Page images

wine, all of which is uncommon fun to every body but the unfortunate victim. Thus the time passes away pleasantly enough, after all, taking into view the variety of incidents and scenes which constantly occupy the attention of a looker-on. I had taken a deck-passage for

o seues which consigo copy the at cheapness, and made out to get through the night by bundling myself up on a pile of baggage, and catching a few cat-naps whenever the noise created by these lively young gentlemen would permit of such a feat.

By seven o'clock in the morning we were steering into the harbor of Revel.


REVEL AND HELSINGFORS. Few cities within the limits of the Russian dominions possess greater historic interest than Revel. Although its commerce is limited to a few annual shipments of hemp, flax, and tallow, produced in the province of Esthonia, and the importation of such articles of domestic consumption as the peasants require, it occupies a prominent position as a naval dépôt for Russian vessels of war, and is much frequented in summer by the citizens of St. Petersburg as a bathing-place and general resort of pleasure. A steamer leaves daily for Revel and Hel. singfors, which, during the bathing season, is crowded with passengers, as in the case of my own trip, of which I have already given you a sketch. The approach to the harbor, in the bright morning sun, is exceedingly picturesque. Beyond the forest of masts and spars, with gayly-colored flags and streamers spread to the breeze, rises a group of ancient buildings on the rocky eminence called the Domberg, comprising the castle, the residences of the governor and commandant, and various palaces and quarters of the nobility, surrounded by Gothic walls and strong fortifications. This ancient and picturesque pile has been termed the Acropolis of Revel, though beyond the fact that it overlooks the lower town and forms a prominent feature in the scenic beauties of the place, it is difficult to determine in what respect it can bear a comparison with the famous Acropolis of Athens. However, I have observed that travelers find it convenient to discover resemblances of this kind where none exist, as a means of rounding off their descriptions; and since the Kremlin is styled the Acropolis of Moscow, I see no reason why Revel should not enjoy the same sort of classic association. It is to be hoped that when Russian travelers visit San Francisco, they will, upon the principle adopted by tourists in their country, do us the justice to designate Russian Hill as the Acropolis of San Francisco; and should they visit Sacramento during the existence of a flood, I have no doubt they can find a pile of bricks or a whisky barrel sufficiently elevated above the general level to merit the distinctive appellation of an Acropolis. Revel has suffered more frequent changes of government, and passed through the bands of a greater variety of rulers, than any city, perhaps, in the whole of Northern Europe. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries it was a province of Denmark; subsequently it fell into the hands of the Swedes, and in 1347 became a possession of the Livonian Knights, a chivalrous and warlike order, who built castles, lived in a style of great luxuriance, killed, robbed, and plundered the people of the surrounding countries, and otherwise distinguished themselves as gentlemen of the first families, not one of them having ever been known to perform a day's useful labor in his life. Such, indeed, was the heroic character of these doughty knights, that, having plunged the whole country into ruin and distress, the peasants, driven to desperation, rose upon them in 1560, and completely routed and destroyed them, killing many, and compelling the remainder to seek some other occupation. This was rough treatment for gentlemen, but it happens from time to time in the course of history, and shows to what trials chivalrous blood is exsaw of the unfortunate rope-maker, he was the quay, waving his red cotton handkerc As the lines were cast loose, and the steamer into the river, he put both hands to his shouted out something which the confusion prevented me from hearing distinctly. I w however, that the last word that fell upon m "hempf!


The Neva at this season of the year prese animated and picturesque appearance. A 1 the landing-place of the Baltic steamers, a bridge connects the Wasseli-Ostrow with the of the city, embracing the Winter Palace, the and the Nevskoi, generally known as the Great Side. Below this bridge, as far as t reach in the direction of the Gulf of Finland, ing waters of the Neva are alive with vario shipping-merchant vessels from all parts of fishing smacks from Finland and Riga; lur from Tornea ; wood - boats from the interi and Prussian steamers; row-boats, skiffs, an ored canoes, with crews and passengers many nations of the earth, are in perpetual 1 while the sight is bewildered by the variety objects, the ears are confounded by the stra of languages.

Through this confused web of obstacle steamer in which I had taken passage work cautiously and systematically, catching a rol there for a sudden swing to the right or stopping and backing from time to time, and ber nose for the narrow channels of the river, fairly out of danger, when, with a blast of and a heavy pressure of steam, she dashed for open waters of the gulf.

As we gradually receded, I turned to take at the mighty Venice of the North. The g domes of the churches, rising high above tl

[graphic][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed]

posed when it can't have its own way. Finally Esthonia and Livonia fell into the hands of Charles II. of Sweden, from whom they were wrested by Peter the Great. Since that period these provinces have continued under the Russian dominion. From the time of Peter to the reign of the present emperor, Revel has been a favorite summer resort of the Czars. It has been rebuilt, patched, fortified, and improved to such an extent that it now represents almost every style of architecture known in Northern Europe since the Middle Ages. The people partake of the same characteristics, being a mixture of every Northern race by which the place has been inhabited since the reign of Eric XIV. of Denmark. I spent some hours visiting the churches and other objects of interest, a detailed description of which would scarcely be practicable within the brief limits of a letter. The Ritterschaftshaus, containing the armorial bearings of the nobility, is a place of great historical interest; but I saw nothing that afforded me so much amusement as the scenes in the Jahrmarket, where the annual summer fair is held. Here were booths and tents, and all sorts of wares, much in the style of the markets of the Riadi in Moscow, of which I have already given a description. The crowds gathered around those places of barter and trade appeared to enjoy a very free-and-easy sort of life. I could see nothing about them indicative of an oppressed condition. Most of them were reeling drunk, and such as were not drunk seemed in a fair way of speedily arriving at that condition of beatitude.

From the Jahrmarket I strolled out to the Cathermthal, a favorite resort of the citizens during the heat of the day. The shady promenades of this magnificent garden, its natural beauties, and the display of equipages and costumes, render it an exceedingly agreeable lounging-place for a stranger. Every thing is in the Russian style—the pavilions, the music, the theatrical exhibitions, and the predominance of naval and military uniforms throughout the grounds. The scarcity of flowers is

« PreviousContinue »