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engines is ready, it proceeds at full speed through the streets, neither stopping nor turning aside, being preceded by a horseman, who gallops along, shouting and warning all persons to clear the way. If it is dark, the leading engine carries a bright light high up on a pole, which is easily distinguished, by its position, from the lamps of a carriage as it moves along. When a fire breaks out at St. Petersburg, it is the duty of the aide-de-camp in waiting immediately to inform the Emperor, even if the latter is asleep in bed. When a fire is at all considerable the Emperor always gets up and goes to it himself; in other cases the aide-de-camp is ordered to go to the spot, and at the conclusion to return and report what loss has been sustained, with the general result of the misfortune.
In the country the regulations are very good, and it is the duty of the starosta or bailiff of every village to see that they are enforced, though they are nevertheless in many cases totally neglected.
In the villages where the rules are carried into effect, every house has a small board affixed to it, on which is painted a number, and under the number is a figure of some implement useful at a fire; on one being drawn a bucket, on another an axe, on a third a ladder or a pole with a hook at the end for pulling down burning thatch and rafters. The moment a fire is discovered in the village, the inhabitant of every house is bound to appear provided with the implement depicted outside his door. Besides which there are various regulations for establishing order in the operations, such as the appointing one man out of a certain number to be the captain of the gang, and to direct their proceedings.
If the rules were always properly enforced, it would not be easy in a country village to contrive better arrangements than these : since ready assistance with a proper number of all useful implements is provided in case of fire, and confusion is as far as possible avoided. It is the duty of the starosta to visit the houses from time to time in order to see that the implement belonging to each is ready and fit for use, and even that the buckets are supplied with water.
The necessity for such precautions is unfortunately exemplified by the frequent occurrence of rural fires. The peasants,
as I have already observed, lire entirely in villages. Their houses and outbuildings are almost universally constructed of wood, and covered with a loose thatch; and, therefore, if a fire once breaks out, it spreads with inconceivable rapidity from house to house, and whole villages are sometimes thus destroyed. The period when these misfortunes are most common is in the autumn, immediately after harvest, when the peasants are drying their corn at fires made in wooden thatched buildings.
If the proprietors are careful in placing their drying-houses at a safe distance from one another, and from the dwellings, and also in prohibiting the peasants from stacking the whole of their produce close around them, the worst that can ensue from an accident is the destruction of a drying-house with the corn which may happen to be in it at the time: but nothing can exceed the characteristic imprudence of the Russian peasants. The orders of their masters are disobeyed. To save a little trouble, the whole of their produce is brought at once as near as possible to the drying-house; a fire breaks out, and a year's provision is destroyed in an hour. The master may inflict punishment for the disobedience of his orders, but the loss to a great degree falls on himself; for the law decrees, that if, from a failure of crops, or from any other misfortune, the peasant should be in want, his master shall supply him with the necessary provisions.
The exhibition which introduced this subject was as follows. -I was walking on the Boulevard with M— and her uncle, when the latter proposed to us to see the fire-establishment, which was close by. We readily assented, expecting merely to be shown over the place, and to hear the system explained. As we entered the yard, however, the general made a sign to the watchman on the look-out tower, the latter touched the alarm-bell, and instantly all was in a state of activity. Men sprung out from every quarter; the engines were run out of the houses ; horses were brought full trot out of the stables ready harnessed, and were put to; and in the space of four minutes and a half from the original signal, fourteen vehicles, with thirty-three or thirty-four horses attached to them, were drawn in a line in the yard ready to start. The machines
consisted of fire-engines, carriages conveying barrels full of water, ladders, and an apparatus for covering the walls and roofs of houses adjacent to the fire with a screen of sail-cloth. The water-barrels are necessary, since there are no pipes or fire-plugs in a Russian town.
At a second signal from the Governor, the engines, &c., filed one after another out of the yard, and went slowly down the street, the men having taken their proper places upon them. At the further end of the street they turned, and came thundering back at full gallop. Some of the machines were drawn by two, and others by three, horses abreast, all being strong and serviceable animals. When we expressed our admiration at the rapidity and alertness shown in getting the horses and engines ready for action, the General assured us that, so far from any preparation having been made, his appearance was totally unexpected, and that, the day being a fête, all the men were absent who could be spared from duty. And the truth of this was proved by the arrival of the master of police at a gallop in his droschka, he being the chief of the fireestablishment, and having just been informed that the engines were rattling through the town. Whether it was for actual service, or, as proved to be the case, merely for inspection by the Governor, this officer did not know till he arrived on the scene of action.
A few days after this we were invited to see an exhibition of the manner of proceeding and working the engines in case of a fire: but the display on this occasion was not nearly so interesting to me, since everything was prepared beforehand; while the activity on the former day furnished a proof of the real utility and good organization of the establishment, and of the efficiency and alertness of the men in a case of emergency. The powers of the engines, and the manner in which they were worked, as displayed in this second exhibition, could not stand a comparison with the performances of London engines in the hands of London firemen; but I think that few provincial towns in England could boast of superiority in these respects over Yaroslav. Besides the engines, the chief implements to be remarked were ladders, divided for the conveni. ence of packing like the parts of a telescope, and drawn out by pulleys, so as to reach when required to a very considerable height; grappling irons for pulling down walls; and the apparatus, which I have already mentioned, of sail-cloth stretched on poles, which could be hoisted up like the sails of a ship, and placed in front of a house, with other pieces of sail-cloth for laying over roofs. These cloths, being kept constantly wet by means of the engines, form a great protection to the timber walls and boarded roofs which are so common in a Russian town; and the houses are easily covered, being generally low, and frequently not more than one story in elevation. In St. Petersburg the building wooden houses is now wisely forbidden by law.
On the morning of the 21st the Governor's brother-in-law, Prince André Galitzin, proposed to me at breakfast to accompany him to the monastery of Tolga, about seven miles hence, where he was going to pay a visit to the ex-archbishop of Yaroslav, *
prelate who has resigned his episcopal functions, and who now lives in retirement in the convent. We went in a light low calèche belonging to my companion, with three horses abreast, or, as this is called in Russia, a tröika. The horses had cost, as I was assured, but five pounds each ; yet we went sometimes at the rate of eighteen, and never less than fifteen, miles an hour, - the middle horse trotting all the time while the others galloped. A light open calèche is, in some respects, much better for Russian travelling than a close carriage, as it is less liable to upset in bad roads; and three or four horses being always sufficient to draw it, no leaders are required, and therefore in going fast the life of a postilion is not risked. For a long journey, however, especially with a lady, the comfort of a close carriage is very requisite.
The monastery being on the further side of the Volga, we crossed the river in a boat, and landed at the gate of the convent. The reaches of the river in both directions are here extremely fine, and the banks handsome and well wooded. We were received by the archbishop, with whom we sat some time; however, as he only spoke Russian, the conversation lay entirely between him and my companion. He was dressed
* Every government in Russia is an episcopal or archiepiscopal see. No one but a monk can become a bishop.
in a caftan or wrapper of dark-coloured silk, with a shawl sash round his waist, and a monk's cap of black velvet on his head; the monk's cap being in the shape of a hat without a rim, and covered by a black hood hanging down behind. A Russian, on saluting or taking leave of a priest, always kisses his hand, while the priest in return makes the sign of the cross, and blesses him. After our visit to the ex-archbishop we proceeded to the church, which is old and curious, the walls and roof being entirely covered with paintings of saints. In the corner of the church stood a man with wax-candles for sale, two or three of which my companion bought, and, having lighted them before an image, he ordered a Te Deum (a short service, which was performed by three monks), for which he paid a fee of ten roubles. During the reading of a passage from the Gospel he bent himself in an attitude of the utmost humility under the book, so that it rested on his shoulders like the globe on an Atlas ; and he continued in that position till the monk had done reading. He also paid great adoration to an image of the Virgin which was
over the altar, and to which he afterwards called my attention. It was considered remarkable, not only as being set in a broad frame of pearls, the value of which must have been very great, but also from a miraculous legend connected with its history.
After the service some of the monks took us to see the treasures of the convent, consisting of robes for the archbishop; some of velvet embroidered with gold, and others of cloth of gold, with mitres to match; many of which were very handsome, and some curious from their antiquity. There were also Bibles bound with gold, and decorated with jewels; and gold chalices and crosses, with other ornaments for the church. After this display we were shown the refectory, and we immediately afterwards left the convent. The monks were an illfavoured race, with vulgar features, and not a fine or dignified countenance among them. Monks and nuns never eat meat; but they are allowed the use of eggs, butter, and milk, excepting during the fasts of the church.
As soon as we were seated in the boat to return, my companion begged me not to suppose that when I saw him kneel