Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

expressing a hope that he would do them more credit. If his conduct in thus with his own hand executing his own decrees was not very dignified, his just and impartial decisions have gained His Majesty, as we hear, great credit and popularity in Georgia.

The Emperor has incurred perils by sea as well as by land this year; for in one of his late excursions on the Black Sea, his vessel, a steamer, was nearly driven on shore in a storm, and was for some time in considerable danger. On landing, he was received by the Empress and his family, but he had hardly stepped ashore, before a Tartar girl pressed forward into the group and, kneeling down, presented a petition; the Emperor was very angry at the intrusion, and exclaimed that it was very hard he could not be left undisturbed by strangers at the moment of meeting with his wife and children, after an absence; upon this the petitioner said, “ Yes, Sire, but the Tartars also are your children.” The Emperor

looked down, and saw that it was his own eldest and, it is said, favourite daughter, the Grand Duchess Marie.*

* A portrait of the Grand Duchess Marie in this disguise was painted, and presented by her to her father on his name's-day this year.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

Frost-White hares—Russian game-laws—A wolf in a house–The

mode in which these animals catch dogs-Anecdotes of wolves Their haunts Modes of destroying them-By poison, pitfalls, traps, shooting—A man besieged by wolves—Bears—Good sportBear-shooting--Mode in Novogorod of getting rid of bears-Singu. lar notions with respect to these animals-Lynxes—Elks.

1

Rascazava, November 20th, 1837. The winter, according to our English ideas, has now fairly set in, and that with considerable severity. Since the beginning of this month, with the exception of a thaw once or twice, for a day or two, we have had very severe frost, and the ice over the rivers is beginning to be passable, even for horses and vehicles. Nevertheless, in Russia it is still considered as autumn; for, with the exception of a mere occasional sprinkling, we have as yet no snow, which is so far an advantage, that the ground is dry and hard under foot, and we are not precluded from taking exercise and enjoying the sunshine.

Of all animals it appears to me that the hares just at present have most reason to wish for snow; they

are by this time perfectly white, and until the ground is the same colour with themselves, they may be seen sitting fifty yards off, and must fall a very easy prey to their enemies the wolf and the eagle, to say nothing of human pursuers, who in this country make no scruple of shooting a hare upon its form.

You perhaps may not be aware that there are game-laws in Russia, which prohibit the destruction of game in the spring; these laws, however, are not, I believe, very rigidly enforced.

I was presented, the other day, with the skin of a large wolf, which was killed last winter in rather a curious way, in a neighbouring gentleman's house. The house, which is small, is situated in a retired spot on the outskirts of a large wood, which extends up to the very door.

There were some puppies about, which must have attracted the wolf, and, emboldened by famine, he followed one of them into the house, a step which eventually proved as fatal to himself as to his prey, but he at least had the satisfaction of one more feast before he died. The house-door opened into a small ante-room, on one side of which was the kitchen, and on the other a room, in which the cook’s wife either lived or was in some way employed. This woman came in, and calling to her husband in the kitchen to say that she had seen a strange dog follow one of the puppies into the house, she went into her own room; as it was dusk the mistake of the woman was easily made.

1

The cook, upon his wife's information, looked out of the kitchen, and saw that there was a wolf worrying the puppy: he therefore called to the people in the yard, who pulled to the outer door, so that the animal could not escape, and who then fetched a gun which they handed in through the window to the cook. The wolf was now alarmed; and when the man opened the door cautiously, and thrust forward the gun to shoot, the beast rushed at him, and seizing the barrel of the gun in his teeth, almost pulled it out of the cook's hands. He, however, recovered it, and retreating, shut the door upon the animal. The latter, after a few minutes, lay down, and when the cook looked forth again, he saw the wolf crouched against his wife's door. He called to her to make a noise inside, upon which the beast got up, and moving a little on one side, received a shot in the head, which the cook followed up by beating out his brains with the butt-end of the gun. The unfortunate puppy was found half eaten in the corner of

the room.

Wolves are exceedingly fond of dog’s-flesh, and they sometimes make use of a very cunning stratagem to obtain it. A wolf or two will approach a village in the day-time, upon which all the dogs run out and begin to bark at them; the wolves then

pretend to be frightened and retire, upon which the dogs take courage and advance; at length, by alternately stopping and running away, the wolves entice

a few of the more adventurous curs to a considerable distance from the village, when they suddenly turn round upon their foremost pursuers and carry them off.

Most parts of Russia are sadly infested by these animals, which commit great depredations among the cattle. They are, generally speaking, afraid of human beings, but they occasionally pick up a child in the woods, and instances are by no means wanting of their attacking even grown-up men when the weather is very severe.

These misfortunes occasionally happen in the neighbourhood of Petersburg, where the wolves are extremely numerous and very daring. At the country-house of a near relation of M—'s, about twelve miles from Petersburg, a man was, a year or two ago, attacked in the garden by a single wolf and severely wounded, escaping with difficulty with his life. The same place was the scene of another curious wolf-adventure. A disturbance was heard at night outside the house (I suppose among the dogs); however, several people went out to see what was the matter, but they discovered nothing, and though they supposed that a wolf had been there, they came back into the house. Presently, however, they missed one of the servants, a lad of eighteen, who had been one of the first to sally forth. As he did not return, they became alarmed, and went out again with lanterns to search for him: they were not long before they found him stretched on

« ForrigeFortsett »