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prohibiting, throughout the EMPIRE OF ALL THE Russias, the use of blue colour in ornamenting sledges, and of red liveries. In consequence of this sage decree, our Ambassador, and many others, were compelled to alter their equipages.
One evening, being at his theatre in the Hermitage, a French piece was performed, in which the story of the English Powder-plot was introduced. The Emperor was observed to listen to it with more than usual attention ; and as soon as it was concluded, he ordered all the vaults beneath the palace to be searched.
Coming down the street called The Perspective, he perceived a Nobleman who was taking his walk, and had stopped to look at some workmen who were planting trees by the Monarch's order.—“ What are you doing?” said the Emperor. Merely seeing the men work,” replied the Nobleman. « Oh, is that your employment ?—Take off his pelisse, and give him a spade !—There, now work yourself!"
When enraged, he lost all command of himself, which sometimes gave rise to very ludicrous scenes. The courtiers knew very well when the storm was gathering, by a trick the Emperor had in those moments of blowing
CHAP. from his under-lip against the end of his short
In one of his furious passions, flourishing his cane about, he struck by accident the branch of a large glass lustre, and broke it, As soon as he perceived what had happened, he attacked the lustre in good earnest, and did not give up his work until it was entirely demolished,
In the rare intervals of better temper, his good-humour was betrayed by an uncouth way of swinging his legs and feet about in walking. Upon those occasions he was sure to talk with indecency and folly,
But the instances were few in which the gloom spread over a great metropolis, by the madness and malevolence of a suspicious tyrant, was enlivened even by his ribaldry. The accounts of the Spanish Inquisition do not afford more painful sensations than were excited in viewing the state of Russia at this time. Hardly a day passed without unjust punishment. It seemed as if half the Nobles in the Empire were to be sent to Siberia. Those who were able to leave Petersburg went to Moscow. It was in vain they applied for permission to leave the country: the very request might incur banishment to the mines. If any family
received visitors in an evening; if four people chaP. were seen walking together; if any one spoke too loud, or whistled, or sang, or looked too of the inquisitive, and examined any public building Police, with too much attention ; he was in imminent danger. If he stood still in the streets, or frequented any particular walk more than another, or walked too fast or too slow, he was liable to be reprimanded and insulted by the policeofficers. Mungo Park could hardly have been exposed to a more insulting tyranny among the Moors in Africa, than Englishmen experienced at that time in Russia, and particularly in Petersburg. They were compelled to wear a dress regulated by the police : and as every officer had a different notion of the proper mode of enforcing the regulation, they were constantly liable to interruption in the streets and public places, and to the most flagrant impertinence. This dress consisted of a threecornered hat, or, for want of one, a round hat pinned up with three corners; a long queue ; single-breasted coat and waistcoat; and buckles, at the knees, and in the shoes, instead of strings. Orders were given to arrest any person who should be found wearing pantaloons. A servant was taken out of his sledge, and caned in the streets, for having too thick a neckcloth; and if it had been too thin, he
CHAP. would have met with a similar punishment.
After every precaution, the dress, when put on, never satisfied the police or the Emperor : either the hat was not straight on the head, or the hair was too short, or the coat was not eut square enough. A Lady at Court wore her hair rather lower in her neck than was consistent with the ukase, and she was ordered into close confinement, to be fed on bread and water. A gentleman's hair fell a little over his forehead, while dancing at a ball ; upon which a policeofficer attacked him with rudeness and with abuse, and told him if he did not instantly cut his hair, he wauld find a soldier who could shave his head'.
When the ukase first appeared concerning the form of the hat, the son of an English merchant, with a view to baffle the police, appeared in the streets of Petersburg, having on his head an English hunting-cap, at sight of which the police officers were puzzled. “ It was not a cocked hat,” they said, “neither was it a round hat.” In this embarrassment, they reported the affair to the Emperor. An ukase was accordingly promulgated, and levelled at the hunting-cap; but not knowing how to describe
(1) A mode in which criminals are punished in Russia.
the anomaly, the Emperor ordained, that “no CHAP. person should appear in public with the thing on his head worn by the merchant's son.”
An order against wearing boots with coloured tops was most rigorously enforced. The policeofficers stopped a foreigner driving through the streets in a pair of English boots. This gentleman expostulated with them, saying that he had no other, and certainly would not cut off the tops of his boots; upon which the officers, each seizing a leg as he sat in his drosky, fell to work, and drew off his boots, leaving him to go barefooted home.
If Foreigners ventured to notice any of these enormities in their letters, which were all opened and read by the police, or expressed themselves with energy in praise of their own country, or used a single sentiment or expression offensive or incomprehensible to the police officers or their spies, they were liable to be torn in an instant, without any previous notice, from their families and friends, thrown into a sledge, and hurried to the frontier, or to Siberia. Many persons were said to have been privately murdered, and more were banished. Never was there a system of administration more offensive in the eyes of God or man. A veteran officer, who