with his allotted special work, with nothing to break the silence but the "tick, tack!" of the sidereal clock -- this was indeed a most impressive sight! And the kindly companionable manner of the great master of the establishment was in all respects in harmony with the astronomical work which he conducted in this great Temple of the Universe!

Through my friendship with General Wilson I was enabled to extend my acquaintance with many of my countrymen who had been long settled at St. Petersburg in connection with commercial affairs. I enjoyed their kind hospitality, and soon found myself quite at home amongst them. I remained in the city for about two months. During that time I was constantly about. The shops, the streets, the houses, the museums, were objects of great interest. The view of the magnificent buildings along the sides of the quay is very imposing. Looking from the front of the statue of Peter the Great you observe the long facade of the Admiralty, the column of Alexander, the Winter Palace, and other public buildings. The Neva flows in front of them in a massive volume of pure water. On an island opposite stands the citadel. The whole presents a coup d'oeil of unexampled architectural magnificence.

I was much interested by the shops and their signboards. The latter were fixed all over the fronts of the shops, and contained a delineation of the goods sold within. There was no necessity for reading. The pictorial portraits told their own tale. They were admirable specimens of what is called still-life pictures; not only as regards the drawing and colouring of each object, but with respect to the grouping, which was in most cases artistic and natural. Two reasons were given me for this style of artistic sign-painting: one was that many of the people could not read the written words defining the articles sold within; and the other was that the severe and long-continued frosts of the St. Petersburg winter rendered large shop windows impossible for the proper display of the goods. Hence the small shop-windows to keep out the cold, and the large painted signboards to display the articles sold inside.

I was also greatly pleased with the manner in which the Russians employ ivy in screening their windows during summer. Ivy is a beautiful plant, and is capable of forming a most elegant window-screen. Nothing can be more beautiful than to look through green leaves. Nearly every window of the ground flat of the houses in St. Petersburg is thus screened. The neat manner in which the ivy plants are trained over ornamental forms of cane is quite a study in its way. And though the ivy is very common, yet a common thing, being a thing of beauty, may be a "joy for ever." In the finer and most important mansions, the sides of the flight of wide steps that lead up to the reception rooms were beautifully decorated by oleander plants, growing in great vigour, with their fine flowers as fresh as if in a carefully-kept conservatory. Other plants of an ornamental kind were mixed with the oleander, but the latter appeared to be the favourite.[note: While passing through Lubeck on my way out to St. Petersburg I was much struck with the taste for flower-plants displayed by the people of that old-world city. The inner side of the lower house windows were all beautifully decorated with flowers, which were evidently well cared for. Some of the windows were almost made up with flowers. Perhaps the long-continued winter of these parts has caused the people to study and practise within-door culture with such marked success. It is a most elegant pursuit, and should be cultivated everywhere. It is thoroughly in character with the exquisite cleanliness and tidiness of the houses at Lubeck.]

About the end of my visit I was about to call upon one of my customers with reference to my machine tools; for though I pursued pleasure at occasional times, I never lost sight of business. It was a very dull day, and the streets about the Winter Palace were almost deserted. I was sitting in my drosky with my roll of drawings resting on my thigh -- somewhat in the style of a commander-in-chief as represented in the old pictures -- when I noticed a drosky coming out of the gates of the Winter Palace. I observed that it contained a noble-looking officer in a blue military cloak sitting behind his drosky driver. My driver instantly took off his hat, and I, quickly following his example, took off my hat and bowed gracefully, keeping my extended hand on the level of my head -- a real royal salute. The person was no other than the Emperor Nicholas! He fixed his pecuniarily fine eyes upon me and gave me one of the grandest military salutes, accompanied, as I thought, with a kindly smile from his magnificent eyes as he passed close by me.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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