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you saw before you, without the slightest
compromise in the way of step, a yawning abyss
of multi-coloured mud. Into this you are
entitled either to leap, and disappear like Edgar
of Ravenswood, or to wallow in it à la pig, or
to endeavour to clear it by a hop, step, and a
jump. The best mode of proceeding, on the
whole, is to hail a droschky or a moujik; and,
like Lord Ullin, offer him, not a silver pound,
but sundry copper copecks, to carry you
across the muddy ferry; and this, again, may
be obviated by your chartering an ischvostchik's
vehicle in the first instance, and leaving
the causeway to those who like leaping before
they look.

The ground having become a little more
solid, the pavement might naturally be
expected to improve. So it does, on the Nevskoï;
but, in the suburbs, the occupant of each house
is expected to see to the proper state of repair
of the pavement immediately before his
dwelling. As the Russian householder is
not precisely so much enamoured of his city
and government as to make of his allotted
space of street a sort of Tom Tidler's ground,
with silver roubles and gold imperials, or to
pave it with porphyry, Carrara marble, or
even plain freestone, he ordinarily employs
the cheapest and handiest materials that his
economy or his convenience suggest. The
result is a most astonishing paving-salad, in
which flints, shards and pebbles, shingles,
potsherds, brickbats, mortar, plaster, broken
bottles, and pure dirt are all amalgamated.
The mosaic is original but trying to the temper
destructive to the boots and agonising
to the corns.

On the Nevskoï, almost every variety of
pavement has been successively tried; but
with very indifferent success. From
Macadam to India-rubber, each material has had
its day. Asphalte was attempted, but failed
miserably, cracking in winter and fairly melting
in summer. Then longitudinal boards
were laid down on the carriage ways, in
imitation of the plank roads in the suburbs
of New York. Finally, M. Gourieff introduced
the hexagonal wooden pavement with
which, in London, we are all acquainted.
This, with continuous reparation, answers
pretty well, taking into consideration that
equality of surface seems utterly unattainable,
that the knavish contractors supply
blocks so rotten as to be worthless a few days
after they are put down, and that the horses
are continually slipping and frequently falling
on the perilous highway. It is unpleasant,
also, to be semi-asphyxiated each time you
take your walks abroad, by the fumes of the
infernal pitch-cauldrons, round which the
moujik workmen gather, like witches.

The long and splendid lines of quays
(unrivalled in magnificence of material, construction,
and perspective in the whole world) are
paved with really noble blocks of Finland
granite. It is as melancholy as irritating to
see the foul weeds growing at the kerbs;
to be obliged to mount to them (they are
some fourteen inches above the level of the
road) by a wretched monticule of mud or
dust like a vagrant's footway through a
broken hedge; to mark how many of the
enormous slabs are cracked right across;
and how, at every six steps or so, a block has
settled down below the level, so as to form
the bed of a pool of foul water into which
you splash.

Any one can comprehend, now, why every
street in the Czar's gorgeous metropolis is a
Via Dolorosa, and why there are so many
thousand ischvostchiks in St. Petersburg.
Looking-glass slipperiness in winter;
unfordable mud in spring; simooms of dust in
summer; lakes of sloppy horrors in autumn:
these are the characteristics of the Czar's
highway. I know impossibilities cannot be
accomplished; I know the horrible climate
can't be mended; but I have hopes of the
pavement yet. There is a certain portion of
the Balchoï Morskaïa which has, for about
ten yards, a perfectly irreproachable pavement.
The legend runs that the Czar
Nicholas, of imperishable memory, slipped
and fell on his august back hereabouts some
years ago, and that he signified his wish to
the inhabitants of that part of the Morskaïa
to have the pavement improved, or to know
the reason why. It was improved with
electric celerity, and it has been a model
pavement ever since. I am not the Czar
Nicholas nor the Czar Alexander, nor a
bridge and pavement engineer, nor a
contractor for paving and lighting. I only point
out the wrong, and leave it to others to
suggest the remedy. But until the Czar's highway
is improved, both intra and extra muros,
so long will there be barbarism in the very
heart of the Venice of the north. When
Petersburg is well paved, then will the power
of the stick decay, and the Tchinn no longer
steal: but this is too much in the Nostradamus
style of prophecy. When Russia has
better roads, let us hope that there will be
better people to travel on them, your humble
servant included.


While abundant golden crops have been
ripening on the hills, a golden harvest no less
abundant has been gathered by those who
do business in great waters. "There has not
been such shoals of fish for the last thirty
years!" is the cry of the Cornish fisherman,
upon whose coasts the pilchards have arrived
in almost fabulous quantities.

A village on the sea-coast wakes up one
morning to find itself very busy. One of the
pilots on the look-out on the hill has made
out what is of more value than a fleet of
ships coming into portnamely, a dark red
spot in the glassy surface of the sea. This is
the first warning the fish give of their arrival