Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

ing before an image* he was paying adoration to the image itself, but to that which it represented. He added, that the Greek church grounded the use of images on the well-known legend, which they receive as true, of Abgarus, King of Edessa, receiving from our Saviour a letter accompanied by his portrait.

I was afterwards told the story of the image which I had seen in the church. It is said to have appeared by night in the midst of a burning bush some centuries ago to a certain archbishop, who took possession of it. He was afterwards directed by dreams to build the monastery and church of Tolga, and to place it there.

The following day the Governor proposed to me to go with him to an estate of his which he wished to visit, about sixty miles hence, on the Volga, near the town of Riepinsk; and after spending the night there to return the next day. Accordingly, after an early dinner, we set off, accompanied by Madame Poltoratzky's brother, Prince A. Galitzin, and Colonel Shipoff, the General's aide-de-camp. The road was but indifferent; however, we reached our journey's end in a little more than five hours and a half, including the delay of changing horses twice. This operation is not performed here quite as fast as at Hounslow, but a governor travelling within the limits of his own province does not tolerate much delay on the road. The house where we were to sleep was merely the residence of the superintendent, with a couple of rooms reserved for an occasion like the present. One of these was appropriated to Colonel Shipoff and the Prince ; while my host and I were to bivouac upon a couple of sofas in the other. In due time our companions took their leave, our room being constantly besieged by a variety of the people about the place, coming to speak to their master on business, and to bring in their reports : while the passage was filled with others waiting for their turn of admission. However, the Governor wound up his watch, pulled off his coat, and at last fairly got into bed, still continuing his audience to the crowd in waiting. The court being held with open doors, I plainly saw, from the number of people who still thronged the passage, that, if I intended to go to bed at all, I

* It is almost unnecessary to remark that the consecrated images of the Greek church are invariably paintings and not sculptures.

must follow the example of his Excellency, and perform the ceremony of undressing in public. As soon as I was in bed, the whole scene amused me much, and, had I possessed a talent for drawing, there were abundant subjects before me for an excellent sketch. The expectant crowd in the passage pressing forward as far as they thought they could venture, with their bearded faces half in light and half in shade, formed the background; while in the room there were always two or three prominent figures, conversing with their master, who reclined at his ease on the couch opposite to me, smoking his pipe, as he transacted his business. At length, -

- The chamber was cleared,

The train disappeared,” and a servant brought in a splendid melon, which, with a glass of wine, furnished us an excellent supper in bed; while our companions came back in their dressing gowns and sat talking for some time, so that it must have been late before the candles were put out and we composed ourselves to sleep. This, unfortunately, proved a vain attempt, for the room, having been long uninhabited, swarmed with fleas, which gave neither of us a moment's respite till near morning.

The next day, after walking about, and looking at a new house which is in progress, and which will command from the windows a magnificent view of the Volga, we drove to the neighbouring town of Riepinsk, where a very large trade is carried on in com and tallow. We proceeded first to the house of the Mayor, who gave us an excellent luncheon and a bottle of champagne, and who afterwards accompanied us round the town.

He was an admirable specimen of the true old-fashioned Russian tradesman; a tall, portly old man, with a fine grey beard, and a long blue surtout, buttoned according to custom on the left side, and with black boots drawn over his trowsers.

There was not much to see; the principal objects being the Exchange, and a church which was in building, to the top of which we walked up inclined planes. The river was exceedingly full of barges, and we went on board one of the largest, which was used merely as a tow-boat to drag a loaded train.

Its progress against stream must be exceedingly slow. An anchor is carried out ahead, to which the barge is warped up by means of a strong cable and a capstan turned by about twoand-twenty horses, which work below deck, as in a threshingmachine. There were fifty horses on board for the purpose of relays. There water communication all the way from Riepinsk to Petersburg, the distance being about nine hundred miles, while by land it is but three hundred and fifty. The project of steam upon the Volga is now talked of, and a company is formed to carry the scheme into effect; great doubts, however, appear to be entertained as to the practicability and success of the undertaking. I do not understand the difficulties, but I believe they arise partly from shallows or other natural obstacles in the river, and partly from the opposition of persons interested in maintaining the present system of traffic. Were the proposal executed, the steam-vessels would run from Yaroslav to Kazan and Astrakan.*

After dinner we set off on our return to Yaroslav, and arrived here a little before midnight. The 29th, being St. Sophia, was the name's-day of Madame Poltoratzky, and during the whole morning numbers of visitors of all classes were constantly arriving to congratulate her and bring her presents. Her tables were covered with china, books, embroidery, and carpet-work; while in the large ball-room were placed two or three tubs of water, containing two sturgeons, and a quantity of sterlet alive, which had been brought by some of the . tradesmen of the town. The sterlet is an excellent fish, peculiar to the Volga and to one or two other rivers : it partakes of the migratory habits of the salmon, descending periodically into salt-water. It is not, however, the least like the salmon in flavour or appearance.

We had a large party at dinner, including five or six bearded tradesmen in their long caftans; and one of the sturgeons which appeared on the occasion proved excellent. The day was concluded by a ball.

On Sunday we went to hear the Archbishop perform mass in the church of his convent; the service being different from

* See Oliphant's · Russian Shores of the Black Sea in 1852,' when steainpower had been introduced on the Volga.

that in which an ordinary priest officiates. The Archbishop was magnificently dressed in a robe of crimson velvet embroidered with gold, with the ribbons and crosses of various orders round his neck. On his head he had a mitre, also of crimson velvet, covered with jewels; the mitre is not cloven, but is a high cap with a round top bulging out. At the conclusion he stood before the altar, while his mitre and the robes in which he had officiated were taken off by the priests in attendance. A monk's gown, with two stars on the breast, was then put on, as well as a monk's cap; the crosses were replaced around his neck, and the Archbishop walked out of the church, blessing the congregation as he went. He was a little old man, apparently much more feeble and infirm than his predecessor, whom I had seen at Tolga, and who had retired owing to his age and consequent inability to perform the duties of his office. The see of Yaroslav is one of the best in Russia ; the revenues amounting to about two thousand five hundred pounds a-year.

Nearly the whole service in the Greek Church is chanted, and a good deal of incense is used. The officiating priest stands during the greater part of the time with his back to the congregation, being always assisted by a deacon, who, whenever he gives him or receives from him a book in the course of the ceremony, kisses his hand. At the conclusion of mass the cross is brought forward by the priest to be kissed by the congregation. This latter ceremony was made the means of communicating to the Empress-mother the death of the late Emperor Alexander. On hearing of the illness of her son at Taganrog, the Empress ordered a mass to be celebrated for his recovery at the Kazan church of St. Petersburg. In the middle of the service the Grand Duke Nicholas was called out and was informed that the tidings of his brother's death had arrived. He communicated the intelligence to the Metropolitan, who was officiating, and when the latter, at the conclusion of the service, presented as usual the cross to the Empress, it was enveloped in black crape.

On Monday we went to see the treasures of the convent, the church of which we had attended the day before. We were taken by a monk into a strong-room, the neglected appearance

of which little bespoke the riches it contained. The sides of the room were covered by miserable deal wardrobes, displaying, when opened, a great quantity of robes; some of the richest silk or velvet of various colours embroidered with gold and silver, and others of gold or silver tissue. These, however, sunk into insignificance when compared with the dresses for the use of the Archbishop on high ceremonials, which were embroidered with jewels instead of gold. The most. beautiful was a robe of sky-blue velvet, with a broad border and other ornaments of a beautiful pattern of leaves and flowers in fine pearls, of which nearly six pounds weight were employed on this suit alone. There were other robes of velvet almost equally rich, and all had mitres to match, which were absolutely covered with jewels. One mitre was valued at about five thousand pounds. There were also Bibles bound in gold and covered with jewels; Crosses and Images set in diamonds, emeralds, and other precious stones; and several handsome services of plate for administering the Communion. One of these services was of pure gold, richly and beautifully chased, of the weight of twelve pounds avoirdupois. The riches of this convent are chiefly owing to the munificence of the ancient princes of Yaroslav, but I am told they are nothing in comparison to the treasures which are heaped up in the convent of Tröitska, situated between this place and Moscow. The late Archbishop of Yaroslav found, on his accession to the see, that there were no less than sixty-four pounds weight of fine pearls, of which no use was made, but which were laid up

in bags like seeds. Being a person of taste in such matters, he, in concert with the Abbess of a neighbouring convent, employed the pearls in embroidering the beautiful robes which I have just described. They have, however, still remaining unused, about eleven pounds weight of pearls. Besides these things they have in the church a Shrine of great size, of solid silver; an Image set in broad frame of pearls, which must be of immense value; and also many precious and costly articles which I have not enumerated. The interior of the church is almost covered with gilding.

Although the dresses of the prelates, and even of the ordi

« ForrigeFortsett »