Page images
[graphic][subsumed][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

St. Petersburg.)



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

who built the adjacent Cathedral of St. Isaac. The shaft would have been still moro lofty had it not been for that blind unreasoning obedience to directions so customary in Russia. After the erection of the column had been decided upon, orders were sent to the various quarries to detach a single block of 81 feet in length, with which to form the shaft; little hope, however, being entertained that so large a block would be forthcoming. One day the Czar received a despatch from the superintendent of a quarry, stating that a block without blemish of the length of 100 feet had been detached, and that it was about to be cut down to the required length. The Czar rushed off in hot haste to prevent the block from being mutilated, but arrived too late. He was just in time to see the sixteen feet lying separate from the block, which otherwise would have formed the noblest column in the world. A mass of granite measuring about 25 feet in each direction forms the base. The capital, angel, and cross make the total height of the monument nearly 155 feet. The capital and the ornaments on the pedestal were made from Turkish cannon. No less than six successive rows of piles were driven in to form a firm foundation for this grand column. The frost has produced several fissures in the shaft, but they have been carefully cemented over. “In any other city,” says Kohl, “its enormous size would produce a greater impression; here in St. Petersburg, where the eye expands with the vast surrounding spaces, it is seen under a smaller angle of vision. The place in which it stands is so vast in its . dimensions—the houses around are so high and massive, that even this giant requires

its 150 feet not to disappear. But when we approach and become aware of its circumference, while its head seems to reach the heavens, the impression is strong and overpowering.”

In the middle of a square, near the Academy of Arts, is a black marble obelisk on a red marble pedestal, surmounted by a gilt Russian eagle. It originally stood on the Champ de Mars, having been erected in 1799, in memory of Field-Marshal Rumiantskoff Zadunaiski, and was removed to the present site in 1821. It is about 70 feet in height, and bears the inscription—“To the Victories of Rumiantskoff.”

The Souvaroff monument stands between the Champ de Mars and the Quay of the Winter Palace. It is a bronze statue of that notable general, standing, in Roman costume, with sword in one hand and shield in the other. In other parts of the city are various statues; amongst the rest, one of Czar Nicholas, surrounded with bas-reliefs of the principal events in his life; a statue of Barclay de Tolly, associated with Culm, Leipzig, and Paris; another of Kutusof, who is looked upon as the Saviour of Russia in 1812 ; a monument to Krylof, the noted Russian fabulist, who rose from poverty to a good position as a Government official and man of letters. His fables are exceedingly characteristic of Russian life, and unsparingly expose the faults and weaknesses of his countrymen. They have been translated into English. There is also a statue to Admiral Krusenstern, the first Russian who circumnavigated the globe ; and a monument to Sir James Wylie, Bart., the distinguished medical attendant to the Court in the reigns of Paul and Alexander I., and during part of the reign of Nicholas.

On the Nevski Prospect stands a monument to Catherine II., which was unveiled with great ceremony in 1873. It is a handsome monument, modelled by Mikeshin, a Russian artist, and cast by an English firm at St. Petersburg. It stands on huge blocks of



Finnish granite, and in high relief around the pedestal are the figures of celebrated personages whose names are linked in history with that of the great Empress.

St. Petersburg contains, of course, the usual buildings connected with the Government departments and civic institutions. The different ministries are accommodated in an immense edifice, and there is a fine palace for the Senate. The Admiralty is a vast parallelogram of brick, with contiguous accommodation for the construction at one time of several ships of war, and thence launching them into the Neva. It is surmounted by a light and graceful tower, from which a splendid view of the city and river can be obtained. The building is to a considerable extent occupied by schoolrooms for the cadets, but there are also a Naval Museum, a Museum of Natural History, and a Library. The Naval Museum contains a varied collection of naval models, including an array of Russian iron-clads; there are also life-size models of Russian sailors at different periods. There are several other technical and scientific museums in St. Petersburg, that do not require further notice here, excepting only the Artillery Museum and the Museum of Imperial Carriages.

The Artillery Museum is in the new Arsenal, and contains a grand collection of all sorts of curiosities in addition to the objects specially appertaining to it. Here is the horse (stuffed) on which Catherine II. rode in June, 1762, when she came to take possession of her throne. On this horse the great Empress rode astride like a Here is the stool on which Stenka Razil, the renowned bandit chief of the Caspian, used to sit and deliver judgment, and execute his decrees, without rising, by means of eight pistols stuck round the stool. Surrounded by his Don Cossacks, he set the Russian power for a time at defiance, but was ultimately captured and beheaded. A stone sun-dial from Adrianople, the clothes and ornaments of Frederick the Great, captured in the Thirty Years' War, Peter the Great's hat, and an immense collection of weapons of war and ordnance, with an endless array of relics and curiosities render this museum a place of intense interest.

group of objects a word or two must be devoted. In an alcove hangs the huge standard of the Strelitz troops, formed of pieces of silk sewn together and covered with symbolical pictures. Other banners and accoutrements of this famous corps lie around. The Strelitz were the Imperial Guard of Russia ; and when Peter the Great was introducing foreign dress and foreign customs into the country, they fomented popular discontent and opposed the new order of things. Not content with passive resistance, the Strelitz planned active measures. A number of them conspired to assassinate the Czar, and burn his new capital off the face of the earth. Peter heard of it, and surprised the conspirators. He had the culprits racked, and then, whilst under the torture, their limbs were slowly cut away one after another, and not till after long-protracted agonies were their lives finally extinguished. The Russians shuddered with horror at this cruelty, and Peter for a time left the country. In his absence there were fresh troubles. The Strelitz, influenced by the priests, were indignant at Peter's foreign alliances, and refused to repair to the Polish frontiers as ordered. Peter had been prosecuting his studies in the dockyards of Zaandam and Deptford, he had left the Scottish General (Gordon) in command of 12,000 disciplined troops, principally Frenchmen, and all

To one

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »