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fell again, and rising up a second time and endeavouring to make his way to the door, he called out to his servant, who fortunately heard him and came to his master's assistance: not, however, until he had fallen down a third time and cut his face severely against the sharp corner of the door. A doctor was immediately sent for, who at once discovered the cause of the attack in the presence of charcoal vapour. He bathed his patient's head with spirits of wine, eau de Cologne, &c., and as soon as he recovered himself a little, sent him out in an open carriage, and made him drive about for a considerable time for the sake of air: he was, however, very unwell for some days, and his face is considerably marked by the bruises he sustained in his fall.
As soon as vapour is detected, the windows should be thrown open, and the rooms fumigated with burnt vinegar, the flue of the stove being of course at the same time unclosed.
When the stove, or peech, as it is called in Russian, is badly constructed, no care can preserve the rooms from vapour; since, in this case, the hot air, which, for some time after stopping the flue, is always pernicious, will find its way out, even before the valves are opened.
If it were not for the danger attending them, which exists chiefly in lodgings and other inferior houses, where small pains are taken in their construction, these Russian peeches would be most excellent
inventions, as they consume but little fuel, only requiring a fire to be kept up for about an hour every day, while the heat which they produce can be regulated at pleasure. The rooms are free from draughts, and all parts of the house are equally well warmed; there are no cold entrances or passages, and since the heat is retained all night, no cold room to dress in, on getting up in the morning.
The houses are in general thoroughly warm all winter, that is to say, from the beginning of October till April or May, because the stoves are regularly heated, and the double windows exclude entirely the outward air; a single pane, called a forteshka being left to open for the purposes of ventilation.
It is, however, in the chilly evenings or rainy days of summer, that one sits shivering in a Russian house, if it does not boast of open fire-places as well as stoves. Fire-places are daily increasing in fashion, and there are few good houses without them; they are not, however, by any means universal, and are regarded quite as luxuries, though they really make the greatest possible difference in the comfort and wholesomeness of the rooms where they are found. Without fire-places, the houses are constantly damp and chilly in summer, excepting in very
hot weather, and there are no means of lighting an impromptu fire on a cold evening, since a peech requires some hours before its good effects are felt.
As for the peasants' houses, these are kept nearly
all the year round at the temperature of an oven; and the people are so inured, from childhood, to an atmosphere impregnated with charcoal vapour, that in general they feel no inconvenience from it, though of course they are not proof against its fatal effects when in overpowering quantities. Unhappily, a man and a boy, on my brother-in-law's estate, have, within the last month, fallen victims to this subtle poison from their own imprudence: they went, in spite of prohibition and caution, to enjoy the warmth of a stove which had been lighted to dry corn; they soon fell asleep, and they never woke.
Tamboff lies on the high road from Moscow into Siberia, and we see almost every week convicts passing through on their way thither. They travel on foot; some coupled together with handcuffs, and all with chains on their legs. They are guarded by foot-soldiers with loaded muskets, accompanied, according to a new regulation, by two or three mounted Cossacks armed with lances. They march about twelve miles a day, there being at that distance apart all along the road, places of security in which they are lodged at night. which consists on an average of about twenty prisoners, and eight or ten soldiers, is usually followed by two or three tilègas or sledges to convey those who may fall sick or lame upon the road; or to carry baggage.
The prisoners are always well wrapped up in
sheepskin coats, and warm caps : the soldiers in their dirty great coats, with a loose collar of cloth or fur to protect their ears, look not very unlike ancient London watchmen. The female convicts travel in separate gangs in the same way as the men.
I have never seen any prisoners who appeared to be other than ordinary ruffians, but state-criminals of the highest distinction are usually treated in the same way, and are compelled to travel in the same wearisome and painful manner into Siberia. As to the treatment of the convicts on the journey, it is said that they are better fed than the soldiers who guard them.
In trivial matters the police of Russia in the rural districts is chiefly maintained by the proprietors, each keeping order on his own estate. There are, however, magistrates called ispravniks, who are elected by the nobles from among themselves, and whose authority corresponds in some measure to that of an English justice of the peace. The ispravnik has a number of subordinates, who act as constables, under his orders, and he fulfils in the country the duties which in towns are discharged by the Master of police.
The authority of masters over their serfs, and their power of punishing and maltreating them is restrained by law; but laws which defend the weak against the strong are not always enforced, and, practically speaking, I believe that the power which
the master is able to exercise in remote parts of the empire may be looked upon as nearly uncontrolled. The slave may complain, but his master is the friend of the ispravnik or some other authority, or a few hundred roubles thrown into the scale of justice destroy its balance : and where is the unfortunate peasant to obtain redress? When a peasant is convicted by law of an offence, he is usually flogged, or for more serious crimes made a soldier, or sent to Siberia, after in general receiving the knout.* There is a great difference according to his crime in his fate when he reaches the place of his destination in Siberia. In some cases, he is in the comparatively easy position of a colonist, under the surveillance of the police; while in others he is compelled to labour in the mines, and is treated with the utmost severity as a convict in a penal settlement.
The treatment of a noble when convicted of a crime is only different from that of a peasant in that he is exempt from corporal punishment. He is, however, degraded from his nobility if sentenced to Siberia, or made a soldier, and he enjoys none of the privileges of his class for the future. A total forfeiture of property accompanies the loss of nobility
It is well known that there is no capital punishment in the Russian code, but the leniency of the
* The pronunciation of the k in this word is very strongly marked ; the ou is pronounced as in French.