Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB

of reading, registering, revising, protocolling, precis-writing, and index-making, in several distinct rooms of the department, out of which it comes stamped in many places to benefit the revenue, scribbled all over with notes and corrections on the four turned-down corners of the paper-with signatures, initials, figures, written indications of having been referred backwards and forwards, additional scraps of paper pinned to it, and pièces illustratives tacked to it with ribbons of all colours; so that the original document, and frequently the subject-matter of it, are lost in such an interminable farrago. I speak from experience; not in my own case, thank heaven! but in that of some of my dearest friends, and submit that so preposterous a system amounts nearly to a mockery of justice and redress, occasioned by the waste of time and money to which it gives rise in cases of a public as well as of a private nature. As I before observed, I am not master of the manner in which a system somewhat similar, though professedly more simplified, succeeds in St. Petersburgh, nor am I aware of the effects it produces; but this I know, that there, too, in the few opportunities which I had of seeing such things, original applications to any one of the heads or superior officers of the several ministerial departments from private individuals; or the common representation, report, or exposé of one branch of a department to another, had been made to go through so many successive steps before they reached their ultimate destination, that the most tenuous affair had bulged out into almost unnatural dimensions. I have heard some of the principal persons in office, remarkable for their good sense and ingenuity, admit all the force of this defect; and his present Majesty is known to be striving to remedy it by that sort of gradual reform, which can alone be safely adopted in a case which, to use a professional expression, had become almost chronic.

In speaking of various nations, a cosmopolite, as I profess to be, is more likely to be impartial. If, therefore, I venture, while on this subject, to recommend for imitation to the two nations which have formed the subject of this digression, the admirable system of simplicity known to exist both in the Home and Foreign Offices in England, I shall not be taxed with any undue admiration for the institutions of a country in whose naval service I have had the honour of spending twenty years of my life.

CHAPTER VI.

PICTURE OF ST. PETERSBURGH.

Buildings and Institutions connected with the Administration of Government. The SENATE HOUSE. · Code in the handwriting

[ocr errors]

of Catherine II. ternal arrangement.

The ADMIRALTY. - Buildings, plan, and in

Its Cabinets of Natural History and National Curiosities. The Model Rooms. - General Bentham and the Carriage-ship. — Launch of the Alexander, 110 guns, and two other ships of the line. Their conveyance to Cronstadt. - Russian Navy. The ÉTAT-MAJOR. Departments of Geography, Hydrography, and Land-Surveying. The Lithographic Department. — Depôt of Maps and sale of them. - Great Map of the Russian Empire. Secret Geographical Cabinet. Travelling Maps of Alexander. — Autograph Schemes of Alexander, for Reviews and Sham-Fights. - Topography of the different Governments. - Manufactories of Mathematical Instruments. The Printingpress Department.—The Chancellerie.—The Library.— Autograph Letters of Peter the Great. The War-game. The Incombustible Hall. — Military Archives from the time of Peter the Great. - Domestic Establishment of the People resident in the Palace of the État-Major. General Observations. The CHATEAU St. Michel. The Corps du Genie. -The ARSENALS.- The FOUNDERY. The COLLEGES. The POST-OFFICE. The present System.Distribution of Letters. Private Post-office for cor

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small]

responding with the Emperor. Revenue of the Post-office. The CITADEL. The MINT. General Enumeration of other Public Buildings connected with the Administration of the Civil and Military Government at St. Petersburgh.

THE public buildings and institutions connected with the administration of government in St. Petersburgh are numerous, and, like every thing else, on a scale larger than

is to be met with in other capitals. The extent of the Empire and fifty-three millions of inhabitants seem to require them to be so. St. Petersburgh is the centre to which necessarily converge every question and transaction of public interest, mooted or occurring in every part of the Empire, even in the most distant provinces, from Abo to the Pacific Ocean, and from Astracan to Kamtchatka. With the example of the most civilized nations in Europe before them, and the happy effects already existing, of the slowly and dearly bought experience of those nations, the founder of the modern capital of Russia and his successors were enabled to frame, at once, such a system of public administration as was likely to suit a people about to become European, and to erect the necessary edifices for each of its numerous branches, on a plan of useful precision and commensurate magnitude, likely to surpass the models from which they were borrowed. To accomplish this, Peter, Catherine, Alexander, and now Nicholas, have courted foreign as well as native talent; and in the construction of that class of public buildings, which it is the object of the present chapter to describe, as well as in the internal arrangement and distribution of the affairs to be transacted within them, architects and men of such talents for business were engaged, as were likely at once to place the whole machinery for the public service on the most effective footing. That such has been in reality the case will be seen from what follows.

The Senate-house is the first of the public buildings connected with the government of the country, which presents itself to our notice. In its exterior it is not, perhaps, one of the most remarkable edifices of the capital, but for its extent, and the importance of its destination, it claims a specific mention. The front of the building faces the statue of Peter the Great, and from its situation forms the north-west angle of the Place d'Isaac. One side ex

tends along the English Quay, of which it forms the beginning, and the other looks into a long and handsome street called the Galernaia. The three insulated façades, represented partly in the frontispiece-plate to the first Volume, and partly in that which gives a view of the English Quay, exhibit a plain basement story, which is surmounted by a principal one, and ornamented by tetrastyle Ionic porticos, as remarkable for their size and chaste severity, as is the entire building for its simplicity. It were better, perhaps, had the surface been washed with a composition of a delicate stone-colour, instead of the present staring deep yellow, singularly contrasted with the dazzling white of the columns.

The building, seen within the inner court has the form of a quadrangle, covering an area of fourteen thousand square feet, and is occupied by the different offices of the Senate. Its interior exhibits nothing beyond a continued. suite of apartments, many of them of large dimensions, but furnished in the simplest manner imaginable, and decorated merely with the full-length portraits of Catherine and other sovereigns of Russia. In one of the halls, which serves as the conference-room, within a species of temple made of solid silver, and very handsome, the original manuscripts of the code of laws given by that Empress, are preserved; all of which are said to be in her own handwriting. The great extent of public business transacted by the Senate, necessarily requires a vast number of employés, who, with the several applicants and other persons interested in matters subject to this department, attend daily in this place, and give to the establishment, even at so early an hour as ten o'clock in the morning, an air of bustle which can only be compared to that witnessed in the long-room and other offices of the new Custom-house in London. On one occasion, wishing to speak with one of the principal senators, whom I found at his post as early as the hour just mentioned, I had to wade

« AnteriorContinua »