صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

V.

CHAP. be shut. The Emperor Paul, from a determi

nation to undo every thing that his mother had done, and to do (as much as possible) that which she would not have done, caused it to be again opened ; although it were well known in Russia, that the merchant, after the church had been shut by the Empress's order, frequently avowed, and laughed at, the fraud he had committed'. Much after the same manner, during the plague in Moscow, about thirty years ago, a picture was placed in one of the streets of the city, to which the people eagerly thronged, upon the earliest intelligence of its arrival. The archbishop Ambrose, finding that the danger of spreading infection increased as the people

crowded to this picture, ordered it to be reAssassina- moved, and concealed in a church; but the

doors of the church were forced open by the populace; and the venerable prelate, being dragged from the convent of Donskoy, was inhumanly put to death. The late Empress, in her correspondence with Voltaire, gave an account of this event; recommending it to him as a supplement to the article Fanaticism, in the French Encyclopædia.

tion of an Archbishop.

(1) Paul published an ukase, in the Imperial Gazette of Petersburg, upon the 17th of December 1798, canonizing the new Saint.

(2) Lettres de l'Impér, de Russie, &c. Lett. 94.

All that has been said or written of RomanCatholic bigotry affords but a feeble idea of the superstition of the Greek Church. It is certainly the greatest reproach to human reason, the severest satire upon universal piety, that has yet disgraced the history of mankind. The wild, untutored savage of South America, who prostrates himself before the Sun, and pays his adoration to that which he believes to be the source of life and light, exercises more rational devotion than the Russian, who is all day crossing himself before his Bogh, and sticking farthing candles near a picture of St. Alexander Nevsky. But in the adoration Motive for paid by this people to their Saints and Virgins, slip of we may discern strong traces of their national character. The homage they offer to a court parasite, or to a picture, is founded upon the same principle; and in all their views, political or religious, they are actuated by similar motives. A Deity, and a despot, by the nature of the one, and the policy of the other, are too far removed from their view to admit of any immediate applications. All their petitions, therefore, instead of being addressed at once either to a spiritual or to a temporal throne, are directed to the one or to the other by channels falling more immediately under observation. Thus we find favouritism to be the leading feature

CHAR
V.

the Wor

Pictures.

V.

CHAP. of the Russian government, and the adoration

of Saints the whole of their religion. The Sovereign is disregarded in the obeisance offered to his parasites; and the Creator entirely forgotten in the idolatrous worship of his creatures.

Resem.' blance be

As we lived in some degree of intimacy with tween the many of the Russian nobility, their manners and and Nea. opinions could not escape our notice. Of all politans.

the Europeans, they bear the greatest resemblance to the Neapolitans. The nobles of Naples and Palermo are exactly like those of Moscow; and even the peasants of the two countries have a certain degree of resemblance. This similitude may arise from a similarity of government, -vicious and despotic, ignorant and superstitious. The same character prevails in their national dances, and in their mode of dress. The barina differs little from the tarantala; and the female peasants of the Campagna Felice dress like the women near Moscow,--with the same sort of shoes; the same kind of headdress; the same embroidered suits; in short, the same load of finery. May not this be thus explained: the costume of Magna Græcia came from the Archipelago; and the art of dress was introduced into Russia from Constantinople. It has been before mentioned, that, in their sports, the Russians and the Neapolitans are alike. In

CHAP.

V.

Wives of

[ocr errors]

the class of the nobles, the women are far superior to the men; they are mild, affectionate, often well-informed, beautiful, and highly ac- the Nobles. complished: the men are destitute of every qualification to render them, in the eyes of their female companions, objects of love or of esteem. It is not therefore wonderful, that ladies of rank in Moscow have the character of not being strict in their fidelity to their husbands; especially if the profligate example so lately offered them in their Empress CATHERINE be taken into consideration. Indeed, it is difficult to conceive how the wives of the generality of the nobles in Moscow can entertain any respect for their husbands'. Married, without passion, by the policy and self-love of their parents, frequently to men they never saw until the time of wedlock; subjected to tyrants, who neither afford good examples to their children, nor any source of social enjoyment to themselves; who are superannuated before the age of thirty; diseased, dirty, and overwhelmed with debt; the women of Moscow regard the matrimonial life as superior indeed to that of imprisonment in a convent, but as a state of slavery, from which they look towards

(1) “Mulierum conditio miserrima est; neque quicquam authoritatis in ædibus usurpant : à maritis bene verberatæ," &c. Guagnine Descript. Moscovia, p. 65. L. Bat. 1630.

[ocr errors][merged small]

a joyful deliverance, in the death of their husbands. Every one acquainted with the real history of the Empress Catherine, and with her manner of bursting the connubial bonds, will find in it a picture of the state of female society throughout the empire. The wives of the nobles, it is true, do not assassinate their husbands; but the ties of wedlock are altogether disregarded. This representation, of course, regards the general state of the community. The Reader shall not be offended, nor the feelings of individuals wounded, by any detail of private anecdotes for public purposes; neither is it necessary to relate the few exceptions which may be found to the preceding statement: whatsoever credit is given to it in England, it will not be contradicted in Russia.

A Russian nobleman will sell any thing he possesses, from his wife to his lap-dog; from the decorations of his palace, to the ornaments of his person; any thing to obtain money; any thing for the pleasure of squandering it away. Visiting a trading mineralogist, we were surprised to see glass-cases filled with courtdresses; and still more so on being told that these were dresses of the nobility; sent to be exposed for sale, as often as any of them wanted money. Their plan is, to order goods

« السابقةمتابعة »