صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

CHAP.

IV.

very serious turn; for the police officers interfering, the young men, who had thus docked themselves, were apprehended in the public walks, severely reprimanded, and compelled to wear false hair; and we were obliged to use the utmost circumspection, lest we should also be apprehended, and perhaps treated with more rigour.

The dances were called Quadrilles, Polonese, and English. The Waltz, once their favourite, had been prohibited. But whatever name they gave to their dances, they were all dull, and consisted merely in a sort of promenade. Neither the men nor the women exhibited the slightest degree of animation in the exercise, but seemed to consider it as a sort of apology for not sitting still. Every person wore a full dress; the men appearing either in uniform, or in coats of very rich embroidery.

acknowledgment of his faith is made with regard to the pickpocket in the Cathedral, stealing during his devotions : but he denies even the possibility of another theft, mentioned in p. 92. It is for this writer to explain why he should deny the least improbable story of the three; especially as there are many living witnesses of its truth. In stating the time of our residence in Russiu, with a degree of accuracy highly characteristic of his countrymen, instead of calculating the period from the day of our arrival, he dates it from that of our departure !

[graphic][merged small]

MOSCOW.
Surprising Talent of Imitation among the Russians-

Remarkable Fraud practised by a Native Artist
Booksellers -- State of Literature- Libraries of the
NoblesEquipages Costume of the Bourgeoisie-
Amusements of the People-Chapel of the Tverschaia
-Miracles wrought there--Nature of the Imposture-
Artifice of a Merchant- Assassination of an Archbishop
--Motive for the Worship of Pictures Resemblance
between the Russians and NeapolitansWives of the
NoblesConduct of their HusbandsChildren of Orlof
-Princess Menzicof Retributive Spirit exercised by

the Emperor at the Funeral of his Mother.
CHAP. In whatsoever country we seek for original
Talent of genius, we must go to Russia for the talent of
Imitation. imitation. This is the acme of Russian intellect;

V.

[ocr errors]

the principle of all Russian attainments. The CHAP. Russians have nothing of their own; but it is not their fault if they have not every thing that others invent. Their surprising powers of imitation exceed all that has been hitherto known. The meanest Russian slave is sometimes able to accomplish the most intricate and the most delicate works of mechanism; to copy, with single hand, what has demanded the joint labours of the best workmen in France or in England. Although untutored, they are the best actors in the world. A Russian gentleman, who had never beheld an European theatre, assisted during the representation of a play in one of the remote eastern provinces, and his performance was accidentally witnessed by persons who were capable of estimating its merit: they pronounced it to be superior to the acting of any of our European stage-players. In other examples of their imitative powers, the author has witnessed something similar. If they were instructed in the art of painting, they would become the finest portrait painters in the world. To the truth of this, we saw one striking testimony: in a miniature portrait of the Emperor, executed by a poor slave, who had only once seen him, during the visit he made to Moscow. For the resemblance and the minuteness of the representation, it was

V.

CHAP. indeed a surprising work. The effect produced

was like that of beholding the original through a diminishing lens. The Birmingham trinketmanufactory, where imitations of precious stones and of the precious metals are wrought with so much cheapness, is surpassed in Moscow; because the workmanship is equally good, and the things themselves are cheaper. But the great source of wonder is in the manner of their execution. At Birmingham, they result from the labour of many persons; in Moscow, from the hands of an individual; yet the difference between divided and undivided labour in this branch of trade occasions none in the price of the articles. In Moscow, imitations of the Maltese and Venetian gold chains were offered for sale, capable of deceiving any person, unless he were himself a goldsmith. This is not the case with regard to their cutlery; because here a multiplication of labour is more requisite. They fail therefore in hardware; not owing to any inability in imitating the works they import, but because they cannot afford to sell them for the same price. Where a patent, as in the instance of Bramah's locks, has kept up the price of an article in England beyond the level it would otherwise find, the Russians have imitated it with the greatest perfection; and sold the copy at a lower rate than the

CHAP.

V.

original, although equally valuable. This extraordinary talent for imitation has been also manifested in the Fine Arts. A picture by Remarka. Dietrici, in the style of Polemberg, was borrowed by one of the Russian nobility from his friend. The owner of the picture had impressed his seal upon the back of it, and had inscribed it with verses and mottoes of his own composition. Having so many marks, he deemed his picture safe anywhere. But a copy so perfect was finished, both as to the painting, and to all the circumstances of colour in the canvas, and to the seal, and to the inscriptions, that when put into the original frame, and returned to its owner, the fraud was not discovered. This circumstance was afterwards made known by the confession of the artist employed; and there are now residing in Petersburg and Moscow foreign artists' of the highest respectability and talents who attest its truth. One of them, Camporesi, assured us, that, walking in the suburbs of Moscow, he entered a miserable hut belonging to a cobler; where, at the farther end of the dwelling, in a place designed to hold pans and kettles, and to dress victuals, he observed a ragged peasant at work. It was a

ble Fraud,

(1) Guarenghi of Petersburg, and Camporesi of Moscow, Italian acchitects employed in the service of the Crown.

« السابقةمتابعة »