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the accident. We soon obtained the assistance of a peasant, and he, with a piece of wood and a cord, in five minutes spliced our broken shaft, and enabled us to reach home in safety. I mention this little incident in illustration of the general handiness of the Russian moujik.
The hay harvest, which began about the middle of July, is only just finished, and the corn harvest is now proceeding actively. The hay harvest is tedious, owing to the large sur: face, in proportion to the produce, over which the scythe has to pass; though I am told that the crops this year were in many places three times as heavy as they were last summer. They have a few large meadows, but the greater part of the hay is procured from little patches of rough ground on the outskirts of the woods, or from little hollows which are not cultivated, owing to the water hanging in them in rainy weather. I have seen fifty mowers at work in one place, and one day they had a hundred and fifty mowing in one meadow. The hay is not dried in the field, but is loaded as soon as cut on waggons drawn by oxen, and is brought into a large yard, or close, adjoining the barn, and there it is opened out to dry. They have no hay-forks, but instead they use the butt end of the scythe-handle, or a forked stick. The latter is the only implement they have for pitching up the hay into the barn. The hay is generally housed the day after it is cut, none of it being put into ricks. They make it as soon as it is dry into large cocks. Under each cock they thrust crosswise two long stakes, leaving one end of each standing out: they then pass a rope round the cock and attach it to a horse, which draws the hay thus held together along the ground to the barn. When the distance is short, the trouble of loading and unloading waggons is thus saved, and two horses will in this manner bring in a vast quantity in the course of the day. The tenth cock, as it is brought in, is weighed and taken as the average. The whole quantity of hay made this year at Krasnoe, not reckoning the stock laid in by the peasants, which must be considerable, is about a hundred and ninety-seven tons, all harvested in excellent order. The average value of hay in the country is about eight shillings and threepence per ton; sometimes, however, it is as high as thirty-three shillings;
and at Petersburg it rises occasionally to fifty-five shillings a ton, which, however, is considered a ruinous price.
All the crops this year seem very good, except the rye, the staple food of the country. It is generally thin and bad, and in many places a total failure. It is chiefly housed by this time, the harvest here having commenced on the 15th of August, which is later than usual. Besides rye, oats are grown here in large quantities, barley and flax to a considerable extent, and a good deal of hemp. There are also a few pease, and some small patches of spring wheat, which, however, looks very unthriving. A few hops are to be seen around the villages, and potatoes and cabbages are largely cultivated for human consumption. Potatoes have not been introduced among the peasantry to any great extent till of late years; and even now the people rely much more upon the cabbage, which they have a peculiar mode of pickling for winter food, since they cannot always preserve potatoes from the frost.
They here begin sowing rye on the 18th of August, as it is the anniversary of the consecration of the church.
They have a mass, after which they proceed to a field near at hand, when the priest pronounces a blessing, and offers a public prayer for the success of their labours. Though the sowing on this day is a mere form, the seed-time commences shortly afterwards in good earnest; and the young corn is already in some places beginning to make its appearance.
As soon as the corn is cut, it is dried on a sort of kiln, threshed out, and stored up in large bins in the granaries. Here there is a threshing-machine worked by horses, but the flail is used by women as well as by men. I have seen the peasants often threshing their own corn without an implement of any kind, merely taking up the sheaf by the lower end, and beating the heads upon a spot of hard dry ground, swept clean as a threshing-floor. They dry their corn by fires in large open sheds built on purpose; but casualties are, as might be expected, the frequent result of this dangerous practice. All the agricultural implements in general use are rude in the extreme. The peasant's spade is a mere paddle of wood, sometimes shod with iron, but more often not. His plough is an ineffective instrument drawn by a weak pony, and his harrow
merely consists of boughs fastened together with the twigs cut off a few inches from the base to form the teeth. His waggon does not contain above two or three barrows' load, though it is perhaps as much as his miserable horse can draw. Every peasant is a petty farmer without capital, and the wretched state of agriculture which exists is the natural consequence of the system.
My father-in-law, who, like old gentlemen in the days of Horace, is not unfrequently
- laudator temporis acti
Se puero—" has many anecdotes of Marshal Souvaroff, which he is fond of relating. They are all more or less illustrative of the singular character of the man who united so much eccentricity, and even buffoonery, to his great military talents. Perhaps one or two of these stories may amuse you. When Souvaroff commanded the Russian forces in 1788, Prince Koutousoff led the assault at the storming of Ismail. He was twice repulsed ; and after his second failure an aide-de-camp of Souvaroff's rode up to him with a message, neither of reproach nor of condolence, but with the information that he was appointed by the Commander-in-chief to the post of Commandant of Ismail. Koutousoff did not know what to make of this message in the moment of his discomfiture. However, the pressing business was to take the town, and, leading the assault for a third time, he succeeded. At his next interview with Souvaroff, Koutousoff asked what his meaning was in sending him the appointment of commandant at the moment of his repulse. “Oh!” said the Marshal, “ I knew Koutousoff; and I knew that either Ismail would want a Russian commandant, or Koutousoff would not want a command." This story my father-in-law had from Prince Koutousoff himself. Souvaroff used frequently to ask the young officers and soldiers the most absurd questions, considering it a proof of smartness on their part if they gave a prompt reply, and hating above all things “I don't know" as the answer. He one day went up to a sentry, and, as the man presented arms, Souvaroff said, “ Tell me how many buttons there are on the uniforms of 50,000
men.' “ I can't say,” replied the soldier very naturally; upon which the Marshal, according to his custom, began to abuse him and rate him for his stupidity. The soldier, however, knowing Souvaroff's character, took courage, and said, "Well, sir, perhaps it's not every question your Excellency could answer yourself; for instance, there are my two aunts,could you please to
me their names ?” The man's quickness atoned for his impudence in the general's eyes, and the soldier was made a corporal next morning.
In one of Souvaroff's campaigns, a young prince, his relative, joined the army, and on his introduction was very kindly received. Shortly afterwards, being ordered on some service of hardship, the young prince asked to be relieved, appealing to the general's favour and promised friendship. “Ah," said Souvaroff, “it's very true, I've a great regard for your family; go to your quarters, and I'll send a written order which will set the matter at rest.” In due time the promised paper reached the young officer ; but on being opened it contained only two parallel straight lines; one inscribed with the word Duty, the other with the word Favour. The young man was mathematician enough to understand the general's hint—that in his eyes Duty and Favour could never be made to coincide. The decision was as brief and as pithy as our own Duke’s “ Sail or sell.”
Journey to Yaroslav - Tver – Avant-courier – Cross-roads — Passing a
ferry - Kashine and Ouglitch – Russian travelling - Navodka and Nachai — Arrival at Yaroslav — View from Government-House — Volga - Military church — Regiment of Cantonists - Officer taking the oaths of allegiance — Horse-fair — Dinner — Frost - Society - Card-playing - Mode of marking - Nobility - Rank and title — Military grades given to civilians.
Yaroslav, October 3rd, 1837. My last letter made you acquainted with our projected visit to
Yaroslav, where we have now spent upwards of a fortnight most agreeably. My time has been so constantly occupied, that I have never had leisure for writing to you, and I sit down now to wipe off the arrear.
We left Krasnoe on the 13th of September, being provided with a travelling carriage by the kindness of M—'s father. Our regrets at quitting the place, which had been our home for nearly three months, and our leave-takings with those from whom we parted, I shall pass over in silence. The General sent us with his own horses the first eight-and-thirty miles, having despatched a set half way over night, so that we found six fresh horses awaiting us. We hired horses to take us the remaining stage to Tver, of about two-and-twenty miles, along the high road between Petersburg and Moscow. Tver, the capital of the province, or government as it is called, of the same name, in which our time had hitherto been spent, is a city of considerable size, situated on the right bank of the Volga, which we crossed by a bridge of boats on entering the town.
Here we were obliged to sleep, as some arrangements were necessary before we could proceed on our journey, since the remainder of our route lay for the most part along a line of cross-roads little frequented, and on which no regular posting stations existed. However, owing to the kindness of the Go