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be selected. They are accompanied by their father and mother, and their wives and children, if they have any; decency being laid aside, for the three young men are stark naked. The board, after referring to the register, and hearing all that the men, as well as their father and mother have to urge in their excuse, decide that it is justly the turn of this family to furnish a conscript; the three brothers are therefore measured and examined, as in the case which I have described: and the result we will suppose is, that the eldest is tall and healthy, but he has a wife and three or four children; the second measures but five feet two inches; and the third brother is a fine tall lad of eighteen. Of the three, therefore, the youngest is under age, and the second is under size; they, therefore, are legally exempted from the conscription, and the eldest brother must be taken
away from his wife and family and made a soldier, unless the lad of eighteen will voluntarily consent to serve in his stead.
A scene now ensues, which is at the same time both pathetic and ludicrous. The elder brother and his wife, the father and mother, and the little children, all throw themselves on the ground and prostrate themselves repeatedly at the feet of the young man, beseeching him to have pity on the family of his brother, and to consent to be enlisted in his place. The poor
lad looks with a bewildered air from one to another, not exactly knowing what to do, having no
fancy to be a soldier, and unable to make up his mind to refuse. However, he is urged on every side, for the members of the board add their exhortations to the entreaties of his family, some bidding him be a good christian and sacrifice himself for his relations, and others encouraging him with the promise of good treatment in the army. At last, completely overpowered, he musters up courage, crosses himself, and consents to be a soldier.
The conscription frequently gives rise to most pitiable scenes, where married men, or the sons of widows or aged parents are torn away from families, of which they were the chief prop and stay. The recruits often cry and lament bitterly their hard lot when they come before the board to be examined; but the moment they are enlisted and their fate decided, they generally cheer up and recover their spirits, as if they thought it useless to grieve over what could no longer be remedied or avoided.
The Russian peasants are extremely attached to one another in their families, and it rarely happens that there is any difficulty in persuading a young man to devote himself for a relation; on the contrary, they often persist in doing so, to save an elder brother, or an uncle, against the advice of all around them. The other day a lad under twenty, whose married brother was nominated as a conscript, insisted upon coming here with him, in order, as he said, to see his fate. The man was accepted as a
recruit, and the father coming out, said to his younger son, who was waiting in the street, “ they have taken your brother, Gabriel.” Gabriel, without answering, rushed into the house, pressed through the crowd in attendance, and hurried, breathless, into the board-room, fearful of being too late to offer himself as a substitute for his married brother; he was, however, in good time, and being a fine young man, was of course readily received in the place of the other.
The recruits, after being sworn in, receive a greatcoat and cap, a pair of boots, and some other necessaries; and they are then quartered in barracks, detachments being occasionally draughted off from this to the neighbouring towns. Their beards are immediately removed, the moustaches alone being left; and in this severe weather it is quite pitiable to see the raw chins of these. poor fellows, who have just been shaved for the first time in their lives.
Effects of charcoal vapour - The Russian stove – Colonel B
Warmth of houses-Are-places-- Death from charcoal vapourConvicts on their way to Siberia–Rural police-Punishment of a peasant-Of a noble — The knout — Martial law - Running the gauntlet- Erroneous penal system - A General degraded to the ranks—Prevalence of bribery-A lucrative Government-Want of public opinion-Inadequacy of legitimate emoluments.
Tamboff, December 23rd, 1837. last letter, I told you that the Emperor always sent one of his aide-de-camps into each province, at the period of the recruitment. The officer, who is at present charged with this duty at Tamboff, and who, by-the-bye, has the good fortune to be full colonel at the age of thirty-two, nearly lost his life the other day in a most ignoble manner, namely, from the effects of charcoal vapour in his lodgings. Fatal accidents of this kind are not very uncommon in this country, arising either from ill-constructed stoves, or from carelessness in those who have the charge of them.
The Russian stove is a sort of oven with a flue which can be opened or closed at pleasure, and with
valves to pour the warm air into the room which is to be heated. The fire is made entirely with wood, and when it is lighted, the flue of course is opened and the valves are closed; the fuel, as it burns out, is beaten small, and when it is entirely reduced to ashes, and all flame and smoke have quite disappeared, the flue is stopped, a handful of salt being first thrown on the cinders, and in a couple of hours afterwards the valves may be opened and the hot air allowed to circulate. If, however, the smallest bit of wood remains smouldering, after the chimney has been closed, the poisonous vapour from the charcoal penetrates into the rooms. Its presence is easily detected from its smell, especially by those who enter from the open air; sometimes, however, the first intimation which those who are in the apartments have of the existence of vapour is given by a sudden and racking head-ache, which is followed in time by stupor, and inability to move: if the vapour has been breathed for some time before it is detected, its effects are often felt for several days afterwards.
Colonel B-, (the mention of whose case introduced this subject,) had lain down to sleep on a sofa after dinner; his servant awoke him, according to orders, at five o'clock, and he immediately got up, and as instantly fell flat on the floor; he did not hurt himself this time, but he felt a strange confusion in his head, and, as he says, hardly knew where he was. He managed to get on his legs, but he immediately