« ForrigeFortsett »
delight in wrapping themselves up; indeed they say that to do so is a necessary precaution, owing to the sudden changes from heat to cold, which are experienced in this climate. Ladies walk about, even in this weather, enveloped in shawls and cloaks; and the peasants are always seen in their shoobs,* coats of sheepskin, with the wool inside.
No soldier or officer, so long as he continues in the Emperor's service, even when on leave of absence, or when he is with his own family in the country, is allowed to appear on any occasion out of uniform. The officers, when they retire from the service, if they have been well conducted, generally receive permission to wear the uniform of their regiment when they please, but without cpaulettes. The persons employed in the civil service of the empire, in the public offices, the universities and institutions of every kind, including lawyers, doctors, and professors have also uniforms, which, however, they are only obliged to wear when on duty. The undress is merely a plain coat of blue or green, with gilt buttons, bearing a device; the full dress is worn with a sword, and much resembles a military uniform without epaulettes; it is completed by white breeches, shoes, and buckles, and cocked hat. I must observe, that a
Any kind of cloak or coat lined with fur is called a shoob. + When an officer in this service goes abroad, he cannot lay aside the uniform till he has passed the frontier. If he goes by sea, he must retain it till he reaches the foreign port where he is to land, and he must resume it there on coming home.
Russian has no idea of a member of any profession, such as law or physic, however independent it may be according to our notions, being otherwise than " in the service."
I should suppose that in no other city of its size are there so many public buildings as in St. Petersburg. One-half of the town is crown property, and consists of public offices, institutions, palaces (of which the handsomest externally is the one lately built for the Grand Duke Michael), and barracks, of which there are an inordinate number; sailors as well as soldiers being quartered in them.
Wednesday Evening.—The Nicolai steamer is just come in from Lubeck with the English post. She brings us the expected news of the death of King William the Fourth, on Tuesday last, and of the proclamation of her present majesty in less than a month after reaching her majority.
The moment of our departure is still uncertain : we hope to leave Petersburg to-morrow, but no diligence is yet to be had, and it seems very doubtful when one will be at our disposal.
Journey to Krasnoe - Diligence - Road - Bridges ---Inns—Istvost
chiks—Peasants' dress--Dreary landscape-Novogorod - Russian village-Military colonies-Torjok— Arrival at Krasnoe-Description of the place-Russian farming-Peasants' houses-Hospital and bath.
Krasnoe, July 12th, 1837. You will be glad to see by the date of this letter, that we have reached the place of our destination for the present, and that we are fairly established as visitors in a Russian country house. We are now in the Province or Government of Tver, and about four hundred miles south of Petersburg. In my last, I told you we were anxious to start on our journey, but that no diligence was to be had, and we were detained for two days longer, making frequent but fruitless enquiries at all the offices. On the evening of the 30th, however, as I was returning home after an unsuccessful search, I fortunately spied the object of which I was in quest, namely, a diligence for four persons, passing slowly along through the street. My servant, who was with me as interpreter, ascertained that it
was just arrived from Moscow, and, having set down its
passengers, was proceeding to the office. To this place I, of course, lost no time in making my way, and engaged the diligence, which I was told would be ready to start, if I chose, in two hours: I, however, preferred setting out in the morning.
Though we were only going as far as Torjok, which is five hundred versts, we were obliged to pay for the diligence all the way to Moscow, two hundred versts further.
The price was three hundred and eighty roubles, somewhat more than sixteen pounds. A Russian verst is about three quarters of a mile: the rouble, if in coin, is worth about ten pence; if in paper, about ten pence half-penny: as in all payments the former is understood unless the contrary is explicitly stated, the rouble may in general be considered as equivalent to a French franc. The expense of engaging a diligence between Petersburg and Moscow is considerably more than that of posting, and the additional cost was of course still greater for us, since we were only conveyed about two-thirds of the distance, while we had to pay for the whole ; for strangers, however, who arrive without any carriage of their own, it is very convenient to travel in this manner.
The vehicle having been brought over-night into the yard of our lodgings, for the convenience of packing the luggage, by nine o'clock in the morning of the 1st, everything was ready; the conductor, who
spoke a little French, arrived; four horses abreast were put to, and we started on our journey, having delivered to the conductor our passports, authorising us to leave St. Petersburg. After passing the barrier, where a handsome triumphal arch is in progress of erection, and will soon be finished, we found ourselves on an excellent macadamized road, which is completed all the way to Moscow. The bridges are handsome and solid, being built of granite, with a cast-iron balustrade of an open pattern, exhibiting the Imperial Eagle, with helmets, swords, fasces, &c. The new bridges are not yet all finished, but the deficiency is in every case supplied by a safe, temporary wooden bridge.
At distances of from fifty to a hundred versts apart along this road, are handsome inns belonging to the crown; some of the apartments in them being reserved for the Imperial family, and only used for ordinary travellers in case of necessity. The innkeeper has the house furnished, on conditions which forbid his charging any thing for the use of the rooms, which are kept always heated in winter: the traveller pays merely for what he orders, and the price of every thing, from a cup of tea to a dinner is fixed by a printed tariff which is hung up in every room, in French and German as well as Russian. These inns are a very great comfort and accommodation, for which travellers are indebted to the liberality of the late Emperor Alexander, who built them to re