Jean (Giraud)—I do not say that for myself, madam, but I know what I am saying; money is money, in whosever hands it is. It is the only power that is never disputed. Virtue is disputed, beauty, courage, genius; money never is disputed. There is not a civilized being who, on rising in the morning, does not recognize the sovereignty of money, without which he would have neither the roof which shelters him, nor the bed on which he sleeps, nor the bread that he eats. Where are going these crowds of people in the streets, from the porter who sweats under his heavy load to the millionaire who goes to the bourse in his carriage? One is running after fifteen sous, another after a hundred thousand francs. Wherefore these shops, these ships, these railroads these factories, theaters, museums, lawsuits between brothers and sisters, between sons and fathers these discoveries, divisions, and assassinations? For a few pieces of this white or yellow, metal that is called money, or gold. And who will be most esteemed in this great race for money? He who gets the most of it. Today a man must have but one object, that of becoming very rich. As for me, that has always been my idea; I have reached it and I congratulate myself. Formerly people thought me ugly stupid, obtrusive; now all think me handsome, intelligent, courteous, and the Lord knows if I am handsome, courteous, intelligent! From the moment that I should be foolish enough to ruin myself, and to again become Jean as before, there wouldn't be enough stones in the Montmartre quarries to throw at my head.
Madame Durieu—Well, my dear M. de Cayolle, what do you think of all this?
De Cavolle.—I think, madam, that M. Giraud's theories are true only in the world in which M. Giraud has lived which is a world of speculation, where the only object is money. As for money it instigates many infamous things; but it also accomplishes great and noble things. It is like human speech, which is an evil or a blessing according to the use made of it. But to the necessity forced upon us to provide for our needs we owe much:—Franklin, a workman in a printers office; Shakespeare, who held horses at the door of the theater which he was later to immortalize; Machiavelli, who was secretary of the Florentine republic at fifteen crowns a month; Raphael, who was the son of a scribbler; Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who was clerk in a law office, an engraver, a copyist, and who still does not eat every day; Fulton, who was at Brat a boatman afterwards an engineer, and who has given us the steamboat; and there are many others. Suppose them born with £500,000 each, it is not likely that one of them would have become what he did become. So this race for money, of which you are speaking, has some good in it. If it enriches some idiots or some rascals, if it procures them the consideration and the esteem of subordinates, of inferiors, in fact of all who have nothing to do with society except with their accounts, it does enough good in another way, by spurring up faculties which would remain stationary in comfort, to be pardoned for some little errors.
From Arctic tundras covered with moss and lichen the realms of the tzar extend southward to the vine-clad hills of Turkestan, and eastward to shores where the warm breath of the monsoons comes moisture-laden from the sea of Japan. To describe the physical features of all the Russias would be to sketch the surface of one-sixth of the globe, forming a compact and solid domain of immense extent, and without oceanic possessions except for the islands which skirt its coasts. Toward the south its limits are being constantly enlarged, never remaining the same for ten consecutive years. Beyond the Caspian the Turkoman steppes have been gradually absorbed; with Khiva and Bokhara among her dependencies, Russia is already at the gate of India, and on the east her boundaries adjoin those of China, the great overland route to Peking by way of eastern Mongolia, being under Russian control. All this mighty empire with its 125,000,000 inhabitants is of comparatively modern growth; for it was not until the eighteenth century that national unity was established, or that the nation made itself felt among the more civilized countries of Western Europe. Before that time less was known of Russia than is known today of the least important of her Siberian provinces; her progress was slow, her origin obscure, and as yet the country had few historic annals except those of Novgorod and Moscow, where princes, khans, and tzars held court in barbaric splendor.
To Scandinavian Vikings, termed in the Swedish rothsmen, that is to say rowers, or seafarers, is traced the Origin and perhaps the name of the Russian empire; though in the middle of the ninth century there are uncertain records of Slavonic settlements on the banks of the Dnieper. In 862, as related in the ancient Chronicle of Nestor, the Slavs of Novgorod, distracted by internal dissensions, invited three of the great Viking lords, who were also brothers, to dwell among them and settle their disputes.
"Our land is great and fruitful," they said, “but there is no order in it; come and reign over us.” They came and brought with them their armed followers, Rurik, the eldest, being appointed chieftain and succeeding to the domain of his brethren, who died some two years afterward. Under Rurik and his successors the town of Novgorod prospered exceedingly, so that it became one of the wealthiest cities of the Middle Ages, the center of a powerful and independent state, whose empire extended to the Gulf of Finland and the White Sea. In the fourteenth century its Kremlin, or fortress, contained several churches, among them the cathedral of St. Sophia, almost as now it stands, while its commercial importance was further increased as one of the principal depots of the great Hanseatic league. The republic styled itself Sovereign Novgorod the Great, and on its rulers was conferred the title of grand prince, though they had little power except as commanders of the troops, and were liable to summary deposition should they fail to conform to established laws and usages. “If the prince is bad, into the mud with him,” was the saying of the townsfolk, and one on which they were not slow to act.
Meanwhile other powers had come into existence, and especially the principalities of Smolensk and Muscovy, the latter coextensive with ancient Rossia, or Russia, as afterward it was known. Toward the middle of the thirteenth century the Mongols appear upon the scene, ravaging the southern provinces; and though defeated by the men of Novgorod, pillaging the wealthy and sacred city of Kieff. Passing over the intervening period, we come to the days of Ivan the Terrible, whose name is imprinted in blood on Muscovite annals. Crowned in 1547 with the title of tzar, or czar, the Slavonic word for Caesar, a few years later he began the career which for cold-blooded wanton cruelty is not surpassed in the annals of oriental despotism. In his treatment of Novgorod he was especially severe, giving the place over to plunder and putting to death 60,000 of its inhabitants. Priests were tied to posts and flogged until a sum of money was paid for their release; wealthy merchants were tortured with fire and then thrown from the bridge into the river with their wives and children, followed by boat-loads of soldiers who fired on those who attempted to escape by swimming. With this tragic episode ends the existence of Novgorod as an independent state, while the town itself never again attained to importance.
It is in truth a somber picture that we must draw of Russia when emerging from the darkness of the Middle Ages, with humanity still in the birth-throes of a monstrous unfolding. Historians have called it the golden age of the empire; but excepting a certain barbaric grandeur there was nothing deserving of such a title. Gibbets lined the roadways; axes and blocks were ready at hand, and the groves of Moscow and its suburbs were festooned with the dead bodies of enemies of the tzar, who formed perhaps the largest element of the population apart from the serfs. Among the dark-roofed houses that crowded the riverbanks rose the walls of the Kremlin and other fortifications, built a century or two before, and now standing forth sharply in white and red. Groves and grain-fields mingled with the dwellings, plentifully scattered among which were bell-towers and churches raising their golden domes toward the sky.
Most conspicuous of all was the temple of the*Intercession, fantastic m glitter. Bright paintings covered the outside walls; on every brick was carved a cross; while the whole structure seemed clothed in a network of gold. Money was lavishly spent, for the people loved images, gildings, and rich colors in the house of God, though in their own houses they cared little for such decorations. The abodes of the wealthy were of rounded and even logs of oak or pine, from one to three stories in height, the roof projecting over a circular facade and supported by finely carved pillars. Instead of the ox-bladders which admit ted light to the homes of the poor, transparent mica was used for windows, while on the shutters were neatly painted representations of birds and flowers. Here on the bank of the Moskva they lived, while beyond the river were their storehouses filled with silk and precious furs and silver and gold.
Ivan the Terrible was as pious as he was infamous. He turned his palace into a monastery, crowned as it was by gilded domes rising one above another, and glittering in the sunshine from base to pinnacle with precious metals and colored carvings. Selecting from among the most wicked of the oprichniks, or courtiers, three hundred men whom he called brothers, he threw over their rich kaftans, trimmed with gold and sable, a black robe, gave to each a monk's cowl, and hastened at the ringing of the four o’clock bell to morning service, where the tzar read and sang and prayed with such vigor that his forehead was covered with perspiration. At eight o'clock, morning and evening, they all attended mass, the day apart from religious exercises being devoted to eating, drinking, and dozing, with the pleasurable pastime of beheading criminals and torturing prisoners. Filling the court entrance of the palace were beggars in filthy rags, among whom wild beasts were frequently let loose for the amusement of the courtiers and bodyguard, who stood apart arrayed in velvet and gold, their brocaded caps trimmed with pearls and precious stones.
Behold a feast in the palace of Ivan the Terrible! In a large hall furnished in gaudy colors, the pillars decorated with carved figures, are three rows each of ten tables, each table with twenty covers, and for seats, benches resplendent with velvet and brocade; these for the guests, while for the dread sovereign is an elevated armchair, with carved lions for legs, the back in the form of a gilded double-headed eagle with outspread wings, all ornamented with clusters of pearls and diamonds. In the middle of the hall stands a large square table with massive legs and top of heavy oak plank, which strong as it is groans under the weight of huge piles of gold and silver plate, enormous bowls of cast silver with ornamented handles, a heavy load for four men to lift; golden goblets inlaid with pearls, cups made of ostrich eggs and horns of wild oxen; gold beakers in the shape of cocks, storks, lions, bears, unicorns, giraffes; besides other dishes, vessels, cups, and ladles of precious metals ornamented with precious stones, all forming huge cone reaching almost to the ceiling. A throng of richly dressed oprichniks in brilliant colors enter and seat themselves at the tables, which as yet are bare of food, save only cold meats, salted cucumbers, sour milk in wooden bowls, with salt-cellars, pepper-boxes, and oil and vinegar cruets.
Next enter the stolniks, in pairs, and take their stand at the tzars chair; after them the steward and cupbearer. The trumpet sounds; the palace bells ring, and with slow step the tzar enters, passing with measured tread between the tables to his place at the further end, and merely glancing at the guests, who stand in attitudes of low obeisance before the great monarch who holds half the world at his beck.
Ivan at this time let us say is thirty-five years of age, but he looks at least ten years older. Originally a well-formed man, with sharply defined features, prominent aquiline nose, thin hair and mustache, he seems at present bent under a load of mingled superstition, cruelty, fear, and remorse. The tall form with its broad shoulders is slightly bent; heavy wrinkles line the forehead, while a gloomy light burns in the deep-set eyes. The long brocade garment which enfolds his person is covered with figures and bordered with pearls and precious stones; the high heels of his red morocco boots are shod with silver; from a massive necklace enameled with representations of the virgin, the prophets, and the apostles, hangs a gold chain with a large figured cross. Standing before his chair, the monarch raises his head, dispels from his sometime handsome features their cloud of care, smiles what seems to the servile and brutish natives around him a seraphic feodor smile, reads aloud a long prayer, makes the sign of the cross, blesses the repast, and sinks into his seat, the oprichniks following his example. At a sign from the sovereign, the scores of servants who stand before him arrayed in bright-hued violet and gold-embroidered velvet kaftans, with heads bowed to their girdles, withdraw in pairs, presently returning with 300 roast swans on platters of gold, and the feast begins. After the swans come 300 roast peacocks, the open tail overspreading the dish. Then follow pates of chicken, fish, and meat, with fritters and pastry, and many kinds of drink, goblets of mead, of bird-cherry and juniper wines and cherry brandy, besides Rhine wine, Romance, and Malvoisie. Eating and drinking continue for four or five hours, after which many of the guests lie drunk upon the floor, under and around the table. In the midst of the festivities, he whom the sovereign wishes to honor receives by the hand of a servant, or of the cupbearer, plate of meat or a goblet of wine, with the message, ''the great sovereign has favored thee with a dish from his own table;" “the great sovereign favors thee with a cup.” Thereupon the recipient rises, bows low to the tzar, bows low to the guests who come forward to congratulate him, though too often the cup contains poison and the special dish is but the forerunner of the headsman's axe. Should the favored one drop dead while drinking the courtiers exclaim "Ah! poor fellow; he is drunk; let us carry him forth," which is done; for though well knowing what has occurred, they do not dare to recognize the treachery of the sovereign. Then the feast continues without interruption, as though nothing special had happened.
The reign and life of Ivan the Terrible ended in 1584, his latter days being embittered with remorse and superstitious terror. Then came the series of disasters whence the era that followed was named "the period of troubles." Early in the seventeenth century Russia was overrun by the Poles, thus reversing the conditions which obtained in later ages Moscow was laid in ashes, all except the Kremlin and the churches, and the imperial treasures were transferred to Warsaw.
A large portion of the northern principalities had passed into the hands of the Swedes and elsewhere towns and villages were plundered by roving bands of Cossacks. It was at this juncture that Michael Romanoff succeeded to the throne, a monarch descended on the female side from the house of Rurik and the first of the long dynasty still represented in the person of Nicholas II. During his reign the nation came for the first time under the influence of western civilization; merchants and travelers visited the country, the former receiving valuable privileges, and with the aid of Dutch and German artisans iron-foundries were established, especially for the manufacture of cannon. By Alexis Michael’s successor, the laws were codified, and the boundaries of the empire largely extended. Feodor, who was next in power, destroying the records of the nobles’ pedigrees which had caused infinite mischief in court and camp.
And now we come to the days of Peter the Great whose rule was shared, but only in name, by his brother Ivan, a man as infirm in body and mind as the other was vigorous and self-reliant. Peter was a man of imperial mold, possessed of Titanic energy, and if an autocrat, he was always ready to take his share of the burdens imposed on nobles and subjects. To carry out what seemed to him worthy aims he sought everywhere for suitable instruments , and after serving the state as a common artisan in the docks of Saardam and Deptford, he expected that others would sacrifice their comforts and if need be their possessions, for the public good. In choosing his servants he paid no attention to the claims of noble ancestry; merit was the only recommendation, and on merit he freely bestowed the rewards and honors which it deserved. Thus one of his most trusted officials was the son of a poor sacristan, another began life as a cabin-boy, a third was a negro slave purchased in Constantinople, while he who became his serene highness Prince Menshikoff, the founder of a line world-famous in European politics, had earned his living by peddling cakes in the streets of Moscow.
Loud but unheeded were the complaints of the nobles, whose estates were sorely taxed, after being converted from feudal into freehold tenures, and their owners required to serve in the army or navy under pain of death and confiscation of property. As related by Vockerodt, a Prussian diplomatic agent at the court of the tzar, the following was the burden of their complaints: "Though our country is in no danger of invasion, no sooner is peace concluded than plans are laid for a new war, which has generally no other foundation than the ambition of the sovereign. To please him our peasants are utterly impoverished, and we ourselves are forced to leave our homes and families, not as formerly for a single campaign but for many long years. We are compelled to contract debts and to entrust our estates to thieving overseers, who commonly reduce them to such a condition that when we are allowed to retire from the service, in consequence of old age or illness, we cannot at the end of our lives retrieve our prosperity. In a word we are so exhausted and ruined by the keeping up of a standing army, and by the consequences resulting there from, that the most cruel enemy, though he should devastate the entire empire, could not cause us one half of the injury.
While this picture is doubtless overdrawn, there is nevertheless some truth in it, for Peter increased his revenues from 3,000,000 to 14,000,000 rubles, expending most of it in maintaining a disciplined army in place of the armed rabble which a few thousand Swedes had easily put to rout. But the army was the least important part of the creations of the great tzar. While traveling in Western Europe he had observed the wealth and prosperity developed among the educated middle classes, and to the absence of this element he justly attributed the poverty of his empire.
If such classes did not exist, then they must be created, and to this task he applied himself with his usual vigor and directness of purpose. From the west he brought with him a large number of artisans, sending for others and offering special inducements to merchants who would trade with his subjects. Internal commerce was encouraged; manufactures were established, and Russian students sent to complete their studies in the great centers of industrial art. Schools were founded, books translated, and the government of cities was remodeled after that of the free towns of Germany, with burgomasters, town-councils, guilds, and all else that pertains to the ancient municipal system of the Fatherland. It has been said that Peter knouted his people into civilization; but even this was better than the outer darkness in which they had dwelt. Certain it is that Russia was for the first time respected among the nations of the world, and by this enterprising, if somewhat harsh and exacting monarch, were firmly laid the foundations of what is now the largest empire in the world.
In reading the story of his life, as written in part by himself, we find the career of Peter in striking contrast with that of his predecessors. The latter were men of stately and pompous demeanor, much given to religion, spending most of their time in worship, never losing sight of their dignity, and seldom giving thought to their people. But here was one who came down from his Olympus, as did the gods of old, sharing all the hardships and dangers which proved fatal to thousands of his subjects. First working with his own hands as a mechanic, or shipwright, he then superintended the labor of others and saw that their work was well done. While erecting on what was at that time a Finland marsh, the home of the heron and wild fowl, a city which he was to serve as "a window whence Russia might look into civilized Europe.” He content to build for himself the wooden hut of a navvy, and there he dwelt without loss of dignity, though ruling with a sway as absolute as that of the Caesars whose title he bore. Nor was it beneath his dignity to dress in foreign garb, to join in the drunken orgies of foreign soldiers, and otherwise to disregard all time-honored notions of propriety and etiquette, so that men affirmed that the Lord's anointed was possessed of an evil spirit. As to religious belief it is doubtful whether he had any; it is certain that he had none of the fanaticism so common among his countrymen. Yet he never interfered with his subjects in matters spiritual, allowing them to steep themselves in piety, to pray and cross themselves to their hearts' content , so long as they obeyed him and paid their taxes regularly. If Peter sometimes misapplied his revenues, he never squandered them, and at least he had something to show for the heavy burdens imposed on the nation adding several provinces to its domain with an outlet on two great seas, an army able to fight a fleet and naval academy, and libraries and galleries of art. On such a man, notwithstanding his failures and eccentricities , the title of greatness is not unworthily bestowed.
On the death of Peter the crown became the plaything of intriguing courtiers until, after vainly attempting to govern Russia through her wayward and dissolute husband. Catherine II drove him from the throne to which she succeeded as empress in 1762. She had a difficult task before her, but was equal to the occasion; for she was an ambitious woman, strong of will, persistent in purpose, and though of foreign birth, with a thorough knowledge of the language, customs, institutions, and needs of the people which for the first time submitted not unwillingly to a woman's sway. At home Catherine devoted herself to law-making and town-building, but with indifferent success, for towns cannot be built by imperial ukase, and except perhaps a court-house and prison of logs, there was nothing to show that they existed. Forming an alliance with Prussia, she brought about the partition of Poland, securing for herself at least two-thirds of its territory; and this she retained in the later partition which followed the national uprising under Kosciusko. Poland was now in a dreadful condition, greedy and unscrupulous nobles sorely oppressing a brutalized and starving peasantry, among whom famine and pestilence were ever-present guests. A loaf of bread was worth a hundred rubles, and beasts and birds of prey feasted on unburied corpses thrown into the deserted streets. To relieve this misery was no part of Catherine's aim; but rather to prolong it until the country should be thoroughly subdued to the yoke. Meanwhile money was freely lavished on favorites; her lovers, of whom there were not a few, costing in all more than 200,000,000 rubles, even those whom she discarded receiving liberal pensions and presents. The queen has been called, and not inaptly, the Semiramis of the north; for never had such wanton extravagance been witnessed in the Russian court, and never had Russian policy been marked by such hard-hearted cruelty. Yet her memory is still honored in the land of the tzars; for with all her vices Catherine had genius, and genius like charity covers a multitude of sins.
In the reign of Paul I, son and successor of Catherine, began the long struggle with Bonaparte, lasting from 1799 when Suwaroff won several victories over Napoleon's generals, until 1814, when Paris surrendered to the Russo-Prussian army under the command of Prince Schwarzenberg. At Austerlitz the Russians lost more than 20,000 men, and at Friedland suffered a defeat which was followed by the historic meeting of Napoleon and Alexander I on a raft anchored in the Niemen, where was arranged the peace of Tilsit. But the greatest disaster, both to Russians and French, was the war of 1812, whose incidents have already been related, the burning of Moscow being followed by the retreat of the French and the annihilation of the grand army. Nicholas I began his reign with a war with Persia, securing thereby a considerable territory and 20,000.000 rubles as indemnity. Then came war with Turkey, the Polish insurrection, and the Crimean war, the last the most senseless of all and without any practical result; for notwithstanding an enormous expenditure of life and treasure. Russia is now in the same position as before, her fortress of Sebastopol rebuilt, her ceded territory restored, and her fleets no longer excluded from the Black sea.
Nicholas I was the incarnation of autocracy, a man who had he lived in patriarchal times would have been an excellent ruler, but in the nineteenth century was somewhat out of place. With the spirit of the age he had nothing in common; philosophic liberalism and philosophic abstractions of whatever kind he held in contempt. “Attend to your duties." he said to his generals, “and don't trouble your heads with philosophy; for the tzar was himself by nature and training a soldier as well as an autocrat, and the strictest of disciplinarians.
Over his empire he maintained an intellectual quarantine, suppressing all hooks and journals that savored of democracy, forbidding Russians to travel abroad, multiplying military schools, and abolishing in the universities their chairs of political science, thus hoping to guard against the demoralizing influences of independent thought and the consequent dangers of revolution. He regarded his nation as an army and himself its omnipotent head. He punished disobedience with long years of exile amid Siberian wilds, and would tolerate no adverse criticism, even in the form of a jest. Against modern progress he set his face, unless it be in the ordered way and at the word of command, private enterprise of whatsoever kind being discountenanced. Experience taught him nothing; nor yet failure or mishap; for on the theory of government which he had formed he acted for thirty years, with none to gainsay him and none who dared to offer him advice. At the close of his reign, when confronted with the inexorable logic of facts, when his troops were defeated his, fleets and fortresses destroyed, his ports blockaded, and his empire on the verge of bankruptcy, still the blind obstinacy of the tzar remained unshaken. "My successor may do as he pleases," he exclaimed with his dying breath, "but as for me I cannot change."
One of the first acts of Alexander II was to put an end to the Crimean war, and one of his best was the emancipation of the serfs in 1861, their owners receiving a fair compensation while ceding a portion of their estates. It was in truth a gigantic experiment in social and economic science, with results even yet uncertain, though pointing to improvement when the transition period shall give way to a more settled condition of affairs. One benefit at least it has wrought, and that is to arouse the proprietors from apathy, and compel them to think and act for themselves. For the most part they had formerly looked upon their estates and dependents as an automatic machine, which was to supply them with food and drink and spending money; and they spent all they had and more than they had, taking no thought for the morrow. But now they must earn their own livelihood and earn it somehow from their lands, for nothing else remained to them. Thus the haphazard methods of olden days gave place to systematic farming, though at first with few modern improvements. "Formerly, said one of the landlords, when asked how the emancipation affected him,” "we kept no accounts and drank champagne; now we keep accounts and drink vodka. On the larger estates, where hired workmen and improved machinery were introduced, there was a speedy and very considerable increase of revenue. The domain of Prince Wassiltchikof, for instance, lying in the black earth zone of the southern provinces, yielded an average income of 29,000 rubles against 14,000 before the emancipation, while another which produced 47,000 rubles in 1860, netted 77,000 in 1870, though in both the emancipation had been followed by a temporary shrinkage. But such returns could only be obtained through the introduction of foreign labor and appliances; for the peasants, it was said, had become lazy, drunken, and dishonest, working unwillingly in their primitive fashion and refusing to work at all under modern systems of cultivation.
In this connection a word may be said as to the nobility of Russia, concerning which, as of the tzars themselves, there is much popular misconception. The ancient noblesse resembled somewhat that of Germany, consisting of a number of minor princes surrounded by knights and soldiers of fortune, among whom were a few boyars possessed of large estates.
By the Tartar sovereigns they were treated as vassals, though left much to themselves so long as they paid their tribute. Peter the Great , as we have seen, dealt with them merely as subjects, liable to military service as were all the rest; liable also to flogging, exile, or decapitation for overt disobedience Catherine favored the nobles, and with reason, for she was herself a usurper, raised to the throne by intrigues, reign would come to an end to say nothing of her schemes of conquest. Hence she was liberal in conferring honors and rewards, flattering words taking the place of the cudgellings which Peter was apt to administer, and especially the subtle flattery which appealed to their loyalty and devotion. Thus public service, which had formerly been considered as a burden, was now regarded as a privilege, and especially after the introduction of French fashions and ceremonials, which made the court of St. Petersburg as splendid and almost as frivolous as that of Versailles. But, except in aping their manners the Russian aristocracy had nothing in common with the French, nor indeed with the Germans or English. Their ancestors had been insulted by the khans and cuffed by the Lord's anointed; peasants had been exalted above them and parvenus advanced to the highest offices of state, while poverty had driven from the ranks not a few of the oldest families, so that we hear of a prince who earned his living as a cabman, and of counts who measured ribbons or served as assistants to petty shopkeepers.
While in Russia there are more than a million titled personages, it may be said that an aristocracy in its proper sense does not exist; or if so, the term should be applied only to the highest ranks of the noblesse, even these claiming precedence not in virtue of their pedigree but for their wealth and official rank. A Russian noble, be he baron, count, or prince, may be proud of his riches, proud of his learning and accomplishments, but of his ancestry he seldom boasts, knowing full well how cheap are these patents of notoriety. There are hundreds of princes who are not admitted to court, or into social circles of the better class, though exceptions may perhaps be made in case of marriage with some foolish American heiress. While only a small percentage of the nobles are rich, some are enormously rich. Count Sheremetief, for instance, owning at the time of the emancipation 150,000 serfs with estates to correspond, while the Demidofs count the yearly income from their mines by hundreds of thousands of rubles.
Count Strogonof, who died not long ago at the ago of ninety-two, left from 12,000,000 to 15,000,000 rubles in cash, apart from the value of lands broad enough for the realm of a monarch, though his palace at St. Petersburg, with its magnificent art collection, was ever open to the call of charity and philanthropy. Then there are the Woronzow Dasekous and a few other families whose fortunes are of royal proportions; but as a rule the proverbial extravagance of the Russian noblesse is due rather to reckless ostentation and improvidence than to the possession of wealth.
As there is in Russia no real aristocracy, so are there no social castes, for at least none of the class distinctions and class enmities which have wrought so much mischief in Western Europe. Yet there are differences strongly marked by outward appearance, and there is no mistaking to what rank or calling each one belongs. There is the count with his Parisian attire and speaking in French or attempting so to speak; there is the priest with his somber robes and flowing, unkempt locks; there is the keenvisaged merchant in his suit of shiny broadcloth, much the worse for wear, and everywhere are to be seen the dull vacuous features of peasants garbed in greasy and malodorous sheepskin. Otherwise society is not graded as in other countries; there are few cliques, and there are no insuperable barriers to merit and honest endeavor. What is most of all needed is education, which is still in an embryo condition; notwithstanding a voluminous literature there is little intellectual progress, and sad though it be, it is none the less true that the intelligence of Russia centers largely in its secret societies, which almost throughout the present century have been the terror of the tzars.
It was at the hands of a nihilist that Alexander II met his fate, after several narrow escapes from assassination, attempts being made to blow up the winter palace and to wreck the train on which he was travelling. The tzar left his country burdened with debt exhausted by foreign wars, and honeycombed with revolutionary plots; nor were matters greatly improved during the reign of his successor, whose life was one long nightmare of fearsome apprehensions, while suspected persons were driven by hundreds to Siberian mines and prisons. For more than two years he would not venture on the journey to Moscow, where in 1883 the coronation ceremonies were held. Yet he was no coward but rather one whom majesty befitted, notwithstanding his homely features and his stiff and awkward manners. He was a man of gigantic stature and herculean frame, towering head and shoulders above those around him simple in his habits and somewhat averse to the splendors of royalty, though never forgetting that he was the autocrat of the Russias and the head of the Russian church. He attended closely to the affairs of state examining accounts and severely punishing defaulters, no matter how high their rank. His uncle, the grand-duke Constantine, he dismissed from his office as lord high admiral on a charge of peculation, while another uncle, the grand-duke Nicholas, commander-in-chief of the army, suffered disgrace for permitting one of his friends to accept a bribe. Though a despot, he was by no means the cruel despot that some would have us believe having really at heart the welfare of his people, as appeared in the famine of 1891, when he advanced 50,000,000 rubles to the relief committee which had before it the appalling task of feeding 20,000,000 starving people.
On the 1st of November, 1894, the reign of Alexander III came to an end not as he had feared from assassination, but after a long and painful illness.
Nicholas II succeeded to the throne at the age of twenty-six, taking to wife soon afterward the princess Alexandra, daughter of the grand-duke of Hesse, a sensible young woman as it would seem, but with all the hauteur of a tzarina. One of the first acts of this sovereign was to proclaim a general amnesty releasing nearly twenty thousand victims of the despotic rule of his predecessors. Then he set himself to reform, as far as he could, a corrupt and cumbersome bureaucracy, removing the unworthy, and especially those who had helped to build up the former system of intolerance and oppression. At first these measures in the cause of common humanity alarmed the conservative party, by whom it was feared that provincial or even national assemblies might be established; but as to this they were soon reassured. Waiting on the tzar, they were informed that he would yield no iota of his prerogatives; whereupon they straightway betook themselves to church, returning thanks for their deliverance from the perils of governing themselves. The day is probably far distant when Russia will be self-governed, except through some terrible uprising which would shake the world to its center; for here is a standing army of nearly a million of men, to say nothing of an army of secret police. Meanwhile if the tzar will adapt himself to modern ideas of progress and toleration, and above all will cease from persecuting the Jews, he will have with him the sympathy and moral support of nations with whom his predecessors were never in touch.
The persecution of the Jews, of whom there are nearly 3,000,000 in Russia, was mainly in the enforcement of ancient laws which had long been evaded by bribing the police. Except a few privileged classes. Jews were forbidden to settle in Russia proper, and yet in St. Petersburg alone there were at least 50,000 Hebrews thus living as outlaws in close proximity to the tzar. The Jews, it has been said, are a people without a country; but the Russian Jews differ 1 from all others, not wandering the world over in search of gain, but bound with sacred ties to the land of their nativity or adoption. Thus banishment was a special hardship. and almost as bad was their compulsory residence on the western frontier, whence, it was hoped, this undesirable element would be absorbed by adjoining countries. Such measures were not only harsh but injurious; for if they made money, and perhaps took advantage of the needs of a thriftless and drunken peasantry, they also contributed much to the imperial treasury. while as merchants and bankers they were important factors in Russian commerce and finance.
Nicholas II is a wealthy man, one of the richest of European monarchs, richer even than Queen Victoria, though probably with a smaller store of ready cash; for he spends money freely, while the queen loves well to hoard her bank notes. His income has been stated at $12,500,000 a year; but in truth it is limited only by the resources of his country, for he may draw at will from the royal treasury every ruble that it contains. First of all there are the crown domains, including more than 1,000,000 square miles of farm and forest lands. Then there is the entire product of the Siberian mines, producing fabulous amounts of gold, to say nothing of other metals, though their yield is never made known, for all are the private property of the tzar. The imperial crown alone, with its 50 large stones and 5,000 brilliants, is worth several million rubles; the scepter which holds the great Orloff diamond, and a sphere containing the finest sapphire in the world are also valued in millions; while the carved ivory throne of the tzar and the silver throne of the tzarina, thickly incrusted with diamonds are among the paraphernalia of royalty, the regalia and jewelry preserved in the winter palace.
Of huge dimensions, though veiled by symmetry of proportion, is the winter palace of the tzars, some 450 feet in length by 350 in width, fronting on the broad stream of the Neva and on the palace square, with its tall granite monolith of Alexander I. Completed as now it stands in 1839, after a fire which swept away property valued at $25,000,000, it is of composite architecture, and with light and elegant detail, suggestive rather of southern Europe than of the wintry clime of this subarctic metropolis. The entrance facing the square is approached by a handsome marble stairway, and in the richly stuccoed hall are some beautiful groups of statuary.
There are more than 700 chambers, though since the assassination of Alexander II the state apartments have been little used, except for banquets, balls, and other royal entertainments, which it need hardly be said are on a magnificent scale.
A state ball in the time of Alexander III may be thus described. The suite of state apartments is decorated with palm trees and tropical plants, while mounds of violets, brought by special train from southern Italy, fill the lordly chambers with delicate perfume. The tzarina is attired in a robe of soft, white silk, exquisitely embroidered with silver, and without contrast in the way of color, except the light-blue ribbon of the order of St. George. The ball is opened with a polonaise, the emperor dancing first with the empress, then with his sister, the duchess of Edinburgh, and afterward with the Austrian ambassadress. At midnight dancing ceases, and forming in procession the guests are conducted to St. George's hall, to the Romanoff portrait gallery and adjoining rooms, where at tables, each overshadowed by a beautiful tree in full bloom, they fare sumptuously in parties of eight. The imperial table, where sit the ambassadors and those of royal blood, is at the upper end of the hail, and in front of a colossal sideboard laden with gold plate, the emperor, as is his custom, not seating himself at all, but passing through the apartments and chatting with those whom he wishes to honor. Supper ended, dancing is resumed in the Nicholas hall, one of the largest in the palace, and with sixteen great windows overlooking the Neva. At three o'clock the court withdraws, and an hour later more than two thousand invited guests have dispersed to their homes.
In several of the halls are famous paintings of Russian battlefields, and especially beautiful is the White hall, its upholstery of crimson silk contrasting with columns of pure white marble and galleries adorned with marble tracery and sculptured gold. Here once a year the empress gives a private ball to her own circle, and here are served the afternoon teas in which women delight the tzarina and her intimate friends, occupying a recess cushioned in red satin, near which, on a flooring of mosaic, are small gilt tables and chairs, while marble cups are arranged in the form of a fountain issuing from the wall. But the Treasure chamber is the center of attraction, and this is entered through iron doors guarded by stalwart officers of the guard. In the center is a large glass case containing the insignia and jewels already described, the crown being first used at the coronation of Catherine II in 1762. The front of this magnificent diadem is inlaid with scores of large pearls fashioned in the form of a mitre and representing the tzar as the head of the church, its golden band containing eleven large brilliants, while on the cross are five diamonds of purest water set in an uncut ruby. Elsewhere are lustrous pearls and precious stones without number, among them a 36 carat diamond, the gift of a Persian prince, and the diamond chain of the Andreas order worn by the empress on state occasions. Nor should we forget the gallery of Peter the Great, with its priceless collection of curios,—snuff boxes, carvings, and miniatures thickly bestrewn with brilliants, and aigrettes ablaze with big white stones, the heirlooms of princely families.
Forming a wing of the palace is the old Hermitage, erected by Catherine II for social gatherings apart from the formalities of state, and where courtiers and savans discoursed on politics and science between their games at cards. Ascending to the upper floor by a stairway of marble and granite, flanked with armor-clad equestrian statues, we come to a landing which looks convent of the passion forth on the Neva, and on the fortress of St. Peter and St. Paul, with its cathedral beneath whose glittering spire is the burial place of the tzars.
On this landing is probably the largest malachite vase in the world and of gorgeous workmanship. Thence one of the doors leads into a spacious suite of rooms prepared for the late tzarowitch Nicholas, son of Alexander II. Here is everything in the way of embellishment that wealth can purchase and taste suggest; walls, floors, and ceilings handsomely decorated, richly carved tables and bronzes on every mantelpiece, while in the center a handsomely frescoed hall is resplendent with golden hangings and columnar ornaments.
In a modern building adjoining the old Hermitage and of more imposing aspect, is the national gallery of Russia, in which are represented several European schools, and especially the Flemish masters. There is also a large collection of engravings, some 250,000 in number; but more valuable than all else are the Greek and Scythian antiquities. In the Art academy are the choicest works of Russian painters and sculptors; and there are many museums in St. Petersburg, medical, engineering, technical, marine, agricultural, and educational.
In addition to the Winter palace are many others in St. Petersburg, some belonging to the imperial family and some to wealthy nobles and land owners who spend much of their time in the capital. Among them is the Anitchoff palace, a favorite abode of royalty and the most home-like and comfortable of its many mansions. Overlooking the Nevsky Prospect, the busiest and most fashionable of all Russian thoroughfares, it is surrounded with a beautiful park and with a wall which affords sufficient protection from the vulgar gaze and from the bullet or bomb of the nihilist. Adjoining it are public gardens, where is a statue of Catherine II, erected by public subscriptions to which the emperor refused to add a single kopeck, for the tzars and tzarinas respect not the memory of the queen whom the people love to honor. In design the monument is far inferior to that of Peter the Great in the plaza adjacent to the Admiralty building. On a huge block of granite, more than 1,000 tons in weight and surmounted by a bronze equestrian statue, the founder of the city is represented as ascending a rock at full gallop, and with hand outstretched toward the Neva.
Neither in St. Petersburg nor elsewhere in Russia are there any of the magnificent monuments of ecclesiastical architecture which abound in Western Europe. St. Isaac’s cathedral, whose gilded dome towers far above the metropolis, is the most imposing structure; but neither in the exterior with its lofty red granite colonnades, built under the personal superintendence of Nicholas I, nor in the internal decorations, is there enough to show for the 23,000,000 rubles and the two-score years expended on its construction. Yet we have here the best that could be accomplished by Muscovite artists and architects, whose efforts are at best but clumsy imitations of French and Italian models. Of this we have a striking example in the cathedral of the virgin of Kazan, erected in imitation of St Peter’s, and in whose semi-circular colonnade the body of the church is almost hidden from view. Nor are better effects produced in the catholic and other churches; for while there is a style of architecture that is essentially Russian, it does not find expression in temples of worship.
The university has about 90 professors and 2,500 students, in addition to which there is a medical faculty contained in a separate academy whose students are subject to military jurisdiction. Other seats of learning are plentiful and for secondary education, here as elsewhere, there is a liberal provision, nearly 40,000,000 rubles being distributed in 1894 among the sixteen educational districts which include all portions of the empire. Of many scientific institutions the academy of Science is the most important, especially for its service in the exploration of the Russias, for its library rich in oriental lore, and for its valuable collection of 150,000 classified specimens in natural history. In connection with it are the Pulkova and other observatories whose publications have contributed much to what may be termed astronomical literature. The Historical society, with its several branches, is one of the foremost in Europe; in the chambers of the Mineralogical society geology is well represented, and the Asiatic museum is well stored with ancient coins and manuscripts.
The Imperial library was founded in 1795 with the collection of the archbishop of Kieff, confiscated by the Polish republic, stored in the university at Warsaw, and thence transferred to the northern capital. Increased by many donations and purchases, it now contains about 1,250,000 volumes and 50,000 manuscripts, including at least 65,000 Rossica or Russian publications. While there are larger libraries in existence, it is doubtful whether any are richer in rare and valuable manuscripts. It is open to the public, as also is that of the council of state, while others are easily accessible. Of not less than 150 journals, few are political organs; for these are issued only through privilege, jealously guarded by the authorities.
Of other prominent buildings and institutions it is unnecessary here to speak, for sufficient has already been said to indicate their general character. Of all the great capitals of Europe St. Petersburg is the youngest, and yet with more than 1,100,000 inhabitants, dwelling for the most part on the delta formed by the Neva, a few miles from the gulf of Finland. Far surpassing even the dreams of its founder is the growth of the Russian metropolis, though on the outer verge of a wilderness extending over hundreds of miles of forest and morass. Except toward the southwest, where Germany is not far distant, there is not a single town of importance within 130 leagues, and the provinces can only be reached by canals and railroads traversing a barren and unpeopled waste. Yet the site was well chosen as a center for international traffic and especially for the shipment of Russian produce, for Russian traffic has ever tended northward, the rivers which flow into the Black Sea being shallow or obstructed by rapids, while it was not until the close of the eighteenth century that the shores of that sea formed a part of the empire. Thus it was in no mere freak that Peter founded on these marshy islets of the Neva the city which was to become a new Amsterdam, though hundreds of millions of rubles and hundreds of thousands of lives were expended in preparing the site of the modern capital, and in building the granite forts of Cronstadt, whence a ship canal, completed in 1885 at a cost of 10,265,000 rubles, terminates in a commodious harbor.
The general plan of the city is simple, three main thoroughfares paralleled by narrower streets and intersected with canals leading from a common center, while massive stone bridges connect the banks of the Neva, and between the islands are less substantial structures. Spacious quays are well lined with shipping during the summer months, and especially those on Vasilyevskiy island, where is the center of commercial activity. Most of the streets are badly paved, and though there are many handsome shops and residences architectural conditions leave much to be desired. As a rule the houses are large and built in the form of flats, many of them containing from 500 to 2,000 inmates, while palaces, churches, theaters, and other public buildings are also on a stupendous scale, as though intended for future generations rather than for present use. Public gardens and pleasure grounds are numerous; the business quarter is astir with the rush of traffic and in winter, when St. Petersburg is seen at its best, even Paris does not surpass in gayety this hyperborean metropolis.
Within a radius of fifty miles many popular resorts have been created in the surrounding wilderness. Royalty has also its palace of Gatchina, where was the favorite residence of Alexander III, the royal apartments being inaccessible except through narrow and strictly guarded corridors. It is a mammoth edifice or rather, series of edifices and is attractive, only for its environment of wooded slopes and park-like grounds, with groves of oak more ancient than the Romanoff dynasty. In one of the galleries is a collection of curiosities presented by the emperors of China and Japan, far superior, it is said, to any that exist in the east, among them works of art which it would be impossible to replace. Here also is the rich furniture presented by Louis XVI to Catherine II, though the sanctum of the tzar was plainly equipped and almost void of ornament except that above his writing-desk was a beautiful picture of his wife and children framed in antique enamel and surmounted by a diamond cross. The tzarina had also her sanctum, or boudoir, her den as she called it, but a somewhat costly den, for it was an exact imitation of one of the most beautiful chambers in the Alhambra, the bright-green foliage of palms contrasting with the brilliant coloring and diapered gold of the walls. Reclining on the silken cushions of a low divan with gold-embroidered pillows, her majesty passed many of the hours which her husband devoted to the affairs of state, sipping caravan tea which cost several dollars an ounce and smoking a prodigious quantity of cigarettes, very much to the detriment of imperial nerves and stomach.
Very fond of jewelry was the empress Marie Dagmar, even the apparatus which held up her skirts being covered with brilliants, while on her dress were ornaments in the form of butterflies fashioned of diamonds, sapphires, rubies, and emeralds, their antennae covered with diamond dust. A necklace of nine rows of pearls, unsurpassed in form and color, and held together by diamond clasps, was one of her husband’s gifts, and above thickly clustered braids of dark brown hair were the outstretched wings of a pearl and diamond moth, concealed at times beneath a tiara of emerald shamrocks glistening with diamond dew-drops. In caskets were strings of pearls and precious stones dazzling to behold, among them some of the rarest of Byzantine jewels. Another tiara of diamonds and rubies was in the shape of a garland of poppies and ears of wheat; for the neck there was a band of diamonds and rubies, and set in a double garland of maidenhair ferns composed entirely of brilliants were twenty stars of pink diamonds and a collar of great rubies of brilliant color, shaped in the form of hedge roses. The furniture of the tzarina’s private parlor was also on a magnificent scale, its walls and ceiling draped with a pale-colored delicate silk interwoven with threads of silver, its upholstery of pink and silver-embroidered velvet, its bay-windows festooned with Spanish Jessamine, and its chandelier of Venetian glass resembling clusters of convolvuli. Thus it will be seen that the empress Marie Dagmar was well fitted to preside over a court at which it was a common saying, "Give us the luxuries of life and we will dispense with the necessaries.”
Among other cities may first be mentioned the Baltic seaport of Riga, which is rather a Teutonic than a Slavic town, for half its population is German, and nearly all its commerce is in the hands of German merchants. Its origin is also German, traders from the Fatherland obtaining permission to settle in the neighborhood of the monastery which an Augustinian monk erected near the close of the twelfth century. From this small beginning it gradually increased in importance, especially after joining the Hanseatic league, and when captured by the Russians at the time when Peter was building his city on the marshy isles of the Neva, had long been recognized as a leading center of wealth and commercial activity.
Exports of timber, hemp, grain, and other products are little short of 100,000,000 rubles a year, freighting some 3,000 sea-going ships, while by rail nearly 1,000,000 tons of merchandise are forwarded from a tributary region extending almost from Warsaw to St. Petersburg. In the old quarter are still to be seen the lofty storehouses and spacious cellars characteristic of Hansa towns; narrow and crooked but busy streets contrast with the spacious boulevards of the suburbs, and especially those of the fashionable suburb of St. Petersburg, where dwell the aristocracy of wealth. Among the finest of modern buildings are the exchange, the new theater, the polytechnic, and the picture gallery owned by the municipality, while of medieval monuments the most remarkable is the Domkirche with its organ containing nearly 7,000 pipes, one of the largest in the world. St Peter's church, a fifteenth century structure, has a tower 440 feet in height, and to the following century, though often rebuilt, belongs the castle of the "knights of the sword," now used as official headquarters.
Warsaw, with about half a million of inhabitants, is the third in size among the cities of the empire, one of the first in commerce and manufactures, and but for its many misfortunes would doubtless have attained to a higher rank as a center of wealth and culture. Selected as the Polish capital about the middle of the sixteenth century, it was a score of times captured and plundered before Russia finally became its master in 1813. Then came insurrections, followed by wholesale executions, deportations, and forfeiture of estates, the very name of Poland being erased from official documents after the uprising of 1863. It is a beautiful city, built on an eminence amid the fertile plain watered by the Vistula, here at some points half a mile in width, and connected by substantial bridges with its suburb of Praga on the opposite shore. There are at least 170 palaces and more than that number of churches and cathedrals, with public buildings erected at enormous cost, while in the center of business activity the governor-general has his headquarters in the ancient castle that Conrad, duke of Mazovia, founded in the ninth century, though many times enlarged.
The university formerly ranked among the foremost in Europe, and has still a large attendance, though but a shadow of its former self; for instruction is mainly in Russian, and the educated classes will have none of it, preferring other institutions where the Polish language is spoken. Connected with it is a library of 400,000 volumes, though more than once ransacked to enrich the shelves of the Imperial library of St. Petersburg. There are also academies of science and art, a conservatory of music, and several theaters, one of which is in the form of an artificial ruin, its stage and auditorium , both in the open air separated by a stream of water, and its decorations having as a background the palace and park of the Zazienki gardens.
The Saxon garden, near which is the aristocratic quarter of Warsaw, has also its summer theater in the midst of grounds adorned with fountains, flower-beds, and statuary. In the suburbs are other palaces, some of them on the sites of historic battlefields, as the one erected by Sobieski, where is a choice collection of pictures representing Polish heroes and heroic deeds.
As the principal port on the Black Sea and the natural entrepot for the produce of the broad and fertile plains watered by the Dnieper and Dniester. Odessa is one of the most prosperous cities of the empire, the only one that resembles the great commercial centers of western Europe. Though near its theater site was founded the Greek colony of Odesseus at least as early as the days of Pericles, it is a comparatively modern town; for early in the Christian era all traces of Hellenic settlement had disappeared, and for more than a thousand years the shores of its spacious harbor were uninhabited. Near the close of the eighteenth century a small village named Haji-bey—the Greek name being later adoption—formed the nucleus of the present town, with its 400,000 inhabitants and with a commerce extending to every quarter of the world, shipments of grain livestock and animal and other products being on an enormous scale. Southern Russia is one of the granaries of Europe, and Odessa is its warehouse, palatial buildings of enormous size, erected for the storage of grain, lining the edge of a bay protected by a mole 1,100 yards long and 650 in width. The main embankment, which also serves as a promenade, is bordered with handsome residences, and commodious thoroughfares and plazas are flanked with stately mansions and business edifices, among which are interspersed the dwellings of the poor. The cathedral is in better taste than most of the church buildings of St. Petersburg; colleges and schools are numerous; there are several scientific associations, and the Historical society has a collection rich in Hellenic, Venetian, and Tartar annals of the Black Sea coast.
On the western bank of the Dnieper and on the highroad between Odessa and Moscow is the ancient city of Kieff, which has been termed the Canterbury of Russia, for its cathedral of St. Sophia, founded by Prince Yaroslaff in 1037, is the oldest in the empire. It is not a remarkable structure and its dimensions are far from imposing, the interior decorations, which is a colossal statue of the virgin, showing strong traces of Byzantine among influence. A famous monastery is that of Kievo-Petcherskaya, visited annually by 400,000 pilgrims, much to their own discomfort, for many thousands are compelled to sleep in the open air. Though with a considerable volume of trade, Kieff is an intellectual rather than a commercial center, with a university transferred from Vilna after the Polish insurrection of 1831, and with many scientific and learned societies.
Moscow, the ancient capital of the tzars, was for centuries the most splendid of Russian cities, and is today a rival of the great metropolis on the Neva, for ceasing to regard the glories of the past, men have turned their attention to the chances of the present, establishing there the great industrial center of the empire. Of Moscow as it was in the days of Ivan the Terrible I have already spoken; and after his death it was visited with many disasters, though always followed by seasons of prosperity. In 1547, and in 1571, it was destroyed by fire; and in the second conflagration, the work of the khan of the Crimea, many thousands perished in the flames, while of its 200,000 inhabitants only 30,000 escaped the massacre which followed. At the opening of the seventeenth century it was again a great city, the emporium of commerce for a region extending for hundreds of miles in all directions; so that foreigners who came there to trade returned with wondrous tales of its wealth and magnificence.
After further changes of fortune it is thus described by Thiers as it appeared in 1812, when Napoleon's grand army came in sight of the capital. "At last, having reached the summit of a hill, the army suddenly discovered below them an immense city shining with a thousand colors, surmounted by a host of gilded domes resplendent with light; a singular mixture of woods, lakes, cottages, palaces, churches, and bell-towers; a town both Gothic and Byzantine, realizing all that eastern stories relate of the marvels of Asia.
While monasteries flanked with towers formed a girdle around this great city, in the center, raised on an eminence, was a strong citadel, a kind of capitol, where were seen at the same time the temples of the deity and the palaces of emperors, where above embattled walls rose majestic domes, bearing the emblem that represents the whole history of Russia and her ambition, the cross over the reversed crescent. This was the Kremlin."
"Yonder is the celebrated city of the tzars,” exclaimed the great conqueror as he gazed on the Muscovite capital, where he hoped to dictate terms to the monarch of all the Russias. But Napoleon was mistaken. Entering Moscow he found it deserted, except for solitary figures flitting here and there among bazaars and warehouses stored with the treasures of the orient, and stately palaces rising from the midst of spacious and beautiful gardens. The inhabitants had fled, and in such haste that jewelry and gems were left on the dressing- tables of the rich, and in their wardrobes were the finest of silks and furs. But what meant these strange apparitions haunting the city of the dead where silence reigned supreme, and none were left to explain the reason of its desertion? He was soon to know what they meant. On the following day a fire destroyed the group of buildings known as the bazaar, filled with the costly fabrics of Persia and India, with the choicest wines and with the luxuries of Western Europe. What the flames did not consume fell to the lot of the soldiers, each of whom helped himself to all the spoils he could carry. At nightfall a gale set in and carried the conflagration into the wealthiest portions of the city, tongues of flame leaping from house to house as if mocking all efforts to stay them. Men let loose from jail, crazed with strong drink and with blazing torches in hand, were caught in the act of spreading the flames in quarters where the wind had not borne them. Arrested and threatened with death, at length they revealed the secret; orders had been given that Moscow must be burned to the ground, as were the towns and villages, the stores of provisions, and all else that could be destroyed on Napoleon's line of march! If the Russian armies could not withstand him, then cold and hunger should do the work which the sword had failed to accomplish.
Incendiaries caught red-handed were shot at sight or hanged on gibbets; but even this had no effect; for all had been promised a free passport to heaven should their lives be forfeited in the cause of holy Russia. The pumps had been removed, and even if water could be had it would be of no avail against this solid mass of flame beaten down by the gale on the roofs of doomed buildings, while deafening explosions heard above the roar of the conflagration hurled blazing beams far into the midst of distant streets, spreading the scourge where before it was not. Presently a change in the wind carried the fire toward the Kremlin, where exposed to the conflagration were the French ammunition trains and in the arsenal 100,000 pounds of gunpowder. Then even Napoleon turned pale, as from the belfry of the tall tower of Ivan the Great he gazed on this awesome spectacle. "These people are genuine Scythians,” he exclaimed, while mounting his horse he made his way with difficulty which through the blazing streets amid showers of sparks and burning cinders. Yet returning to the Kremlin, which alone was spared by the conflagration, here, in the vain hope of bringing the tzar to terms, he lingered for weeks before giving the order to retreat. They were fatal weeks that he passed among these smoldering ruins; for now winter was at hand and 400 leagues of snow-covered steppes lay between him and his capital.
Still at the Kremlin stands its old thirteenth century fort, but with modern walls nearly a mile and a half in length enclosing a plateau of nearly 100 acres overlooking the stream of the Moskva. Let us linger for a moment amid this enclosure with its towering spires, its stately domes and towers, its palaces, its Patriarchs’ treasury stored with jeweled vestments and vessels of gold and silver, and its ancient churches with their quaint archaic images. More than six centuries of historic associations are connected with the Kremlin where khans and tzars held court surrounded by throngs of nobles, its annals forming in part the annals of the empire, its glories and its disasters, for there and in the neighborhood was the cradle of Russian nationality. Most venerable of all the church buildings is the Uspensky cathedral, originally a fourteenth century structure, but rebuilt in the fifteenth, and from Lombardo-Byzantine designs with more modern restorations. Of priceless value is the sacred picture attributed to St. Luke, its jeweled cover alone costing 200,000 rubles. Here also are the relics of saints and martyrs, and the throne of Vladimir I, long antedating the dynasty of the Romanoffs. Another fourteenth century cathedral is that of Arkhangelsk, reconstructed in 1505, and much impaired in effect by later alterations.
Here was the former burial place of the tzars, who contributed freely to its treasures, making it probably the wealthiest of Russian church establishments. The Blagoveshchensk cathedral, completed in 1489, was formerly the private chapel of the emperors, and in the Voznesenski convent, erected in 1393, are the tombs of their wives and sisters.
Near the Chudoff monastery, a medieval structure afterward converted into a state prison, is the lofty campanile of Ivan the Great, the cross of whose gilded cupola, rising 330 feet above the pavement, is one of the landmarks of the country round. Of its many great bells one is 144,000 pounds in weight; but this is as nothing compared with the tzar-kolokol, or tzar of bells, which, though 160 years old, still stands where first it stood near the base of the tower, rendered unserviceable by a fracture which occurred during the conflagration of 1737. As the greatest bell in the world it well deserves its title; for it is 21 feet high, with a rim more than 60 feet in circumference and a weight of 431,000 pounds. In the Imperial palace, though a modern edifice, are still preserved the chambers constructed in 1636 for members of the royal family. In the treasury of the tzars, now used as public museums, is a dazzling array of regal paraphernalia, crowns and thrones , furniture and plate of gold and silver, of ivory and precious woods, with dresses of richest stuffs and weapons and carriages galore, both of Russian and Tartar patterns. Finally in the Kremlin library are several hundred Greek and more than a thousand of the rarest of Russian manuscripts.
From one of the several hills adjacent to the Kremlin rise the towering white walls, gilded dome and cupolas of the church of the Savior, mainly Byzantine in structural features, but with a certain stiffness of proportion due to modifications ordered by Nicholas I. The St. Basil cathedral, fronting on one of the finest squares in Moscow, is a gorgeous specimen of oriental architecture, and with a profusion of the bulb-shaped cupolas in which Russian artificers delight. To a similar order belongs the church of the Nativity, its minarets surmounted with crosses elaborately wrought, while the church of the Annunciation is in the plainest style of Muscovite compositions. The Iversky chapel, though profusely decorated, is massive and somewhat gloomy of aspect, as also is the convent of the Passion, with its lofty campanile, fronting on one of the open spaces where peasants meet for traffic.
Among secular buildings the theater is one of the most sightly, with a colonnade of graceful Ionic pillars surmounted by a quadriga, and with elaborate decoration of the somewhat narrow entablature of its main facade. Though first introduced at Kieff, Moscow is the home of the Russian drama, and it was for its stage that Russian playwrights produced their choicest works. There are historic and other museums, that of Prince Golitzyn, containing a valuable collection of paintings and manuscripts, with many archaeological treasures, while in the public museum are some rare old pictures and sculptures, with a library of 200,000 volumes. Scientific associations are plentiful, as also are philanthropic and charitable institutions. The university, founded in 1755, is one of the most popular of all Muscovite seats of learning, for there are few restrictions, and many scholarships for the benefit of the poorer students. It has an excellent library and large collections in zoology, geology, and mineralogy. Other educational establishments place Moscow at least on a par with the northern metropolis.
The Kitay-Gorod is the principal business quarter of Moscow, a group of buildings known as the Gostinoy Dvor, or caravanserai, containing hundreds of stores where is sold about everything that can be purchased for money. Between it and the Kremlin is the Red square, more than half a mile in length, and so called perhaps because that there was the place of execution, the Soubraska and other spacious plazas contrasting with narrow and badly paved streets.
At the exchange, where nearly 2,000 brokers congregate, there is a large aggregate of transactions. There are many banks and substantial mercantile firms, while a feature in the ret ell trade is the rows of old bookshops, seemingly with no lack of patronage. For several centuries Moscow has been a leading emporium of traffic, supplying more than half of Russia and all Siberia with many classes of goods. As a storehouse and mart for European and Asiatic merchandise, its customs revenue is larger than that of St. Petersburg while of domestic produce, and especially of grain, shipments are on a large scale. Several lines of railroad carry from the city more than 10,000,000 tons of freight a year, and 1,000,000,000 rubles is probably a low estimate of the annual value of its commerce.
While except for their pavements, some of the streets have been Europeanized, there is little attempt at street architecture, most of the buildings and thoroughfares having a strong individuality without regard to their neighbors, and modified only to suit the needs of a rapidly increasing population. Side by side with palatial residences are wretched hovels, such as are found only in the slums of western cities, just as the muzhik, or peasant, clad in greasy sheepskin and without a kopeck in his pocket, mingles with the wealthy and well dressed, or gazes on passing carriages whose occupants are arrayed in velvet and furs. Certain quarters are the abode of special communities, as the Konnushenaya, with its wooden tenements and spacious yards, where dwell the poor but proud nobility; and the Zamoskvoryechie, where merchant princes live in splendor, their mansions surrounded with gardens and grounds resembling country estates. The suburbs are remarkably beautiful, with stately edifices set in the midst of parks and woodlands, that of Ostankino containing an imperial palace and the most handsome church building in the outskirts of the metropolis.
Nijni-Novgorod, a colony of Novgorod the Great, is famous for the annual fairs held there since 1817; though such gatherings date from remote iniquity, the site of the fair changing with the ebb and flow of population. During their term, between the 5th of August and the 15th of September, Nijni is a busy and crowded city, at least 250,000 being added to its normal population of 70,000 or 80,000, and exchanging goods to the value of 500,000,000 rubles. At these fairs is largely determined the price of staple commodities, and in other respects they have a powerful and wide-reaching influence on the commerce and manufactures of the empire. On a hill sloping toward the Volga is the Kremlin, a sixteenth century fortress, with a wall considerably more than a mile in length, and enclosing the governor’s residence, the law courts, and other public buildings. Here also are two thirteenth century cathedrals, though more than once rebuilt, and transformed by modern alterations into architectural deformities.
At no great distance lies the western frontier of Siberia, a country about which much has been written but little is generally known, notwithstanding the numerous reports of travelers and explorers extending back to the beginning of the eighteenth century. That it is merely an ice-bound wilderness is a popular misconception; for there are prairies as rich as those of the western United States, plains including vast tracts of fertile lands, highlands with valleys and lakes resembling those of Switzerland, and plateaus affording pasture for millions of cattle. Yet the frozen tundras of the north are of immense extent, and unfitted for human habitation Siberia is in fact a world in itself, and with an infinite variety of physical features; for it covers 120 degrees of longitude and 26 of latitude, with an area of 5,000,000 square miles, or nearly twice the size of the United States, excluding the desert of Alaska. In climate, in scenery, and surface fauna and flora, in races and race characteristics the contrast is stronger than in any country of the earth. There are provinces where the mean temperature in January is 40 degrees to 50 degrees below zero, and there are others where the mean winter temperature is far above that of the New England states. There is a timber belt 3,000 miles in length and 1,000 in average width and the soil varies from the black-earth zone of south-western Siberia which is but a continuation of the Russian steppes , to the morasses that skirt the shore's of the Okhotsk and Bering seas.
The principal grain producing regions of Siberia cover a surface of 225,000,000 acres, of which less than one-twentieth is under crop, though yielding abundantly, supporting 2,500,000 people, and with room for ten times that number. This for southern and western Siberia, while in the central province of Yeniseisk, lying for the most part beyond the Goth parallel, there are 3,500,000 acres in cultivation, the yield of cereals permitting a considerable export. About 3,000,000 horned cattle, at least as many horses, and 5,000,000 sheep are depastured on Siberian hills and plains, finding their winter food beneath a thin covering of snow, for little hay is made. The forests yield an abundant supply of furs, and for game there are antelope, deer, and bear, with wild fowl in innumerable flocks. The production of gold is at the rate of $15,000,000 a year, or larger than that of California; and of silver, copper, lead, and coal there is a moderate output. But both mining and manufactures are still in a backward condition, modern appliances being far from common while with material, at hand for many prosperous industries, the people import nearly all that they consume, apart from farm and animal products. The great Moscow road forms the main line of communication; but there are many waterways navigable in summer and a railroad connecting with the Russian system is being steadily pushed forward to the Pacific seaport of Vladivostok. Inducements are freely offered to the poorer class of emancipated serfs to settle on the public lands; but they would rather starve on a small patch of ground in holy Russia than eat of the fat of the land in Siberia. Nevertheless this is one of the best, outlets for the surplus population of the world.
Irkutsk is the center of Siberian population, commerce, and wealth, and though nearly 4,000 miles from St. Petersburg, its buildings and streets are superior to those of an average Russian town. A conflagration in 1879 destroyed property valued at 30,000,000 rubles, including the government archives and the library and museum of a branch of the Geographical society whose headquarters are at the capital. There are many churches, a theater, hospitals, and other appurtenances of western civilization. Yakutsk, 1,800 miles further in the wilds of Siberia, and toward the northeast, is a place of little importance, with unpaved streets and wooden buildings, though a few well-to-do merchants carry on a profitable trade in furs.
Turning southward to Tiflis, the capital of Russian Caucasia, we have before us a journey extending over more than one-fourth of the earth’s circumference, though neither town is near the extremity of the Russian empire, one lying within a hundred leagues of the Arctic Circle and the other in the latitude of southern Italy. Tiflis has a population of about 150,000 and is of commercial importance as the entrepot of trade with Persia, while its artisans are noted as silversmiths, gunsmiths, and sword-makers. Among its buildings are a grand ducal palace, a cathedral, an opera-house, a museum, clubs, hotels, and other evidences of western civilization. Khiva is virtually a Russian possession, though nominally under the rule of its khan. Bokhara, the capital of a khanate whose territory has been largely reduced by the encroachments of Russia and Afghanistan, was formerly a wealthy capital, known as Bokhara the Noble; though of its ancient splendor there is nothing to remind one in its narrow dirty streets and flat-roofed house s of sun-dried bricks. The mosque of KeIan, built by Timur the Lame, or Tamerlane as his name has been vulgarized, is the largest building, and of other mosques there are at least a hundred, with as many colleges, some of them dating from the middle ages, the finest being that which Abdullah founded in 1372.
In connection with the Russian empire may be mentioned die kingdom of Romania, originally a Roman possession as its name implies, and with a long and eventful history before being recognized by the treaty of Berlin as an independent principality.
It has about 50,000 square miles of area, and nearly 6,000,000 inhabitants supported almost entirely by agriculture; for the rich black soil yields abundantly under modern methods of cultivation, so that Romania ranks next to Russia among grain-exporting countries. Minerals are plentiful, but little utilized, except the salt mines, a government monopoly, and worked in part by convict labor. Bucharest, the capital, founded in the thirteenth century by Prince Radel of Wallachia, played an important part in European annals before King Carol I placed on his head in March, 1881, a crown made from cannon captured at Plevna redoubts. There are more than 200,000 people in this city of churches, cupolas, and minarets, numerous plazas bordered with tall poplars and acacias adding to its picturesque appearance when seen from a distance; but the streets are irregular, and in some quarters there are none at all. The theater is the largest and the academy the finest of the public buildings, the latter containing the chambers of the senate, the university, and a museum of antiquities and specimens in natural history. There is a considerable trade, and at the head of financial institutions are the bank of Romania with a capital of $5,000,000 and the Societe Financiere de Roumanie.
As tradition relates, Servia was colonized about the middle of the seventh century by five Croatian princes, their followers, and their sisters Tuga and Buga, that is to say, Adversity and Prosperity. Later the country became a portion of the Hungarian kingdom, and in the fifteenth century was overrun by the Turks, who destroyed all its churches and monasteries and carried away captive 200,000 people. As a Turkish province it was subject to centuries of oppression; so that in 1830, when Milosh was declared prince with the consent of the Porte, its aristocracy had been almost exterminated, and few were left except the peasants, who tilled the ground, and fed the swine which helped to pay their taxes. Thenceforth the condition of the country gradually improved, and especially after its independence was established by the treaty of Berlin, Alexander I ruling over 2,500,000 contented and prosperous subjects. Agriculture is conducted in patriarchal fashion, many of the villages consisting only of a single homestead occupied by a group of families related by blood and subject to a starcshina, or patriarch, who distributes the labor and its proceeds without complaint. All work together on lands which they own in common, eat and drink together in a common hall, and spend their evenings in harmless pastimes with their children. Gold is gathered in the valley of the Timok; and there are gold and silver mines said to have been worked by the Romans, while lead and iron are plentiful, and of coal there are many deposits, one of them twenty miles in length and eight in breadth. Belgrade, the capital, is increasing rapidly, and assuming a modern aspect, mosques and minarets falling into decay and giving place to more useful structures. There are the royal a cathedral and episopal palaces, several churches, a theater devoted to the national drama, and many educational institutions. If not wealthy, the people of Servia are well-to-do, and in common with other countries formerly subject to Turkish misrule, desire nothing better than to be left alone.
Miscellany—At the close of 1895 a grand bazaar was opened in the Winter palace at St. Petersburg under the patronage of the empress Alexandra whose stall was filled with the choicest products of the imperial porcelain works. Contributions were forwarded from every quarter of the empire, and from many foreign lands, three continents and at least a score of nations being represented in these collections.
In the first room was the stall of the queen of Romania, with those of Greece and Japan, the former containing rich stuffs and the latter vases and lacquers. In the Turkish and Egyptian stall were magnificent canopies and embroideries, attar of roses, and strange looking boxes of sweet-meats. Italy had some of her choicest mosaics and glassware, and Austria some beautiful specimens of cut glass. England sent a number of useful articles and the United States a quantity of silverware, among which was an enormous silver punch-bowl. France furnished an entire picture-gallery, and in what was known as the Raphael gallery hot-house flowers were sold by duchesses at prices which added largely to the receipts of this Russian charity fair.
The trousseau of the empress of Russia cost $250,000, apart from an enormous quantity of precious stones, furs, laces, and cloth of silver and gold. Articles furnished by the Russian court were sent under seal, and during the preparations a court official was always on hand to see that there was no stealing or substitution of inferior goods.
A Russian dinner service is thus described by one who was on terms of intimacy with many of the noblesse. "The table was a great square of oak, as black as ink and as polished as marble, but without covering except for strips of splendid old altar lace laid under the plates. In the middle were two rows of candlesticks of the beautiful Venetian glass, which Iras the milky green of shallow sea-water thickly powdered with gold-dust, and with shades of delicate gold filigree set over pale violet silk. There were thirty or forty tiny gold vases filled with small clusters of white and purple violets, and at each plate stood a small forest of wine-glasses, all gems of Venetian art, and forming a mass of translucent color in amethyst green and gold. The knives, forks, and spoons were themselves works of art, with handles of gold and carved ivory, of porcelain, or of beautiful Russian enamel and cisele work."
In the Winter palace there is a service of silver plate overlaid with gold that will furnish covers for 500 guests. It was made for the emperor Paul near the close of the eighteenth century, and is still occasionally brought out on state occasions. The table of the tzar is usually furnished with chinaware of ordinary pattern, though better than was used by Nicholas I, whose board was set with coarse, heavy plates, and cups of enormous size and of the commonest make.
At Copenhagen was recently built for the tzar a new steam yacht 370 feet in length, with a displacement of 5,200 tons and compound engines of 5,300 horsepower. In the grand saloon is accommodation for 60 guests, and the interior furnishings are on a magnificent scale, for Nicholas must have his costly playthings, though to his subjects it is a life-long struggle to pay their taxes. Alexander III and his family spent much of their time on board the yacht Czarewna, making trips along the coast in quiet unpretentious style, for the Czarewna was a much smaller and less expensive vessel, the emperor’s cabin having only room enough for a writing table, a emperor sofa, and a chair.
The last illness of Alexander III cost 10,000,000 rubles, of which 600,000 rubles went to the doctors.
Hebrew traders thrive in Russia as elsewhere in the world, even making money by smuggling their people out of Russia at so much per head. In some provinces the peasantry are at the mercy of the Jews, who hold mortgages on their lands and growing crops, acting as their brokers and charging such rates of interest and commission as to keep their victims always in debt. In Romania they are dreaded worse than an army of Russian troops; and elsewhere it has been said that they bring nothing into the country and take out of it every ruble that comes in their way. The Russian Quakers of the Caucasus were also subject to persecution, being driven without means of subsistence from comfortable homes acquired by many years of toil.
Early in the tenth century Oleg, whom Rurik, grand prince of Novgorod, appointed guardian of his son Igor, conducted an expedition against Byzantium, dragging his ships across the land on reaching the Bosphorus, whose channel the Greeks had blockaded. After committing many atrocities, as described by the Russian historian Karamzin, he withdrew on receiving a large ransom from the emperor Leo the Philosopher. In 941 Igor laid siege to the Byzantine capital, but was overpowered through the use of Greek fire, and few of his followers escaped. The next year he undertook another expedition, compelling the city to purchase its deliverance at enormous cost, and even with this he was not content until persuaded by his advisers. “What more can we want," they said, “than to have gold and silver without fighting?" While at this period the Norsemen were overrunning northern and Western Europe, they had never before penetrated so far south as Constantinople.
Ivan the Terrible devoted much of his leisure to collecting Greek and Latin manuscripts, of which it was believed he stored away several hundred in the cellars of his palace at the Kremlin, many of them as yet unknown to the world, and such as may change accepted traditions as to the classic writers. Here are also supposed to be many valuable documents belonging to the khans and to ancient Russian princes, with family heirlooms in the form of jewelry and plate. A search made by order of Alexander III proved unsuccessful, but it is probable that these treasures will yet be brought to light.
Kostomoroff draws a gloomy picture of the condition of affairs during the Muscovite despotism, when from the highest to the lowest everyone stole what he could to indemnify himself for the burdens laid upon him. "To cheat the government," he says, "to take its money, sell the justice which they dispensed in its name, and pillage the provinces they were charged to administer, became among the public functionaries of ancient Muscovy an accepted and hereditary custom." The government made no attempt to repress such practices unless peculation was carried to an extreme. "To receive food" was the term used for securing an office, the request being made about as follows: “I. thy faithful slave, am reduced to beggary, and my servants perish under the stick of the tax-gatherer. Give me then this place that I may feed myself a little."
Though in Russia 85 percent of the population can neither read nor write, there are published about 8,000 new books a year, or nearly twice as many as in the United States, the first work issued being the Apostol, printed in 1564 by Ivan Feodoroff, in honor of whom a monument was recently erected at Moscow. In the Book of Household Management, probably by the monk Sylvester, at one time the trusted adviser of Ivan the Terrible, is a curious picture of ancient Russian customs and barbarisms and especially in relation to women who were then treated almost as slaves. Pososhkoff's Poverty and Riches, a treatise on political economy, was the most valuable contribution in the age of Peter the Great. The second half of the eighteenth century, and especially the reign of Catherine II, abounds in literary productions borrowed from the French, but among them were few of merit. Nicholas Karamzin, historian, poet, and novelist, was the foremost author of the time of Alexander I, his fame resting chiefly on his History of the Russian Empire. Ivan Kriloff was a pleasing writer of story and verse, his sketches containing vigorous descriptions of national life. Poushkin and Lermentoff were famous poets in their day, the latter being of Scotch extraction and finding his inspiration in the wild mountain scenery of the Caucasus. Kostomorof was among the foremost of modern historic writers; Nicholas Gogol ranked first among novelists, at least until Turgenieff made his appearance, though Tolstoy is perhaps more widely read than any Russian author. In this connection may be mentioned the Chronicle of Nestor, a Kievan monk who has been termed the father of history, his eleventh century manuscript forming a most valuable compilation of early Russian annals, and the first link in a chain of historic records extending to the days of Mikhailovich, father of Peter the Great.
The travels of Marco Polo late in the thirteenth century extended, as it seems, even to Siberia, of which country at least he pretends to know somewhat. “They subsist." he says, "on milk and the flesh of their cattle, and have no corn.” When it comes to the Land of Darkness, the impenetrable beyond, it is refreshing to hear him discourse. "The Tartars sometimes visit the country, and they do it in this way. They enter the region riding mares that have foals they leave behind. After taking all the plunder they can get, they find their way back by the help of the mares. These people have vast quantities of valuable peltry, costly sables, ermine, the black fox, of which they amass amazing quantities."
Of the total population of the empire 80 percent or nearly 100,000,000 people belong to the peasant class, probably one-third of that number being emancipated serfs or their offspring. As in the southern states of our own country the immediate effect of the emancipation was disastrous both from an economic and social point of view, bringing ruin on landlords and filling the towns with vagrants. Most of the serfs, however, retained their homesteads and received a small allotment of arable land for which they paid rent, often in the form of personal labor, the crown later relieving them from all obligations to proprietors who nevertheless contrived to steal most of their little holdings. The average was less than ten acres, whereas 30 or 40 acres were needed for the support of a family, and thus lands must be rented at extravagant prices, with the final result that a large percentage of the people were compelled to leave their homes and wander through the country in search of employment. As late as 1890 the peasants in many provinces had not rye-bread sufficient for more than half the year, and in the seasons of famine that followed the condition of affairs was simply appalling, thousands perishing daily from actual starvation, or from diseases incurred by eating unwholesome food.
No boat must appear on the Neva upon the breaking up of winter until the stream be officially declared open; when the ice has pretty well disappeared, a cup of water from the river, is presented by the governor of the citadel to the emperor who drinks it and returns the cup filled with ducats; then a gun is fired and instantly the river is covered with boats.