« ForrigeFortsett »
seemed possible, and much faster than I could have expected considering the nature of the road. We were well shaken and jolted about, but no accident happened.
During the whole course of the journey we seldom had a postilion who was luxurious enough to use a saddle; they generally had a bag or a mat thrown across the horse instead. Sometimes they had a rope hanging down on each side with a loop, into which they put their feet by way of stirrups; very often, however, even this rude accommodation was wanting.
The great pace at which the Russians generally drive when the road is good is very dangerous for the postilion, since, if his horse falls, the carriage cannot be stopped in time, and he is run over and probably killed. Such accidents are not uncommon on the main roads. It is astonishing how well the istvostchiks drive four horses abreast through the bad roads, wearing gloves like those of an English hedger, made without fingers, and holding three reins in each hand. There is no country where a little extra drink-money will do so much as here; for though the istvostchik is frequently the owner of the horses which he drives, he appears to care more for the vossein grievnik, or eightpenny-piece, which he gets as navodka, than for the roubles which he receives for the hire of his horses. Navodka means literally for-a-dram, but it is now coming into fashion
among the more refined istvostchiks to beg instead a nachai, or tea-money. They are very goodhumoured fellows, and generally, when they come to be paid, put on what they evidently consider a most insinuating tone and manner. They come to the carriage-door, pull off their hats, and make a low bow. Then they shake back their long hair, which this performance has brought into their
say, Navodka batushka, or nachai, as the case may be, in their most persuasive tone. Batushka is a sort of endearing, and at the same time respectful address, which is commonly used to superiors, as brat (or brother) is to equals and inferiors; it signifies literally little father. When they receive their money they generally look satisfied, while at the same time they often think a little more may be had for the asking, and they remark, with an insinuating smile, that they have driven very well; and if a small coin is, on this plea, added to their navodka, they retire highly delighted, with a profusion of thanks and bows. One man in the middle of our journey amused us by turning round to M-, after he had received the usual drink-money, and saying,
Ah, Marie Alexandrovna, I'm sure you 'll give me a good navodka, for I know your father, and your uncles, and all the family.” He had probably found out who we were from the courier, or from our servant; at all events, I believe he gained his point.
All the way, after we entered the government of Yaroslav, we remarked that the road was lined on each side by a double row of birch-trees, and I now find that all the public roads in the government åre ornamented in the same manner.
We arrived here on the 16th of September, at about two o'clock in the morning. A servant soon made his appearance and conducted us to a very comfortable set of rooms which were prepared for our reception, and which, besides being in other respects very handsomely furnished, boast the unusual luxury of having their floors entirely covered with carpet. We got some tea, and then went to bed as soon as possible, though not without having admired the superb moonlight view from our windows over the Volga, which here is a noble stream about seven hundred yards wide.
This house, which was originally built as a palace for a member of the imperial family, forms a very splendid residence for the Governor, and the situation is exceedingly fine, as the town lies at the back, while the windows in front look upon a terrace at the foot of which flows the Volga. The terrace, which stands at a great height above the water, extends for more than a mile, commanding a fine view of the river and the country beyond. A very considerable trade is carried on in the town, which is large, handsome, and flourishing; the shops are exceedingly well supplied with goods, and many of the tradesmen, I am told, are very rich. Yaroslav contains twenty-eight thousand inhabitants, and forty-three or fortyfour churches. Besides the terrace above the Volga, there is a handsome boulevard, and also a public garden. There are a number of large houses in the town, which in the winter are inhabited by gentlemen's families, so that the society at that season is very good.
On the Sunday, two days after our arrival, we attended the performance of mass at the military church, by the invitation of the commanding officer, Colonel Goulaivitch, a fine soldierlike man, who, as well as his lady, has shown us great attention and civility since we have been here, and both of whom we have been fortunate enough to meet almost daily. The church was entirely filled with soldiers, and the effect produced by so many voices chanting in unison the hymns and responses was exceedingly fine.
This regiment is a military institution which has been established here about two years, for the purpose of educating and training up soldiers' sons; the object being to provide a supply of intelligent well-taught non-commissioned officers for the army. The regiment is composed of three battalions, each more than a thousand strong. The first battalion consists of little boys up to the age of about fifteen; the second, of lads from fifteen to seventeen or eighteen; and the third is effective; but in the whole corps there is hardly a soldier more than twenty years old.
After the conclusion of the service the men were paraded before the Governor, and on this occasion I heard for the first time the singular salutation of the Russian soldiers to their inspecting officer. Each company as it marches past gives a peculiar shout, at a given signal, as if with one voice, and with a sort of sudden crash, the effect of which is very
striking. After the parade the Colonel took us all over the barracks, which are airy and well organised; everything seemed in excellent order, and the dormitories and other apartments clean and well ventilated. The boys are instructed in reading, writing, and arithmetic; they also learn drawing and various branches of professional knowledge, and they are all taught some trade. Nearly every part of the soldiers' equipments is made at home, even including the patent leather for their belts, which seemed to be of very good quality. Portrait-painting is among the arts practised by the soldiers : and we were shown pictures of the Emperor, the Colonel, and most of the officers, very creditably executed by one of them.
After making the tour of the establishment, we went to see the
boys sit down to dinner. They first sang a hymn standing in their places, and, when they had finished, the sound of a bugle gave the signal for them to be seated. They seemed exceedingly comfortable, and everything looked very clean. A certain number acted as waiters to the rest, a service which they all take in turn. In the middle of the room on an elevated platform was a small unoccupied table, at which the Colonel told us that offenders were made to dine as a punishment. I have since seen the military hospital, which was very clean and seemed well conducted. On the ground-floor is the dispensary and surgeon's room, the patients being all upstairs ; at the head of each patient's bed is a board, on which is inscribed his name and the nature of his complaint, and behind the board is placed a paper in which the medical man in attendance is required to insert a daily register of the symptoms, treatment, &c., of the patient; so that the Inspector of the hospital, on making his rounds, may at all times be able to judge whether proper skill has been exercised, and due attention paid, by the subordinates.
Colonel Goulaivitch invited us the other day to his house, to witness the taking the oaths of allegiance and fidelity to the Emperor on entering the service, by M—'s young cousin, the Governor's son, who has just received his first commission. The colours of the regiment were displayed in the dining-room, and under them were placed on a table a large Bible and a
A priest was in attendance in his robes, and there were also about a dozen cantonists, as the young soldiers are called, who were to officiate as choristers upon this occasion. The new ensign repeated after the priest a long oath, holding in his right hand a corner of the colours. He then knelt down and kissed the Bible and the cross, and the ceremony was concluded by a hymn sung by the cantonists.
I went about a fortnight ago with General Poltoratzky to a horse-fair at a large straggling village two or three-and-twenty miles hence. There were a good many horses shown, but few fine animals ; they were, however, very cheap. The General bought one as a carriage-horse for three hundred roubles (about twelve pounds) which would have been worth forty or fifty pounds in England, as he was a handsome well-sized
horse, sound, and only five years
old. The scene was amusing enough, and as unlike an English fair as can be imagined. There were a good many gentlemen present, most of them in undress uniforms, and many with crosses at their button-holes. We walked through a refreshment-booth filled with peasants and horse-dealers, and found them all as quiet as possible, and, with hardly an exception, drinking tea. These people do not put sugar into their cups in the ordinary way, but they either hold a lump between their teeth and sip the tea through it, or else they hold the sugar in the left hand, and nibble off a little bit now and then, as they drink their tea. We were not destined this day to suffer from hunger. First of all, when we were in the midst of the fair, two or three large water-melons were brought, and we all sat down to eat them on the spot, some on the grass and others on the shafts of a waggon, while his excellency the Governor compromised his dignity by sitting in the middle on a reversed tub. Shortly afterwards we were summoned to a luncheon, which abounded in champagne and good things of all kinds, and which might well have passed for a dinner. This entertainment was given by the great man of the village, namely, the steward of the proprietor, who was himself an absentee. The luncheon was no sooner over than we set off for a country-house which lay on our road home, and where I found that we, and most of the gentlemen whom we had met with, were engaged to dine.
I confess this was a pleasure I could have dispensed with, having dined already, as I had supposed. However, the offered hospitality was not to be declined, and we arrived at the house a party of more than twenty ; a force evidently stronger than our entertainer had anticipated in the morning; for, although it was dinner-time when we reached the house, we waited full two hours before we sat down to table. After all, we dined and reached home before nine o'clock-a fact which will remind you that we are not keeping English hours.
We have now a sharp frost, and two days ago (the 1st of October) we were reminded of the approach of winter by finding in the morning the roofs of the houses white with