Illustrated Description Of Russia

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The Neva in Winter

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The Neva in Winter

The Neva in Winter
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The northern winter imprisons the lovely nymph of the Neva in icy bands for five months in the year. It is seldom till after the beginning of April that the water acquires sufficient warmth to burst her prison. The moment is always anxiously expected, and no sooner have the dirty masses of ice advanced sufficiently to display as much of the bright mirror of the river as may suffice to bear a boat from one side to the other, than the glad tidings are announced to the inhabitants by the artillery of the fortress. At that moment, be it day or night, the commandant of the fortress, arrayed in all the insignia of his rank, and accompanied by the officers of his suite, embarks in an elegant gondola, and repairs to the emperor's palace which lies immediately opposite. He fills a large crystal goblet with the water of the Neva, and presents it to the emperor as the first and most precious tribute of returning spring. He informs his master that the force of winter has been broken, that the waters are free aga in, th at an active navigation may now again be looked for, and points to his own gondola, as the first swan that has swum on the river that year. He then presents the goblet to the emperor, who drinks it off to the health of the dear citizens of his capital.

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Sears, Robert. An Illustrated Description of the Russian Empire. New York: Robert Sears, 1855