It has been well observed by Irving, that to one about to visit foreign countries a long sea voyage is an excellent preparative. To quote his words, "The temporary absence of worldly scenes and employments produces a state of mind peculiarly fitted to receive new and vivid impressions." And he might have added with equal truth - favourable impressions. The tiresome monotony of sea life predisposes the traveller to regard favourably anything that will quicken his stagnating faculties and perceptions and furnish new matter for thought; and the most commonplace scenery and circumstances afford him gratification and delight. For this reason one is apt, upon arriving after a long voyage in a strange country, to form a more favourable opinion of its people and scenery than his subsequent experience will sustain. But it seems to me particularly fortunate that our first impressions of a new country, which are most clear and vivid and therefore most lasting, are also most pleasant, so that in future years a retrospective glance over our past wanderings will show the most cheerful pictures drawn in the brightest and most enduring colours. I am sure that the recollection of my first view of the mountains of Kamchatka, the delight with which my eye drank in their bright aerial tints, and the romance with which my ardent fancy invested them, will long outlive the memory of the hardships I have endured among them, the snow-storms that have pelted me on their summits, and the rains that have drenched me in their valleys. Fanciful perhaps, but I believe true.

The longing for land which one feels after having been five or six weeks at sea is sometimes so strong as to be almost a passion. I verily believe that if the first land we saw had been one of those immense barren moss steppes which I afterward came to hold in such detestation, I should have regarded it as nothing less than the original site of the Garden of Eden. Not all the charms which nature has lavished upon the Vale of Tempe could have given me more pleasure than did the little green valley in which nestled the red-roofed and bark-covered log houses of Petropavlovsk.

The arrival of a ship in that remote and unfrequented part of the world is an event of no little importance; and the rattling of our chain cable through the hawse-holes created a very perceptible sensation in the quiet village. Little children ran bareheaded out of doors, looked at us for a moment, and then ran hastily back to call the rest of the household; dark-haired natives and Russian peasants, in blue shirts and leather trousers, gathered in a group at the landing; and seventy-five or a hundred half-wild dogs broke out suddenly into a terrific chorus of howls in honour of our arrival.

It was already late in the afternoon, but we could not restrain our impatience to step once more upon dry land; and as soon as the captain's boat could be lowered, Bush, Mahood, and I went ashore to look at the town.

Petropavlovsk is laid out in a style that is very irregular, without being at all picturesque. The idea of a street never seems to have suggested itself either to the original settlers or to their descendants; and the paths, such as they are, wander around aimlessly among the scattered houses, like erratic sheepwalks. It is impossible to go for a hundred yards in a straight line, in any direction, without either bringing up against the side of a house or trespassing upon somebody's backyard; and in the night one falls over a slumbering cow, upon a fair average, once every fifty feet. In other respects it is rather a pretty village, surrounded as it is by high green hills, and affording a fine view of the beautiful snowy peak of Avacha, which rises to a height of 11,000 feet directly behind the town.

Mr. Fluger, a German merchant of Petropavlovsk who had boarded us in a small boat outside the harbour, now constituted himself our guide; and after a short walk around the village, invited us to his house, where we sat in a cloud of fragrant cigar-smoke, talking over American war news, and the latest on dit of Kamchatkan society, until it finally began to grow dark. I noticed, among other books lying upon Mr. Fluger's table, Life Thoughts, by Beecher, and The Schoenberg-Cotta Family, and wondered that the latter had already found its way to the distant shores of Kamchatka.

As new-comers, it was our first duty to pay our respects to the Russian authorities; and, accompanied by Mr. Fluger and Mr. Bollman, we called upon Captain Sutkovoi (soot-ko-voi'), the resident "Captain of the port." His house, with its bright-red tin roof, was almost hidden by a large grove of thrifty oaks, through which tumbled, in a succession of little cascades, a clear, cold mountain stream. We entered the gate, walked up a broad travelled path under the shade of the interlocking branches, and, without knocking, entered the house. Captain Sutkovoi welcomed us cordially, and notwithstanding our inability to speak any language but our own, soon made us feel quite at home. Conversation however languished, as every remark had to be translated through two languages before it could be understood by the person to whom it was addressed; and brilliant as it might have been in the first place, it lost its freshness in being passed around through Russian, German, and English to us.

I was surprised to see so many evidences of cultivated and refined taste in this remote corner of the world, where I had expected barely the absolute necessaries of life, or at best a few of the most common comforts. A large piano of Russian manufacture occupied one corner of the room, and a choice assortment of Russian, German, and American music testified to the musical taste of its owner. A few choice paintings and lithographs adorned the walls, and on the centre-table rested a stereoscope with a large collection of photographic views, and an unfinished game of chess, from which Captain and Madame Sutkovoi had risen at our entrance.

After a pleasant visit of an hour we took our leave, receiving an invitation to dinner on the following day.

It was not yet decided whether we should continue our voyage to the Amur River, or remain in Petropavlovsk and begin our northern journey from there, so we still regarded the brig as our home and returned, every night to our little cabin. The first night in port was strangely calm, peaceful, and quiet, accustomed as we had become to the rolling, pitching, and creaking of the vessel, the swash of water, and the whistling of the wind. There was not a zephyr abroad, and the surface of the miniature bay lay like a dark mirror, in which were obscurely reflected the high hills which formed its setting. A few scattered lights from the village threw long streams of radiance across the dark water, and from the black hillside on our right was heard at intervals the faint lonely tinkle of a cow-bell or the long melancholy howl of a wolf-like dog. I tried hard to sleep; but the novelty of our surroundings, the thought that we were now in Asia, and hundreds of conjectures and forecastings as to our future prospects and adventures, put sleep for a long time at defiance.

The hamlet of Petropavlovsk, which, although not the largest, is one of the most important settlements in the Kamchatkan peninsula, has a population of perhaps two or three hundred natives and Russian peasants, together with a few German and American merchants, drawn thither by the trade in sables. It is not fairly a representative Kamchatkan village, for it has felt in no inconsiderable degree the civilising influences of foreign intercourse, and shows in its manners and modes of life and thought some evidences of modern enterprise and enlightenment. It has existed since the early part of the eighteenth century, and is old enough to have acquired some civilisation of its own; but age in a Siberian settlement is no criterion of development, and Petropavlovsk either has not attained the enlightenment of maturity, or has passed into its second childhood, for it is still in a benighted condition. Why it was and is called Petropavlovsk - the village of St. Peter and St. Paul - I failed, after diligent inquiry, to learn. The sacred canon does not contain any epistle to the Kamchatkans, much as they need it, nor is there any other evidence to show that the ground on which the village stands was ever visited by either of the eminent saints whose names it bears. The conclusion to which we are driven therefore is, that its inhabitants, not being distinguished for apostolic virtues, and feeling their need of saintly intercession, called the settlement after St. Peter and St. Paul, with the hope that those Apostles would feel a sort of proprietary interest in the place, and secure its final salvation without any unnecessary inquiries into its merits. Whether that was the idea of its original founders or not I cannot say; but such a plan would be eminently adapted to the state of society, in most of the Siberian settlements, where faith is strong, but where works are few in number and questionable in tendency.

The sights of Petropavlovsk, speaking after the manner of tourists, are few and uninteresting. It has two monuments erected to the memory of the distinguished navigators Bering and La Perouse, and there are traces on its hills of the fortifications built during the Crimean War to repel the attack of the allied French and English squadrons; but aside from these, the town can boast of no objects or places of historical interest. To us, however, who had been shut up nearly two months in a close dark cabin, the village was attractive enough of itself, and early on the following morning we went ashore for a ramble on the wooded peninsula which separates the small harbour from Avacha Bay. The sky was cloudless, but a dense fog drifted low over the hilltops and veiled the surrounding mountains from sight. The whole landscape was green as emerald and dripping with moisture, but the sunshine struggled occasionally through the grey cloud of vapour, and patches of light swept swiftly across the wet hillsides, like sunny smiles upon a tearful face. The ground everywhere was covered with flowers. Marsh violets, dotted the grass here and there with blue; columbine swung its purple spurred corollas over the grey mossy rocks; and wild roses appeared everywhere in dense thickets, with their delicate pink petals strewn over the ground beneath them like a coloured shadow.

Climbing up the slope of the steep hill between the harbour and the bay, shaking down little showers of water from every bush, we touched, and treading under foot hundreds of dewy flowers, we came suddenly upon the monument of La Perouse. I hope his countrymen, the French, have erected to his memory some more tasteful and enduring token of their esteem than this. It is simply a wooden frame, covered with sheet iron, and painted black. It bears no date or inscription whatever, and looks more like the tombstone over the grave of a criminal, than a monument to keep fresh the memory of a distinguished navigator.

Bush sat down on a little grassy knoll to make a sketch of the scene, while Mahood and I wandered on up the hill toward the old Russian batteries. They are several in number, situated along the crest of the ridge which divides the inner from the outer bay, and command the approaches to the town from the west. They are now almost overgrown with grass and flowers, and only the form of the embrasures distinguishes them from shapeless mounds of earth. It would be thought that the remote situation and inhospitable climate of Kamchatka would have secured to its inhabitants an immunity from the desolating ravages of war. But even this country has its ruined forts and grass-grown battle-fields; and its now silent hills echoed not long ago to the thunder of opposing cannon. Leaving Mahood to make a critical survey of the entrenchments - an occupation which his tastes and pursuits rendered more interesting to him than to me - I strolled on up the hill to the edge of the cliff from which the storming party of the Allies was thrown by the Russian gunners. No traces now remain of the bloody struggle which took place upon the brink of this precipice. Moss covers with its green carpet the ground which was torn up in the death grapple; and the nodding bluebell, as it bends to the fresh sea-breeze, tells no story of the last desperate rally, the hand to hand conflict, and the shrieks of the overpowered as they were thrown from the Russian bayonets upon the rocky beach a hundred feet below.

It seems to me that it was little better than wanton cruelty in the Allies to attack this unimportant and isolated post, so far from the real centre of conflict. Could its capture have lessened in any way the power or resources of the Russian Government, or, by creating a diversion, have attracted attention from the decisive struggle in the Crimea, it would perhaps have been justifiable; but it could not possibly have any direct or indirect influence upon the ultimate result, and only brought misery upon a few inoffensive Kamchadals who had never heard of Turkey or the Eastern Question and whose first intimation of a war probably was the thunder of the enemy's cannon and the bursting of shells at their very doors. The attack of the Allied fleet, however, was signally repulsed, and its admiral, stung with mortification at being foiled by a mere handful of Cossacks and peasants, committed suicide. On the anniversary of the battle it is still customary for all the inhabitants, headed by the priests, to march in solemn procession round the village and over the hill from which the storming party was thrown, chanting hymns of joy and praise for the victory.

After botanising a while upon the battle-field, I was joined by Bush, who had completed his sketch, and we all returned, tired and wet, to the village. Our appearance anywhere on shore always created a sensation among the inhabitants. The Russian and native peasants whom we met removed their caps, and held them respectfully in their hands while we passed; the windows of the houses were crowded with heads intent upon getting a sight of the "Amerikanski chinovniki" (American officers); and even the dogs broke into furious barks and howls at our approach. Bush declared that he could not remember a time in his history when he had been of so much consequence and attracted such general attention as now; and he attributed it all to the discrimination and intelligence of Kamchatkan society. Prompt and instinctive recognition of superior genius he affirmed to be a characteristic of that people, and he expressed deep regret that it was not equally so of some other people whom he could mention. "No reference to an allusion intended!"