Imatges de pàgina

original poems, has translated into the Russian language some of Lord Byron's most esteemed compositions. To the former his Majesty has granted a pension of 3000 roubles (1327. 10s.) a-year, and to the latter one of 2000 roubles (887.).

Russian literature, since the appearance of its reformer and most brilliant star, Lomonossoff, has been rapidly improving in all its branches. In the severer style of prose, the death of Karamsin, which took place on the 3d of June, at the Taurida Palace, has left a chasm which will not readily be filled up. Karamsin is unquestionably the greatest historian that the Russians possess, and his name will rank deservedly high among historical writers of modern times. He died at the early age of forty-nine, of a complaint in the chest. A contemporary of Karamsin, Muraviev, who was tutor to Alexander, excelled in historical and epistolary literature: he followed the footsteps of Lomonossoff, and formed his style by the study of the Slavonic language. The writers on the belles-lettres, since the beginning of the present century, have made advances in correctness of style and purity of diction, which have rendered the study of the Russian language an almost fashionable attainment.

It is in poetry, however, that the modern Russians have made more rapid progress, especially in the lyric department. The name of Alexander Pouschkine, the Byron of Russia, is probably familiar to most English readers. He made his début when only fourteen years of age, being then a student at the Imperial Lyceum; and at the age of nineteen he composed the celebrated poem of Rouslan and Ludmilla, superior for beauty to any thing that had been before published in Russia. He has since produced several other works, although not yet in the twenty-ninth year of his age. My literary readers are doubtlessly ac

quainted with the temporary displeasure which this youthful and ardent lyrical poet excited in the highest quarter, previous to the accession of Nicholas, by his "Ode to Liberty." The Russians are indebted to him for a translation of Shakspeare's King Lear.

The fabulists of merit have been numerous in Russia. Soumarokoff, who also wrote some indifferent tragedies, was the first to introduce that species of poetry. His fables, however, are rather imitations, or translations of foreign works. He was succeeded by Khemnitzer, who died in 1784, and whose life has been written in a strain, I am told, of creditable eloquence by the President d'Olenine, who afforded me, in conversation, the greater part of the information upon my present subject. The great features of Khemnitzer's character was an amiable disposition and abstraction, that of his work naïveté, which some have affected to regard as commonplace. In this career of practical writing, four competitors have appeared about the same time, who seem to dispute with him the palm of preeminence. Dmitrieff and Kriloff, the first rank, Izmaïloff and B. Pouschkine, in the second. The productions of the former are considered as masterpieces of elegance and simplicity; but he is not original, having borrowed most of his ideas from foreign writers. Kriloff has more merit in this respect. He is equally powerful and original. His Fables are considered as the most complete work of the Russian Parnassus. They form a distinct epoch in Russian poetry, to which they have secured the claim of originality in this department. The public in Russia has taken more interest in such compositions since their appearance, than had been excited by any other similar publications.

The romantic school, which has endeavoured to spread its dominions in all the most civilized parts of Europe within the

last twenty years, boasts of a few distinguished writers. even in Russia. Eugene Baratinsky is one of the most eminent among them. He is not totally free from the accusation of too closely imitating Alexander Pouschkine; but his forte is elegy; his style being more pathetic than that of the youthful poet. Eda, a Finlandish Tale, in verse, by Baratinsky, is a work of great merit. This descriptive poem was published the year before my visit to St. Petersburgh. At the head of this school must be placed M. Joukovsky, whom I have had occasion to mention on two former occasions, and whom I found in the enjoyment of very high reputation as a lyric and dramatic poet, and a writer of polite literature of the greatest merit. He began to publish his works in 1805, from which time. sprang that taste for the romantic, which is daily making rapid progress. His "Svetlana" is said to be a very beautiful ballad. In his delineations of the passions he is accused of weakness, although great merit is allowed him for his descriptions; his endeavours to add strength to his style have often rendered him obscure and unintelligible.

Among the more modern living poets, the fair sex boasts of Mademoiselle Zenaïde Volkonsky, who published an Ode to the Memory of the late Emperor, said to be of great merit.

In dramatic literature, very little originality, and many indifferent imitations or translations exist at present; yet there are some authors of merit even in this department. Prince Chakhovsky, whose mock-heroic poem, entitled the "Theft of the Pelisses," probably suggested by Tassoni's Secchia Rapita, has been considered lively and well written, claims the united titles of a prolific Vaudeville and comedy writer, and of a fertile and elevated tragedian. His productions in both these departments are said to be very numerous. Zagoskine is another modern dramatic author of

great power and originality of humour. Of translators from the French Repertoire, the number is considerable; but the most able amongst them are Labanov, Gnieditch, Gendre, Katenine, and Prince Chakhovsky himself.

It may be stated, in conclusion, that in literature, the Russians have made more rapid progress within the last fifty years, than in the other branches of knowledge which they, however, cultivate with no small degree of ardour. According to M. Sopikoff, who published an Essay on Russian Bibliography, in five volumes, it appears, that although the art of printing was introduced in Russia one hundred and fifteen years after its invention, and eighty years after its introduction by Caxton in England, not fewer than 80,000 volumes, in the Slavonic Russian languages, have been published between 1551 and 1813; and from the information I obtained at the different booksellers at St. Petersburgh, as well as from an examination of catalogues of works printed since the last mentioned period, that number may be looked upon as having been nearly doubled since. In point of typography, St. Petersburgh has no reason to envy other nations. The printers in that city produce works executed in a much superior style to the Germans, equally as good as the French, and only inferior, as are all other nations, except the Italians, to the English.

Periodical literature, including newspapers, cannot be said to have flourished at any period in St. Petersburgh. Some exceptions ought perhaps to be made in favour of the present time, when a few really excellent publications of that kind are conducted with great spirit, and are, I understood, greatly encouraged by the superior and middle classes of society. Although it is not my intention to enumerate the writers who have distinguished themselves in this branch of literature, I cannot omit stating, that M. Greitsch, one of the Imperial Librarians, of whose Russian

Grammar I have already made honourable mention, is the editor of one of the most reputed journals published in Russia, and well known in other parts of Europe. M. Boulgarine, his ex-editor, whom I had the pleasure of knowing at St. Petersburgh, is the author of a series of papers in the manner of the Spectator, which have met with the greatest success, and have been since collected in two volumes, handsomely printed, and embellished with some highly finished engravings by Russian artists. This gifted and pleasing writer is now engaged in a work, entitled The Russian Gil Blas, intended to paint the manners and customs of the different classes of society in the capital and the provinces. For the following list of the periodicals now published in St. Petersburgh and at Moscow, I am indebted to Count Laval, who is himself the responsible director of one of the official papers published at the Department for Foreign Affairs, and it may, therefore, be relied upon as correct. It does not, indeed, present such a display of political and literary information as a list published in the British capital would exhibit; but neither is it so totally devoid of interest, or so insignificant, as some recent travellers have pretended.

1. Journal de St. Petersbourgh, Politique et Litteraire, in French; official. Published every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. This paper, written in the purest French, frequently contains articles of great interest on literature, the fine arts, and some judicious remarks on theatricals.

2. The Invalid.-A military journal, in which are inserted all military promotions, as well as the civil preferments of importance. It is published daily in Russian; and the profits arising out of it are given in aid of the funds of the Institution for Invalid Soldiers.

3. Gazette of St. Petersburgh, in Russian, published under the auspices of the Imperial Academy of Sciences, re

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