صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني


CHAP. and stores. A fire took place in the Kremlin ;

and the flames catching the building erected over the pit where the bell yet remained, it became hot; when some water, thrown to extinguish the fire, fell upon the heated metal, and caused the fracture that has taken place in the lower part of it. The bell reaches from the bottom of the pit to the roof. The entrance to the place where it lies, is by a trap door, placed even with the surface of the earth; and beneath the entrance are ladders. We found the steps of the ladders very dangerous; some being wanted, and others broken. In consequence

of this the author encountered a very severe fall down the whole extent of the first flight; and narrowly escaped losing his life, in not fracturing his scull upon the bell. After this accident, a sentinel was stationed at the trap-door, to prevent people from becoming victims to their curiosity. The same person, it is true, might have been as well employed in mending the ladders, as in waiting all day to say that they were broken. The bell is truly a mountain of metal. It is said to contain a very large proportion of gold and silver. While it was in fusion, the nobles and the people cast in, as votive offerings, their plate and their money. We endeavoured, in vain, to assay a small part: þut the natives regarded it with superstitious


veneration, and they would not allow even a grain to be filed off. At the same time, it may be observed, that the compound has a white shining appearance, unlike bell-metal in general; and perhaps its silvery aspect strengthened, if not caused, the conjecture respecting the nature and value of its chemical consti


On festival days, the peasants visit this bell as they would resort to a sanctuary; considering it as an act of devotion; crossing themselves all the way as they descend and ascend the steps. We found the bottom of the pit covered with water, mud, and large pieces of timber; which, added to the darkness of the place, render it always unpleasant and unwholesome, independently of the danger arising from the rotten ladders leading to the bottom. We went, however, frequently thither, in order to ascertain the dimensions of the bell with exactness. To our surprise, during one of those visits, half a dozen Russian officers, whom we found in the pit, agreed to assist us in making the admeasurement. It so nearly agreed with the account published by Jonas Hanway, that the difference is not worth notice. This is somewhat remarkable, considering the difficulty of exactly measuring what is partly buried in the earth, and

CHAP. the circumference of which is not entire. No VII.

one has yet ascertained the circumference of the base; this would afford still greater dimensions than those we obtained; but it is entirely buried. About ten persons were present when we measured the part exposed to observation. We applied a strong cord, close to the metal, as nearly as possible round the lower part where it touches the ground; taking care, at the same time, not to stretch the cord. From the piece of the bell broken off, it was ascertained that we had thus measured within two feet of the lip, or lower extremity. The circumference thus obtained equalled sixty-seven feet and four inches; allowing a diameter of twenty-two feet, five inches, and one third of an inch. We then took the perpendicular height from the top; and found it to correspond exactly with the statement made by Hanway; namely, twentyone feet, four inches and a half. In the stoutest part,

that in which it should have received the blow of the hammer, its thickness equalled twenty-three inches. We were able to ascertain this, by placing our hands, under water, where the fracture took place: this is above seven feet high from the lip of the bell. The weight of this enormous mass of metal has been computed to be 443,772 lbs.; which, if valued at three shillings a pound, amounts to

£.66,565. 16s. lying unemployed, and of no use
to any one'.


[ocr errors]

The Great Gun, also among the wonders of Great Gun. the Kremlin, we measured with less facility; being always interrupted by the sentinels, one of whom pointed his bayonet at us, and threatened to stab us if we persisted in our intention : yet, by walking its length, we found it to be about eighteen feet and a half; and its diameter may be guessed, because it will admit a man of middle stature sitting upright within its mouth. Its lip, moreover, is ten inches thick. This gun is kept merely for ostentation, and is never

(1) The Great Be of Moscow has long been a theme of wonder, and it is mentioned by almost every traveller. The subject is of no importance; but it may be well to add, that the accounts given of it do not apply to the same thing. OLEARIUS describes that which he saw in 1636. It is the same mentioned in p. 147 of this Volume, founded by Boris GUDENOF. (See Olear. tom. I. p. 107.) AUGUSTINE, ambassador from Germany in 1661, describes that which here engaged our attention. Jonas Hanway, and those who succeeded him, bear reference to the same. It was founded, according to Augustine, in 1653, during the reign of Alexis. (See Voyage de Moscou, p. 117.) The Russians and people of Moscow maintain that it was cast during the reign of their Empress Anne, probably from the female figure represented; which may have been intended for the Virgin. Augustine's account of the weight, and his measurement of the bell, are too near the truth to suppose any other was described by him. They employed, says he, in casting it, a weight of metal equal to 440,000lbs. He moreover states its thickness equal to two feet, which is within an inch of what has been here said. He also proves that it is larger than the famous bell of Erford, and even than that of Pekin.

CHAP. used'. Notwithstanding the neglect it has expe

rienced, it remains in good order, without having sustained any damage. It was cast in 1694.


[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed]

Hard by, are placed some artillery of less caliber, but of very extraordinary lengtho.

There was nothing at this time prohibited under more severe penalty than the making of any drawing or sketch within the Kremlin. Owing to this circumstance, we are prevented

(1) According to the Voyage de Deux Français, tom. II. p. 296, its weight is 2400 pouds; and its dimensions, sixteen French feet in length, and four feet three inches in diameter, deducting sixteen inches for the thickness of the piece.

(2) A curious notice of the brass cannon in the Kremlin occurs in Eden's History of Travayles, as augmented by Willes, and printed by Jugge, in the black letter, at London, in 1577. It is gathered out of Paulus Jovius, and proves that they had the use of artillery in Moscow so early as the reign of Basil Ivanovich.“ Basilius dyd furthermore instytute a bande of hargabusiers on horsebacke, and caused many great brasen peeces to be made by the workemanshyp of certayne Italians : and the same with theyr stockes and wheeles to be placed in the Castle of Mosca.” Eden's Hist. p. 30).

« السابقةمتابعة »