« ForrigeFortsett »
to government, the contractors who furnish them paying highly for the privilege. At every station there is a postmaster, an officer in the imperial service, whose duty it is to prevent unnecessary
delay, and to ensure regularity in furnishing the horses, which are supplied sometimes by the proprietor of the village, but more often by peasants who make this their occupation, and who are properly called yemstchiks ; they usually drive their horses themselves. At each post-house is a board, on which is marked the number of horses belonging to that station, which of course is, or ought to be, proportioned to the traffic on the road.
Post-horses can only be furnished to travellers on producing a padoroshna, or order, which it is necessary to obtain at a police-office before starting, and in which is inserted the place to which one is going, the distance in versts, and the number of horses which one requires.
For the padoroshna one pays at the rate of two kopeks per horse per verst, ten kopeks being equivalent to a penny; this duty serves to maintain the roads.
The fare for each post-horse is eight kopeks, between Petersburg and Moscow, and five kopeks on most other roads, per verst.
To travel post in Russia, a person must either be provided with his own carriage, or content himself with a tilèga, a small waggon without springs. In
these the letters are conveyed by the Post Office, and the feldt yägers, or imperial couriers, travel in the same manner. The feldt yägers are a class of officers set apart for this employment, and numbers of them are at all times traversing the empire in every direction, on various errands: the fatigues which they endure are so severe and injurious to the health, that they seldom last above six years, dying in general of consumption.
The pace they are forced to travel in waggons without springs and over the roughest roads, is from twelve to fifteen miles an hour, and this, day and night, for long distances, without any repose. They pay for the horses at every station, but they are not delayed many minutes, as every postmaster is obliged to have a tilèga and three horses standing at all times ready in his yard, in case a courier should arrive, and the moment it goes out, another takes its place. The courier has only to show his padoroshna, and the tilèga is driven out for him directly, the time at which he reaches and leaves each station being marked by the postmaster on the padoroshna. The feldt yägers travel sometimes from Moscow to Petersburg, a distance of more than five hundred and twenty miles, in Jess than five and thirty hours.
Journey to Moscow-Bad roads—River Medveditza-Origin of its
name-Arrival at Moscow-The Kremlin-Condition of the cityIvan Veliki — The imperial palace — Ancient apartments of the Russian princesses— The great bell — The holy gate - The Exercise House--Intention of proceeding southwards.
Moscow, October 10th, 1837. We arrived here late last Friday night, after a journey from Yaroslav, which the state of the roads rendered extremely fatiguing and disagreeable. A new line of road is in progress, but is not yet completed, and the old road is in the meantime utterly neglected. We started on Thursday morning in a hard frost, which still continues, but which had been preceded by very heavy rain ; during the wet weather the mud had become very deep, and had been much cut up by wheels, while it was now as hard as stone, and rougher than any ploughed field, so that in many places it was difficult to find a practicable track for the carriage. Occasionally the two wheels on one side would break through the crust of ice, and plunge into a hole so
deep, that I thought it impossible we could recover our equilibrium, and I hardly thought we could get here without being upset. However, no accident occurred, thanks to the skill and care of the istvostchiks, who now and then left the high road for several versts at a time, and drove us along mere tracks through fields and woods. In one of the latter, the path being somewhat narrow, a young birch-tree, of about the thickness of a man's leg, got caught between the wheel and the body of the carriage, and was brought to the ground with a crash; no harm, however, was done, though I was rather alarmed at first by the idea that the carriage itself, and not the tree had suffered.
The road, on leaving Yaroslav, lay, for nearly a mile along a causeway, twenty or thirty feet high, across a low flat. A small river, called the Medveditza, flows here into the Volga ; and, until the causeway was made, all communication was cut off between the two sides, except with boats, at the period of the annual floods; for, when the snow melts, and the ice breaks up, the rivers overflow to a great height, and cover the low ground. The Medveditza was so named by an ancient Prince, in commemoration of his having killed a bear single-handed, at the spot where it joins the Volga; medved, in Russian, signifying a bear. The arms of the province and town appear to commemorate the same event, since they consist of a bear carrying a battle-axe. Be
tween Yaroslav and Moscow the country is much finer than any part of Russia I have yet seen.
About a hundred versts hence we passed a wood of tolerably large oak trees, but we met with no oaks afterwards. We reached a town half-way, called Periaslav, about half-past nine at night; and as we could not travel in the dark, in consequence of the state of the road, we remained there till day-light, sleeping upon a sofa and some chairs, wrapped up in our cloaks; for, although we got a warm and clean room in the inn, beds were a luxury not to be met with, most Russian travellers, as I have already told you, carrying their own with them.
We were in the carriage again by five o'clock the next morning; but, from the state of the road, we did not reach the gates of Moscow till half-past twelve at night. Here my passport was shown, and we were immediately admitted, and found ourselves, with no small degree of satisfaction, traversing the streets of the ancient city, which were dimly lighted and empty, and through which we drove for more than an hour before we reached our journey's end. We are lodged in my father-in-law's house, which is empty and dismantled, the family being in the country; however, we make ourselves tolerably comfortable during our short stay, and we spend, as you may suppose, most of our time abroad.
M— has, fortunately, a married sister living