No modern city can boast that it is so entirely composed of palaces and colossal public edifices as St. Petersburg. In some of these several thousand persons reside — six thousand, for instance, are said to inhabit the Winter palace during the emperor's residence in the capital; and the traveller, when he looks on this gigantic pile of building, will not fail to remember that it once fell a prey to the ravages of fire, at least the interior of it, and in a few hours the greedy flames destroyed much of those treasures and works of art which had, with extraordinary zeal, been collected during the prosperous reigns and magnificent courts of Elizabeth and Catherine II., and the less gorgeous but more elegant ones of Alexander and Nicholas.
Kohl, speaking of the immense extent of this palace previous to its destruction on the 29th of December, 1837, remarks that " the suites of apartments were perfect labyrinths, and that even the chief of the imperial household, who had filled that post for twelve years, was not perfectly acquainted with all the nooks and corners of it. As in the forests of the great landholders many colonies are settled of which the owner takes no notice, so there nestled many a one in this palace not included among the regular inhabitants. For example, the watchmen on the roof, placed there for different purposes — among others to keep the water in the tanks from freezing during the winter, by casting in. red-hot balls—built themselves huts between the chimneys, took their wives and children there, and even kept poultry and goats, who fed on the grass of the roof! It is said that at last some cows were introduced, but this abuse had been corrected before the palace was burnt."
The conflagration of the Winter palace originated in some defect in the flues by which it was heated; and, though the crown-jewels and much valuable property were saved from the flames, still the destruction of property must have been immense, spread as it was over a. surface of such enormous extent: the principal rooms alone, nearly one hundred in number, occupied on the first floor an area of four hundred thousand square feet.
After the destruction of the palace, it is said that Count Barincky offered the emperor a million roubles toward the erection of the new edifice; a small tradesman fifteen hundred ; and two days subsequent to the calamity, a man with a long beard, and dressed in the caftan of a common mujik,met the emperor in his drosky, and laid at his feet bank-notes to the value of twenty-five thousand roubles. It is scarcely necessary to add that the emperor did not accept these generous offers of assistance.
The inundations of the Neva, and the destruction by fire of the Winter palace, are two prominent epochs in the history of the city; and, as on every great emergency, the emperor, at this last calamity, failed not to show qualities which have made him eminently admired and respected by his subjects. The heroic devotion and disregard of danger exhibited by the firemen and mujiks are spoken of in glowing terms by those who witnessed the devastation of that fatal night, and it was with very great difficulty that many of them could be prevented from recklessly endangering their lives. Some, indeed, were lost; on learning which, the emperor ordered that the people should be prevented from entering the burning pile; and he is reported to have said, " Let it burn away, let it all go, but let not a life be endangered in attempts to save comparatively worthless property." Many of those who were in the building would not, however, leave; and, as a last resource, it is said that Nicholas ordered some officers to go and smash the large mirrors with hammers, in order to prevent the soldiers and people from making any further attempts to save them. Another anecdote was current at the time, that the emperor, observing the danger attending the efforts of one party who were endeavoring to save one of these mirrors, and that it was impossible to attract their attention in the confusion which reigned, threw his opera-glass at it, when the men seeing it broken, but not knowing whence the blow came, immediately desisted, and were thereby, saved. The gilt cross on the cupola of the private chapel resisted the fury of the devouring element, and, glowing with increased brilliancy in the light of the furnace around it, was watched by many an anxious eye in the crowd of believers beneath, who ascribed its preservation to miraculous intervention. This idea proved a powerful engine in the hands of the architect; for, under the conviction that a blessing rested on the palace, the workmen toiled with double assiduity, at its reconstruction.
In one point of view this destructive fire has proved an advantage, for the custom of consigning to solitude those suites of rooms occupied by a deceased sovereign had here closed so many of the finest apartments, that in a few more generations the reigning monarch would have been fairly turned out by the ghosts of his predecessors! In two years from the destruction of this palace it rose again under the skilful hands of the architect Kleinmichael, and the united industry of several thousand workmen, to its former magnificence, and is now, perhaps, the most splendid and largest royal edifice in the world. This imperial edifice is indeed commanding— presenting, as it does, a front toward the Neva of more than seven hundred feet; it also covers a very large space of ground, being nearly a third larger than the palace of the Austrian emperor at Vienna, and almost twice as large as that of Naples; its form is nearly a complete square, the angles of which answer to the four cardinal points of the compass. Its long facades are highly imposing, and form a grand continuation to those of the Admiralty beyond it.
In visiting the Winter palace, accompanied by one of the imperial servants in livery, strangers have the opportunity of wandering through suites of splendid apartments, galleries, and halls, filled with marbles, malachites, precious stones, vases, and pictures; among them many portraits of the great generals and mighty men of Russia and other countries. Also one of Potemkin: he is represented as of colossal height and fine countenance, and as remarkable for the development of limb and muscle as for the soft expression of his blue eyes; in fact, to judge by this portrait, one would say that he was made to command an army of Cossacks, and trouble a woman's heart. Here also are several fine Murillos, and the "Adoration of the Shepherds," by Berghem, one of the finest works of that master.
The empress's drawing-room is a perfect jewel of taste ; and the chapel, St. George's hall (a parallelogram of one hundred and forty feet by sixty), and numbers of gilded chambers, one more gorgeous than another, form an almost wearying succession of magnificence. The hall of St. George is the apartment on the splendor of which the Russians most pride themselves. It is here that the emperor gives audience in solemn state to foreign embassadors. Near it is the gallery of the generals, containing portraits of all the distinguished officers who served under the Russian colors during the war of the French invasion and the subsequent hostilities, tili Napoleon's final overthrow. The most striking picture is a full-length of the emperor Alexander on horseback, of gigantic dimensions, and said to be the best likeness of him now in existence. At the entrance to this long gallery stand two sentinels of the Russian guard, still and motionless, looking as if they also were creations of art; and at each end are suspended French eagles, the names of the principal battles that occurred in the war being written in large gold characters on the walls. Many of these pictures must be copies, as the soldiers they represent found a warrior's death on the field of honor long before this collection was begun.
Beyond this gallery is the field-marshals' saloon. Here the portraits do not exceed eight or ten in number, for that rank is as rarely bestowed in Russia as it is in England. The duke of Wellington is among the distinguished few; and the symbol which accompanies the full-length portrait of the hero of a hundred fights is that of imperishable strength, the British oak.
Beyond this is the Salle Blanche, the most magnificent apartment in this most magnificent of palaces, and so called from its decorations being all in pure white, relieved only with gilding. The dimensions are nearly the same as those of the hall of the generals. Here the court fetes are held, which are reputed to form the most brilliant pageant of in-door palace-life to be found in Christendom.
The diamond-room, containing the crowns and jewels of the imperial family, deserves notice. Diamonds, rubies, and emeralds, are ranged round the room in small cases of such dazzling beauty, that it is almost bewildering to look at them. 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 with a single exception the largest in the world, being the celebrated stone purchased by Catherine II. from a Greek slave, for four hundred and fifty thousand roubles and a large pension for life. Bruloff's picture of the " Eaising of the Serpent in the Wilderness" is to be seen here. It has great merit and some defects; the figures are for the most part portraits of Israelites who inhabit the Ghetto at Rome, and the result therefore is really a Hebrew crowd. There is also, if not recently removed, the famous Chinese cabinet of Catherine, and a small room to which Peter the Great used to retire from the turmoil of public affairs.
There was, in the last century, a palace called the Summer palace, on the Fontanka canal, but this was pulled down by the emperor Paul; the name therefore is now without meaning, for the castle built to replace the former was designated as the Michailof Samok, or castle. There is a telegraph in the Winter palace, close to the emperor's private apartments, by means of which he can transmit his own orders to Kronstadt, Peterhoff, &c.
Adjoining the Winter palace is the Hermitage, which it is a well-known fact that the great Catherine built as Frederick the Great did his Sans-Souci at Potsdam, and the Roman emperor Numa his Grotto of Egeria. But the Hermitage is no cloistered solitude—no rocky grotto hidden amid the waters of the Neva's murmuring sources—but a magnificent palace, second only to that we have just described; While within it is loaded with precious objects of art and vertu. The empress built this temple in order that she might retire to it in her leisure moments, there to enjoy the conversation of the French philosophers and men of learning ; and here, after the duties of the sovereign had been transacted in the Winter palace, she was wont to pass the evening, surrounded by all that could gratify the eye or the senses : musicians displayed their talents, artists their works, scientific men their speculations, and political men their opinions; for, in accordance with the ukase suspended in all the apartments, perfect freedom and equality reigned; and the pictures which we see elsewhere only as allegorical representations of art-aiid-science-loving princes, were here every day realized. On the roof was a garden with flowers, shrubs, and trees, heated in winter by subterranean stoves, and illuminated in summer by variegated lamps, under the prismatic colors of which the brilliant assemblage wandered.
The Hermitage is connected with the Winter palace by several covered galleries, and forms a sort of continuation of that vast building. Theprincipal facade faces the Neva. It has but little claim to architectural beauty, and may be divided into three parts, each of which was the work of a different architect. The first part, which is united to the Winter palace, and somewhat resembles it in style, was built by Lamotte, in 1765. The second part, which extends to the small canal connecting the Moika with the Neva, was the work of the architect Velten, in 1775. The theatre forms the third part, and is joined to the rest of the building by a bridge and covered gallery. It was built by Guarenghi, and is perhaps the finest part of the Hermitage. The apartments of the entire palace are mostly decorated with costly ornaments in malachite, marble, or jasper, the materials of which have been found and worked in Siberia. A thorough inspection of the works of art here contained would require several days.
In 1804, the Hermitage was finally completed under the emperor Alexander. Catherine not only built, or rather caused to be built, this luxurious retreat, but furnished those who were admitted to her intimacy with the opportunity of becoming acquainted with those admirable masterpieces of art which had graced the walls of many of the royal palaces of Europe, and thus laid the foundation of that gallery of paintings which is now without a rival in northern Europe.
In one of the rooms of the Hermitage is contained a most interesting collection of antiquities from the Crimea. It is wonderful that such costly relics (for most of them are of gold) should have been preserved for so many centuries. Prom ancient times the countless graves of the Greeks of Taurus and the Chersonesus (Crimea) have been objects of zealous research : the Huns, the Tartars, and the Cossacks, plundered them in turns, and melted down the treasures found therein; and whatever the watchfulness of the Russian government could rescue from the unhistorical merchants and robbers has been deposited in the Hermitage. The greater part of these rare specimens of Greek art were found in some of the various tumuli that cover the plain in the neighborhood of Kertsch (the ancient Panticapeum), and a few came from Olbia, a Greek colony planted in the Chersonesus by the Athenians. The choicest objects are the laurel-wreaths, of the purest gold, which adorned the victor's brow. Many of these are quite perfect, not a twig or leaf being deficient. A gold mask and shield are also very curious; indeed, the gold ornaments are most beautifully executed, and may defy the Rundels and Bridges of our own days. Pictures as good as some of those in the Hermitage may perhaps be seen in other capitals, but a collection of antiquities similar to these will rarely, if ever, be met with elsewhere.
In the centre room of the first long suite of apartments facing the river, is a full-length painting of Catherine I., surrounded by the marble busts of various Russian statesmen: this is considered the best likeness of Catherine, as it is said to be the most flattering; the features are fine, and the expression of the countenance is mild and pleasing. In another portrait of that empress in the long corridor, which is expressly devoted to portraits of deceased members of the imperial family (and to views of prominent streets and buildings in the city as they appeared about seventy years ago), she is represented on horseback astride, and in man's attire.
The Hermitage also contains the Russian library, consisting of ten thousand volumes in the Russian language, and founded by Catherine II. for the instruction and amusement of the numerous attendants who were attached to her luxurious court, and whose time would have hung heavily on their hands without some such resource. In the library are likewise the collections of Diderot, Voltaire, the marquis de Galliani, Nicolai Zimmerman the philosopher, Busching, Tcherbatof, &c.; in all a hundred and twenty thousand volumes. The donations of Yoltaire contain numerous annotations in his own hand, and there are several unpublished manuscripts of the French philosopher, as well as a great number of his thumb-stains and " dogs' ears."
It may be mentioned that, in addition to the paintings, drawings, and engravings, there are two rooms filled with a most extraordinary collection of jewels, cameos, intaglios, medals, snuff-boxes, etuis, ivory carvings, and articles of every kind of vertu; jewels, arms, and ornaments of the ancient czars, ormolu knick-knacks and valuable bizarreries of all sorts. Most of the snuff-boxes are jewelled, and very costly: one presented by the Turkish sultan to his "fond ally," displays a miniature of Mahmoud in his European costume, most beautifully painted on ivory. The entire surface is covered with large diamonds of the first water, and within the outer row in each corner is a still larger brilliant, dazzling to look upon. In one room is a superb vase of Siberian jasper of a lilac color, five feet in height, of exquisite form and polish. In another are two magnificent candelabra, said to be valued at fifty thousand dollars ; two golden tripods, seven feet high, supporting the golden salvers on which salt and bread were presented to the emperor Alexander on his triumphal return from Paris in 1814, as emblems of Wisdom and Plenty; besides these tripods there are two gold salvers presented to the emperor Nicholas at his coronation by the nobility and merchants of St. Petersburg; a large musical and magical secretary, which opens spontaneously in a hundred directions at the sound of music, purchased by Alexander for four thousand dollars; also a clock called the Horloge du Paon, enclosed in a glass case ten feet high: the form of the clock is the trunk of a tree, the branches and leaves of which are gold; on the top sits a peacock, and when the chimes begin, it expands its brilliant tail, while an owl rolls its eyes with its own peculiar stare, and, instead of a bell striking the hour, a golden cock flaps his wings and crows! In fact, these treasures seem to realize in all its truth the proverbial expression of '' l'embarras de richesses;" and the eye, wearied and satiated with them, reposes with no small satisfaction and interest on the simple and unostentatious dressing-case of the emperor Alexander: this is extremely compact and plain, and, judging by so trifling a circumstance, marks the soldier and the sensible man.
We have but touched on some of the treasures of this palace; but enough has been said to show that a hermit might boldly renounce the rest of the world if allowed to make his cell here, where half nature and half mankind are offered to his contemplation on canvass, in color, in marble, glass, and ivory, painted, chiselled, stamped, woven, and printed.
The picture-galleries of the Hermitage are on the first floor, the large windows of which command a beautiful view of the river. In the court is a garden raised to the level of these rooms, which, with its flowering shrubs and evergreens, has a curious effect; for, from one window the Neva is seen flowing at a depth of about thirty feet below, while on the other side flowers are blooming, and a fountain playing, on a level with the spectator.
The barracks of the Preobrajensky regiment of guards are attached to the Hermitage. This regiment is always on duty at the palace, and those among the officers who are lovers of the fine arts must feel great pleasure in being able so frequently to promenade these splendid rooms, surrounded by some of the best pictures in the world. It is, however, stated that the gallery at the Hermitage is, marvellous to relate, little visited by the higher classes in St. Petersburg.
A theatre is attached to this palace, but not of very large dimensions. Performances sometimes take place, but there can be but little room for show or stage effect. The members of the court sit on chairs, in the pit, as there are no boxes or divisions. There is nothing particularly striking in the decorations.
The Hermitage joins the Winter palace on the east. Then follows the Imperial theatre, some other palaces, the property of private persons, and, last of all, the Marble palace. This was erected by Catherine II. as a residence for Prince Gregory Orioff, one of her favorites, who died before its completion; and its long fagade, stretching by the river-side, denotes that it must have been at one time a handsome pile of building. It ought more properly to have been called the Granite palace, for much more granite and iron have been employed upon it than marble. The extraordinary massive walls are built of blocks of granite; the supports of the roof are iron beams ; the roof itself sheet-copper; the window-frames gilded copper. This palace was inhabited by the late grand-duke Constantine, and has since been sumptuously furnished and decorated for the residence of the present grand-duke of the same name.
The Taurida palace, a long, low building, with a badly-paved court in front and two projecting wings, is situated on the banks of the Neva, about a mile to the eastward of the Marble palace. It was named the Taurida in compliment to Potemkin, the conqueror of the khan of the Crimea, and presented by Catherine II. to that nobleman, and, oddly enough, was subsequently purchased from him. In the favorite's pride of power, and when his inordinate love of show and ostentation animated and adorned its noble apartments, this palace may have realized the expectations raised by its name : it now looks forlorn, and a picture of deserted magnificence. The exterior, can never have been beautiful, and the interior has been robbed of the best part of its contents to assist in adorning other royal residences. On entering the building the stranger finds himself in a lofty circular hall filled with statues, many of them of average merit. Beyond is a ballroom of extraordinary dimensions, being three hundred and twenty feet long by seventy feet wide, which, opening on one side to the entrance-hall, and on the other to an extensive conservatory, from which it is separated only by a row of lofty marble columns, runs the whole length of the palace. The columns are encircled by rows of lights coiling round them like serpents, while three enormous chandeliers, each composed of two or three large rings, fitted with lights rising one above the other, are suspended from the ceiling. The very shrubs and pillars in the conservatory are transformed in like manner, and made to bear their share in the vast illumination. An idea of the immense proportions of this ballroom may be formed from the fact that twenty thousand wax-lights are necessary to light it up completely ; and that the colossal group of the Laocoon, at one end, can be plainly seen from the other only by means of a telescope! A profusion of statues, many of them well executed, are arranged round this vast apartment, and a copy of the Venus de Medici and an herm aphrodite are worthy of mention.
In the summer, the orange-trees, of which there are great numbers, are removed from the conservatory into the palace-gardens. Here Potemkin gave magnificent fetes to his imperial mistress; and all that was bright, beautiful, and gay, thronged the mazy walks of the orangery in the long winter nights, turning their dullness into the wild revelry of a southern carnival. It must have been like magic to have passed from the frozen and snow-covered earth without to this magnificent ballroom, illuminated with its thousands of lights, and filled with perfumes that carried the imagination to regions where an icicle was never seen, and the northern blast never felt. At these festivals the musicians were suspended in the chandeliers. The last grand festival given in this palace was on the occasion of the marriage of the grand-duke Michael, when the present decorations were made. The marble is all false, the silver is plated copper, many of the pillars and statues are of brick and plaster, and the pictures of equivocal originality; the looking-glasses, though ten feet wide and lofty in pro-. portion, are so badly made, that on examination the surface is found to be all in waves and full of bubbles, and it is evident they belong to a very early period of the St. Petersburg manufactory.
The Taurida, now a kind of Hampton court, and inhabited by a few superannuated ladies of the haut-ton, is sometimes used as a place of reception for the emperor's guests. Here once resided Louisa, the beautiful but unfortunate queen of Prussia, after the conquest of that country by Napoleon in 1806; it was also tenanted by the Persian prince Ohozro Mirza, during his embassy, when he came to deprecate the wrath of the mighty czar; and lastly, in 1830, by Oscar, crown prince (now king) of Sweden. The emperor Paul turned the entire palace into a barrack for his guards, but his son and successor Alexander restored it to its original purpose of a royal residence. It is still thickly garrisoned with imperial footmen, and kept in pretty good order; but it nevertheless, from the absence of furniture, looks, as before remarked, deserted and melancholy. The gardens are accessible to the public; they are tastefully laid out, and, considering their vicinity to so large a city, their extent is immense. A table-cover, on which are some drops of wax which fell from the candles of Alexander, who frequently inhabited some apartments here, and some crayon drawings by his admirable consort Elizabeth, and other objects of the same kind, have a certain degree of interest.
The Hotel de l'Etat Major, or head department of the army, immediately fronting the Winter palace, is likewise one of the many striking piles , of buildings in the " City of Palaces," and remarkable for its vast extent and singular architectural ornament of a chariot of Victory, drawn by eight horses, which are rearing and plunging in all directions to the no small discomfort of the plumed and mailed lady who drives the team. Prom the arch over which the group is placed one of the most pleasing views of the Winter palace and likewise of the adjacent buildings may be obtained.
In the open space between the Etat Major and the Winter palace stands the greatest monolith of modern times, the column erected to the memory of the late emperor Alexander—a single shaft of red granite, which, exclusive of pedestal and capital, is upward of eighty feet in height. This beautiful monument is the work of Monsieur Montferrand, the architect of the church of St. Isaac, and was erected under his superintendence. The shaft originally measured one hundred and two feet, but it was subsequently shortened to its present dimensions from a fear that its diameter was insufficient for so great a length. The base and pedestal is also composed of one enormous block of the same red granite, of the height of about twenty-five feet, and nearly the same length and breadth; the capital measures sixteen feet, the statue of the angel on the summit fourteen feet, and the cross seven feet—in all about a hundred and fifty feet.*
As the whole of St. Petersburg is built on a morass, it was thought necessary to drive no less than six successive rows of piles, in order to sustain so immense a weight as this standing upon so confined a base; the shaft of the column alone is computed as weighing nearly four hundred tons, and the massive pedestal must materially increase the tremendous pressure. The statue was raised in its rough state, and polished after it was firmly fixed on its present elevation. On the pedestal is the following short and well-chosen inscription: " To Alexander the First. — Grateful Russia." The eye rests with pleasure on this polished monument; and in any other city its enormous size would make a greater impression. In St. Petersburg, however, where the eye expands with the vast surrounding spaces, it is seen under a smaller angle of vision. The place on which it stands is so vast in its dimensious, the houses around are so high and massive, that even this giant requires its whole hundred and fifty feet not to disappear. But when the stranger is close to it and becomes aware of its circumference, while its head seems to reach the heavens, the impression is strong and overpowering.
Already, however, it is said that an abominable worm is gnawing at this beautiful monolith, and it has likewise received a very sad and offensive rent from above toward the middle. It may be that the stone was at first badly chosen, or that the cold of St. Petersburg will not tolerate such monuments of human art. There are those among the inhabitants who think it a patriotic duty to deny the existence of the rent, which has been artfully filled with a cement of granite fragments. But in the sunshine, when the polish of the rent shows differently from that of the stone—or in the winter, when the hoar frost forms in icicles on the cold stone, but not on the warmer cement—the marring line is but too apparent.
The idea of this column is, like everything else in Russia, religio-politi-cal. It was erected, as before remarked, in honor of the emperor Alexander, and is meant to eternalize with his memory that of the reconfirmation of the political constitution and of the security of religion. The mass of the Russian people have been taught to believe that the invasion of Napoleon was not only an attack on the state, but also as one on their faith— (falsely taught, since Napoleon made war on the religious faith of no people or nation). Hence the erection of the angel with the cross on the summit. This column, whose capital and ornaments on the pedestal were formed from Turkish cannon, throws into one category all the enemies of Russia, the Turks, the French, &c., and is the sealing, ratification, and immortalization of all the modern victories of the Russian eagle.
The Miclfailoff palace, or rather castle, stands on the site of the old Summer palace on the Fontanka canal, which was pulled down by the emperor Paul, who built this of granite in its stead, and fortified it as a place of defence; and, according to Russian custom, which dedicates to protecting saints and angels not churches only, but fortresses, castles, and other buildings, it was dedicated to the archangel Michael. The castle has a more gloomy exterior than the other palaces of St. Petersburg, and is of an extraordinary style of architecture. It is in the form of a square, whose four fagades all differ in style one from the other. The ditches, which originally surrounded it, are now partly filled up and laid out in gardens, but the principal entrance is still over some drawbridges. In the square before the chief gate stands a monument, insignificant enough as a work of art, which Paul erected to Peter the Great, with the inscription " Prodadu Pravnuk" (the Grandson to the Grandfather). Over the principal door, which is overloaded with architectural ornaments, is inscribed in golden letters a passage from the Bible in the old Slavonian language: " On thy house will the blessing of the Lord rest for evermore."
This palace was built with extraordinary rapidity. Five thousand men were employed on it daily till finished; and, the more quickly to dry the walls, large iron plates were made hot and fastened to them for a time : the result was, that soon after the emperor's death it was abandoned as quite uninhabitable! The cost of building it is said to have been eighteen millions of roubles: had sufficient time been taken, it would not have amounted to six millions.
The halls and apartments of the castle are large and numerous. The room in which the emperor Paul was strangled is sealed and walled up. The Russians generally do this with the room in which their parents die. They have a certain dread of it, and never enter it willingly. The emperor Alexander never entered one of them. Nicholas, however, who feared neither the cholera in Moscow, nor revolt in St. Petersburg, nor the dagger in Warsaw, but shows a bold countenance everywhere, has viewed these rooms several times. The apartment in which his father was murdered is easily recognisable from without by the darkened and dusty windows on the second story. The apartments of the beautiful Lapuchin are directly under, on the first floor, and are now inhabited by the keeper of the castle. The stairs which led down from them are broken away.
During the reign of Alexander the castle fell so much into decay, that when Nicholas caused it to be restored it is said to have cost sixty thousand roubles merely to remove the dirt and rubbish. - The painted ceilings have considerable interest. In one is represented the revival of the order of Malta, and Ruthenia, a beautiful virgin, with the features of Paul, seated on a mountain. Near her rests the mighty eagle. Fame, flying from the south in terror, announces the injustice done her in the Mediterranean, and entreats " the mighty eagle" to shelter her under his wing. In the distance is seen the island threatened by the waves and the hostile fleets. In another hall all the gods of Greece are assembled, whose various physiognomies are those of persons of the imperial court! The architect, whose purse profited considerably by the building of the castle, appears among them as a flying Mercury. When Paul, who was a ready punster, and who knew very well that all the money he paid was not changed into stone and wood, caused the different faces to be pointed out to him, he recognised the features of the Mercury directly, and said, laughing, to his courtiers, "Ah ! voila l' architecte, qui vole"
The old Michailoff palace is now the abode of the school of engineers. One hundred and fifty young persons here receive their mathematical and physical education. Its gardens are filled with blooming young cadets, who play and exercise there; and the former audience and banqueting rooms are partly used as school, examination, sleeping, and eating rooms, and partly to hold collections of various objects of a very attractive kind, of the highest interest in engineering and fortification. It is wonderful to contemplate the progress which the Russians have already made in this branch of military science.
Russia, with reference to its military fortifications, is divided into ten circles. To the objects which relate to the fortification of each circle, a separate hall is devoted. In large presses, in the halls, are kept all the plans, general and special, of already-existing or projected fortresses. Each fortress has its own press for the materiel, in which are specimens of the bricks, kinds of earth, and the different rocks which lie in the neighborhood, and of which the fortresses are, or are to be, constructed. Lastly, on large stands in the middle of the halls, are to be seen all the fortified places in Russia, modelled in clay and wood, and with such exactness, that not the slightest elevation or sinking of the ground—not a tree or a house is forgotten. In this manner are presented, among others, the most striking pictures of Kiev, Eevel, and Eiga. It is worthy of remark that among them is a complete representation of all the castles of the Dardanelles, with their bastions and towers, and the most minute details of all the little creeks of this important strait and the neighboring heights and rocks. By means of these models, the whole of plan of attack on the Dardanelles could be directed from St. Petersburg. The mingling of the castles of the Dardanelles with those already garrisoned by Russian troops indicates that Russia covets them, and brings to mind Alexander's saying, that those straits, with Constantinople, formed " the key to his house."
In one of the rooms is an extraordinary number of ukases and military ordinances, having reference to the erection of defences. They are signed, and many of them corrected, by the different emperors and empresses with their own hands. Catherine II., in particular, has made many corrections with a red-lead pencil; and Nicholas always makes with his own hand his amendments, alterations, annotations, and additions to his laws, decrees, and sentences. Here may be seen a hundred repetitions of those three important words, " Buit po semu" (Be it so), which are annexed to every ukase.
Catherine's handwriting is bad, but the signature is never hurried; on the contrary, she seems to have taken trouble in painting every one of the Russian letters. All the long letters have a little flourish under them, which are made with a trembling hand; some are quite awry, nor are all the letters in a line ; they are not joined, but nearly every one stands alone, and tolerably perpendicular, without flow or rounding: it is like the handwriting of an old man. Even the individual letter will sometimes be formed of unconnected strokes. The whole is plain, and without any ornamental additions. After her name uIckathrina" stands always a large dot, as if she would say, "And therewith punctum basta."
Sears, Robert. An Illustrated Description of the Russian Empire. New York: Robert Sears, 1855