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mary priests, are made and ornamented so magnificently, the forms of the robes are exceedingly stiff and ungraceful. * We have passed our time here so agreeably, and have received so much kindness, that we are preparing, with no small regret, to leave Yaroslav to-morrow. Among the other attractions of the house must not be forgotten, in the heart of Russia, a number of modern English books which we have met with, and among the rest ‘Blackwood's Magazine,” which is regularly taken in by our hostess, who understands and speaks English exceedingly well, and who occupies herself much with English literature. The kind and repeated invitations which we have received to prolong our stay are highly agreeable and flattering; but we are obliged to shut our ears to temptation, since the season reminds us that it is time to seek our winter quarters. My next letter will be addressed to you from Moscow, a hundred and eighty miles hence, where we shall spend a few days on our way southwards. We have been advised, instead of travelling to Moscow with post-horses, to make a bargain here with a man who undertakes to forward us all the way; by which means we avoid the chance of being detained for want of horses. We have accordingly agreed with an istvostchik to pay him a sum equivalent to about five pounds ten shillings for the whole journey, with six horses; and we have received from him a paper on which are marked the distances, and the proportion we are to pay at each station. The stages are somewhat longer than those of the regular post, but this will be no disadvantage to us, as the Russian horses possess great powers of endurance, and more time is lost by frequent changes than , is gained in increase of speed. The post-horses are an important source of revenue to government, the contractors who furnish them paying highly for the privilege. At every station there is a postmaster, an officer in the imperial service, whose duty it is to prevent unnecessary delay, and to ensure regularity in furnishing the horses, which are supplied sometimes by the proprietor of the village, but more often by peasants who make this their occupation, and who are properly called yemstchiks; they usually drive their horses themselves. At each post-house is a board, on which is marked the number of horses belonging to that station, which of course is, or ought to be, proportioned to the traffic on the road. Post-horses can only be furnished to travellers on producing a padoroshna, or order, which it is necessary to obtain at a police-office before starting, and in which is inserted the place to which one is going, the distance in versts, and the number of horses which one requires. For the padoroshna the traveller pays at the rate of two kopeks per horse per verst, ten kopeks being equivalent to a penny. This duty serves to maintain the roads. The fare for each post-horse is eight kopeks between Petersburg and Moscow, and five kopeks on most other roads, per verst. To travel post in Russia, a person must either be provided with his own carriage, or content himself with a tilèga, a small waggon without springs. In these the letters are conveyed by the Post-Office, and the feldt-yagers, or imperial couriers, travel in the same manner. The feldt-yagers are a class of officers set apart for this employment, and numbers of them are at all times traversing the empire in every direction, on various errands. The fatigues which they endure are so severe and injurious to the health, that they seldom last in. this service above six years, dying in general of consumption. The pace which the feldt-yāgers are forced to travel, in waggons without springs and over the roughest roads, is from twelve to fifteen miles an hour; and this, day and night, for long distances, without any repose. They pay for the horses at every station, but they are not delayed many minutes, as every postmaster is obliged to have a tilèga and three horses standing at all times ready in his yard, in case a courier should arrive, and, the moment it goes out, another takes its place. The courier has only to show his padoroshna, and the tilèga is driven out for him directly, the time at which he reaches and leaves each station being marked by the postmaster on the padoroshna. The feldt-yågers travel sometimes from Moscow to Petersburg, a distance of more than five hundred and twenty miles, in less than five and-thirty hours.
Journey to Moscow - Bad roads — River Medveditza — Origin of its name
- Arrival at Moscow — The Kremlin - Condition of the city - Ivan Veliki — The imperial palace - Ancient apartments of the Russian princesses — The great bell — The holy gate — The Exercise-house — Intention of proceeding southwards.
Moscow, October 10th, 1837. We arrived here late last Friday night, after a journey from Yaroslav which the state of the roads rendered extremely fatiguing and disagreeable. A new line of road is in progress, but is not yet completed, and the old road is in the mean time utterly neglected. We started on Thursday morning in a hard frost, which still continues, but which had been preceded by very heavy rain. During the wet weather the mud had become very deep, and had been much cut up by wheels, while it was now as hard as stone, and rougher than any ploughed field, so that in many places it was difficult to find a practicable track for the carriage. Occasionally the two wheels on one side would break through the crust of ice, and plunge into a hole so deep that I thought it impossible we could recover our equilibrium, and I hardly thought we could get here without being upset. However, no accident occurred, thanks to the skill and care of the istvostchiks, who now and then left the high road for several versts at a time, and drove us along mere tracks through fields and woods. In one of the latter, the path being somewhat narrow, a young birch-tree, of about the thickness of a man's leg, got caught between the wheel and the body of the carriage, and was brought to the ground with a crash ; no harm, however, was done, though I was rather alarmed at first by the idea that the carriage itself, and not the tree, had suffered.
The road, on leaving Yaroslav, lay for nearly a mile along a causeway, twenty or thirty feet high, across a low flat. A
small river, called the Medveditza, flows here into the Wolga ; and, until the causeway was made, all communication was cut off between the two sides, except by boats, at the period of the annual floods; for when the snow melts and the ice breaks up, the rivers overflow to a great height, and cover the low ground. The Medveditza was so named by an ancient prince, in commemoration of his having killed a bear singlehanded at the spot where it joins the Wolga–medved, in Russian, signifying a bear. The arms of the province and town appear to commemorate the same event, since they consist of a bear carrying a battle-axe. Between Yaroslav and Moscow the country is much finer than any part of Russia I have yet Seen. About a hundred versts hence we passed a wood of tolerably large oak-trees, being the most northerly point at which we have seen the oak. We reached a town called Periaslav about half-past nine at night; and as we could not travel in the dark, in consequence of the state of the road, we remained there till daylight, sleeping upon a sofa and some chairs, and wrapped up in our cloaks; for, although we got a warm and clean room in the inn, beds were a luxury not to be met with, most Russian travellers carrying their own with them. We were in the carriage again by five o'clock the next morning; but, from the state of the road, we did not reach the gates of Moscow till half-past twelve at night. Here my passport was shown, and we were immediately admitted, and found ourselves, with no small degree of satisfaction, traversing the streets of the ancient city, which were dimly lighted and empty, and through which we drove for more than an hour before we reached our journey's end. We are lodged in my father-in-law's house, which is empty and dismantled, the family being in the country; however, we make ourselves tolerably comfortable during our short stay, and we spend, as you may suppose, most of our time out of doors. M— has fortunately a married sister living here, who, with her husband, has been very kind in going about with us to see the sights, and to act as interpreter. The first step to take on the morning after our arrival was to engage a carriage; and we have a very neat and comfortable chariot with four horses, for about thirteen shillings a-day. It arrives at whatever time we order it in the morning, and it remains at our disposal till we come home, as late as we please at night; standing, whenever we are not using it, in the court-yard. The horses are fed when necessary with nosebags; but they never enter a stable, and are never taken off the carriage all day. We went first to visit the relations whom I have mentioned, who live at some distance on the further side of the river Moskva. I was not aware that we should pass near the Kremlin on our way, and the view of it, which burst upon us unexpectedly on reaching the bridge, was by far the most striking thing of the kind I ever saw. The Kremlin stands in the middle of the city, on an elevation, the base of which is circled by white Tartar walls, and is washed on one side by the river. The mount itself is covered by most picturesque buildings of various forms; churches, arsenals, palaces, and towers; while upwards of thirty gilt cupolas of various sizes, and at various heights, shoot up, and stand in relief against the sky. The whole scene has an oriental appearance, which, on my first introduction to it, was not a little enhanced in beauty by the clear blue sky, and by the bright hue which shone on the river and on the gilded roofs. The following day being Sunday we attended service in the English church, which is plain but neatly fitted up. The congregation was small and scanty; however, the attendance is, no doubt, better in winter when the town is full. In the afternoon we went to dine with an aunt of M-'s, who lived at the extreme end of the town, so that the drive served to give me a very fair idea of the extent of Moscow. It was, in fact, a complete journey to the lady's house, which, though within the gates, was almost a country residence, since there were three or four acres of land attached to it. On the outskirts of the city may still be seen a few ruined houses, which have never been rebuilt since the French invasion. In general, however, Moscow at the present day exhibits no signs of the devastation which then took place, though the scattered manner in which it is built, and the number of fine houses, which are no longer inhabited or kept up by their possessors, give a