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CHAP. painter in enamel, copying very beautiful pic
tures. The same person, he added, might have been found the next day drunk in a cellar, or howling beneath the cudgel of his taskmaster. Under the present form of government in Russia, it is not very probable that the Fine Arts will ever flourish. A Russian is either a slave, or he has received his freedom. In the former instance, he works only when instigated by the rod of his master, and is cudgelled as often as his owner thinks proper. While employed in works of sculpture or painting, he is frequently called off, to mend a chair or a table, to drive nails into a wainscot, or to daub the walls of the house. When evening falls, as certainly falls a cudgel across his shoulders; which is not the way to educate artists. But if he have received his freedom, the action of the cudgel ceasing, all stimulus to labour ends: he has then no other instigation to work, than the desire of being able to buy brandy, and to become intoxicated: this he does whenever he can procure the means, and there is soon a period put to any further exertion of his talents.
The booksellers' shops in Moscow are better furnished than in Petersburg; but they are very rarely placed upon a ground-floor. The convenience of walking into a shop from the street,
without climbing a flight of stairs, is almost CHAP. peculiar to England; although there be some exceptions, as in the Palais Royal at Paris, and in a few houses at Vienna. The catalogue of Russian authors in some of the shops, fills an octavo volume of two hundred pages. French, Italian, German, and English books, would be as numerous here as in any other city, were it not for the ravages of the public censors, who prohibit the sale of books, from their own ignorant misconception of their contents. Sometimes a single volume, nay a single page, of an author, is prohibited, and the rest of the work, thus mangled, permitted to be sold. There is hardly a single modern work which has not been subject to their correction. The number of prohibited books is so great, that the trade is ruined. Contraband publications are often smuggled; but the danger is so imminent, that all respectable booksellers leave the trade to persons, either more daring, or who, from exercising other occupations, are less liable to suspicion.
Yet there are circumstances arising from the State of
Literature. state of public affairs in the two cities, which give a superiority to the booksellers of Moscow. In and near the city reside a vast number of the Russian nobility. A foreigner might live
CHAP. many years there, without ever hearing the
names of some of them; whereas at Petersburg a few only are found, who all belong to the Court, and are therefore all known. The nobles of Moscow have, many of them, formerly figured in the presence of their sovereign, and have been ordered to reside in this city; or they have passed their youth in foreign travel, and have withdrawn to their seats in its environs. Many of them have magnificent libraries; and, as the amusement of collecting, rather than the pleasure of reading books, has been the reason of their forming those sumptuous collections, the booksellers receive orders to a very large amount'. When a Russian nobleman reads, which is a very rare circumstance, it is commonly a novel; either some licentious trash in the French language, or some English romance translated into that language. Of the latter, the · Italian’ of Mrs. Radcliffe has been better done than any other; because, representing customs which are not absolutely local, it admits of easier transition into any other European tongue.
ne. But when any attempt
(U These orders are sometimes given in the style related of Rimsky Koʻsakuf, a serjeant in the Guards, who succeeded Zoritz in the atections of CATHERINE The Second. This man sent for a bookseller, and said, Fit me up a handsome library: little books above, and great ones lclow,"
is made to translate Tom Jones,' The Vicar CHAP.
V. of Wakefield,' or any of our inimitable original pictures of English manners, the effect is ridiculous beyond description. Squire Western becomes a French Philosopher, and Goldsmith's Primrose a Fleur de Lis.
Books of real literary reputation are not to Libraries of be obtained either in the shops of Petersburg or of Moscow. Productions of other days, which from their importance in science have become rare, are never to be found. Costly and frivolous volumes, sumptuously bound, and gorgeously decorated, constitute the precious part of a library, in Russian estimation. Gaudy French editions, of Fontenelle, of Marmontel, of Italian sonneteers, with English folios of butterflies, shells, and flowers; editions by Baskerville, Bensley, and Bulmer, with hot-pressed and wire-wove paper; in short, the toys rather than the instruments of science, attract the notice of all the Russian amateurs. A magnificent library in Russia will be found to contain very little of useful literature. In vain, among their stately collections, smelling like a tannery of the leather which bears their name, may we seek for classic authors, historians, lawgivers, and poets. A copy of the Encyclopædia, indeed, placed more for ostentation than
CHAP. for use, may perhaps, in a solitary instance or
two, greet the eye; but this will be found to be the only estimable work throughout their gilded shelves'.
Equipages. After London and Constantinople, Moscow is
doubtless the most remarkable city in Europe. A stranger, passing rapidly through the streets, might pronounce it to be dull, dirty, and uninteresting; while another, having resided there, would affirm, that it had rather the character of a great commercial and wealthy metropolis. If the grandeur and the riches of its inhabitants be estimated by the splendour of their equipages, and the number of horses attached to each, Moscow would surpass all the cities of the earth. There is hardly an individual above the rank of a plebeian who would be seen without four horses to his carriage: the generality have six. But the manner in which this pomp is displayed presents a perfect burlesque upon stateliness. A couple of ragged boys are placed as postillions, before a coachman, in such sheep-skins as are worn by peasants in the woods: behind the carriage are stationed
(1) The library of Count Botterline, hereafter noticed, deserved a different character; but perhaps, before the author can make the exception, the valuable Collection of this nobleman has been dispersed.