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thriving members of the community saved from the public-houses, and civilised by music and rational amusement. One would wish also that a tramway ran along the Embankment from Westminster to the City or Mansion House station. Indeed, it might reasonably be pushed on to the very Bank, going along Queen Victoria Street. It would be a delightfully exhilarating drive-or ride, as it would be called. But the interests below-ground and on the river are too strong to be overcome or propitiated. Here, at Westminster, we can pause to look round us a moment. A year or two ago used to lie off the Houses of Parliament a handsome steam yacht, belonging to one of the members—who, when exhausted by his labours, would embark and give his brother legislators an invigorating trip up or down the river. Here we find the St. Stephen's Club, remarkable for having its kitchen in the roof; to say nothing of the unfinished new Opera House-a disastrous venture—which, even if completed, will hardly “ pay” during the present generation. In five-and-twenty or thirty years, when the Embankment will be as crowded as the Strand, then the tide of life will pour into the theatre. It must be a painful reminder for those who pass by, and whose money is sunk belowground in foundations“to the tune” of some £30,000 or £40,000. The Duke of Buccleuch's palace inspires some useful reflections: a pretentious pile after the fashion of a French château, Mansard roof, &c., but all spoiled by the hideous economy of ground, which set the stables in front, and projected the hall and porch far forward on what should have been a clear open approach. When this costly building was commenced it rose from the water's edge, and the great and opulent Thane calculated on his terrace by the river-side and overhanging garden, with his “water-gate," perhaps. As it rose slowly, however, the Embankment was projected, and, of course, it was determined virtually to thrust the château back by some hundred yards from the water, by adding the created and embanked land that was necessary. It may be conceived how the potentate was afflicted by this cruel disappointment. It may be said, indeed, that the whole raison d'être of the new building was destroyed, for its front is comparatively ineffective. Instantly began a course of litigation between the Duke and the Board of Works. It was, I believe, seriously proposed that the line of the great new public work should be diverted there, and go round the house. A storm of indignation arose, and the press was filled with denunciations of the arrogant noble. The matter was fought out in the courts of arbitration, where he claimed some enormous sum for the injury done to his castle, and was forced to content himself with some
moderate amount. The whole, however, was a characteristic inci. dent.
The district at the back of Victoria Street, the line taken by the omnibuses plying to “ The Monster,” is a curiously old-fashioned one, with a suburban air. “The Monster,” as if in shame, has adopted the more genteel style of “The Clarendon." Here reign King Gas and all his "works," and the factory of the eminent Broad. wood, remarkable for its intelligent workmen. In Horseferry Road stands an old-fashioned chapel, served by the Jesuits, where once in the year a school procession, but thoroughly ecclesiastical in its air and adjuncts, sets forth down the long street. This curious and unusual spectacle, which recalls what may be seen in a foreign town, is regarded with much interest and pride by the whole neighbour.
How strange to stand at the door of Westminster Hall, as the flood of suitors, counsel, &c., pours in, and recalls the days of the lagging Tichborne trial, when the rather shabby brougham was called over, two lines of spectators formed, and, the obliging Inspector Denning leading the way, the fat impostor laboured out and heaved himself into the carriage, a faint and artificial cheer following him. That same Denning, who was so obsequious during those weary months-no doubt “Sir Roger"-ing him like the restwas the first to roughly collar him when the verdict was pronounced, hurrying him down those stone corridors that lead under the Embankment. As we look at the end of the Hall, it will be noticed that the great Flamboyant window at the end rises too high, and is interfered with by the old roof. But Pugin and Barry had arranged that in due time the roof should be elevated, so as to form an harmonious line. One would have thought that it would have been easier to have adapted the new window to the old roof. Architects are thus mysterious in their ways. Nor is it generally known that the design of the Houses of Parliament is to make a complete square of buildings round the area where the cabs now stand and the pigeons feed so prettily, with a tower and archway for entrance at the corner where people now cross and enter from Parliament Street. All that mass of dark stone buildings which form the present Law Courts are to be removed, and Westminster Hall is to be furnished with a new front and side in the Gothic style of the rest.
THE CZARINA ANNE.
N the 9th March, 1730, the Northern Lights were dancing
brilliantly in the Russian skies, deepening over the lately founded city of St. Petersburg into blood-red lines, which faded into fainter colours in the dim distances and darkness of the South. The superstitious populace, who saw in this atmospheric phenomenon a presage of terror, baptised it by the name of “The Bloody Aurora" -a name which the course of events justified, and clothed with a prophetic character. On that day the only attempt that has ever been made to establish a limited monarchy in Russia was upset, as the result of a joint conspiracy on the part of the Empress and the discontented nobility, whose chances of power and fortune the limitation of the royal prerogative had lessened. On the death of Peter II. the Senate, the Army, and the Council, expecting to find in Anne, Duchess of Courland, a weaker and more tractable sovereign, passed over her elder divorced sister, the Duchess of Mecklenburg, then residing in Moscow, and offered her the throne on conditions which obtain in all limited monarchies, viz., that she relinquish the power of levying taxes, taking life, and confiscating property at the caprice of her own autocratic will. Having deputed six hundred gentlemen to wait on her and invite her to declare herself a despot, she summoned her council ; and then followed a scene, every word and movement of which had been carefully rehearsed in secret. The Empress, facile as long as she was not required to act in person, hesitated at the door of the Council Hall and wanted to withdraw, when Bieren, her favourite, grasped her roughly by the arm, and dragged her into the chamber. Count Mattweof rose, and in the name of the nation asked her to resume the powers and prerogative of her ancestors. Anne, as previously instructed, affected surprise, and said:
"How! was it not with the will of the nation that I signed the act presented to me at Mittau ?”
The whole assembly answered, "No."
Turning to one of the noblemen who had presented the paper for her signature, she said:
“How came you, sir, to impose on me so ?”
She then ordered the writings to be brought, and, reading over the clauses seriatim, asked the assembly if this was for the good of the nation. She then tore the documents, saying, “These writings, then, are not necessary,” amid loud applause.
It was an episode which not only the active wire-pullers in it, who expected to reap from it an inheritance of power and wealth, had early cause to mourn, but which the Russian nation laments even unto this day.
The slim fragile type of beauty is not popular in Russia. Above all things the ladies of St. Petersburg desire to be plump; and if nature “cover their faces with fatness and hang collops of fat on their flanks," they find colour and complexions for themselves in the rouge-pot. Beauty is measured by the avoirdupois standard, and no lady can lay the least claim to it unless she turns the scale at two cwts. with ease. Therefore Anne, whose proportions were most massive, was regarded by her subjects as a very beautiful woman. Her head was buttressed on either side by a pair of the chubbiest vermilion-painted cheeks, which trembled like a jelly at every motion she made. Mr. Carlyle compares them to a pair of Westphalia hams for size ; and he might have added, for expression. Certainly they were so self-asserting as to dwarf all her other facial features. Her big bones were well-padded with flesh-flesh that on the whole was rather quiescent and unobtrusive for a Russian Empress. She had a brown complexion, black hair, deeply embedded dark blue eyes, which in so far as they were visible sparkled with satire and shrewdness. For so large a woman, her motion and carriage were easy and graceful; and her twenty-stone-weight glided among her courtiers without much snorting or grating of the machine, and, if we are to credit some of her admirers, we might add, almost as silently and lightly as a sunbeam. In spite of her weight, she was a distinguished pedestrian. She showed herself exceedingly affable and gracious at her receptions ; smiles "inexpressibly sweet,” says one who was favoured with a few, hovered over her mouth and lit up a countenance, which the same gossip says had something awful in it, and doubtless there is something solemnising in abnormal bulk. affability is such," says Mrs. Vigor, “that you seem talking to an equal ; and yet she does not for a moment drop the dignity of a sovereign.” Others found it safer to talk to her in monosyllables. There is a story told of Euler, who taught in the Academy of Science, established in St. Petersburg by Peter the Great, during the whole of her reign. In 1741 he accepted from Frederick the offer of the
Professorship of Mathematics in Berlin Academy. On his arrival in Berlin he was invited by the Queen Mother to visit her at her palace. Euler trembled in her presence, and, in spite of her kindly efforts to put him at his ease, was quite unable to overcome his terror. The Queen, simple, gentle, and unassuming, knowing that there was nothing of the bogie about her, asked him why he answered her in monosyllables and trembled. Madam,” said he, “it is because I have come from a court where, if one speaks at greater length and with more freedom, the chances are that he will be hanged."
Anne was the younger daughter of Peter the Great's elder brother Ivan. At the age of seventeen she was married to the Duke of Courland. It was with much reluctance, and only under pressure from the overmastering will of Peter, who freely applied threats of dethronement to stimulate his wooing, that this titled weakling took her to wife. A few days after his marriage he fell sick and died, having for several weeks before the happy event been kept by his bride's relations in a state of chronic drunkenness, and forced to drink to excess on his wedding-day. In the early years of her widowhood Comte de Saxe, afterwards Maréchal Saxe, backed by the moneys he had cajoled from an infatuated French actress, made a hard effort to fall in love with her wealth and her prospects of the Russian throne. Anne's heart and imagination quickly capitulated to the grace and soldier-like bearing of this the most distinguished of the King of Poland's three or four hundred bastards ; and he gallantly affected to return her passion. They made love by words and sighs and grimaces at first, for Anne knew only Russian, and Saxe did not know a word of it. She placed at his disposal rooms in her palace of Mittau, where he was free to come and go as he liked, and entertained him with truly royal magnificence. But Anne's face and figure, both “spread out many a rood,” did not satisfy his sense of the beautiful ; and very soon she discovered that what charms she possessed would never fix his inconstant heart ; and that, while his lips were pouring forth words of idolising devotion, his disgusted stomach was rising up in protests hard to be suppressed. She found out that he kept a harem at Dantzic with the money with which she supplied him, and had several intrigues going on simultaneously at Mittau. The sovereignty of Courland and the influence of Anne in the election was worth bushels of those perjuries at which Jove laughs; and Saxe, by solemn protestations that he had no eyes for any fair but her, coaxed the soft, fat, kindly lady into forgiving him. Anne's aunt, however, Catherine I., the widow of Peter the Great, was opposed to his election to the throne of Courland, for which he was a candidate. A detachment of Russian