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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 kneeling before an image, he was paying adoration to the image itself, but to that which it represented. He then told me that the Greek church grounded the use of images on the story which they receive as true, of Abgarus, King of Edessa, receiving from our Saviour a letter accompanied by his portrait, which was endowed with miraculous powers. What in the Greek church are called images, are sacred pictures usually in the style of the Byzantine school; statues they never use for worship.
I was afterwards told the miraculous history of the image which I had seen in the church: I only remember, however, that it had appeared by night in the midst of a burning bush, to a certain archbishop some centuries ago; that he had taken possession of it, and had afterwards been directed by dreams to build the monastery and church of Tolga, and to place it there.
The following day the General proposed to me to
go with him to an estate of his, about sixty miles hence on the Volga, near the town of Riepinsk, which he wished to visit, and after spending the night there, to return the next day. Accordingly, after an early dinner we set off, accompanied by Madame P—'s brother, Prince A. Galitzin, and a Col. S—, 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, an operation which is not performed here quite as fast as at Hounslow; but a Governor travelling within the limits of his own province, is never unnecessarily detained. 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 therefore appropriated to Col. Sand the Prince, while my host and I were to bivouac upon a couple of sofas in the sitting-room. 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 General 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 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 darkness, formed the back ground; 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. 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, however, proved a vain attempt, for the room having been for some time 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 corn 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 oldfashioned 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 black boots drawn over his trowsers.
There was not much to see; the principal lions being the exchange, and a church which was in building, to the top of which we walked by 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 a-head, to which the barge is warped up by means of a strong cable and a capstan turned by about two-and-twenty horses, which work below deck, as in a threshing machine: there were fifty horses on board for the
purpose of relays. There is 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, I believe, run from Yaroslav to Kazan and Astracan.
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 ballroom 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 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 it in flavour or appearance.
We had a large party at dinner, including five or six bearded merchants 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