The Russians have a very convenient custom for persons who are desirous of making purchases—that of offering for sale within the same building almost everything that is likely to be bought. This plan is, on the other hand, very disagreeable to those who have nothing to buy; for the bearded worthy who stands at every door of the Gostinoi Dvor is by no means content with verbally inviting the stranger to walk in, but seizes him by the arm or coat-tails without ceremony, and, unless he makes some show of resistance, the chances are that he will be transferred, nolens volens, to the darkness visible of the merchant's dirty storehouse.
There is, in most Russian cities of importance, and generally in a central position, a Gostinoi Dvor, or bazar, where all the more important articled of commerce are collected for sale. It is generally a large building, consisting of a ground-floor and an upper floor. The upper floor is commonly reserved for wholesale dealings ; the ground-floor consists of a multitude of booths or shops in which the various descriptions of merchandise are sold by retail. The dwellings of the merchants are away from these markets; and, when the business-hours are at an end, each tradesman locks up his own stall, and the whole building is committed for the night to the guardianship of the watchmen and their dogs.
The Gostinoi Dvor of St. Petersburg is a colossal building, one side being in the Nevskoi Prospekt, and another in the Bolshaia Ssattovaia, or Great Garden street, through which, and some of the adjoining streets, extend from it a number of shops and booths, giving to that part of the town, throughout the year, the appearance of a perpetual fair. The better description of Russian goods are always found in the Gostinoi Dvor; those of an inferior kind in the adjoining markets, the Apraxin Rinok and the Tshukin Dvor, which lie a little farther on in the Bolshaia Ssattovaia. Following the last-named street, which is bordered throughout its whole length by shops and booths, the stranger will arrive at an open place, the Sennaia Ploschad, or hay-market, which may be considered the principal provision-market of St. Petersburg.
All the lanes and alleys that intersect the Gostinoi Dvor are thronged throughout the day by a stream of sledges and droskies,in which the cooks,, the stewards, and ether servants of the great houses, come to make their daily purchases. In a city containing half a million of inhabitants, there must at all times be a great and urgent demand for an immense variety of articles; but there are many reasons why this should be more the case in St. Petersburg than in any other capital. In the first place, there is no other European capital where the inhabitants are content to make use of goods of such inferior quality, or where, consequently, they have such frequent occasion to buy new articles, or to have the old ones repaired. Then there is no other capital where the people are so capricious and so fond of change. The wealthy Russians are here one day, and gone the next; now travelling for the benefit of their health, now repairing to the country to re-establish their finances by a temporary retirement, and then reappearing on the banks of the Neva, to put their hundreds of thousands into circulation. This constant fluctuation leads daily to the dissolution and to the formation of a number of establishments, and makes it necessary that there should be at all times a greater stock of everything requisite for the outfit of a family than would be required in a town of equal extent, but whose population is more settled.
A Russian seldom buys anything till just when he wants to use it, and, as he can not then wait, he must have it ready to his hand. Boots, saddlery, wearing-apparel, confectionary, and other articles, which in other countries are generally ordered beforehand from a tradesman, are here bought ready for immediate use. Each article has its separate row of shops, and the multitude of these shops is almost innumerable.
If the throng of buyers is calculated to amuse a stranger, he will be likely to find still more diversion, as lie lounges along the corridors, in observing the characteristic manners of the dealers. These Gostinbi-Dvor merchants are almost invariably flaxen-haired, brown-bearded, shrewd fellows, in blue caftans, and blue-cloth caps, the costume uniformly worn by merchants throughout Russia. They are constantly extolling their wares in the most exaggerated terms to those who are passing by. Cap in hand, they are always ready to open their doors to every passer-by, and are incessant in the exercise of their eloquence, whatever may be the rank, station, or age, of those they address. They will not hesitate to offer a bearskin mantle to a little fellow scarcely strong enough to carry it, recommend their coarsely-fashioned boots to a passing dandy, invite an old man to purchase a child's toy, or solicit a young girl to carry away a sword or a fowling-piece. Where the merchant does not act as his own crier, he usually has somebody to officiate in his place, and it may easily be imagined what life and animation these constant cries and solicitations give'to the market. Preachers and actors have generally a tone peculiar to their .several classes; and even so has the Gostinbi-Dvormerchant;, whose voice may be known afar off, but who immediately alters that tone when a fish shows a disposition to fasten on the bait, for then commences a more seri--ous discussion of the merits and quality of his merchandise.
No light or fire is allowed in the building, unless it be the sacred lamps that are kept burning before the pictures of the saints, and which are supposed to be too holy to occasion any danger. The merchants are, in consequence, often exposed to intense cold, but this they endure with admirable fortitude and cheerfulness. Over their caftans, it is true, they put on a close fur-coat of white wolf-skin, a piece of apparel worn by every Gostinoi-Dvor merchant, of the same cut and material.
Even without including the peasants who offer provisions for sale, there are probably not much less than ten thousand merchants and dealers of different degrees assembled in the Gostinbi Dvor of St. Petersburg and its dependent buildings. Of these people, few have their household establishments in the vicinity of the market, yet all have the wants of hunger to satisfy in the course of the day, and it may therefore readily be conceived that a host of small traders have attached themselves to the establishment for the mere convenience of the merchants. Among the streets and lanes of the bazar there are constantly circulating retailers of tea, with their large, steaming somovars;* quass-sellers, together with dealers in bread, sausages, cheese, &c.; and all these people receive constant encouragement from the hungry merchants. Careworn looks are as little seen in this market as grumbling tones are heard; for a Russian seldom gives house-room to care or melancholy, and yet more rarely gives utterance to a complaint. Nor, indeed, has he occasion; for, in this rising country, " Slava Bogu !" (God be thanked!) be the merchandise ever so bad, trade goes on nevertheless. In other countries, a merchant relies upon the goodness of his merchandise for custom; the Russian speculator believes that, the worse his wares, the sooner will his customers want to renew their stock.
The Apraxin Rinok and Tshukin Dvor, two markets before referred to, occupy a piece of ground about fifteen hundred feet square — containing, therefore, a surface of rather more than two millions of square feet. The whole is so closely covered with stalls and booths, that nothing but narrow lanes are left between; and supposing each booth, including the portion of lane in front of it, to occupy five hundred square feet, which is certainly making a very liberal allowance, it would follow that there must be within the two bazars nearly five thousand booths, tents, and stalls. These form a city of themselves. The tops of the booths frequently project and meet those that are opposite to them, making the little lanes between as dark as the alleys of the Jews' quarters in some of the old German towns, or like the streets of many an oriental city at the present day. Through narrow gates the traveller will pass from the busy Garden street into thig market-place, where a well-dressed human being will be looked for in vain — where all are "black people," bearded, and furred, and thoroughly un-European.
With the exception of furs, many of which are of excellent quality, there are in the Gostinoi Dvor, properly so called, but the iron and wax shops where the articles are thoroughly Russian. Most of the merchandise consists of bad. imitations of foreign fabrics. As the goods, so the customers. Both are Europeanized, for there is little in the Frenchified soubrettes, the lackeys in livery, the employes in uniform, and the foreign teachers, to remind one of Russian nationality: but a little farther on, when you enter the gates of the Apraxin Rinok and the Tshukin Dvor, you come to a market where sellers, buyers, and wares, are all equally and entirely Russian ; and here, in the very centre of the palaces and plate-glass of St. Petersburg, in this capital of princes and magnates, there is to be seen a motley, dirty populace, precisely similar to what may be supposed to have thronged the fairs at Novgorod in the middle ages, or may still be seen in the bazars of any of the provincial towns of Russia.
Here, also, in the true Russian spirit, like has paired with like. In one corner, for instance, all the dealers in sacred images have congregated. The Russians, who believe themselves abandoned by God and all good angels as soon as they are without his visible and tangible presence —or, rather, who think every place the devil's own ground until the priest has driven him out of it, and who therefore decorate their bodies, their rooms, their doors, and their gates, as well as their, churches, with sacred images — require, of course, a very large and constant supply of those articles, of which, in fact, the consumption is enormous. The little brass crosses, and the Virgins, the St. Johns, the St. Georges, and other amulets, may be seen piled up in boxes like ginger-cakes at a fair. On the walls of the booths are hung up pictures of all sorts and sizes, radiant with mock gold and silver. Some are only a few inches in length and breadth. Of these a nobleman's footman will buy a few score at a time, as necessary to the fitting up of a new house ; for in every room a few of these holy little articles must be nailed up against the wall. For village-churches, for private chapels, and for devout merchants of the old faith, there are pictures of several ells square, before which a whole household may prostrate themselves at their ease. Some are neatly set in mahogany frames of modern fashion; others are still adorned in the good old style, with pillars, doors, and temples, of silver wire: some are new, and from the pencils of the students of the newly-established St. Petersburg Academy of Arts, but the greater part are old, and present figures often nearly obliterated by the dust and smoke of centuries. To these it is (particularly when they can be warranted to have once adorned the wall of a church) that the lower orders in Russia attach the greatest value, just as the German peasant prefers an old, dirty, well-thumbed hymn-book, to one just fresh from the binder's.
In another part of the market will be found a whole quarter of fruit-shops, in which an incredible quantity of dried fruit is offered for sale. Each of these shops is as oddly decorated as its fellows. In the centre, on an elevated pedestal, there stands generally a rich battery of bottles and boxes of conserves, mostly manufactured at Kiev. Round the walls, in small boxes, the currants, raisins, almonds, figs, and oranges, are arranged, while huge sacks and chests of prunes, nuts, and juniper-berries, retire more modestly into corners; and large tuns full of glukvi, a small red berry of which the Russians are passionately fond, stand sentinels at the door. These are mostly sold in winter, when they are generally frozen to the consistency of flint-stones, and are measured out with wooden shovels to amateurs. Inside and outside, these shops are decorated with large festoons of mushrooms, at all times a favorite dish with the common people in Russia. It is surprising that no good artist should ever have chosen one of these picturesque Russian fruit-shops for the subject of his pencil. Such a booth, with its bearded dealers and its no less bearded customers, would make an admirable tableau de genre.
A little farther, and the stranger will come to whole rows of shops full of pretty bridal ornaments; gay metal wedding-crowns, such as it is customary during the ceremony to place upon the heads of bride and bridegroom ; and artificial wreaths and flowers, of a very neat fabric — and all at very reasonable prices. A whole garland of roses, for instance, tastefully interwoven with silver wire, may be had for fifteen or twenty cents; a bride can here be handsomely decorated from head to foot for one or two dollars; and, as among the humbler classes of St. Petersburg some thirty weddings, are daily solemnized, without speaking of other festive celebrations, it may be imagined what piles of ornaments of various kinds are constantly kept on hand to supply the wants of brides and bridemaids, birthday-guests, and the like.
Whole groups of shops are filled with perfumes, incense, and various articles for fumigation; others with honey from Kazan and Toula, neatly laid out in wooden vessels — some as clean as the milk-pans in the caves of Homer's Cyclops, while others, of a less attractive look, remind one rather of Limburg cheese in an advanced stage of decay. Here also -may be seen the beer and cake and tea stalls, at which the peasants never fail to expend a portion of their gains.
The pastry-cooks have likewise their quarter in this market, where they vend the oily fish pirogas, of which the bearded Russians are so passionately fond. Here little benches are ranged around the table on which are placed the dainty delicacies, covered with oily pieces of canvass (for the piroga, to be properly enjoyed, must be eaten warm). A large pot of green oil on a salt-stand of no ordinary size are the indispensable accompaniments to the feast. Pass one of these shops, and throw an accidental glance at his wares, and the merchant will be sure to anticipate your desires : quickly he will plunge his tempting cake into the oil-pot, scatter a pineh of salt upon the dripping mass, and present it to you with the air of a prince ! The sheepskinned, bearded Muscovite will rarely be able to resist the temptation: he will seat himself on one of the benches, and one rich, savory piroga after the other will wend its way down his throat, till his long and well-anointed beard becomes as bright and glossy as a piece of highly-polished horsehair! Some travellers may turn with disgust from the picture here presented to them; but others will be too much amused by the wit and politesse of the oil-lickers to expend much indignation on the venders of these pirogas. Even the coarsest and dirtiest article of merchandise will be presented with a courtly and insinuating demeanor by these rough-looking, bearded fellows ; even a greasy pirogadripping with green oil, will be accompanied by a neatly-turned compliment or a lively jest, and the few copecks paid for it are sure to be received with expressions of the warmest thankfulness.
Almost every article may, however, be described as cheap and shabby; and yet what vistas of Still worse and worse wares unfold themselves as the traveller wanders on to the outskirts of the market, where disbanded apparel and invalided furniture are exposed for sale! Things may be seen there of which it is difficult to imagine that they caii. still retain a money value—such as rags, bits of riband, fragments of paper, and broken glass ; clothes that the poorest ivoshtshik has dismissed from his service, and petticoats that the humblest housemaid has thought herself bound to lay aside. Yet all these things, and others, which a Gostinoi-Dvor merchant would scarcely use except to warm his stove, are not arranged without some show of taste and elegance, nor are they offered without a multitude of civil speeches and lofty panegyrics to the barefooted beggar, to the gipsy and the Jewess, who timidly hover around the poverty-stricken repositories, and cast many a longing glance aft the various things with which they might cover their nakedness or decorate their huts) but lie possession of which they are unable to purchase With the copper coin within their grasp. The crumbs swept from the tables of the rich are here gathered together; and though the joint stock of many of these shops be not worth the silver rouble staked at a card-table in the saloon of a noble, yet each article has its estimated value, below which it will not be parted with—no, not for one quarter of a copeck!
But perhaps the most interesting of this world of markets is that of the Tshukin Dvor, where the various species of the feathered tribe are sold. Here may be seen two rows of booths full of pigeons, fowls, geese, ducks, swans, larks, bulfinches, siskins, and hundreds of other singing-birds, forming the most picturesque and variegated menagerie that can be imagined. Each booth is of wood, and open in the front, so that the whole of its contents may be seen at once by the passing stranger, who is saluted with such a concert of cackling, crowing, chattering, cooing, piping, and warbling, as would suffice to furnish the requisite supply of idyllic melodies for a hundred villages. Between the opposite booths are usually bridges, from which the pictures of saints are suspended, for the edification of the devout. On these bridges, and on the roofs of the booths, whole swarms of pigeons are constantly fluttering about, the peaceful Russian being a great lover of this gentle bird. Each swarm knows its own roof, and the birds allow themselves to be caught without much difficulty, when a bargain is to be concluded. The pigeon is never eaten by a Russian, who would hold it a sin to harm an animal in whose form the Holy Ghost is said to have manifested itself. Pigeons are bought, therefore, only as pets, to be fed and schooled by their masters. The manner in which a Russian merchant directs the flight of his docile scholars is curious.. With a little flag fastened to a long staff he conveys his signals to them—makes them at his will rise higher in the air, fly to the right or left, or drop to the ground as if struck by a bullet from a rifle!
The poor little singing-birds (the larks, nightingales, linnets, bulfinches, &c.) must be of a hardier race than in more southern lands ; for, in spite of the bitter frost, they chirrup away merrily, and salute with their songs every straggling ray of sunshine that finds its way into their gloomy abodes. The little creatures receive during the whole long winter not one drop of water, for it would be useless to offer them what a moment afterward would be converted into a petrified mass. Their little troughs are accordingly filled only with snow, which they must liquefy in their own beaks when they wish to assuage their thirst.
Moscow is famed for its cocks, and here the Moscow cock may be seen proudly stalking about, in cages and out of them. The best pigeons are said to come from Novgorod, and Finland furnishes the chief supply of singing-birds. Geese are brought even from the confines of China, to be sold as rarities in the Tshukin Dvor, after a journey of more than four thousand miles. Gray squirrels may be seen rolling about in their cages like incarnate quicksilver; while rabbits and Guinea-pigs without number gambol their time away in their little wooden hutches.
Within the booth, a living centre of all this living merchandise, behold the merchant, closely ensconced in his wolfskin, and ready to dispose of his little feathered serfs at any acceptable price. At the back of the booth, be sure there hangs a saintly picture of some sort, its little lamp shedding a cheerful light, to guard the feathered tribe against the evil influence of intruding demons! But there are evil spirits that the good saint can not banish. Man is there, to hold in chains or to sentence to death, according as it may suit his calculations of profit, or the caprices of his palate. On shelves around are ranged the trophies of his murderous tribe; and the northern swans, the heathcocks (reptshiki), and the snow-white partridges (kurapatki), are piled up under the very cages from which the captive larks warble their liquid notes. It is astonishing what a quantity of these birds are yearly consumed at the luxurious tables of St. Petersburg. In winter the cold keeps the meat fresh, andat the same time facilitates its conveyance to market. The partridges come mostly from Saratov, the swans from Finland; Livonia and Esthonia must supply heathcocks and grouse, and the wide steppes must furnish the bustards which flutter over their endless plains, where the Cossack hunts them on horseback, and kills them with his formidable whip. All these birds, as soon as the life-blood has flown, are converted into stone by the frost, and, packed up in huge chests, are sent for sale to the capital.
Whole sledge-loads of snow-white hares find their way to the market. The little animals are usually frozen in a running position, with their ears pointed, and their legs stretched out before and behind, and, when placed on the ground, look, at the first glance, as if they were in the act of escaping from the hunter. Bear's flesh also is offered for sale in this market, and here and there a frozen reindeer may be seen lying in the snow by the side of a booth, its hairy snout stretched forth upon the ground, its knees doubled up under its body, and its antlers rising majestically into the air. It looks as if, on our approaching it, it would spring up, and dash away once more in search of its native forests. The mighty elk, likewise, is no rare guest in this market, where it patiently presents its antlers as a perch for the pigeons that are fluttering about, until, little by little, the axe and the saw have left no fragment of the stately animal, but every part of it has gone its way into the kitchens of the wealthy.
Similar markets for birds and game will be found in almost every large Russian city. Indeed, the habits and fashions of the Russian markets are completely national. Those of Moscow vary but little from "those of Tobolsk ; and Irkoutsk, Odessa, and Archangel, have shown themselves equally servile in their imitation of the metropolitan bazars.
Beyond the Apraxin Rinok is the Sennaia Ploschad, or hay-market; and here, again, the manners of the lower orders may be conveniently studied. The open space is frequently so crowded with them, that the police have some trouble to keep a passage clear in the centre for the equipages which are constantly coming and going; On one side of this passage stand the sellers of hay, wood, and, in spring, of plants and shrubs. On the other side are the peasants with their stores of meat, fish, butter, and vegetables. Between these two rows are the sledges and equipages whose owners come to make their daily purchases, and depart laden with herbs and vegetables, the bleeding necks of the poultry often presenting a singular contrast to the splendid carriages from whose windows they are listlessly dangling.
The sledges, after bringing the various commodities to market, serve their owners as stalls and counters. The matting thrown aside allows the poultry and meat to be arranged in a picturesque manner to catch the eye of the passing stranger. The geese are cut up, and the heads, necks, legs, and carcasses, sold separately, by the dozen or the half-dozen, strung ready for sale upon little cords. He whose finances will not allow him to think of luxuriating on the breast of a goose, may buy himself a little rosary of frozen heads, while one still poorer must content himself with a necklace or a few dozen of webbed feet, to boil down into a Sunday soup for his little ones.
The most singular spectacle is furnished by the frozen oxen, calves, and goats, which stand about in ghastly rows, and look like bleeding spectres come to haunt the carnivorous tyrants whose appetites have condemned the poor victims to a premature death. The petrified masses can be cut up only with hatchets and saws. Sucking pigs are a favorite delicacy with the Russians. Hundreds of the little creatures, in their frozen condition, may be seen ranged about the sledges, with their tall, motionless mothers by the side of them.
The anatomical dissections of a Russian butcher are extremely simple. Bones and meat having been all rendered equally hard by the frost, it would be difficult to attempt to separate the several joints. The animals are, accordingly, sawn up into a number of slices of an inch or two in thickness, and in the course of this operation a quantity of animal sawdust is scattered on the snow, whence it is eagerly gathered up by poor children, of whom great numbers haunt the market. Pish, which is offered for sale in the same hard condition, is cut up in a similar way. The little, diminutive snitki are brought to market in sacks, and rattle like so many hazel-nuts when thrown into the scale. The pike, the salmon, and the sturgeon, so pliant and supple when alive, are now as hard as though they had been cut out of marble, and so they must be kept, for a sudden thaw would spoil them, and, to guard against this, they are constantly encased in ice or snow. Sometimes the whole mass freezes together, and the hatchet must then be liberally applied before the piscatory petrifactions can be liberated from their icy incrustations.
So long as the frost keeps all liquid matter in captivity, and so long as the snow, constantly renewed, throws a charitable covering over all the hidden sins of the place, so long the ploschad looks clean enough; but this very snow and frost prepare for the coming spring a spectacle which no one wishes to look upon who would keep his appetite in due order for the sumptuous banquets of St. Petersburg. Every kind of filth and garbage accumulates during the winter; and when at last the melting influence of spring dissolves the charm, the quantities of sheep's eyes, fish-tails, crab-shells, goat's hairs, fragments of meat, pools of blood, not to speak of hay, dung, and other matters, are perfectly frightful.
The Zinnaia Ploschad, near the winter-provision market, about a quarter of a mile from, the Nevskoi Prospekt, is worthy of mention. Here the living'cattle are disposed of; also sledges and country-wagons. Thousands of specimens of the Russian telega may here be examined at leisure.
St. Petersburg and its neighborhood contain some splendid industrial establishments, particularly of the description which produces the more rare and costly articles required by that class to whom luxuries are indispensable. Among these may be enumerated that of the Gobelin tapestry, the. porcelain glass, the playing-card, and one for cutting and polishing precious stones; also the cotton-factory at Alexandrosky, the paper-manufactory, and the cannon-foundries. All these are either the property of foreigners or of the crown, or are under the management of foreigners, and serve as models to the whole empire. They are readily shown to strangers. It is characteristic of Russia that it had universities before schools, and tapestry-manufactories before it had learned to spin cotton. The Spalernoi manufactory is the oldest in St. Petersburg, as the academy built by Peter the Great is the oldest school. In that czar's reign, the workmen in the tapestry-manufactory were, one and all, French and Italians ; now they are, with the exception of the director, a designer, all Russians : the establishment is recruited from the great foundling-hospital. Ordinary carpets are made here for sale, but the real Gobelin tapestry is destined for the court alone. The numerous palaces, and the expensive manner in which they are furnished, create a constant demand for these productions, which are also frequently required as presents to Asiatic and European potentates. The little boys, who come here as apprentices, first work at leaves and flowers at one color; then they advance to the shaded and varied leaves with several colors; then to stars, arabesques, &c. The drawings are placed directly behind perpendicular threads, and, while the outline of the picture is traced with a black coal, it is transferred to the thread, and the limits to the different tints are marked out. Every three or four weeks papers are fastened over the web, and, as it is finished, this is rolled up, so that it may not be injured during the tedious process of manufacture. Not only silk, but flax and wool are employed in this work : the brightness of the silk, the neutral effects of the flax, and the force of the wool, each render their several services. This woven painting, if not so enduring, is much richer than mosaic, which it more nearly resembles than it does anything else. The gobelin-tapestry manufactory of St. Petersburg is perhaps one of the largest existing establishments of this branch of industry in Europe.
The porcelain-manufactory, at which the fine vases presented by the emperor to foreign princes are made, is on the road to Alexandrosky. An annual exhibition takes place here in the autumn, when many objects of great value and beauty are exposed for sale. The plate-glass manufactory is situated in the neighborhood of the Alexander Nevskoi convent. The wealthy Petersburgians carry the use of plate and looking glass to a high pitch of luxury: their windows are colossal; in garden-pavilions a whole wall is sometimes covered with looking-glass, and this is the case in private houses, where it is used to supply the place of pictures, and present at every turn the picture most admired of all—that of self. Some of these mirrors are eight feet wide, fifteen feet long, and ail inch and a half thick. Articles of less value are also made at this manufactory; among them are curiously-cut glass eggs, which are purchased as Easter presents, and nargiles for Persia. As much as fifty thousand roubles'worth is exported of these annually, and, though so fragile, are transported by land to that country. A glass bed of great value, presented by the emperor to the shah of Persia, an enormous mirror sent to the Turkish sultan, and the glass railings of the Smolnoi church, were made here. The glass-cutting department is perhaps the largest in Europe, but travellers can not be recommended to bring their ears within reach of the crushing, scratching, and screeching, produced by the united industry of the three hundred workmen employed here.
A characteristic anecdote of national intelligence is related in connection with this establishment. The emperor wished to illumine the Alexander column in grand style. The size of the round lamps was indicated, and they were ordered at this manufactory, where the workmen exerted themselves in vain, and almost blew the breath out of their bodies in the endeavor to obtain the desired magnitude. But the commission must be executed, that was self-evident; but how ? A great premium was offered to whoever should solve the problem. Again the human bellows toiled and puffed, but the object seemed unattainable. At last a long-bearded Russian stepped forward, and declared he could do it; he had strong and sound lungs, and would only rinse his mouth first with a little cold water, to refresh them. Accordingly, he applied his mouth to the pipe, and puffed to such purpose, that the vitreous ball swelled and swelled nearly to the required size—up to it—beyond it! "Hold, hold!" cried the lookers-on, "you are doing too much; and how did you do it at all?" — "The matter is simple enough," replied the long-beard; " but, first, where is my premium?" And, when he had clutched the promised bounty, he explained. He had retained some of the water in his mouth, which had passed thence into the glowing ball, and, there becoming steam, had rendered him this good service.
.The imperial cotton-manufactory, and that for playing-cards, at Alexan-drosky, are not unworthy of notice. The latter is under the direction of Mr. Delarue, said to be a relative of the partners of the London firm of that name; the cotton-manufactory and the iron-foundry at Copenha are under the superintendence of another Englishman, a General Wilson. The articles manufactured here are of various kinds: in one department cotton is spun, in another sheets and table-linen are wove, and in a third are made all the playing-cards used in Russia, for the manufacture of these, as before mentioned, is monopolized by the crown. About three thousand operatives are employed here ; of these, nearly one thousand are foundling boys and girls, from twelve years of age and upward. At twenty-one the men are allowed to marry and quit the establishment, or remain as paid workmen ; the girls may do the same at eighteen. The children on their arrival receive, in addition to their food, clothing, and lodging, small monthly wages, half of which is given to them by way of pocket-money, and the other half is placed at interest in a savings-bank, so that when they come of age or marry they have a little fund of three or four hundred roubles with which to begin the world.
''Immediately on our arrival at Alexandrosky," writes Mr. Venables, " we were taken to see the foundlings at dinner, which, as it was Lent (the only fast in the year which they are required to keep), consisted of soup-maigre, fish, rye-bread, and quass—all served in pewter. The day was an ordinary working-day, and our arrival was perfectly unexpected; yet nothing could exceed the neatness and perfect cleanliness of these young manufacturers, more especially the girls, whose hair in particular excited our admiration, every head being arranged alike, and with a degree of taste and neatness which many a lady might copy. Caps are never worn by the lower classes in this country; and certainly the well-brushed hair, drawn smoothly over the forehead and fastened at the back by a high comb, rendered the line of heads infinitely more agreeable to the eye, and at least as cleanly in appearance, as the row of mob-caps which would have been ranged down the table had these been English charity-girls. A wooden screen, about six feet high, ran down the middle of the hall, to separate the two sexes." Dinner over, a bell is rung, when the whole body, young men, boys, and girls, stand up and sing a hymn. The singing in the Russian churches is at all times imposing; but to hear a hymn sung to a Russian sacred melody by at least a thousand voices has in it something so irresistibly touching, that nothing remains for the stranger but to yield to the impulse of feeling and join in this act of praise. At the conclusion of this hymn, the bell gives the signal of departure, and the two sexes move out of the hall at different ends in the most orderly manner. This, like other public establishments in Russia, is a perfect model of cleanliness — a fact the more striking, as the virtue is not generally practised in private life, even among the upper classes. The machinery is for the most part under the direction of English workmen, about seventy of whom were employed previous to the war of 1854, and divine service was performed here every Sunday evening by the British chaplain.
On the road to Peterhoff is the imperial paper-manufactory, and under the same roof is an establishment for cutting and polishing stones. In no court in the world are such quantities of jewels employed as in the Russian. The emperor and empress never travel without taking with them a large jewel-casket, in order that they may leave behind them some mark of their favor. The most peculiar and beautiful objects to be seen here are the large malachite vases, the material of which is brought from Siberia. Some of these are valued at a hundred thousand roubles, and formed one of the chief attractions at the London exhibition in 1851.
Some of the private manufactories of St. Petersburg are likewise on an imperial scale. Among them are the foundries and refinery of Mr. Baird, and the cotton-spinning establishment of Baron Stiglitz.
The principal manufactures of the Russian capital, in addition to those already mentioned, are woollen, silk, and linen tissues; carriages, leather, and articles in leather; mathematical and musical instruments; wax and sail-cloth, cordage, soap, tobacco, cabinet-work, jewelry, watches, and various articles in gold, silver, mixed metals, and bronze. Ship-building, also, is carried on to a great extent, for the navy, in the public dockyards ; and for commercial purposes at several private yards. The shallowness of the river, and the bar at its mouth, not admitting the passage of vessels which draw more than nine feet water, might seem at first sight to oppose an insurmountable obstacle to the building of ships-of-the-line; but the advantages of being able to carry on the more important parts of naval architecture within the capital, under the immediate eye of the government, are so great, that large sacrifices are made for the purpose, and the hulls when finished are floated down by means of camels and other ingenious and laborious contrivances, and the other equipments transmitted by lighters to Kronstadt, where the ships are finally fitted out for sea.
Sears, Robert. An Illustrated Description of the Russian Empire. New York: Robert Sears, 1855