Ancient and Modern History of the Russian Empire

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Ancient and Modern History of the Russian Empire  (1813) 



of the

Russian Empire

Giving an Account of its extent, Population, Cities, Trade and Commerce, with a Description of the artificial and natural curiosities in that vast Empire; together with the customs and manners of the Russians and Cossacks.
Likewise, giving an account of Bonaparte's eruption into that Empire in 1812 with an army of above 450 000 men which caused the burning and destroving of that Ancient and Imperial City of Moscow, with the lives of more than half a million of people.

Printed by J. MORREN. Cowgate



of the


THE Empire of Russia is the largest in the whole globe, extending from west to east upwards of two thousand common leagues; and about eight hundred in its greatest breadth, from north to south. It borders upon Poland and the Frozen Sea and joins to Sweden on the west and China on the east. Its length, from the island of Dago in the westermost part of Livonia, to its most eastern limits, takes in near 170 degrees; so that when it is noon in the western parts of the empire, it is nearly mid-night in the eastern. Its breadth, from north to south, is 3600 wrests, which make 850 French leagues.

The limits of this country were but little known at the end of the 17 century, for in 1689, when the Chinese and Russians were at war, in order to terminate their differences, the Emperor Cam-bi on the one hand, and the Czars, John and Peter on the other, had sent their ministers to meet an embassy within three hundred leagues of Pekin, on the borders of the two empires, this accout was then treated as a fiction.

The country now comprehended under the name of Russia, or the Russias is of greater extent than all the rest of Europe, and more than the Roman Empire ever was, or that of Darius, subdued by Alexander the Great; for it contains upwards of one million, one hundred thousand square leagues (three English miles is a league. Neither the Roman Empire, nor that of Alexander, contained more than five hundred and fifty thousand each; and there is not a kingdom in Europe the twelfth part so extensive as the Roman empire way but to make Russia as populous, as plentiful, and as well stored with towns, as our southern countries, would require whole ages, and a race of monarchs such as Peter the Great.

The English ambassador, who resided at St Petersburg 1733, and who had been at Madrid, says in his manuscript relation. That in Spain, which is the least populous state in Europe, there may be reckoned forty persons to every square mile and in Russia not above five-Marshal Vauban, the greatest of Engineers and the best of citizens, compates, That in France, every square mile contains 200 inhabitants. These calculations are never very exact, but they serve to show the amazing disproportion in the population in two different countries.

It is proper to observe here, that from Petersburg, the new capital of Russia, to Pekin, the capital of China, there is hardly one mountain to be met with in the route which the caravans might take through independant Tartary; and that from Petersburgh to the north of France, by the road to Danzic, Hamburg and Amsterdam, there is not even a hill of any eminence. This observation leaves room to doubt of the truth of that theory, which makes the mountains to have been formed by the rolling of the waves of the sea, and supposes all that is at present dry land, to have been a long time covered with water: But how comes it to pass, that the waves, which, according to the supposition, formed the Alps the Pyrenees and Mount Taurus did not likewise form some eminence or hill from Normandy to China, a space of above 3000 leagues.

Formerly Russia was called Muscory, from the City of Moscow, the ancient capital of that Empire. It is the largest province and most populous of the whole, extending from east to west 2400 miles, Moscow was formerly the residence of the Grand Dukes

The countries from Smolensko to the other side of Moscow, is cal ed white Russia, but Hubner the historian, gives it the name of Black; and the government of Kiow is generally called black Russia.

It is very likely that Madies the Sythean who made an irruption into Asia, near 7000 year, before our vulgar era, might have carried his arms into these regions, as Genzis-Khan and Tamerlane did afterwards andasprobably others had done before Madies. Every part of antiquity is not deserving of our enquiries; that of of the Chinese, the Indians, the Persians, and the Egyptians, is ascertained from illustrious and interesting monuments; but these monuments suppose others of far more ancient date. We should always keep in mind, that no family upon earth knows its first founder, and consequently that no nation knows its origin.

That part of Russia which lies in Knrope is 150O miles in length, and 1100 in breadth; between the 47 and 71 N. lat. and 23 and 65 E. lon. This extensive empire is at present divided into 16 large governments, that may come to be sudivided, when the northern and eastern countries come to be more inhabited. These 16 Governments, which contain severalimmense Provinces are the following: Livonia, Revel, Petersburg, and Wyburg, Archangel, Russian Lapland, Moscow, Smolensko, Novogorod and Kiow or the Ukraine, Belgurod Woronits and Nnchgorod Astracan, Orembourg, Gafan, and Great Permia, Siberia, Samogedes, the Ustizaks, Kamscatska &c.

Livonia, the nearest province to France, is one of the most fruitful in the whole north. In the 12 centuary the inhabitants were Pagans; and at that time certain merchaats of Bremen and Lubec traded to this country; and a body of religious crusaders, called Port-glaives, or sword bearers, made themselves masters of this province, in the 13 century at that time when the fury of the crusades armed the Christians against every one who was not of their religion.

Albert, margrave of Brandenburgh, grand master of these religious conquerers, made himself sovereign of Livonia, and of Brandenburg-Prussia, about the year 1514. From that time the Russians and Poles began to dispute about the possession of this province. Soon sfter it was invaded by the Swedes, and for a long time continued to be ravaged by these several powers Gustavus Adolphus having conquered it, it was then ceded to the Swedes 1660, by the famous treaty of Oliva; and, at length, Czar Peter wrested from these latter. Courland, which joins to Livonia, is still in vassaloge to Poland, though it depends greatly upon Russia. These are the western limits of this great empire in Christendom. More northward is the government of Revel and Easthonia. Revel was built by the Danes in the 13 century. The Swedes were in possession of this province from the time that country put itself under the protection of that crown. This is another of the conquests of Peter the Great.


On the borders of Easthonia lies the Gulph of Finland. To the eastward of this sea, and at the junction of the Neva with lake Ladoga, 150 miles long (illegible text) broad; joined to the sea by a canal 70 miles to length cut by Peter the Great at an immense expense: Onega, 100 miles long and 48 broad, has a communication with Ladoga by the river Swie, and with the WhiteSea, a channel lately cut between these lakes, all ran or are joined to the Neva, at the confluence of which is situated Petersburgh, now the capital of Russia, the most modern and best built city in the whole empire, founded by Czar Peter, in spite of all the united obstacles which opposed its foundation. This city is situated on the bay of Cronstadt, in the midst of nine rivers, by which its different quarters are divided. In the centre of this city is almost an impregnable fortress, built on an island, formed by the main stream of the river Neva. Seven canals are cut from the rivers, and wash the walls of one of the Royal Palaces of the Admiralty, of the Dockyard for the Gallies, and of several buildings of manufactories Thirty-five large churches contribute to adorn the city; among which five are alloted to foreigners, of the Roman Catholic, Calvinist,and Lutheran religions: There are so many temples raised to toleration, and examples to other nations. There are five Palaces; the old one, called Summer-Palace, situated on the river Neva, has a very large and beautiful stone bulustrade, which runs all along the river side. The new Summer-Palace, near the triumphal gate, is one of the finest pieces of Architecture in Europe. The Admiralty buildings, the School for Cadets, the Imperial College, the Academy of Sciences, the Exchange, the Merchants' Warehouses, are all magnificent Structures, and monuments of taste and public utility. The Town-House, the Public Dispensary, where all the vessels are of Porcelane, the Court Magazines, the Foundery, the Arsenal, the Bridges, the Markets, the Squares, the Barracks for the Horses and Foot Guards, contribute at once to the embellishment of the City, which is said to contain 400,000 souls. In the enviorns of the city are several Villas, or country-seats, which surprise all travellers by their magnificence. There is one in particular which has Water Work superior to those of Versailles. There was nothing of ail this in 1702, the whole being then only an impassable moras.

This city is the grand emporium of Russian commerce; and, of consequnce, a vast number of foreign ships are constantly to be met with in its port. In the winter time no fewer than 3000 sledges, drawn by one horse each, ply in the streets for the convenience of passengers. Here also is a Foundling Hospital, where women may come to be privately delivered, and afterwards leave her child to be taken care of by the public. In this city also there is a remarkable Convent, for the education of 440 young women, 200 of which are people of rank, and the rest daughters of citizens and tradesmen. After the term allotted for their education is elapsed, they are allowed to quite the Convent, and a dowry allowed to those of the lower rank, with which the may be enabled to procure themselves a livelihood, if they do not think proper to marry.

With a description of au Animal now nnknown

Among the curiosities of Russia, we may not unjustly reckon the city of Petersburgh itself, the raising of which so suddenly, and in such a situation, may, perhaps, vie with the greatest works of antiquity. The fortress of Cronstat, which defends it, was almost entirely planned by the Emperor, Peter the Great, himself; and as the marshy situation of both rendered it necessary that the foundations should be upon wooden piles, driven into the ground, no fewer than 300,000 men were employed for some time day and night in that work; and during this, and many of his other works, the Emperor himself often assisted as a common labourer.

In the citv of Petersburg there is a Cabinet of Natural History, in which, is shewn among other curiosites, a complete Rhinoceros dug up on the banks of the river Valui, in suoh a state of preservation as even to have the hair upon it. In Siberia there are sometimes dug up the bones of an unknown animal, of enormous magnitude, far exceeding in size those of the largest Elephants We are also informed, that in different parts of Siberia, as well in the mountains as the vallies, likewise in Germany, Peru, the Brazils, and North America, ou the banks o£ the Ohio, near the river Mimame, about 700 miles from the sea, and 5 or six feet beneath the surface of the ground, there have frequently been found fossil tusks, and bones of a very lagre size; somewhat resembling those of the elephant. In temperate climates these are softened, and converted into fossil ivory; but in countries frequently frozen, they are generally found very fresh. According to tradition, they are the bones of the Mammouth, an annimal no longer to found on the surface of the globe. This animal, however, is described by M. Muller, as of a greyish colour, about thirty feet long, and twelve or fifteen in height, his head long, and front very broad: under the eyes he has two horns, which he can move and cross at pleasure; in walking, he has the power of extending and contracting his body to a very great degree. Mr Pennant is of opinion that the Mammouth still exists in the remote parts of America, which have not yet been penetrated by Europeans.

These bones have exercised the ingenuity of the learned in different parts of the world.—Some are of opinion, that they are the bones of overgrown elephants; but Dr Hunter, by a a careful examination of them, has shewn that they differ in many respects from these, and particularly that the teeth are those of a carnivlrous animal, or, at least one of the mixed kind; and consequently could not belong to an elephant, which is never known to taste flesh.—A thigh bone, which measured three feet ten inches and six lines, was found in a room at Liverpool, from whence some people who kept wild beasts had suddenly decamped in the night, leaving this bone behind them, which had probably been one of their curiosities. This bone was four inches seven lines broad in the narrowest part, and two inches nine lines in thickness; its circumference in the smallest part, 13 inches. Some time afterwards a bone of the some animal was found, which measured nearly four feet in length, and weighed upwards of eighty pounds. The thigh bone of an elephant, seven feet high, measured only two feet, ten inches, and three lines in length.

As Siberia appears to have been inhabited by animals now unknown, so likewise it appears to have been inhabited by a race of men totally unoticed in history, and whose former existance is now only discovered by their sepulchres, which contain some of their arms and instruments, all of them made of copper. In one of the expeditions of Peter the Great to the coasts of the Caspian Sea, his people having penetrated into the country about 150 leagues, discovered a great stone building, half covered with sand, the architecture of which had a considerable resemblance to that of some of the ruins of ancient Presopolis. On entering it, they found a number of presses made of black hard wood, and containing near 300 books, in the form of quarto volumes. The country people would not allow them to carry these away, looking upon them as sacred; but they found means to bring off three, which they delivered to the Emperor. They appeared to be composed of very large sheets of thick paper, supposed to be made of cotton, or the bark of trees, laid over with two varnishes above each other one of a blue, and the other of a black colour; the characters were written in white; but as all the lines were of an equal length it could not be determined whether they were written from left to right, or from right to left. Several brass statues were also procured from the peasants in the neighbourhood, among which was that of a Roman General crowned with laurel; others had armour; like, that worn in the west the 12th and 13th centuries, and there were several Indian Idols.

The Russian alphabet has 36 letters, strongly resembing the ancient Greek; but the language itself is a mixture of the Polish and Sclavenian. The Clergy, at least the more learned, speak the modernn Greek; which, however, cannot be understood by those who know the ancient language in its purity.


The Cossacks were at first peasants of Poland; but, being grievously oppressed by their landlords, they emigrated to some uncultivated lands on the banks of the Tanais, or Don, where they formed. Being joined by two other large bodies in 1637, they reduced the city of Asoph, but were soon after obliged to give it up to the Turks, though not without previously having laid it in ashes. Having then put themselves under the protection of Russia, they built ther capital Cereaska, on an island in the river Don, but were little other than nominal subjects to that empire, till the time of Peter the Great. In his time they frequently rebelled, but always suffered severely for their presumption: and at last, the Cossacks of the Ukraine also put themselves under the protection of Russia. Besides these, there are also the Yaik or Uralian Cossacks on the banks of the Yaik or Ural in Asia. At the time when the Cossacks first submitted to Russia they possed thirty-nine towns on the banks of the Don, from Riboa as far as Afoph. They still enjoy almost all their liberties, on the special condition of torving in their wars.

The government of the Cossacks very much resembles that which Tacitus describes among the ancient Germans; A Chief is elected by the principal people of the nation, but with the approbation of the Emperor; this Chief, called by them Hauptman holds his authority for life, and has a superiority over the other Chiefs, called Hermans, who are chosen annually. The residence of the principal Hauptman is at Cercaska which is therefore accounted the capital of the country.


Moscow, the ancient capital of the Russian empire, stands on the river Moskaw lies about 1400 miles north east of London. This city was long the centre of the Russian dominions, before they were extended on the side of China and Persia. Moscow lying in a warmer climate, and more fruitful soil than St Peterssburg, is situated in the midst of a large and delightful plain, on the above river, and lesser rivers, which, with the former, fall into the river Occa, and afterwards join the great river Wolga, which falls into the Caspian Sea at Astracan. This city, in the 13th century, was only a collection of huts, inhabited by a set of poor miserable people, oppressed by the descendants of the bloody Gengis Khan. The Kremlin, or ancient palace of the Great Dukes, was not built till the 14th century, by Italian Architects, under Basilius Casan, the second Great Duke, who conquered the provinces of Serveria, Roscovia, and Smolensko, with the realms of Astracan and Casan, from which last he took his sirname. There were also several churches built in the Gothic taste, which then prevailed over all Europe. There are two churches built in the 15th century, by the famous Aristotle of Bologna, who flourished at that time; but the private houses were then no better than wooden huts, and even to this day wretched hovels are blended with superb palaces; cottages of one story stand next to the most stately mansions. Many brick structures are covered with wooden tops; some of the wooden houses are painted, others have iron doors and roof.

The first writer who brought us acquainted with Moscow, was Olearius who, 1633, went thither as the companion of an embassy from the Duke of Holstein "A native of Holstein must naturally be struck with wonder at the immense extent of the city of Moscow, with its five quarters, especially the magnificent one belonging to the emperors, and with the Asiatic splendor which then reigned at that Court. There was nothing equal to it in Germany at that time, nor any city, by far so extensive or well peopled", so far this writer. On the contrary, the Earl of Carslile, who was Ambassador from Charles II. to the Czar Alexis, 1663, complains in his relation, that he could not meet with any one convenience of life in Moscow; no inns on the road, nor refreshments of any kind The one judged as a German, the other as an Englishman and both by comparison with their own countries. The Englishman was shocked to see most of the Boyars, or Moscovite noblemen, sleep upon boards or benches, with only the skins of wild animals under them; but this was the ancient practice of all nations. The houses, which were almost all built of wood, had scarcely any furniture; few or none of their tables were covered with cloth; there was no pavement in their streets; nothing agreeable; no convenience; very few artificers, and those few extremely backward, and employed only in works of absolute necessity. These people might have passed for Spartans, had they been sober. But on their public days the court displays all the splendor of a Persian monarch. The Karl says, he could see nothing but gold and precious stones, on the robs of the Czar and his courtiers. These dresses were not manufactured in the country; and yet it is evident, that the people might have been rendered industrious long before that time. In short, some parts of this vast city have the appearance of a sequestered desert; others, of a populous town; some, of a contemptible village; others, of a great capital. There is in Moscow above a thousand churches andchapels; some of which have bells of a stupendous size; particularly one of 288,000 pounds weight, and another of 432,000 being the largest in the world. The cathederal of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary is the most magnificent church in Moscow; and most conspicous of the public institutions heer is the Foundling Hospital.

Though the city of Moscow, at the time the Earl was there, had neither the magnificence nor arts of our great cities, yet its circumference of 20 miles, and the part called Chinese Town, where all the rarities of China are exhibited, the spacious quarter of the Kremlin, where stood the Palace of the Czars; the gilded domes, the lofty turrets; and, lastly, the prodigious number of its then inhabitants, amounting to near 500,000; all this together, rendered Moscow one of the most considerble cities in the world.

Theodore, or Fœdor, eldest brother to Peter the Great, began to improve Moscow. He ordened several large houses to be built of stone, but without any regular architecture. He encouraged the principal persons of his Court to build, advancing them sums of money, and furnishing them with materials He was the first who collected studs of fine horses, and made several useful embellishments Peter, who was attentive to every thing, did not neglect Moscow at the time he was building St Petersburg, for he caused it to be paved and adorned it with noble edifices, and enriched it with manufactures; and Mr Showalow, high chamberlain to empress Elizabeth, dgughter to Peter the Great has founded an Unniversity in the city.

The streets of Moscow are not regular, but it contains such a number of gardens lawns, and running streams that it makes a beautiful appearance, and looks like a cultivated country rather than a city. Thus its extent is prodigiously large; and if we confider only the ground on which it stands, it is unoubtedly the largest in Europe. The number of its inhabithants, however is certainly very reat as it contains 43 Palaces, or Squares, 1600 churches or convents; and, according to M. Bushing, the merchants' Exchange has 6000 shops, where a great commerce is carried on with China. The principal buildings, such as the Palaces, churches, and convents, are sumptous and magnificent; but the houses, as before observed, are poor wooden edifices, which display the utmost poverty and meanness. The grand Imperial Palace, called the Kremlin, is accounted one of the most superb stuctrues in the world: all the churches there having their spires gilt, or covered with silver; their insides being also richly ornamented, and the pictures of the Saints decked with gold, silver, and precious stones. The cathederal has nine towers covered with copper, double gilt, and contains a silver tranch with 48 lights, weighing 2800 libs. The architecture of these buildings are Gothic. The Kremlin stands on many acres of ground, in the interior part of the city, and contains the old Imperial Palace Pleasure-House, and stables, together with the Palace belonging to the Patriarch, nine cathedrals, five convents, four parish churches, a victulling-house, arsenal, and public colleges, &c. all within the walls of the Kremelin.

The magnificence of this city, indeed, would be incredible, were it n t that the particulars have been attested by unquestionable witnesses, and that monuments of its grandeur still remain. The church of Jerusalem was thought to be such a magnificent structure, that John Basilides, who reigned in the 16th century, is said to have caused the eyes of the architect to be put out, that he might never behold one equal to it. In the Palace of the Kremlin, also, there is an image of the Virgin Mary, so richly decorated with precious stones, and other valuable ornaments, that it can scarcely be equalled by that at Loretto in Italy. The Foundling Hospital was erected in this city, by the order of the late Empress, and is supported by voluntary contributions, legacies, &c. It is of a quadrangular shape, and of vast extent, being; designed to contain 8000 children, though at present there are only 300. Particular care is taken of them during their infancy, and also of their education afterwards. At the age of 14 they are put to trades, which they have the liberty of effusing for themselves; and for the purpose of instructing them in these, various species of manufactures are established in the hospital itself; after which, they are at liberty to set up for themselves in any part of the empire; and to enable them to do so, each has a sum of money bestowed upon them This last must be accounted a very considerable privilege in Russia, the peasants being generally slaves, and not allow- to remove from place to place.

The number of inhabitants in this vast city, cannot be at present exactly ascertained, but it must certainly be very great, it contained upwards of 40,000 houses, and Voltair in his time estimated the inhabitants at 500,000:

The inhabitants of Moscow are extravagantly fond of bells, as indeed they are over all Russia, but here they keep a perpetual tinkling in every quarter. Here is one of an immense size, the weight of which were formerly mentioned, which, if the accounts we have of it be true, exceeds every other we know of. The height of it is nearly 20 feet, and its diameter 23 It was at first suspended by a huge beam of wood; but this being destroyed by accidental fire, the bell fell down, and a piece broke out of the side of it and has therefore ever since been rendered useless.

Before we proceed to the destruction of this once large city, now in ruins, we give an account of the several other great and commercial towns in this vast empire. And, first,

Cronstadt (on Kotlin isle in the Gulph of Finland) is noted for its forts, docks, haven for ships of war, hospital for sailors, and academy for marines and officers of the navy,—Narva is a fortified town on the river Narva. The houses are built of brick, stucoed white. Here Peter the Great was defeated by Charles XII. in 1700.—Riga is situated on the western Dwina or Duna, about nine miles from its month, and next to Petersburgh, is the most commercial town in the whole empire. Within the fortifications there is 9000 inhabitants, 15,000 in the suburbs, and a numerous garrison in the citidale. Over the Dwina, there is here a floating bridge, 40 feet in breadth, and 2600 in length—Novgorod, or Novogord, stands on both sides of the river Volkhov near lake Ilmen. It was, in former times, the largest city in Russia, containing above 400,000 inhabitants; it now contains scarcely 7000. A vast number of ruinous churches and convents are melancholy monuments of its former magnificence.—Wologda, or vologda, on a river of the same name, a place of great trade, and has a large magnificent church a castle and a fort.

Archangel is seated on the northern Dwina, at twenty miles from its mouth. It was long the only sea port of Russia; but since the building of Petersburgh its trade isgreatly dminished—Smolensko, on the Dneiper, is surrounded with a wall 30 feet high, and 15 thick. It is of great extent; but the houses are poorly built, and it does not contain above 4000 inhabitants. This city was almost destroyed at the battle which was fought near it, between the French and Russians last autum—Kiow, is situated on the west side of the Dnieper. It is divided into the Old and New Towns has a castle, and carries on a considerable trade.—Catharinenslay, stands likewise on the Dnieper, opposite the first of its cataracts. It is a new town, founded by the late empress, its name signifies, The Glory of Catharine—Poltaowa, famous for the defeat of Charles XII. by Peter the Great, June 17th 1709; in which 8000 Swedes were killed, and 16,000 taken prisoners. Charles fled to Bender in Turkey. Ockzakow, is a town and fortress of considerable strength, at the mouth of the Dneiper, opposite Kinburn. It was several times taken from the Turks by the Russians, and ceded to the latter in 1791—Astracan, at the mouth of the Volga on the Caspian sea, carries on a great trade with Moscow and Petersburgh.

The chronicles of this country reach no higher than the ninth century, and till the time of Peter the Great, who dying in 1725, was succeeded by his wife Catherine. She was followed by the Duke Holtlein, under the title of Peter II. In 1762, Peter II became emperor, but was soon deprived of his crown and life by his wife, Cathrine II, a womau of great abilities and unbounded amdition. On her death, which happened suddenly in 1796, she was succeded by her son Paul; at whose decease, in 1801, his son Alexander the presen emperor ascended the throne.


The Russians in general profess the religion of the Greek chu ch, governed by Patriarchs, or Bishops, the patriarch of Moscow being the chief, though different from the Roman, is no less replete with absurdity and superstition: however, they disclaim the authority of the Pope, and do not admit of the worship of images; but they consider the saints as mediators, and have their churches adorned with their pictures—They have also such a number of fast-days, that they occupy almost the whole half of the year. The Bishops are not allowed to marry, but their common priests are Before the time of Peter the Great, the clergy were possessed of very great and even dangerous powers; but that prince, by declaring himself the head of the church, reduced their authority within due bounds. Having gained this great point, he allowed them the full exercise of their ceremonies, and did not oblige the clergy to cut their beards; one of his suceessors, Peter III. making this attempt, it was supposed to be one of the principal causes of his destruction. In former times there was an incredible number of religious houses in Russia; but, though these are not entirely abolished, they are greatly reduced, and by the present regulations, no male can become a monk, till upwards of 30, nor any woman a nun until she is upwards of 50; and even not then, without leave of their superiors. The religion of the conquered provinces was not changed by their subjection to the Russian empire; so that there are not only Christians of various denominations, but Jews, Pagans, and Mahometans to be met with in many parts of these provinces. Some judicious attempts have been made to convert the Mahometants by force; but this has only served to confirm them more in their infidelity. In 1765, the Moravians’ Society founded a settlement, named Sarepta, on the banks of the river Sarpa, which has since become a very large, populous and flourishing town, having been allowed several very distinguished privileges from the Russian Court.


The French gave the following account of the burning of that city: After the great battle of Moskwo, the French army pursued the Russian army upon Moscow, by three routes, Mojaisk, Svenigorod, and Kalouga. They had raised on the Sparrow Mountain, two wrests from the city, some redoubts, which they soon abandoned.

Moscow, before this, was a rich city, filled with palaces of all the nobles of the empire. The Russian Governor Rostopchin, wished to ruin this fine city. He had armed 3000 malefactors, whom he had taken from the dungeons; he also summoned together 6000 satellites, and distributed arms among them from the arsenal. Our advanced guard, arriving in the centre of the city, was received by a fire of musketry, which issued from the Kremlin; but a few pieces of cannon being opened upon them, dispersed the rabble and took possession of it. The most complete anarchy reigned in the city; some drunken madmen ran through its different quarters, and every where set fire to them.—The Governor had caused all the merchants and shopkeepers to be carried off, through whose instrumentality order might have been re-etablished. More than 4000 French and Germans were arrested by his orders; in fine, he had taken the precaution of carrying off the fire-men, with the fire-engines; so that by the general anarchy which every where prevailed, this great and fine city is now desolated, and the flames are still destroying it. The conflagration of this city will throw Russian many years back. The manufactures were just beginning to flourish at Moscow, now they are completely destroyed.

Moscow is the interpot of Asia and of Furope. Her warehouses were immense; and every house was provisioned for nine month. It was only the evening before, and the day of our entrance, that the danger became known. We found in the house of the miserable Rostopchin, a paper, with a letter half written. He had fled, without finishing it. Moscow, one of the finest and richest cities in the world is now no more.

On the 14th September 1812, the Russians set fire to the Exchange, the Hazier and Hospital. The 16th a violent wind arose, and spread the flames all over the city; five-sixths of the houses being of wood, the flames ran with amazing rapidity, it appeared like an ocean of fire Churches, of which there is 1600, above a 1000 palaces, and immense magazines, have nearly all fallen prey to the flames. The loss to the Russians is incalculable; the richest commercial houses have been ruined. Nothing was removed because the Russians thought it impossible for us to reach Mosow.

Bonaparte after having over run many hundred miles of this vast empire, was obliged to return with greater preciptation than ever he entered, with an incalculable loss of men, horses, amunition and baggage. His rage was such that he blew up the Kremlin before he left Moscow.


This work was published before January 1, 1928, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.