It was the custom of Peter the
Great, to visit the different workshops and manufactories, not
only to encourage them, but also to judge what other useful
establishments might be formed in his dominions. Among the
places he visited frequently, were the forges of Muller at Istia,
ninety wersts from Moscow.
The Czar once passed a whole month
there; during which time, after giving due attention to the
affairs of state, which he never neglected, he amused himself
with seeing and examining everything in the mfet minute manner,
and even employed himself in learning the business of a
blacksmith. He succeeded so well, that on one of the last days
of his remaining there, he forged eighteen poods of iron, and
put his own particular mark on each bar.
The boyars, and other noblemen of
his suite, were employed in blowing the bellows, stirring the
fire, carrying coals, and performing the other duties of a
When Peter had finished, he went to
the proprietor, praised his manufactory, and asked him how much
he gave his workmen per pood. "Three copecks, or an altina,"
answered Muller. "Very well," replied the Czar; "I have then
earned eighteen altinas."
Muller fetched eighteen ducats, offered them to Peter, and told
him, that he could not give a workman like his majesty less per
pood. Peter refused. "Keep your ducats," said he, "I have not
wrought better than any other man; give me what you would give
to another; I want to buy a pair of shoes, of which I am in
great need." At the same time he showed him his shoes, which had
been once mended, and were again full of holes. Peter accepted
the eighteen altinas, and bought himself a pair of new shoes,
which he used to show with much pleasure, saying, "These I
earned with the sweat of my brow."
One of the bars of iron forged by Peter the Great, and
authenticated by his mark, is still to be seen at Istia, in the
forge of Muller. Another similar bar is preserved in the cabinet
of curiosities at St. Petersburg.
The Journal of Society of Arts, November 15, 1867, (London,