« ForrigeFortsett »
sometimes occasions, are tolerably severe; and I have seen quite enough to convince me, that a long journey at this moment is not very inviting. The best season for winter travelling is now past, and we must expect bad roads and changeable weather; we shall, therefore, be doubtless very happy, when we can look back upon the nine hundred miles of snow which we must traverse between this place and Petersburg We do not mean to stay long at Moscow, though M—'s family are now there, for fear the winter should break up and detain us, as travelling, at that moment, is very inconvenient; and it is difficult, and at times impossible, to cross the rivers during the spring-floods, produced by the melting of the snow.
We shall travel to Moscow in a kibitka, and we shall then hire a Diligence to take us to Petersburg, whence I hope to date my next letter.
Arrival at St. Petersburg—Appearance of thaw at Tamboff-Depar
ture-Increase of cold- The first halt - Motion of kibitka – A long stage — Journeying along rivers — Arrival at Moscow - A winter scene-Stay at Moscow-Character of the hotels--A sledge Diligence-A snow storm-Slow progress-- Deep holes in the snow -Small quantity of snow further north-Prince Serge GalitzinVisitors not announced in Russia- A party at Prince Serge's—The Prince of Georgia - The Cheremetieff and Galitzin hospitals at Moscow-Scanty population of that city.
St. Petersburg, March 27th, 1838. You will perceive, by the date of this letter, that we have completed the journey which we were about to undertake when I last wrote; and you will be glad to find that we have made so long a stride on our way homewards, for, in point of time, Petersburg is as near to England as to Tamboff, at least when the Gulf of Finland is open : this, however, will not be the case for some weeks to come, and the Baltic steam-boats will certainly not begin to ply till the second week in May at the earliest.
We arrived here on Saturday last, having spent ten days in Moscow on our way; and before I give
you any account of our journey, I may as well say, that although Petersburg is now so full, that it is difficult to meet with lodgings, we have been fortunate enough to engage an excellent set of rooms, clean and well-furnished, and in one of the best situations in the town—The Little Million—at the Hotel de la Bourse, kept by a Frenchman. Here we established ourselves yesterday; and since we are also provided with an English servant, who has been many years in Russia, we are comfortably settled for the remainder of our stay in this country.
In my last letter from Tamboff, I told you, that from the state of the weather, we were afraid that the ice on the rivers would be unsafe, and the roads become altogether unfit for sledge travelling. The thaw, which excited our alarm, continued for two days after I wrote. On Saturday (the 3d) Reaumur's thermometer stood six degrees above the freezing point; the snow was melting fast, the streets flowing with water, and the account which we received of the roads were such, that we determined in the evening to risk no longer delay, but to set out the following night on our journey, instead of waiting till Tuesday, as we had previously fixed; we feared, indeed, that we had already postponed it too long. About half an hour, however, after we had determined on this precipitate flight, a friend came in and said he had good news to tell us, for that the wind had changed to the north, and that we might expect
a return of frost, and, in fact, to our great delight, before we went to bed, the thermometer was below zero, and the snow was beginning to grow crisp. The following morning we had three degrees of cold; but we did not choose again to alter our plans or trust to the continuance of this favourable weather, since it might prove but of short duration : by the evening, therefore, every thing was ready for our departure.
The last moments of our stay were, as is always the case on such occasions, any thing but agreeable: we took leave of our countryman R-, whom we left with much regret alone in this distant spot, and bade adieu to some other friends, and finally, to my brother and sister-in-law, whose kindness and hospitality had been unbounded during the long period which we had spent in their house, and who, on our departure, as during our stay, forgot nothing which could contribute to our comfort and accommodation. At length, well wrapped up, we arranged ourselves in the kibitka, and set out a quarter of an hour before midnight, to the great satisfaction of our Russian attendant, who would not willingly have commenced the journey on Monday. The road, as we expected, was in a very indifferent state; but the cold, which at first was not intense, increased rapidly, and therefore the snow became hard; and though its surface was much broken, we were able to proceed tolerably fast, and, by eight
o'clock in the morning, we had come about forty miles.
For some reason or other, however, we were driven without stopping, through the town of Kazloff, and came to no other place where any
tolerable accommodation was to be met with, till five o'clock in the afternoon: having therefore travelled for seventeen hours without stopping, except to change horses, we were by this time exceedingly hungry, as it was out of the question to eat in the kibitka, and were somewhat cold; I had, however, slept the greater part of the way in spite of our incessant tossing up and down and from side to side, in the ouchabas.* We had now come a hundred and seventy versts, and in the small town of Riask, we enjoyed the luxury of entering clean and warm rooms, in which we had breakfasted on our way from Moscow in the autumn. Here we disencumbered ourselves of cloaks, warm boots and caps, which we placed around the stove, while our basket, well stored by our kind friends åt Tamboff, with every thing we could require on the road, was produced; a steaming semavar,f soon made its appearance; and hot tea and cold partridge pie were not the less agreeable for our seventeen hours' tossing over the snow. After remaining here about an hour and a-half, and getting thoroughly warm, we wrapped ourselves up once more, and travelling all
* Holes in the snow worn by sledges.