, the Garrick of Russia, whose talents for the stage were as great
, the Garrick of Russia, whose talents for the stage were as great as those of Snmorokof for dramatic composition, was a tradesman’s son at Yaroslaf. This surprising genius, who was born in 1729, having discovered very early proofs of great abilities, was sent for his education to Moscow, where he learnt the German tongue, music, and drawing. His father dying, and his mother marrying a second husband, who had established a manufacture of saltpetre and sulphur, he applied himself to that trade; and, going upon the business of his fatherin-law to Petersburg!) about 1741, his natural inclination for the stage led him to frequent the German plays, and to form an intimate acquaintance with some of the actors. Upon his return to Yaroslaf, he constructed a stage in a large apartment at his father-in-law’s house; painted the scenes himself; and, with the assistance of his four brothers, acted several times before a large assembly. Their first performances were the scriptural histories composed by the archbishop of Rostof; these were succeeded by the tragedies of Lomonozof and Sumorokof; and sometimes satirical farces of their own composition against the inhabitants of Yaroslaf. As the spectators were admitted gratis at every representation, his father-in-law objected to the cxpence. Accordingly Volkof constructed in 1750, after his own plan, a large theatre, partly by subscription, and partly at his own risk: having supplied it with scenes which he painted himself, and dresses which he assisted in making, and having procured an additional number of actors, whom he regularly instructed, he and his troop performed with great applause before crowded audiences, who cheerfully paid for their admission. In 1752 the empress Elizabeth, informed of their success, summoned them to Petersburg, where they represented in the theatre of the court the tragedies of Sumorokof. In order to form the new troop to a greater degree of perfection, the four principal actors were placed in the seminary of the cadets, where they remained four years. At the conclusion of that period a regular Russian theatre was established at the court, three actresses were admitted, Sumorokof was appointed director, and 1000l. was allowed for the actors. Beside this salary, they were permitted to perform once a week to the public, and the admission-money was distributed among them without deduction, as the lights, music, and dresses, were provided at the expeoce of the empress. The chief performances were the tragedies and comedies of Sumorokof, and translations from Moliere and other French writers. The company continued to flourish under the patronage of Catharine II.; and the salaries of the actors were gradually increased to 2200l. per annum. Volkof and his brother were ennobled, and received from their imperial mistress estates in land: he performed, for the last time, at Moscow, in the tragedy of Zemira, a short time before his death, which happened in 1763, in the thirty-fifth year of his age. He equally excelled in tragedy and comedy; and his principal merit consisted in characters of madness. He was tolerably versed in music, and was no indifferent poet.