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time in the country, have little inducement to bestow much labour upon this study, for all Russians of the educated classes speak French, with as much facility in general as their native tongue, and many of them use it almost as much in talking to one another, even when no foreigners are present. The Russian language, however, it is said, is rapidly gaining ground in fashionable society, owing to the encouragement of the Emperor, who very wisely will not allow himself to be addressed by his subjects in any other, and who is highly displeased when it is spoken or written incorrectly. One cause for the general habit of talking French, probably, is the want of bells, and the practice of having servants constantly in the ante-rooms close at hand, and within hearing of the conversation. The important precept so carefully instilled into English children, always to shut the door after them, is unknown in Russia.
'The Russians have no words, at least none are commonly used, which correspond to Mr., Mrs., or Miss ; and in speaking of or to one another, in their own language, they use the christian name, subjoining that of the person's father with the termination added-ovitch or evitch, son of, and ovna or evna, daughter of. Thus John son of Peter is called Ivan Petrovitch, and Anne daughter of John is Anna Ivanovna. In this manner, without any title of respect, the servant addresses his master or mistress, and the soldier his officer. One of the first points, accordingly, which it became necessary to settle on our arrival here, was the providing us with suitable Russian patronymics for the benefit of the servants. M— became quite naturally Maria Alexandrovna; and, after some consideration, I received the euphonious name of Rõdīvān Rodīvānövītch.
The ordinary routine of life which I have described has been varied now and then by an occasional visit.' The system of country visiting in Russia is carried on upon the hospitable principle that a friend is always welcome. The distances are so great, that morning calls are in general out of the question, and, excepting on particular occasions, such as a fête, invitations are rare. Neighbours sometimes send over to announce their intention of coming, if it is agreeable to you, to
dine, or to spend a night or two at your house ; but there being no cross-posts between country places, the most usual thing is, that your guests arrive unexpectedly a little before the ordinary dinner-hour. This system has its inconveniences, though it is unavoidable in Russia, where, besides the difficulty of writing beforehand to prepare you for their visit, people do not always like to pledge themselves to go twenty or five-and-twenty miles, over bad roads, with the chance that the day fixed for the visit may prove rainy or disagreeable. These unexpected visits are considered highly complimentary, though, from the quantity of servants and horses with which Russians travel, the numbers to be provided for impromptu are sometimes rather formidable. For instance, on one occasion, when three parties chanced to arrive here simultaneously to dine, and spend a day or two, unannounced beforehand; though the guests themselves amounted only to five or six, they brought with them ten servants, and sixteen carriage-horses. A single man seldom moves with less than two servants and four horses, and the Russian country-house has no neighbouring inn to which the latter may be inhospitably consigned.
The etiquette of visiting, in general, is altogether different in this country and in England. With us, it is considered the part of the person of higher rank, or of older standing in society, to make the first advances in forming an acquaintance; whereas in Russia it rests with the new comer to select his society among those to whom he is introduced, and he calls upon those whom he desires to know.
Among our other guests were a lady and gentleman named Velikopolsky. Though they live thirty versts, or about threeand-twenty miles hence, they are looked upon as neighbours, and, in fact, they merely came to dinner, and went home again in the evening-with their footman, by-the-by, standing up behind the carriage, as if they were driving about town. This, however, it seems, is considered no hardship by a Russian servant, especially if the foot-board be upon springs. When tired of standing, he sits down with his back to the carriage, and in this way he will travel any distance.
The Velikopolskys, on taking leave, pressed us much to pay them a visit, which we accordingly did the following
week, sending a messenger a day beforehand to announce our intention. As the distance was long, we set off about eleven o'clock, and traversed an open country, for the most part over unmade roads, like the tracks across an English common. In about two hours we descended a very steep hill, at the foot of which flowed the Volga. This point is about ninety miles from the source of the river, and it is already a fine stream about two hundred yards wide, with a rapid current deep and clear, running in a narrow valley, which it appears to have cut for itself through the surrounding plain. We crossed the celebrated river on a floating bridge, and after ascending the steep hill on its further bank, and regaining the level country, we soon found ourselves at the place of our destination, the house standing on a fine elevated spot above the Volga. The windows were, however, turned away from the river, and they presented no view but that of a formal old-fashioned garden, filled with lime-trees closely trimmed, and planted in straight lines on each side of the walks. After going round the garden we returned to the house, where we found a déjeûner set out in the drawingroom, consisting of caviare, cheese, &c., and liqueurs. This was tasted and dinner was immediately announced, it being now three o'clock. In the middle of dinner some English bottled porter was handed round, and considerable amusement was excited by my declining the offered improvements of lemon and pounded sugar, which the Russians often drink with porter, and which our kind host had supposed indispensable to an Englishman.* After dinner we took a short walk, and on our return found a dessert of fruit laid out in a pretty balcony filled with flowers, upon which the drawing-room windows opened. This was followed by music and singing, till, at halfpast six, tea made its appearance, accompanied by ices. Immediately afterwards we took our departure, and got back to Krasnoe at ten o'clock, having paid a visit of five hours, to accomplish which we had travelled nearly fifty miles with the same horses over very indifferent roads.
A week ago we were invited to a village fête, about four
* We afterwards found incidentally that a messenger had been sent to a town nearly twenty miles off, to procure the lemons supposed to be so essential to the English palate.
teen miles hence, which was given by a relation of M—'s, in honour of his wife's name-day—that is, the day of the saint after whom she is called. We reached Tröitska about one o'clock, and found in front of the house a long row of tables, at which all the peasants on the estate, with their wives and children, had just finished dining. They had been well provided with beer, followed by a glass or two of spirits to each; and they were now assembled round the door of the house, shouting and singing with all their might. On the steps of the house were large baskets full of gingerbread, which the entertainer and his guests were throwing in every direction among the crowd, and the peasants, men and women, boys and girls, were scrambling for it with the utmost eagerness.
After the scrambling was over, we were entertained by a national dance, the execution of which had no great merit, especially as some of the performers were drunk. The music was a monotonous ditty, sung, or rather screeched, at the pitch of their voices by the dancers themselves. We soon afterwards sat down to dinner, and the singing was continued under the windows by four or five pairs of vigorous female lungs during the whole time that we were at table.
The swing, that most necessary appendage to all Russian country festivities, which is to be seen in every village and in every gentleman's garden, was kept in full play, till the peasants got tired of amusing themselves, and went home to their houses. About six o'clock we drove to see a neighbouring gentleman's garden, which was somewhat celebrated in the country. The proprietor received us most civilly, and showed us over his garden, which was his hobby. It was large and well kept, but for the most part dull and sombre, being laid out chiefly in straight walks, entirely shaded over by trees, which, however, were old and of a considerable size, so as to impart a degree of respectability to the place. The garden was decorated by large formally shaped ponds; at one end was a stew filled with pike, and, close by, a tawdry summer-house of painted wood.
We returned to Tröitska to tea, and drove home in the cool of the evening, or rather in the dark.
On the following day (August 5) a degree of heat set in
such as I never remember to have felt before. Its continuance was fortunately not very long, for on the 8th (the day before yesterday) we had a thunderstorm, which cooled the air, and the heat is now moderated. During the three days, however, of its intensity, it was impossible to stir out of the house till seven o'clock in the evening. I had a headache during the whole time, and sat all day absolutely gasping for breath, unable to find a cool spot. It was well for us that the days were not at the longest, and that the power of the sun was therefore somewhat diminished. The summer has been considered on the whole a very cold one in this country, where heat, such as we have just experienced, sometimes lasts uninterruptedly for weeks, bringing all the crops rapidly to perfection, and compensating by its intensity for the shortness of a Russian summer. A few years ago, so great was the drought and heat in this neighbourhood, that the grass was scorched, the earth smoked if turned up, and the forests in many places took fire from the dryness of the trees.
A man was lately brought back to Krasnoe by the police, who had run away from his wife seven years ago. When he was asked his reason for absconding, he said that he had been compelled by his family to marry when very young, that he thought it wicked to have a wife, and that his greatest desire was to become a monk. Since his return, he has thrown himself at the feet of the young ladies whenever he could meet with them, intreating them to intercede with their father to permit him to enter a convent. This, however, will not be allowed, for fear of the example being followed. This man has been to the monastery of Solovetskoi, situated on a small island in the White Sea, in a dreadful climate, and frequently cut off from all communication with the main land. Here this poor man wished to have remained, and to have entered the order, the rules of which are most severe ; but as he had no passport or permission from his master to show, the monks were prohibited by law from admitting him. When he arrived here he was examined, and it was found that he had on an iron belt next to his skin around his breast, supported by iron straps over his shoulders, and with two iron