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can compel them to work in his manufactory, and that on his own terms; but these are regulated by custom, and since the serfs are paid at the same rate with the free workmen who may be employed with them, they seldom have reason to complain of injustice.
Not only have the Russian nobles, from the nature of their property and the constitution of the country, become manufacturers, but they carry on the business in every branch, almost entirely to the exclusion of other classes, since they alone can command without difficulty, and on advantageous terms, the hands necessary for the purpose. A manufacturer, who is not noble, being incapable by law of possessing serfs, while free labour is scarce, must compete at a disadvantage with a rival, who can enforce the performance of whatever work he requires, and who has his operatives, as it were under military discipline. Besides the regularly established manufactories, the exercise of various arts on a smaller scale in private houses, either for profit or home consumption is very general. One consequence of this system of things is, that the prices and qualities of various fabrics, such as cloth, linen, paper, glass, china, &c., are subjects of general interest and of common versation here, in the same manner that farming and planting are discussed by country gentlemen in England.
Boys are often sent to Petersburg or Moscow, as
apprentices, to learn various trades, which they afterwards practise at home for the use and profit of their masters, who thus, in a remote country district, have well-taught cabinet-makers, coach-makers, smiths, and sometimes medical practitioners and musicians always at command.*
I have often been surprised at the excellence of a home-made carriage (the springs only having been purchased elsewhere), for the art of coachmaking is one of those most generally exercised for private use, owing, doubtless, to the number of equipages which a Russian habitually requires, and which are thus obtained at a cheap rate.
Many ladies employ a number of girls, generally the children of household servants, in embroidering and making all kinds of fancy-work, which they execute most beautifully, and which their mistress sells, receiving orders for it, as is common in charityschools in England. In a house where we were visiting some time ago, we were shown a shawl with corners and borders of a most beautiful pattern of flowers in brilliant colours, which had been entirely made at home by a young girl, who brought it in to exhibit it, and who was then employed upon another which we saw in progress.
* Occasionally, at the expiration of their apprenticeship, these people, instead of returning to their masters, pay them a sum agreed apon as an equivalent for their services, and establish themselves in their trades on their own account in towns. The rent thus paid by the peasants is called an obrok.
wool, the colours of which were admirable, had been dyed in the house. The shawl was valued at fifteen hundred roubles, about sixty-two pounds; it had occupied the girl who made it about a year and a half.
In almost every house some art is carried on, useful or ornamental, and women are employed in spinning, weaving, knitting, carpet-making, &c.; for the raw material in Russia is worth little, and the manufactured article alone is valuable in the market.
The ladies of England, “who live at home at ease,” little know the disagreeable and troublesome duties of inspection and correction, which often devolve upon the mistress of a family in Russia, from all the various branches of domestic industry which she is obliged to superintend.
Fair at Tamboff-Fire-engines to assist the police-Tartar pur
chasers of horse-flesh-Don Cossacks-Mode of backing a coltTrotting-watches--Town of Tamboff-Hall of assembly-Consti. tution of the assembly of the nobles-Office of Marshal of the nobility-Mode of transacting business- Functions of the assem. bly-Accident to the Emperor near Tiflis-His proceedings in Georgia--Anecdote of the Grand Duchess Marie.
Rascazava, November 10th, 1837. We returned into the country, a few days ago, from Tamboff, where we spent a week, to see the fair, of which I made mention in my last letter, and which was instituted, it seems, in commemoration of the finding of an image of the Virgin, which is now at Veronish, and which, like the Palladium, was sent down from heaven, and at length discovered, after having been hid for many years on earth.
The fair is not held in the town, for fear of fire; but on an extensive steppe or down, about three quarters of a mile off.
On this down a perfect village was erected of wooden booths, in which shops were opened for the sale of all kinds of goods, especially every article
necessary for winter clothing, which was at the time exceedingly attractive, as we had a hard frost during the whole week.
There were several fur-shops very handsomely provided with skins of all kinds, and of all prices; bear, fox, sable, beaver, wolf, and a variety of others, of which I do not know the names. Russians sometimes go to an enormous expence in fur; but a handsome fox-skin, for a lady's cloak, may be had for about eight pounds, and a beaver collar, which is the handsomest, and most agreeable fur for the purpose, for a lady or gentleman, will cost from eight to twelve pounds. A bear-skin pelisse, which is only fit for wearing in a sledge, or in travelling, costs about thirty pounds. There were also Tartar merchants, with shaven heads and skull-caps, who sold shawls, dressing-gowns, slippers, and all kinds of eastern manufactures; while close by them were drapers, silk-mercers, and all the tradesmen requisite to furnish a lady's toilette, with goods homemade, or imported from England or France. The shopkeepers were all wrapped up in furs, for the booths were bitterly cold.
Who would expect, at a country fair, to find church bells for sale! There were a number of all sizes, some being of a very considerable weight of metal. They were hung on wooden frames in an open space, so that a customer could easily ring them to judge of their tones. Whether many
of these bells were sold,