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arrival for some days. The tarantass was intended for our luggage; but it is generally used for the conveyance of servants, and is, I believe, very common in Russia. This, however, being the first specimen of such a vehicle which I ever saw, struck me as singular from its novelty. The best picture which I can give of it is the body of an old cabriolet or small britschka, lashed on the middle part of a very light timber carriage. It has no springs; but the elasticity of the long birch poles which connect the two axles, and on which the body is placed, renders the motion, as I am told, tolerably easy.
After a breakfast which was preceded by the refreshment of a comfortable toilette at the inn where we stopped, we set out to perform the remaining part of our journey to this place, which is fifty versts, or about eight-and-thirty miles, from Tor jok. We now bade adieu with regret to the excellent macadamized road, and enjoyed for the first time the luxury of an old-fashioned Russian road, not improved by two days of incessant rain.
Over this road we travelled but slowly, in spite of our six horses, driven, according to custom, four abreast, with a pair of leaders, the postilion being mounted on the off-horse. We stopped once to bait; and it was ten o'clock at night before we reached Krasnoe. Here we were most kindly welcomed and received by M—'s father and all the family. Comfortable apartments, consisting of bed-room, dressing-room, and sittingroom, had been prepared for us, and we were glad to enjoy a good night's rest after our journey.
As we had arrived in the dark, we had seen nothing of Krasnoe as we approached, and I was curious next morning to inspect the place, though the weather continued rainy and disagreeable. The ground slopes down from the house to a large and handsome piece of water, and is laid out in the style of an English garden, with flower-beds, trees, shrubs, and grass ; and at the further extremity is a grove of handsome birch-trees, where the ground is intended to imitate a park. The whole, including the water, is very pretty, but the space is too extensive to be kept in perfect order as dress ground. At the same time, sheep and
cattle are never admitted to graze as on an English lawn, so that the turf is coarse and bad. The architecture of the church, which is close to the house, is considered remarkable, as being a species of Gothic, a style uncommon in Russia. It was built in imitation of a church erected by the Empress Catherine, to commemorate an action in the Black Sea, when the Russians burned the Turkish fleet; and it has five domes, all surmounted by the Greek cross placed over the crescent.*
This edifice was erected by an ancestress of M—'s, a lady who built no less than twelve churches in the government of Tver, and who was rather a remarkable personage. She inherited a large fortune, and was married at the age of fifteen. She had twenty-three children, of whom ten came to years
of maturity: she survived her husband many years, and was nearly ninety years old when she died. After her husband's death, if not during his lifetime, she was sole mistress of his property, which she increased till she accumulated an immense fortune by extraordinary energies and talents for business; and she died, leaving large estates to each of seven sons and three daughters.
The second day of our visit brought a decided improvement in the weather, and I had a drive with my father-in-law after breakfast, in a low phaëton, to see a little of his estate, which consists of apparently sound good land, chiefly arable. The grass land will not bear a comparison with English pasture ; and the crops of hay are very light, though they are here considered particularly good this year. The horses, sheep, piys, and horned cattle which compose the live stock, are small, and of a very inferior kind; but I am told that the expense of improving them by a mixture of foreign breeds is very much disproportioned to the profit thereby derived. The animals of every
kind are necessarily housed at night, even in summer, on account of the wolves, which are very numerous and troublesome in this neighbourhood. In the morning the whole of the stock goes out to feed, and remains during the day under the protection of a herdsman, whose badge of office is a whip, which he carries over his shoulder, with a short handle, and a long heavy
* This significant emblem is very common in Russia, as I afterwards observed.
lash trailing for several feet along the ground behind him. With this implement he soon reduces to order, and brings back to the herd, any refractory animal which is inclined to stray ; the want of fences rendering his constant attendance necessary. There is an abundance of water and wood, birch, and Scotch and spruce fir, both for fuel and for ordinary uses, on the estate, which also contains lime and brick earth..
The peasants live entirely in villages, of which at Krasnoe there are four ; the mansion-house, with its appendages, forming a part of the largest. This is, I believe, a universal custom in Russia, where solitary houses are rarely seen. The roofs are covered either with thatch, boards, thin sheets of iron, or guttered tiles, as slates are unknown; the most usual, because the cheapest covering for the peasants' houses, being a slovenly thatch. These houses are, however, in general, extremely warm and substantial. They are built for the most part of unsquared logs of deal, laid one upon another, and firmly secured at the corners, where the ends of the timbers cross, being hollowed out so as to receive and hold one another. These timbers are also fastened together by wooden pins and uprights in the interior. The four corners are supported upon large stones or roots of trees, so that there is a current of air in summer under the floor to preserve the timber from damp; while in the winter earth is piled up all round to exclude the cold. The interstices between the horizontal logs are stuffed with moss and clay, so that no air can enter. The windows are very small, and are frequently cut out of the wooden wall after it is finished. In the centre of the house is a stove called a peech, which heats the cottage to an almost unbearable degree. The warmth, however, which a Russian peasant loves to enjoy within doors is proportioned to the cold which he is required to endure without. His bed is the top of his peech ; and when he enters his house in the winter, pierced with cold, he throws off his sheepskin coat, stretches himself on his stove, and is thoroughly warmed in a few minutes.
There are two important appendages to the village of Krasnoe, which must be mentioned, viz. the hospital for the peasants, and the bath.
The former is under the superintendence of a German doctor, who lives in the house, being engaged at a fixed stipend. This provision for the proper attendance of their people when sick is an act of humanity which, I believe, the proprietors of few estates in this country neglect if they can afford it. · The Russian bath is indispensable in every village; and there is scarcely a servant or peasant of either sex, whether young or old, who does not use it every Saturday in the year. You are aware that it is a vapour-bath. A room containing a stove is furnished with benches rising like steps one behind the other to the roof: stones are heated on the stove, and water is poured upon them, so as to fill the room, which is carefully closed, with steam. The bather commences by placing himself on the lowest bench, and gradually ascends till he reaches the highest, where the heat is greatest. He also promotes the circulation of the blood, and increases the action of the heat upon his skin, by flapping himself all over with small birch twigs. He will often rush out of the bath when at the hottest, plunge into cold water, or even roll in the snow, and return.
This weekly purification of the person must tend greatly to the health of the Russian peasant, whose long hair and beard, and sheepskin coat, are not favourable to personal cleanliness,
Mode of life in the country-Language - Russian patronymics — System
of country visiting - Guests — A dinner visit — Village fête — Russian swing – Intense heat - An enthusiast - A runaway serf.
Krasnoe, August 10th, 1837. We have now been here nearly six weeks, though I can scarcely persuade myself of the fact, so quickly and agreeably has the time flown by. Our life, however, has been extremely quiet and regular. We breakfast about nine, or half-past, after which M— and I retire to our own sitting-room, where we usually occupy ourselves till two o'clock, when we all assemble for dinner. After dinner some of the ladies visit our room to work, talk, and read; towards five we think of going out to walk, ride, drive, or row; at seven we have tea, after wbich we go out again, and often come in but just in time for supper at ten or half-past ten. We have a boat somewhat less than a barge, which I pull, often with three or four passengers on board, and, considering her tonnage, she goes wonderfully well. The lake, which has been formed by damming up the waters of two brooks flowing into one another, stretches up a hollow to a considerable extent; and as we can penetrate both of the little rivers for some distance, we can easily enjoy a pull of an hour and a half or two hours.
Besides the members of the family and ourselves, we have also, as inmates of the house, a German doctor and his wife. This gentleman, as I have already mentioned, is engaged to attend the family and the peasants in sickness. There is also a little orphan girl, noble, but penniless, whom M—'s sisters educate, according to a charitable custom extremely prevalent in Russia.
I have not made much progress in the Russian language, beyond acquiring the names of a few articles of every day use. Indeed, strangers, who merely intend to pass a short