met, not like Grecian
heroes, with spear and shield, and clad in steel, but with their naked
fists and faces bare to take the blows. My friend was a sublime
spectacle. Like a rock, firm and immoveable, he stood and met the charge
of the postillion; in short, in the twinkling of an eye he knocked the
postillion down. Those who know say that it is more trying to walk over
a field of battle after all is over than to be in the fight; and I
believe it from my experience in our trying passage of the Berezina;
for, when I picked up the discomfited postillion, whose face was
covered with blood, I believe that I had the worst of it. All great
victories are tested by their results, and nothing could be more
decisive than that over the postillion. He arose a wiser and much more
tractable man. At first he looked very stupid when he saw me leaning
over him, and very startled when he rubbed his hand over his face and
saw it stained with blood; but, raising himself, he caught sight of his
victor, and without a word got into the wagon, walked the horses over
the bridge, and at the other end got out and threw himself on the
ground.

It was a beautiful afternoon, and we lingered on the bridge. Crossing
it, we walked up the bank on the opposite side toward the place where
Napoleon erected his bridges for the passage of his army. All night the
French worked at the bridges by the light of the enemy's fires on the
opposite side. At daylight the fires were abandoned, and the Russians,
supposing the attempt here to be a feint, were seen in full retreat. The
emperor, impatient to get possession of the opposite bank, pointed it
out to the bravest. A French aiddecamp and Lithuanian count threw
themselves into the river, and, in spite of the ice, which cut their
horses' breasts, reached the opposite bank in safety. About one o'clock
the bank on which we stood was entirely cleared of Cossacks, and the
bridge for the infantry was finished. The first division crossed it
rapidly with its cannon, the men shouting "_Vive l'empereur!_" The
passage occupied three days. The number of stragglers and the quantity
of baggage were immense. On the night of the twenty-seventh the
stragglers left the bridge, tore down the whole village, and made fires
with the materials, around which they crouched their shivering figures,
and from which it was impossible to tear themselves away. At daylight
they were roused by the report of Witgenstein's cannon thundering over
their heads, and again all rushed tumultuously to the bridges. The
Russians, with Platow and his Cossacks, were now in full communication
on both sides of the river. On the left bank, Napoleon's own presence of
mind and the bravery of his soldiers gave him a decided superiority;
but, in the language of Scott, the scene on the right bank had become
the wildest and most horrible which war can exhibit.

"Victor, with eight or ten thousand men, covered the retreat over the
bridges, while behind his line thousands of stragglers, old men, women,
and children, were wandering by the side of this river like the fabled
spectres which throng the banks of the infernal Styx, seeking in vain
for passage. The balls of the Russians began to fall among the
disordered mass, and the whole body rushed like distracted beings toward
the bridges, every feeling of prudence or humanity swallowed up by the
animal instinct of self-preservation. The weak and helpless either
shrunk from the fray and sat down to wait their fate at a distance, or,
mixing in it, were thrust over the bridges, crushed under carriages, cut
down with sabres, or trampled to death under the feet of their
countrymen. All this while the action continued with fury; and, as if
the heavens meant to match their wrath with that of man, a hurricane
arose and added terrors to a scene which was already of a character so
dreadful. About midday the larger bridge, constructed for artillery and
heavy carriages, broke down, and multitudes were forced into the water.
The scream of the despairing multitude became at this crisis for a
moment so universal, that it rose shrilly above the wild whistling of
the tempest and the sustained and redoubled hourras of the Cossacks. The
dreadful scene continued till dark. As the obscurity came on, Victor
abandoned the station he had defended so bravely, and led the remnant of
his troops in their turn across. All night the miscellaneous multitude
continued to throng across the bridge under the fire of the Russian
artillery. At daybreak the French engineers finally set fire to the
bridge, and all that remained on the other side, including many
prisoners, and a great quantity of guns and baggage, became the property
of the Russians. The amount of the French loss was never exactly known;
but the Russian report concerning the bodies of the invaders, which were
collected and burned as soon as the thaw permitted, states that upward
of thirty-six thousand were found in the Berezina."

The whole of this scene was familiar to me as matter of history; the
passage of the Berezina had in some way fastened itself upon my mind as
one of the most fearful scenes in the annals of war; and, besides this,
at St. Petersburgh the colonel and prince had given me a detailed
account of the horrors of that dreadful night, for they were both with
Witgenstein's army, by the light of the snow, the course of the river,
and the noise, directing a murderous fire of artillery against the dark
mass moving over the bridge; and nearer still, my companion had visited
the place in company with his uncle, of the Polish legion, and repeated
to me the circumstances of individual horror which he had heard from his
relative, surpassing human belief. The reader will excuse me if I have
lingered too long on the banks of that river; and perhaps, too, he will
excuse me when I tell him that, before leaving it, I walked down to its
brink and bathed my face in its waters. Others have done so at the
classic streams of Italy and Greece; but I rolled over the Arno and the
Tiber in a vetturino without stopping, and the reader will remember that
I jumped over the Ilissus.



CHAPTER X.

    Travel by Night.--A Rencounter.--A Traveller's
      Message.--Lithuania.--Poverty of the Country.--Agricultural
      Implements.--Minsk.--Polish Jews.--A Coin of Freedom.--Riding in a
      Basket.--Brezc.--The Bug.--A searching Operation.--Women
      Labourers.--Warsaw.


IT was after dark when we returned to our wagon, still standing at the
end of the bridge opposite Borizoff. Our postillion, like a sensible
man, had lain down to sleep at the head of his horses, so they could not
move without treading on him and waking him; and, when we roused him,
the pain of his beating was over, and with it all sense of the
indignity; and, in fact, we made him very grateful for the flogging by
promising him a few additional kopeks.

We hauled up the straw and seated ourselves in the bottom of our
kibitka. Night closed upon us amid the gloomy forests bordering the
banks of the Berezina. We talked for a little while, and by degrees
drawing our cloaks around us, each fell into a revery. The continued
tinkling of the bell, which, on my first entering Russia, grated on my
ear, had become agreeable to me, and in a dark night particularly was a
pleasing sound. The song of the postillion, too, harmonized with the
repose of spirit at that moment most grateful to us; that too died
away, the bell almost ceased its tinkling, and, in spite of the alarum
of war which we had all day been ringing in our own ears, we should
probably soon have fallen into a sleep as sound, for a little while at
least, as that of them who slept under the waters of the Berezina, but
we were suddenly roused by a shock as alarming to quiet travellers as
the hourra of the Cossack in the ears of the flying Frenchmen. Our
horses sprang out of the road, but not in time to avoid a concussion
with another wagon going toward Borizoff. Both postillions were thrown
off their seats; and the stranger, picking himself up, came at us with a
stream of Lithuanian Russian almost harsh enough to frighten the horses.
I will not suggest what its effect was upon us, but only that, as to
myself, it seemed at first equal to the voice of at least a dozen
freebooters and marauders; and if the English of it had been "stand and
deliver," I should probably have given up my carpet-bag without asking
to reserve a change of linen. But I was restored by the return fire of
our postillion, who drowned completely the attack of his adversary by
his outrageous clamour; and when he stopped to take breath my companion
followed up the defence, and this brought out a fourth voice from the
bottom of the opposite wagon. A truce was called, and waiving the
question on which side the fault lay, we all got out to ascertain the
damage. Our antagonist passenger was a German merchant, used to roughing
it twice every year between Berlin, Warsaw, Petersburgh, and Moscow, and
took our smashing together at night in this desolate forest as coolly as
a rub of the shoulders in the streets; and, when satisfied that his
wagon was not injured, kindly asked us if we had any bones broken. We
returned his kind inquiries; and, after farther interchanges of
politeness, he said that he was happy to make our acquaintance, and
invited us to come and see him at Berlin. We wanted him to go back and
let us have a look at him by torchlight, but he declined; and, after
feeling him stretched out in his bed in the bottom of his wagon, we
started him on his way.

We resumed our own places, and, without dozing again, arrived at the
posthouse, where first of all we made ourselves agreeable to the
postmaster by delivering our German friend's message to him, that he
ought to be whipped and condemned to live where he was till he was a
hundred years old for putting the neck of a traveller at the mercy of a
sleepy postillion; but the postmaster was a Jew, and thought the vile
place where he lived equal to any on earth. He was a miserable,
squalid-looking object, with a pine torch in his hand lighting up the
poverty and filthiness of his wretched habitation, and confessed that he
should be too happy to enjoy the fortune which the German would have
entailed upon him as a curse. He offered to make us a bed of some dirty
straw which had often been slept on before; but we shrank from it; and,
as soon as we could get horses, returned to our kibitka and resumed our
journey.

The whole province of Lithuania is much the same in appearance. We lost
nothing by travelling through it at night; indeed, every step that we
advanced was a decided gain, as it brought us so much nearer its
farthermost border. The vast provinces of Lithuania, formerly a part of
the kingdom of Poland, and, since the partition of that unhappy country,
subject to the throne of Russia, until the fourteenth century were
independent of either. The Lithuanians and Samogitians are supposed to
be of a different race from the Poles, and spoke a language widely
dissimilar to the Polish or Russian. Their religion was a strange
idolatry; they worshipped the god of thunder, and paid homage to a god
of the harvest; they maintained priests, who were constantly feeding a
sacred fire in honour of the god of the seasons; they worshipped trees,
fountains, and plants; had sacred serpents, and believed in guardian
spirits of trees, cattle, &c. Their government, like that of all other
barbarous nations, was despotic, and the nobles were less numerous and
more tyrannical than in Poland. In the latter part of the fourteenth
century, on the death of Louis, successor to Casimir the Great, Hedwiga
was called to the throne of Poland, under a stipulation, however, that
she should follow the will of the Poles in the choice of her husband.
Many candidates offered themselves for the hand dowered with a kingdom;
but the offers of Jagellon, duke of Lithuania, were most tempting; he
promised to unite his extensive dominions to the territory of Poland,
and pledged himself for the conversion to Christianity of his Lithuanian
subjects. But queens are not free from the infirmities of human nature;
and Hedwiga had fixed her affections upon her cousin, William of
Austria, whom she had invited into Poland; and when Jagellon came to
take possession of his wife and crown, she refused to see him. The
nobles, however, sent William back to his papa, and locked her up as if
she had been a boarding-school miss. And again, queens are not free from
the infirmities of human nature: Hedwiga was inconstant; the handsome
Lithuanian made her forget her first love, and Poland and Lithuania
were united under one crown. Jagellon was baptized, but the inhabitants
of Lithuania did not so readily embrace the Christian religion; in one
of the provinces they clung for a long time to their own strange and
wild superstitions; and even in modern times, it is said, the peasants
long obstinately refused to use ploughs or other agricultural
instruments furnished with iron, for fear of wounding the bosom of
mother earth.

All the way from Borizoff the road passes through a country but little
cultivated, dreary, and covered with forests. When Napoleon entered the
province of Lithuania his first bulletins proclaimed, "Here, then, is
that Russia so formidable at a distance! It is a desert for which its
scattered population is wholly insufficient. They will be vanquished by
the very extent of territory which ought to defend them;" and, before I
had travelled in it a day, I could appreciate the feeling of the soldier
from La Belle France, who, hearing his Polish comrades boast of their
country, exclaimed, "Et ces gueux la appellent cette pays une patrie!"

The villages are a miserable collection of straggling huts, without plan
or arrangement, and separated from each other by large spaces of ground.
They are about ten or twelve feet square, made of the misshapen trunks
of trees heaped on each other, with the ends projecting over; the roof
of large shapeless boards, and the window a small hole in the wall,
answering the double purpose of admitting light and letting out smoke.
The tenants of these wretched hovels exhibit the same miserable
appearance both in person and manners. They are hard-boned and
sallow-complexioned; the men wear coarse white woollen frocks, and a
round felt cap lined with wool, and shoes made of the bark of trees,
and their uncombed hair hangs low over their heads, generally of a
flaxen colour. Their agricultural implements are of the rudest kind. The
plough and harrow are made from the branches of the fir tree, without
either iron or ropes; their carts are put together without iron,
consisting of four small wheels, each of a single piece of wood; the
sides are made of the bark of a tree bent round, and the shafts are a
couple of fir branches; their bridles and traces platted from the bark
of trees, or composed merely of twisted branches. Their only instrument
to construct their huts and make their carts is a hatchet. They were
servile and cringing in their expressions of respect, bowing down to the
ground and stopping their carts as soon as we came near them, and stood
with their caps in their hands till we were out of sight. The whole
country, except in some open places around villages, is one immense
forest of firs, perhaps sixty feet in height, compact and thick, but
very slender. As we approached Minsk the road was sandy, and we entered
by a wooden bridge over a small stream and along an avenue of trees.

Minsk is one of the better class of Lithuanian towns, being the chief
town of the government of Minsk, but very dirty and irregular. The
principal street terminates in a large open square of grass and mean
wooden huts. From this another street goes off at right angles,
containing large houses, and joining with a second square, where some of
the principal buildings are of brick. From this square several streets
branch off, and enter a crowd of wooden hovels irregularly huddled
together, and covering a large space of ground. The churches are heavily
constructed, and in a style peculiar to Lithuania, their gable ends
fronting the street, and terminated at each corner by a square spire,
with a low dome between them. The population is half Catholic and half
Jewish, and the Jews are of the most filthy and abject class.

A few words with regard to the Jews in Poland. From the moment of
crossing the borders of Lithuania, I had remarked in every town and
village swarms of people differing entirely from the other inhabitants
in physical appearance and costume, and in whose sharply-drawn features,
long beards, and flowing dresses, with the coal-black eyes and oriental
costumes of the women, I at once recognised the dispersed and wandering
children of Israel. On the second destruction of Jerusalem, when the
Roman general drove a plough over the site of the Temple of Solomon, the
political existence of the Jewish nation was annihilated, their land was
portioned out among strangers, and the descendants of Abraham were
forbidden to pollute with their presence the holy city of their fathers.
In the Roman territories, their petition for the reduction of taxation
received the stern answer of the Roman, "Ye demand exemption from
tribute for your soil; I will lay it on the air you breathe;" and, in
the words of the historian, "Dispersed and vagabond, exiled from their
native soil and air, they wander over the face of the earth without a
king, either human or divine, and even as strangers they are not
permitted to salute with their footsteps their native land." History
furnishes no precise records of the emigration or of the first
settlement of the Israelites in the different countries of Europe; but
for centuries they have been found dispersed, as it was foretold they
would be, over the whole habitable world, a strange, unsocial, and
isolated people, a living and continued miracle. At this day they are
found in all the civilized countries of Europe and America, in the
wildest regions of Asia and Africa, and even within the walls of China;
but, after Palestine, Poland is regarded as their Land of Promise; and
there they present a more extraordinary spectacle than in any country
where their race is known. Centuries have rolled on, revolutions have
convulsed the globe, new and strange opinions have disturbed the human
race, but the Polish Jew remains unchanged: the same as the dark
superstition of the middle ages made him; the same in his outward
appearance and internal dispositions, in his physical and moral
condition, as when he fled thither for refuge from the swords of the
crusaders.

As early as the fourteenth century, great privileges were secured to the
Jews by Casimir the Great, who styled them his "faithful and able
subjects," induced, according to the chronicles of the times, like
Ahasuerus of old, by the love of a beautiful Esther. While in Germany,
Italy, Spain, Portugal, and even in England and France, their whole
history is that of one continued persecution, oppressed by the nobles,
anathematized by the clergy, despised and abhorred by the populace,
flying from city to city, arrested, and tortured, and burned alive, and
sometimes destroying themselves by thousands to escape horrors worse
than death; while all orders were arrayed in fierce and implacable
hatred against them, in Poland the race of Israel found rest; and there
they remain at this day, after centuries of residence, still a distinct
people, strangers and sojourners in the land, mingling with their
neighbours in the every-day business of life, but never mingling their
blood; the direct descendants of the Israelites who, three thousand
years ago, went out from the land of Egypt; speaking the same language,
and practising the laws delivered to Moses on the mountain of Sinai;
mourning over their fallen temple, and still looking for the Messiah who
shall bring together their scattered nation and restore their temporal
kingdom.

But notwithstanding the interest of their history and position, the
Polish Jews are far from being an interesting people; they swarm about
the villages and towns, intent on gain, and monopolizing all the petty
traffic of the country. Outward degradation has worked inward upon their
minds; confined to base and sordid occupations, their thoughts and
feelings are contracted to their stations, and the despised have become
despicable. It was principally in his capacity of innkeeper that I
became acquainted with the Polish Jew. The inn is generally a miserable
hovel communicating with, or a room partitioned off in one corner of, a
large shed serving as a stable and yard for vehicles; the entrance is
under a low porch of timber; the floor is of dirt; the furniture
consists of a long table, or two or three small ones, and in one corner
a bunch of straw, or sometimes a few raised boards formed into a
platform, with straw spread over it, for beds; at one end a narrow door
leads into a sort of hole filled with dirty beds, old women, half-grown
boys and girls, and children not overburdened with garments, and so
filthy that, however fatigued, I never felt disposed to venture among
them for rest. Here the Jew, assisted by a dirty-faced Rachel, with a
keen and anxious look, passes his whole day in serving out to the
meanest customers beer, and hay, and corn; wrangling with and extorting
money from intoxicated peasants; and, it is said, sometimes, after the
day's drudgery is over, retires at night to his miserable hole to pore
over the ponderous volumes filled with rabbinical lore; or sometimes his
mind takes a higher flight, meditating upon the nature of the human
soul; its relation to the Divinity; the connexion between the spirit and
the body; and indulging in the visionary hope of gaining, by means of
cabalistic formula, command over the spirits of the air, the fire, the
flood, and the earth.

Though the days of bitter persecution and hatred have gone by, the Jews
are still objects of contempt and loathing. Once I remember pointing out
to my postillion a beautiful Jewish girl, and, with the fanatic spirit
of the middle ages, himself one of the most degraded serfs in Poland, he
scorned the idea of marrying the fair daughter of Israel. But this the
Jew does not regard; all he asks is to be secured from the active enmity
of mankind. "Like the haughty Roman banished from the world, the
Israelite throws back the sentence of banishment, and still retreats to
the lofty conviction that his race is not excluded as an unworthy, but
kept apart as a sacred, people; humiliated, indeed, but still hallowed,
and reserved for the sure though tardy fulfilment of the Divine
promises."

The Jews in Poland are still excluded from all offices and honours, and
from all the privileges and distinctions of social life. Until the
accession of Nicolas, they were exempted from military service on
payment of a tax; but since his time they have been subject to the
regular conscription. They regard this as an alarming act of oppression,
for the boys are taken from their families at twelve or thirteen, and
sent to the army or the common military school, where they imbibe
notions utterly at variance with the principles taught them by their
fathers; and, probably, if the system continues, another generation will
work a great change in the character of the Jews of Poland.

But to return to the Jews at Minsk. As usual, they gathered around us
before we were out of our kibitka, laid hold of our baggage, and in
Hebrew, Lithuanian, and Polish, were clamorous in offers of service.
They were spare in figure, dressed in high fur caps and long black
muslin gowns, shining and glossy from long use and tied around the waist
with a sash; and here I remarked what has often been remarked by other
travellers, when the features were at rest, a style of face and
expression resembling the pictures of the Saviour in the galleries in
Italy. While my companion was arranging for posthorses and dinner, I
strolled through the town alone, that is, with a dozen Israelites at my
heels and on my return I found an accession of the stiff-necked and
unbelieving race, one of whom arrested my attention by thrusting before
me a silver coin. It was not an antique, but it had in my eyes a greater
value than if it had been dug from the ruins of a buried city, and bore
the image of Julius Cæsar. On the breaking out of the late revolution,
one of the first acts of sovereignty exercised by the provincial
government was to issue a national coin stamped with the arms of the old
kingdom of Poland, the white eagle and the armed cavalier, with an
inscription around the rim, "God protect Poland." When the revolution
was crushed, with the view of destroying in the minds of the Poles every
memento of their brief but glorious moment of liberty, this coin was
called in and suppressed, and another substituted in its place, with
the Polish eagle, by way of insult, stamped in a small character near
the tip end of the wing of the double-headed eagle of Russia. The coin
offered me by the Jew was one of the emission of the revolution, and my
companion told me it was a rare thing to find one. I bought it at the
Jew's price, and put it in my pocket as a memorial of a brave and fallen
people.

I will not inflict upon the reader the particulars of our journey
through this dreary and uninteresting country. We travelled constantly,
except when we were detained for horses. We never stopped at night, for
there seldom was any shelter on the road better than the Jews' inns, and
even in our kibitka we were better than there. But, unluckily, on the
seventh day, our kibitka broke down; the off hind wheel snapped in
pieces, and let us down rather suddenly in one of the autocrat's
forests. Our first impulse was to congratulate ourselves that this
accident happened in daylight; and we had a narrow escape, for the sun
had hardly begun to find its way into the dark forest. Fortunately, too,
we were but two or three versts from a posthouse. I had met with such
accidents at home, and rigged a small tree (there being no such things
as rails, property there not being divided by rail fences) under the
hind axle, supporting it on the front. We lighted our pipes and escorted
our crippled vehicle to the posthouse, where we bought a wheel off
another wagon, much better than the old one, only about two inches
lower. This, however, was not so bad as might be supposed, at least for
me, who sat on the upper side, and had the stout figure of my companion
as a leaning-post.

At Sloghan, about two hundred versts from Brezc the frontier town of
Poland, we sold our kibitka for a breakfast, and took the _char de
pôste_, or regular troika. This is the postboy's favourite vehicle; the
body being made of twigs interlaced like a long basket, without a
particle of iron, and so light that a man can lift up either end with
one hand. Our speed was increased wonderfully by the change; the horses
fairly played with the little car at their heels; the drivers vied with
each other, and several posts in succession we made nearly twenty versts
in an hour. It will probably be difficult to throw the charm of romance
around the troika driver; but he comes from the flower of the peasantry;
his life, passed on the wild highways, is not without its vicissitudes,
and he is made the hero of the Russian's favourite popular ballads:

    "Away, away, along the road
      The gallant troika bounds;
    While 'neath the douga, sadly sweet,
      Their Valdai bell resounds."[2]

We passed the house of a _very respectable_ seigneur who had married his
own sister. We stopped at his village and talked of him with the
postmaster, by whom he was considered a model of the domestic virtues.
The same day we passed the chateau of a nobleman who wrote himself
cousin to the Emperors of Russia and Austria, confiscated for the part
he took in the late Polish revolution, a melancholy-looking object,
deserted and falling to ruins, its owner wandering in exile with a price
upon his head. It rained hard during the day, for the first time since
we left Petersburgh; at night the rain ceased, but the sky was still
overcast. For a long distance, and, in fact, a great part of the way
from Petersburgh, the road was bordered with trees. At eleven o'clock we
stopped at a wretched posthouse, boiled water, and refreshed ourselves
with deep potations of hot tea. We mounted our troika, the postillion
shouted, and set off on a run. Heavy clouds were hanging in the sky; it
was so dark that we could not see the horses, and there was some little
danger of a breakdown; but there was a high and wild excitement in
hurrying swiftly through the darkness on a run, hearing the quick
tinkling of the bell and the regular fall of the horses' hoofs, and
seeing only the dark outline of the trees. We continued this way all
night, and toward morning we were rattling on a full gallop through the
streets of Brezc. We drove into a large stable-yard filled with
kibitkas, troikas, and all kinds of Russian vehicles, at one end of
which was a long low building kept by a Jew. We dismounted, and so ended
nearly three thousand miles of posting in Russia. The Jew, roused by our
noise, was already at the door with a lighted taper in his hand, and
gave us a room with a leather-covered sofa and a leather cushion for a
pillow, where we slept till eleven o'clock the next day.

We breakfasted, and in the midst of a violent rain crossed the Bug, and
entered the territory of Poland Proper. For many centuries the banks of
the Bug have been the battle-ground of the Russians and Poles. In the
time of Boleslaus the Terrible, the Russians were defeated there with
great slaughter, and the river was so stained with blood that it has
retained ever since the name of the _Horrid_. Before crossing we were
obliged to exchange our Russian money for Polish, rubles for florins,
losing, of course, heavily by the operation, besides being subjected to
the bore of studying a new currency; and the moment we planted our feet
on the conquered territory, though now nominally under the same
government, we were obliged to submit to a most vexatious process. The
custom-house stood at the end of the bridge, and, as matter of course,
our postillion stopped there. Our luggage was taken off the wagon,
carried inside, every article taken out and laid on the floor, and a
Russian soldier stood over, comparing them with a list of prohibited
articles as long as my arm. Fortunately for me, the Russian government
had not prohibited travellers from wearing pantaloons and shirts in
Poland, though it came near faring hard with a morning-gown. My
companion, however, suffered terribly; his wearing apparel was all laid
out on one side, while a large collection of curious and pretty
nothings, which he had got together with great affection at the capital,
as memorials for his friends at home, were laid out separately, boxes
opened, papers unrolled, and, with provoking deliberation, examined
according to the list of prohibited things. It was a new and despotic
regulation unknown to him, and he looked on in agony, every condemned
article being just the one above all others which he would have saved;
and when they had finished, a large pile was retained for the
examination of another officer, to be sent on to Warsaw in case of their
being allowed to pass at all. I had frequently regretted having allowed
the trouble and inconvenience to prevent my picking up curiosities; but
when I saw the treasures of my friend taken from him, or, at least,
detained for an uncertain time, I congratulated myself upon my good
fortune. My friend was a man not easily disheartened; he had even got
over the loss of his love at St. Petersburgh; but he would rather have
been turned adrift in Poland without his pantaloons than be stripped of
his precious bawbles. I had seen him roused several times on the road,
quarrelling with postmasters and thumping postillions, but I had never
before seen the full development of that extraordinary head of hair. He
ground his teeth and cursed the whole Russian nation, from the Emperor
Nicolas down to the soldier at the custom-house. He was ripe for
revolution, and, if a new standard of rebellion had been set up in
Poland, he would have hurried to range himself under its folds. I
soothed him by striking the key-note of his heart. All the way from
Petersburgh he had sat mechanically, with his pocket-glass and brush,
dressing his mustaches; but his heart was not in the work, until, as we
approached the borders of Poland, he began to recover from his
Petersburgh affair, and to talk of the beauty of the Polish women. I
turned him to this now.

It is a fact that, while for ages a deadly hatred has existed between
the Russians and the Poles, and while the Russians are at this day
lording it over the Poles with the most arbitrary insolence and tyranny,
beauty still asserts its lawful supremacy, and the Polish women bring to
their feet the conquerors of their fathers, and husbands, and brothers.
The first posthouse at which we stopped confirmed all that my companion
had said; for the postmaster's daughter was brilliantly beautiful,
particularly in the melting wildness of a dark eye, indicating an
Asiatic or Tartar origin; and her gentle influence was exerted in
soothing the savage humour of my friend, for she sympathized in his
misfortunes, and the more sincerely when she heard of the combs, and
rings, and slippers, and other pretty little ornaments for sisters and
female friends at home; and my Pole could not resist the sympathy of a
pretty woman.

We had scarcely left the postmaster's daughter, on the threshold of
Poland, almost throwing a romance about the Polish women, before I saw
the most degrading spectacle I ever beheld in Europe, or even in the
barbarous countries of the East. Forty or fifty women were at work in
the fields, and a large, well-dressed man, with a pipe in his mouth and
a long stick in his hand, was walking among them as overseer. In our
country the most common labouring man would revolt at the idea of his
wife or daughter working in the open fields. I had seen it, however, in
gallant France and beautiful Italy; but I never saw, even in the
barbarous countries of the East, so degrading a spectacle as this; and I
could have borne it almost anywhere better than in chivalric Poland.

We were now in the territory called Poland Proper, that is, in that part
which, after the other provinces had been wrested away and attached to
the dominions of the colossal powers around, until the revolution and
conquest of 1830 had retained the cherished name of the kingdom of
Poland. The whole road is Macadamized, smooth and level as a floor, from
the banks of the Bug to Warsaw; the posthouses and postmasters are much
better, and posting is better regulated, though more expensive. The road
lay through that rich agricultural district which had for ages made
Poland celebrated as the granary of Europe; and though the face of the
country was perfectly flat, and the scenery tame and uninteresting, the
soil was rich, and, at that time, in many places teeming with heavy
crops. As yet, it had not recovered from the desolating effects of the
war of the revolution. The whole road has been a battle-ground, over
which the Poles had chased the Russians to the frontier, and been driven
back to Warsaw; time after time it had been drenched with Russian and
Polish blood, the houses and villages sacked and burned, and their
blackened ruins still cumbered the ground, nursing in the conquered but
unsubdued Pole his deep, undying hatred of the Russians.

On this road Diebitsch, the crosser of the Balkan, at the head of eighty
thousand men, advanced to Warsaw. His right and left wings manoeuvred to
join him at Siedler, the principal town, through which we passed. We
changed horses three times, and rolled on all night without stopping. In
the morning my companion pointed out an old oak, where a distinguished
colonel of the revolution, drawing up the fourth Polish regiment against
the Imperial Guards, with a feeling of mortal hate commanded them to
throw away their primings, and charge with the bayonet, "Coeur à coeur."
In another place five hundred gentlemen, dressed in black, with pumps,
silk stockings, and small swords, in a perfect wantonness of pleasure at
fighting with the Russians, and, as they said, in the same spirit with
which they would go to a ball, threw themselves upon a body of the
guards, and, after the most desperate fighting, were cut to pieces to a
man. Farther on, a little off from the road, on the borders of the field
of Grokow, was a large mound covered with black crosses, thrown up over
the graves of the Poles who had fallen there. About eleven o'clock we
approached the banks of the Vistula. We passed the suburbs of Praga, the
last battle-ground of Kosciusko, where the bloodstained Suwarrow
butchered in cold blood thirty thousand Poles. Warsaw lay spread out on
the opposite bank of the river, the heroic but fallen capital of Poland,
the city of brave men and beautiful women; of Stanislaus, and Sobieski,
and Poniatowsky, and Kosciusko, and, I will not withhold it, possessing
in my eyes, a romantic interest from its associations with the hero of
my schoolboy days, Thaddeus of Warsaw. On the right is the chateau of
the old Kings of Poland, now occupied by a Russian viceroy, with the
banner of Russia waving over its walls. We rode over the bridge and
entered the city. Martial music was sounding, and Russian soldiers,
Cossacks, and Circassians were filing through its streets. We held up to
let them pass, and they moved like the keepers of a conquered city, with
bent brows and stern faces, while the citizens looked at them in gloomy
silence. We drove up to the Hotel de Leipsic (which, however, I do not
recommend), where I took a bath and a doctor.

FOOTNOTE:

[2] The douga is the bow over the neck of the middle horse, to which the
bell is attached; and Valdai the place on the Moscow road where the best
bells are made.



CHAPTER XI.

    Warsaw.--A Polish Doctor.--Battle of Grokow.--The Outbreak.--The
      fatal Issue.--Present Condition of Poland.--Polish Exiles.--Aspect
      of Warsaw.--Traits of the Poles.


A LETTER dated at Warsaw to my friends at home begins thus: "I have
reached this place to be put on my back by a Polish doctor. How long he
will keep me here I do not know. He promises to set me going again in a
week; and, as he has plenty of patients without keeping me down, I have
great confidence in him. Besides, having weathered a Greek, an Armenian,
and a Russian, I think I shall be too much for a Pole." There was not a
servant in the house who understood any language I spoke, and my friend
kindly proposed my taking a room with him; and, as he had many
acquaintances in Warsaw, who thronged to see him, he had to tell them
all the history of the American in the bed in one corner. All the next
day I lay in the room alone on a low bedstead, looking up at the ceiling
and counting the cracks in the wall. I was saved from a fit of the blues
by falling into a passion, and throwing my boots at the servant because
he could not understand me. Late in the evening my friend returned from
the theatre with three or four companions, and we made a night of it, I
taking medicine and they smoking pipes. They were all excellent fellows,
and, as soon as they heard me moving, came over to me, and, when I fell
back on my pillow, covered me up, and went back, and talked till I
wanted them again. Toward daylight I fell asleep, and, when the doctor
came in the morning, felt myself a new man. My doctor, by-the-way, was
not a Pole, but a German, physician to the court, and the first in
Warsaw; he occupied a little country-seat a few miles from Warsaw,
belonging to Count Niemcewicz, the poet and patriot, who accompanied
Kosciusko to this country, and married a lady of New-Jersey; returned
with him to Poland, was with him on his last battle-field, and almost
cut to pieces by his side.

In the afternoon one of my companions of the night before came to see
me. He had been in Warsaw during the revolution, and talked with
enthusiasm of their brief but gallant struggle; and, as it was a
beautiful afternoon, proposed strolling to a little eminence near at
hand, commanding a view of the first battle-ground. I went with him and
he pointed out on the other side of the Vistula the field of Grokow.
Below it was the bridge over which General Romarino carried his little
army during the night, having covered the bridge, the horses' hoofs, and
the wheels of the carriages with straw. This general is now in France
under sentence of death, with a price set upon his head.

The battle of Grokow, the greatest in Europe since that of Waterloo, was
fought on the twenty-fifth of February, 1831, and the place where I
stood commanded a view of the whole ground. The Russian army was under
the command of Diebitsch, and consisted of one hundred and forty-two
thousand infantry, forty thousand cavalry, and three hundred and twelve
pieces of cannon. This enormous force was arranged in two lines of
combatants, and a third of reserve. Its left wing, between Wavre and the
marshes of the Vistula, consisted of four divisions of infantry of
forty-seven thousand men, three of cavalry of ten thousand five hundred,
and one hundred and eight pieces of cannon; the right consisted of three
and a half divisions of infantry of thirty-one thousand men, four
divisions of cavalry of fifteen thousand seven hundred and fifty men,
and fifty-two pieces of cannon. Upon the borders of the great forest
opposite the Forest of Elders, conspicuous from where I stood, was
placed the reserve, commanded by the Grand-duke Constantine. Against
this immense army the Poles opposed less than fifty thousand men and a
hundred pieces of cannon, under the command of General Skrzynecki.

At break of day the whole force of the Russian right wing, with a
terrible fire of fifty pieces of artillery and columns of infantry,
charged the Polish left with the determination of carrying it by a
single and overpowering effort. The Poles, with six thousand five
hundred men and twelve pieces of artillery, not yielding a foot of
ground, and knowing they could hope for no succour, resisted this attack
for several hours, until the Russians slackened their fire. About ten
o'clock the plain was suddenly covered with the Russian forces issuing
from the cover of the forest, seeming one undivided mass of troops. Two
hundred pieces of cannon, posted on a single line, commenced a fire
which made the earth tremble, and was more terrible than the oldest
officers, many of whom had fought at Marengo and Austerlitz, had ever
beheld. The Russians now made an attack upon the right wing; but foiled
in this as upon the left, Diebitsch directed the strength of his army
against the Forest of Elders, hoping to divide the Poles into two parts.
One hundred and twenty pieces of cannon were brought to bear on this one
point, and fifty battalions, incessantly pushed to the attack, kept up a
scene of massacre unheard of in the annals of war. A Polish officer who
was in the battle told me that the small streams which intersected the
forest were so choked with dead that the infantry marched directly over
their bodies. The heroic Poles, with twelve battalions, for four hours
defended the forest against the tremendous attack. Nine times they were
driven out, and nine times, by a series of admirably-executed
manoeuvres, they repulsed the Russians with immense loss. Batteries, now
concentrated in one point, were in a moment hurried to another, and the
artillery advanced to the charge like cavalry, sometimes within a
hundred feet of the enemy's columns, and there opened a murderous fire
of grape.

At three o'clock the generals, many of whom were wounded, and most of
whom had their horses shot under them, and fought on foot at the head of
their divisions, resolved upon a retrograde movement, so as to draw the
Russians on the open plain. Diebitsch, supposing it to be a flight,
looked over to the city and exclaimed, "Well, then, it appears that,
after this bloody day, I shall take tea in the Belvidere Palace." The
Russian troops debouched from the forest. A cloud of Russian cavalry,
with several regiments of heavy cuirassiers at their head, advanced to
the attack. Colonel Pientka, who had kept up an unremitting fire from
his battery for five hours, seated with perfect sang-froid upon a
disabled piece of cannon, remained to give another effective fire, then
left at full gallop a post which he had so long occupied under the
terrible fire of the enemy's artillery. This rapid movement of his
battery animated the Russian forces. The cavalry advanced on a trot upon
the line of a battery of rockets. A terrible discharge was poured into
their ranks, and the horses, galled to madness by the flakes of fire,
became wholly ungovernable, and broke away, spreading disorder in every
direction; the whole body swept helplessly along the fire of the Polish
infantry, and in a few minutes was so completely annihilated that, of a
regiment of cuirassiers who bore inscribed on their helmets the
"Invincibles," not a man escaped. The wreck of the routed cavalry,
pursued by the lancers, carried along in its flight the columns of
infantry; a general retreat commenced, and the cry of "Poland for ever"
reached the walls of Warsaw to cheer the hearts of its anxious
inhabitants. So terrible was the fire of that day, that in the Polish
army there was not a single general or staff officer who had not his
horse killed or wounded under him; two thirds of the officers, and,
perhaps, of the soldiers, had their clothes pierced with balls, and more
than a tenth part of the army were wounded. Thirty thousand Russians and
ten thousand Poles were left on the field of battle; rank upon rank lay
prostrate on the earth, and the Forest of Elders was so strewed with
bodies that it received from that day the name of the "Forest of the
Dead." The Czar heard with dismay, and all Europe with astonishment,
that the crosser of the Balkan had been foiled under the walls of
Warsaw.

All day, my companion said, the cannonading was terrible. Crowds of
citizens, of both sexes and all ages, were assembled on the spot where
we stood, earnestly watching the progress of the battle, sharing in all
its vicissitudes, in the highest state of excitement as the clearing up
of the columns of smoke showed when the Russians or the Poles had fled;
and he described the entry of the remnant of the Polish army into Warsaw
as sublime and terrible; their hair and faces were begrimed with powder
and blood; their armour shattered and broken, and all, even dying men,
were singing patriotic songs; and when the fourth regiment, among whom
was a brother of my companion, and who had particularly distinguished
themselves in the battle, crossed the bridge and filed slowly through
the streets, their lances shivered against the cuirasses of the guards,
their helmets broken, their faces black and spotted with blood, some
erect, some tottering, and some barely able to sustain themselves in the
saddle, above the stern chorus of patriotic songs rose the distracted
cries of mothers, wives, daughters, and lovers, seeking among this
broken band for forms dearer than life, many of whom were then sleeping
on the battle-field. My companion told me that he was then a lad of
seventeen, and had begged with tears to be allowed to accompany his
brother; but his widowed mother extorted from him a promise that he
would not attempt it. All day he had stood with his mother on the very
spot where we did, his hand in hers, which she grasped convulsively, as
every peal of cannon seemed the knell of her son; and when the lancers
passed, she sprang from his side as she recognised in the drooping
figure of an officer, with his spear broken in his hand, the figure of
her gallant boy. He was then reeling in his saddle, his eye was glazed
and vacant, and he died that night in their arms.

The tyranny of the Grand-duke Constantine, the imperial viceroy, added
to the hatred of the Russians, which is the birthright of every Pole,
induced the unhappy revolution of eighteen hundred and thirty. Although,
on the death of Alexander, Constantine waived in favour of his brother
Nicolas his claim to the throne of Russia, his rule in Poland shows that
it was not from any aversion to the exercise of power.

When Constantine was appointed its commander-in-chief, the Polish army
ranked with the bravest in Europe. The Polish legions under Dombrowski
and Poniatowski had kept alive the recollections of the military glory
of their fallen nation. Almost annihilated by the bloody battles in
Italy, where they met their old enemies under Suwarrow, the butcher of
Praga, the proud remnants reorganized and formed the fifth corps of the
"grande armée," distinguished themselves at Smolensk, Borodino, Kalouga,
and the passage of the Berezina, took the field with the wreck of the
army in Saxony, fought at Dresden and Leipsic, and, when Napoleon told
them, brave as they were, that they were free to go home if they
pleased, they scorned to desert him in his waning fortunes, and
accompanied him to Paris. Alexander promised an amnesty, and they
marched with him to Warsaw. Within the first six months many officers of
this army had been grossly insulted; an eyewitness told me that he had
seen, on the great square of Warsaw, the high sheriff tear off the
epaulettes from the shoulders of an officer, and, in the presence of the
whole troops, strike him on the cheek with his hand.

It would, perhaps, be unjust to enumerate, as I heard them, the many
causes of oppression that roused to revolt the slumbering spirit of the
Poles; in the midst of which the French revolution threw all Poland into
commotion. The three days of July were hailed with rapture by every
patriotic heart; the new revolutionary movements in Belgium cheered them
on; and eighty young men, torn from the altars while praying for the
souls of their murdered countrymen on the anniversary of the butchery at
Praga, thrilled every heart and hurried the hour of retribution. The
enthusiasm of youth struck the first blow. A band of ardent young men of
the first families attended the meetings of secret patriotic
associations; and six of them, belonging to the military school,
suspecting they were betrayed, early in the evening went to their
barracks, and proposed to their comrades a plan for liberating their
country. The whole corps, not excepting one sick in bed, amounting in
all to about a hundred and fifty, took up arms, and, under a lieutenant
of nineteen, attacked the palace of Constantine, and almost secured his
person. The grand-duke was then asleep on a couch in a room opening upon
a corridor of the Belvidere Palace, and, roused by a faithful valet,
had barely time to throw a robe over him and fly. The insurgents, with
cries of vengeance, rushed into the interior of the palace, driving
before them the chief of the city police and the aiddecamp of the
grand-duke. The latter had the presence of mind to close the door of the
grand-duke's apartment before he was pierced through with a dozen
bayonets. The wife of the grand-duke, the beautiful and interesting
princess for whom he had sacrificed a crown, hearing the struggle, was
found on her knees offering up prayers to Heaven for the safety of her
husband. Constantine escaped by a window; and the young soldiers, foiled
in their attempt, marched into the city, and, passing the barracks of
the Russian guards, daringly fired a volley to give notice of their
coming. Entering the city, they broke open the prisons and liberated the
state prisoners, burst into the theatres, crying out, "Women, home; men,
to arms," forced the arsenal, and in two hours forty thousand men were
under arms. Very soon the fourth Polish regiment joined them; and before
midnight the remainder of the Polish troops in Warsaw, declaring that
their children were too deeply implicated to be abandoned, espoused the
popular cause. Some excesses were committed; and General Stanislaus
Potocki, distinguished in the revolution of Kosciusko, for hesitating
was killed, exclaiming with his last breath that it was dreadful to die
by the hands of his countrymen.

Chlopicki, the comrade of Kosciusko, was proclaimed dictator by an
immense multitude in the Champ de Mars. For some time the inhabitants of
Warsaw were in a delirium; the members of the patriotic association,
and citizens of all classes, assembled every day, carrying arms, and
with glasses in their hands, in the saloon of the theatre and at a
celebrated coffee-house, discussing politics and singing patriotic
songs. In the theatres the least allusion brought down thunders of
applause, and at the end of the piece heralds appeared on the stage
waving the banners of the dismembered provinces. In the pit they sang in
chorus national hymns; the boxes answered them; and sometimes the
spectators finished by scaling the stage and dancing the Mazurka and the
Cracoviak.

The fatal issue of this revolution is well known. The Polish nation
exerted and exhausted its utmost strength, and the whole force of the
colossal empire was brought against it, and, in spite of prodigies of
valour, crushed it. The moment, the only moment when gallant, chivalric,
and heroic Poland could have been saved and restored to its rank among
nations, was suffered to pass by, and no one came to her aid. The
minister of France threw out the bold boast that a hundred thousand men
stood ready to march to her assistance; but France and all Europe looked
on and saw her fall. Her expiring diet ordered a levy in mass, and made
a last appeal, "In the name of God; in the name of liberty; of a nation
placed between life and death; in the name of kings and heroes who have
fought for religion and humanity; in the name of future generations; in
the name of justice and the deliverance of Europe;" but her dying appeal
was unheard. Her last battle was under the walls of Warsaw; and then she
would not have fallen, but even in Poland there were traitors. The
governor of Warsaw blasted the laurels won in the early battles of the
revolution by the blackest treason. He ordered General Romarino to
withdraw eight thousand soldiers and chase the Russians beyond the
frontier at Brezc. While he was gone the Russians pressed Warsaw; he
could have returned in time to save it, but was stopped with directions
not to advance until farther orders. In the mean time Warsaw fell, with
the curse of every Pole upon the head of its governor. The traitor now
lives ingloriously in Russia, disgraced and despised, while the young
lieutenant is in unhappy but not unhonoured exile in Siberia.

So ended the last heroic struggle of Poland. It is dreadful to think so,
but it is greatly to be feared that Poland is blotted for ever from the
list of nations. Indeed, by a late imperial ukase, Poland is expunged
from the map of Europe; her old and noble families are murdered,
imprisoned, or in exile; her own language is excluded from the offices
of government, and even from the public schools; her national character
destroyed; her national dress proscribed; her national colours trampled
under foot; her national banner, the white eagle of Poland, is in the
dust. Warsaw is abandoned, and become a Russian city; her best citizens
are wandering in exile in foreign lands, while Cossack and Circassian
soldiers are filing through her streets, and the banner of Russia is
waving over her walls.

Perhaps it is not relevant, but I cannot help saying that there is no
exaggeration in the stories which reach us at our own doors of the
misfortunes and sufferings of Polish exiles. I have met them wandering
in many different countries, and particularly I remember one at Cairo.
He had fought during the whole Polish revolution, and made his escape
when Warsaw fell. He was a man of about thirty-five years of age,
dressed in a worn military frockcoat, and carrying himself with a manly
and martial air. He had left a wife and two children at Warsaw. At
Constantinople he had written to the emperor requesting permission to
return, and even promising never again to take up arms against Russia,
but had received for answer that the amnesty was over and the day of
grace was past; and the unfortunate Pole was then wandering about the
world like a cavalier of fortune or a knight of romance, with nothing to
depend upon but his sword. He had offered his services to the sultan and
to the Pacha of Egypt; he was then poor, and, with the bearing of a
gentleman and the pride of a soldier, was literally begging his bread. I
could sympathize in the misfortunes of an exiled Pole, and felt that his
distress must indeed be great, that he who had perilled life and ties
dearer than life in the cause of an oppressed country, should offer his
untarnished sword to the greatest despot that ever lived.

The general appearance of Warsaw is imposing. It stands on a hill of
considerable elevation on the left bank of the Vistula; the Zamech or
Chateau of the Kings of Poland spreads its wings midway between the
river and the summit of the hill, and churches and towering spires
checker at different heights the distant horizon. Most of the houses are
built of stone, or brick stuccoed; they are numbered in one continued
series throughout the city, beginning from the royal palace (occupied by
Paskiewitch), which is numbered _one_, and rising above number five
thousand. The churches are numerous and magnificent; the palaces,
public buildings, and many of the mansions of noblemen, are on a large
scale, very showy, and, in general, striking for their architectural
designs. One great street runs irregularly through the whole city, of
which Miodowa, or Honey-street, and the Novoy Swiat, or New World, are
the principal and most modern portions. As in all aristocratic cities,
the streets are badly paved, and have no trottoirs for the
foot passengers. The Russian drosky is in common use; the public
carriages are like those in Western Europe, though of a low form; the
linings generally painted red; the horses large and handsome, with large
collars of red or green, covered with small brass rings, which sound
like tinkling bells; and the carts are like those in our own city, only
longer and lower, and more like our brewer's dray. The hotels are
numerous, generally kept in some of the old palaces, and at the entrance
of each stands a large porter, with a cocked hat and silver-headed cane,
to show travellers to their apartments and receive the names of
visiters. There are two principal kukiernia, something like the French
cafés, where many of the Varsovians breakfast and lounge in the
mornings.

[Illustration: Royal Palace at Warsaw.]

The Poles, in their features, looks, customs, and manners, resemble
Asiatics rather than Europeans; and they are, no doubt, descended from
Tartar ancestors. Though belonging to the Sclavonic race, which occupies
nearly the whole extent of the vast plains of Western Europe, they have
advanced more than the others from the rude and barbarous state which
characterizes this race; and this is particularly manifest at Warsaw. An
eyewitness, describing the appearance of the Polish deputies at Paris
sent to announce the election of Henry of Anjou as successor of
Sigismund, says, "It is impossible to describe the general astonishment
when we saw these ambassadors in long robes, fur caps, sabres, arrows,
and quivers; but our admiration was excessive when we saw the
sumptuousness of their equipages; the scabbards of their swords adorned
with jewels; their bridles, saddles, and horse-cloths decked in the same
way," &c.

But none of this barbaric display is now seen in the streets of Warsaw.
Indeed, immediately on entering it I was struck with the European aspect
of things. It seemed almost, though not quite, like a city of Western
Europe, which may, perhaps, be ascribed, in a great measure, to the
entire absence of the semi-Asiatic costumes so prevalent in all the
cities of Russia, and even at St. Petersburgh; and the only thing I
remarked peculiar in the dress of the inhabitants was the remnant of a
barbarous taste for show, exhibiting itself in large breastpins,
shirt-buttons, and gold chains over the vest; the mustache is
universally worn. During the war of the revolution immediately
succeeding our own, Warsaw stood the heaviest brunt; and when Kosciusko
fell fighting before it, its population was reduced to seventy five
thousand. Since that time it has increased, and is supposed now to be
one hundred and forty thousand, thirty thousand of whom are Jews.
Calamity after calamity has befallen Warsaw; still its appearance is
that of a gay city. Society consists altogether of two distinct and
distant orders, the nobles and the peasantry, without any intermediate
degrees. I except, of course, the Jews, who form a large item in her
population, and whose long beards, thin and anxious faces, and piercing
eyes met me at every corner of Warsaw. The peasants are in the lowest
stage of mental degradation. The nobles, who are more numerous than in
any other country in Europe, have always, in the eyes of the public,
formed the people of Poland. They are brave, prompt, frank, hospitable,
and gay, and have long been called the French of the North, being French
in their habits, fond of amusements, and living in the open air, like
the lounger in the Palais Royal, the Tuileries, the Boulevards, and
Luxembourgh, and particularly French in their political feelings, the
surges of a revolution in Paris being always felt at Warsaw. They regard
the Germans with mingled contempt and aversion, calling them "dumb" in
contrast with their own fluency and loquacity; and before their fall
were called by their neighbours the "proud Poles." They consider it the
deepest disgrace to practise any profession, even law or medicine, and,
in case of utmost necessity, prefer the plough. A Sicilian, a
fellow-passenger from Palermo to Naples, who one moment was groaning in
the agony of seasickness and the next playing on his violin, said to me,
"Canta il, signore?" "Do you sing?" I answered "No;" and he continued,
"Suonate?" "Do you play?" I again answered "No;" and he asked me, with
great simplicity, "Cosa fatte? Niente?" "What do you do? Nothing?" and I
might have addressed the same question to every Pole in Warsaw.

The whole business of the country is in the hands of the Jews, and all
the useful and mechanical arts are practised by strangers. I did not
find a Pole in a single shop in Warsaw; the proprietors of the hotels
and coffee-houses are strangers, principally Germans; my tailor was a
German; my shoemaker a Frenchman, and the man who put a new crystal in
my watch an Italian from Milan. But though this entire absence of all
useful employment is, on grounds of public policy, a blot on their
national character, as a matter of feeling it rather added to the
interest with which I regarded the "proud Poles;" and perhaps it was
imaginary, but I felt all the time I was in Warsaw that, though the
shops and coffee-houses were open, and crowds thronged the streets, a
sombre air hung over the whole city; and if for a moment this impression
left me, a company of Cossacks, with their wild music, moving to another
station, or a single Russian officer riding by in a drosky, wrapped in
his military cloak, reminded me that the foot of a conqueror was upon
the necks of the inhabitants of Warsaw. This was my feeling after a long
summer day's stroll through the streets; and in the evening I went to
the theatre, which was a neat building, well filled, and brilliantly
lighted; but the idea of a pervading and gloomy spirit so haunted me
that in a few moments I left what seemed a heartless mockery of
pleasure. I ought to add that I did not understand a word of the piece;
the _triste_ air which touched me may have been induced by the
misfortunes of the stage hero; and, in all probability, I should have
astonished a melancholy-looking neighbour if, acting under my
interpretation of his visage, I had expressed to him my sympathy in the
sufferings of his country.



CHAPTER XII.

    Religion of Poland.--Sunday in Warsaw.--Baptized Jews.--Palaces of
      the Polish Kings.--Sobieski.--Field of Vola.--Wreck of a
      Warrior.--The Poles in America.--A Polish Lady.--Troubles of a
      Passport.--Departure from Warsaw.--An official Rachel.--A
      mysterious Visiter.


SUNDAY at WARSHAW. Poland is distinguished above the other nations of
Europe as a land of religious toleration. So late as the latter part of
the tenth century, the religion of Poland was a gross idolatry; and,
mingled with the rites of their own country, they worshipped, under
other names, Jupiter, Pluto, Mars, Venus, Diana, and others of the pagan
deities. During the reign of Mieczylaus I. of the Piast dynasty, the
monks introduced Christianity. The prince himself was proof against the
monks, but received from woman's lips the principles of the Christian
religion. Enamoured of Dombrowska, the daughter of the Duke of Bohemia,
a country which had then lately embraced Christianity, who refused to
accept his suit unless he was baptized, Mieczylaus sacrificed the
superstitions and prejudices of his fathers on the altar of love. But
the religion which he embraced for the sake of Dombrowska he afterward
propagated for its own; became an ardent champion of the cross; broke
down with his own hands the idols of his country; built Christian
churches on the ruins of pagan temples; and, in the ardour of his new
faith, issued an edict that, when any portion of the Gospel was read,
the hearers should half draw their swords to testify their readiness to
defend its truth.

In the reign of the "famous" John Sobieski, the annals of Poland, till
that time free from this disgrace, were stained by one of the most
atrocious acts of barbarity recorded in the history of religious
persecution. A Lithuanian nobleman, a religious and benevolent man, but
sufficiently intelligent to ridicule some of the current superstitions,
and very rich, on account of a note made in the margin of a book,
written by a stupid German, was tried for atheism by a council of
bigoted Catholic bishops, and found guilty, not only of "having denied
the existence of a God, but the doctrine of the Trinity and the Divine
maternity of the Virgin Mary." Zaluski, one of the villains concerned in
the torment, writes, "The convict was led to the scaffold, where the
executioner, with a red-hot iron, tore his tongue and his mouth, _with
which he had been cruel toward God_; then they burned his hands,
instruments of the abominable production, at a slow fire. The
sacrilegious paper was thrown into the flame; himself last; that monster
of the age, that deicide, was cast into the flames of expiation, if such
a crime could be atoned."

In seventeen hundred and twenty-six the Jesuits, making a public
procession with the Host in the streets of Thorn, the young scholars of
the order insisted that some Lutheran children should kneel; and on
their refusal a scuffle ensued between the Jesuits and townspeople, most
of whom were Lutherans, in which the enraged townspeople broke open the
Jesuits' college, profaned all the objects of worship, and, among others
an image of the Virgin. The Catholics of Poland, assembled in the diet,
almost infuriated with fanatic zeal, condemned to death the magistrates
of Thorn for not exercising their authority. Seven of the principal
citizens were also condemned to death; many were imprisoned or banished;
three persons, accused of throwing the Virgin's image into the fire,
lost their right arms, and the whole city was deprived of the freedom of
public worship.

This was the last act of religious persecution in Poland; but even yet
the spirit of the reformation has made but little progress, and the
great bulk of the people are still groping in the darkness of
Catholicism. On every public road and in all the streets of Warsaw stand
crosses, sometimes thirty feet high, with a figure of the Saviour large
as life, sometimes adorned with flowers and sometimes covered with rags.

As in all Catholic cities, a Sunday in Warsaw is a fête day. I passed
the morning in strolling through the churches, which are very numerous,
and some of them, particularly the Cathedral Church of St. John and that
of the Holy Cross, of colossal dimensions. The scene was the same as in
the Catholic churches in Italy; at every door crowds were entering and
passing out, nobles, peasants, shopmen, drosky boys, and beggars; the
highborn lady descended from her carriage, dipped her fingers in the
same consecrated water, and kneeled on the same pavement side by side
with the beggar; alike equal in God's house, and outside the door again
an immeasurable distance between them.

At twelve o'clock, by appointment, I met my travelling companion and
another of his friends in the Jardin de Saxe, the principal public
garden in Warsaw. It stands in the very heart of the city, in the rear
of the Palais de Saxe, built by the Elector of Saxony when called to the
throne of Poland. It is enclosed all around by high brick walls,
screened by shrubs, and vines, and trees rising above, so as to exclude
the view of the houses facing it. It is handsomely laid out with lawns
and gravel-walks, and adorned with trees; and as the grounds are
exceedingly rural and picturesque, and the high walls and trees
completely shut out the view of all surrounding objects, I could hardly
realize that I was in the centre of a populous city. It was then the
fashionable hour for promenade, and all the élite of Warsaw society was
there. I had heard of this Sunday promenade, and, after making one or
two turns on the principal walk, I remarked to my companions that I was
disappointed in not seeing, as I had expected, a collection of the
highborn and aristocratic Poles; but they told me that, changed as
Warsaw was in every particular, in nothing was this change more manifest
than in the character of this favourite resort. From boyhood, one of
them had been in the habit of walking there regularly on the same day
and at the same hour; and he told me that, before the revolution, it had
always been thronged by a gay and brilliant collection of the nobility
of Warsaw; and he enumerated several families whose names were
identified with the history of Poland, who were in the habit of being
there at a certain time, as regularly as the trees which then shaded our
walk; but since the revolution these families were broken up and
dispersed, and their principal members dead or in exile, or else lived
retired, too proud in their fallen state to exhibit themselves in public
places, where they were liable to be insulted by the presence of their
Russian conquerors; and I could well appreciate the feeling which kept
them away, for Russian officers, with their rattling swords and nodding
plumes, and carrying themselves with a proud and lordly air, were the
most conspicuous persons present. I had noticed one party, a dark, pale,
and interesting-looking man, with an elegant lady and several children
and servants, as possessing, altogether, a singularly melancholy and
aristocratic appearance; but the interest I was disposed to take in them
was speedily dispelled by hearing that he was a baptized Jew, a money
broker, who had accumulated a fortune by taking advantage of the
necessities of the distressed nobles. Indeed, next to the Russian
officers, the baptized Jews were the most prominent persons on the
promenade. These persons form a peculiar class in Warsaw, occupying a
position between the Israelites and Christians, and amalgamating with
neither. Many of them are rich, well educated, and accomplished, and
possess great elegance of appearance and manner. They hate most
cordially their unregenerated brethren, and it is unnecessary to say
that this hate is abundantly reciprocated. It was with a feeling of
painful interest that I strolled through this once favourite resort of
the nobility of Warsaw; and my companions added to this melancholy
feeling by talking in a low tone, almost in whispers, and telling me
that now the promenade was always _triste_ and dull; and in going out
they led me through a private walk, where an old noble, unable to tear
himself from a place consecrated by the recollections of his whole life,
still continued to take his daily walk apart from the crowd, wearing out
the evening of his days in bitter reflections on the fallen condition
of his kindred and country.

We dined, as usual, at a restaurant, where at one table was a party of
Swiss, here, as at Moscow, exercising that talent, skill, and industry
which they exhibit all over the world, and consoling themselves for the
privations of exile with the hope of one day being able to return to
their native mountains, never to leave them again.

After dinner we took an open carriage, and at the barrier entered one of
the numerous avenues of the Ujazdow, leading to Belvidere, the country
residence of the late Grand-duke Constantine. The avenue is divided by
rows of old and stately trees, terminating in a large circular octagon,
from which branch off eight other avenues, each at a short distance
crossed by others, and forming a sort of labyrinth, said to be one of
the finest drives and promenades in Europe, and on Sundays the
rendezvous of nearly the entire population of Warsaw. It was a beautiful
afternoon, and the throng of carriages, and horsemen, and thousands of
pedestrians, and the sun, occasionally obscured and then breaking
through the thick foliage, darkening and again lighting up the vista
through the trees, gave a beauty to the landscape, and a variety and
animation to the scene, that I had not yet found in Warsaw. Passing the
Belvidere Palace, my companions described the manner in which the
students had made their attack upon it, and pointed out the window by
which Constantine escaped. Turning from one of the splendid avenues of
the Ujazdow, we crossed a stone bridge, on which stands the equestrian
statue of John Sobieski, his horse rearing over the body of a prostrate
Turk; it was erected to him as the saviour of Christendom after he had
driven the Turks from the walls of Vienna. Beyond this we entered the
grounds and park of Lazienki, formerly the country residence of
Stanislaus Augustus, situated in a most delightful spot on the banks of
the Vistula.

The royal villa stands in the midst of an extensive park of stately old
trees, and the walks lead to a succession of delightful and romantic
spots, adorned with appropriate and tasteful buildings. Among them, on
an island reached by crossing a rustic bridge, are a winter and a summer
theatre, the latter constructed so as to resemble, in a great measure,
an ancient amphitheatre in ruins; in it performances used formerly to
take place in the open air. I am not given to dreaming, and there was
enough in the scenes passing under my eyes to employ my thoughts; but,
as I wandered through the beautiful walks, and crossed romantic bridges,
composed of the trunks and bended branches of trees, I could not help
recurring to the hand that had planned these beauties, the good King
Stanislaus.

               "Dread Pultowa's day,
    When fortune left the royal Swede,"

hurled Stanislaus from his throne; and as I stood under the portico of
his palace, I could but remember that its royal builder had fled from it
in disguise, become a prisoner to the Turks, and died an exile in a
foreign land.

From here we rode to the chateau of Villanow, another and one of the
most interesting of the residences of the kings of Poland, constructed
by John Sobieski and perhaps the only royal structure in Europe which,
like some of the great edifices of Egypt and Rome, was erected by
prisoners taken in war, being constructed entirely by the hands of
Turkish captives. It was the favourite residence of Sobieski, where he
passed most of his time when not in arms, and where he closed his days.
Until lately, the chamber and bed on which he died might still be seen.
The grounds extend for a great distance along the banks of the Vistula,
and many of the noble trees which now shade the walks were planted by
Sobieski's own hands. The reign of Sobieski is the most splendid era in
the history of Poland. The great statue I had just passed presented him
as the conqueror of the Turks, the deliverer of Christendom, the
redoubtable warrior, riding over the body of a prostrate Mussulman; and
every stone in the palace is a memorial of his warlike triumphs; but if
its inner chambers could tell the scenes of which they had been the
witness, loud and far as the trumpet of glory has sounded his name, no
man would envy John Sobieski. The last time he unsheathed his sword, in
bitterness of heart he said, "It will be easier to get the better of the
enemies I am in quest of than my own sons." He returned broken with
vexation and shattered with wounds, more than sixty years old, and two
thirds of his life spent in the tented field; his queen drove his
friends from his side, destroyed that domestic peace which he valued
above all things, and filled the palace with her plots and intrigues. He
had promised to Zaluski an office which the queen wished to give to
another. "My friend," said the dying monarch, "you know the rights of
marriage, and you know if I can resist the prayers of the queen; it
depends, then, on you that I live tranquil or that I be constantly
miserable. She has already promised to another this vacant office, and
if I do not consent to it I am obliged to fly my house. I know not
where I shall go to die in peace. You pity me; you will not expose me to
public ridicule." Old and infirm, with gray hairs and withered laurels,
a prey to lingering disease, the deathbed of the dying warrior was
disturbed by a noise worse than the din of battle; and before the breath
had left him, an intriguing wife and unnatural children were wrangling
over his body for the possession of his crown. A disgraceful struggle
was continued a short time after his death. One by one his children
died, and there is not now any living of the name of Sobieski.

The next day I visited the field of Vola, celebrated as the place of
election of the Kings of Poland. It is about five miles from Warsaw, and
was formerly surrounded by a ditch with three gates, one for great
Poland, one for little Poland, and one for Lithuania. In the middle were
two enclosures, one of an oblong shape, surrounded by a kind of rampart
or ditch, in the centre of which was erected, at the time of election, a
vast temporary building of wood, covered at the top and open at the
sides, which was called the zopa, and occupied by the senate; and the
other of a circular shape, called the kola, in which the nuncios
assembled in the open air. The nobles, from a hundred and fifty thousand
to two hundred thousand in number, encamped on the plain in separate
bodies under the banners of their respective palatinates, with their
principal officers in front on horseback. The primate, having declared
the names of the candidates, kneeled down and chanted a hymn; and then,
mounting on horseback, went round the plain and collected the votes, the
nobles not voting individually, but each palatinate in a body. It was
necessary that the election should be unanimous, and a single nobleman
peremptorily stopped the election of Ladislaus VII. Being asked what
objection he had to him, he answered, "None at all; but I will not
suffer him to be king." After being by some means brought over, he gave
the king as the reason for his opposition, "I had a mind to see whether
our liberty was still in being or not. I am satisfied that it is, and
your majesty shall not have a better subject than myself." If the
palatinates agreed, the primate asked again, and yet a third time if all
were satisfied; and, after a general approbation, three times proclaimed
the king; and the grand marshal of the crown repeated the proclamation
three times at the gates of the camp. It was the exercise of this high
privilege of electing their own king which created and sustained the
lofty bearing of the Polish nobles, inducing the proud boast which, in a
moment of extremity, an intrepid band made to their king, "What hast
thou to fear with twenty thousand lances? If the sky should fall, we
would keep it up with their points." But, unhappily, although the
exercise of this privilege was confined only to the nobles, the election
of a king often exhibited a worse picture than all the evils of
universal suffrage with us. The throne was open to the whole world; the
nobles were split into contending factions; foreign gold found its way
among them, and sometimes they deliberated under the bayonets of foreign
troops. Warsaw and its environs were a scene of violence and confusion,
and sometimes the field of Vola was stained with blood. Still no man can
ride over that plain without recurring to the glorious hour when
Sobieski, covered with laurels won in fighting the battles of his
country, amid the roar of cannon and the loud acclamations of the
senate, the nobles, and the army, was hailed the chosen king of a free
people.

I had enough of travelling post, and was looking out for some quiet
conveyance to Cracow. A Jew applied to me, and I went with him to look
at his carriage, which I found at a sort of "Bull's-head" stopping-place,
an enormous vehicle without either bottom or top, being a species of
framework like our hay-wagons, filled with straw to prevent goods and
passengers from spilling out. He showed me a couple of rough-looking
fellows, who would be my _compagnons de voyage_, and who said that we
could all three lie very comfortably in the bottom of the vehicle. Their
appearance did not add to the recommendation of the wagon; nevertheless,
if I had understood the language and been strong enough for the rough
work, I should perhaps have taken that conveyance, as, besides the
probable incidents of the journey, it would give me more insight into
the character of the people than a year's residence in the capital.
Returning to my hotel, I found that a Polish officer had left his
address, with a request for me to call upon him. I went, and found a man
of about forty, middle sized, pale and emaciated, wounded and an
invalid, wearing the Polish revolutionary uniform. It was the only
instance in which I had seen this dress. After the revolution it had
been absolutely proscribed; but the country being completely subdued,
and the government in this particular case not caring to exercise any
unnecessary harshness, he was permitted to wear it unmolested. It was,
however, almost in mockery that he still wore the garb of a soldier; for
if Poland had again burst her chains, and the unsheathed sword were put
in his hands, he could not have struck a blow to help her. Unfortunately,
he could not speak French, or, rather, I may say fortunately, for in
consequence of this I saw his lady, a pensive, melancholy, and
deeply-interesting woman, dressed in black, in mourning for two gallant
brothers who died in battle under the walls of Warsaw.

Their business with me was of a most commonplace nature. They had lately
returned from a visit to some friends at Cracow, in a calêche hired at
the frontier; and hearing from the peasant who drove them that a
stranger was looking for a conveyance to that place, out of good-will to
him desired to recommend him to me. The lady had hardly finished a sort
of apologizing commencement before I had resolved to assent to almost
anything she proposed; and when she stated the whole case, it was so
exactly what I wanted, that I expressed myself under great obligations
for the favour done me. I suggested, however, my doubts as to the
propriety of undertaking the journey alone, without any interpreter;
but, after a few words with the major, she replied that she would give
full directions to the peasant as to the route. As the carriage could
not go beyond the frontier, her husband would give me a letter to the
commissaire at Michoof, who spoke French, and also to the postmaster;
and, finally, she would herself make out for me a vocabulary of the
words likely to be most necessary, so as to enable me to ask for bread,
milk, eggs, &c.; and with this, and the Polish for "how much," I would
get along without any difficulty. While she was writing, another officer
came in, old and infirm, and also dressed in the Polish uniform. She
rose from the table, met him almost at the door, kissed him
affectionately, led him to a seat, and barely mentioning him to me as
"_mon beau père_," resumed her work. While she was writing I watched
attentively the whole three, and the expression of face with which the
two officers regarded her was unspeakably interesting. They were
probably unconscious of it, and perhaps it was only my fancy, but if the
transient lighting of their sunken eyes meant anything, it meant that
they who sat there in the garb and equipment of soldiers, who had stood
in all the pride and vigour of manhood on bloody battle-fields, now
looked to a feeble and lovely woman as their only staff and support in
life. I would have told them how deeply I sympathized in the misfortunes
of their suffering country, but their sadness seemed too deep and
sacred. I knew that I could strike a responsive chord by telling them
that I was an American, but I would not open their still bleeding
wounds; at parting, however, I told them that I should remember in my
own country and to their countrymen the kindness shown me here; and as
soon as I mentioned that I was an American, the lady asked me the fate
of her unhappy countrymen who had been landed as exiles on our shores,
and I felt proud in telling them that they had found among our citizens
that sympathy which brave men in misfortune deserve, and that our
government had made a provision in land for the exiled compatriots of
Kosciusko. She inquired particularly about the details of their
occupation, and expressed the fear that their habits of life, most of
them having been brought up as soldiers, unfitted them for usefulness
among us. I did not then know how prophetic were her forebodings, and
was saved the necessity of telling her, what I afterward read in a
newspaper, that an unhappy portion of that band of exiles, discontented
with their mode of life, in attempting to cross the Rocky Mountains
were cut to pieces by a party of Indians. Under the pressure of their
immediate misfortunes they had not heard the fate of the exiles, and a
ray of satisfaction played for a moment over their melancholy features
in hearing that they had met with friends in America; and they told me
to say to the Poles wherever I found them, that they need never again
turn their eyes toward home. She added that the time had been when she
and her friends would have extended the hand of welcome to a stranger in
Poland; that, when a child, she had heard her father and brothers talk
of liberty and the pressure of a foreign yoke, but, living in affluence,
surrounded by friends and connexions, she could not sympathize with
them, and thought it a feeling existing only in men, which women could
not know; but actual occurrences had opened her eyes; her family had
been crushed to the earth, her friends imprisoned, killed, or driven
into exile, and yet, she added, turning to her husband and father, she
ought not to mourn, for those dearest to her on earth were spared. But I
could read in her face, as she bent her eyes upon their pallid features,
that she felt they were spared only for a season.

Reluctantly I bade them farewell. A servant waited to go with me and
show me the calêche, but I told him it was not worth while. I was in no
humour for examining the spokes of carriage-wheels; and, if I had been
obliged to ride on the tongue, I believe I should have taken it. I went
to my hotel, and told my friend of my interview with the major and his
lady. He knew them by reputation, and confirmed and strengthened all the
interest I took in them, adding that both father and son had been among
the first to take up arms during the revolution, and at its unhappy
termination were so beloved by the people of Warsaw that, in their
wounded and crippled state, the Russian government had not proceeded to
extremities with them.

I spent my last evening in Warsaw with my Pole and several of his
friends at a herbata, that is, a sort of confectioner's shop, like a
_café_ in the south of Europe, where, as in Russia, tea is the popular
drink. The next morning, as usual, my passport was not ready. My valet
had been for it several times, and could not get it. I had been myself
to the police-office, and waited until dark, when I was directed to call
the next morning. I went at a little after eight, but I will not obtrude
upon the reader the details of my vexation, nor the amiable feelings
that passed my mind in waiting till twelve o'clock in a large anteroom.
In my after wanderings I sometimes sat down upon a stump or on the sands
of the desert, and meditated upon my folly in undergoing all manner of
hardships when I might be sitting quietly at home; but when I thought of
passports in Russia and Poland, I shook myself with the freedom of a son
of the desert, and with the thought that I could turn my dromedary's
head which way I pleased, other difficulties seemed light. Ancient
philosophers extolled uniformity as a great virtue in a young man's
character; and, if so, I was entitled to the highest praise, for in the
matter of arranging my passport I was always in a passion. I do not know
a single exception to the contrary. And if there was one thing more
vexatious than another, it was in the case at Warsaw, where, after
having been bandied from office to office, I received my passport, still
requiring the signature of the governor, and walked up to the palace,
nursing my indignation, and expecting an accumulation, I was ushered in
by guards and soldiers, and at once disarmed of all animosity by the
politeness and civility of the principal officers of government. I was
almost sorry to be obliged to withhold my intended malediction. I
hurried back to my hotel. My friend, with three or four of his Warsaw
acquaintances, was waiting to see the last of me; my calêche was at the
door, and I was already late for a start. I took my seat and bade them
farewell. I promised to write to him on my arrival in Paris, and to
continue a correspondence on my return home. Most unfortunately, I lost
his address. He lived in some town in Poland, near the frontiers of
Prussia, and probably at this moment thinks of me unkindly for my
apparent neglect. Possibly we may meet again, though probably never; but
if we do, though it do not happen till our heads are gray, we will have
a rich fund of satisfaction in the recollections of our long journey to
Warsaw.

I was again setting out alone. My guide or _conducteur_ was a Polish
peasant. Without having seen him, I had calculated upon making ordinary
human intelligence, to some extent, a medium of communication; but I
found that I had been too soaring in my ideas of the divinity of human
nature. When I returned to the hotel I found him lying on the sidewalk
asleep; a servant kicked him up and pointed me out as his master for the
journey. He ran up and kissed my hand, and, before I was aware of his
intention, stooped down and repeated the same salutation on my boot. An
American, perhaps, more than any other, scorns the idea of man's
debasing himself to his fellow-man; and so powerful was this feeling in
me, that before I went abroad I almost despised a white man whom I saw
engaged in a menial office. I had outlived this feeling; but when I saw
a tall, strong, athletic white man kneel down and kiss my foot, I could
almost have spurned him from me. His whole dress was a long shirt coming
down to his feet, supported by a broad leathern belt eight inches wide,
which he used as a pocket, and a low, broad-brimmed hat, turned up all
round, particularly at the sides, and not unlike the headgear of the
Lebanon Shakers.

Before putting myself out of the reach of aid, I held a conversation
with him through an interpreter. The lady of the major had made out a
chart for me, specifying each day's journey, which he promised to
observe, and added that he would be my slave if I would give him plenty
to drink. With such a companion, then, I may say most emphatically that
I was again setting out alone; but my calêche was even better than the
Polish officer represented it, abundantly provided with pockets for
provisions, books, &c., and altogether so much more comfortable than
anything I was used to, that I threw myself back in it with a feeling of
great satisfaction. I rolled for the last time through the streets of
Warsaw; looked out upon the busy throng; and though, in the perfectly
indifferent air with which they turned to me, I felt how small a space I
occupied in the world, I lighted my pipe and smoked in their faces, and,
with a perfect feeling of independence toward all the world, at one
o'clock I arrived at the barrier.

Here I found, to my great vexation, that I was an object of special
consideration to the Emperor of Russia. A soldier came out for my
passport, with which he went inside the guardhouse, and in a few minutes
returned with the paper in his hands to ask me some question. I could
not answer him. He talked at me a little while, and again went within
doors. After sitting for a few moments, vexed at the detention, but
congratulating myself that if there was any irregularity it had been
discovered before I had advanced far on my journey, I dismounted and
went inside, where, after detaining me long enough to make me feel very
uncomfortable, they endorsed the visé and let me go. I again lighted my
pipe, and in the mildness and beauty of the day, the comfort of my
calêche, and the docility and accommodating spirit of my peasant, forgot
my past, and even the chance of future difficulties. There was nothing
particularly attractive in the road; the country was generally fertile,
though tame and uninteresting. Late in the afternoon we stopped at a
little town, of which I cannot make out the name. Like all the other
towns on this side of Warsaw, in the centre was a square, with a range
of wooden houses built all around fronting on the square, and the
inhabitants were principally Jews. My peasant took off his horses and
fed them in the square, and I went into a little kukernia, much cleaner
and better than the town promised, where I had a cup of coffee and a
roll of bread, and then strolled around the town, which, at this moment,
presented a singular spectacle. The women and children were driving into
the square herds of cows from the pasture-grounds in the unenclosed
plains around; and, when all were brought in, each proprietor picked out
his own cow and drove her home, and in a few moments opposite almost
every house stood the family cow, with a woman or child milking her.
After this the cows strolled back into the square to sleep till morning.

A little before dark we started, and, after a fine moonlight ride, at
about ten o'clock drove into a sort of caravanserai, being simply a
large shed or covered place for wagons and horses, with a room
partitioned off in one corner for eating and sleeping. There were,
perhaps, fifteen or twenty wagons under the shed, and their wagoners
were all assembled in this room, some standing up and eating off a board
stretched along the wall, some drinking, some smoking, and some already
asleep on the floor. In one corner was a party of Jews, with the
contents of a purse emptied before them, which they were dividing into
separate parcels. The place was kept by a Jew, who, with his wife, or
some woman belonging to the establishment, old and weatherbeaten, was
running about serving and apparently quarrelling with all the wagoners.
She seemed particularly disposed to quarrel with me, I believe because I
could not talk to her, this being, in her eyes, an unpardonable sin. I
could understand, however, that she wanted to prepare me a supper; but
my appetite was not tempted by what I saw around me, and I lighted my
pipe and smoked. I believe she afterward saw something in me which made
her like me better; for while the wagoners were strewing themselves
about the floor for sleep, she went out, and returning with a tolerably
clean sheaf of straw under each arm, called me to her, and shaking them
out in the middle of the floor, pointed me to my bed. My pipe was ended,
and putting my carpet-bag under my head, I lay down upon the straw; and
the old woman climbed up to a sort of platform in one corner, where, a
moment after, I saw her sitting up with her arms above her head, with
the utmost nonchalance changing her innermost garment.

I was almost asleep, when I noticed a strapping big man, muffled up to
the eyes, standing at my feet and looking in my face. I raised my head,
and he walked round, keeping his eyes fixed upon me, and went away.
Shortly after he returned, and again walking round, stopped and
addressed me, "Spreechen sie Deutsch?" I answered by asking him if he
could speak French; and not being able, he went away. He returned again,
and again walked round as before, looking steadily in my face. I rose on
my elbow, and followed him with my eyes till I had turned completely
round with him, when he stopped as if satisfied with his observations,
and in his broadest vernacular opened bluntly, "Hadn't we better speak
English?" I need not say that I entirely agreed with him. I sprang up,
and catching his hand, asked him what possessed him to begin upon me in
Dutch; he replied by asking why I had answered in French, adding that
his stout English figure ought to have made me know better; and after
mutual good-natured recriminations, we kicked my straw bed about the
floor, and agreed to make a night of it. He was the proprietor of a
large iron manufactory, distant about three days' journey, and was then
on his way to Warsaw. He went out to his carriage, and one of his
servants produced a stock of provisions like the larder of a
well-furnished hotel; and as I had gone to bed supperless, he seemed a
good, stout, broad-shouldered guardian angel sent to comfort me. We sat
on the back seat of the carriage, making a table of the front; and when
we had finished, and the fragments were cleared away, we stretched our
legs on the table, lighted our pipes, and talked till we fell asleep on
each other's shoulder. Notwithstanding our intimacy so far, we should
not have known each other by daylight, and at break of day we went
outside to examine each other. It was, however, perhaps hardly worth
while to retain a recollection of features; for, unless by some such
accident as that which brought us together, we never shall meet again.
We wrote our names in each other's pocketbook as a memorial of our
meeting, and at the same moment started on our opposite roads.



CHAPTER XIII.

    Friendly Solicitude.--Raddom.--Symptoms of a Difficulty.--A Court of
      Inquisition.--Showing a proper Spirit.--Troubles
      thickening.--Approaching the Climax.--Woman's Influence.--The
      Finale.--Utility of the Classics.--Another Latinist.--A Lucky
      Accident.--Arrival at Cracow.


AT about eight o'clock we stopped to feed, and at the feeding-place met
a German wagoner, who had lived in Hamburgh, and spoke English. He
seemed much distressed at my not understanding the language of the
country. He was a stout, burly fellow, eating and drinking all the time,
and his great anxiety was lest I should starve on the road. He insisted
upon my providing against such a fatality, and had a couple of fowls
roasted for me, and wrapped in a piece of coarse brown paper; and, at
parting, backed by a group of friends, to whom he had told my story, he
drank schnaps (at my expense) to my safe arrival at Cracow.

At eleven o'clock we reached Raddom. There was a large swinging gate at
the barrier of the town, and the soldier opening it demanded my passport
to be _viséd_ by the police; he got into the calêche with me, and we
drove into the town, stopped in the public square, and went to the
bureau together. He left me in an antechamber, and went within,
promising, by his manner, to expedite the business, and intimating an
expectation of schnaps on his return. In a few minutes he returned, and
barely opening the door for me to enter, hurried off, apparently with
some misgivings about his schnaps. I entered, and found three or four
men, who took no notice of me. I waited a few moments, and seeing my
passport on a table before one of them, went up, and, certainly without
intending anything offensive, took up the passport with a view of
calling his attention to it; he jerked it out of my hand, and looking at
me with an imperious and impertinent air, at the same time saying
something I have no doubt in character with the expression of his face,
he slapped it down on the table. Two or three officers coming in, looked
at it, and laid it down again, until at length one man, the head of that
department, I suppose, took it up, wrote a note, and giving the note and
the passport to a soldier, directed me to follow him. The soldier
conducted me to the bureau of the government, the largest building, and
occupying a central position in the town, and left me in an antechamber
with the usual retinue of soldiers and officers. In about a quarter of
an hour he came out without the passport, and pulled me by the sleeve to
follow him. I shook my head, asked for the passport, and, in fact, moved
toward the door he had left. He seemed a good-hearted fellow, and,
anxious to save me from any imprudence, pulled me back, held up his
fingers, and pointing to the clock, told me to return at one; and
touching his hat respectfully, with probably the only French words he
knew, "Adieu, seigneur," and a look of real interest, hurried away.

I strolled about the town, dropped in at a kukiernia, went to the
square, and saw my peasant friend feeding his horses, apparently in some
trouble and perplexity. I went back at one, and was ordered to come
again at four. I would have remonstrated, but, besides that I could not
make myself understood, when I attempted to speak they turned rudely
away from me. I was vexed by the loss of the day, as I had agreed to pay
a high price for the sake of going through a day sooner, and this might
spoil my plan; and I was particularly vexed by the rough manner in which
I was treated. I returned at four, and was conducted into a large
chamber, in which were perhaps twenty or thirty clerks and inferior
officers in the uniform of the government. As soon as I entered there
was a general commotion. They had sent for a young man who spoke a
little French to act as interpreter. The passport was put into his
hands, and the first question he asked me was how I, an American,
happened to be travelling under a Russian passport. I answered that it
was not from any wish of mine, but in obedience to their own laws, and
added the fact that this passport had been made out by the Russian
ambassador at Constantinople; that under it I had been admitted into
Russia, and travelled from the Black Sea to St. Petersburgh, and from
there down to Warsaw, as he might see from the paper itself, the _visés_
of the proper authorities, down to that of the Governor of Warsaw, being
regularly endorsed.

He then asked what my business was in Poland, and what had induced me
to come there. I answered, the same that had carried me into Russia,
merely the curiosity of a traveller; and he then inquired what in
particular I wanted to see in Poland. If I had consulted merely my
feelings, I should have told him that, besides being attracted by the
interest of her heroic history, I wished to see with my own eyes the
pressure of a colossal foot upon the necks of a conquered people; that
this very system of inquisition and _espionage_ was one of the things I
expected to see; but I, of course, forbore this, and answered only in
general terms, and my answer was not satisfactory. He then began a more
particular examination; asked my age, my height, the colour of my eyes,
&c. At first I did not see the absurdity of this examination, and
answered honestly according to the fact, as I believed it; but, all at
once, it struck me that, as I did not remember the particulars of the
description of my person in the passport, my own impromptu might very
easily differ from it, and, catching an insulting expression on his
face, I told him that he had the passport in his hands, and might
himself compare my person with the description there given of me. He
then read aloud the entire description; height, so many feet; eyes, such
a colour, &c., &c.; scanned me from head to foot; peered into my eyes,
stopping after each article to look at me and compare me with the
description. By this time every man in the room had left his business
and gathered round looking at me, and, after the reading of each article
and the subsequent examination, there was a general shaking of heads and
a contemptuous smile.

At the time I remembered, what had before suggested itself to me rather
as a good thing, that, before embarking for Europe, I had written on to
the department of state for a passport, with a description of my person
made out at the moment by a friend, not very flattering, and, perhaps,
not very true, but good enough for the Continent, which I expected to be
the extent of my tour; and I felt conscious that, on a severe
examination, my nose might be longer, or my eyes grayer, or in some
other point different from the description. This, added to their close
and critical examination, at first embarrassed me considerably, but the
supercilious and insulting manner in which the examination was conducted
roused my indignation and restored my self-possession. I saw, from the
informal way in which the thing was done, that this was a mere
preliminary inquisition, and not the court to sit in judgment; and I had
noticed from the beginning that most of these men were Poles, who had
sold themselves to Russia for petty place and pay in her offices,
traitors in their hearts and lives, apostates from every honourable
feeling, and breathing a more infernal spirit against their enslaved
country than the Russians themselves; and I told the interpreter, as
coolly as the nature of the case would admit, to accept for himself, and
to convey to his associates, the assurance that I should remember their
little town as long as I lived; that I had then travelled from England
through France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, and Russia, and had nowhere met
such wanton rudeness and insult as from them; that I did not think it
possible that in any European government twenty of its officers would
laugh and sneer at the embarrassment of a stranger without a single one
stepping forward to assist him; that I deeply regretted the occurrence
of such a circumstance in Poland; that I felt convinced that there was
not a truehearted Pole among them, or my character as an American would
have saved me from insult.

The interpreter seemed a little abashed, but I could see in the
vindictive faces of the rest that they were greatly irritated. The
examination was cut short, and I was directed to come again at half past
five, when the commandant, who had been sent for, would be there. By
this time there was some excitement in the streets, and, as I afterward
learned, it was noised through the little town that an American was
detained on suspicion of travelling under a false passport. My calêche
had been standing in the public square all day. I had been noticed going
to and from the offices with a soldier at my heels, and my poor Pole had
been wandering up and down the streets, telling everybody his fears and
interest in me, and particularly his anxiety about ten rubles I had
promised him. As I passed along, people turned round and looked at me. I
went to a kukiernia, where the dame had been very smiling and attentive,
and could not get even a look from her. I went to another; several men
were earnestly talking, who became silent the moment I entered. A small
matter created an excitement in that little place. It was a rare thing
for a traveller to pass through it; the Russian government threw every
impediment in the way, and had made the road so vexatious that it was
almost broken up. The French or the citizens of a free country like
America were always suspected of being political emissaries to stir up
the Poles to revolution, and it seemed as if, under that despotic
government, to be suspected was to be guilty. The Poles were in the
habit of seeing slight offences visited with terrible punishments, and
probably half the little town looked on me as a doomed man. I went back
to the square and took a seat on my calêche; my poor Pole sat on the box
looking at me; he had followed me all over, and, like the rest, seemed
to regard me as lost. I had probably treated him with more kindness than
he was accustomed to receive, though, for every new kindness, he vexed
me anew by stooping down and kissing my foot.

At half past five o'clock I was again at the door of the palace. On the
staircase I met the young man who had acted as interpreter; he would
have avoided me, but I stopped him and asked him to return with me. I
held on to him, asking him if the commandant spoke French; begged him,
as he would hope himself to find kindness in a strange country, to go
back and act as a medium of explanation; but he tore rudely away, and
hurried down stairs. A soldier opened the door and led me into the same
apartment as before. The clerks were all at their desks writing; all
looked up as I entered, but not one offered me a seat, nor any the
slightest act of civility. I waited a moment, and they seemed studiously
to take no notice of me. I felt outrageous at their rudeness. I had no
apprehensions of any serious consequences beyond, perhaps, that of a
detention until I could write to Mr. Wilkins, our ambassador at St.
Petersburgh, and resolved not to be trampled upon by the understrappers.
I walked up to the door of the commandant's chamber, when one man, who
had been particularly insulting during the reading of the passport,
rudely intercepted me, and leaning his back against the door, flourished
his hands before him to keep me from entering. Fortunately, I fell back
in time to prevent even the tip end of his fingers touching me. My blood
flashed through me like lightning, and even now I consider myself a
miracle of forbearance that I did not strike him.

In a few moments the door opened, and a soldier beckoned me to enter.
Directly in front, at the other end of the room, behind a table, sat the
commandant, a grim, gaunt-looking figure about fifty, his military coat
buttoned tight up in his throat, his cap and sword on the table by his
side, and in his hands my unlucky passport. As I walked toward him he
looked from the passport to me, and from me to the passport; and when I
stopped at the table he read over again the whole description, at every
clause looking at me; shook his head with a grim smile of incredulity,
and laid it down, as if perfectly satisfied. I felt that my face was
flushed with indignation, and, perhaps, to a certain extent, so
distorted with passion that it would have been difficult to recognise me
as the person described. I suggested to him that the rude treatment I
had met with in the other room had no doubt altered the whole character
of my face, but he waved his hand for me to be silent; and, taking up a
sheet of paper, wrote a letter or order, or something which I did not
understand, and gave it to a soldier, who took it off to one corner and
stamped it. The commandant then folded up the passport, enclosed it in
the letter, and handed it again to the soldier, who carried it off and
affixed to it an enormous wax seal, which looked very ominous and
Siberian-like. I was determined not to suffer from the want of any
effort on my part, and pulled out my old American passport, under which
I had travelled in France and Italy, and also a new one which Commodore
Porter had given me in Constantinople. He looked at them without any
comment and without understanding them; and, when the soldier returned
with the paper and the big seal, he rose, and, without moving a muscle,
waved with his hand for me to follow the soldier. I would have resisted
if I had dared. I was indignant enough to do some rash thing, but at
every step was a soldier; I saw the folly of it, and, grinding my teeth
with vexation and rage, I did as I was ordered.

At the door of the palace we found a large crowd, who, knowing my
appointment for this hour, were waiting to hear the result. A line of
people was formed along the walk, who, seeing me under the charge of a
soldier, turned round and looked at me with ominous silence. We passed
under the walls of the prison, and the prisoners thrust their arms
through the bars and hailed me, and seemed to claim me as a companion,
and to promise me a welcome among them. For a moment I was infected with
some apprehensions. In my utter ignorance as to what it all meant, I ran
over in my mind the stories I had heard of the exercise of despotic
authority, and for one moment thought of my German host at Moscow and a
journey to Siberia by mistake. I did not know where the soldier was
taking me, but felt relieved when we had got out of the reach of the
voices of the prisoners, and more so when we stopped before a large
house, which I remarked at once as a private dwelling, though a guard of
honour before the door indicated it as the residence of an officer of
high rank. We entered, and were ushered into the presence of the
governor and commander-in-chief. He was, of course, a Russian, a man
about sixty, in the uniform of a general officer, and attended by an
aiddecamp about thirty. I waited till the soldier had delivered his
message; and, before the governor had broken the seal, I carried the war
into the enemy's country by complaining of the rude treatment I had
received, interrupted in my journey under a passport which had carried
me all over Russia, and laughed at and insulted by the officers of the
government, at the same time congratulating myself that I had at last
met those who could at least tell me why I was detained, and would give
me an opportunity of explaining anything apparently wrong. I found the
governor, as everywhere else in Russia where I could get access to the
principal man, a gentleman in his bearing and feelings. He requested me
to be seated, while he retired into another apartment to examine the
passport. The aiddecamp remained, and I entertained him with my chapter
of grievances; he put the whole burden of the incivility upon the Poles,
who, as he said, filled all the inferior offices of government, but told
me, too, that the country was in such an unsettled state that it was
necessary to be very particular in examining all strangers; and
particularly as at that time several French emissaries were suspected to
be secretly wandering in Poland, trying to stir up revolution. The
governor stayed so long that I began to fear there was some technical
irregularity which might subject me to detention, and I was in no small
degree relieved when he sent for me, and telling me that he regretted
the necessity for giving such annoyance and vexation to travellers,
handed me back the passport, with a direction to the proper officer to
make the necessary _visé_ and let me go. I was so pleased with the
result that I did not stop to ask any questions, and to this day I do
not know particularly why I was detained.

By this time it was nine o'clock, and when we returned the bureau was
closed. The soldier stated the case to the loungers about the door, and
now all, including some of the scoundrels who had been so rude to me in
the morning, were anxious to serve me. One of them conducted me to an
apartment near, where I was ushered into the presence of an elderly lady
and her two daughters, both of whom spoke French. I apologized for my
intrusion; told them my extreme anxiety to go on that night, and begged
them to procure some one to take the governor's order to the commandant;
in fact, I had become nervous, and did not consider myself safe till out
of the place. They called in a younger brother, who started with
alacrity on the errand, and I sat down to wait his return. There must be
a witchery about Polish ladies. I was almost savage against all mankind;
I had been kept up to the extremest point of indignation without any
opportunity of exploding all day, and it would have been a great favour
for some one to knock me down; but in a few minutes all my bitterness
and malevolence melted away, and before tea was over I forgot that I had
been bandied all day from pillar to post, and even forgave the boors who
had mocked me, in consideration of their being the countrymen of the
ladies who were showing me such kindness. Even with them I began with
the chafed spirit that had been goading me on all day; but when I
listened to the calm and sad manner in which they replied; that it was
annoying, but it was light, very light, compared with the scenes through
which they and all their friends had passed, I was ashamed of my
petulance. A few words convinced me that they were the Poles of my
imagination and heart. A widowed mother and orphan children, their staff
and protector had died in battle, and a gallant brother was then
wandering an exile in France. I believe it is my recollection of Polish
ladies that gives me a leaning toward rebels. I never met a Polish lady
who was not a rebel, and I could but think, as long as the startling
notes of revolution continue to fall like music from their pretty lips,
so long the Russian will sleep on an unquiet pillow in Poland.

It was more than an hour before the brother returned, and I was sorry
when he came; for, after my professions of haste, I had no excuse for
remaining longer. I was the first American they had ever seen; and if
they do not remember me for anything else, I am happy to have disabused
them of one prejudice against my country, for they believed the
Americans were all black. At parting, and at my request, the eldest
daughter wrote her name in my memorandum-book, and I bade them farewell.

It was eleven o'clock when I left the house, and at the first transition
from their presence the night seemed of pitchy darkness. I groped my way
into the square, and found my calêche gone. I stood for a moment on the
spot where I had left it, ruminating what I should do. Perhaps my poor
Pole had given me up as lost, and taken out letters of administration
upon my carpet-bag. Directly before me, intersecting the range of houses
on the opposite side of the square, was a street leading out of the
town. I knew that he was a man to go straight ahead, turning neither to
the right hand nor the left. I walked on to the opening, followed it a
little way, and saw on the right a gate opening to a shed for stabling.
I went in, and found him with his horses unharnessed, feeding them,
whipping them, and talking at them in furious Polish. As soon as he saw
me he left them and came at me in the same tone, throwing up both his
hands, and almost flourishing them in my face; then went back to his
horses, began pitching on the harness, and, snatching up the meal-bag,
came back again toward me, all the time talking and gesticulating like a
Bedlamite. I was almost in despair. What have I done now? Even my poor
peasant turns against me; this morning he kissed my foot, now he is
ready to brain me with a meal-bag. Roused by the uproar, the old woman,
proprietor of the shed, came out, accompanied by her daughter, a pretty
little girl about twelve years old, carrying a lantern. I looked at them
without expecting any help. My peasant moved between them and me and the
horses, flourishing his meal-bag, and seeming every moment to become
more and more enraged with me. I looked on in dismay, when the little
girl came up, and dropping a courtesy before me, in the prettiest French
I ever heard, asked me, "Que voulez vous, monsieur?" I could have taken
her up in my arms and kissed her. I have had a fair share of the
perplexity which befalls every man from the sex, but I hold many old
accounts cancelled by the relief twice afforded me this day. Before
coming to a parley with my Pole, I took her by the hand, and, sitting
down on the tongue of a wagon, learned from her that she had been taken
into the house of a rich seigneur to be educated as a companion for his
daughter, and was then at home on a visit to her mother; after which she
explained the meaning of my postillion's outcry. Besides his
apprehensions for me personally, he had been tormented with the no less
powerful one of losing the promised ten rubles upon his arrival at a
fixed time at Michoof, and all his earnestness was to hurry me off at
once, in order to give him a chance of still arriving within the time.
This was exactly the humour in which I wanted to find him, for I had
expected great difficulty in making him go on that night; so I told him
to hitch on his horses, and at parting did give the little girl a kiss,
and the only other thing I could give her without impoverishing myself
was a silk purse as a memento. I lighted my pipe, and, worn out with the
perplexities of the day, in a short time forgot police and passports,
rude Russians and dastardly Poles, and even the Polish ladies and the
little girl.

I woke the next morning under a shed, horses harnessed, postillion on
the box whipping, and a Jew at their head holding them, and the two
bipeds quarrelling furiously about the stabling. I threw the Jew a
florin, and he let go his hold, though my peasant shook his whip, and
roared back at him long after we were out of sight and hearing. At a few
miles' distance we came to a stopping-place, where we found a large
calêche with four handsome horses, and the postillion in the costume of
a peasant of Cracow, a little square red cap with a red feather, a long
white frock somewhat like a shooting-jacket, bordered with red, a belt
covered with pieces of brass like scales lapping over each other, and a
horn slung over his right shoulder. It belonged to a Polish seigneur,
who, though disaffected toward government, had succeeded in retaining
his property, and was the proprietor of many villages. He was
accompanied by a young man about thirty, who spoke a very little French;
less than any man whom I ever heard attempt to speak it at all. They had
with them their own servants and cooking apparatus, and abundance of
provisions. The seigneur superintended the cooking, and I did them the
honour to breakfast with them. While we were breakfasting a troop of
wagoners or vagabonds were under the shed dancing the mazurka. The
better class of Poles are noble, high-spirited men, warm and social in
their feelings, and to them, living on their estates in the interior of
their almost untrodden country, a stranger is a curiosity and a
treasure. The old seigneur was exceedingly kind and hospitable, and the
young man and I soon became on excellent terms. I was anxious to have a
friend in case of a new passport difficulty, and at starting gladly
embraced his offer to ride with me. As soon as we took our seats in the
calêche we lighted our pipes and shook hands as a bargain of
good fellowship. Our perfect flow of confidence, however, was much
broken by the up-hill work of making ourselves understood. I was no
great scholar myself, but his French was execrable; he had studied it
when a boy, but for more than ten years had not spoken a word. At one
time, finding it impossible to express himself, he said, "Parlatis
Latinum?" "Can you speak Latin?" I at first thought it was some dialect
of the country, and could not believe that he meant the veritable stuff
that had been whipped into me at school, and which, to me, was most
emphatically a dead language; but necessity develops all that a man has,
and for three hours we kept up an uninterrupted stream of talk in bad
Latin and worse French.

Like every Pole whom I met, except the employés in the public offices,
from the bottom of his heart he detested a Russian. He had been a
soldier during the revolution, and lay on his back crippled with wounds
when it was crushed by the capture of Warsaw. I showed him the coin
which had accidentally come into my hands, and when we came to the point
where our roads separated, he said that he was ashamed to do so, but
could not help begging from me that coin; to me it was merely a
curiosity, to him it was a trophy of the brilliant but shortlived
independence of his country. I was loath to part with it, and would
rather have given him every button on my coat; but I appreciated his
patriotic feeling, and could not refuse. I got out, and he threw his
arms around me, kissed me on both cheeks, called me his friend and
brother, and mounted the kibitka with the old seigneur. The latter
invited me to go with him to his château, about a day's journey distant,
and if I had expected to write a book I should certainly have done so.

I went on again alone. At about twelve o'clock we arrived at the town of
Kielse. I felt nervous as we approached the barrier. I threw myself back
in the calêche, and drew my cap over my eyes in grand seigneur style,
the soldier touched his hat as he opened the gate, and we drove into the
public square unmolested. I breathed more freely, but almost hesitated
to leave the calêche while the horses fed. I smiled, however, at
thinking that any effort to avoid observation was the very way to
attract it, and went to a kukernia, where I drank coffee, ate bread
encrusted with sugar, and smoked a pipe until my Pole came in and kissed
my foot as an intimation that the horses were ready.

No questions were asked at the barrier; and we rode on quietly till nine
o'clock, when we drove under the shed of a caravanserai. Fifteen or
twenty wagoners were eating off a bench, and, as they finished,
stretched themselves on the floor for sleep. It was a beautiful
moonlight night, and I strolled out for a walk. The whole country was an
immense plain. I could see for a great distance, and the old shed was
the only roof in sight. It was the last night of a long journey through
wild and unsettled countries. I went back to the time when, on a night
like that, I had embarked on the Adriatic for Greece; thought of the
many scenes I had passed through since, and bidding farewell to the
plains of Poland, returned to my calêche, drew my cloak around me, and
was soon asleep.

At nine o'clock we stopped at a feeding-place, where a horde of dirty
Jews were at a long table eating. I brushed off one corner, and sat down
to some bread and milk. Opposite me was a beggar woman dividing with a
child about ten years old a small piece of dry black bread. I gave them
some bread and a jar of milk, and I thought, from the lighting up of the
boy's face, that it was long since he had had such a meal.

At twelve o'clock we reached Michoof, the end of my journey with the
calêche. I considered my difficulties all ended, and showed at the
posthouse my letter from the Polish captain to the commissario. To my
great annoyance, he was not in the place. I had to procure a conveyance
to Cracow; and having parted with my poor Pole overwhelmed with
gratitude for my treatment on the road and my trifling gratuity at
parting, I stood at the door of the posthouse with my carpet-bag in my
hand, utterly at a loss what to do. A crowd of people gathered round,
all willing to assist me, but I could not tell them what I wanted. One
young man in particular seemed bent upon serving me; he accosted me in
Russian, Polish, and German. I answered him in English, French, and
Italian, and then both stopped. As a desperate resource, and almost
trembling at my own temerity, I asked him the question I had learned
from my yesterday's companion "Parlates Latinum?" and he answered me
with a fluency and volubility that again threw me into another
perplexity, caught my hand, congratulated me upon having found a
language both understood, praised the good old classic tongues, offered
his services to procure anything I wanted, &c., and all with such
rapidity of utterance that I was obliged to cry out with something like
the sailor's "vast heaving," and tell him that, if he went on at that
rate, it was all Russian to me. He stopped, and went on more moderately,
and with great help from him I gave him to understand that I wanted to
hire a wagon to take me to Cracow. "Venite cum me," said my friend, and
conducted me round the town until we found one. I then told him I wanted
my passport _viséd_ for passing the frontier. "Venite cum me," again
said my friend, and took me with him and procured the _visé_; then that
I wanted a dinner; still he answered "Venite cum me," and took me to a
trattoria, and dined with me. At dinner my classical friend did a rather
unclassical thing. An enormous cucumber was swimming in a tureen of
vinegar. He asked me whether I did not want it; and, taking it up in his
fingers, ate it as a dessert, and drinking the vinegar out of the
tureen, smacked his lips, wiped his mustaches with the tablecloth, and
pronounced it "optimum." For three hours we talked constantly, and
talked nothing but Latin. It was easy enough for him, for, as he told
me, at school it had been the language of conversation. To me it was
like breaking myself into the treadmill; but, once fairly started, my
early preceptors would have been proud of my talk. At parting he kissed
me on both cheeks, rubbed me affectionately with his mustaches and,
after I had taken my seat, his last words were, "Semper me servate in
vestra memoria."

We had four and a half German, or about eighteen English, miles to
Cracow. We had a pair of miserable, ragged little horses, but I promised
my postillion two florins extra if he took me there in three hours, and
he started off so furiously that in less than an hour the horses broke
down, and we had to get out and walk. After breathing them a little they
began to recover, and we arrived on a gentle trot at the frontier town,
about half way to Cracow. My passport was all right, but here I had a
new difficulty in that I had no passport for my postillion. I had not
thought of this, and my classical friend had not suggested it. It was
exceedingly provoking, as to return would prevent my reaching Cracow
that night. After a parley with the commanding officer, a gentlemanly
man, who spoke French very well, he finally said that my postillion
might go on under charge of a soldier to the next posthouse, about a
mile beyond, where I could get another conveyance and send him back.
Just as I had thanked him for his courtesy, a young gentleman from
Cracow, in a barouche with four horses, drove up, and, hearing my
difficulty, politely offered to take me in with him. I gladly accepted
his offer, and arrived at Cracow at about dark, where, upon his
recommendation, I went to the Hotel de la Rose Blanche, and cannot well
describe the satisfaction with which I once more found myself on the
borders of civilized Europe, within reach of the ordinary public
conveyances, and among people whose language I could understand. "Shall
I not take mine ease in mine own inn?" Often, after a hard day's
journey, I have asked myself this question, but seldom with the same
self-complacency and the same determination to have mine ease as at
Cracow. I inquired about the means of getting to Vienna, which, at that
moment, I thought no more of than a journey to Boston. Though there was
no particular need of it, I had a fire built in my room for the
associations connected with a cheerful blaze. I put on my morning-gown
and slippers, and hauling up before the fire an old chintz-covered sofa,
sent for my landlord to come up and talk with me. My host was an
Italian, and an excellent fellow. Attached to his hotel was a large
restaurant, frequented by the first people at Cracow. During the evening
an old countess came there to sup; he mentioned to her the arrival of an
American, and I supped with her and her niece; neither of them, however,
so interesting as to have any effect upon my slumber.



CHAPTER XIV.

    Cracow.--Casimir the Great.--Kosciusko.--Tombs of the Polish
      Kings.--A Polish Heroine.--Last Words of a King.--A Hero in
      Decay.--The Salt-mines of Cracow.--The Descent.--The
      Mines.--Underground Meditations.--The Farewell.


CRACOW is an old, curious, and interesting city, situated in a valley on
the banks of the Vistula; and approaching it as I did, toward the sunset
of a summer's day, the old churches and towers, the lofty castles and
the large houses spread out on the immense plains, gave it an appearance
of actual splendour. This faded away as I entered, but still the city
inspired a feeling of respect, for it bore the impress of better days.
It contains numerous churches, some of them very large, and remarkable
for their style and architecture, and more than a hundred monasteries
and convents. In the centre is a large square, on which stands the
church of Notre Dame, an immense Gothic structure, and also the old
palace of Sobieski, now cut down into shops, and many large private
residences, uninhabited and falling to ruins. The principal streets
terminate in this square. Almost every building bears striking marks of
ruined grandeur. On the last partition of Poland in eighteen hundred and
fifteen by the Holy Alliance, Cracow, with a territory of five hundred
square miles and a population of a hundred and eight thousand, including
about thirty thousand Jews, was erected into a republic; and at this day
it exists nominally as a _free city_, under the protection of the three
great powers; emphatically, such protection as vultures give to lambs;
three masters instead of one, Russia, Prussia, and Austria, all claiming
the right to interfere in its government.

But even in its fallen state Cracow is dear to the Pole's heart, for it
was the capital of his country when Poland ranked high among nations,
and down to him who last sat upon her throne, was the place of
coronation and of burial for her kings. It is the residence of many of
the old Polish nobility, who, with reduced fortunes, prefer this little
foothold in their country, where liberty nominally lingers, to exile in
foreign lands. It now contains a population of about thirty thousand,
including Jews. Occasionally the seigneur is still seen, in his short
cassock of blue cloth, with a red sash and a white square-topped cap; a
costume admirably adapted to the tall and noble figure of the proud
Pole, and the costume of the peasant of Cracow is still a striking
feature in her streets.

After a stroll through the churches, I walked on the old ramparts of
Cracow. The city was formerly surrounded with regular fortifications,
but, as in almost all the cities of Europe, her ancient walls have been
transformed into Boulevards; and now handsome avenues of trees encircle
it, destroying altogether its Gothic military aspect, and on Sundays and
fête days the whole population gathers in gay dresses, seeking pleasure
where their fathers stood clad in armour and arrayed for battle.

The Boulevards command an extensive view of all the surrounding country.
"All the sites of my country," says a national poet, "are dear to me;
but, above all, I love the environs of Cracow; there at every step I
meet the recollections of our ancient glory and our once imposing
grandeur."

On the opposite bank of the river is a large tumulus of earth, marking
the grave of Cracus, the founder of the city. A little higher up is
another mound, reverenced as the sepulchre of his daughter Wenda, who
was so enamoured of war that she promised to give her hand only to the
lover who should conquer her in battle. Beyond this is the field of
Zechino, where the brave Kosciusko, after his return from America, with
a band of peasants, again struck the first blow of revolution, and, by a
victory over the Russians, roused all Poland to arms.

About a mile from Cracow are the ruins of the palace of Lobzow, built by
Casimir the Great, for a long time the favourite royal residence, and
identified with a crowd of national recollections; and, until lately, a
large mound of earth in the garden was reverenced as the grave of
Esther, the beautiful Jewess, the idol of Casimir the Great. Poetry has
embellished the tradition, and the national muse has hallowed the palace
of Lobzow and the grave of Esther.

"Passer-by, if you are a stranger, tremble in thinking of human
destruction; but if you are a Pole, shed bitter tears; heroes have
inhabited this palace.... Who can equal them?...

       *       *       *       *       *

"Casimir erected this palace: centuries have hailed him with the name of
the great....

       *       *       *       *       *

"Near his Esther, in the delightful groves of Lobzow, he thought himself
happy in ceasing to be a king to become a lover.

       *       *       *       *       *

"But fate is unpitiable for kings as for us, and even beauty is subject
to the common law. Esther died, and Casimir erected a tomb in the place
she had loved.

"Oh! if you are sensible to the grief caused by love, drop a tear at
this tomb and adorn it with a crown. If Casimir was tied to humanity by
some weaknesses, they are the appendage of heroes! In presence of this
chateau, in finding again noble remains, sing the glory of Casimir the
Great."

I was not a sentimental traveller, nor sensible to the grief that is
caused by love, and I could neither drop a tear at the tomb of Esther
nor sing the glory of Casimir the Great; but my heart beat high as I
turned to another monument in the environs of Cracow; an immense mound
of earth, standing on an eminence visible from every quarter, towering
almost into a mountain, and sacred to the memory of Kosciusko! I saw it
from the palace of the kings and from the ramparts of the fallen city,
and, with my eyes constantly fixed upon it, descended to the Vistula,
followed its bank to a large convent, and then turned to the right,
direct for the mound. I walked to the foot of the hill, and ascended to
a broad table of land. From this table the mound rises in a conical
form, from a base three hundred feet in diameter, to the height of one
hundred and seventy-five feet. At the four corners formerly stood small
houses, which were occupied by revolutionary soldiers who had served
under Kosciusko. On the farther side, enclosed by a railing, was a small
chapel, and within it a marble tomb covering Kosciusko's heart! A
circular path winds round the mound; I ascended by this path to the top.
It is built of earth sodded, and was then covered with a thick carpet of
grass, and reminded me of the tumuli of the Grecian heroes on the plains
of Troy; and perhaps, when thousands of years shall have rolled by, and
all connected with our age be forgotten, and time and exposure to the
elements shall have changed its form, another stranger will stand where
I did, and wonder why and for what it was raised. It was erected in 1819
by the voluntary labour of the Polish people; and so great was the
enthusiasm, that, as an eyewitness told me, wounded soldiers brought
earth in their helmets, and women in their slippers; and I remembered,
with a swelling heart, that on this consecrated spot a nation of brave
men had turned to my country as the star of liberty, and that here a
banner had been unfurled and hailed with acclamations by assembled
thousands, bearing aloft the sacred inscription, "Kosciusko, the friend
of Washington!"

The morning was cold and dreary, the sky was overcast with clouds, and
the sun, occasionally breaking through lighted up for a moment with
dazzling brilliancy the domes and steeples of Cracow, and the palace and
burial-place of her kings, emblematic of the fitful gleams of her
liberty flashing and dazzling, and then dying away. I drew my cloak
around me, and remained there till I was almost drenched with rain. The
wind blew violently, and I descended and sheltered myself at the foot of
the mound, by the grave of Kosciusko's heart!

I returned to the city and entered the Cathedral Church. It stands by
the side of the old palace, on the summit of the rock of Wauvel, in the
centre of and commanding the city, enclosed with walls and towers, and
allied in its history with the most memorable annals of Poland; the
witness of the ancient glory of her kings, and their sepulchre. The rain
was pattering against the windows of the old church as I strolled
through the silent cloisters and among the tombs of the kings. A verger
in a large cocked hat, and a group of peasants, moved, like myself, with
noiseless steps, as if afraid to disturb the repose of the royal dead.
Many of the kings of Poland fill but a corner of the page of history.
Some of their names I had forgotten, or, perhaps, never knew until I saw
them inscribed on their tombs; but every monument covered a head that
had worn a crown, and some whose bones were mouldering under my feet
will live till the last records of heroism perish.

The oldest monument is that of Wladislaus le Bref, built of stone,
without any inscription, but adorned with figures in bas-relief, which
are very much injured. He died in thirteen hundred and thirty-three, and
chose himself the place of his eternal rest. Charles the Twelfth of
Sweden, on his invasion of Poland, visited the Cathedral Church, and
stopped before this tomb. A distinguished canon who attended him, in
allusion to the position of John Casimir, who was then at war with the
King of Sweden, remarked, "And that king was also driven from his
throne, but he returned and reigned until his death." The Swede answered
with bitterness, "But your John Casimir will never return." The canon
replied respectfully, "God is great and fortune is fickle;" and the
canon was right, for John Casimir regained his throne.

I approached with a feeling of veneration the tomb of Casimir the Great.
It is of red marble; four columns support a canopy, and the figure of
the king, with a crown on his head, rests on a coffin of stone. An iron
railing encloses the monument. It is nearly five hundred years since the
palatins and nobles of Poland, with all the insignia of barbaric
magnificence, laid him in the place where his ashes now repose. The
historian writes, "Poland is indebted to Casimir for the greatest part
of her churches, palaces, fortresses, and towns," adding that "he found
Poland of wood and left her of marble." He patronized letters, and
founded the University of Cracow; promoted industry and encouraged
trade; digested the unwritten laws and usages into a regular code;
established courts of justice; repressed the tyranny of the nobles, and
died with the honourable title of King of the Peasants; and I did not
forget, while standing over his grave, that beneath me slept the spirit
that loved the groves of Lobzow and the heart that beat for Esther the
Jewess.

The tomb of Sigismund I. is of red marble, with a figure as large as
life reclining upon it. It is adorned with bas-reliefs and the arms of
the republic, the white eagle and the armed cavalier of Lithuania. He
died in fifteen hundred and forty-one, and his monument bears the
following inscription in Latin: "Sigismund Jagellon, King of Poland,
Grand-duke of Lithuania, Conqueror of the Tartars, of the Wallachians,
of the Russians and Prussians, reposes under this stone, which he
prepared for himself." Forty years ago Thaddeus Czacki, the Polish
historian, opened the tombs of the kings, and found the head of
Sigismund resting upon a plate of silver bearing a long Latin
inscription; the body measured six feet and two inches in height, and
was covered with three rich ermines; on the feet were golden spurs, a
chain of gold around the neck, and a gold ring on one finger of the left
hand. At his feet was a small pewter coffin enclosing the body of his
son by Bone Sforza.

By his side lies the body of his son Sigismund II., the last of the
Jagellons, at whose death began the cabals and convulsions of an
elective monarchy, by which Poland lost her influence among foreign
powers. His memory is rendered interesting by his romantic love for
Barbe Radzewill. She appeared at his father's court, the daughter of a
private citizen, celebrated in Polish history and romance as uniting to
all a woman's beauty a mingled force and tenderness, energy and
goodness. The prince had outlived all the ardour of youth; disappointed
and listless amid pleasures, his energy of mind destroyed by his
excesses, inconstant in his love, and at the summit of human prosperity,
living without a wish or a hope; but he saw Barbe, and his heart beat
anew with the pulsations of life. In the language of his biographer he
proved, in all its fulness, that sentiment which draws to earth by its
sorrows and raises to heaven by its delights. He married her privately,
and on his father's death proclaimed her queen. The whole body of nobles
refused to acknowledge the marriage, and one of the nuncios, in the name
of the representatives of the nation, supplicated him for himself, his
country, his blood, and his children, to extinguish his passion; but the
king swore on his sword that neither the diet, nor the nation, nor the
whole universe should make him break his vows to Barbe; that he would a
thousand times rather live with her out of the kingdom than keep a
throne which she could not share; and was on the point of abdicating,
when his opponents offered to do homage to the queen. When Czacki opened
the coffin of this prince, he found the body perfectly preserved, and
the head, as before, resting on a silver plate containing a long Latin
inscription.

At the foot of his coffin is that of his sister and successor, Anne; and
in a separate chapel is the tomb of Stephen Battory, one of the greatest
of the kings of Poland, raised to the throne by his marriage with Anne.

I became more and more interested in this asylum of royal dead. I read
there almost the entire history of the Polish republic, and again I felt
that it was but a step from the throne to the grave, for near me was the
great chair in which the kings of Poland were crowned. I paused before
the tomb of John Casimir; and there was something strangely interesting
in the juxtaposition of these royal dead. John Casimir lies by the side
of the brother whom he endeavoured to supplant in his election to the
throne. His reign was a continued succession of troubles and
misfortunes. Once he was obliged to fly from Poland. He predicted what
has since been so fearfully verified, that his country, enfeebled by the
anarchy of its government and the licentiousness of the nobles, would be
dismembered among the neighbouring powers; and, worn out with the cares
of royalty, abdicated the throne, and died in a convent in France. I
read at his tomb his pathetic farewell to his people.

     "People of Poland,

     "It is now two hundred and eighty years that you have been governed
     by my family. The reign of my ancestors is past, and mine is going
     to expire. Fatigued by the labours of war, the cares of the
     cabinet, and the weight of age; oppressed with the burdens and
     vicissitudes of a reign of more than twenty-one years, I, your king
     and father, return into your hands what the world esteems above all
     things, a crown, and choose for my throne six feet of earth, where
     I shall sleep with my fathers. When you show my tomb to your
     children, tell them that I was the foremost in battle and the last
     in retreat; that I renounced regal grandeur for the good of my
     country, and restored my sceptre to those who gave it me."

By his side, and under a monument of black marble, lies the body of his
successor, Michel Wisniowecki, an obscure and unambitious citizen, who
was literally dragged to the throne, and wept when the crown was placed
upon his head, and of whom Casimir remarked, when informed of his late
subjects' choice, "What, have they put the crown on the head of that
poor fellow?" And again I was almost startled by the strange and
unnatural mingling of human ashes. By the side of that "poor fellow"
lies the "famous" John Sobieski, the greatest of the long line of kings
of a noble and valorous nation;

    "One of the few, the immortal names,
    That were not born to die."

On the lower floor of the church, by the side of Poniatowski, the
Polish Bayard, is the tomb of one nobler in my eyes than all the kings
of Poland or of the world. It is of red marble, ornamented with the cap
and plume of the peasant of Cracow, and bears the simple inscription "T.
Kosciusko." All over the church I had read elaborate panegyrics upon the
tenants of the royal sepulchres, and I was struck with this simple
inscription, and remembered that the white marble column reared amid the
magnificent scenery of the Hudson, which I had often gazed at from the
deck of a steamboat, and at whose base I had often stood, bore also in
majestic simplicity the name of "Kosciusko." It was late in the
afternoon, and the group of peasants, two Poles from the interior, and a
party of the citizens of Cracow, among whom were several ladies, joined
me at the tomb. We could not speak each other's language; we were born
and lived thousands of miles apart, and we were strangers in our
thoughts and feelings, in all our hopes and prospects, but we had a bond
of sympathy at the grave of Kosciusko. One of the ladies spoke French,
and I told them that, in my far distant country, the name of their
nation's idol was hallowed; that schoolboys had erected a monument to
his memory. They knew that he had fought by the side of Washington, but
they did not know that the recollection of his services was still so
dearly cherished in America; and we all agreed that it was the proudest
tribute that could be paid to his memory, to write merely his name on
his monument. It meant that it was needless to add an epitaph, for no
man would ask, Who was Kosciusko?

It was nearly dark when I returned to my hotel. In the restaurant, at a
small table directly opposite me, sat the celebrated Chlopicki, to whom,
on the breaking out of the last revolution, Poland turned as to another
Kosciusko, and who, until he faltered during the trying scenes of that
revolution, would have been deemed worthy to lie by Kosciusko's side.
Born of a noble family, a soldier from his birth, he served in the
memorable campaigns of the great patriot, distinguished himself in the
Polish legions in Italy under Dombrowski, and, as colonel of a regiment
of the army of the Vistula, behaved gloriously in Prussia. In Spain he
fought at Saragossa and Sagunta, and was called by Suchet _le brave des
braves_; as general of brigade in the army of Russia, he was wounded at
Valentina, near Smolensk, and was general of a division in eighteen
hundred and fourteen, when Poland fell under the dominion of the
autocrat. The Grand-duke Constantine censured him on parade, saying that
his division was not in order; and Chlopicki, with the proud boast, "I
did not gain my rank on the parade-ground, nor did I win my decorations
there," asked his discharge the next day, and could never after be
induced to return to the service. The day after the revolutionary blow
was struck, all Poland turned to Chlopicki as the only man capable of
standing at the head of the nation. The command of the army, with
absolute powers, was conferred upon him by acclamation, and one of the
patriot leaders concluded his address to him with these words: "Brother,
take the sword of your ancestors and predecessors, Czarnecki,
Dombrowski, and Kosciusko. Guide the nation that has placed its trust
in you in the path of honour. Save this unhappy country." Chlopicki,
with his silver head grown white in the service of Poland, was hailed by
a hundred thousand people on the Champ de Mars with shouts of "our
country and its brave defender, Chlopicki, for ever." He promised never
to abuse their confidence, and swore that he would defend the liberty of
Poland to the last moment. The whole nation was enthusiastic in his
favour; but in less than three months, at a stormy session of the diet,
he threw up his high office of dictator, and refused peremptorily to
accept command of the army. This brave army, enthusiastically attached
to him, was struck with profound grief at his estrangement; but, with
all the faults imputed to him, it never was charged that he attempted to
take advantage of his great popularity for any ambitious purposes of his
own.

At the battle of Grokow he fought nominally as a private soldier, though
Skryznecki and Radziwill being both deficient in military experience,
the whole army looked to him for guidance. Once, when the battle was
setting strong against the Poles, in a moment of desperation he put
himself at the head of some disposable battalions, and turning away from
an aiddecamp who came to him for orders, said, "Go and ask Radziwill;
for me, I seek only death." Grievously wounded, his wounds were dressed
in presence of the enemy; but at two o'clock he was borne off the field,
the hopes of the soldiers died, and the army remained without any actual
head. Throughout the revolution his conduct was cold, indifferent, and
inexplicable; private letters from the Emperor of Russia were talked of,
and even _treason_ was whispered in connexion with his name. The Poles
speak of him more in sorrow than in anger; they say that it was not
enough that he exposed his person on the field of battle; that he should
have given them the whole weight of his great military talents, and the
influence of his powerful name; that, standing alone, without children
or relations to be compromised by his acts, he should have consummated
the glory of his life by giving its few remaining years for the liberty
of his country. He appeared about sixty-five, with hair perfectly white,
a high florid complexion, a firm and determined expression, and in still
unbroken health, carrying himself with the proud bearing of a
distinguished veteran soldier. I could not believe that he had bartered
the precious satisfaction of a long and glorious career for a few years
of ignoble existence; and, though a stranger, could but regret that, in
the wane of life, circumstances, whether justly or not, had sullied an
honoured name. It spoke loudly against him that I saw him sitting in a
public restaurant at Cracow, unmolested by the Russian government.

The next day I visited the celebrated salt-mines at Wielitska. They lie
about, twelve miles from Cracow, in the province of Galicia, a part of
the kingdom of Poland, which, on the unrighteous partition of that
country, fell to the share of Austria. Although at so short a distance,
it was necessary to go through all the passport formalities requisite on
a departure for a foreign country. I took a fiacre and rode to the
different bureaux of the city police, and, having procured the
permission of the municipal authorities to leave the little territory of
Cracow, rode next to the Austrian consul, who thereupon, and in
consideration of one dollar to him in hand paid, was graciously pleased
to permit me to enter the dominions of his master the Emperor of
Austria. It was also necessary to have an order from the director of the
mines to the superintendent; and furnished with this I again mounted my
fiacre, rattled through the principal street, and in a few minutes
crossed the Vistula. At the end of the bridge an Austrian soldier
stopped me for my passport, a _douanier_ examined my carriage for
articles subject to duty, and, these functionaries being satisfied, in
about two hours from the time at which I began my preparations I was
fairly on my way.

Leaving the Vistula, I entered a pretty, undulating, and well-cultivated
country, and saw at a distance a high dark line, marking the range of
the Carpathian mountains. It was a long time since I had seen anything
that looked like a mountain. From the Black Sea the whole of my journey
had been over an immense plain, and I hailed the wild range of the
Carpathian as I would the spire of a church, as an evidence of the
approach to regions of civilization.

In an hour and a half I arrived at the town of Wielitska, containing
about three thousand inhabitants, and standing, as it were, on the roof
of the immense subterraneous excavations. The houses are built of wood,
and the first thing that struck me was the almost entire absence of men
in the streets, the whole male population being employed in the mines,
and then at work below. I rode to the office of the superintendent, and
presented my letter, and was received with great civility of manner but
his _Polish_ was perfectly unintelligible. A smutty-faced operative,
just out of the mines, accosted me in Latin, and I exchanged a few shots
with him, but hauled off on the appearance of a man whom the
superintendent had sent for to act as my guide; an old soldier who had
served in the campaigns of Napoleon, and, as he said, become an amateur
and proficient in fighting and French. He was dressed in miner's
costume, fanciful, and embroidered with gold, holding in his hand a
steel axe; and, having arrayed me in a long white frock, conducted me to
a wooden building covering the shaft which forms the principal entrance
to the mine. This shaft is ten feet square, and descends perpendicularly
more than two hundred feet into the bowels of the earth. We arranged
ourselves in canvass seats, and several of the miners, who were waiting
to descend, attached themselves to seats at the end of the ropes, with
lamps in their hands, about eight or ten feet below us.

When my feet left the brink of the shaft I felt, for a moment, as if
suspended over the portal of a bottomless pit; and as my head descended
below the surface, the rope, winding and tapering to a thread, seemed
letting me down to the realms of Pluto. But in a few moments we touched
bottom. From within a short distance of the surface, the shaft is cut
through a solid rock of salt, and from the bottom passages almost
innumerable are cut in every direction through the same bed. We were
furnished with guides, who went before us bearing torches, and I
followed through the whole labyrinth of passages, forming the largest
excavations in Europe, peopled with upward of two thousand souls, and
giving a complete idea of a subterraneous world. These mines are known
to have been worked upward of six hundred years, being mentioned in the
Polish annals as early as twelve hundred and thirty-seven, under
Boleslaus the Chaste, and then not as a new discovery, but how much
earlier they had existed cannot now be ascertained. The tradition is,
that a sister of St. Casimir, having lost a gold ring, prayed to St.
Anthony, the patron saint of Cracow, and was advised in a dream that, by
digging in such a place, she would find a treasure far greater than that
she had lost, and within the place indicated these mines were
discovered.

[Illustration: Salt-mines of Wielitska.]

There are four different stories or ranges of apartments; the whole
length of the excavations is more than six thousand feet, or three
quarters of an hour's walk, and the greatest breadth more than two
thousand feet; and there are so many turnings and windings that my guide
told me, though I hardly think it possible, that the whole length of all
the passages cut through this bed of salt amounts to more than three
hundred miles. Many of the chambers are of immense size. Some are
supported by timber, others by vast pillars of salt; several are without
any support in the middle, and of vast dimensions, perhaps eighty feet
high, and so long and broad as almost to appear a boundless
subterraneous cavern. In one of the largest is a lake covering nearly
the whole area. When the King of Saxony visited this place in eighteen
hundred and ten, after taking possession of his moiety of the mines as
Duke of Warsaw, this portion of them was brilliantly illuminated; and a
band of music, floating on the lake, made the roof echo with patriotic
airs. We crossed the lake in a flatboat by a rope, the dim light of
torches, and the hollow sound of our voices, giving a lively idea of a
passage across the Styx; and we had a scene which might have entitled us
to a welcome from the prince of the infernals, for our torch-bearers
quarrelled, and in a scuffle that came near carrying us all with them,
one was tumbled into the lake. Our Charon caught him, and, without
stopping to take him in, hurried across, and as soon as we landed beat
them both unmercifully.

From this we entered an immense cavern, in which several hundred men
were working with pickaxes and hatchets, cutting out large blocks of
salt, and trimming them to suit the size of barrels. With their black
faces begrimed with dust and smoke, they looked by the light of the
scattered torches like the journeymen of Beelzebub, the prince of
darkness, preparing for some great blow-up, or like the spirits of the
damned condemned to toil without end. My guide called up a party, who
disengaged with their pickaxes a large block of salt from its native
bed, and in a few minutes cut and trimmed it to fit the barrels in which
they are packed. All doubts as to their being creatures of our upper
world were removed by the eagerness with which they accepted the money I
gave them; and it will be satisfactory to the advocates of that currency
to know that paper money passes readily in these lower regions.

There are more than a thousand chambers or halls, most of which have
been abandoned and shut up. In one is a collection of fanciful things,
such as rings, books, crosses, &c., cut in the rock-salt. Most of the
principal chambers had some name printed over them, as the "Archduke,"
"Carolina," &c. Whenever it was necessary, my guides went ahead and
stationed themselves in some conspicuous place, lighting up the dark
caverns with the blaze of their torches, and, after allowing me a
sufficient time, struck their flambeaux against the wall, and millions
of sparks flashed and floated around and filled the chamber. In one
place, at the end of a long, dark passage, a door was thrown open, and I
was ushered suddenly into a spacious ballroom lighted with torches; and
directly in front, at the head of the room, was a transparency with
coloured lights, in the centre of which were the words "Excelso
hospiti," "To the illustrious guest," which I took to myself, though I
believe the greeting was intended for the same royal person for whom the
lake chamber was illuminated. Lights were ingeniously arranged around
the room, and at the foot, about twenty feet above my head, was a large
orchestra. On the occasion referred to a splendid ball was given in this
room; the roof echoed with the sound of music; and nobles and princely
ladies flirted and coquetted the same as above ground; and it is said
that the splendid dresses of a numerous company, and the blaze of light
from the chandeliers reflected upon the surface of the rock-salt,
produced an effect of inconceivable brilliancy. My chandeliers were
worse than Allan M'Aulay's strapping Highlanders with their pine
torches, being dirty, ragged, smutty-faced rascals, who threw the light
in streaks across the hall. I am always willing to believe fanciful
stories; and if my guide had thrown in a handsome young princess as part
of the welcome to the "Excelso hospiti," I would have subscribed to
anything he said; but, in the absence of a consideration, I refused to
tax my imagination up to the point he wished. Perhaps the most
interesting chamber of all is the chapel dedicated to that Saint Anthony
who brought about the discovery of these mines. It is supposed to be
more than four hundred years old. The columns, with their ornamented
capitals, the arches, the images of the Saviour, the Virgin and saints,
the altar and the pulpit, with all their decorations, and the figures of
two priests represented at prayers before the shrine of the patron
saint, are all carved out of the rock-salt, and to this day grand mass
is regularly celebrated in the chapel once every year.

Following my guide through all the different passages and chambers, and
constantly meeting miners and seeing squads of men at work, I descended
by regular stairs cut in the salt, but in some places worn away and
replaced by wood or stone, to the lowest gallery, which is nearly a
thousand feet below the surface of the earth. I was then a rather
veteran traveller, but up to this time it had been my business to move
quietly on the surface of the earth, or, when infected with the soaring
spirit of other travellers, to climb to the top of some lofty tower or
loftier cathedral; and I had fulfilled one of the duties of a visiter to
the eternal city by perching myself within the great ball of St.
Peter's; but here I was far deeper under the earth than I had ever been
above it; and at the greatest depth from which the human voice ever
rose, I sat down on a lump of salt and soliloquized,

    "Through what varieties of untried being,
    Through what new scenes and changes must we pass!"

I have since stood upon the top of the Pyramids, and admired the daring
genius and the industry of man, and at the same time smiled at his
feebleness when, from the mighty pile, I saw in the dark ranges of
mountains, the sandy desert, the rich valley of the Nile and the river
of Egypt, the hand of the world's great Architect; but I never felt
man's feebleness more than here; for all these immense excavations, the
work of more than six hundred years, were but as the work of ants by the
roadside. The whole of the immense mass above me, and around and below,
to an unknown extent, was of salt; a wonderful phenomenon in the natural
history of the globe. All the different strata have been carefully
examined by scientific men. The uppermost bed at the surface is sand;
the second clay occasionally mixed with sand and gravel, and containing
petrifactions of marine bodies; the third is calcareous stone; and from
these circumstances it has been conjectured that this spot was formerly
covered by the sea, and that the salt is a gradual deposite formed by
the evaporation of its waters. I was disappointed in some of the
particulars which had fastened themselves upon my imagination. I had
heard and read glowing accounts of the brilliancy and luminous splendour
of the passages and chambers, compared by some to the lustre of precious
stones; but the salt is of a dark gray colour, almost black, and
although sometimes glittering when the light was thrown upon it, I do
not believe it could ever be lighted up to shine with any extraordinary
or dazzling brightness. Early travellers, too, had reported that these
mines contained several villages inhabited by colonies of miners, who
lived constantly below, and that many were born and died there, who
never saw the light of day; but all this is entirely untrue. The miners
descend every morning and return every night, and live in the village
above. None of them ever sleep below. There are, however, two horses
which were foaled in the mines, and have never been on the surface of
the earth. I looked at these horses with great interest. They were
growing old before their time; other horses had perhaps gone down and
told them stories of a world above which they would never know.

It was late in the afternoon when I was hoisted up the shaft. These
mines do not need the embellishment of fiction. They are, indeed, a
wonderful spectacle, and I am satisfied that no traveller ever visited
them without recurring to it as a day of extraordinary interest. I wrote
my name in the book of visiters, where I saw those of two American
friends who had preceded me about a month, mounted my barouche, and
about an hour after dark reached the bank of the Vistula. My passport
was again examined by a soldier and my carriage searched by a
custom-house officer; I crossed the bridge, dined with my worthy host of
the Hotel de la Rose Blanche, and, while listening to a touching story
of the Polish revolution, fell asleep in my chair.

And here, on the banks of the Vistula, I take my leave of the reader. I
have carried him over seas and rivers, mountains and plains, through
royal palaces and peasants' huts, and in return for his kindness in
accompanying me to the end, I promise that I will not again burden him
with my Incidents of Travel.


THE END.



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List of Corrections:

  p. 13: "Voznezeuski" was changed to "Vosnezeuski."

  p. 21: "the last time in the _calèche_" was changed to "the last time
  in the _calêche_."

  p. 71: "merchandize" was changed to "merchandise" as elsewhere in
  the book.

  p. 77: "The men where nowhere" was changed to "The men were
  nowhere."

  p. 129: "sailed down the Dneiper from Kief" was changed to "sailed down
  the Dnieper from Kief."

  p. 137: "of a lilach colour" was changed to "of a lilac colour."

  p. 202: "Diebisch directed the strength" was changed to "Diebitsch
  directed the strength."


Errata:

The summary in the table of contents is not always consistent with the
summary at the beginning of each chapter. The original has been
retained.





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