Page images

If it is the general lot of projects that they ase well meant but are seldom practicable, it cannot be alleged against ours, that they ftand on ideal grounds. Convinced that the total abolition of Navery is yet wound up with infuper able difficulties, and that só beneficial a reform is not to be produced by law and power, lo much as by a change in thinking, and by greater cuidization of the mind, we have laid our foundation in the present state of the people, and endeavoured only to bring this important truth into notice, that to alleviate moderately the grievances of the peasant, and to secure him against arbitrary power, are the best means of giving vigour to agriculture. What statesman, or what really enlightened landlord, will doubt or dispute the truth and importance of this proposition? And is it too much to hope, that this falutary change should take place in the age of Catharine the Second, in an age which, by its wisdom and cultivation, forms the most brilliant epoch in the Russian history, and is particularly celebrated for its improvements in agriculture?"

The flavery of the peasants cannot, perhaps, be removed without injury to the constitution of Russia. The admisfion of fo great a body of men to the common rights of humanity, would necessarily diminish the despotism of the fovereign: as one extreme would be raised in society, the other would be in fome degree lowered; and it may justly be doubted, whether the change could be effected without a convulsion in the empire.

We now quit with relu&tance this well-informed and entertaining writer, whose methodical arrangement and accuracy of defcription have enabled us to travel with eafe and pleasure through this enormous empire. Whether we wished to trace the origin of each people, to mark the causes of the difference of manters in various parts of the empire, to learn the ftate of the population and the variety of the produce of different foils, to explore the wonders of the Siberian mountains, to wander with the Kamtfchadal or Samoied over the snowy plains by the frozen sea, or conLraft them with the Circassian on the heights of Caycafus, we every where found instruction united with entertaina ment, and statistics blended with real patriotism. A translation of this performance, we understand, has been under, taken by a person well acquainted with Russia, and with the language in which the work is written; and we cruft that it will prove an acceptable present to the English reader,

[ocr errors]

Gemählde von St. Petersburg von Heinrich Storck. Riga,

. View of Petersburg. 2 Vols. 8vo. 155. boards, Imported.

by Escher. This is a full, and frequently an animated, description of the institutions and buildings of Petersburg, and of the manners, and custoins of the inhabitants. Much information has been given on these points by British travellers; but the time and study employed upon this work by one fo well qualified to investigate every part of the subject, must give it a superiority over the accounts of those writers.

On the mode of life and the hospitality of the Peterf. burghers, our author's remarks are very interesting ; and we might contrast the following statement of the expence of servants in the capital of Russia, with what we have learned of the expence of the same service in North America.

Servants in Petersburg form one of the most expenfive articles for all who are not proprietors of land. The custom of keeping many servants has become general in this city. In the houses of the nobility, where the servants are Naves, their number exceeds all belief. This example, on the one hand, excites imitation in the middle ranks, and, on the other, produces indolence in the common people. Even the ordinary business of the house, for which one female servant in Germany would be fufficient, is here thought to require at least three men.

Women are never employed on any occafion which requires them to appear in the 'drawing-room, or to go into the streets; their departments are the kitchen, the wash-house, and the nursery. Every other fervice is performed by men. For almost every employment one is obliged to keep a man; and the demands of these fervants are exorbitant. A man who dresses hair and shaves has from twelve to fifteen rubels every month, and a cook twenty or more, befides board. Agreements for hire are monthly; and this circumitance, together with the great ease of getting into fervice, is the chief cause of the bad qualities of this class of people, the subject of daily complaint. This inconvenience is less felt by those who can possess or purchase slaves : the last is a privilege belonging only to the nobles and the military and civil officers of high rank. The common price of a lad is three hundred rubels; that of a girl, a hundred.

When the Russians fhall become so enlightened as to make themselves free, one servant, without doubt, will do the work of half a dozen of those poor wretches who

have fcarcely any motive for exertion ; for the observations of travellers in all parts of the world, where slavery is allowed, tend to prove that it is the most expensive, as well as the most disgraceful mode of service. Of the social life of the Petersburghers the following passages will give fome idea.

Sociability is here a very different thing from what it is in most countries of Europe, with whose manners and cuftoms we are acquainted. It does not fix itself only among friends and intimate acquaintance, as in England, where friendship, not sociability, seems to have domefticated itself. It is not confined to entertainment, as in Germany, where, with the soul satisfied and an hungry stomach, a person takes his leave at supper-time, or where a whole company is collected to enjoy a cup of coffee. Our sociable turn consists in the common enjoyment of all the comforts of life. Bufiness and forrow each man keeps to himself and his confidential friends : all the rest is common property, which seems to belong less to the giver than to his companions. Not merely the idle hours which must otherwise be spent between sleeping and waking, or a few days of festival, on which the mantle of pride is decorated with ridiculous expence, or the superfluities of felf-interested gluttony, are here offered to social enjoyment! Noi Each open day, every moment free from labour and care, are dedicated to social participation !

• The times in which a Petersburgher in good circumstances is the most fond of a visit, are precisely those which in Germany are avoided—the times of dinner and supper. Then is every one free from care and open-hearted, free from all business, and at leisure for entertainment. He who is deliberately invited to a house, has perpetual admiffion when he pleases. The first visit usually determines that point. If, at parting, no other invitation follows, fuch an acquaintance is not farther to be cultivated. When the gueft is agreeable to the hoft, he either names to him, at the end of the first visit, his visiting days, or requests him to make the house his home.'

From this specimen of the manners of Petersburgh, it is evident that a stranger may enjoy himself in that capital; and, if the fight of lazy flaves did not detract from his enjoyment, we should say that he was unworthy of the blessings of libesty. But, in the perusal of this work, we were happy to see repeated proofs that the iron yoke of despotism is gradually becoming lighter ; and perhaps one or iwo centuries will bring the Russians to all the enjoy. ments of rational civilisation,


In this performance, a very good view is given of Ruffian literature, arts, and feiences and, from some poetical translations, the northern Muse promises to captivate by her strains. even the more refined ears of the southern' Extropeans. Various anecdotes are also interspersed ; and every visitant of Petersburg will find his advantage in the perusal of this work, which will, we doubt not, be


into his hands on his arrival, as his best guide to every object worthy of notice in that metropolis..

Mélanges extraits des Manuscrits de Madame Necker. Paris,

1798. Miscellanies extracted from the Manuscripts of Madame

Necker. 3 Vols. 8vo. 185. Boards. Imported by De Boffe. THE general interest with which Madame Necker's Reflections upon Divorce were received, induced her huss band to publith these Miscellanies. She had accustomed herself, from an early age, to commit her thoughts to paper, and consequently left many manuscripts. «The rare also ciation of brilliant talents with a severe morality and the most folid religious sentiments, will not (fays M. Necker) be seen with indifference in these writings. The language and the style of Madame Necker, almost always adorned with imagery, never ferved her but to express just yiews and reasonable sentiments. It was amidst a certain number of principles that her reflection travelled; but the collected much within a boundary which the authors of the age found too confined: this the did without difficulty, without effort, both in writing to her friends and in conversing with herself. All her thoughts were connected with that great chain which unites mankind among themfelves by benevolence and charity, and which raises them even to heaven by faith and by hope. She had placed her personal interest in the performance of her duty; the reft was an amusement to her; and all the glories of the world would not have relieved her from the consuming chagrin which (I will not say the flighteft remorse, but) even a momentary indifference to her rigid scruples, would have occafioned in her breast. Never, I believe, were seen so great an extent of mind, and so great a freedom of imagina. tion, with so many restraints of conduct. The faculties of this lady allowed her to traverse an indefinite fpace; and her principles were immovable. Thus, with a daily progress in her perceptions and in her acquirements, she had preserved an innocence of heart, which, prolonging hep

ooral youth, diffused many graces over her person. A Atriking contrast ! She saw all the developements of selflove, all the arts of vanity, all the convulsions of the paffions; and Me scarcely ever believed in perfidious defigns or treacherous craft.--She particularly delighted in the society of men of letters: no one had too much genius for her; but it is remarkable, that, after having passed a great part of her life in their society, and at an qoch when modern philosophy had most boldness, her religious opinions never underwent the flighteft alteration; and, without abruptness, but with a continual vigilance, she changed the conversation which might have wounded her in her first sentiment, in the respect which she bore to the Supreme Being. No kind of bigotry, or of minute ceremony, accompanied this respect; it was great, noble, ele vated, and always proper, if any can be proper, for a worship addressed to the Sovereign Master of the Universe. This respect, mingled with a holy love, had a character which, I believe, is very rare; it was essentially founded upon gratitude, and would have fubfifted in all its force, without fear and without hope. Yet Madame Necker had had her share of the vicissitudes of life : she had known, at the age of twenty-four years, the miseries which spring from a total want of fortune, and which are always so bitterly felt when they are joined to a liberal education. She was afterwards subject to neryous disorders fo painful, that the gradually lost the comfort of sleep; and, obliged by day to yield to movements of agitation, the kept herself standing even in company, and obtained a little rest only when in the bath. Amidst her last, her tender regrets, amidit the acute pains which she suffered near the end of her life, she always recollected her past prosperity, and rassed her hands towards the Supreme Being, to thank nim for his goodness. God! what an example! Who can fiatter himielf with the power of imitating it? I know not whether there ever existed a piety more simple, and more proper to give a juft idea of the relations of a virtuous and feeling loul with the Divinity. How often have those relations given to Madame Necker a penetrating eloquence !

see "_faid she in an instruction left to her daughter," you see me upon the limits that feparate life from eternity. I place my hand upon one and upon the other, to attest by both the existence of a God, and the happiness arising from virtue !"

Ah! how imposing is this declaration from a mouth so pure! It inspires courage against the doubts and the systems of the age.'

« Yes --you


« PreviousContinue »