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Title: Russia - As Seen and Described by Famous Writers
Author: Various
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: MOSCOW.]


As _Seen_ and _Described_ by Famous Writers

_Edited and Translated by_


_Author of_ "Turrets, Towers and Temples," "Great Pictures," and
"A Guide to the Opera," and _translator of_ "The Music Dramas of
Richard Wagner."


New York

Dodd, Mead and Company



This is intended to be a companion volume to _Japan_, and therefore
follows the same general plan and arrangement. It aims to present in
small compass a somewhat comprehensive view of the great Muscovite
power. After a short description of the country and race, we pass
to a brief review of the history and religion including ritual and
ceremonial observances of the Greek Church. Next come descriptions
of regions, cities and architectural marvels; and then follow articles
on the various manners and customs of rural and town life. The
arts of the nation are treated comprehensively; and a chapter of
the latest statistics concludes the rapid survey. The material is
all selected from the writings of those who speak with authority
on the subjects with which they deal.

The Russian Empire is so vast that it would be impossible to give
detailed descriptions of all its parts in a work of this size:
therefore I have been forced to be content with more general
descriptions of provinces with an occasional addition of a typical

E. S.

_New York, April 21, 1904._




The Russian Empire
  _Prince Kropotkine._

  _Jean Jacques Élisée Reclus._

The Russian Races
  _W. R. Morfill._



The History of Russia
  _W. R. Morfill._

Church Service
  _Alfred Maskell._

The Creeds of Russia
  _Ernest W. Lowry._



St. Petersburg
  _J. Beavington Atkinson._

  _Harry De Windt._

  _Alexander Platonovich Engelhardt._

Moscow (The Kremlin and its treasuries--The Ancient Regalia--The
Romanoff House)
  _Alfred Maskell._

Vassili-Blagennoi (St. Basil the Blessed)
  _Théophile Gautier._

  _Thomas Michell._

Kief, the City of Pilgrimage
  _J. Beavington Atkinson._

  _Antonio Gallenga._

The Volga Basin. (The Great River--Kasan--Tsaritzin--Astrakhan)
  _Antonio Gallenga._

  _Antonio Gallenga._

The Don Cossacks
  _Thomas Michell._

In the Caucasus
  _J. Buchan Teller._

  _Fred Burnaby._

The Trans-Siberian Railway
  _William Durban._



High Life in Russia
  _The Countess of Galloway._

Rural Life in Russia
  _Lady Verney_

Food and Drink
  _H. Sutherland Edwards._

Carnival-Time and Easter
  _A. Nicol Simpson._

Russian Tea and Tea-Houses
  _H. Sutherland Edwards._

How Russia Amuses Itself
  _Fred Whishaw._

The Kirghiz and their Horses
  _Fred Burnaby._

Winter in Moscow
  _H. Sutherland Edwards._

A Journey by Sleigh
  _Fred Burnaby._



Russian Architecture
  _Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc._

Sculpture and Painting
  _Philippe Berthelot._

Russian Music
  _A. E. Keeton._

Russian Literature
  _W. R. Morfill._



Present Conditions
  _E. S._





The Russian Empire is a very extensive territory in eastern Europe
and northern Asia, with an area exceeding 8,500,000 square miles,
or one-sixth of the land surface of the globe (one twenty-third
of its whole superficies). It is, however, but thinly peopled on
the average, including only one-fourteenth of the inhabitants of
the earth. It is almost entirely confined to the cold and temperate
zones. In Nova Zembla (Novaya Zemlya) and the Taimir peninsula, it
projects within the Arctic Circle as far as 77° 2' and 77° 40' N.
latitude; while its southern extremities reach 38° 50' in Armenia,
about 35° on the Afghan frontier, and 42° 30' on the coasts of the
Pacific. To the West it advances as far as 20° 40' E. longitude
in Lapland, 18° 32' in Poland, and 29° 42' on the Black Sea; and
its eastern limit--East Cape in the Bering Strait--extends to 191°
E. longitude.

The Arctic Ocean--comprising the White, Barents, and Kara Seas--and
the northern Pacific, that is the Seas of Bering, Okhotsk, and
Japan, bound it on the north and east. The Baltic, with its two
deep indentations, the Gulfs of Bothnia and Finland, limits it
on the north-west; and two sinuous lines of frontier separate it
respectively from Sweden and Norway on the north-west, and from
Prussia, Austria and Roumania on the west. The southern frontier is
still unsettled. In Asia beyond the Caspian, the southern boundary
of the empire remains vague; the advance into the Turcoman Steppes
and Afghan Turkestan, and on the Pamir plateau is still in progress.
Bokhara and Khiva, though represented as vassal khanates, are in
reality mere dependencies of Russia. An approximately settled
frontier-line begins only farther east, where the Russian and Chinese
empires meet on the borders of eastern Turkestan, Mongolia and

Russia has no oceanic possessions, and has abandoned those she
owned in the last century; her islands are mere appendages of the
mainland to which they belong. Such are the Aland archipelago,
Hochland, Tütters, Dagö and Osel in the Baltic Sea; Nova Zembla,
with Kolgueff and Vaigatch, in the Barents Sea; the Solovetsky
Islands in the White Sea; the New Siberian archipelago and the
small group of the Medvyezhii Islands off the Siberian coast; the
Commandor Islands off Kamchatka; the Shantar Islands and Saghalin
in the Sea of Okhotsk. The Aleutian archipelago was sold to the
United States in 1867, together with Alaska, and in 1874 the Kurile
Islands were ceded to Japan.


A vast variety of physical features is obviously to be expected in
a territory like this, which comprises on the one side the cotton
and silk regions of Turkestan and Trans-caucasia, and on the other
the moss and lichen-clothed Arctic _tundras_ and the Verkhoyansk
Siberian pole of cold--the dry Transcaspian deserts and the regions
watered by the monsoons on the coasts of the Sea of Japan. Still,
if the border regions, that is, two narrow belts in the north and
south, be left out of account, a striking uniformity of physical
feature prevails. High plateaus, like those of Pamir (the "Roof
of the World") or of Armenia, and high mountain chains like the
snow-clad summits of the Caucasus, the Alay, the Thian-Shan, the
Sayan, are met with only on the outskirts of the empire.

Viewed broadly by the physical geographer, it appears as occupying
the territories to the north-west of that great plateau-belt of the
old continent--the backbone of Asia--which spreads with decreasing
height and width from the high table-land of Tibet and Pamir to the
lower plateaus of Mongolia, and thence north-eastwards through the
Vitim region to the furthest extremity of Asia. It may be said to
consist of the immense plains and flat-lands which extend between
the plateau-belt and the Arctic Ocean, including all the series of
parallel chains and hilly spurs which skirt the plateau-belt on
the north-west. It extends over the plateau itself, and crosses
it beyond Lake Baikal only.

A broad belt of hilly tracts--in every respect Alpine in character,
and displaying the same variety of climate and organic life as
Alpine tracts usually do--skirts the plateau-belt throughout its
length on the north and north-west, forming an intermediate region
between the plateaus and the plains. The Caucasus, the Elburz, the
Kopetdagh, and Paropamisus, the intricate and imperfectly known
network of mountains west of the Pamir, the Thian-Shan and Ala-tau
mountain regions, and farther north-east the Altai, the still unnamed
complex of Minusinsk mountains, the intricate mountain-chains of
Sayan, with those of the Olekma, Vitim, and Aldan, all of which
are ranged _en échelon_,--the former from north-west to south-east,
and the others from south-west to north-east--all these belong
to one immense Alpine belt bordering that of the plateaus. These
have long been known to Russian colonists, who, seeking to escape
religious persecutions and exactions by the state, early penetrated
into and rapidly pushed their small settlements up the better valleys
of these tracts, and continued to spread everywhere as long as
they found no obstacles in the shape of a former population or in
unfavourable climatic conditions.

As for the flat-lands which extend from the Alpine hill-foots to
the shores of the Arctic Ocean, and assume the character either of
dry deserts in the Aral-Caspian depression, or of low table-lands
in central Russia and eastern Siberia, of lake-regions in north-west
Russia and Finland, or of marshy prairies in western Siberia, and of
_tundras_ in the north,--their monotonous surfaces are diversified
by only a few, and these for the most part low, hilly tracts.

As to the picturesque Bureya mountains on the Amur, the forest-clothed
Sikhota-alin on the Pacific, and the volcanic chains of Kamchatka,
they belong to quite another orographical world; they are the
border-ridges of the terraces by which the great plateau-belt descends
to the depths of the Pacific Ocean. It is owing to these leading
orographical features--divined by Carl Ritter, but only within
the present day revealed by geographical research--that so many
of the great rivers of the old continent are comprised within the
limits of the Russian empire. Taking rise on the plateau-belt, or
in its Alpine outskirts, they flow first, like the upper Rhone
and Rhine, along high longitudinal valleys formerly filled up with
great lakes; next they find their way through the rocky walls;
and finally they enter the lowlands, where they become navigable,
and, describing great curves to avoid here and there the minor
plateaus and hilly tracts, they bring into water-communication
with one another places thousands of miles apart. The double
river-systems of the Volga and Kama, the Obi and Irtish, the Angara
and Yenisei, the Lena and Vitim on the Arctic slope, the Amur and
Sungari on the Pacific slope, are instances. They were the true
channels of Russian colonization.

A broad depression--the Aral-Caspian desert--has arisen where the
plateau-belt has reached its greatest height and suddenly changes
its direction from a north-western into a north-eastern one; this
desert is now filled only to a small extent by the salt waters of
the Caspian, Aral and Balkash inland seas; but it bears unmistakable
traces of having been during Post-Pliocene times an immense inland
basin. There the Volga, the Ural, the Sir Daria, and the Oxus discharge
their waters without reaching the ocean, but continue to bring
life to the rapidly drying Transcaspian Steppes, or connect by
their river network, as the Volga does, the most remote parts of
European Russia.

The above-described features of the physical geography of the empire
explain the relative uniformity of this wide territory, in conjunction
with the variety of physical features on the outskirts. They explain
also the rapidity of the expansion of Sclavonic colonization over
these thinly-peopled regions; and they also throw light upon the
internal cohesion of the empire, which cannot fail to strike the
traveller as he crosses this immense territory, and finds everywhere
the same dominating race, the same features of life. In fact, as
their advance from the basins of the Volkhoff and Dnieper to the foot
of the Altai and Sayan mountains, that is, along nearly a quarter
of the earth's circumference, the Russian colonizers could always
find the same physical conditions, the same forest and prairies as
they had left at home, the same facilities for agriculture, only
modified somewhat by minor topographical features. New conditions of
climate and soil, and consequently new cultures and civilizations,
the Russians met with, in their expansion towards the south and
east, only beyond the Caucasus in the Aral-Caspian region, and
in the basin of the Usuri on the Pacific coast. Favoured by these
conditions, the Russians not only conquered northern Asia--they
colonized it.

The Russian Empire falls into two great subdivisions, the European
and the Asiatic, the latter of which, representing an aggregate of
nearly 6,500,000 square miles, with a population of only sixteen
million inhabitants may be considered as held by colonies. The
European dominions comprise European Russia, Finland, which is, in
fact, a separate nationality treated to some extent as an allied
state, and Poland, whose very name has been erased from official
documents, but which nevertheless continues to pursue its own
development. The Asiatic dominions comprise the following great
subdivisions:--Caucasia, under a separate governor-general; the
Transcaspian region, which is under the governor-general of Caucasus;
the Kirghiz Steppes; Turkestan under separate governors-general,
Western Siberia and Eastern Siberia; and the Amur region, which
last comprises also the Pacific coast region and Kamchatka.

_Climate of Russia in Europe_.--Notwithstanding the fact that Russia
extends from north to south through twenty-six degrees of latitude,
the climate of its different portions, apart from the Crimea and the
Caucasus, presents a striking uniformity. The aerial currents--cyclones,
anti-cyclones and dry south-east winds--extend over wide surfaces
and cross the flat plains freely. Everywhere we find a cold winter
and a hot summer, both varying in their duration, but differing
little in the extremes of temperature recorded.

Throughout Russia the winter is of long continuance. The last days
of frost are experienced for the most part in April, but also in
May to the north of fifty-five degrees. The spring is exceptionally
beautiful in central Russia; late as it usually is, it sets in with
vigour and develops with a rapidity which gives to this season in
Russia a special charm, unknown in warmer climates; and the rapid
melting of snow at the same time raises the rivers, and renders
a great many minor streams navigable for a few weeks. But a return
of cold weather, injurious to vegetation, is observed throughout
central and eastern Russia between May 18 and 24, so that it is only
in June that warm weather sets in definitely, reaching its maximum
in the first half of July (or of August on the Black Sea coast). The
summer is much warmer than might be supposed; in south-eastern
Russia it is much warmer than in the corresponding latitudes of
France, and really hot weather is experienced everywhere. It does
not, however, prevail for long, and in the first half of September
the first frosts begin to be experienced on the middle Urals; they
reach western and southern Russia in the first days of October,
and are felt on the Caucasus about the middle of November. The
temperature descends so rapidly that a month later, about October 10
on the middle Urals and November 15 throughout Russia the thermometer
ceases to rise above the freezing-point. The rivers rapidly freeze;
towards November 20 all the streams of the White Sea basin are
covered with ice, and so remain for an average of 167 days; those
of the Baltic, Black Sea, and Caspian basins freeze later, but
about December 20 nearly all the rivers of the country are highways
for sledges. The Volga remains frozen for a period varying between
150 days in the north and 90 days at Astrakhan, the Don for 100
to 110 days, and the Dneiper for 83 to 122 days. On the Dwina ice
prevents navigation for 125 days and even the Vistula at Warsaw
remains frozen for 77 days. The lowest temperatures are experienced
in January, in which month the average is as low as 20° to 5° Fahr.
throughout Russia; in the west only does it rise above 22°.

_The flora and fauna of Russia_.--The flora of Russia, which represents
an intermediate link between those of Germany and Siberia, is strikingly
uniform over a very large area. Though not poor at any given place,
it appears so if the space occupied by Russia be taken into account,
only 3,300 species of phanerogams and ferns being known. Four great
regions may be distinguished:--the Arctic, the Forest, the Steppe,
and the Circum-Mediterranean.

The _Arctic Region_ comprises the _tundras_ of the Arctic littoral
beyond the northern limit of forests, which last closely follows
the coast-line with bends towards the north in the river valleys
(70° N. lat. in Finland, on the Arctic Circle about Archangel, 68°
N. on the Urals, 71° on West Siberia). The shortness of summer,
the deficiency of drainage and the thickness of the layer of soil
which is frozen through in winter are the elements which go to
the making of the characteristic features of the _tundras_. Their
flora is far nearer those of northern Siberia and North America
than that of central Europe. Mosses and lichens cover them, as
also the birch, the dwarf willow, and a variety of shrubs; but
where the soil is drier, and humus has been able to accumulate, a
variety of herbaceous flowering plants, some of which are familiar
also in western Europe, make their appearance.

The _Forest Region_ of the Russian botanists occupies the greater
part of the country, from the Arctic _tundras_ to the Steppes, and
it maintains over this immense surface a remarkable uniformity
of character. Viewed as a whole, the flora of the forest region
must be regarded as European-Siberian; and though certain species
disappear towards the east, while new ones make their appearance,
it maintains, on the whole, the same characters throughout from
Poland to Kamchatka. Thus the beech, a characteristic tree of western
Europe, is unable to face the continental climate of Russia, and
does not penetrate beyond Poland and the south-western provinces,
reappearing again in the Crimea. The silver fir does not extend
over Russia, and the oak does not cross the Urals. On the other
hand, several Asiatic species (Siberian pine, larch, cedar) grow
freely in the north-east, while several shrubs and herbaceous plants,
originally from the Asiatic Steppes, have spread into the south-east.
But all these do not greatly alter the general character of the

The _Region of the Steppes_, which covers all Southern Russia,
may be subdivided into two zones--an intermediate zone and that
of the Steppes proper. The Ante-Steppe of the preceding region and
the intermediate zone of the Steppes include those tracts where
the West-European climate struggles with the Asiatic, and where a
struggle is being carried on between the forest and the Steppe.

The Steppes proper are very fertile elevated plains, slightly undulated,
and intersected by numerous ravines which are dry in summer. The
undulations are scarcely apparent to the eye as it takes in a wide
prospect under a blazing sun and with a deep-blue sky overhead.
Not a tree is to be seen, the few woods and thickets being hidden
in the depressions and deep valleys of the rivers. On the thick
sheet of black earth by which the Steppe is covered a luxuriant
vegetation develops in spring; after the old grass has been burned
a bright green covers immense stretches, but this rapidly disappears
under the burning rays of the sun and the hot easterly winds. The
colouring of the Steppe changes as if by magic, and only the silvery
plumes of the _kovyl_ (_Stipa pennata_) wave under the wind, giving
the Steppe the aspect of a bright, yellow sea. For days together the
traveller sees no other vegetation; even this, however, disappears
as he nears the regions recently left dry from the Caspian, where
salted clays covered with a few _Salsolaceœ_, or mere sands, take
the place of the black earth. Here begins the Aral-Caspian desert.
The Steppe, however, is not so devoid of trees as at first sight
appears. Innumerable clusters of wild cherries, wild apricots, and
other deep-rooted shrubs grow in the depressions of the surface,
and on the slopes of the ravines, giving the Steppe that charm which
manifests itself in popular poetry. Unfortunately, the spread of
cultivation is fatal to these oases (they are often called "islands"
by the inhabitants); the axe and the plough ruthlessly destroy
them. The vegetation of the _poimy_ and _zaimischas_ in the marshy
bottoms of the ravines, and in the valleys of streams and rivers,
is totally different. The moist soil gives free development to
thickets of various willows, bordered with dense walls of worm-wood
and needle-bearing _Composita_, and interspersed with rich but
not extensive prairies harbouring a great variety of herbaceous
plants; while in the deltas of the Black Sea rivers impenetrable
masses of rush shelter a forest fauna. But cultivation rapidly
changes the physiognomy of the Steppe. The prairies are superseded
by wheat-fields, and flocks of sheep destroy the true steppe-grass
(_Stipa-pennata_), which retires farther east.

The _Circum-Mediterranean Region_ is represented by a narrow strip
of land on the south coast of the Crimea, where a climate similar
to that of the Mediterranean coast has permitted the development
of a flora closely resembling that of the valley of the Arno.

[Illustration: REVEL]

The fauna of European Russia does not very materially differ from
that of western Europe. In the forests not many animals which have
disappeared from western Europe have held their ground; while in
the Urals only a few--now Siberian, but formerly also European--are
met with. On the whole, Russia belongs to the same zoo-geographical
region as central Europe and northern Asia, the same fauna extending
in Siberia as far as the Yenisei and Lena. In south-eastern Russia,
however, towards the Caspian, we find a notable admixture of Asiatic
species, the deserts of that part of Russia belonging in reality
rather to the Aral-Caspian depression than to Europe.

For the zoo-geographer only three separate sub-regions appear on the
East-European plains--the _tundras_, including the Arctic islands,
the forest region, especially the coniferous part of it, and the
Ante-Steppe and Steppes of the black-earth region. The Ural mountains
might be distinguished as a fourth sub-region, while the south-coast
of the Crimea and Caucasus, as well as the Caspian deserts, have
their own individuality.

As for the adjoining seas, the fauna of the Arctic Ocean off the
Norwegian coast corresponds, in its western parts at least, to that
of the North Atlantic Gulf Stream. The White Sea and the Arctic
Ocean to the east of Svyatoi Nos belong to a separate zoological
region connected with, and hardly separable from, that part of
the Arctic Ocean which extends along the Siberian coast as far as
to about the Lena. The Black Sea, of which the fauna was formerly
little known but now appears to be very rich, belongs to the
Mediterranean region, slightly modified, while the Caspian partakes
of the characteristic fauna inhabiting the lakes and seas of the
Aral-Caspian depression.

In the region of the _tundras_ life has to contend with such
unfavourable conditions that it cannot be abundant. Still the reindeer
frequents it for its lichens, and on the drier slopes of the moraine
deposits four species of lemming, hunted by the _Canis lagopus_,
find quarters. Two species of the white partridge, the lark, one
_Plectrophanes_, two or three species of _Sylvia_, one _Phylloscopus_,
and the _Motacilla_ must be added. Numberless aquatic birds, however,
visit it for breeding purposes. Ducks, divers, geese, gulls, all the
Russian species of snipes and sandpipers, etc., cover the marshes
of the _tundras_, or the crags of the Lapland coast.

The forest region, and especially its coniferous portion, though
it has lost some of its representatives within historic times, is
still rich. The reindeer, rapidly disappearing, is now met with only
in Olonetz and Vologda; the _Cervus pygargus_ is found everywhere, and
reaches Novgorod. The weasel, the fox and the hare are exceedingly
common, as also the wolf and the bear in the north; but the glutton,
the lynx, and even the elk are rapidly disappearing. The wild boar
is confined to the basin of the Dwina, and the _Bison eropea_ to
the Bielovyezha forests. The sable has quite disappeared, being
found only on the Urals; the beaver is found at a few places in
Minsk, and the otter is very rare. On the other hand, the hare and
also the grey partridge, the hedgehog, the quail, the lark, the
rook, and the stork find their way into the coniferous region as
the forests are cleared. The avifauna is very rich; it includes all
the forest and garden birds which are known in western Europe, as
well as a very great variety of aquatic birds. Hunting and shooting
give occupation to a great number of persons. The reptiles are
few. As for fishes, all those of western Europe, except the carp,
are met with in the lakes and rivers in immense quantities, the
characteristic feature of the region being its wealth in _Coregoni_
and in _Salmonidœ_ generally.

In the Ante-Steppe the forest species proper, such as _Pteromys
volans_ and _Tamias striatus_, disappear, but the common squirrel,
the weasel, and the bear are still met with in the forests. The
hare is increasing rapidly, as well as the fox. The avifauna, of
course, becomes poorer; nevertheless the woods of the Steppe, and
still more the forests of the Ante-Steppe, give refuge to many
birds, even to the hazel-hen, the woodcock and the black-grouse.
The fauna of the thickets at the bottom of the river-valleys is
decidedly, rich and includes aquatic birds. The destruction of
the forests and the advance of wheat into the prairies are rapidly
impoverishing the Steppe fauna. The various species of rapacious
animals are disappearing, together with the colonies of marmots; the
insectivores are also becoming scarce in consequence of the destruction
of insects, while vermin, such as the suslik (_Spermophilus_),
become a real plague, as also the destructive insects which have
been a scourge to agriculture during recent years. The absence of
_Coregoni_ is a characteristic feature of the fish-fauna of the
Steppes; the carp, on the contrary, reappears, and the rivers are
rich in sturgeons. On the Volga below Nijni Novgorod the sturgeon,
and others of the same family, as also a very great variety of
ganoids and _Teleostei_, appear in such quantities that they give
occupation to nearly 100,000 people. The mouths of the Caspian
rivers are especially celebrated for their wealth of fish.



Siberia is emphatically the "Land of the North." Its name has by
some etymologists been identified with "Severia," a term formerly
applied to various northern regions of European Russia. The city
of Sibir, which has given its name to the whole of North Asia,
was so called only by the Russians, its native name being Isker.
The Cossacks, coming from the south and centre of Russia, may have
naturally regarded as pre-eminently the "Northern Land" those cold
regions of the Ob basin lying beyond the snowy mountains which
form the "girdle of the world."

Long before the conquest of Sibir by the Cossacks, this region was
known to the Arab traders and missionaries. The Tatars of Sibir were
Mahommedans and this town was the centre of the great fur trade. The
Russians themselves had constant relations with the inhabitants of
the Asiatic slopes of the Urals, and the Novgorodians were acquainted
with the regions stretching "beyond the portages." Early in the
Sixteenth Century the Moscow Tsars, heirs of the Novgorod power,
called themselves lords of Obdoria and Kondina; that is of all the
Lower Ob basin between the Konda and the Irtish confluence, and the
station of Obdorsk, under the Arctic Circle. Their possessions--that
is, the hunting grounds visited by the Russian agents of the Strogonov
family--consequently skirted the great river for a distance of 600
miles. But the Slav power was destined soon to be consolidated
by conquest, and such is the respect inspired by force that the
successful expedition of a Cossack brigand, on whose head a price
had been set, was supposed to have led to the discovery of Siberia,
although really preceded by many visits of a peaceful character.
Even still the conquering Yermak is often regarded as a sort of
explorer of the lands beyond the Urals. But he merely establishes
himself as a master where the Strogonov traders had been received
as guests. Maps of the Ob and of the Ostiak country had already
been published by Sebastian Munster and by Herberstein a generation
before the Cossacks entered Sibir. The very name of this town is
marked on Munster's map.

In 1579, Yermak began the second plundering expedition, which in
two years resulted in the capture of the Tatar kingdom. When the
conquerors entered Sibir they had been reduced from over 800 to
about 400 men. But this handful represented the power of the Tsars
and Yermak could sue for pardon, with the offer of a kingdom as
his ransom. Before the close of the Sixteenth Century the land had
been finally subdued. Sibir itself, which stood on a high bluff on
the right bank of the Irtish, exists no more, having probably been
swept away by the erosions of the stream. But ten miles farther down
another capital, Tobolsk, arose, also on the right bank, and the
whole of the north was gradually added to the Tsar's dominions. The
fur trappers, more even than the soldiers, were the real conquerors
of Siberia. Nevertheless, many battles had to be fought down to
the middle of the Seventeenth Century. The Buriats of the Angora
basin, the Koriaks, and other tribes long held out; but most of
the land was peacefully acquired, and permanently secured by the
forts erected by the Cossacks at the junction of the rivers, at
the entrance of the mountain passes, and other strategic points.
History records no other instance of such a vast dominion so rapidly
acquired, and with such slender means, by a handful of men acting
mostly on their own impulse, without chiefs or instructions from
the centre of authority.

Even China allowed the Cossacks to settle on the banks of the Amur,
though the treaty of Nerchinsk required the Russians to withdraw
from that basin in 1689. But during the present century they have
been again attracted to this region, and the Government of St.
Petersburg is now fully alive to the advantages of a free access
by a large navigable stream to the Pacific seaboard. Hence, in
1851, Muraviov established the factory of Nikolaievsk, near the
mouth of the Amur, and those of Mariinsk and Alexandrovsk at either
end of the portage connecting that river with the Bay of Castries.
During the Crimean war its left bank was definitely secured by a
line of fortified posts, and in 1859 a ukase confirmed the possession
of a territory torn from China in time of peace. Lastly, in 1860,
while the Anglo-French forces were entering Pekin, Russia obtained
without a blow the cession of the region south of the Amur and east
of the Ussuri, stretching along the coast to the Corean frontier.

And thus was completed the reduction of the whole of North Asia,
a territory of itself alone far more extensive than the European
continent. In other respects there is, of course, no point of comparison
between these two regions. This Siberian world, where vast wildernesses
still remain to be explored, has a foreign trade surpassed by that
of many a third-rate European seaport, such as Dover or Boulogne.
Embracing a thirteenth part of the dry land on the surface of the
globe, its population falls short of that of London alone; it is
even more sparsely peopled than Caucasia and Turkestan, having
little over one inhabitant to 1,000 acres.

Accurate surveys of the physical features and frontier-lines are
still far from complete. Only quite recently the first circumnavigation
of the Old World round the northern shores of Siberia has been
accomplished by the Swedish explorer, Nordenskjöld. The early attempts
made by Willoughby, Chancellor, and Burrough failed even to reach
the Siberian coast. Hoping later on to reach China by ascending
the Ob to the imaginary Lake Kitaï--that is, Kathay, or China--the
English renewed their efforts to discover the "north-east passage,"
and in 1580 two vessels, commanded by Arthur Ket and Charles Jackman,
sailed for the Arctic Ocean; but they never got beyond the Kara
Sea. The Dutch succeeded no better, none of the voyages undertaken
by Barents and others between 1594 and 1597 reaching farther than
the Spitzbergen and Novaya Zembla waters. Nor were these limits
exceeded by Hendrick Hudson in 1608. This was the last attempt
made by the navigators of West Europe; but the Russian traders
and fishers of the White Sea were familiar with the routes to the
Ob and Yenisei Gulfs, as is evident from a map published in 1600
by Boris Godunov. However, sixteen years afterwards the navigation
of these waters was interdicted under pain of death, lest foreigners
should discover the way to the Siberian coast.

[Illustration: SIBERIAN NATIVES.]

The exploration of this seaboard had thus to be prosecuted in Siberia
itself by means of vessels built for the river navigation. In 1648,
the Cossack Dejnev sailed with a flotilla of small craft from the
Kolîma round the north-east extremity of Asia, passing long before
the birth of Bering through the strait which now bears the name
of that navigator. Stadukhin also explored these eastern seas in
search of the islands full of fossil ivory, of which he had heard
from the natives. In 1735, Pronchishchev and Lasinius embarked
at Yakutsk and sailed down the Lena, exploring its delta and
neighbouring coasts. Pronchishchev reached a point east of the
Taimir peninsula, but failed to double the headlands between the
Lena and the Yenisei estuaries. The expedition begun by Laptiev in
1739, after suffering shipwreck, was continued overland, resulting
in the exploration of the Taimir peninsula and the discovery of the
North Cape of the Old World, Pliny's Tabin, and the Cheluskin of
modern maps, so named from the pilot who accompanied Pronchishchev
and Laptiev. The western seaboard between the Yenisei and Ob estuaries
had already been surveyed by Ovtzin and Minin in 1737-9.

But the problem was already being attacked from the side of the
Pacific Ocean. In 1728, the Danish navigator, Bering, in the service
of Russia, crossed Siberia overland to the Pacific, whence he sailed
through the strait now named from him, and by him first revealed
to the West, though known to the Siberian Cossacks eighty years
previously. Even Bering himself, hugging the Asiatic coast, had
not descried the opposite shores of America, and was uncertain as
to the exact position of the strait. This point was not cleared
up till Cook's voyage of 1778, and even after that the Sakhalin,
Yezo and Kurile waters still remained to be explored. The shores
of the mainland and islands were first traced by La Pérouse, who
determined the insular character of Sakhalin, and ascertained the
existence of a strait connecting the Japanese Sea with that of
Okhotsk. This completed the general survey of the whole Siberian

The scientific exploration of the interior began in the Eighteenth
Century with Messerschmidt, followed by Gmelin, Müller, and Delisle
de la Croyère, who determined many important physical points between
the years 1733 and 1742. The region stretching beyond Lake Baikal was
explored by Pallas and his associates in 1770-3. The expeditions,
interrupted by the great wars following on the French Revolution,
were resumed in 1828 by the Norwegian Hansteen, whose memorable
expedition in company with Erman had such important results for
the study of terrestrial magnetism. While Hansteen and Erman were
still prosecuting their labours in every branch of natural science,
Alexander von Humboldt, Ehrenberg, and Gustav Rose made a short
visit to Siberia, which, however, remained one of the most important
in the history of science. Middendorff's journeys to North and
East Siberia had also some very valuable results, and were soon
followed, in 1854, by the "expedition to Siberia" undertaken by
Schwartz, Schmidt, Glehn, Usoltzev, and associates, extending over
the whole region of the Trans-baikal to the Lena and northern
tributaries of the Amur. Thus began the uninterrupted series of
modern journeys, which are now being systematically continued in
every part of Siberia, and which promise soon to leave no blanks
on the chart of that region.

The work of geographical discovery, properly so called, may be said
to have been brought to a close by Nordenskjöld's recent determination
of the north-east passage, vainly attempted by Willoughby, Barents,
and so many other illustrious navigators.

Such a vast region as Siberia, affected in the west by Atlantic,
in the east by Pacific influences, and stretching north and south
across 29° of latitude, must obviously present great diversities
of climate. Even this bleak land has its temperate zones, which the
Slav colonists are fond of calling their "Italies." Nevertheless
as compared with Europe, Siberia may, on the whole, be regarded as
a country of extreme temperatures--relatively great heats, and,
above all, intense colds. The very term "Siberian" has justly become
synonymous with a land of winds, frosts, and snows. The mean annual
temperature in this region comprised between the rivers Anabara
and Indigirka is 20° Fahr. below freezing point. The pole of cold,
oscillating diversely with the force of the lateral pressure from
Yakutsk to the Lena estuary, is the meteorological centre round
which the atmosphere revolves. Here are to a large extent prepared
the elements of the climate of West Europe.

Travellers speak of the Siberian winters with mingled feelings of
terror and rapture. An infinite silence broods over the land--all
is buried in deep sleep. The animals hibernate in their dens, the
streams have ceased to flow, disappearing beneath the ice and snow;
the earth, of a dazzling whiteness in the centre of the landscape,
but grey in the distance, nowhere offers a single object to arrest
the gaze. The monotony of endless space is broken by no abrupt
lines or vivid tints. The only contrast with the dull expanse of
land is the everlasting azure sky, along which the sun creeps at a
few degrees only above the horizon. In these intensely cold latitudes
it rises and sets with hard outlines, unsoftened by the ruddy haze
elsewhere encircling it on the edge of the horizon. Yet such is the
strength of its rays that the snow melts on the housetop exposed
to its glare, while in the shade the temperature is 40° to 50°
below freezing point. At night, when the firmament is not aglow
with the many-tinted lights and silent coruscations of the aurora
borealis, the zodiacal light and the stars still shine with intense

To this severe winter, which fissures the surface and rends the
rocks of the rivers into regular basalt-like columns, there succeeds
a sudden and delightful spring. So instantaneous is the change that
nature seems as if taken by surprise and rudely awakened. The delicate
green of the opening leaf, the fragrance of the budding flowers,
the intoxicating balm of the atmosphere, the radiant brightness of
the heavens, all combine to impart to mere existence a voluptuous
gladness. To Siberians visiting the temperate climes of Western
Europe, spring seems to be unknown beyond their lands. But these
first days of new life are followed by a chill, gusty and changeful
interval, arising from the atmospheric disturbances caused by the
thawing of the vast snowy wastes. A relapse is then experienced
analogous to that too often produced in England by late east winds.
The apple blossom is now nipped by the night frosts falling in the
latter part of May. Hence no apples can be had in East Siberia,
although the summer heats are otherwise amply sufficient for the
ripening of fruit. After the fleeting summer, winter weather again
sets in. It will often freeze at night in the middle of July; and
after the 10th of August the sear leaf begins to fall, and in a
few days all are gone, except perhaps the foliage of the larch.
The snow will even sometimes settle early in August on the still
leafy branches, bending and breaking them with its weight. Below
the surface of the ground, winter reigns uninterrupted even by
the hottest summers.

With its vast extent and varied climate, Siberia naturally embraces
several vegetable zones, differing more from each other even than
those of Europe. The southern Steppes have a characteristic and
well-marked flora, forming a continuation of that of the Aral,
Caspian and Volga plains. The treeless northern _tundras_ also
constitute a vegetable domain as sharply defined as the desert
itself, while between these two zones of Steppe and _tundra_ the
forest region of Europe stretches, with many subdivisions, west
and east right across the continent. Of these subdivisions the
chief are those of the Ob, Yenisei, Lena, and Amur basins.

Beyond the northern _tundras_ and southern Steppes by far the greatest
space is occupied by the forest zone. From the Urals to Kamchatka
the dense _taiga_, or woodlands are interrupted only by the streams,
a few natural glades and some tracts under cultivation. The term
_taiga_ is used in a general way for all lands under timber, but
east of the Altai it is applied more especially to the moist and
spongy region overgrown with tangled roots and thickets, where the
_mari_, or peat bogs, and marshes alternate with the _padi_, or
narrow ravines. The miners call by this name the wooded mountains
where they go in search of auriferous sands. But everywhere the
_taiga_ is the same dreary forest, without grass, birds, or insects,
gloomy and lifeless, and noiseless but for the soughing of the
wind and crackling of the branches.

The most common tree in the _taiga_ is the larch, which best resists
the winter frost and summer chills. But the Siberian woodlands also
include most of the trees common to temperate Europe--the linden,
alder, juniper, service, willow, aspen, poplar, birch, cherry,
apricot--whose areas are regulated according to the nature of the
soil, the elevation or aspect of the land. Towards the south-east,
on the Chinese frontier, the birch is encroaching on the indigenous
species, and the natives regard this as a sure prognostic of the
approaching rule of the "White Tsar."

Conflagrations are very frequent in the Siberian forests, caused
either by lightning, the woodmen, or hunters, and sometimes spreading
over vast spaces till arrested by rivers, lakes or morasses. One
of the pleasures of Siberian travelling is the faint odour of the
woods burning in the distance.

The native flora is extremely rich in berries of every kind, supplying
food for men and animals.

The extreme eastern regions of the Amur basin and Russian Manchuria,
being warmer, more humid and fertile, also abound more in animal
life than the other parts of Asiatic Russia. On the other hand,
the Siberian bear, deer, roebuck, hare, squirrel, marmot and mole
are about one-third larger, and often half as heavy again as their
European congeners. This is doubtless due partly to the greater
abundance of nourishment along the rivers and shores of Siberia,
and partly to the fact that for ages the western species have been
more preyed upon by man, living in a constant state of fear, and
mostly perishing before attaining their full development.

The Arctic Seas abound probably as much as the Pacific Ocean with
marine animals. Nordenskjöld found the Siberian waters very rich
in molluscs and other lower organisms, implying a corresponding
abundance of larger animals. Hence fishing, perhaps more than
navigation, will be the future industry of the Siberian coast
populations. Cetacea, fishes, molluscs, and other marine organisms
are cast up in such quantities along both sides of Bering Strait
that the bears and other omnivorous creatures have here become
very choice as to their food. But on some parts of the coast in the
Chukchi country whales are never stranded, and since the arrival
of the Russians certain species threaten to disappear altogether.
The _Rhytina stelleri_, a species of walrus formerly frequenting
Bering Strait in millions, was completely exterminated between the
years 1741-68. Many of the fur-bearing animals, which attracted
the Cossacks from the Urals to the Sea of Okhotsk, and which were
the true cause of the conquest of Siberia, have become extremely
rare. Their skins are distinguished, above all others, for their
great softness, warmth, lightness, and bright colours. The more
Alpine or continental the climate, the more beautiful and highly
prized become the furs, which diminish in gloss towards the coast
and in West Siberia, where the south-west winds prevail. The sables
of the North Urals are of small value, while those of the Upper
Lena, fifteen degrees farther south, are worth a king's ransom. Many
species assume a white coat in winter, whereby they are difficult
to be distinguished from the surrounding snows. Amongst these are
the polar hare and fox, the ermine, the campagnol, often even the
wolf and reindeer, besides the owl, yellow-hammer, and some other
birds. Those which retain their brown or black colour are mostly
such as do not show themselves in winter. The fur of the squirrels
also varies with the surrounding foliage, those of the pine forests
being ruddy, those of the cedar, _taiga_, and firs inclining to
brown, and all varying in intensity of colour with that of the

Other species besides the peltry-bearing animals have diminished
in numbers since the arrival of the Russian hunters. The reindeer,
which frequented the South Siberian highlands, and whose domain
encroached on that of the camel, is now found only in the domestic
state amongst the Soyotes of the Upper Yenisei and is met with
in the wild state only in the dwarf forests and _tundras_ of the
far north. The argali has withdrawn to Mongolia from the Siberian
mountains and plains, where he was still very common at the end of
the last century. On the other hand, cold and want of food yearly
drive great numbers of antelopes and wild horses from the Gobi
Steppes towards the Siberian lowlands, tigers, wolves and other
beasts of prey following in their track, and returning with them in
the early spring. Several new species of animals have been introduced
by man and modified by crossings in the domestic state. In the
north, the Samoyeds, Chukchis, and Kamchadales have the reindeer
and dog, while the horse and ox are everywhere the companions of
man in the peopled regions of Siberia. The yak has been tamed by the
Soyotes of the Upper Yenisei, and the camel, typical of a distinctly
Eastern civilization, follows the nomads of the Kirghiz and Mongolian
Steppes. All these domesticated animals seem to have acquired special
qualities and habits from the various indigenous or Russian peoples
of Siberia.



The vast Empire of Russia, as may be readily imagined, is peopled
by many different races. These may ethnologically be catalogued
as follows:

I. Sclavonic races, the most important in numbers and culture. Under
this head may be classified:--

(1) The Great Russians, or Russians properly so called, especially
occupying the Governments round about Moscow, and from thence scattered
in the north to Novgorod and Vologda, on the south to Kiev and to
Voronezh, on the east to Penza, Simbirsk, and Viatka, and on the
west to the Baltic provinces. Moreover, the Great Russians, as
the ruling race, are to be found in small numbers in all quarters
of the Empire. They amount to about 40,000,000.

(2) Little Russians (Malorossiani), dwelling south of the Russians,
upon the shores of the Black Sea. These, together with the Rusniaks,
amount to 16,370,000.

The Cossacks come under these two races.

To the great Russians belong the Don Cossacks, with those sprung
from them--the Kouban, Stavropol, Khoperski, Volga, Mosdok, Kizlarski
and Grebenski.


To the Little Russian: the Malorossiiski, with those sprung from
them--the Zaporoghian, Black Sea (Chernomorski), and those of Azov
and of the Danube.

(3) The White Russians, inhabiting the Western Governments. Their
number amounts to 4,000,000.

(4) Poles, living in the former Kingdom of Poland and the Western
Governments of the Empire. Their number amounts to 5,000,000.

(5) Servians, Bulgarians, and other Slavs, inhabiting especially
Bessarabia and the country called New Russia. Their number reaches

II. The Non-Sclavonic races comprise either original inhabitants
of the country who have been subdued by the Russians, or later
comers. Among races originally inhabiting the country, and subjugated
by the Russians, are included--the Lithuanians and Letts, the Finns,
the Samoyeds, the Mongol-Manzhurians, the races of eastern Siberia,
the Turko-Tartar, the Caucasian, the German, and the Hebrew.

1. The Lithu-Lettish race inhabits the country between the western
Dwina and the Nieman. In numbers they do not amount to more than
3,000,000. The Lithu-Lettish population is divided into the two
following branches:--

(a) The Lithuanians properly so called (including the Samogitans
or Zhmudes), who inhabit the Governments of Vilno, Kovno, Courland,
and the northern parts of those of Augustovo and Grodno (1,900,000).

(b) The Letts, who inhabit the Governments of Courland, Vitebsk,
Livonia, Kovno, Pskov, and St. Petersburg (1,100,000).

2. The Finnish race--known in the old Sclavonic chronicles under
the name of Chouds--at one time inhabited all the north-eastern part
of Russia. The Finns, according to the place of their habitation,
are divided into four groups:--the Baltic Finns, the Finns in the
Governments of the Volga, the Cis-Oural and the Trans-Oural Finns.

(a) The Baltic Finns: the Chouds (in the Governments of Novgorod
and Olonetz); the Livonians (in Courland); the Esthonians (in the
Governments of Esthonia, Livonia, Vitebsk, Pskov, and St. Petersburg);
the Lopari (in northern Finland and in the Government of Archangel);
the Corelians (in the Government of Archangel, Novgorod, Olonetz,
St. Petersburg, Tver, and Jaroslav); Evremeiseti (in the Governments
of Novgorod and St. Petersburg), Savakoti, Vod, and Izhora.

(b) To the Finns of the Governments of the Volga, who have become
almost lost in the Russians, belong the Cheremisians (in the Governments
of Kazan, Viatka, Kostroma, Nijni-Novgorod, Orenburg and Perm).

(c) To the Cis-Uralian Finns, who occupy the country from the borders
of Finland to the Oural, belong the Permiaks (in the Governments
of Viatka and Perm); Zîranians (in the Governments of Archangel
and Vologda); Votiaks (in the Governments of Viatka and Kazan);
and Vogoulichi (in the Governments of Perm).

(d) Among the Trans-Oural Finns are also to be numbered the Zîranians
and Vogoulichi (the first in the Government of Tobolsk, and the
second in the Governments of Tobolsk and Tomsk); and the Ostiaks,
who, according to the places of their habitation, are called Obski
and Berezovski.

The Finns amount altogether to 2,100,000.

3. The Samoyeds, in number 70,000, live in the territory extending
from the White Sea to the Yenesei; to these belong the Samoyeds
properly so called, the Narîmski and the Yenesei Ostiaks, the Olennie
Choukchi, etc.

4. The Mongolo-Manzhourian race amounting to 400,000. Among this
race may be remarked the Mongolians properly so called, on the
Selenga; the Kalmucks, a nomad people in the Government of Astrakhan,
as also in Tomsk, in the country of the Don Cossacks, and partly
in the Government of Stavropol. The Kalmucks appeared first on
the eastern confines of Russia in the year 1630. About a century
later we find them become the regular subjects of the Tsar. They
seem, however, to have found the Russian yoke irksome, and resolved
to return to their original home on the coasts of Lake Balkach,
and at the foot of the Altai Mountains. Nearly the whole nation,
amounting to almost 300,000 persons, began their march in the winter
of 1770-71. The passage of this vast horde lasted for weeks, but the
rear were prevented from escaping by the Kirghiz and Cossacks, who
intercepted them. They were compelled to remain in Russia, where their
territory was more accurately defined than had been done previously.
The Kalmucks are obliged to serve with the Cossack troops, but
their duties are mostly confined to looking after the cattle and
horses which accompany the army. Their religion is Buddhism, and
a conspicuous object in the aouls, or temporary villages which
they construct, is the pagoda. Their personal appearance is by no
means prepossessing--small eyes and high cheekbones, with scanty
hair of a very coarse texture. In every sense of the word they
are still strictly nomads; their children and tents are carried
by camels, and in a few hours their temporary village, or oulous,
is established. To these also belong the Bouriats, by Lake Baikal;
the Toungusians from the Yenesei to the Amur; the Lamorets, by the
Sea of Okhotsk; and the Olentzi, in the Government of Irkutsk.

5. Races of eastern Siberia: the Koriaks, living in the north-eastern
corner of Siberia; the Youkagirs, in the territory of Yakutsk; the
Kamchadales, in Kamchatka. Their number amounts to 500,000.

6. The Turko-Tartar race amount in number to 3,000,000. To their
branch belong the Chouvashes, in the governments of Orenburg, Simbursk,
Saratov and Samaria; the Mordvinians, in the same governments as the
Chouvashes,[1] and in those of Tambov, Penza, and Nijni-Novgorod;
the Tartars of the Crimea and Kazan; the Nagais, on the Kouban
and Don; the Mestcheriaki, in the governments of Orenburg, Perm,
Saratov, and Viatka; Koumki, in the Caucasus; Kirghizi, Yakouti,
on the Lena; Troukhmentzi and Khivintzi; Karakalpaks (lit. Black
Caps), Teleoûti, in the government of Tomsk, Siberia.

[Footnote 1: Some writers consider the Chouvashes to belong to the
Finnish race.]

7. The Caucasian races inhabiting Georgia, the valleys and defiles
of the Caucasian Mountains have different appellations and different
origins. Among them may be noticed the Armenians, Georgians,
Circassians, Abkhasians, Lesghians, Osetintzi, Chechentzi, Kistentzi,
Toushi, and others. Their number is about 2,000,000.

The languages of the Caucasus must be regarded as a group distinct
both from the Aryan and Semitic families. They are agglutinative,
and are divided into two branches.

(a) The Northern Division, extending along the northern slopes
of the Caucasus, between the Caspian and the northern shores of
the Black Sea, as far as the Straits of Yenikale; its subdivisions
are Lesghian, Kistian, and Circassian, each with its dialects.
Formerly the Circassians numbered about 500,000, but large numbers
of them emigrated to European Turkey, where they were dexterously
planted by the government to impede the social progress of their
Bulgarian and Greek subjects.

(b) The Southern Division, comprising Georgian, Suanian, Mingrelian,
and Lazian.

8. The German race, in number about 1,000,000. The Germans are
chiefly in the Baltic provinces, in the government of St. Petersburg,
in the Grand Duchy of Finland, and the colonies, especially those on
the lower Volga, the Don, the Crimea, and New Russia. The Germans
have acquired great influence throughout the country; they are
represented in the court, in the army, and in the administration.
Here also may be mentioned the Swedes, amounting to 286,000.

9. The Jews inhabit especially the former Kingdom of Poland, the
Western Governments, and the Crimea. Their number amounts to 3,000,000.
Among the Jews the Karaimite are noticeable, living in the governments
of Vilno, Volinia, Kovno, Kherson, and the Taurida. Among the Europeans
and Asiatics who have come in later times to settle in Russia, are
Greeks, amounting to 75,000, in the governments of New Russia and
Chernigov; French, Italians, and Englishmen, in the capitals and
chief commercial towns; Wallachians or Moldavians (now generally
included under the name of Roumanians), in Bessarabia; Albanians;
Gipsies, especially in the territory of Bessarabia, amounting to
50,000; Persians, to 10,000, etc.



I shall follow the divisions given in his first volume by Oustrialov.
He divides Russian history into two great parts, the ancient and

I. Ancient history from the commencement of Russia to the time of
Peter the Great (862-1689).

This first period is subdivided into (_a_) the foundation of Russia
and the combination of the Sclavonians into a political unity under
the leadership of the Normans and by means of the Christian Faith
under Vladimir and the legislation of Yaroslav.

According to the theory commonly received at the present day, the
foundation of the Russian Empire was laid by Rurik at Novgorod.
The name Russian seems to be best explained as meaning "the seamen"
from the Finnish name for the Swedes or Norsemen, Ruotsi, which
itself is a corruption of a Scandinavian word. It has been shown
by Thomsen, that all the names mentioned in early Russian history
admit of a Scandinavian explanation; thus Ingar becomes Igor, and
Helga, Oleg. In a few generations the Scandinavian origin of the
settlers was forgotten. The grandson of Rurik, Sviatoslav, has
a purely Sclavonic name.

Christianity was introduced into the country by Vladimir, and the
first code of Russian laws was promulgated by Yaroslav, called
Rousskaia Pravda, of which a transcript was found among the chronicles
of Novgorod.

(_b_) Breaking up of Russia, under the system of appanages, into
some confederate principalities, governed by the descendants of
Rurik. This unfortunate disruption of the country paved the way
for the invasion of the Mongols, whose domination lasted for nearly
two centuries.

During their occupation the Russians were ingrafted with many oriental
habits, which were only partially removed by Peter the Great, and in
fact many of them have lasted till the present day. The influence
of the Mongolians upon the national language has been greatly
exaggerated, as the words introduced are confined almost exclusively
to articles of dress, money, etc. Had the conquests of the Mongols
been permanent, Russia would have become definitely attached to
Asia, to which its geographical position seems to assign it.

(_c_) Division of Russia into eastern and western under the Mongolian
yoke 1228-1328. This is a very dreary period of the national history.

(_d_) Formation in Eastern Russia of the government of Moscow 1328-1462,
which by the energy of its princes became the nucleus of the future
empire; and in Western Russia of the principality of Lithuania,
and its union with Poland 1320-1569.

(_e_) Consolidation of the Muscovite power under Ivan III., who
married the daughter of the Greek Emperor, and succeeded in expelling
the Tartars, and making himself master of their city Kazan. He was
followed by his son Vasilii, who was succeeded by Ivan IV., who
has gained a very unenviable reputation on account of his cruelties.
Already the yoke of the Tartars had begun to have a very deteriorating
effect upon the Russian character, and the more sanguinary code of
the Asiatics had effaced the tradition of the laws of Yaroslav.
Mutilation, flagellation, and the abundant use of the knout prevailed.
The servile custom of chelobitye, or knocking the head on the ground,
which was exacted from all subjects on entering the royal presence,
was certainly of Tartar origin, as also the punishment inflicted
upon refractory debtors, called the pravezh. They were beaten on
the shins in a public square every day from eight to eleven o'clock,
till the money was paid. The custom is fully described by Giles
Fletcher and Olearius.

Another strange habit, savouring too much of the Tartar servitude,
was that recorded by Peter Heylin in his _Little Description of
the Great World_ (Oxford, 1629), who says: "It is the custom over
all Muscovie, that a maid in time of wooing sends to that suitor
whom she chooseth for her husband such a whip curiously by herself
wrought, in token of her subjection unto him." A Russian writer
also tells us that it was usual for the husband on the wedding
day to give his bride a gentle stroke over the shoulders with his
whip, to show his power over her. Herberstein's story of the German
Jordan and his Russian wife will perhaps occur to some of my readers.
She complained to her husband that he did not love her; but upon
his expressing surprise at the doubt, she gave as her reason that
he had never beaten her! Indeed the position of a woman in Russia
till the time of Peter was a very melancholy one. Her place in
society is accurately marked out in the Domostroi, or regulations
for governing one's household, written at the time of Ivan the
Terrible. As this book presents us with some very curious pictures
of Russian family life in the olden time, a few words may be permitted
describing its contents. It was written by the monk Sylvester,
who was one of the chief counsellors of Ivan, and at one time in
great favour with him, but afterwards fell into disgrace and was
banished by the capricious tyrant to the Solovetzki monastery,
where he died. The work was primarily addressed by the worthy priest
to his son Anthemus and his daughter-in-law, Pelagia, but as the
bulk of it was of a general character it soon became used in all
households. Nothing escapes this father of the church from the
duties of religion, down to the minor details of the kitchen and
the mysteries of cookery. The wife is constantly recommended to
practise humility, in a way which would probably be repulsive to
many of our modern ladies. Her industry in weaving and making clothes
among her domestics is very carefully dwelt upon. She lived in a kind
of Oriental seclusion, and saw no one except her nearest relatives.
The bridegroom knew nothing of his bride, she was only allowed to
be seen a few times before marriage by his female relatives, and
on these occasions all kinds of tricks were played. A stool was
placed under her feet that she might seem taller, or a handsome
female attendant, or a better-looking sister were substituted.
"Nowhere," says Kotoshikhin, "is there such trickery practised
with reference to the brides as at Moscow." The innovations of
Peter the Great broke through the oriental seclusion of the terem,
as the women's apartments were called. During the minority of Ivan
IV. the regency was committed to the care of his mother Elena, and
was at best but a stormy period. When I van came to the throne the
country was not even yet free from the incursions of the Tartars.
In Hakluyt's voyages we have a curious account of one of these
devastations in a "letter of Richard Vscombe to M. Henrie Lane,
touching the burning of the city of Mosco by the Crimme Tartar,
written the fifth day of August, 1571." "The Mosco is burnt every
sticke by the Crimme, the 24th day of May last, and an innumerable
number of people; and in the English house was smothered Thomas
Southam, Tosild, Waverley, Green's wife and children, two children
of Rafe, and more to the number of twenty-five persons were stifled
in oure beere seller, and yet in the same seller was Rafe, his
wife, John Browne, and John Clarke preserved, which was wonderful.
And there went to that seller Master Glover and Master Rowley also;
but because the heat was so great they came foorth againe with much
perill, so that a boy at their heeles was taken with the fire,
yet they escaped blindfold into another seller, and there as God's
will was they were preserved. The emperor fled out of the field,
and many of his people were carried away by the Crimme Tartar.
And so with exceeding much spoile and infinite prisoners, they
returned home againe. What with the Crimme on the one side and
his cruelties on the other, he hath but few people left" (Hakluyt,
I. 402).


It is well known that the English first became acquainted with
Russia in the time of Ivan the Terrible. In the reign of Edward VI.
a voyage was undertaken by Sir Hugh Willoughby and Richard Chancellor,
who attempted to reach Russia by way of the North Sea. Willoughby
and his crew were unfortunately lost, but Chancellor succeeded in
reaching Moscow, and showing his letters to the Tsar, in reply to
which an alliance was concluded and an ambassador soon afterwards
visited the English court. In spite of his brutal tyrannies, for
which no apologies can be offered, although some of the Russian
authorities have attempted to gloss them over, the reign of Ivan
was distinctly progressive for Russia. The introduction of the
printing-press, the conquest of Siberia, the development of commerce,
were all in advance of what had been done by his predecessors. He
also had the leading idea afterwards fully carried out by Peter
the Great of extending the dominions on the north, and ensuring
a footing on the Baltic.

The relations of Ivan with England are fully described in the very
interesting diary of Sir Jerome Horsey, the ambassador from this
country, the manuscript of which is preserved in the British Museum.
He was anxious to have an English wife, and Elizabeth selected one
for him, Lady Mary Hastings, but when the bride-elect had been
made acquainted with the circumstance that Ivan had been married
several times before, and was a most truculent and blood-thirsty
sovereign, she entreated her father with many tears not to send
her to such a man.

The character given of Ivan by Horsey is very graphic, and is valuable
as the narration of a person who had frequently been in intimate
relations with the Tsar. We give it in the original spelling:--

"Thus much to conclude with this Emperor Ivan Vasiliwich. He was a
goodlie man of person and presence, well favoured, high forehead,
shrill voice, a right Sithian, full of readie wisdom, cruell, blondye,
merciless; his own experience mannaged by direction both his state and
commonwealth affairs; was sumptuously intomed in Michell Archangell
Church, where he, though guarded daye and night, remaines a fearfull
spectacle to the memorie of such as pass by or heer his name spoken
of [who] are contented to cross and bless themselves from his
resurrection againe."

Passing over his feeble son, we come to the era of Boris Godunov,
a man in many respects remarkable, but not the least that he saw
the necessity of western culture. His plans for educating Russia
were extensive, and several youths were sent abroad for this purpose,
including some to England. But his reign ended gloomily, and was
followed by the period of the Pretenders (Samozvantzi), during which
Russia was rent by opposing factions; and almost ended in receiving
a foreign sovereign, in the person of Ladislaus (Wladyslaw), the
son of Sigismund III., the King of Poland. The Romanovs finally
ascended the throne in the person of Michael in 1613. The son of
Michael, Alexis, was a thoroughly reforming sovereign, and took
many foreigners into his pay. With the reign of Ivan V., son of
Alexis, closes the old period of Russian history.

II. The new history from the days of Peter the Great to the present

The reforms introduced into Russia by Peter the Great are too well
known to need recapitulation here. There will be always many different
opinions about this wonderful man. Some have not hesitated to say
that he "knouted" Russia into civilization; others can see traces
of the hero mixed with much clay. One of the darkest pages in the
annals of his reign, is that upon which is written the fate of his
unfortunate son, Alexis. All Russia seems but one vast monument
of his genius. He gave her six new provinces, a footing upon two
seas, a regular army trained on the European system, a large fleet,
an admiralty, and a naval academy; besides these, some educational
establishments, a gallery of painting and sculpture, and a public
library. Nothing escaped his notice, even to such minutiæ as the
alteration of Russian letters to make them more adapted to printing,
and changing the dress of his subjects so as to be more in conformity
with European costume. All this interference savoured of despotism,
no doubt, but it led to the consolidation of a great nationality.
The Russians belong to the European family, and must of necessity
return to fulfil their destiny, although they had been temporarily
diverted from their bondage under the Mongols. Owing to the mistake
Peter had committed in allowing the succession to be changed at
the will of the ruling sovereign, the country was for some time
after his death in the hands of Russian and German adventurers.

On the death of Peter he was succeeded by his wife Catherine, an
amiable but illiterate woman, who was wholly under the influence
of Menshikov, one of Peter's chief favourites. After a short reign
of two years, she was succeeded by Peter II., son of the unfortunate
Alexis, in whose time Menshikov and his family were banished to
Berezov in Siberia. After his banishment, Peter, who was a weak
prince, and showed every inclination to undo his grandfather's
work, fell under the influence of the Dolgoroukis.

There is something very touching in the fate of this poor child--he
was but fifteen years of age when he died--tossed about amidst
the opposing factions of the intriguing courtiers, each of whom
cared nothing for the good of the country, but only how to find
the readiest means to supplant his rival. The last words of the
boy as he lay on his death-bed were, "Get ready the sledge! I want
to go to my sister!" alluding to the Princess Natalia, the other
child of Alexis who had died three years previously.

On his death Anne, Duchess of Courland, and daughter of Ivan, the
elder brother of Peter, was called to the throne. After her death,
by a second _révolution de palais_, Elizabeth, the daughter of
Peter the Great, was made sovereign. In this reign her alliance
was concluded with Maria Theresa of Austria, and during the Seven
Years' War, a large Russian force invaded Prussia; another took
Berlin in 1760.

During the whole of her reign Elizabeth was under the influence
of favourites, or _vremenstchiki_, as the Russians call them. She
appears to have been an indolent, good-tempered woman, and exceedingly
superstitious. During her reign Russia made considerable progress
in literature and culture. A national theatre, of which there had
been a few germs even at so early a period as the youth of Peter
the Great, was thoroughly developed, and at Yaroslavl, Volkov,
the son of a merchant, earned such a reputation as an actor, that
he was summoned to St. Petersburg by Elizabeth, who took him under
her patronage. Dramatists now sprang up on every side, but at first
were merely translators of Corneille, Racine, and Molière. The
Russian arms were successful during her reign, and the capture of
Berlin in 1760, had a great effect upon European politics. Two years
afterwards Elizabeth died, and her nephew Peter III. succeeded, who
admired Frederick the Great, and at once made peace with him.

This unfortunate man, however, only reigned six months, having been
dethroned and put to death by order of his wife, who became Empress
of Russia under the title of Catherine II. However unjustifiable the
means may have been by which Catherine became possessed of the
throne, and in mere justice to her we must remember that she had
been brutally treated by her husband, and was in hourly expectation
of being immured for life in a dungeon by his orders, she exercised
her power to the advantage of the country.

In 1770, a Russian fleet appeared for the first time in the
Mediterranean, and the Turkish navy was destroyed at Chesme. By the
treaty of Kutchuk Kainardji (1774), Turkey was obliged to recognize
the independence of the Crimea, and cede to Russia a considerable
amount of territory. In 1783, Russia gained the Crimea, and in
1793, by the last partition of Poland, a very large portion of that

The subsequent events of the history are well known. Paul, who
succeeded Catherine, was assassinated in 1801. The reign of this
emperor has been made very familiar to Englishmen by the highly
coloured portrait given by the traveller Clarke, who laboured under
the most aggravated Russophobia. That Paul did many cruel and capricious
things does not admit of a doubt, but he was capable of generous
feelings, and sometimes surprised people as much by his liberality
as by his despotic conduct. Thus he set Kosciuscko at liberty as
soon as he had ascended the throne; and there was a fine revenge in
his compelling Orlov to follow the coffins of Peter and Catherine,
when by his order they were buried together in the Petropavlovski

Alexander I., his son, added Finland to the Russian empire, and
saw his country invaded by Napoleon in 1812. The horrors of this
campaign have been well described by Segur, Wilson, and Labaume.
At his death in 1825, his brother Nicholas succeeded, not without
opposition, which led to bloodshed and the execution of the five
Dekabrists (conspirators of December). The schemes of these men
were impracticable; so little did the common people understand the
very rudiments of liberalism, that when the soldiers were ordered
to shout for Konstitoutzia (the constitution, a word the foreign
appearance of which shows how alien it was to the national spirit),
one of them naively asked, if that was the name of the wife of
the Grand Duke Constantine.

The policy of the Emperor Nicholas was one of complete isolation of
the country, and the prevention of his subjects as much as possible
from holding intercourse with the rest of Europe, hence permission
to travel was but sparingly given, nor were foreigners encouraged
to visit Russia. In 1826, war broke out with Persia, the result
of which was that the latter power was compelled to cede Erivan
and the country as far as the Araxes (or Aras). Russia also made
further additions to her territory by the treaty of Adrianople in
1829, after Diebich had crossed the Balkans. In 1830, the great
Polish rebellion broke out, which was crushed after much bloodshed
in Sept. 1831, by the capture of Warsaw. In 1849, the Russians
assisted Austria in crushing the revolt of her Hungarian subjects.
In 1853 broke out the Crimean War, the details of which are so well
known as to require no enumeration. Peace was concluded between
Russia and the Allies, after the death of the Emperor Nicholas in
1855, who was succeeded by his son, Alexander II. The two great
events of the reign of this monarch have been the emancipation of
the serfs in 1861, by which 22,000,000 received their liberty,
and the war with Turkey.



The history of the introduction and early progress of Christianity
in Russia is involved in obscurity and overlaid with legendary
stories. There is little doubt that it came from Constantinople, and
was not only rapidly spread, but firmly established in the country
within a short space of time. The date most generally accepted is
that of the reign of Vladimir, the great prince of Kief, grandson
of Olga. As Dean Stanley remarks in his _Lectures on the Eastern
Church_: "It coincides with a great epoch in Europe, the close of
the Tenth Century, when throughout the West the end of the world
was fearfully expected, when the Latin Church was overclouded with
the deepest despondency, when the Papal See had become the prey
of ruffians and profligates, then it was that the Eastern Church,
silently and almost unconsciously, bore into the world her mightiest


The Eastern Church was then at the zenith of its splendour. The
envoys sent by Vladimir to Constantinople to examine and report
upon the religion which he had almost decided to adopt were dazzled
with the magnificence of the ceremonial. They were wavering in
their choice and weighing the merits of the different systems which
had been brought before them. Rome they had not seen; Mohammedanism
was foreign to their tastes; Judaism had been found wanting; but
the Eastern Church appealed strongly to their imaginations and
barbaric love of splendour. Hers was St. Sophia, magnificent now,
but how much more gorgeous then! Every effort was made to win them,
and the victory was easy.

The intercourse of the newly formed empire of Russia with Byzantium
was at that time great. The change of religion had been very sudden
and it was necessary to build at once new edifices for the new
order of things. It was naturally to Byzantium that they turned
for their form and ornament. Very quickly churches arose. Novgorod,
the cradle of the Empire and the capital until the removal to Kief,
was the Metropolitan See, and the first cathedral is said to have
been built there as early as A. D. 989.

The form of a Russian Church underwent little change up to the
Seventeenth Century. In the Thirteenth Century the architects imported
from Lombardy brought to bear on the exterior the style of the
Lombardic or Romanesque architecture which had so long prevailed
in their own country. The gilded dome or cupola, of peculiar
onion-shaped form which is so especially Russian, was added soon
afterwards. The central cupola, which was adopted from the first,
was afterwards surrounded by others; their number reached even
to twenty or thirty, and it was not until the Sixteenth Century
at the time of the establishment of the patriarchate (1589), that
these were authoritatively restricted to five, which is now the
orthodox and obligatory number.

The practice of having two, three, five, seven, nine and thirteen
cupolas or spires is as early as the Eleventh Century. The numbers
were figurative; two signifying the two natures of Jesus Christ,
three, a symbol of the Trinity, five, our Lord and the four evangelists
or the five wounds, seven, the seven sacraments, the seven gifts
of the Holy Spirit, or the seven recumenical councils, nine, the
nine celestial hierarchies, and thirteen, our Lord and the twelve

Within the dimensions are small and the light obscure. Still, the
simple, nearly square disposition of the building, the enormous
plain-shafted pillars which support the domes, the mass of gilding,
the multitude of lamps, produce an undoubtedly grand effect. It
is strikingly oriental; and as in Russian churches there are no
seats, but the people stand in a mingled throng, now and then
prostrating themselves and beating their foreheads on the ground,
each as his own devotion may dictate, the resemblance is still
more marked. All the interior is covered with fresco pictures;
even the pillars have gigantic figures of the saints and doctors
of the church painted upon them. From the high roof hang immense
brass chandeliers of a peculiar form with many branches, capable
of holding hundreds of candles. In the dim distance, seemingly a
wall of gold, is the iconostas, the solid screen which in every
church divides the sanctuary from the rest of the sacred edifice.

The iconostas is in all cases decorated with a large number of holy
pictures or icons, arranged in formal rows one above the other. It
is a solid erection from side to side, from floor to roof, and in
the centre are the _royal doors_, through which none may pass but
the consecrating priest, or the emperor: and the last once only,
at the time of his coronation. At no time is any woman permitted
to enter the sanctuary.

The iconostas contains sometimes as many as seven rows of images:
that of the _Uspenski Sobor_[1] has five. Their arrangement is
guided by certain rules and restrictions. Our Lord and the blessed
Virgin must be represented on each side of the royal doors, and on
the doors themselves the Annunciation and the four evangelists.
On the side doors angels must be represented. Above must be the
usual symbol of the Trinity figured by Abraham entertaining the
three angels.

[Footnote 1: Cathedral of the Assumption, Moscow.]

The whole of the space behind the screen is known as the altar.
The altar itself is square, or rather a double cube. Above it four
small columns with a canopy form a baldachino; and the cross is
laid flat upon it. Here also is placed the tabernacle or _zion_
which is often an architectural structure in pure gold with figures.
There are five zions of this kind in the cathedrals of St. Sophia
at Novgorod and at the Troitsa monastery.

In the apse behind the altar and facing it is the _thronos_, the
seat of the archbishop, with seats for priests on either side.

Besides the icons and holy pictures on the screen (and in the Cathedral
of the Assumption the latter contains the most highly venerated
in Russia) other smaller icons are set apart in various parts of
the church. As is now the custom, though it is comparatively a
recent one, the greater part of the picture, with the exception of
the faces, hands and feet, is covered with an embossed and chased
plaque in gold or silver-gilt representing the form and garments.
Glories or nimbuses in high relief set thick with gems surround
the faces, and sparkle as they reflect the light from the multitude
of candles burnt in their honour. Some are covered to overloading
with jewels, necklets, and bracelets; pearls, diamonds, and rubies
of large size and value adorning them in profusion.

The ceremonial of the Greek church is excessively complex, and the
symbolical meanings by which it represents the dogmas of religion
are everywhere made the subjects of minute observance. During the
greater part of the mass the royal doors are closed: the deacons
remain for the most part without, now and again entering for a
short time. From time to time a pope or popes pass throughout the
church, amongst the crowds, incensing all the holy pictures in
turn; the voice of the officiating priest is raised within, and
is answered in deep tones by the deacons without. Now from one
corner comes a chant of many voices, now for another a single one
in tones (it may be), the epistle or gospel of the day. Now the
doors fly open and a fleeting glimpse is gained of the celebrant
through the thick rolling clouds of incense. Then they are closed
again suddenly. To a stranger unable to follow and in ignorance
of the meaning, the effect is bewildering.

In writing, even generally, of the arts in Russia some reference
to religious music is excusable. That of Russia has a peculiar
charm of its own, far above the barbarous discords that are to be
heard in Greek and other churches of the East at the present day.
There is a sweetness and attractiveness in the unaccompanied chanting
of the choir, in the deep bass tones of the men mingling with the
plaintive trebles of younger voices, which is indescribable in its
harmony. It is unlike any other; yet underneath lies the original
tinge of orientalism, the wailing semitones of all barbaric music.
No accompaniment, no instrumental music of any kind is permitted.
Bass voices of extraordinary depth and power are the most desired.
It is said that the tones now used in the Russian church are
comparatively modern.

The principal churches and monasteries in Russia possess rich stores
of vestments; some of comparatively high antiquity which are preserved
with scrupulous care and still used on occasions of great ceremony.
In more modern vestments the ancient ornament is to a great extent
strictly copied.

The _saccos_, formerly the principal vestment of the patriarchs
and an emblem of sovereign power, is now common to all Russian
bishops. It is in the shape of a dalmatic, formed of two square
pieces of stuff joined together at the neck and open at the sides,
having wide short sleeves. Many of the finest of these vestments
are elaborately embroidered in gold and silver and ornamented with
figures of saints; and in the stuffs themselves sacred subjects are
often woven. They are also thickly sown with rows of seed-pearls
which follow the lines and edgings of the vestment and border the
sacred images. They are besides set with enamelled, nielloed, or
jewelled plaques of gold or silver. Texts in Greek or Sclavonic
often border the whole of the edges of the garment. These are
elaborately worked in gold or silver, or the letters formed completely
of seed-pearls. The _saccos_ of the Metropolitan Peter (made in
1322), of Alexis (1364), of Photius (1414), and of Dionysius (made
in 1583), are remarkable vestments of this character, to be found
in the patriarchal sacristy at Moscow. The stoles, which usually
correspond, are long, narrow, and nearly straight-sided to the
bottom. A peculiar episcopal ornament is the _epigonation_. It is
a large lozenge-shaped ornament embroidered and worked in a similar
manner to the other vestments, and by bishops is worn hanging from
the right side.

The usual form of mitre of a pope of the Russian church is well-known.
The earlier kind was a sort of low cap with a border of fur, something
like the cap of a royal crown, and probably not different in type
from the head-dresses of bishops of the west. Some are sewn thick
with pearls bordering and heightening the lines of the figures of
saints, and forming the outlines of the Sclavonic inscriptions.
Such is that of Joassof, first patriarch of the Russian church
(1558). Those of later times are often of metal richly set with
precious stones. Sometimes they assume a more conical form, surmounted
by a cross, like an imperial crown, as that which is termed the
Constantinople mitre, said to have been made in the time of Ivan
the Terrible. The mitre of the celebrated Nikon (1655), who aspired
to papal prerogatives, is diadem-shaped and remarkable for the
richness of the precious stones with which it is set. The most
usual shape recalls to some extent the favourite cupola, spreading
out from the base to the top.

The form of the chalice used in the Russian church varies considerably,
as it does also in that of the Latin church. In general characteristics
the two have much in common. In early times the chalice was made of
wood or crystal as well as of gold and silver. An ancient chalice
of crystal is preserved in the Cathedral of the Assumption at Moscow,
and the wooden ones of SS. Sergius and Nikon are in the sacristy
at Troitsa. On some old icons our Lord is represented as giving
the holy communion to the apostles out of narrow-necked vessels
which appear to be made of alabaster.

The Greek rite for the celebration of the holy eucharist requires
three things which are not used in the western church. These are
the knife or spear, the star or asterisk, and the spoon for the
administration of the chalice as the sacrament is received by the
laity under both kinds. It may naturally be supposed that such sacred
objects would be the subjects of high artistic workmanship. The
paten itself is often elaborately enamelled and otherwise decorated,
whereas in the western church the rubrics require it to be plain.

The ceremonial of the preparation of the bread (which is leavened
and in the form of a small loaf) is exceedingly complex. Portions
are cut out for consecration, and for this purpose a knife called
a "spear" is used. These portions placed on the paten are covered
with a veil, and in order to prevent the latter from touching the
elements a piece of metal is placed over them: two strips crossed,
and bent so as to have four feet. The tabernacle, or perhaps more
properly ciborium, is sometimes in the form of a hill or mount of
gold or silver-gilt, or of a temple, and there are many remarkable
examples. One at Troitsa is of solid gold with the exception of
Judas, which is of brass. Another is in the sacristy of the church
of the Assumption at Moscow. From its inscription we learn that
it was made for the grand duke Ivan Vassilievitch in 1486, and
it is a characteristic specimen of Russian art of the period.

A peculiar ornament or sacred vessel of the Russo-Greek church
is known under the name of _panagia_, and of this there are two
kinds. One is a jewel or pectoral worn suspended from the neck by
bishops, and is an object on which much care and rich decoration
are lavished. In a somewhat altered form it is worn by priests
in the same way for carrying the holy sacrament on a journey or
to the sick.

Pectoral crosses for the dignitaries of the church are of course
not uncommon; not only priests, however, but every Russian man,
woman or child carries a small cross, more or less ornamental. They
are various in form and richness of decoration; from the simple
bronze cross, rudely stamped, of the peasant, to the enamelled and
jewelled one of the metropolitan or noble. Nearly always the plain
three-armed cross is set in the centre of another more elaborate
or conventional. Almost invariably also the sacred monograms and
invocations in Sclavonic characters are engraved in the field.
In some cases it is more a medallion than a cross, the form of
the cross being indicated by cutting four segments in the manner
of the ancient stone crosses to be seen in many parts of England.
Besides the inscriptions, emblems such as the spear and nails and
crown of thorns are often to be distinguished though conventionally

Crosses on church tops are made of silver, wood, lead, and even
gold. The open-worked designs of many of them, although intended
to be placed at great height, are extremely elegant. They were
occasionally ornamented with coins, and those on churches erected
by the Tsar are surmounted by an imperial crown.

A crescent as a symbol beneath the cross is very frequent. Various
explanations of this symbol have been given. According to some it
is in remembrance of the victory of the cross over the crescent
on the deliverance from the Mongol yoke. Others think it to have
originated simply in the freak of some goldsmith, afterwards copied
by others until it came to be accepted as a necessity. It is certain
that the use of the crescent is anterior to the Mongol invasion,
and was an old symbol in Byzantium, as appears from coins.

The pastoral staff of Russian bishops is tau-shaped; and there
are many good old examples, a few in ivory, but for the most part
in silver-gilt. Processional crosses are also used.

The censer is a piece of church furniture in constant use in the
Russo-Greek church, and we find several examples very characteristic
of Russian art. As in the west, the application of architectural forms
is very frequent, and it is not surprising that the peculiarities of
Russian ecclesiastical ornament should be prominent and especially
the dome which naturally suggests itself.

Amongst the objects kept in the sacristy of the patriarchs in the
Cathedral of the Assumption, in Moscow, is one which is held in
special veneration. This is the vase in which is preserved the
deposit of holy chrism used in the annual preparation of holy oils
for distribution to the various churches of the empire.

The preparation of this oil is an occasion of great ceremony in
Holy Week. From the fourth week in Lent the preliminary mixings of
oil, wine, herbs, and a variety of different ingredients begin. In
the Holy Week these ingredient are prepared in a public ceremony:
two large boilers, several bowls and sixteen vases together with
other vessels being used. All of these are of great size of massive
silver, and, presented by Catherine II. in 1767, are specimens of
silver work of that time.



A report was brought to Basil, the Metropolitan of Moscow, in the
year 1340, by merchants of Novgorod, who asserted that they had
beheld a glimpse of Paradise from the shores of the White Sea.
Whether their vision were merely the dazzling reflection of some
sunlit iceberg, or only the glow of poetic imagination, it so fired
the ardour of the mediæval prelate that he longed to set sail for
this golden gleam. Be the old legend true or false, it is certain that
to this day the northern Mujik shows an even more marked religious
enthusiasm than his brother of the central governments. Fanaticism,
mysticism, and fatalism go ever hand in hand in Northern Russia.
The Empire of the Tsars being so vast in area and so embracive of
races affords space for all forms of belief, or want of belief,
within her boundaries. All creeds are represented, from the pagan
Samoyede of the _tundras_ to the Mohammedan Tartar of the Steppes.
Our concern is with but one of these--the Old Believers. But to
understand their doctrine, we must glance at the clergy of the
State Church from which they dissent.


The clergy of the Orthodox Russian Church are divided into Black
or monks of St. Basil, and the White or parish priests. The latter
must be married before they are ordained, and may not marry again
(which has led to the saying, "A priest takes good care of his
wife, for he cannot get another"), while the monasteries, of course,
require celibacy. From the latter the bishops are elected, so that
they--in contradistinction to the priests--must be single. This
system is much condemned by the lower clergy, who ask pertinently,
"How can the bishop know the hardships of our lives? for he is
single and well paid, we poor and married." The rule, observed
elsewhere, holds good in Russia, the poorer the priest, the larger
the family. Few village priests receive any regular stipend, but
are allowed a plot of land in the commune wherein they minister.
This allowance is generally from thirty to forty dessiatines (eighty
to one hundred and eight acres), and can only be converted into
money, or food products, by the labour of the parson and his family
upon it--very literally must they put their hand to the plough.
Priests are paid for special services, such as christenings or
weddings, at no fixed tariff, but at a sliding rate, according
to the means of the payer, the price being arrived at by means of
prolonged bargaining between the shepherd and his flock. Would-be
couples often wait for months until a sum can be fixed upon with
his reverence for tying the knot; and sometimes, by means of daily
haggling, the amount first asked can be reduced by one-half, for
the cost of the ceremony varies--according to the social status of
the happy pair--from ten to one hundred roubles. Funerals, too, are
at times postponed for most unhealthy periods during this process.
Generally, however, the White Clergy[1] are so miserably poor that
they cannot be blamed for making the best market they can for their
priestly offices. Whether the system or the salary be at fault
it is hard to say, but from whatever cause the fact remains that
the parish clergy of the villages are not always all they might
be; there are many among them who lead upright lives and gain the
respect of their parishioners, but it would be idle to deny that
there are many whose thoughts turn more to _vodka_ than piety,
the _kabak_ than the Church. Such shepherds have little in common
with the best elements of their flocks, and much with the worst,
in whose company they are generally seen.

[Footnote 1: The White Clergy wear any colour but that from which
they take their name--a deer-skin cap and long felt boots.]

The poor "Pope" spends much of his time going from _izba_ to _izba_,
giving his blessing and receiving in return drink and a few copecks;
from this come, all too easily, the proverbs of his parishioners,
"Am I a priest, that I should sup twice?" etc. Count Tolstoi makes
his hero remark in the trial scene of the _Resurrection_, when his
fellow jurymen are more friendly than he would wish, "The son of
a priest will speak to me next." But most of them have a side to
their natures which, though not always to be seen, is, nevertheless,
latent--the hour of need often lifts them to the lofty plane of
their sublime functions; the labouring--often hungry--peasant of
the weekdays becomes on Sunday exalted above the petty surroundings
of Mujik life, and becomes indeed the "little father" of his people.

From the Established Church of the State, the Church of the few in
the North, let us turn to the old faith, the Church of the many.
The Old Believers, Raskolniks, or dissenters, are indeed a numerous,
although officially an uncounted, body in the North; half the trade
of Moscow, most of that which is Russian at all, in the Port of
Archangel, all the Pomor shipping lies in their hands.

The word Raskolnik means, literally, one who splits asunder, and
that is just what the Old Believer is--one who has split off from
the Orthodox Church.

Two hundred and fifty years ago Nikon, a friar of Solovetsk, an
island monastery in the White Sea, having quarrelled alike with
equal and superior, was set adrift in an open boat; he reached
the mainland at Ki, a small cape in Onega Bay, wandered southward
to Olonets, where he got together a band of followers, proceeded
to Moscow, obtained the notice of the throne, got preferment, was
soon made Patriarch. He ruled with an iron hand, made many enemies,
and when at last he obtained from Mount Santo, in Roumelia, authentic
Greek Church-service books, and, having had them translated into
Sclavonic, forced their use upon the Church, with the aid of the
Tsar Alexis, in the place of those previously in use, the revolt
began in earnest. In addition to the altered service book, Nikon
introduced a cross with but two beams, a new stamp for the holy
wafer, a different way of holding the fingers in pronouncing the
blessing, and a new way of spelling the name Jesus, to which the
Church was unaccustomed. In each of these changes Nikon and his
party really wished to go back to older and purer forms of Greek
ritual, but many resisted the alterations, believing them to be

Such was the beginning of Raskol; the end is not yet. Those who
could not accept these reforms, or returns to older forms, took
up the name of "Staro-obriadtsi," or Old Believers, holding that
theirs was indeed the true old faith of their fathers. For them
began, in very truth a hard time; a time which has left its mark
most clearly upon their descendants to-day. Excommunicated and
persecuted under Alexis and Peter I., they were driven in thousands
from their village homes to seek refuge where they could, in forest,
mountain or island; a party reaching in the year 1767, even to
Kolgueff Island, where, as might be expected, they perished during
the following year from scurvy. To these brave bands of Old Believers,
setting forth under their banner of the "Eight-ended Cross," to
find new homes beyond the reach of persecution, is, in large part,
due the colonization of the huge province of Archangel and the
northern portion of Siberia. That it was not always easy for the
Raskolnik to get beyond the range of official persecutions is shown
by many an old "_ukas_," and by many an old entry in the books of
far-distant communes. Farther north and farther east, from forest
to _tundra_ and Steppe were they driven, spreading as they went
their Russian nationality over regions Asiatic; as exiles they
settled among Polish Romanists, Baltic Protestants, and Caucasian
Mussulmans, and with the heathen Lapp and Samoyede, and Ostiac, on
the Murman coast of Russian Lapland, in the bleak Northern _tundra_,
on the Petchora, and away beyond the Ural Spur, they found at last
the rest they sought.

Their most dangerous enemy was not, however, the persecution of the
dominant Church; they had placed themselves geographically beyond the
reach of that: far more dangerous was further Raskol--splitting--among
themselves, and it was not long before this overtook them. Cut off
by their own faith, as well by excommunication, from the Orthodox
Church, the supply of consecrated priests soon gave out; they had
lost their apostolic succession and could not renew it, for the one
Bishop--Paul of Kalomna--who had joined them, had died in prison,
without appointing a successor. Without an episcopate they were soon
without a priesthood; and the vital question, "How shall we get
priests and through them Sacraments?" was answered in two ways,
and according to the answer, so were the Old Believers divided into
two main sects. One sect declared that, as there were no longer
faithful priests, they were cut off from all the Sacraments except
Baptism, which could be administered by laymen. These "Bespopoftsi,"
or priestless people, were unable to marry; and to this--in a land
where the economic unit, is not man, but man and wife, where the
ties of family life are so strong--was due their further splitting.

In 1846, however, they persuaded an outcast bishop to join their
ranks, and founded a See at Bielokrinitzkaga, in Austrian Bukovina,
beyond the Russian Empire; from thence the succession was handed
down, and now after long decades of waiting, they have bishops
and priests of their own.

The practice of hiring a priest from the Orthodox Church, to conduct
a service for the Old Believers, is still very common in the far
North, where all villages have not the means to keep a "Pope" of
their own; and many an Orthodox clergyman thus adds considerably
to his precarious income by officiating for those whom his
great-grandfathers excommunicated as heretics; indeed, the Government
now encourages this practice, and has made some attempt to heal up
the schism by allowing its priests to adopt, to a slight extent,
the old customs in villages where all the inhabitants are Raskolniks.
This can the more readily be understood when it is remembered that
the Old Believers hold in all essential points the same creed as
the Orthodox; they are--and their name implies--believers in the
old faith of the Russian branch of the Greek Church, as expressed
since the day of St. Vladimir until the Seventeenth Century, but
not in the so-called innovations of Nikon. The points of difference
are so small that it seems impossible a Church should by them have
been cleft in twain. The Orthodox sign the Cross with three fingers
extended, the dissenters with two, holding that the two raised
fingers indicate the dual nature of Christ, while the three bent
ones represent the Trinity. It does not seem to have occurred to
either party that the reverse holds true as well. The Orthodox
Cross has but two beams, while that of the Raskolnik has four,
and is made of four woods--cypress, cedar, palm, and olive; the
latter, too, repeats his Allelujah thrice, the Orthodox but twice.
Such are the points to which in all probability, the peopling of
the outlying portions of the Empire of the Tsars is due.

The Raskolniks have set a far higher value upon education than the
Orthodox; the instruction given in their settlements often sheds
a strong light upon the darkness of Orthodox ignorance around, and
with the spread of education so does the sect extend and multiply.
Their house can generally be distinguished by cleanliness, the
presence of many Eicons, brass and silver crosses, and ancient
books; its mistress by her greater thoughtfulness and capability.
Old Believers are always glad to seize the opportunity, given so
well by the long northern winter, with its almost endless night,
of reading, and on their shelves are seen translations of our best
authors, from whom, perhaps, it is that they have taken their advanced
political views, and the outcome of whose perusal is that the hunter
and fisherman will often propound to one questions which show a
mind well trained in logical thought. The Raskolnik is generally
fairly well to do, for, like the Quaker and the Puritan, he finds
a turn for business not incompatible with religious exercise, and
to this is in part due the superiority and comfort of their homes.
Most of them in the far North are fishers and hunters, sealers and
sailors, and in these and kindred trades they make use of better
and more modern appliances than their neighbours, and so generally
realize more for their commodities.

Far from civilization, in the impenetrable forests of the great
lone land of Archangel, the fugitive Raskolniks were able to found
retreats for themselves, untroubled and unobserved; these refuges
still exist, and are called "Obitel" or cells. In the district of
Mezen there are many such establishments, both for men and women;
among the former the Anuphief Hermitage, or cells of Koida, stand
in a splendid position, on the banks of both lake and river Koida,
some 100 versts in summer by river, and 50 in winter, over ice,
from the town of that name.

On Nonconformist, as on Orthodox, is laid the burden of severe
fasting; as Master Chancellour tells us, in 1553, "This people
hath four Lents,"--indeed, the eating working year is reduced to
some 130 days. In the North, where vegetables and berries are few
and fruit non-existent, the Mujik is left to fast on "_treska_,"
rotten codfish--and the condition of the man who begins Lent underfed
is indeed pitiable when he ends it. The endurance of the Old Believer
is marvellous; no offer of food will tempt him from what he considers
his duty.

Let us turn our attention from the Raskolniks, or Old Believers
of the far North, who, as we have seen, so literally "forsook all"
for their ancient Faith, to some few of the many new, or lately
developed creeds whose followers are seeking after truth with equal
earnestness and vigour, but along very different lines. Sect begets
sect in the world of theology, much as cell begets cell in the
economy of life. Change seems the active principle of all dissent;
new cults are forever springing up in the mystic childlike minds of
the Tsar's great peasant family, nor could one expect uniformity
of confession, when the size and neighbours of that family are
considered, for Mohammedan, Protestant, Catholic, Buddhist, and
Shamanist surround it, are made subject to it, and eventually become
a part thereof. A Mosque stands opposite the Orthodox church in
the great square which forms the centre of Nijni-Novgorod, a Roman
Catholic and a German Lutheran church almost face the magnificent
Kazan Cathedral, in the Nevski-Prospekt of St. Petersburg. The
waiters of nearly all restaurants, from Archangel to Baku, are
Mohammedan Tartars, the Jew is in every market-place, the native
heathen races, Lapp, Samoyede, Ostiac, Yakout, and a score of others,
are closely connected by the bonds of commerce: can it be wondered
at if the ideas of the peasant become tinted by his surroundings?

It cannot be gainsaid that the lifelessness and emptiness of the
State Church, with its hireling and often ignorant priesthood,
fails to satisfy the great mind of Russia--the peasant mind--but
now awakening from its long infant slumber, as did the mind of
Western Europe three centuries ago. Next perhaps to the extreme
literalness with which the Mujik interprets Holy Writ, this
dissatisfaction with the official Church is the greatest cause of
the grip which the chameleon-like "dissent" has taken hold of the
popular mind. With very few exceptions--notably the Skoptsy--the
150 sects which are stated to exist within the pale of Christianity
and the borders of the Empire of the Tsar, begin and end with the
Mujik; the official world is of necessity Orthodox, the wealthy
world careless, and this fact, of the peasant origin and development
of the denominations, must be carefully borne in mind when attempting
to form any idea of the widely different meanings and shades of
meaning which have been put upon the one Bible story.

Of the strictly rational, and more or less Protestant, portion
of Russian dissent, the Dukhobortsy, or "Wrestlers with the Holy
Spirit," and their descendants in the faith, the Molokans, or "Milk
Drinkers," are perhaps the best known to us, from the fact of their
having emigrated to English-speaking lands, and from the valiant
championing of their cause by Count L. D. Tolstoi. They form the
antithesis of the Old Believers, as is well set forth in the
conversation between A. Leroy-Beauleau (in the _Empire of the Tsars_)
and a fisherman of the persuasion, who said, "The Raskolniks would
go to the block for the sign of the Cross with two fingers. As
for us, we don't cross ourselves at all, either with two fingers
or with three, but we strive to gain a better knowledge of God";
and, indeed, his words may stand for a declaration of the simple
faith of his people, for their worship is marked by a deep contempt
for tradition, dogma, and ceremony. They have even done away with
the church, and, as a rule, use the house of their elders as a
meeting-place. Communion has been simplified away, marriage reduced
to a simple declaration, and invocation of God's blessing, the
priesthood question, the rock which first split the Old Faith,
solved by making every man a priest in his own family: surely their
motto, "The letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life," has been
well acted up to. Indeed, the whole theology of the Dukhobortsy
may be summed up as a bold attempt to depart from the empty Greek
formalism and arrive at a spiritual and unconventional worship,
an enlargement of the outline given in the shortest and grandest
of sermons.

The Molokani are said to have obtained this name from taking milk
and butter during fast times when they are forbidden to the Orthodox,
but more probably from the fact of their having colonies on either
bank of the river Molochnaia, so called from the whiteness of its
waters, due to potassium salts. They are very closely akin to the
Dukhobortsy, of which sect they are an offshoot. They hope for a
millennium, and to this end tend all their communistic experiments;
for each of their village settlements is striving to manufacture
its own earthly Paradise and run it on its own lines.


The Stunda is perhaps the largest and most rapidly developing faction
of nonconformity, for it has ramified from Odessa--its starting
point--throughout Tsarland, save in the extreme north and north-east.
This faith can be traced directly to the influence of certain Lutherans
who emigrated from Würtemberg and settled in the fruitful
"_tchenoziom_," or black earth lands, some half-century ago. The
Stundist organization is much like that of the "Low Church" division
of Protestantism, save that it has no ordained clergy, a body whom
it regards as a somewhat expensive luxury, and replaces by elected
elders, who lead the very simple services, at which any man or
woman who feels called upon to do so may say what he or she will.
These gatherings are more prayer-meetings than services, for there
is no "Form of Prayer" to be used, but simply informal prayer,
praise and song in the best room of a farmhouse, though, now that
the Government are not so strict in their search after heretics,
regular wooden "meeting-houses" have appeared in some of the Stundist

If few of the rational sects have committed their history and their
views, or indeed their creeds, to writing, lest they should fall
into the hands of spies and be used in evidence against them, much
more is this the case with those whose search after truth has led
them to forsake the lines of rationalism and enter the land of
mysticism and spiritualism. But two of these mystic schisms need
we touch upon in this article, in order to show to what lengths
the Mujik will go in his efforts to escape from the trammels of
Orthodoxy, and with what logic he will follow up any given line of
thought. Most of the irrational sects are older than those already
mentioned, and do not seem to have their roots in other lands,
but to be the expression of the Mujik's own mind in its waking
moments: thus the "Khlystsy"--the name is a nickname taken from
the word "Khlyst" (a whip)--date back to the early days of the
Seventeenth Century. They hold that Christ has made and still makes
repeated appearances on earth and in Russia, and indeed they are
seldom without an incarnate God present with them in flesh and

The Khlystsy meet by night, with the utmost secrecy, and are reported
to dance, after the manner of the Dervishes, with ever-increasing
rapidity, until their feelings are worked up to such a pitch that
they are able to receive messages of inspiration, which they shout
out to their fellows. If one of their number has a fit--not an
uncommon event in some communes where close intermarriage among
relations has been the practice for generations--he is safe to be
regarded as an inspired messenger and duly honoured as such. Charges
of every kind of vice have been laid at the door of the Khlystsy;
their secret services have been called cloaks for immorality, and
doubtless on occasion have been used as such; but, as the character
of their congregation stands for high honesty and industry, it
is surely more charitable to assume that their worst feature is
their extreme secrecy, and that this, when added to the hatred of
orthodox marriage which the sect shows, lies at the base of most
of the accusations. Closely connected with these dancing Khlystsy
are the jumping Shakuny, whose jumps are said to increase in height
as do the circular movements of the former, until the proper state
of mind for inspired prophecy is reached.

Among the stockbrokers and money-changers of Russian cities, as
well as among peasants, may be seen the pale and almost hairless
face, wavering voice, and mild manner of the "Skopets" who has put
in practice upon himself the strange doctrine of self-mutilation.
These "White Doves" as they call themselves, base their self-sacrifice
upon the literal rendering of such texts as, "If thy right eye
offend thee, pluck it out," "Except a man become as a little child,
he shall not enter into the Kingdom of heaven," and argue that in
order to be pleasing to God, man--and in some instances woman--must
become like the angels, whom they assert to be sexless, on the
ground that "they neither marry nor are given in marriage."

We notice the hold which religion, in its vast variety of forms,
has over the popular mind of Russia. No one who has visited, however
casually, a Russian city can doubt this; the icon hangs in the
station office, and men bow to it, the cabman crosses himself ere
he drives over a bridge; shrines are interposed between shops, many
of which latter are devoted to the sale of crucifixes, swinging
lamps and sacred pictures; green cupolas and golden crosses gleam
against the sky, look which way you will. So it is in the village,
the white wooden church stands out in front of the black wooden
houses, crosses are placed in the cattle pastures to ward off evil
spirits, the folk cross themselves if they yawn, lest "chort,"
the devil jump in at their mouth, and the drunkard, at the tavern
door, kneels and uncovers as the procession passes on its way, may
be to bless the waters but now released from the winter grip of
ice, or may be to leave some neighbour in the communal graveyard.
We notice, too, the stern logic with which the peasant theologian
follows up the ideas of his sect, how he works out his own salvation
along lines which he himself lays down, and in so doing invents
some new creed almost daily; for a Russian newspaper can hardly
ever be taken up without seeing the discovery of such in one corner
or other of the vast Empire. That he has the full courage of his
opinions, that he will suffer for conscience' sake--Russian officials
only know how bitterly--that he will lay down his life, or--almost
equal sacrifice for him--forsake his land and "_izba_," and face
the future among the wild native races which bound European Tsarland
on its north and east--not so very long ago--he suffered the knout
and the stake rather than recant one iota of what he thinks to be
the only true rendering of the Biblical text, all this must in
common fairness be allowed to the poor Russian.



Cronstadt, the strong fortress which stopped the advance of the
English squadron in the last Russian war, is as the water-gate of
St. Petersburg. A bright July sun made no unpleasing picture of
the huge hulks of the men-of-war, and of the many-masted merchant
ships which lay within the harbour, or behind the fortifications.
Passing Cronstadt the capital soon comes in sight; the water is so
smooth and shallow, and the banks are so low, that I was actually
reminded of the lagoons of Venice. Far away in the distance glittered
in the sunlight cupola beyond cupola, covered with burnished gold or
sparkling with bright stars on a blue ground. The river, stretching
wide as an estuary, was thronged with merchandise as the Tagus or the
Thames: yachts were flying before the wind and steam-tugs laboured
slowly against the stream, dragging behind the heavily-laden lighter.
Warehouses and wharfs and timber-yards now begin to line either bank;
yet the materials for a sketch-book are scanty and uninviting: an
artist who, like Mr. Whistler, has etched at Battersea and Blackwell,
would find by comparison on the Neva the forms without character,
the surface without texture, the masses without light, shade, or
colour. As the boat advances the imperial city grows in scale and
pomp. The river view becomes imposing, the banks are lined on either
side by granite quays, which for solidity, strength, and area, have
no parallel in Europe. Beneath the bridges the unruly river rushes,
bearing along rafts and merchandise, and in the broad-laid streets
people hurry to and fro, as if the day were too short for the press
of business: only in great commercial capitals, the centres of large
populations, is life thus rapid and overburdened. Throughout Russia
generally time hangs heavily, but here at the seat of empire, the
focus of commerce, life under high pressure moves at full speed. I
know of no European capital, excepting perhaps London and Vienna,
which leaves on the mind so strong an impression of power, wealth,
and ostentation, as the city of St. Petersburg.

Possibly the first idea which may strike the stranger on driving
from the steamer to the hotel, is the large scale on which the
city has been planned; the area of squares and streets seems
proportioned to the vast dimensions of the Russian empire: indeed
the silent solitudes of the city may be said to symbolize the desert
tracks of central Russia and Siberia. Only on the continent of
America is so much land at command, so large a sweep of territory
brought within the circuit of city life. In the old world, Munich
offers the closest analogy to St. Petersburg, and that not only
by wide and half-occupied areas, but by a certain pretentious and
pseudo-classic architecture, common to the two cities alike: the
design of the Hermitage in fact came from Munich. St. Petersburg,
like Munich too, has been forced into rapid growth; indeed while
looking at the works raised by successive Tsars, I was reminded
of the boast of Augustus that he found Rome of brick and left her
of marble.

St. Petersburg, though sometimes decried as a city of shams, is
certainly not surpassed in the way of show by any capital in Europe.
As to natural situation she may be said to be at once fortunate and
infelicitous: the flatness of the land is not redeemed by fertility,
the monotony of the panorama is not broken by mountains; the city
rides as a raft upon the waters, so heavily freighted as to run the
risk of sinking. And yet I know of no capital more imposing when
taken from the strong points of view. Almost beyond parallel is the
array of palaces and public buildings which meets the traveller's eye
in a walk or sail from the English quay up to the Gardens of the
Summer Palace. The structures it is true tend a little too much
of what may be termed buckram and fustian styles; indeed there
is scarcely a form or a detail which an architect would care to
jot down in his note-book. And yet the general effect is grand:
a big river rushing with large volume of water through the arches
of bridges, along granite quays and before marble palaces, is a
noble and living presence in the midst of city life. The waters of
"the great Neva" and of "the little Neva" appear as an omnipresence;
the rivers are in the streets, and great buildings, such as the
Admiralty, the Fortress, and the Cathedral of St. Peter and St.
Paul, ride as at anchor on a swelling flood. The views from the
three chief bridges--Nicholas Bridge, Palace Bridge, and Troitska
Bridge--are eminently palatial and imperial. The Academy of Arts,
the Academy of Sciences, St. Isaac's Cathedral, the Admiralty,
the Winter Palace, the Hermitage, and the fortress and cathedral
of St. Peter and St. Paul, give to the stranger an overpowering
impression of the wealth and the strength of the empire. The Englishman,
while standing on these bridges, will naturally recall analogous
positions on the river Thames; such comparison is not wholly to the
disadvantage of the northern capital, yet on the banks of the Neva
rise no structures which in architectural design equal St. Paul's
Cathedral, Somerset House, Westminster Abbey, and the Houses of
Parliament. Indeed, with the exception of the spire of the Admiralty,
I did not find in St. Petersburg a single new idea.

[Illustration: ST. PETERSBURG.]

Of the famous Nevski-Prospekt, the chief street in St. Petersburg,
it may be said as of our London Regent Street, that it can stand
neither weather nor criticism. As to style of architecture, strictly
speaking the Nevski-Prospekt has none: the buildings, consisting
of shops, interspersed with a few churches and public edifices,
so much partake of the modern and mongrel Italian manner, that
the traveller might easily fancy himself in Paris, Brussels, or
Turin. Few cities are so pretentious in outside appearances as
St. Petersburg, and yet the show she makes is that of the whited
sepulchre: false construction and rottenness of material, façades
of empty parade, and plaster which feigns to be stone, constitute
an accumulative dishonesty which has few parallels in the history
of architecture. Classic pillars and porticos, which have been
thrust in everywhere on slightest pretext, are often built up of
brick covered with cement and coloured yellow. Columns, here the
common and constant expedient, are mostly mismanaged; they are as
it were gratuitous intrusions, they seem to be stuck on, they fail
to compose with the rest of the building. Neither do the architects
of St. Petersburg understand mouldings or the value of shadow, there
is scarcely a moulding in the city which casts a deep, broad or
delicate shadow: hence the façades look flat and thin as if built
of cards. In the same way the details are poor and treated without
knowledge; it thus happens that conceptions bold and grand are
carried out incompletely. The great mistake is that the architects
have made no attempt to gather together the scattered elements of a
national style. With the noteworthy exception of the use of fine,
fanciful and fantastic domes, often gilt or brightly coloured, the
architecture of Russian capitals is either Classic or Renaissance
of the most commonplace description.

I shall not think it worth while to dwell on the very many churches
which adorn the northern capital, because, with few exceptions,
there is nothing in point of art which merits to be recorded. Yet
I can scarcely refrain from again referring to the fine fantasy
played by many-coloured domes against the blue sky. The forms are
beautiful, the colours decorative. The city in its sky outline
presents a succession of strange pictures, at one point the eye
might seem to range across a garden of gourds, at other positions
peer above house-tops groups which might be mistaken for turbaned
Turks; and when the sun shines vividly, and throws glittering light
on the "patens of bright gold," over these many-domed churches,
a stranger might almost fancy that above the city floated fire
balloons or bright-coloured lanterns. The large cupola of St. Isaac,
covered with copper overlaid with gold, has been said to burn on
a bright day like the sun when rising on a mountain top. I can
never forget the sight when I returned to St. Petersburg from the
most brilliant civic and military spectacle I ever witnessed, the
fête of the Empress at Tsarskoé Sélo. It was still dark, but before
I reached my hotel for the short repose of a night which already
brightened into morning, every cupola on the way was awakening
into daylight; the sun, hesitating for a moment on the horizon,
announced his coming as by electric light on the golden stars which
shone on domes more blue than the grey sky of morning. In Moscow
church cupolas playa part in the city panorama still more conspicuous
than in St. Petersburg.

The Cathedral of St. Isaac is the most costly and pretentious of
Russian churches. The noble edifice has the advantage of a commanding
situation; not, it is true, as to elevation--for that is impossible
in a city set throughout on a dead level--but the surface area in
its wide sweeping circuit at all events contrasts strikingly with
that cribbed and cabined church-yard of St. Paul's in London, which
the Englishman may have just left behind him. Yet St. Isaac's can
scarcely venture on comparison with St. Paul's, though the style of
the two buildings is similar. The great Cathedral of St. Petersburg
has, however, the advantage of that concentration which belongs to
the Greek as distinguished from the Latin Cross, a distinction
which has always been to the disadvantage of St. Peter's in Rome.
A cross of four equal arms, with columned porticos mounted nobly
on steps at the four extremities, the whole composition crowned by
central and surrounding cupolas, is assuredly an imposing conception,
of which the French artist M. Montferrand has known how to make
the most. I may here, by way of parenthesis, remark that the two
works which do most honour to St. Petersburg, the Cathedral of
St. Isaac and the adjacent equestrian statue of Peter the Great,
are severally due not to Russian but to French artists. This is
one example among many of the foreign origin of the arts in Russia.
But at all events let it be admitted that the materials used, as
well as the ideas often brought to bear, are local or national. For
example, the grandest of all architectural conceptions, the idea
of a dome, is here glorified in true Russian or Oriental manner,
not so much by magnitude of proportion as by decorative splendour,
heightened to the utmost by a surface of burnished gold. Then the
four porticos which terminate each end of the Greek cross with
stately columns and entablatures of granite from Finland, albeit
in design mere commonplace complications, are wholly national in
the material used. I do not now stop to mention the large and bold
reliefs in bronze, which though French in design were, I believe,
cast in St. Petersburg: indeed here, as in Munich, the government
makes that liberal provision which only governments can make, for
noble but unremunerative art. The great dome is said to be sustained
by iron; indeed the science of construction brought to bear is great,
yet again it must be acknowledged that whether the material be
iron, bronze, or stone, the art, the skill, and even the commercial
capital, are not Russian but foreign, and often English. Russian
workmen, however, are employed as mechanics or machines, partly
because in copyism and mechanism Russian artisans cannot throughout
Europe be surpassed. When I got to St. Petersburg I could scarcely
believe the statement to be true that the "English Magazine" and
not any Russian factory had executed the eight stupendous malachite
pillars within the church, weighing about 34,000 pounds and costing
£2,500 sterling. Yet while the organization might be English, the
operatives were Russians. The unsurpassed malachite pillars combine
in the grand altar-screen with columns of lapis-lazuli: the latter
are said to have cost per pair £12,000 sterling. I need scarcely
observe that this parade of precious metals partakes more of barbaric
magnificence than of artistic taste; indeed these columns of malachite
and lapis-lazuli, which to the eye present themselves as solid and
honest, have been built up as incrustations on hollow cast-iron
tubes. Thus hollow are the most precious arts of Russia. Justice,
however, demands that I should speak hereafter in fair appreciation
of the interiors of Russian churches, whereof the Cathedral of
St. Isaac is among the chief. Nevertheless, material rather than
mind, money rather than art, is the governing power; malachite,
lapis-lazuli, gold, and other precious substances are heaped together
profusely, yet no architect in Europe of the slightest intellectual
pretensions, would care to look a second time at the constructive
or decorative conceptions which the churches of St. Petersburg
display. St. Isaac's in fact is miraculous only in its monoliths.
I could scarcely believe my eyes when first I stood beneath the
stately porticos and looked from top to bottom of the very many
columns, seven feet in diameter and sixty feet high, all polished
granite monoliths from Finland. Already I had made the assertion
that there was nothing new in St. Petersburg when these granite
monoliths at once compelled a recantation.

The monoliths in St. Petersburg are so exceptional in number and
often so gigantic in dimension as to call for special mention. The
monolith obelisks of ancient Egypt are scarcely more remarkable.
In addition to the magnificent columns, each sixty feet high, which
sustain the four porticos of the Cathedral of St. Isaac, are fifty-six
monoliths, also of granite from Finland, thirty-five feet high
in the Kazan Cathedral; likewise the noble entrance-hall of the
Hermitage is sustained by sixteen monoliths, and the magnificent
room which receives the treasures from the Cimmerian Bosphorus has
the support of twenty monoliths. But the greatest single block of
modern times stands in front of the Winter Palace, as a monument
to Alexander I. The height is eighty-four feet, and the weight
nearly four hundred tons. The story goes that the contractor in
Finland, finding that he had exceeded the required length, actually
cut off ten or fifteen feet. The vast granite quarries of Finland
supply the Tsars with these stupendous columns, just as the granite
quarries of Syene on the Nile furnished the Pharaohs with obelisks.
These enormous masses are too heavy to be conveyed on wheels, the
only practicable mode of transit is on rollers. In this way each of
the sixty-feet columns for St. Isaac's was transported across country
all the way from Finland. Each column represents so incredible an
amount of labour as to make it evident that monoliths are luxuries
in which only emperors can indulge. And even when these heavy weights
have reached their destination the difficulty next occurs how to
secure a solid foundation. St. Petersburg was once a swamp, and so
rotten is the ground that it would be quite possible for a monolith
to sink out of sight and never more be heard of. To provide against
such contingencies a forest of piles was driven into the earth at
the cost of £200,000 as the foundation of St. Isaac, and yet the
cathedral sinks. Like causes render the roads of St. Petersburg
the worst in Europe; winter frosts, which penetrate several feet
below the surface, seize on the imprisoned waters and tear up the
streets. The surface thus broken is so destructive to wheels that
I have known an Englishman, who, though he kept four carriages,
had not one in a condition to use. The jolting on the roads is so
great as to make it wise for a traveller to hold on fast, and when
a lady and gentleman ride side by side, it is usual for the gentleman
to protect the lady by throwing his arm round his companion's waist.
This delicate attention is so much of a utilitarian necessity as
in no way to imply further obligations.

St. Petersburg is considerably indebted to the art of sculpture:
public monuments adorn her squares and gardens. Indeed the art of
sculpture has, like the sister arts of architecture and painting,
been forced into preternatural proportions. In the large area within
sight of the church of St. Isaac and of the Admiralty, stands
conspicuously one of the few successful equestrian statues in modern
or ancient times, the colossal bronze to Peter the Great. The huge
block of granite, which is said to weigh upwards of 15,000 tons, was
conveyed from a marsh, four miles distance from St. Petersburg, by
means of ropes, pulleys, and windlasses, worked by men and horses.
A drummer stationed on the rock itself gave the signal for onward
movement. It would seem that the methods used in Russia to this
day for transporting granite monoliths, are curiously similar to
the appliances of the ancient Egyptians for moving like masses. In
point of art this equestrian statue, though grand in conception,
is, after the taste of barbarous nations, colossal in size. Peter
the Great is eleven feet in stature, the horse is seventeen feet
high. The nobility lies in the action, the horse rears on his hind
legs after the favourite manner of Velasquez in well-known equestrian
portraits of Ferdinand IV. The attitude assumed by the great Emperor
is triumphant, the fiery steed has dashed up the rock and pauses as
in mid-air on the brink of the precipice. The idea is that Peter
the Great surveys from the height the capital of his creation, as
it may be supposed to rise from the waters. His hand is stretched
forth for the protection of the city. This work, like many other
proud achievements in the empire, unfortunately is not Russian.
The design is due to the Frenchman Falconet; Marie Callot is said
to have modelled the head, and the casting was done by Martelli,
an Italian. Falconet, in order to be true to the life, carefully
studied again and again a fine Arab horse, mounted by a Russian
general who was famous as a rider; the general day by day made a
rush up a mound, artificially constructed for the purpose, and when
just short of the precipice the horse was reined in and thrown on
its hind legs. The artist watched the action and made his studies;
the work accordingly has nature, movement, vigour. I may here mention
that I have nowhere found such large masses of stone conveyed from
place to place as here in St. Petersburg. It is true I have seen
marble fresh from the mountains of Carrara tugged along by teams
of bullocks, but I have nowhere witnessed so much power brought to
bear as in the transit of the granite used in the immense memorial
to the Empress Catherine.

The art collections in St. Petersburg may give the traveller pleasant
occupation for several weeks; indeed if the tourist be an art student
he will find work for months. The Winter Palace, adjoining the
Hermitage, on the Neva, is like the palace at Versailles, conspicuous
for rooms or galleries commemorative of military exploits. Here
are well-painted battle-pieces by Willewalde and Kotzbue, also
naval engagements by Aivasovsky, highly coloured as a matter of
course. Likewise are hung the best battle-pieces I have ever seen,
by Peter Hess, the renowned Bavarian painter, who appears to less
credit in Munich than in the Winter Palace, St. Petersburg. Also
may be noted the portrait of Alexander I. by Dawe, the Englishman,
who worked much in Russia. Here likewise is the imperial gallery
of portraits of all the sovereigns of the reigning Russian house.
I pass over these multitudinous works thus briefly, because, though
the collection is of importance in the history of the empire, it
has little value in art.

"The Crown Jewels" I shall not attempt to describe; no description
of jewels can be worth much. I may venture to say, however, that
after seeing all the royal jewellery in Europe, I found these Russian
crowns, sceptres, etc., richer in diamonds than any other. Also
pearls, rubies, Siberian aqua-marines, etc., add colour and splendour
to the imperial treasure. The comparison on the spot, which I not
unnaturally instituted, was with the imperial treasury at Vienna.
Next, a word may be given to the room in which the proud, stern,
and unrelenting Nicholas died, where all is kept intact as he left
it. I have seldom been more impressed than with this small, simple,
and almost penurious apartment, so striking in contrast with the
splendour of the rest of the palace. Silence, solitude, and solemnity
all the more attach to the spot from the statement to which credence
is given that the great emperor, on learning of the reverses in
the Crimea, here committed suicide. In other words, it is said
that he directed his physician to prepare a medicine which after
having taken he died. The sword, helmet, and grey military cloak
are where he laid them. Here lies a historic tragedy which remains
to be painted; one of the most dramatic pictorial scenes in Europe,
the death of Wallenstein in Schiller's drama, painted by Professor
Piloty and now in the new Pinakothek, Munich, might in the death
of the great Nicholas find a parallel. The emperor lies buried
with all the sovereigns of Russia since the foundation of St.
Petersburg, in the cathedral fortress of St. Peter and St. Paul.
Nothing in Europe is grander in the simplicity and silence which
befit a sepulchre--not even the imperial tombs in Vienna--than
this stately mausoleum of the Tsars. The Emperor Nicholas lies
opposite to Peter the Great. In the Hermitage, or rather in the
Winter Palace, is a gallery illustrative of the life and labours of
Peter the Great. The collection, besides turning-lathes and other
instruments with which the monarch worked, contains curiosities,
knickknacks, as well as some works of real art value: the connecting
point of the whole collection is in Peter himself. An analogous
collection was some years ago opened in the Louvre as the Museum
of Napoleon I. Dynasties all the world over thus seek to perpetuate
their memories.


The Academy of Fine Arts is a noble institution, imposing in its
architecture, and richly endowed. The Corps des Mines must also
be visited, the collection of minerals proves the amazing riches
of European and Asiatic Russia. I wish I had knowledge and space
to describe this unexampled collection, which though not falling
within my art province has direct art relations. Nothing beauteous
or wondrous in nature lies beyond the sphere of art; the forms of
crystals, the colours of precious stones are specially objects of
delight to the artist's eye. The Imperial Public Library is one of
the richest libraries in Europe; its literary treasures can hardly
be overrated; I regret that I cannot enter into its contents. Private
collections, though scarcely numerous, are choice; the celebrated
Leuchtenberg Gallery, formerly in Munich, is the richest. The royal
residences of Peterhof and Tsarshoé Sélo I also found to contain
much in the way of art, and yet scarcely of sufficient importance
to need special description.

The Imperial Hermitage alone repays a journey to St. Petersburg;
for a whole fortnight I visited almost every day the picture and
sculpture galleries of this vast and rich museum, and in the end
I left with the feeling that I had done but inadequate justice
to these valuable and exhaust-less collections. I am tolerably
well acquainted with the great museums in the south and west of
Europe, and I was interested to find that the Hermitage does not
suffer by comparison with the Vatican, the Museum of Naples, the
Galleries of Florence, the Louvre in Paris, or the Great Picture
Gallery in Madrid. In some departments, indeed, St. Petersburg has
the advantage over other capitals; the collection of gold ornaments
from Kertch is not surpassed by the gold work in the Etruscan room of
the Vatican; the coins are not inferior to the numismatic collections
in Paris, or in the British Museum; the Dutch pictures are not
to be equalled save in Holland or in Dresden; the Spanish school
has no competitor save in Madrid and Seville; the portraits by
Vandyck, and the sketches by Rubens, are only surpassed in England
and Bavaria. It is thus obvious that the collective strength of
the assembled collections, is very great. The picture galleries
contain more than 1,500 works; the number of drawings is upwards
of 500, the coins and medals amount to 200,000, the painted vases
are above 1,700, the ancient marbles number 361, and the collection
of gems is one of the largest in existence. The Hermitage has been
enriched partly to the prejudice of other cities or palaces. From the
Tauris Palace came classic sculpture. Tsarshoé Sélo also furnished
contributions. The policy has been to make one astounding museum,
which shall represent not a capital but an empire, and stand before
the world as the exponent of the wealth, the resource, and the
refined taste of the nation and its rulers.



"What sort of a place is Finland?" asked a friend whom I met, on
my return from that country, in London. "Very much the same as
Lapland, I suppose? Snow, sleighs, and bears, and all that kind
of thing?"

My friend was not singular in his idea, for they are probably those
of most people in England. At present Finland is a _terra incognita_,
though fortunately not likely to remain one. Nevertheless, it will
probably take years to eradicate a notion that one of the most
attractive and advanced countries in Europe, possessed in summer
of the finest climate in the world, is not the eternal abode of
poverty, cold, and darkness. It was just the same before the railway
opened up Siberia and revealed prosperous cities, fertile plains,
and boundless mineral resources to an astonished world. A decade
ago my return from this land of civilization, progress, and, above
all, humanity was invariably met by the kind of question that heads
this chapter, with the addition, as a rule, of facetious allusions
to torture and the knout! My ignorance, however, of Finland as
she really is was probably unsurpassed before my eyes were opened
by a personal inspection, so I cannot afford to criticise.

What is Finland, and what are its geographical and climatic
characteristics? I will try to answer these questions briefly and
clearly without wearying the reader with statistics. In the first
place, Finland (in Finnish, "Suomi") is about the size of Great
Britain, Holland, and Belgium combined, with a population of about
2,500,000. Its southern and western shores are washed by the Baltic
Sea, while Lake Ladoga and the Russian frontier form the eastern
boundary. Finland stretches northward far beyond the head of the
Gulf of Bothnia, where it joins Norwegian territory. There are
thirty-seven towns, of which only seven have a population exceeding
10,000, viz., Helsingfors, Abo, Tammerfors, Viborg, Uleaborg, Vasa
(Nikolaistad), and Bjorneborg.

Finland is essentially a flat country, slightly mountainous towards
the north, but even her highest peak (Haldesjock, in Finnish Lapland)
is under 4,000 feet in height. South of this a hill of 300 feet
is called a mountain; therefore Alpine climbers have no business
here. The interior may be described as an undulating plateau largely
composed of swamp and forest, broken with granite rocks and gravel
ridges and honeycombed with the inland waters known as "The Thousand
Lakes" (although ten thousand would be nearer the mark), one of
which is three times the size of the Lake of Geneva. The rivers
are small and unimportant, the largest being only about the size
of the Seine. On the other hand, the numerous falls and rapids on
even the smallest streams render their ascent in boats extremely
difficult and often impossible. But lakes and canals are the natural
highways of the country; rivers are only utilized as a motive power
for electricity, manufactories, and for conveying millions of logs
of timber yearly from the inland forests to the sea. A curious fact
is that, although many parts of the interior are far below the
level of the Baltic, the latter is gradually but surely receding
from the coast, and many hitherto submerged islets off the latter
have been left high and dry by the waves. You may now in places
walk from one island to another on dry land, which, fifty years ago,
was many fathoms under water, while signs of primitive navigation
are constantly being discovered as far as twenty miles inland!
It is therefore probable that the millions of islands which now
fringe these shores, formed, at some remote period, one continuous
strip of land. How vessels ever find their way, say from Hangö to
Nystad, is a mystery to the uninitiated landsman. At a certain
place there are no less than 300 islands of various sizes crowded
into an area of six square miles! Heaven preserve the man who finds
himself there, in thick weather, with a skipper who does not quite
know the ropes!

The provinces of which the Grand Duchy is composed are as follows,
running from north to south: (1) Finnish Lapland, (2) Ostrobothnia,
(3) Satakunta, (4) Tavastland, (5) Savolax, (6) Karelia, (7) Finland
proper, (8) Nyland, and (9) the Aland Islands.

Finnish Lapland may be dismissed without comment, for it is a wild,
barren region, sparsely populated by nomad tribes, and during the
summer is practically impassable on account of its dense forests,
pathless swamps, and mosquitoes of unusual size and ferocity. In
winter-time journeys can be made quickly and pleasantly in sledges
drawn by reindeer, but at other times the country must be crossed
in cranky canoes by means of a network of lakes and rivers; and
the travelling is about as tough as monotony, short rations, and
dirt can make it. I am told that gold has lately been discovered
there, but it would need a considerable amount of the precious
metal to tempt me into Finnish Lapland in summer-time.

Ostrobothnia, which lies immediately south of this undesirable
district, contains the towns of Tornea and Uleaborg. We will pass
on to the provinces of Central Finland, viz., Tavastland, Savolax,
and Karelia. The Finns say that this is the heart of their country,
while Helsingfors and Tammerfors constitute its brains. So crowded
and complicated is the lake system in this part of Finland that
water almost overwhelms dry land, and the district has been likened
to one huge archipelago. Forests abound, especially in Tavastland,
whence timber is exported in large quantities, while agriculture
flourishes in all these provinces. Crops are generally grown in
the valleys, while in other parts the sides and summits of the
hills are usually selected for cultivation. Large tracts of country
about here once laid out for arable are now converted into grazing
grounds, for the number of cattle is yearly on the increase.
Dairy-farming is found to be more profitable and less risky than
the raising of wheat and barley in a land where one night of frost
sometimes destroys the result of a whole year's patient care and
labour. The land is cleared for cultivation by felling and burning,
and it is then ploughed in primitive fashion and sown, but only
one harvest is generally gathered on one spot. The latter is then
deserted, and the following year another patch of virgin soil takes
its place. There is thus a good deal of waste, not only in land,
but also in trees, which are wantonly cut down for any trifling
purpose, regardless of their value or the possible scarcity in
the future of timber. Accidental forest fires also work sad havoc
at times, destroying thousands of pounds' worth of timber in a
few hours. Pine resin burns almost as fiercely as petroleum, and
it sometimes takes days to extinguish a conflagration.

Many of the poorer people in the central provinces live solely
by fishing in the lakes teeming with salmon, which find a ready
market both salted and fresh. There is plenty of rough shooting to
be had for the asking, but no wild animals of any size. In the far
north bears are still numerous, and elk were formerly obtainable.
A few of the latter still exist in the wilder parts of the country,
but it is now forbidden to kill them. Some years ago the forests of
Tavastland were infested with wolves, and during one fatal season
a large number of cattle and even some children were devoured,
but a _battue_ organized by the peasantry cleared the brutes out
of the country. You may now shoot hares here, and any number of
wild fowl, but that is about all.

The remainder of Finland consists of Finland proper and Nyland
on the south and south-western coasts, and as these comprise not
only the capital, but also the large towns of Abo and Viborg, they
may be regarded as the most important, politically, commercially,
and socially, in the country. Here lakes are still numerous, but
insignificant in size compared with those of the interior. On the
other hand, the vegetation is richer, for the oak, lime, and hazel
do well, and the flora, both wild and cultivated, is much more
extensive than in the central and northern districts. Several kinds
of fruit are grown, and Nyland apples are famous for their flavour,
while very fair pears, plums, and cherries can be bought cheaply
in the markets. Currants and gooseberries are, however, sour and
tasteless. In these southern districts the culture of cereals has
reached a perfection unknown further north, for the farms are usually
very extensive, the farmers up to date, and steam implements in
general use. Dairy-farming is also carried on with excellent results
and yearly increasing prosperity. Amongst the towns, Bjorneborg,
Nystad, Hangö, and Kotka will in a few years rival the capital
in size and commercial importance.

The last on the list is the Aland archipelago, which consists of
one island of considerable size surrounded by innumerable smaller
ones, and situated about fifty miles off the south-western coast
of Finland. Here, oddly enough, Nature has been kinder than almost
anywhere on the mainland, for although the greater part of the island
is wild and forest-clad, the eternal pines and silver birch-trees
are blended with the oak, ash and maple, and bright blossoms such
as may and hawthorn relieve to a great extent the monotonous green
foliage of Northern Europe.

That the Alander has much of the Swede in his composition is shown
by the neatness of his dwellings and cleanly mode of life. He is an
amphibious creature, half mariner, half yeoman, a sober, thrifty
individual, who spends half of his time at the plough-tail and the
other half at the helm. Fishing for a kind of small herring called
"strömming" is perhaps the most important industry, and a lucrative
one, for this fish (salted) is sent all over the country and even
to Russia proper. Farming is a comparatively recent innovation,
for the Alanders are born men of the sea, and were once reckoned the
finest sailors in Finland. Less than a century ago Aland harboured
a fine fleet of sailing-ships owned by syndicates formed amongst
the peasantry, and engaged in a profitable trade with Great Britain
and Denmark. But steamers have knocked all this upon the head,
and the commercial future of the islands would now seem to depend
chiefly upon the fishing and agricultural industries.

The population of these Islands is under 25,000, of which the small
town of Mariehamm, the so-called capital, contains about 700 souls.
Steamers touch here, so that there is no difficulty in reaching the
place, which is certainly worth a visit not only for its antiquity
(the Alands were inhabited long before the mainland), but on account
of the interesting ruins it contains--amongst them the Castle of
Castelholm, built by Birger Jarl in the Fourteenth Century, and the
time-worn walls of which could tell an interesting history. A part
of the famous fortress of Bomarsund, destroyed by an Anglo-French
fleet in 1854, may also be seen not far from Mariehamm. Plain but
decent fare may be obtained here, but the fastidious will do well
to avoid the smaller villages, where the Alander's diet generally
consists solely of seal-meat, salt fish, bread and milk. A delicacy
eaten with gusto by these people is composed of seal-oil and the
entrails of sea-birds, and is almost identical with one I saw amongst
the Tchuktchis on Bering Straits. And yet the Alanders are cleanly
enough in their habits and the smallest village has its bath-house.

At one time Aland was famous for sport, and in olden days Swedish
sovereigns visited the island to hunt the elk, which were then
numerous. But these and most other wild animals are now extinct and
even wild fowl are scarce. Only one animal appears to thrive,--the
hedgehog; but the natives do not appear to have discovered its
edible qualities. An English tramp could enlighten them on this


The entire population of Finland amounts to rather over 2,500,000,
including a considerable number of Swedes, who are found chiefly
in the Aland Islands, Nyland, and Finland proper. Helsingfors,
the capital, contains over 80,000 souls, and Kemi, the smallest
town, near the northern frontier, under 400. Of the other cities,
Abo has 30,000, Tammerfors, 25,000, and Viborg, 20,000 inhabitants.
I should add that there is probably no country in creation where
the population has so steadily increased, notwithstanding adverse
conditions, as Finland. After the Russian campaign of 1721 the
country contained barely 250,000 souls, and yet, although continually
harassed by war and its attendant evils, these had increased thirty
years later to 555,000. Fifty years ago the Finns numbered 1,500,000,
and the latest census shows nearly double these figures, although
in 1868 pestilence and famine swept off over 100,000 victims.

The languages spoken in the Grand Duchy are Finnish and Swedish,
the former being used by at least eighty-five per cent. of the
population. Russian-speaking inhabitants number about 5,000, while
the Lapps amount to 1,000 only, other nationalities to under 3,000.
Although Swedish is largely spoken in the towns, Finnish only is
heard, as a rule, in the rural districts. There is scarcely any
nobility in the country, if we except titled Swedish settlers. Most
Finns belong to the middle class of life, with the exception of a
few families ennobled in 1809 by the Tsar of Russia on his accession
as Grand Duke of Finland. The lower orders are generally quiet and
reserved in their demeanour, even on festive public occasions, and
make peaceable, law-abiding citizens. "'Arry" is an unknown quantity
here, and "'Arriet" does not exist. A stranger will everywhere
meet with studied politeness in town and country. Drive along a
country road, and every peasant will raise his hat to you, not
deferentially, but with the quiet dignity of an equal. The high
standard of education, almost legally exacted from the lowest classes
in Finland, is unusually high, for the most illiterate plough boy
may not marry the girl of his choice until he can read the Bible
from end to end to the satisfaction of his pastor, and the same
rule applies to the fair sex.

The climate of Finland is by no means so severe as is generally
imagined. As a matter of fact, no country of a similar latitude,
with the exception of Sweden, enjoys the same immunity from intense
cold. This is owing to the Gulf Stream, which also imparts its genial
influence to Scandinavia. In summer the heat is never excessive, the
rainfall is insignificant, and thunderstorms are rare. July is the
warmest, and January the coldest month, but the mean temperature of
Helsingfors in mid-winter has never fallen below that of Astrakhan,
on the Caspian Sea.

The weather is, however, frequently changeable, and even in summer
the thermometer often rises or falls many degrees in the space
of a few hours. You may sit down to dinner in the open air in
Helsingfors in your shirt-sleeves, and before coffee is served be
sending home for a fur coat. But this is an unusual occurrence, for
a summer in Finland has been my most agreeable climatic experience
in any part of the world.

The winter is unquestionably hard, and lasts about six months,
from November till the middle of April. At Christmas time the sun
is only visible for six hours a day. The entire surface of the
country, land, lake, and river, then forms one vast and frozen
surface of snow, which may be traversed by means of sledge, snowshoes,
or ski. A good man on the last-named will easily cover his seven
miles an hour. Although tourists generally affect this country
in the open season, a true Finlander loves the winter months as
much as he dislikes the summer. In his eyes boredom, heat, and
mosquitoes are a poor exchange for merry picnics on ski, skating
contests, and sledge expeditions by starlight with pretty women and
gay companions, to say nothing of the nightly balls and theatre and
supper parties. Helsingfors is closed to navigation from November
until June, for the sea forms an icy barrier around the coast of
Finland, now no longer impenetrable, thanks to the ice-breakers at
Hangö. In the north the Gulf of Bothnia is frozen for even longer.

Towards April winter shows signs of departure. By the middle of
May ice and snow have almost disappeared, except in the north,
where Uleaborg is, climatically, quite three weeks behind any of
the southern towns. Before the beginning of June verdure and foliage
have reappeared in all their luxuriance, and birds and flowers
once more gladden field and forest with perfume and song. Even now
an occasional shower of sleet besprinkles the land, only to melt
in a few minutes, and leave it fresher and greener than before.
May and June are, perhaps, the best months, for July and August
are sometimes too warm to be pleasant. October and November are
gloomy and depressing. Never visit Finland in the late autumn, for
the weather is then generally dull and overcast, while cold, raw
winds, mist and sleet, are not the exception. Midwinter and midsummer
are the most favourable seasons, which offer widely different but
equally favourable conditions for the comfort and amusement of
the traveller.

And, if possible, choose the former, if only for one reason. No
one who has ever witnessed the unearthly beauty of a summer night
in Finland is likely to forget it. The Arctic Circle should, of
course, be crossed to witness the midnight sun in all its glory,
but I doubt if the quiet _crépuscule_ (I can think of no other
word) of the twilit hours of darkness is not even more weird and
fascinating viewed from amid silent streets and buildings than
from the sullen dreariness of an Arctic desert, which is generally
(in summer) as drab and as flat as a biscuit. In Arctic Lapland,
where for two months the sun never sinks below the horizon, you may
read small print without difficulty throughout the night between
June and August. This would be impossible in Helsingfors, where
nevertheless from sunset till dawn it is never quite dark. In the
far north the midnight sun affords a rather garish light; down
south it sheds grey but luminous rays, so faint that they cast
no shadows, but impart a weird and mysterious grace to the most
commonplace surroundings. No artist has yet successfully portrayed
the indescribable charm and novelty of a summer night under these
conditions, and, in all probability, no artist ever will!

His Majesty the Tsar's manifesto has not as yet (outwardly, at
any rate) Russianized the capital of Finland. It will probably
take centuries to do that, for Finland, like France, has an
individuality which the combined Powers of Europe would be puzzled to
suppress. A stranger arriving at the railway station of Helsingfors,
for instance, may readily imagine himself in Germany, Austria, or
even Switzerland, but certainly not within a thousand miles of
Petersburg. Everything is so different, from the dapper stationmaster
with gold-laced cap of German build down to the porters in clean
white linen blouses, which pleasantly contrast with the malodorous
sheepskins of unwashed Russia. At Helsingfors there is nothing,
save the soldiery, to remind one of the proximity of Tsarland. And
out in the country it is the same. The line from Mikkeli traverses
a fair and prosperous district, as unlike the monotonous scenery over
the border as the proverbial dock and daisy. Here are no squalid
hovels and roofless sheds where half-starved cattle share the misery
of their owners; no rotting crops and naked pastures; but snug
homestead, flower gardens, and neat wooden fences encircling fields
of golden grain and rich green meadow land. To travel in Southern
Finland after Northern Russia is like leaving the most hideous
parts of the Black Country to suddenly emerge into the brightness
and verdure of a sunlit Devonshire.



The Peninsula of Kola, which forms the District of that name, extends
about 650 versts, or 433 miles, from west to east, from the frontiers
of Norway and Finland to the White Sea, and about 400 versts, or 266
miles, from north to south, from the Arctic Ocean to the Gulf of
Kandalax, covering an area of 131,860 square versts, or 37,022,400
acres. The coast belt from the Norwegian border-line to Holy Cape
(or Sweet-nose), is called the Murman Coast, or simply the Murman;
the eastern and south-eastern part, from Holy Cape along the White
Sea to the mouth of the Varzuga, goes by the name of the Tierski
Coast; and the southern part, from the Varzuga to Kandalax, the
Kandalax Coast; whilst the whole of the interior bears the name of
Russian Lapland. The surface of the Peninsula is either mountainous,
or covered with _tundras_ (i. e., moss-grown wilds), and swamps.
The Scandinavian mountain range, which divides Sweden from Norway,
extending to the Kola Peninsula, breaks up into several separate
branches. Along the shores of the Murman they form craggy coast
cliffs, rising at times to an elevation of 500 feet. Further to
the east they become gradually lower, so that near the White Sea
they seldom exceed fifty or one hundred feet, with less precipitous
descents. The reach their greatest height further inland, to the
east of Lake Imandra, where they form the Hibinski and Luiavrout
chains, veiled in perpetual snow. Some of the peaks rise to 970
feet above the level of the lake, which, in its turn, is 140 feet
higher than the sea-level, so that the mountains surrounding the
lake are over 1,000 feet above the level of the sea.

Not far from Lake Imandra is the lofty Mount Bozia, (or Gods' Hill),
at the foot of which, according to the traditions of the Lapps,
their ancestors offered up sacrifices to their gods. Even at the
present time the Lapps of the district speak of this site with
peculiar veneration. Between the village of Kashkarantz and the
Varzuga rises Mt. Korable, remarkable for its many caverns, studded
with crystals of translucent quartz and amethyst, the former, together
with fluor and heavy spar, being met with, too, in the eastern
parts of the mountain. The Kola Peninsula was carefully explored
by Finnish Expeditions in 1887-1892.

The climate of Lapland is not everywhere uniform, but in general
it is bleak and raw. Winter begins about the end of September and
continues till May. It is colder inland than by the ice-free shores
of the Northern Ocean, where the warm currents of the Gulf Stream
moderate the cold. And yet the severity of the weather does not
injuriously affect the health or longevity of the inhabitants.
The winter roads are well set in by the end of October (or early
in November), the snow-fall during the winter months amounting
to seven quarters, or four feet one inch. The Polar night lasts
from the 25th of November to the 15th of January, but the darkness
is not by any means so great as one would imagine. The white of
the snow gives a certain glimmer of light, and the frequent and
prolonged flashes of Aurora Borealis set the heavens in a blaze as
with clouds of fire, turning night into twilight, as it were, and
by their brilliancy and beauty making some amends to the natives
for the absence of the sun's rays. It is easy even to read by their
light; while each day, about noon, there is enough daylight for an
hour or so to enable one to dispense with candles. So that under
the name of Polar Night should be understood not the total absence
of light, but rather the season when the sun no longer appears
above the horizon. It begins to show itself again about the 17th
of January, gradually rising higher and higher as the days advance.


Snow vanishes from the plains towards the middle (or end) of May,
but remains the whole year round in the gorges of the mountains.
The rivers are clear of ice about the beginning (or middle) of
May, and within a month from that time the first shoots of verdure
begin to appear on the meadows and hill-sides. The sun never sets
from the 24th of May to the 21st of July. There is neither twilight
nor night,--the long Arctic Day has set in. During this period the
sun warms the soil only at noon, simply shining for the rest of
the day, seemingly a golden orb without heat. Summer, beginning
about the middle (_i. e._, end) of June, barely lasts two months.
By July flowers are already shedding their blossoms, their rapid
growth being aided by the unbroken daylight.

Any attempts at agriculture in such a climate are, of course, foredoomed
to failure, but along the river banks some fairly good meadows
enable the settlers of the Murman to rear all the cattle they need.
Turnips are the only vegetables that can be raised, with, here
and there, a few potatoes.

The southern and western portions of the Peninsula are covered with
pretty good timber, mostly pine (_Pinus silvestris_). As you go
further north, the timber becomes more and more stunted, consisting
chiefly of birchwood, till you reach the open _tundra_, which is
clothed in moss and low-growing shrubs.

The Lapps lead a semi-nomadic life. The settlements in which they
live are called _pagosts_, each group of Lapps having its particular
summer and winter _pagost_. The latter is usually inland near the
forests, where they herd their deer in winter. In summer they wander
nearer to the coasts and lakes for the sake of the fishing. The
winter dwelling of the Lapp is called a _toopa_, a small smoky
sod-covered hut, covering some 150 to 200 square feet; whereas in
summer he lives in his _vieja_, a large wigwam resembling a Samoyede
_choom_, but covered over, not with skins as with the Samoyedes,
but with branches, tree-bark and turfs.

The typical Lapp is dwarf-like and thick-set. He usually wears
a grey cloth jacket, his head being encircled in a high woollen
cap tapering to a tassel at the top, while his feet, wrapped up
in rags, are then covered with big shoes. In general, his whole
appearance, with his pointed beard, bears a striking resemblance
to the familiar representations of "gnomes," as these denizens of
the subterranean world are pictured to us in fairy books. Few of
the Lapps, however, confine themselves to this characteristic type
of Lapp costume, but wear whatever comes to their hands,--hats,
caps, clothes "made in Germany" and so on.

Among the women, especially the younger ones, some fairly pretty
faces may be met with. Their dress is usually a calico _sarafan_,
and generally speaking, there is nothing specially distinguishing
about their apparel.

The Lapp race is evidently dying out, or rather, is gradually
intermingling with, and being absorbed by, the neighbouring races.
With neither written memorials nor a historic past to cling to,
nor any particular religious belief, they are all of the Orthodox
Faith. In assuming the customs and civilization of the Russians,
the Lapps often abandon their own tribe, and assimilate with the
stronger race. I have often heard such sayings as the following
from Lapps who have more or less settled down: "I'm not a Lapp at
all, I'm a Russian now," or "He's a good man" (_i. e._, active,
energetic) "and not a Lapp."

So that they evidently have no particularly high opinion of themselves,
and put no great value on their tribal individuality; and yet, as
the free-born child of the broad and boundless _tundra_, the Lapp
dearly loves his home and open roving life.

The chief occupations of the Lapps are reindeer-rearing and fishing,
and in winter, the transport of goods by means of their deer. They
are unfortunately bad husbandmen, utterly reckless about the increase
of their herds, and never dreaming of looking upon them as sources
of gain. Deer-herding is not, in their eyes, a regular business,
they merely keep such head as are required for domestic uses, that
is, for food, clothing and travelling. Very few Lapps own big herds,
while most of them hardly know or care how many in reality they have.
In summer, when the deer are not wanted for travelling purposes, they
dismiss them to range at large, without any surveillance whatever. To
escape the persecutions of gadflies and mosquitoes the deer generally
flock to the Hibinski Mountains, or else wander to the sea-shore.
When thus at large they multiply freely of themselves, and, by
this time half wild, often stray away from the herds altogether.

The rearing of reindeer might easily be made such a profitable
business as to be sufficient in itself to insure a comfortable
livelihood to the Lapps. The deer itself hardly requires any looking
after the whole year round. All through the summer it feeds on
various grasses, and in winter on the _yagel_, or reindeer lichen
(_Cladonia rangiferina_), which it scratches out from under the
snow, with its hoofs. This lichen, or moss, grows in profusion all
over the _tundras_ and forests of the Kola Peninsula. It is his
deer which supply the Lapp with food and clothing, convey his family
and goods hundreds of versts in his wanderings, and, finally, give
him the opportunity of adding to his income by acting as carrier,
and by supplying teams to the government postal-stations, etc.
Some years ago some Ziriàns from the Petchora settled in the Kola
Peninsula with their herds, numbering some 5,000 head. The Lapps
welcomed them into their community, looking upon them, indeed,
as benefactors, as the Ziriàns, a smart and enterprising race,
get everything needed for household purposes, which they obtain
much cheaper than the Lapps themselves could before, at the same
time giving good prices for the skins of reindeer and other wild
animals killed by the Lapps. So far no want of grazing plots has been
felt. The Ziriàns have already over 10,000 head of deer, deriving,
comparatively speaking, enormous gains from them. But then, unlike
the Lapps, the Ziriàns go about their business in systematic and
sensible fashion, safeguarding their stock from the incursions of
beasts of prey, tending them carefully winter and summer, driving
them from time to time to suitable pastures, etc.




Moscow is the second capital of the Empire, but by ancient right
the first, although now surpassed both in commerce and population by
the modern city of Peter the Great. Moscow occupies almost exactly
the geographical centre of European Russia. Artistically it is of
far greater interest to us than its northern rival. It has preserved
the old oriental type: in its palaces has been displayed the barbaric
pomp of the Muscovite Tsars of which much yet remains, not only
in their renovated halls but also in what is left of the plate,
jewels and ornaments with which they once abounded.

The general plan resembles somewhat that of Paris; the different
quarters have gradually developed around a centre, and the river
Moskva meanders through them as the Seine. The centre is the Kremlin;
in shape an irregular triangle surrounded by high walls, outside
which is the first walled-in quarter--the Kitai-Gorod, that is
the Chinese city, about the meaning of which term there is some
dispute. It is not, nor ever has been, in any way Chinese.

The name of Moscow appears first in the chronicles in 1147, when
Youri, a son of Vladimir Monomachus, built the first houses of a
town on the hill where the Kremlin now stands, but it was not until
at least a century later that the city became of any importance.
In 1237, it was burned by the Tartars and the real founder was
Daniel, a son of Alexander Nevski. He was the first prince buried
in the church of St. Michael where, until the time of Peter the
Great, all the sovereigns of Russia have been buried; as in the
metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption, but a few steps distant,
they have all been crowned up to the present day. From the Fifteenth
to the Seventeenth Centuries, at the time when the arts flourished
in Russia, in the greatest profusion and magnificence, Moscow was
endowed with her richest monuments. It was then the numerous churches
arose, the Kremlin, and the palaces of the boyars. At that time the
city consisted of the Kremlin and the three walled-in enclosures
which encircle it and each other as the several skins and shell
inclose the kernel of a walnut. It appears to have been built in a
haphazard fashion, though the old plans, with the houses sketched
in rows, exhibit an uniformity of streets and buildings. They show
us also that the houses were for the most part of wood, having each
a covered outside staircase leading to the upper stories. Built
so much of wood it was exposed to frequent conflagrations, the last
being the great burning at the time of the French invasion in 1812.
But so quickly was it always rebuilt and on the same lines that it
has ever retained its original and irregular aspect. The Kremlin
was at first of wood, but under the two Ivans it was surrounded by
the solid stone walls of white stone cut in facets, which have
given to the city the name "White Mother," or "Holy Mother Moscow
with the white walls."

[Illustration: MOSCOW.]

The Kremlin is at the same time a fortress and a city contained
within itself, with its streets and palaces, churches, monasteries,
and barracks. Eighteen towers and five gateways garnish the long
extent of the inclosing wall; two of the gateways are interesting;
that of the Saviour built by Pietro Solario in 1491, and that of
the Trinity by Christopher Galloway in the Seventeenth Century.
Here, among the churches are those of the Assumption and of St.
Michael; here are the new palace of the Tsar, the restored Terem
(what is left of the old palace), the sacristy and library of the
patriarchs, the treasure and regalia, the great tower of Ivan Veliki
in which hangs the largest bell in the world that will ring, and
beneath it the "Tsar Kolokol," the king of bells, which it is supposed
has never been rung and the king of cannons which has never been

The ancient "Kazna," or treasury of the Kremlin, where the riches
of the Tsars have been preserved from time immemorial was in the
reign of Ivan III. situated within the walls of the Kremlin, between
the Cathedrals of St. Michael and of the Annunciation. Here it
remained until the great fire of 1737. The treasure had already
suffered a heavy loss: in the early part of the Seventeenth Century,
at the time of the war with Poland, a large quantity of plate was
melted down to provide for the payment of the troops. The fire
of 1737 caused a further and greater loss and destroyed also a
large part of the armoury. At the time of the French invasion in
1812 the whole of the treasure, together with the regalia, was
removed to Novgorod, and thus escaped destruction of seizure. On
its return to Moscow in 1814, systematic arrangements were made
for its preservation, and for the formation and arrangement of
the museum in which it is now exhibited. In the year 1850 the new
building of the Orujénaia Palata which forms part of the modern
palace of the Kremlin was completed, and to this the entire collection
was transferred.

The treasury of Moscow has been almost from the time of the
establishment of the Russian Empire the place where the riches
of the Tsars have been kept; consisting of the regalia, of the
state costumes, of the plate and vases used in the service of their
table, of their most magnificent armour and horse-trappings, of
their state carriages and sledges and of the presents which from
time to time the sovereigns of other countries sent through their
ambassadors, of whose embassies so many interesting accounts have
come down to us.

The collection of plate is exposed on open stands arranged in tiers
round the pillars, or otherwise displayed in a vast hall of the
new building of the Orujénaia Palata.

The riches thus brought together have suffered many changes. The
court was frequently moved, the state of the empire was continually
disturbed, fires were of frequent occurrence, and necessity at times
caused much treasure to be melted down. The Tsar's favourites received
no doubt from time to time acceptable marks of his approbation in
the shape of rich presents, and many specimens of plate found their
way probably in a similar manner to the churches and monasteries. But
notwithstanding all this, there still remains permanently installed
and carefully guarded in the treasury of the Kremlin a collection
of plate which, for extent, variety, and interest, may rival that
in any other palace in the world.

It appears to have been customary during the last two centuries
at least to make a grand display of this treasure on the occasion
of the visit of the sovereign, and especially during the ceremonies
of the coronation. Then, in the centre of the hall in the ancient
_Terem_, known as the gold room, where the Tsar dines in solitary
state, a kind of buffet is arranged and other stands disposed,
loaded and groaning with this rich accumulation.

Great splendour and richness of material, the lavish use of jewels in
the decoration, and the brilliant colour derived from the employment
of enamels are characteristics of eastern art in the precious metals.
But while we are struck by the delicacy and refinement with which
these are employed by many eastern countries, and while we admire
the taste and harmony of colour displayed by the workmen of India
or of Persia, it must be confessed that the Russian tempted by the
glitter and display which are so much in accordance with his own
taste, has been unable to use the same judgment as those whom he
has taken as his models. Few would deny that there reigns throughout
his work that quality which is best expressed by the term--barbaric
magnificence. This is not vulgarity: such a term is not applicable;
it is the outcome of the desire which is to be found amongst all
nations who have attained a certain degree of civilization and
riches to impose respect and awe by a lavish display of material
wealth or by the use of gorgeous colour, which always calls forth
the admiration of the multitude.

In the plate and jewelled ornament which we find in the treasury
of the Kremlin, we shall find that Russian taste was fond of solid
material and ornament, enriched with many and large precious stones
of value. All Oriental nations have ever loved to accumulate riches
of this description which, at the same time that they are of use
as ornament, are also of intrinsic value. The crowns, and thrones,
and sceptres, the ornaments of the imperial costume, the gold and
silver plate and vases and other precious objects of the court
of the Tsars have, therefore, a character of solid splendour, a
want of refinement and delicacy, which is almost uniformly
characteristic. Still they are not deficient in a certain grandeur
and even elegance, and in details there is much that is admirable,
much that is strikingly original.

By far the greater number of pieces that we shall find in the Kremlin
and elsewhere belong to the Seventeenth Century. In the treasury
of the Kremlin we have but one piece of the Twelfth Century and
some few of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries. All the rest
are later.

The entire number of pieces in the Kremlin amounts to sixteen hundred.
After the disasters of 1612, all the ancient plate for the service
of the Tsar's table was melted down and converted into money; many
objects in gold and silver and jewelled work being at the same time
given in pledge to the troops of Vladislas IV. There are therefore
few examples earlier than the dynasty of the Romanoffs.

The treasure contains also some of the most highly venerated icons,
crosses, and reliquaries in Russia. As regards many of these it
is difficult to assign a date or a place of production. Many of
them have histories more or less legendary, but while some may
appear to belong absolutely to the Greek school, we must not forget
that Russia sent its workmen to Mount Athos to be instructed and
to work there, and on their return the traditions and models of
the school were scrupulously observed in the workshops of Moscow.

The regalia of the ancient Tsars scarcely yield in interest to
that of any other country. They consist of a large number of crowns
or jewelled caps of peculiar form, of orbs and sceptres, of the
imperial costume, and especially of that peculiar part of the latter,
a kind of collar or shoulder ornament, known as the _barmi_.

Other important pieces of the regalia of Alexis Michailovitch are
the orbs and sceptres, the bow and arrow case of the same description
of workmanship. These are gorgeous specimens of jewelled and enamelled
work attributed to Constantinople. The sceptre of the Tsar Michailovitch
is of similar enamelled work, and is probably a good specimen of
the effect of western influence on the goldsmiths of Moscow. The
figures especially appear to be of the Italian renaissance. Another
sceptre is unmistakably Russian work, and if not of pure taste is
at least of fine workmanship and imposing magnificence.

The thrones are of high interest from more than one point of view.
We must content ourselves with choosing two from amongst them,
viz.: the ivory throne of Ivan III. (_Antiquities of the Russian
Empire_, ii. 84-100), and the throne known as the Persian throne
(_Ibid_, ii. 62-66).

The first was brought from Constantinople in 1472 by the Tsarina
Sophia Paleologus, who, by her marriage with Ivan III., united
the coats of arms of Byzantium and Russia.

There is a certain resemblance between this throne and that known
as the chair of St. Peter at Rome. The general form is the same, as
is the manner in which the ivory plaques and their borderings are
placed. The second throne is a magnificent work, which, according
to a register as the _Book of Embassies_, was sent from Persia in
the year 1660 to the Tsar Alexis by a certain Ichto Modevlet, of
the Shah's court. M. Weltman, in his enumeration of the treasury of
the Kremlin, says: "It was therefore probably made in the workshops
of Ispahan about the same time that the globe, sceptre, and _barmi_
were ordered from Constantinople."

[Illustration: THE KREMLIN, MOSCOW.]

The Kremlin contains a large number of pieces of decorative plate
of all kinds made for the service of the table of the Tsars, or
displayed on buffets on state occasions. Much of it is the production
of other countries, presented by their ambassadors or purchased
for the Tsar. The frequent fires and the melting down of treasure
during the Polish disturbances have much diminished this collection,
and possibly also many of the finest pieces have disappeared. Of
the large service of gold plate of the Tsar Alexis, which consisted
of 120 covers, two plates are all that remain. These are, however,
sufficient evidence of the skill and taste of the Moscow goldsmiths
of the period and of their dexterity in the use of enamel.

The Treasury of the Kremlin contains a large number of cups or
vases of silver-gilt, for table use, of Russian work. There is
no great variety in the cups, but some forms are peculiar to the
country. There are especially the cups called _bratini_ (loving
cups, from _brat_, a brother), the bowls or ladles termed _kovsh_,
and the small cups with one flat handle for strong liquors. Tall
beakers expanding at the lip and contracted at the middle are also
favourite forms, but the bulbous shape is the most frequent. Indeed,
that form of bulb or cupola which we see upon the churches is peculiarly
characteristic. We find it with more or less resemblance, in the
ancient crowns, in the mitres of the popes, in the bowls of chalices
and in vases and bowls for drinking. In the _bratini_ and _kovsh_
the bulging form of ornament, the coving up of the bottoms of the
bowls, and the use of twisted lobes are very common.

The Cathedral of the Assumption is one of the many churches situated
within the precincts of the Kremlin. It was reconstructed by Fioraventi
in 1475 after the model of the Cathedral of Vladimir, and in spite
of the frequent calamities and fires which have half ruined Moscow
still preserves in a great measure its primitive character. The
church of the Assumption has five domes resting in the centre of
the building on four massive circular pillars, and the sanctuary
is composed of four hemicycles. The Cathedral of the Archangel
Michael is close by and was built in 1507 in imitation of it. Near
this again is the Cathedral of the Annunciation. This, which was
built in 1416, is more original in style and recalls the churches of
Mount Athos, or that of Kertch, which dates from the Tenth Century.

Mention must be made of an ancient building, the house known as
the Romanoff House in Moscow. It was the birthplace of the Tsar
Michael Theodorovitch, founder of the now reigning family, and
also of his father Theodore Nikitisch, who became patriarch under
the name of Philaret. In its restored state the Romanoff House
is still perhaps the most remarkable ancient building existing
in Russia as a perfect specimen of the old dwelling-houses of the
boyards. It is built of stone, and the solid exterior walls are
as they originally stood. The interior restoration, completed by
the emperor Alexander in 1859, has been carried out with great
care in the exact style of the time, the furniture and ornaments
being authentic and placed as they would have been.




We soon reached the Kitai-Gorod, which is the business quarter,
upon the Krasnaia, the Red Square, or rather the beautiful square,
for in Russia the words red and beautiful are synonymous. Upon
one side of this square is the long façade of the Gostinnoi-Dvor,
an immense bazaar with streets enclosed by glass-like passages,
and which contains no less than 6,000 shops. The outside wall of
the Kremlin rears itself on another side, with gates piercing the
towers of sharply peaked roofs, permitting you to see above it the
turrets, the domes, the belfries and the spires of the churches and
convents it encloses. On another side, strange as the architecture
of dreamland, stands the chimerical and impossible church of
Vassili-Blagennoi, which makes your reason doubt the testimony of
your eyes. Although it appears real enough, you ask yourself if
it is not a fantastic mirage, a building made of clouds curiously
coloured by the sunlight, and which the quivering air will change
or cause to dissolve. Without any doubt, it is the most original
building in the world; it recalls nothing that you have ever seen
and it belongs to no style whatever: you might call it a gigantic
madrepore, a colossal formation of crystals, or a grotto of stalactites

But let us not search for comparisons to give an idea of something
that has no prototype. Let us try rather to describe Vassili-Blagennoi,
if indeed there exists a vocabulary to speak of what had never been
imagined previously.

There is a legend about Vassili-Blagennoi, which is probably not
true, but which nevertheless expresses with strength and poetry
the sense of wondering stupefaction felt at the semi-barbarous
period when that singular edifice, so remote from all architectural
traditions, was erected. Ivan the Terrible had this cathedral built
as a thank-offering for the conquest of Kasan, and when it was
finished, he found it so beautiful, wonderful and astounding, that
he ordered the architect's eyes to be put out--they say he was an
Italian--so that he could never erect anything similar. According
to another version of the same legend, the Tsar asked the originator
of this church if he could not erect a still more beautiful one,
and upon his reply in the affirmative, he cut off his head, so
that Vassili-Blagennoi might remain unrivalled forever. A more
flattering exhibition of jealous cruelty cannot be imagined, but
this Ivan the Terrible was at bottom a true artist and a passionate
dilettante. Such ferocity in matters of art is more pleasing to
me than indifference.

Imagine on a kind of platform which lifts the base from the ground,
the most peculiar, the most incomprehensible, the most prodigious
heaping up of large and little cabins, outside stairways, galleries
with arcades and unexpected hiding-places and projections, unsymmetrical
porches, chapels in juxtaposition, windows pierced in the walls at
haphazard, indescribable forms and a rounding out of the interior
arrangement, as if the architect, seated in the centre of his work
had produced a building by thrusting it out from him. From the
roof of this church which might be taken for a Hindu, Chinese, or
Thibetan pagoda, there springs a forest of belfries of the strangest
taste, fantastic beyond anything else in the world. The one in the
centre, the tallest and most massive, shows three or four stories
from base to spire. First come little columns, and toothed
string-courses, then come some pilasters framing long mullioned
windows, then a series of blank arches like scales, overlapping
one another, and on the sides of the spire wart-like ornaments
outlining each spire, the whole terminated by a lantern surmounted
by an inverted golden bulb bearing on its tip the Russian cross.
The others, which are slenderer and shorter, affect the form of the
minaret, and their fantastically ornamented towers end in cupolas
that swell strangely into the form of onions. Some are tortured
into facets, others ribbed, some cut into diamond-shaped points
like pineapples, some striped with fillets in spirals, others again
decorated with lozenge-shaped and overlapping scales, or honeycombed
like a bee-hive, and all adorned at their summit with the golden
ball surmounted by the cross.


What adds still more to the fantastic effect of Vassili-Blagennoi,
is that it is coloured with the most incongruous tones which
nevertheless produce a harmonious effect that charms the eye. Red,
blue, apple-green and yellow meet here in all portions of the building.
Columns, capitals, arches and ornaments are painted with startling
shades which give a strong relief. On the plain spaces of rare
occurrence, they have simulated divisions or panels framing pots
of flowers, rose-windows, wreathing vines, and chimæras. The domes
of the bell-towers are decorated with coloured designs that recall
the patterns of India shawls; and, displayed thus on the roofs
of the church, they recall the kiosks of the Sultans.

The same fantastic genius presided over the plan and ornamentation
of the interior. The first chapel, which is very low and in which
a few lamps glimmer, resembles a golden cavern; unexpected stars
throw their rays across the dusky shadows and make the stiff images
of the Greek saints stand out like phantoms. The mosaics of St.
Mark's in Venice alone can give an approximate idea of the effect
of this astonishing richness. At the back, the iconostas looms up
in the twilight shot through with rays like a golden and jewelled
wall between the faithful and the priests of the sanctuary.

Vassili-Blagennoi does not present, like other churches, a simple
interior composed of several naves communicating and cut at certain
points of intersection after the laws of the rites followed in
the temple. It is formed of a collection of churches, or chapels,
in juxtaposition and independent of each other. Each bell-tower
contains a chapel, which arranges itself as it pleases in this
mass. The dome is the terminal of the spire or the bulb of the
cupola. You might believe yourself under the enormous casque of
some Circassian or Tartar giant. These calottes are, moreover,
marvellously painted and decorated in the interior. It is the same
with the walls covered with those barbaric and hieratic figures,
the traditional designs for which the Greek monks of Mount Athos
have preserved from century to century, and which, in Russia, often
deceive the careless observer regarding the age of a building.
It is a peculiar sensation to find yourself in these mysterious
sanctuaries, where personages familiar to the Roman Catholic cult,
mingle with the saints peculiar to the Greek Calendar, and seem in
their archaic Byzantine and constrained appearance to have been
translated awkwardly into gold by the childish devotion of a primitive
race. These images that you view across the carved and silver-gilt
work of the iconostas, where they are ranged symmetrically upon
the golden screen opening their large fixed eyes and raising their
brown hand with the fingers turned in a symbolic fashion, produce, by
means of their somewhat savage, superhuman and immutable traditional
aspect, a religious impression not to be found in more advanced
works of art. These figures, seen amid the golden reflections and
twinkling light of the lamps, easily assume a phantasmagorical
life, capable of impressing sensitive imaginations and of creating,
especially at the twilight hour, a peculiar kind of sacred awe.

Narrow corridors, low arched passages, so narrow that your elbows
brush the walls and so low that you have to bend your head, circle
about these chapels and lead from one to the other. Nothing could
be more fantastic than these passages; the architect seems to have
taken pleasure in tangling up their threading ways. You ascend, you
descend, you seem to go out of the building, you seem to return,
twisting about a cornice to follow the curves of a bell-tower,
and walking through thick walls in tortuous passages that might
be compared to the capillary tubes of madrepores, or to the roads
made by insects in the barks of trees. After so many turnings and
windings, your head swims, a vertigo seizes you, and you wonder if
you are not a mollusk in an immense shell. I do not speak of the
mysterious corners, of inexplicable cœcums, low doors opening no
one knows whither, dark stairways descending into profound depths;
for I could never finish talking of this architecture, which you
seem to walk through as if in a dream.



The Tsar still bears the title of King of Poland, but the constitutional
kingdom created at the great settlement of political accounts in
1815 has been officially styled "The Cis-Vistula Provinces," ever
since the absolute incorporation with the Russian empire in 1868.
The provinces in question, ten in number, have an aggregate area
of 49,157 English square miles, and a population of eight millions,
composed to the extent of sixty-five per cent. of Poles, the remainder
being Jews (in the proportion of thirteen per cent., and settled
chiefly in towns), Lithuanians, Russians, Germans, and other aliens.

The Poles (the Polacks of Shakespeare), are a branch of the Sclav
race, their language differing but little from that of the Russians,
Czechs (Bohemians), Servians, Bulgarians, and other kindred remnants.
Contact and co-operation with Western civilization, and escape
from Tartar subjugation, permitted the Poles to work out their
own development on lines so widely apart from those pursued by
their Russian brethren, that the complete amalgamation of these
two great Sclav branches has long been a matter of practical

Polish history begins, like that of Russia, with Scandinavian invasion;
Szainocha, a reliable authority of the present century, asserted
that the Northmen descended on the Polish coast of the Baltic,
and became, as in Russia, ancestors of the noble houses. On the
other hand, it is on record that the first Grand Duke of Poland
(about A. D. 842), was Piastus, a peasant, who founded a dynasty
that was superseded only in 1385 by the Lithuanian Jagellons.
Christianity was introduced by the fourth of the Piasts, A. D. 964,
and it was a sovereign of the same House, Boleslas I., the Brave,
who gave a solid foundation to the Polish State. He conquered Dantzig
and Pomerania, Silesia, Moravia, and White Russia, as far as the
Dnieper. After being partitioned, in accordance with the principle
that long obtained in the neighbouring Russian principalities,
the component territories of Poland were reunited by Vladislaf
(Ladislaf) the Short, who established his capital, in 1320, at
Cracow, where the Polish kings were ever after crowned. Casimir
the Great, the Polish Justinian (1334-1370), gained for himself
the title of _Rex Rusticorum_, by the bestowal of benefits on the
peasantry, who were _adscripti glehœ_, and by the limitation of the
power of the nobles, or freeholders. On his death, Louis, King of
Hungary, his sister's son, was called to the throne; but in order
to insure its continued possession he was compelled to reinstate the
nobles in all their privileges, under a _Pacta Conventa_, which,
subject to alterations made at Diets, was retained as part of the
Coronation Oath so long as there were Polish kings to be consecrated.
He was the last sovereign of the Piast period. After compelling
his daughter to marry, not William of Austria, whom she loved, but
Jagellon, Duke of Lithuania, who offered to unite his extensive
and adjacent dominions with those of Poland, and to convert his
own pagan subjects to Christianity, the nobles, in virtue of their
Magna Charta, elected Jagellon (baptized under the name of Ladislas)
to the throne of Poland, which thus became dynastically united
(1386), with that of Lithuania.

On the death, in 1572, of Sigismund II., Augustus, the last of
the Jagellons, the power of the king, already limited by that of
two chambers, was still further diminished, and the crown became
elective. While occupied in besieging the Huguenots at Rochelle,
and at a time when Poland enjoyed more religious liberty than any
other country in Europe, Henry of Valois was elected to the throne,
in succession to Sigismund II.; but he quickly absconded from Cracow
in order to become Henry III. of France. The Jesuits, introduced in
the next reign, that of Stephen Bathori, brought strong intolerance
with them, and one of the reasons that led the Cossacks of the Polish
Ukraine to solicit Russian protection was the inferior position to
which their Greek religion had been reduced in relation to Roman
Catholicism. The Russians and Poles had been at war with each other
for two centuries. Moscow had been occupied in 1610 by the Poles in
the name of Ladislas, son of Sigismund III., of the Swedish Wasa
family, elected to the Muscovite throne by the Russian boyars, but
soon expelled by the patriots, under Minin and Pojarski. Sobieski,
who had saved Vienna for the Austrians, could not keep Kief and
Little Russia for the Poles. Such was the outcome of disorders and
revolutions in the State, and of wars with Muscovy, Turkey, and
Sweden, as well as with Tartars and Cossacks. Frederick Augustus
II., Elector of Saxony, succeeded Sobieski, and reigned until 1733,
with an interval of five years, during which he was superseded by
Stanislas I.


Dissension and anarchy became still more general, in the reign of
the next sovereign, Augustus III. Civil war, in which the question
of the rights of Lutherans, Calvinists, and other "dissidents"
obnoxious to the Roman Catholic Church played a great part, resulted
in the intervention of Russia and Prussia, and in 1772 the first
partition of Poland was consummated. The second followed in 1793,
under an arrangement between the same countries, which had taken
alarm at a liberal constitution voted by the Polish Diet in 1791,
especially as it had provided for the emancipation of the _adscripti
glebœ_. The struggle made by Thaddeus Kosciuszko ended in the entry
of Suvoroff into Warsaw over the ashes of the Prague suburb, and
in the third dismemberment (1795), of ancient Poland, under which
even Warsaw was absorbed by Russia.

Previous to these several partitions, Poland occupied a territory
much more extensive than that of France. In addition to the kingdom
proper, it included the province of Posen and part of West Prussia,
Cracow, and Galicia, Lithuania, the provinces of Volhynia and Podolia,
and part of the present province of Kief. In 1772, Dantzig was a
seaport of Poland, Kaminets, in Podolia, its border stronghold
against Turkey; while to the west and north its frontier extended
almost to the walls of Riga, and to within a short distance from
Moscow. In still earlier times, Bessarabia, Moldavia, Silesia,
and Livonia were embraced within the Polish possessions.

These successive partitions gave the most extensive portion of
Polish territory to Russia, the most populous to Austria, and the
most commercial to Prussia. Napoleon I. revived a Polish state
out of the provinces that had been seized by Prussia and Austria.
This was first constituted into a Grand Duchy under the King of
Saxony, and in 1815, when Galicia (with Cracow) was restored to
Austria, and Posen to Prussia, Warsaw became again a kingdom under
a constitution granted by Alexander I. The old Polish provinces
that had fallen to the share of Catherine II. at the partitions
remained incorporated with the Russian Empire, but were not fully
subjected to a Russian administration until after the great Polish
insurrection of 1830, when also the constitution of 1815 was withdrawn,
the national army abolished, and the Polish language proscribed in
the public offices.

Notwithstanding the wide measures of Home Rule introduced by Alexander
II. into the administration of the kingdom, and which, in combination
with many liberal and pregnant reforms in Russia Proper appeared
to offer to the Poles the prospect of no inconsiderable influence
over the destinies of the Russian Empire, the old spirit of national
independence began to manifest itself, and in 1862, not without
encouragement from Napoleon III., an insurrection broke out at

Outside Warsaw and its immediate vicinity there is little in Russian
Poland to interest the tourist. The country is generally level
and monotonous, with wide expanses of sand, heath, and forest,
and it is only towards the north and east that the ground may be
said to be heavily timbered. Dense forests stretch down from the
Russian, anciently Polish, province of Grodno, and now form the
last retreat in Europe of the _Bison Europeans_, the survivor of
the Aurochs (_Bos primigenius_), which is supposed to have been
the original stock of our horned cattle. Although much worried by
the wolf, the bear, and the lynx, the bison is strictly preserved
from the hunter, and are not therefore likely to disappear like the
_Bos Americanus_, or buffalo, which has so long been ruthlessly
slaughtered in the United States.

Interspersed among these barren or wooded tracts are areas containing
some of the finest corn-bearing soil in Europe, supplying from
time immemorial vast quantities of superior grain for shipment
from ports in the Baltic. It is produced on the larger estates of
two hundred to fifteen hundred acres, belonging to more than eight
thousand proprietors. The peasantry, who hold more than 240,000
farms--seldom exceeding forty acres--contribute next to nothing
towards exportation, their mode of agriculture being almost as
rude as that of the Russian peasantry, and their habits of life but
little superior, especially in the matter of drink. Towns, large
and small, occur more frequently than in Russia, and while some are
rich and industrial, others--we may say the great majority--are
poor and squalid, affording no accommodation that would render
possible the visit of even the least fastidious traveller.

Consequently we confine ourselves to Warsaw, which we take on our way
by rail to or from St. Petersburg or Moscow. Founded in the Twelfth
Century, and, during the Piast period, the seat of the appanaged
Dukes of Masovia, Warszawa, replaced Cracow as the residence of the
Polish kings and therefore as the capital of Poland, on the election
of Sigismund III. (1586). It has now a population of about 445,000,
not including the Russian garrison of 31,500 officers and men. The
left bank of the Vistula, on which Warsaw is chiefly built, is
high, and the pretty, gay, and animated city, with its stately lines
of streets, wide squares, and spacious gardens, is picturesquely
disposed along the brow of the cliff and on the plains above. Across
the broad sandy bed of the stream, here "shallow, ever-changing,
and divided as Poland itself," and which is on its way from the
Carpathians to the Baltic, is the Prague suburb, which, formerly
fortified, has never recovered from the assault by Suvoroff in
1794, when its sixteen thousand inhabitants were indiscriminately
put to the sword. A vast panorama spreads out in every direction
from this melancholy and dirty point of vantage. Opposite is the
Zamek, or castle, built by the Dukes of Masovia, and enlarged and
restored by several of the Polish kings, from Sigismund III. to
Stanislas Augustus Poniatovski. Its pictures and objects of art
are now at St. Petersburg, and Moscow, and the old royal apartments
are occupied by the Governor-General. The square in front of the
castle was the scene of the last Polish "demonstrations," in 1861,
when it was twice stained with blood.

In the Stare Miasto, or Old Town, strongly old German in aspect,
stands the cathedral, built in the Thirteenth Century, and restored
on the last occasion by King John Sobieski. A still more ancient
sacred edifice is the Church of Our Lady in the Nove Miasto, or New
Town; but it certainly retains no traces of deep antiquity. Beyond
the great Sapieha and Sierakovski Barracks towers the Alexander
Citadel, with its outlying fortifications, built in 1832-35, at the
expense of the city, as a penalty for the insurrection in 1830.
In the same direction, but a considerable distance from the town,
is Mariemont, the country seat of the consort of John Sobieski;
also Kaskada, a place of entertainment much frequented by the
inhabitants of Warsaw, and Bielany, a pretty spot on the Vistula
commanding a fine view. The churches and chapels, mostly Roman
Catholic, are numerous (eighty-five), and so are the monasteries
and convents (twenty-two).

Near Novi Sviat (New World) Street, we find the Avenues, or _Champs
Elysées_, bordered by fine lime-trees, in front of elegant private
residences. Crossing a large square, in which the troops are exercised,
and the military hospital at Uiazdov, formerly a castle of the
kings of Poland, we reach the fine park of Lazienki, a country
seat of much elegance built by King Stanislas Augustus, and now
the residence of the Emperor when he visits Warsaw. The ceilings
of this _château_ were painted by Bacciarelli, and its walls are
hung with portraits of numerous beautiful women.

Contiguous to the Lazienki Park are the extensive gardens of the
Belvedere Palace, in which the Poles attempted in 1830 to get rid
of their viceroy, the Grand Duke Constantine. We drive hence in
less than an hour to one of the most interesting places near Warsaw.
This is the Castle of Villanov, built by John Sobieski, who died
in it. To this retreat he brought back the trophies of his mighty
deeds in arms, and here sought repose after driving the Turks from
the walls of Vienna. The _château_, now the property of Countess
Potoçka, is full of historical portraits, objects of art, and other
curiosities, of which the most interesting is the magnificent suit
of armour presented by the Pope to Sobieski in memory of his great
victory. The apartments of his beautiful consort are of great elegance.
In the gallery of pictures we notice an admirable Rubens--the _Death
of Seneca_; although we are more strongly attracted by an original
portrait of Bacon, which is but little known in England.

[Illustration: HOTEL DE VILLE, WARSAW.]

For want of space, again we must plead guilty of omitting to describe
many palatial residences, and several noticeable monuments, among
which is one to Copernicus, the Polish founder of modern astronomy.
On the same ground we pass over handsome public buildings, theatres,
gardens and cemeteries, in one of which, the Evangelical Cemetery, is
buried John Cockerell, to whom Belgium owes so much of her industrial



Kief, the Jerusalem of Russia, is by nature marked for distinction;
she rises like an Etruscan city from the plain; she is flanked by
fortifications; she is pleasantly clothed by trees, and height
beyond height is crowned by castle or by church. Fifty thousand
pilgrims annually, many of whom are footsore from long and weary
journeying, throw themselves on their knees as they see the sacred
city from afar: her holy places shine in the sun as a light set
upon a hill which cannot be hid. Three holy shrines which I can
recall to mind--Kief, Assisi, and Jerusalem--are alike fortunate in
command of situation; the approach to each is most impressive. In
Kief particularly the natural landscape is heightened in pictorial
effect by the picturesque groups of pilgrims, staves in hand and
wallets on back, who may be seen at all hours of the day clambering
up the hill, resting under the shadow of a tree, or reverently
bowing the head at the sound of a convent bell.

Kief is not one city, but three cities, each with its own fortification.
The old town, strong in position, and enclosing within its circuit
the Cathedral of St. Sophia and the Palace of the Metropolitan,
was in remote ages a Sclavonian Pantheon, sacred to the Russian
Jupiter and other savage gods. The new town, separated from the
old town by a deep ravine, stands on a broad platform which rises
precipitously from the banks of the Dnieper. The walls are massive,
the fort is strong, and the famous monastery, the first in rank
in Russia, with its gilt and coloured domes, shines from out the
shade of a deep wood. The third division, "the Town of the Vale,"
situated between the hills and the river, is chiefly devoted to
commerce. Without much stretch of fancy it might be said that Kief,
like Rome, Lisbon and some other cities, is built on seven hills.
And thus the pictorial aspect changes almost at every step; a winding
path will bring to view an unsuspected height, or open up a valley
previously hid. The traveller has in the course of his wanderings
often to feel thankful that a kind providence has planted sacred
places in the midst of lovely scenery. The holy mountain at Varallo,
the sacred hill at Orta, are, like the shrines of Kief, made doubly
pleasant for pilgrimage through the beauties of nature by which
they are surrounded. It is said that at the monastery of the Grande
Chartreuse the monks do not permit themselves to look too much at
the outward landscape, lest their hearts should by the loveliness
of earth be estranged from heaven. I do not think that Russian
priests or pilgrims incur any such danger. When they are neither
praying nor eating they are sleeping; in short, I did not among
the motley multitude see a single eye open to the loveliness of
colour in the sky above, or to the beauty of form in the earth
beneath. It is singular how obtuse these people are; I have noticed
in a crowded railway carriage that not a face would be turned to
the glory of the setting sun, but if a church tower came into view
on the distant horizon, every hand was raised to make the sign
of the cross. While taking my observations among the pilgrims at
Kief I was struck with the fact, not only that a superstitious
faith, but that a degraded art blinds the eye to the beauty of
nature. It is one of the high services of true art to lead the mind
to the contemplation, to the love and the better understanding,
of the works of creation. But, on the contrary, it is the penalty
of this Byzantine art to close the appointed access between nature
and nature's God. An art which ignores and violates truth and beauty
cannot do otherwise than lead the mind away from nature. This seemed
one of the several lessons taught by Kief, the city of pilgrimage.

Sketchers of character and costume will find excellent studies
among the pilgrims of Kief. The upper and educated classes, who
in Russia are assimilating with their equals in other nations, and
are therefore not tempting to the pencil or the brush, do not, as
we have already seen, come in any numbers to these sacred shrines.
It is the lower orders, who still preserve the manners and customs
of their ancestors, that make these church festivals so attractive
to the artist. The variety of races brought together from afar--a
diversity only possibly within an empire, like Russia, made up of
heterogeneous materials--might serve not only to fill a portfolio,
but to illustrate a volume; the ethnologist equally with the painter
would find at the time of great festivities curious specimens of
humanity. I remember some years ago to have met with the French
artist, M. Théodore Valerio, when he had brought home the _Album
Ethnographique_ from Hungary, Croatia, and the more distant borders
of the Danube. It was quite refreshing, after the infinite number
of costume-studies I had seen from Italian peasantry, to find that
art had the possibility of an entirely new sphere among the Sclavonic
races. A like field for any painter of enterprise is now open in
Russia. The large and famous composition, _The Butter Week (Carnival)
in St. Petersburg_, by C. Makowski, may serve to indicate the hitherto
undeveloped pictorial resources of the empire. When the conditions
are new there is a possibility that the art may be new also. The
ethnology, the physical geography, the climate, the religion, the
products of the animal and vegetable kingdoms, so far as they are
peculiar to Russia, will some day become reflected into the national
art. It is true that the painter may occasionally feel a want of
colour, the costumes of the peasant are apt to be dull and heavy, yet
not unfrequently rags and tatters bring compensation by picturesque
outlines and paintable surface-textures. At Kief, however, the traveller
is sufficiently south and east to fall in with warm southern hues
and Oriental harmonies, broken and enriched, moreover, among the
lower orders by that engrained dirt which I have usually noted as
the special privilege and prerogative of pilgrims in all parts of
the world. The use of soap would seem to be accounted as sacrilege
on religious sentiment. What with dust, and what with sun, the
wayfarers who toil up the heights leading to the holy hill have
gained a colour which a Murillo would delight in. The face and
neck bronzed by the hot sun tell out grandly from a flowing mass
of hair worthy of a patriarch.

[Illustration: THE DNIEPER AT KIEF.]

Beggars, who in Russia are as thick about the churches as the pigeons
that pick up crumbs in front of St. Mark's, are almost essential
to the histrionic panoramas at these places of pilgrimage. I have
never seen so large or so varied a collection of professional and
casual mendicants as within and about the sacred enclosures of Kief.
Some appeared to enjoy vested rights; these privileged personages
would as little endure to be driven from a favoured post as with us
a sweeper at a crossing would tolerate a rival broom. Several of
these waiters upon charity might be termed literary beggars; their
function is to read aloud from a large book in the hearing of the
passers-by. They are often infirm, and occasionally blind, but they
read just the same. Another class may be called the incurables; in
England they would be kept out of sight, but here in Russia, running
sores, mutilated hands and legs, are valuable as stock-in-trade.
Loathsome diseases are thrust forward as a threat, distorted limbs
are extortionate for alms; it is a piteous sight to see; some of
these sad objects are in the jaws of death, and come apparently
that they may die on holy ground. Another class may be called the
pious beggars; they stand at the church doors; they are picturesque
and apostolic; long beards and quiet bearing, with a certain
professional get-up of misery and desolation, make these sacred
mendicants grand after their kind. Such figures are usually ranged
on either side of the chief entrance; they are motionless as statues,
save when in the immediate act of soliciting alms; indeed I have
sometimes noticed how beggars standing before a church façade are
suggestive of statuary, the want of which is so much felt in the
unsculpturesque architecture of Russia. Pilgrims and beggars--the
line of demarcation it is not always easy to define--have an Oriental
way of throwing themselves into easy and paintable attitudes; in
fact posture plays a conspicuous part in the devotions of such
people; they pray bodily almost more than mentally,--the figure
and its attendant costume become instruments of worship.

The Cathedral of St. Sophia, which dates back to the Eleventh Century,
is of interest from its resemblance to St. Mark's, Venice, in the
plan of the Greek cross, in the use of domes and galleries, and
in the introduction of mosaics as surface-decorations. I saw the
galleries full of fashionable worshippers; the galleries in St. Mark's
on the contrary, are always empty and useless, though constructed for
use. In the apse are the only old mosaics I have met with in Russia;
it is strange that an art which specially pertains to Byzantium
was not turned to more account by the Greco-Russian Church. There
is in the apse, besides, a subject composition,--a noble female
figure, colossal in size, the arms upraised in attitude of prayer,
the drapery cast broadly and symmetrically. In the same interior
are associated with mosaics, frescoes, or rather wall-paintings
in _secco_. On the columns which support the cupola are frescoes
which, though of no art value, naturally excited curiosity when
they were discovered some few years since, after having been hid
for two or more centuries by a covering of whitewash. Some other
wall-pictures are essentially modern, and others have been restored,
after Russian usage, in so reckless and wholesale a fashion as to
be no longer of value as archæologic records. In the staircase
leading to the galleries are some further wall-paintings, said to
be contemporaneous with the building of the cathedral; the date,
however, is wholly uncertain. These anomalous compositions represent
a boar-hunt and other sports, with groups of musicians, dancers,
and jugglers, intervening. In accord with the secular character of
the subjects is the rude naturalism of the style. Positive knowledge
as to date being wanting, it is impossible to speak of these works
otherwise than to say that they cannot be of Byzantine origin.
If of real antiquity they will have to join company with other
semi-barbaric products in metal, etc., which prove, as we have
seen, that Russia has two historic schools, the Byzantine, on the
one hand, debilitated and refined, as of periods of decline, and,
on the other, a non-Byzantine and barbarous style, strong and coarse
as of races still vital and vigorous. A like conflict is found in
the North of Italy between the Byzantine and the Lombard manner;
and even in England the west front of Wells Cathedral presents the
same unresolved contradictions. It would seem that over the greater
part of Europe, Eastern as well as Western, these two hostile arts
were practiced contemporaneously; at all events the same buildings
are found to display the two opposite styles. It would appear probable,
however, that the respective artists or artisans belonged to at
least two distinct nationalities.

The Pecherskoi Monastery, or Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra, at Kief, the
Kremlin in Moscow, and the grand monastery of Troitza, have this
in common, that the situation is commanding, the site elevated.
Also, these three venerable sanctuaries are strongholds, for though
the holy places at Kief are not on all sides fortified, yet the
approach from the old city, which is the most accessible, lies
along bastions and walls. In fact, here we have again a semblance
to the ancient idea of a church, a citadel, and a palace united,
as in an acropolis--the Church and the State being one; the arm
of the flesh sustaining the sword of the spirit,--a condition of
things which has always given to the world its noblest art. The
walk to this most ancient monastery in Russia passes pleasantly by
the side of a wood; then opens a view of the vast plain beneath,
intersected by the river Dnieper, over which is flung the great
suspension-bridge built by the English engineer, Charles Vignolles,
at the cost of £350,000. The immediate approach is lined with open
shops or stalls for the sale of sacred pictures, engravings of
saints, and other articles which pilgrims love to carry back to
their homes. Within the enclosure trees throw a cool shade, under
which, as in the courtyards of mosques in Constantinople, the hot
and weary may repose.

The cathedral dedicated to the ascension of the Virgin, has not
the slightest pretence to external architecture. The walls are
mostly whitewashed, and some of the windows have common square
heads crowned by mean pediments; the intervening pilasters and
floral decorations in relief, and all in the midst of whitewash,
are of the poorest character. The seven gilded cupolas or domes
may be compared to inverted cups surmounted by crosses. The form
resembles the cup commonly combined in the fantastic towers and
spires of Protestant churches in Germany, where, however, it has
been supposed to signify that the laity partake of the chalice.
These domes are made further decorative at the point of the small
circular neck which connects the cupola with the upper member or
finial; around this surface is painted a continuous series of single
saints standing; the effect of these pictures against the sky,
if not quite artistic, is striking. Other parts of the exterior
may indicate Italian rather than Oriental origin, but the style
is far too mongrel to boast of any legitimate parentage. Here,
as in the Kremlin, are external wall-paintings of saints, some
standing on solid ground, others sitting among clouds; the Madonna
is of course of the company, and the First and Second Persons of
the Trinity crown the composition. The ideas are trite and the
treatment is contemptible--the colours pass from dirty red into
brown and black. These certainly are the worst wall-paintings I
have ever met with, worse even than the coarsest painted shrines
on the waysides of Italy; indeed no Church save the Greek Church
would tolerate an art thus debased. A year after my journey to Kief
I travelled through the Tyrol on my way from the Ammergau Passion
Play. The whole of this district abounds in frescoes, many being on
the external walls of private dwellings. This village art of the
Bavarian Highlands, though often the handiwork of simple artisans,
puts to shame both the external and the internal wall-paintings at
Kief, Troitza, and the Kremlin. Yet this contrast between Russia
and Southern nations does not arise so much from the higher ability
of the artists, as from the superiority of the one school to the
other school. The pictorial arts fostered by the Western Church
are fundamentally true, while the arts which the Eastern Church has
patronized and petrified are essentially false and effete.

The scene which strikes the eye on entering this parti-coloured
Cathedral of the Assumption, though strange, is highly picturesque.
To this holy shrine are brought the halt, the lame, and the blind,
as to the moving of the waters. Some press forward to kiss the
foot of a crucifix, others bow the head and kiss the ground, a
servile attitude of worship, which in the Greco-Russian Church
has been borrowed from the Mohammedans. The groups which throng
the narrow, crowded floor, are wonderfully effective; an artist
with sketch-book in hand would have many a good chance of catching
graphic heads and costumes, and all the more easily because these
pilgrims are not so lively as lethargic. Still, for grand scenic
impression, I have never in Russia witnessed any church function so
striking as the piazza in front of St. Peter's on Easter Day, when
all Rome flocks to receive the Pope's blessing from the balcony.
Yet the whole interior of this cathedral is itself a picture, or
rather a countless succession of pictures; as to the architecture
there is not the minutest space that has not been emblazoned by
aid of a paint-pot.

But the greatest marvel in this Cathedral of the Assumption is
the iconostas, or screen for the sacred pictures, a structure
indispensable to all Russian churches, of which I have withheld the
description till now, when I find myself in front of a large and
more astounding erection than can be found in St. Petersburg, Moscow,
or Troitza. In small churches these sacred placards, bearing the
character of drop-scenes, are apt to be paltry, indeed the irreverent
stranger may even be reminded of painted caravans at village fairs.
But in large cathedrals the screen which stands between the people
in the nave and the priests in the holy of holies, presents a vast
façade, upon which are ranged, in three, four, or five stories,
a multitude of sacred pictures covered with gold and decked with
jewels. These elaborate contrivances correspond to the reredos
in Western churches, only with this important difference, that
they are not behind the holy place but in front of it. They might,
perhaps, with more correctness be compared to the rood-screens which
in our churches stand between the altar and the people. The sacred
screen now before me mounts its head into the dome, and presents an
imposing and even an architectonic aspect, but certain details,
such as classic mouldings of columns, and a broken entablature,
pronounce the edifice to be comparatively modern. The summit is
fitly crowned by a crucifix, almost in the flat, in order not to
evade the law of the Russian Church, which prohibits statues in the
round; the figure of Christ is silver, the cross and the drapery
of gold or silver-gilt. On either side of the crucifix stand in
their prescriptive stations the Madonna and St. John. On the story
beneath comes the entombment, all covered with gold and silver,
in a low-relief which indicates the forms of the figures beneath;
the heads, which are not in relief but merely pictorial, are the
only portions of the picture actually visible.

These altar-screens, which in Russia are counted not by tens but
by hundreds and thousands, are highly ornate. Silver and gold and
jewellery are conjoined with painting after the nursery and doll-like
fashion approved in the South of Spain and at Naples. Only in the
most corrupt of Roman Catholic capitals does ecclesiastical art
assume the childish forms common in Russia. Resuming the description
of the above altar-screen, we find next in range below the entombment
a large composition, comprising God the Father surrounded by cherubs,
with two full-grown seraphs, encircled by six gold wings, standing
on either side. Again, the only parts of the picture permitted to
be seen are the heads, crossed hands, black legs and feet. Christ
with the open book of judgment is another conspicuous figure; also a
companion head, gigantic in size, is the Madonna, directly Byzantine
in type, though its smooth and well-kept surface gives little sign of
age. The Christ, too, must be accounted but as modernized Byzantine;
here is none of the severity or of the tenuity of the early periods.
The type is poor though refined, debilitated though ideal. The hair,
parted on the forehead, falls thickly on the shoulders. The face is
youthful, not more than thirty, and without a wrinkle; the cheeks
are a little flushed, the prevailing expression is placidity. The
accessories of glory, drapery, and open book are highly decorative;
here embossed patterns on the gold coverings enhance the richness
of the surface-ornament. Once again the Russians appear supreme
in metal-work, especially in the elaboration of decoration in the
flat. Most of the pictures above mentioned are evidently supremely
holy; they are black and highly gilded; moreover, they move most
deeply all sorts and conditions of men, women, and children.

I may here again mention that one purpose of my Russian journey was
to discover whether there were heads of Christ in the possession
of the Russian Church older or nobler than the ivory carvings, the
frescoes, or easel pictures which are found in Italy and other
Southern or Western nations. And I was, I confess, disappointed not
to meet with any data which could materially enlarge or enrich this
most interesting of subjects. As to priority of date, it seems to be
entirely on the side of the Roman catacombs and the Latin Church;
moreover, in Russia, as I before frequently remarked, chronology
is untrustworthy, inasmuch as comparatively modern works assume
and parody the style of the most ancient. The heads of Christ in
Russia, one of which has been just described, are, as already said,
more or less servile reproductions of Byzantine types. Still the
typical form is found under varying phases; the general tendency
in these replicas of anterior originals would appear to be towards
the mitigation of the asperities in the confirmed Byzantine formulas.
Thus the more recent heads of the Saviour in the churches of St.
Petersburg, Moscow, Troitza and Kief, assume a certain modern manner,
and occasionally wear a smooth, pretty and ornamental aspect. In
these variations on the prescriptive Eastern type, the hair usually
flows down upon the shoulders, as with the Greek and Russian Priests
in the present day. As to the beard, it is thick and full, or short
and scant, but the cheeks are left uncovered, and show an elongated
face and chin.

These Russian heads of the Saviour in softening down the severe and
aged type common to Byzantium, assume a physiognomy not sufficiently
intellectual for the Greatest of Teachers. These "images" in fact
inspire little reverence except with blind worshippers; they are
mostly wrought up and renovated, so as to fulfil the preconceived
conditions of sanctity: undefined generality, weakness, smoothness,
and blackness, are the common characteristics of these supposititious
heads of the Saviour. It will thus again be easily understood how
opposite has been the practice of the Eastern and Western Churches;
it is a striking fact that at the time when, in Italy, under Leonardo
da Vinci, Raphael and others, the mystery of a God manifest in the
flesh had been as it were solved by a perfected art, this Russian
Church was still under bondage to the once accepted but now discarded
notion that the Redeemer ought to be represented as one who had no
form or comeliness. Art in the Western world gained access to the
beautiful, the perfect, and the divine, as soon as it was permitted
to the painter or the sculptor to develop to uttermost perfection
the idea of the Man-God. All such conceptions of the infinite,
whether it be that of Jupiter in pagan periods, or of Christ under
our divine dispensation, have always been the life and inspiration
of the arts. But in Russia ignoble heads of Christ convinced me that
such life and inspiration were denied. And I look upon the head
of Christ as the turning point in the Christian art of a nation.
If that head be conceived of unworthily there is no possibility
that prophets, apostles, martyrs, shall receive their due.

[Illustration: LA LAVRA, KIEF.]



Nijni-Novgorod, or Lower New-town, is older than Moscow, and only
not so old as Novgorod the Great, which was a contemporary of Venice,
and was still new when the semi-fabulaus Ruric and his Varangians
are supposed to have given their name to Russia.

Nijni-Novgorod, which everybody here calls simply "Nijni," dates
from 1222; and mention of its fair occurs, we are told, in 1366,
since which epoch its celebration has suffered very rare and only
violent interruption.

To understand why this venerable spot should have been for so many
years, and should be still, so extensively favoured by the world's
trade, it is hardly necessary to see it. We only need bear in mind
that Nijni lies near the confluence of the Oka and the Volga, two
of the greatest rivers of this Russia which alone of all countries
of Europe may be said to have great rivers; the Volga having a
course of 2,320 miles, and the Oka, a mere tributary, of 850 miles.

It is the position which the Saöne and the Rhone have made for Lyons;
the position for which St. Louis is indebted to the Mississippi and
Missouri; the position which Corientes will soon owe to the Parana
and the Paraguay.

Nijni lies at the very centre of that water communication which
joins the Caspian and the Black Sea to the White Sea and the Baltic,
and which, were it always summer, might almost have enabled Russia
to dispense with roads and railroads.

But Nijni is, besides, the terminus of the railway from Moscow.
That line places this town and its fair in communication with all
the lines of Russia and the Western World, while the Volga, with
its tributary, the Kama, leads to Perm, and the Pass of the Ural
Mountains, and the vast regions of Siberia and Central Asia.

Nijni-Novgorod is thus one of the most important links between
the two great continents, the point of contact between Asiatic
wealth and European industry; and its fair the best meeting-place
for the interchange of commodities between the nations that still
walk, ride, or row at the rate of three to five miles an hour,
and those who fly on the wings of steam at the rate of thirty to

The site of Nijni is somewhat like what I still remember of St.
Louis after a seventeen years' interval. We travelled from Moscow
over a distance of 273 miles in thirteen hours. For the last hour
or two before we reached our journey's end, we had on our right
the river Oka and a hilly ridge rising all along it and forming
its southern bank.

On alighting at the station we drove through a flat, marshy ground,
intersected by broad canals, to a triangular space between the
Oka and the Volga at their confluence, where the fair is held.

We went through the maze of bazaars and market buildings, of rows
of booths, shops and stalls, eating and drinking sheds, warehouses
and counting-houses. We struggled through long lines of heavy-laden
country carts, and swarms of clattering _droskies_, all striving to
force their way along with that hurry-skurry that adds to confusion
and lessens speed; and we came at last to a long pontoon bridge, over
which we crossed the Oka, and beyond which rises the hill-range or
ravine, on the top and at the foot of which is built the straggling
town of Nijni-Novgorod.

Nijni-Novgorod is a town of 45,000 inhabitants, and, like most
Russian towns, it occupies a space which could accommodate half a
million of people. Like many old Russian towns, also, it is laid
out on the pattern of Moscow, as far as its situation allowed;
and, to keep up the resemblance, it boasts a Kremlin of its own,
a grim, struggling citadel with battlemented walls and mediæval
towers over its gates, with its scores of Byzantine churches, most
of them with their five cupolas _de rigueur_, clustering together
like a bunch of radishes--one big radish between four little
radishes--but not as liberally covered with gilding as those which
glisten on the top of sacred buildings in St. Petersburg or Moscow;
down the slopes and ravines are woods and gardens, with coffee-houses
and eating-houses, and other places of popular entertainment.

It is a town to be admired on the outside and at a distance as a
picture, but most objectionable as a residence on account of its
marvellous distances and murderous pavement, a stroll on which
reminds you of the martyrdom of those holy pilgrims who, to give
glory to God, walked with dry peas in their shoes.

The pavements are bad in Nijni town, but worse in Nijni fair, for
if in the former all is hard, sharp, uneven flint, in the latter,
what is not wood is mud, and what is not mud is dust, for heavy
showers alternate with stifling heat; and, after a three hours'
drought one would say that these good people, who live half in
and half out of a swamp, and who drink anything rather than water,
can never spare a poor drop to slake the pulverized clay of their
much trodden thoroughfares.

With all these drawbacks, however, and even with the addition of
its villainous smells, this is an interesting and striking spot.
No place can boast of a more sublime view than one can get here
from the Imperial Palace and Terrace, or from the church-domes
or spires on the Kremlin; or, even better, from the Esplanade of
Mouravief's Folly--a tower erected by the well-known General of
that name on the highest and foremost ravine, and on the summit of
which he had planned to place a fac-simile of the famous Strassburg
clock, but constructed on so gigantic a scale that hours and minutes,
the moon's phases, the planets' cycles and all besides, should be
distinctly visible from every locality of the town and fair for
miles and miles around.

From any of those vantage-grounds on the hill look down. The town
is at your feet; the fair--a city, a Babylon of shops--stretches
beyond the bridge; the plain, a boundless ocean of green, field and
forest, dotted here and there with church-spires and factory-shafts
at prodigious distances; and the two broad rivers, bearing the
tribute of remote regions from north and south in numberless boats
and lighters, and neat gallant steamers; the two streams meeting
here at right angles just below the pontoon-bridge where an immense
five-domed church of recent construction has been reared to mark
and hallow the spot.

Down at the fair, in the centre of its hubbub, rises the governor's
summer-place. The governor dwells there with his family during the
few weeks of the fair (mid-August to mid-September), coming down
hither from the Imperial Palace in the town Kremlin, and occupying
the upper floor. The whole basement, the entrance-hall, and all
passages--with the exception of a narrow, private, winding
staircase--are invaded by the crowd and converted into a bazaar,
the noisiest in the fair, where there is incessant life and movement,
and music and hurly-burly at every hour between noon and night--a
lively scene upon which his Excellency and his guests and friends
look down from the balcony after their five o'clock dinner, smoking
their cigarettes, and watching the policemen as they pounce like
trained hawks on the unwary pick-pockets prowling among the crowd.

Of this immense mass of strangers now in Nijni, the town itself,
and especially the upper town, sees and hears but little.

The fair has its own ground, on its own side of the bridge, its
own hotels and lodging-houses, its own churches, chapels, theatres,
eating, gambling, and other houses, its long straight streets and
boulevards, and pleasure as well as business resorts.

It has its fine Chinese Row, though Chinamen have lately discontinued
their attendance; it has rich traders' temporary homes, fitted up
with comfort, and even taste and luxury; and it has its charity
dormitory, a vast wooden shed, built by Court Ignatieff, and bearing
his name, intended to accommodate 250 houseless vagrants, but alas! in
a place where there must be 20,000, if not 200,000 persons answering
that description.

Of women coming to this market the number is comparatively small--one,
I should say, for every 100 men; of ladies not one in 10,000, or

Of those who muster sufficiently strong at the evening promenade
on the Boulevard, indigenous or resident, for the most part, rather
the look than the number is formidable; and it is here in Nijni,
as it is generally in Russia, that a Mussulman becomes convinced
of the wisdom of his Arabian prophet, who invented the yashmak
as man's best protection, and hallowed it; for of the charms of
most Russian women, blessed are those who believe without seeing!

In working hours only men and beasts are to be seen--a jumble and
scramble of men and beasts: car-loads of goods; piles of hogsheads,
barrels, bales, boxes, and bundles, merchandise of all kinds, of
every shape, colour, or smell, all lying in a mass topsy-turvy,
higgledy-piggledy; the thoroughfares blocked up, the foot-paths
encumbered; chaos and noise all-pervading; and yet, by degrees, almost
imperceptibly, you will see everything going its way, finding its own
place; for every branch of trade has, or was at least intended to
have, here its appointed abode; and there are Tea Rows; Silversmiths
and Calico Streets; Fur Lanes; Soap, Candle, and Caviare Alleys;
Photograph, Holy Images, and Priestly Vestments Bazaars; Boot,
Slop, Tag and Rag Marts and Depositories--all in their compartments,
kin with kin, and like with like; and everything is made to clear
out of the way, and all is smoothed down; all subsides into order
and rule, and not very late at night--quiet.

The Tartars do the most of the work.

They are the descendants of the old warriors of Genghis Khan and
Timour the Lame, of the ruthless savages who for 200 years overran
all Russia, spreading death and desolation wherever their coursers'
hoofs trod, making slaves of the people, and tributary vassals of
their Princes; but, who by their short-sighted policy favoured the
rise of that dynasty of Moscow Grand Princes, who presently became
strong enough to extend their sway both over Russ and Tartar.

The great merchants of Moscow and St. Petersburg or their
representatives and partners come here for a few days, partners and
clerks taking up the task by turns, according as business allows
them absence from their chief establishments.

They bring here no goods, but merely samples of goods--tea, cotton,
woollen and linen tissues, silk, cutlery, jewellery, and generally
all articles of European (home Russian) manufacture.

They have most of them good apartments in the upper floors of their
warehouses; they see their customers, mostly provincial retail
dealers; they show their samples, drive their bargains, receive
orders, attend on 'Change (for they have a _Bourse_ at the fair,
near the bridge), smoke indoors (for in the streets that indulgence
is forbidden all over the fair for fear of fire), lunch or dine
together often by mutual invitation.

They are gentlemenly men, young men for the most part (for their
elders are at home minding the main business), young Russians or
Russified Germans, some of whom adopt and even affect and exaggerate
Russian feeling and habits; young men to whom it seems to be a
principle that easy-made money should be readily spent; leisurely,
business young men, who sit up late and get up later, take the world
and its work and pleasure at their ease; understand little and
care even less about politics; profess to be neither great readers
nor great thinkers; but are, as a rule, free-handed, hospitable,
sociable, most amiable, and anything rather than unintelligent men.

Of all the articles of trade which come to court public favour
in Nijni, the most important and valuable is tea; and although
the Moscow merchants, by the excellence of their sea-faring tea,
chiefly imported from Odessa or through England, have almost entirely
driven from the market the caravan tea, still about one-tenth of
the enormous quantity of tea sold here is grown in the north of
China, and comes overland from Kiakhta, the city on the border
between the Asiatic-Russian and the Celestial Empire.

I was curious to compare the taste of some of the very best qualities
of both kinds, and was brought to the conclusion, confirmed by the
opinion of gentlemen interested in the sale of sea-faring tea,
that, although some of their own is more high-flavoured and stronger,
there is in the Kiakhta tea an exquisite delicacy, which will always
receive in its favour a higher price. The difference, I am told,
mainly arises from the fact that the caravan tea, exposed to the
air during its twelve months' journey in loose and clumsy and
much-shaken paper and sheep-skin bundles, gets rid of the tannin
and other gross substances, a process of purification which cannot
be effected in the necessarily sealed and hermetically-closed boxes
in which it reaches Europe by the sea-route; so that if sea-faring
tea, like port-wine, easily recommends itself to the taste and
nerves of a strong, hard-working man, a dainty, refined lady will
give preference to a cup of Kiakhta tea, as she would to a glass
of Château Yquem.

The interest of a European, however, would be chiefly attracted
by what is less familiar in his own part of the world; and, short
of an actual journey to the remote regions of Siberia and Central
Asia, nothing is calculated to give him a more extensive idea of
the produce of those Trans-Uralian Russian possessions than a survey
of the goods they send here for sale.

What astonishes a stranger at first sight is the quantity. You may
walk for hours along yards and sheds, the repositories of iron from
Siberia. You pass hundreds of shops of malachite and lapis-lazuli,
and a variety of gold and silver work and precious stones from the
Caucasus, cut with all the minute diligence of Asiatic skill. You
will see Turkish carpets, Persian silks, and above all things the
famous Orenburg shawls, so finely knitted, and with such patience
that one can (they say, but I have not made the experiment), be
made to pass through a lady's ring, though they be so broad on
all sides as to wrap the lady all around from head to foot.

One may, besides, have his choice of hundreds and thousands of
those delightful curiosities and knickknacks, recommendable less
for their quaintness than for the certainty one feels that there
is no possible use in the world they may be put to.

There is no novelty at Nijni; no new shape, pattern, or colour
just coming out to catch popular favour; no unknown mechanical
contrivance; no discovery likely to affect human progress and brought
here for the entertainment of the intelligent, un-commercial visitor.
There are only the shop-keeper and his customer, though it is a
wholesale shop and on a very large scale.

The fair, moreover, has not the duration that is generally allowed
for an Exhibition.


Though officially opened on the 27th of July, the fair does not
begin in good earnest till the 18th of August; and it reaches its
height on the 27th, when accounts are settled, and payments ensue;
after which, goods are removed, and the grounds cleared; only a
portion of the business lingering throughout September.

About half a score of days, out of the two months during which the
fair is held, are all that may have attraction for the generality
of strangers. And although many come from all parts of Russia, and
from foreign countries, I do not think they tarry here for pleasure
beyond two or three days.

It would be interesting to anticipate what change a few weeks will
effect in this scene which is now so full of life, bustle, and
gaiety; this stage, where so great a variety of human beings from
nearly all regions of the world, with their money or money's worth,
with their hopes and fears, their greed and extravagance, all their
good and evil instincts and faculties at play.

In a few weeks the flags will be furled, the tents struck; the
pontoon-bridge removed; the shops closed; hotels, bazaars, and
churches, all private and public edifices, utterly deserted and
silent; and every house stripped of the last stick of valuable
furniture; every door locked, barred, and sealed; the place left
to take care of itself.

For autumn rains and spring thaws must set in, when the seven or
eight square miles of the ground of the fair, as well as the country
to an immense extent, will be under water.




It is hardly possible to travel on the Volga without falling in
love with the great river at first sight.

The range of low hills which we had on our right as we descended
the Oka continued now on the same side as we came down the Volga.
The Volga, however, has nothing of the wild, erratic instincts
of its tributary. It is a grand, calm, dignified stream, keeping
to its course as a respectable matron, and gliding down in placid
loveliness, without weir or leap, fall or rapids, or break of any
kind--a fine, broad, almost unrippled sheet of water, with an even,
steady, and grandly monotonous flow, like that of the stanzas of

Its width, so far as eye can judge, does not greatly exceed that
of the Thames at Gravesend, but it is always the same from the
bridge at Twer above Moscow to the only other bridge, one mile
in length, between Syzran and Samara; everywhere the same "full
bumper" for a run of 2,000 English miles.

Though the Volga is numbered among the European rivers, and has
its sources on the Valdaï hills between the European cities, St.
Petersburg and Moscow, it is a frontier stream, and seemed intended
to form the natural line of demarcation between two parts of the
world--between two worlds.

Up to the middle of the Sixteenth Century, Kasan was the advanced
guard of the Tartar hordes. These wandering tribes, which, profiting
by dissensions among the Russian princes, overcame and overran
all Russia, weakened in their turn by division, fell back from
the main part of the invaded territory, but still held for some
time their own on the Volga, from Kasan to Astrakhan, till they
were utterly routed and brought under Russian sway by Ivan the

Even then, however, though their strength was broken, their spirit
was untamed. The men of high warrior caste who survived their defeat
sought a refuge among their kindred tribes further east, at Samarkand,
Bokhara, and Khiva, where the Russians have now overtaken them; but
a large part of the mere multitude laid aside without giving up
their arms, passively accepted without formally acknowledging the
Tsar's sway, and abided in their tents,--swallowed at once, but
very leisurely digested, by the all-absorbing Russian civilization.

Large bodies of the nation, however, migrated _en masse_ from time
to time, the lands they left vacant being rapidly filled up by
bands of Cossacks, and by foreign (chiefly German), colonists.

For more than three centuries, though already mistress of Siberia
and victorious in remote Asia, Russia proper might be considered as
ending at the Volga; so that most of the older and most important
towns south of Kasan and north of Astrakhan, such as Simbirsk,
Syzran, Volsk, Saratof, Kamyshin, and Tsaritzin, lie on the right,
or Russo-European bank of the stream.

Tsaritzin is at the head of the Delta of the Volga, and it lies 580
versts above Astrakhan, which is said to be at the river's mouth,
but which is still 150 versts from the roadstead or anchorage,
called the Nine Feet Station; the spot on the Caspian where sea
navigation really begins.

At Tsaritzin we might have fancied ourselves in some brand-new
town in one of the remote backwoods of America. It was nothing of
a place before the railway reached it. No one can foretell what
it may become before the locomotive travels past it. For under
present circumstances all the postal service, the light goods and
time-saving passenger traffic from all parts of Russia to Astrakhan,
the Caspian and the Trans-Caspian region, or _vice versâ_, must
pass between the Tsaritzin pier on the Volga and the platforms
of the Tsaritzin railway station.

We did not see much of the upstart town, for the horrible clouds
of thick, dung-impregnated dust would not allow us to keep our
eyes open. But we perceived that almost every trace of what was
once little better than a second rate fortress and a village was
obliterated; the old inhabitants were nowhere, and a bustling set
of new settlers were sharing the broad area among themselves, taking
as much of it as suited their immediate wants, and extending it to
the utmost limits of their sanguine expectations; drawing lines
of streets at great distances, tracing the sides of broad squares
and crescents, and laying the foundations of what would rise in
time into shops and houses, hotels, bazaars, theatres and churches.

Tzaritzin when we saw it was merely the embryo of a city. Those
that may visit it a score of years hence will tell us what they
find it.

Two more nights and a day down the sluggish waters of the main
channel of the Volga landed us on the tenth day after our departure
from Nijni-Novgorod, at Astrakhan, where we stayed a whole week.

From Tsaritzin to Astrakhan the Volga flows through the Steppe,
the great Asiatic grass desert extending from the Caucasus to the
frontier of China. The wild tenants of this wilderness, the various
tribes of Tartars, once the terror of East and West, were like a vast
ocean of human beings swayed to and fro by nomadic and predatory
instincts, which for centuries threatened to overwhelm and efface
every vestige of the world's civilization.

The Russians who were first invested and overpowered by the flood,
were able by the valour and more by the craft of their princes,
first to stem the tide, then to force it back, and in the end to
rear such bulwarks as might for ever baffle its fury, and prevent
its further onset.

Such bulwarks were once the strong places of Kasan and Astrakhan,
the former seats of Tartar hordes, which the Tsars of Moscow made
their bases of operations for the indefinite extension of their
civilized empire over Tartar barbarism.

For the experience of centuries had proved that the Steppe was not
everywhere and altogether an irreclaimable land, nor the Tartars
an utterly untameable race.

Astrakhan, like Kasan, is a Russian town, of whose 50,000 inhabitants
one-fourth or one-fifth at least are tamed Tartars, and the sands
around which can be made to yield grapes and peaches, and a profusion
of melons and watermelons. Beyond the immediate neighbourhood,
over the whole province or "Government" of Astrakhan, stretches
the vast land of the Steppe, the wide and thin pasture-grounds on
which the Tartar tribes roam at will with their flocks; a pastoral
set of men; without fixed homes, and, in our sense of the word,
without laws; and yet perfectly harmless and peaceful--exempt,
at least till very lately, from military service, and only paying
a tribute of 45,000 roubles, at so much a head for each horse,
ox, or camel, ranging over an extent of 7,000,000 dessiatines
(20,000,000 acres) of land, an area of 224,514 kilometers, or about
half of that of France, with a population, including that of the
capital, of 601,514 inhabitants.

Astrakhan is a modern town, with the usual broad, straight streets,
most of them boasting no other pavement than sand, with brick
side-walks, much worn and dilapidated, and, like those of Buenos
Ayres and many other American cities, so raised above the roadway
as to require great attention from those who do not wish to run
the risk of broken shins.

The town has its own Kremlin, apart from the citadel. The Kremlin
is a kind of cathedral-close, with the cathedral and the archbishop's
palace, and several monasteries and priests' habitations. The whole
town, besides, and the environs, as usual in Russia, muster more
churches than they can number priests or worshippers.

In a walk of two or three miles I took outside the town and as
far as the cemeteries, I had a scattered group of at least half
a score of churches all around me, but there was scarcely a human
habitation within sight.

The governor's palace is a low building over a row of shops in the
main square of the city. The square itself and the thoroughfares were
enveloped in thick clouds of blinding dust, almost as troublesome as
that of Tsaritzin; but on the whole, the place is less unclean than
one might expect from a population made up of Russians, Tartars,
Calmucks, Persians, Armenians and Jews.

The Volga and the hundred channels which constitute its delta,
and the northern shores of the Caspian Sea into which they flow,
yield more fish than the coasts of Norway and Newfoundland put
together. The nets employed in catching them would, if laid side
by side on the ground in all their length, extend over a line of
40,000 versts, or twice the distance from St. Petersburg to Tashkend
and back. The annual produce of these Astrakhan fisheries--sturgeon,
sterlet, salmon, pike, shad, etc.--amounts to 10,000,000 puds of
fish (the pud thirty-six English pound weight) of the value of
20,000,000 roubles, the herrings alone yielding a yearly income
of 4,000,000 roubles. With the exception of the caviare, which is
sold all over the world, the produce of these fisheries, salted
or pickled, is destined for home consumption, and travels all over
the empire, although as far as I have been, I have found everywhere
the waters equally well-stocked by nature with every description
of fish; a provident dispensation, since the Russian clergy, like
the Roman Catholic, are indefatigable in their promotion of what
they call "the Apostles' trade," by their injunction of 226 fast
or fish days throughout the year.

The Delta of the Volga and the Caspian Sea lie twenty-five metres
below the level of the Black Sea.

The city of Astrakhan, placed on the left bank of the main channel
of the Delta, and, as I said, 150 versts above its anchorage, becomes
like an island in the midst of a vast sea when the Volga comes down
in its might with the thaw of the northern ice in late spring;
and most of its lowest wards would be overwhelmed were it not for
the dikes that encompass it like a town in Holland.

The eight principal branches and the hundred minor channels and
outlets of the Delta, breaking up the land into a labyrinth of
hundreds of islets, are then blended together in one watery surface,
out of which only the crests of these islets emerge with isolated
villages, with log-huts and long whitewashed buildings, and high-domed
churches, all dammed and diked up like the town itself--Tartar
villages, Calmuck villages, Cossack villages, all or most of them
fishers' homes and fishing establishments--a population of 20,000
to 30,000 souls being thus scattered on the bare sand-hills and
dunes; men of all race, colour, and faith, all employed in the
same fishing pursuit; the Tartars and Calmucks usually as rank
and file, the Russians and other Europeans as overseers, foremen,
and skilled labourers.

From Astrakhan, the queen of the Steppes, to Tiflis the queen of
the Caucasus, we had a choice of routes.

Tourists from England, or from any part of Western Europe, may
easily visit the great mountain-chain on which Prometheus was found,
by crossing the Black Sea from Constantinople or from Odessa, and
landing at Poti, where the Russians have constructed a railway
to Tiflis, once the capital of Georgia, now the residence of the
Governor-General of the whole Caucasus region.

A traveller from the north, bound to the same goal, can take the
train at Moscow, and come down by rail, _via_ Rostov-on-the-Don,
all the way to Vladikavkas, a distance of 1,803 versts; and about
200 additional versts, by post, over a good military road, and
across the main Caucasian chain, will bring him from Vladikavkas
to Tiflis.

But we had descended the Volga, and were now near its mouth. We
had to go down the Volga to the Nine Feet Station below Astrakhan,
embark there on the Caspian Sea, and cross over either to Baku,
whence we could go by post round the mountain-chain at its southern
extremity as far as Tiflis; or land at Petrofsk, and travel along
the chain to Vladikavkas and the good military road across the
chain to Tiflis.

We gave our preference to the last-named route.

We left Astrakhan at ten in the evening on board a heavy barge
belonging to the Caucasus and Mercury steam-navigation company,
towed by a tug down stream at the rate of five or six miles an

We were all that afternoon and night, and part of the following
day, descending the main channel of the Volga, and it was past
noon before we reached the Nine Feet Station, for so they call
the roadstead above which vessels of more than nine feet draught
dare not venture.

All sight of land, of the seventy larger islands of the Delta,
and even of the minor islets, and of the lowest sand-banks, had
been lost for several hours, and we were here in the open sea,
though scarcely beyond the boundary that the Creator has elsewhere
fixed between land and water. For the Station which, if I can allow
myself an apparent Irishism, is a moveable one, has to be pushed
forward almost day by day as the sands of the Volga silt up far
beyond the choked-up lands of the Delta, encroaching with a steady
inroad on the depths of the waves; the Steppe everywhere widening
as the sea dwindles, and suggesting the thought that the whole
region that is now Steppe must in remote ages have been sea, and
that whatever is now sea, must in time become Steppe.

Indeed, it seems not impossible to calculate how many years or
centuries it may take for the sands of the Volga, aided by those of
the Ural and the Emba on the eastern, and of the Kuma, the Terek,
and the Kur or Kura, with its tributary the Aras, on the western
shore, to fill up the land-locked Caspian, though its extreme depth,
according to the Gazetteers, is 600 feet, and the area covered by
it probably exceeds 180,000 square miles, a surface as large as
that of Spain.

Kasan, once the residence of a redoubted horde, was probably, under
Tartar sway, in a great measure a mere encampment, chiefly a city of
tents; for whatever the guide-books may say, there is no positive
evidence of its present buildings belonging to a date anterior to
the Russian Conquest.

Its situation probably recommended itself to the Tartars chiefly
on the score of strength; for although it stands high above the
river, its present distance from it is at least three miles, and
it is surrounded by a sandy and marshy plain, intersected by the
channels of the Kasana river, erratic water-courses which may have
proved sufficient obstacles to the onset of an invader, but which
raise no less serious hindrances to the conveyance of goods from
the landing-place to the town; an inconvenience hitherto not removed
by the tramway, as it as yet only carries passengers.

Kasan is on the main line of communication between Central Russia
and Siberia.

The travellers bound to that bourne embark here on steamers that go
down the Volga as far as its confluence with the Kama, a tributary
stream, and thence ascend the Kama, which is navigable all the
way to Perm. From Perm a railway runs up to the Pass of the Ural
mountains to Ekaterinenburg, probably to be in course of time continued
to Tiumen, Tobolsk, Tomsk, Irkutsk, the Baikal Lake, the Chinese
frontier at Kiakhta, the banks of the Amoor, and the shores of
the Pacific Ocean.

Along this route it is calculated that some £3,000,000 worth of
merchandise are brought yearly from Siberia down the Kama and up
the Volga to the Nijni-Novgorod fair.

Kasan is a highly flourishing city. It has a population of 90,000
to 100,000 inhabitants, one-fourth of whom are Tartars.

These descendants of the old Nomad race are now here at home, and
live in the city perfectly at peace with their Russian fellow-subjects,
though being Mahometans, they have distinct, if not separate, quarters,
and mosques and a burial-ground of their own. It would seem impossible
for two races which have so little reason for mutual good-will, to
show so little disposition to quarrel. But it should be remembered
that Sclav and Tartar were not in former times so far asunder in
manners, in language, in polish, nor so free from admixture in
blood as the Russians fondly believe.

The town has its Kremlin, on the site of the old citadel, with
its cathedral and other churches, and several "telescope towers,"
if they may be so called, built on several stories, dwindling in
size from floor to floor as they rise one above the other, so that
one can conceive how they might easily sink into one another and
shut up like a spy-glass. The great brick tower of Pier Crescenzi
in Rome is such a tower; and here are many in the same style at
Moscow and in most other old Russian cities. Kasan has several public
edifices of some pretension: the Admiralty; the University--one of
the seven of the Empire, etc. But we had enough of it all after
two or three hours, and were glad to shun the heat of the rest
of the day in the cool sitting-room of Commonen's Hotel, which
alone may be taken as a voucher for the high degree of civilization
reached by Kasan.

We gave even less time to the other cities of the Volga, not thinking
it always worth while to alight at all the stations, though the
steamer stopped at some of these for many a long, weary hour.

With the exception of Kasan, Samara, and Astrakhan, the most important
cities are, as I said, on the right or Russian bank of the River;
and three of them, Syzran, Saratof, and Tsaritzin, are connected
by various railways with Moscow and all the other important centres
of life in the Empire.

The Volga, which between Nijni-Novgorod and Kasan flows in an almost
straight easterly direction, takes a turn to the southward after
leaving Kasan and the confluence of the Kama; but it makes a loop
below Simbirsk, turning eastward to Samara, and again west to Syzran,
after which it resumes its southerly course to Saratof, Tsaritzin,
and Astrakhan.

The railway from Moscow to Syzran, upon reaching Syzran, crosses
the Volga on an iron bridge, one verst and a half, or one English
mile, in length, and high enough to allow the largest steamer pass
without lowering its funnel--a masterpiece of engineering greatly
admired by the people here, who describe it as the longest bridge
in Russia and in the world.

We went under it at midnight by a dim moonlight which barely allowed
us to see it looming in the distance not much bigger than a
telegraph-wire drawn all across the valley, the gossamer line of
the bridge and all the landscape round striking us as dreamlike
and unreal.

After crossing the river the railway proceeds to Samara, and hence
419 versts further to Orenburg, a large and thriving place on the
Ural river, the spot from which the straightest and probably the
shortest way is, or will be, open to all parts of Siberia or Central
Asia; preferable, I should think, to that of Perm and Ekaterinenburg
above-mentioned, which is now the most frequented route.

Beyond Syzran and Samara the river scenery, which has hitherto
been verdant, assumes a southerly aspect; the hill-sides sloping
to the river have a parched and faded brown look; the hill-tops are
bared and seamed with chalky ravines; every trace of the forests
has disappeared; and it is only at rare intervals that the banks
are clad with the verdure of the new growth.


From Nijni to Tsaritzin we have stopped at more than thirty different
stations, and no pen could describe the stir and bustle of goods
and passengers that awaited us at every wharf and pier.

Several of these stations are towns of 50,000 to 100,000 inhabitants,
and, besides their corn trade and tobacco, they all deal in some
articles of necessity or luxury, of which they produce enough for
their own, if not always for their neighbours', consumption.

Everywhere one sees huge buildings--steam flour-mills,
tobacco-factories, salt-mines, soap and candle factories, tanneries--and
last, not least, palaces for the sale of _koumiss_ or fermented
mare's milk, a sanitary beverage; and extensive establishments,
especially near Samara, for the _koumiss_ cure,--fashionable resorts
as watering-places, frequented by persons affected by consumption,
and other real or imaginary ailments.

There is something appalling in the thought that all this busy,
and, on the whole, merry life on the banks of the Volga must come
to a dead stand-still for six or seven months in the year. I have
been vainly taxing my brain to guess what may become of the captains,
mates and crews of the 700 steamers, and of the 5,000 heavy barges
with which the river is now swarming; of the porters, agents, clerks,
and other officials at the various stations; of the thousands of
women employed to carry all the firewood from the piers to the
steam-boats. What becomes of all these, and of the men and horses
toiling at the steam-row and tow-boats on the Oka, the Kama, the Don,
the Dnieper, and a hundred other rivers during the long season in
which the vast plains of Russia are turned into a howling wilderness
of snow and ice from end to end?

Railway communication and sledge-driving may, by doubling their
activity, afford employment to some of the men and beasts who would
otherwise be doomed to passive and torpid hybernation. But much of
the work that is practicable in other countries almost throughout
the year--nearly all that is done in the open air--suffers here
grievous interruption.

What should we think in England of a six months' winter, in which
the land were as hard as a rock, in which all the cattle had to
be kept within doors, in which the bricklayer's trowel and the
road-mender's roller had to be laid aside?

And, by way of compensation, what mere human bone and muscle can
stand the crushing labour by which the summer months, with their
long days of twenty hours' sunlight, must make up for the winter's
forced idleness; in a climate too, where, as far as my own experience
goes, the heat is hardly less oppressive and stifling than in the
level lands of Lombardy or the Emilia?



From Yalta to Sebastopol there are two routes. One strikes across
the Yaïla hills to Simpheropol, whence we could proceed by rail to
Sebastopol; the other runs along the coast, high up on the hills,
to the Baidar Gate and through the Baidar Valley leading to Balaclava
and the other well-known spots encompassing the ruins of what was
once the great naval station of the Russians on the Black Sea.

We chose the coast route, and travelled for five hours in the afternoon
over forty-eight versts of the most singular road in the world.

It rambles up and down along the side of the hills--as a road did
once on the beautiful Cornice along the Ligurian Riviera--midway
between the upper hill crest and the sea, having on the right the
mountains, a succession of wall-like, perpendicular, hoary cliffs,
between 1,500 feet and 2,000 feet high, a great wall riven into
every variety of fantastic shapes of bastions, towers, and pyramids,
all bare and rugged, crumbling here and there into huge boulders,
strewn along the slopes down to the road, across the road, and
further down to the water-edge, a scene which might befit the
battle-field of the Titans against the gods; and on the left the
wide expanse of the waters, with a coast like a fringe of little
glens and creeks and headlines, and the sun's glitter on the waves
like Dante's "_tremolar della marina_" on the shore of Purgatory.

Between the road and the sea far below us, in the distance, embosomed
in woods still untouched by the autumn frosts, lay the marine villas
of Livadia, Orianda, Alupka, etc., very Edens, where on their first
annexation of the Crimea the wealthy Russians sought a refuge against
the horrors of their wintry climate; more recently, Imperial
residences--Livadia, the darling of the late Emperor; Orianda,
now a mere wreck from the recent conflagration, the seat of the
Grand Duke Constantine; Alupka, the abode of Prince Woronzoff, the
son of the benevolent genius of these districts, the road-maker,
the patron of Yalta, the second founder of Odessa.

A scene of irresistible enchantment is the whole of what the Russians
emphatically call their "southern coast." And, as if to enhance
its charm by contrast, everything changes as you pass the Baidar
Gate, and when you have crossed the Baidar Valley the balmy air
becomes raw and chill, the bald mountains tame and common-place,
and the long descent is through an ashy-gray country, swept over by
an icy blast, saddened by a lowering sky, unrelieved by a flower, a
bush, or a cottage. So marvellous is the power of mere position, so
great the difference between the two sides of the same mountain-wall!
You pass at once from a garden to a steppe.

Away from these sheltering rocks, away from the southern slopes
of the Caucasian ridges, you are in Russia. The only mountains
throughout all the rest of the Tsar's European territories are
the Urals, which nowhere reach even the heights of the Apennines,
which do not form everywhere a continuous chain, and which run in
almost a straight line from north to south. From the icy pole the
wind sweeping over the frozen ocean and the snowy wastes of the
northern provinces finds nowhere a hindrance to its cruel blasts,
and spreads its chill over the whole land with such steady keenness
as to make the climate of the exposed parts of the Black Sea coast
almost as wintry as that of the White Sea. At Odessa in the early
days of October both our hotel and the private houses we had occasion
to enter had already put up double doors and windows, and people
lived in apartments as hermetically closed as if their homes had
been in St. Petersburg.

We slept at Baidar, a Tartar village, where a maiden of that Moslem
race was the only attendant at the Russian inn, and on the morrow
we drove in three hours to Sebastopol, a distance of forty-two

Sebastopol has still not a little of that Pompeian look which it
bore on the day after its surrender to the Western Allies in 1856.
We drove through miles of ruins, the roofless walls staring at
us from the dismantled doors and windows, the dust from the
rubbish-heaps of brick and mortar blinding us at every turning
of the streets, though, we were told, the city is looking up and
thriving, and both house-rent and building-ground are rising in
price from day to day.

We had to wait two days for the "Olga," detained by stress of weather,
and it was with a hope of enlivening ourselves that, under the
escort of the English Consul, a Crimean veteran who takes care of
the heroic dead, and actually lives with as well as for them, we
drove out to some of the eleven English cemeteries, to the house
where Lord Raglan died, and the monument marking the spot where
"the six hundred rode into the jaws of death"--those localities
made forever memorable by a war than which none was ever undertaken
with less distinct aims, none fought with greater valour, none
brought to an end with less important results.

We left Sebastopol at three in the afternoon in the "Olga," and
landed at Odessa in the morning at ten. Throughout the first week
after our arrival, we never caught a single glimpse of the sun.
Odessa, like Sebastopol, like Kertch, like Astrakhan, and other
places lying on the edge of the Russian Steppe, seems habitually,
under the influence of the wind in peculiar quarters, to be haunted
by fogs that set in at sunrise and only sometimes clear off after
sunset. During this gloomy state of the atmosphere the night is
usually warmer than the day.


Odessa has a magnificent position, for it lies high on ravines,
which give it a wide command over its large harbour, lately improved,
as well as on the open sea and coast, the striking feature of the
place being its _boulevard_, a terrace or platform about 500 yards in
length, laid out and planted as a promenade, looking out seawards and
accessible by a flight of stairs of 150 steps from the landing-place.

Odessa is not an old town, but it looks brand-new, for there has
been of late a great deal of building, and the crumbling nature
of the stone keeps the mason and white-washer perpetually at work.
It is lively, though monotonous, for its broad, straight streets
are astir with business, and the rattle of hackney-carriages,
heavy-laden vans, and tramway-cars is incessant. It boasts many
private palaces and has few public edifices, and in its municipal
institutions it is, or used to be, taxed with consulting rather
more the purposes of luxury and ornament than the real wants of
the people or the interests of charity.

Odessa is in Russia, but not of Russia, for among its citizens, we
are told, possibly with exaggeration, more than one-third (70,000)
are Jews, besides 10,000 Greeks and Germans, and Italians in good
number. It is unlike any other Russian city, for it is tolerably
well paved, has plenty of drinking-water, and rows of trees--however
stunted, wind-nipped, and sickly--in every street. It is not Russian,
because few Russians succeed here in business; but strenuous efforts
are made to Russify it, for the names of the streets, which were
once written in Italian as well as in Russian, are now only set up
in Russian, unreadable to most foreign visitors; and the so-called
"Italian Street" (Strada Italiana), reminding one of what the town
owes to its first settlers, has been rebaptized as "Pushkin Street."
Of the three French newspapers which flourished here till very
lately, not one any longer exists, for whatever is not Russian
is discountenanced and tabooed in a town which, in spite of all,
is not and never will be, Russian. French is, nevertheless, more
generally understood than in most Russian cities, but Italian is
dying off here as in all the Levant and the north coast of Africa,
Italy losing as a united nation such hold as she had as a mere
nameless cluster of divided states.

It is difficult to foresee what results the great change that is
visibly going on in the economical and commercial conditions of
the Russian Empire may have on the destinies of Odessa.

Half a century ago, if we may trust the statistics of the _Journal
d' Odessa_, this city had only the third rank among the commercial
places of Russia. At the head of all then was St. Petersburg, whose
harbour was frequented by 1,500 to 2,000 vessels, the exports being
100,000,000 to 120,000,000 roubles, and the imports 140,000,000
to 160,000,000 roubles. Next in importance came Riga, with 1,000
to 1,500 vessels, 35,000,000 to 50,000,000 roubles exports, and
15,000,000 to 20,000,000 roubles imports; and Odessa, as third,
received 600 to 800 vessels, her exports amounting from 25,000,000
to 30,000,000 roubles, and her imports from 20,000,000 to 25,000,000
roubles. The relative commercial importance of the three ports
was, therefore, as twenty-five to six and five.

Matters have undergone a considerable alteration since then. St.
Petersburg, whose imports and exports doubled in amount those of
all the other ports of the Empire put together, has been gradually
declining, the ports of Esthonia, Livonia, and Courland threatening
to deprive her inconvenient harbour of a great part of the Baltic
trade, and the centre of general business being rapidly removed
from the present seat of Government to the old capital, Moscow.
Riga, also, has been and is slowly sinking from its high position
in the Baltic, and may, perhaps, eventually succumb to the active
rivalry of Revel and Libau. Odessa, on the contrary, has been looking
up for these many years, absorbing nearly all the Russian trade in
the Black Sea, and rapidly rising from the third to the second
rank as a seaport.

The main cause of the rise and progress of Odessa was owing to the
development of agricultural enterprise in the provinces of what
is called "Little" and "New Russia," or the "Black Earth Country"
the granary of the Empire and for a long time of all Europe.

Beyond the steppes which encompass the whole southern seacoast of
Russia, from the Sea of Azof to the Danube, there spreads far inland
a fertile region, embracing the whole or part of the Governments
of Podolia, Poltava, Kharkof, Kief, Voronei, Don Cossacks, etc.,
including the districts of what was once known as the "Ukraine,"
which was for many years debatable land between Poland, Turkey,
and Russia, and on which roamed the mongrel bands of the Cossacks,
an uncouth population recruited among the many tramps and vagabonds
from the northern provinces, mixed with all the races of men with
whom they came into contact, settling here and there in new, loose,
and almost lawless communities, organized as military colonies,
and perpetually shifting their allegiance from one to the other
of these three Powers, till the policy and good fortune of Peter
the Great and Catherine II. extended the sway of Russia over the
whole territory.

At the close of the last century, and contemporaneously with the
foundation of Odessa (1794), the bountiful nature of the soil of
this region became known, and the country was overrun by colonists
from "Great" or "Northern Russia," from Germany, and from Bulgaria
and Wallachia; and its rich harvests were soon sufficient, not
only to satisfy, but to exceed the wants of the whole Empire.

Odessa, endowed by its founder, Catherine II., with the privilege
of a free port, which it enjoyed till after the war of the Crimea,
monopolized during that time the export of the produce of this
southern land, consisting chiefly of grain and wool; and its prosperity
went on, always on the increase--affected only temporarily by wars
and bad harvests--to such an extent that the total value of the
exports, which was, in round numbers, about 52,000,000 roubles in
1871, rose to 86,000,000 roubles in 1878, to 88,000,000 roubles
in 1879, and fell, owing to the bad harvest, to 56,000,000 roubles
in 1880.

The Odessa trade was for a long time in the hands of Greek and Italian
merchants, the original settlers in the town at its foundation, the
produce being, before the invention of steamers, conveyed to Italy,
France and England in Italian bottoms. But, of late years, preference
being given to steamers over sailing vessels, and the Italians,
either failing to perceive the value of time and the importance
of the revolution that steam had effected, or lacking capital to
profit by it, allowed the English to have the lion's share of the
Black Sea trade, so that, in 1879, the English vessels entering
the port of Odessa were 549 steamers and four sailing vessels, with
500,000 tons, while the Italians had only fifty steamers and 119
sailing vessels, with 85,700 tons. Next to the English were, in
the same year, the Austrians (eighty-seven steam and 119 sailing
vessels, 119,000 tons). The Russians, at home here, had 150 steam
and eight sailing vessels and 180,000 tons.

Odessa, however, though she had so much of the trade to herself,
had not of late years the whole of it. As the means of land and
water conveyance improved, and especially after the construction of
railways, a number of minor rivals arose all along the coast--Rostov,
at the mouth of the Don; Taganrog, Mariupol or Marianopolis, and
Berdianski, on the north coast of the Sea of Azof, where Greek
colonies are flourishing; Kherson, at the mouth of the Dnieper;
Nicolaief, at the mouth of the Bug; and others. Odessa was thus
reduced to the trade of the region to the west of the last-named
river, having lost that of the provinces of Poltava, Kharkof, Kursk,
Orel, Ekaterinoslaf, etc., and only retaining Kherson, Bessarabia,
Volhynia, Kief, etc., which would still be sufficient for her commercial

But Odessa is threatened with a new and far more formidable rival
in Sebastopol. Sebastopol, with all its inlets, is by far the most
perfect harbour in the Black Sea, and has the inestimable advantage
that it never freezes, while in Odessa the ice brings all trade
to a standstill for two or three weeks every winter, and all the
ports of Azof and the mouths of the rivers are frozen from November
to March or even mid-April. Sebastopol has the additional advantage
of being in the most direct and nearest communication by rail with
Kharkof, the very heart of the Black Earth Country, and with Moscow,
the centre of the Russian commercial and industrial business.

The people in Sebastopol have hopes that the Imperial Government,
giving up all thought of bringing back their great Black Sea naval
station from Nicolaief to its former seat, may not be unwilling that
their fine harbour be turned to the purposes of trading enterprise,
and even to favour it for a few years with the privileges of a free

[Illustration: SEBASTOPOL.]

The citizens of Odessa, on the other hand, scout such expectations
as over-sanguine, if not quite chimerical, laugh to scorn the idea
that the Government may at any time lay aside its intention of
going back with its naval establishment to Sebastopol; and, in
that case, they contend that the juxtaposition of a commercial
with an Imperial naval port would be as monstrous a combination
as would be in France that of Marseilles and Toulon, or in England
that of Portsmouth and Liverpool, in one and the same place.

They add that the railway between Moscow and Sebastopol is
ill-constructed and almost breaking down; that, although it is
by some hundred miles shorter than that from Odessa to Moscow,
the express and mail trains are so arranged that the most rapid
communication between north and south is effected between Odessa
and St. Petersburg, which route is travelled over in less than
three days.

Whichever of the contending parties may have the best of the argument,
there is no doubt that, were even the Government to be favourable
to the wishes of the people of Sebastopol, there would be no just
reason for jealousy between the two cities, for Odessa has already
proved that she can manage to grow richer than ever upon one-half
of the trade of Southern Russia, while Sebastopol might safely
rely on carrying on the other half--that other half which is now
already in the hands of Taganrog, Mariupol, Nicolaief, etc. For
all these ports of Azof and the mouths of the rivers, besides being
closed by ice for at least four months in the year, are so shallow
that no amount of dredging can keep back the silting sands, and
vessels must anchor at distances of ten to twenty and even thirty
miles outside the harbours.



Coming from the north, the first town of any importance in Southern
Russia is Kursk, three hundred and thirty-five miles from Moscow
in an almost direct line, the railway passing through the cities
of Tula (the Russian Birmingham), and Orel, the centre of a rich
agricultural district connected by rail, on the west, with Riga
on the Baltic, and on the south-east with Tsaritzin on the Volga.
Authentic records attest the existence of Kursk in 1032, and in
1095 it was held by Isiaslaf, son of Vladimir Monomachus, from
whom it passed alternately to the Princes of Chernigof and of
Pereyaslasl. In the Thirteenth Century it was razed to the ground
by the Tartars. In 1586 the southern frontiers of Moscovy were
fortified, and Kursk became one of the principal places on that
line of defence against the Crimean Tartars and the Poles. Its
disasters and sufferings as a military outpost ceased only towards
the end of the Seventeenth Century, after Little Russia (the more
southerly districts watered by the Dnieper), submitted to the Tsar

We are now almost in the heart of the _Chernozem_, or black soil
country, so called from the rich black loam of which its surface
is composed to a depth of two and three yards and more. These vast
plains were known to Herodotus, Strabo, and other ancient geographers
only in their present _Steppe_, or flat and woodless condition. It
is a great relief to the eye to see at last a handsomely-built
city like Kursk, perched, relatively to the surrounding flatness,
on an elevation and almost smothered in the verdure of numerous
gardens. There is, however, not much to see within it, for even the
churches are mostly not older than the second half of the Eighteenth

The more southerly part of the province of Kursk is in the _Ukraine_,
or ancient border country. Its semi-nomadic population obtained in
early days the designation of Cossacks. This word is not Sclavonic,
but Turkish; and although it long denoted in Russia a free man, or,
rather, a man free to do anything he chose, it had been used by
the Tartar hordes to designate the lower class of their horsemen.
From the princes of the House of Rurik these southerly districts
passed into the possession of Lithuania, and, later, into those of
Poland. Little Russia was another arbitrary name anciently given
to a great part of what has been also known as the Ukraine. No fixed
geographical limits can be assigned to either of these designations,
and especially to the Ukraine of the Poles or the Muscovites; for
as the borders or marshes became safe and populated, they were
absorbed by the dominant power, and ultimately incorporated into
provinces. Little Russia is, in fact, a term now used only to denote
the Southern Russians as distinguished principally from the Great
Russians of the more central part of the empire.

There is a strongly-marked difference in the outward appearance,
the mode of life, and even the cast of thought of these two branches
of the Sclav race. The language of the Little Russian, or _Hohol_, as
he is contemptuously called by his more vigorous northern brother,
is a cross between the Polish and the Russian, although nearer akin
to the Muscovite than to the Polish tongue. Ethnographically, also,
the Little Russians become gradually fused with the White Russians of
the north-west (Mohilef and Vitebsk) and with the Slovaks of the
other side of the Carpathians. The _Malo-Ros_ (Little Russian)
is physically a better, though a less muscular man than the
_Veliko-Ros_, or Great Russian. He is taller, finer-featured, and
less rude and primitive in his domestic surroundings. The women
have both beauty and grace, and make the most of those qualities
by adorning themselves in neat and picturesque costumes, resembling
strongly those of the Roumanian and Transylvanian peasantry. Their
houses are not like those of other parts of Russia--log huts, full,
generally, of vermin and cockroaches; but wattled, thatched, and
whitewashed cottages, surrounded by gardens, and kept internally
in order and cleanliness.

Their lives are altogether more happy, although their songs, full
of deep feeling, and not without a vein of romance are, like those
of all Sclavs, plaintive and in the minor key. The men sing of
the daring exploits of their Cossack forefathers, who were not
free-booters like the old Cossacks of the Volga, but courageous
men engaged in a life-and-death struggle with nomadic hordes, and
later with internal enemies, Poles and rebels. The greater refinement
of the women of Little Russia is attributable to the comparative
ease of their lives in a fertile country, with a climate more genial
than that of the more northerly parts of the empire. There the
Great and the White Russians had to contend with a soil much less
productive, with swamps which had to be drained, with thick forests
which had to be cleared, with wild beasts which had to be destroyed
or guarded against, and with frost and snow that left scarcely
four months in the year for labour in the field.

The upper classes of South Russia, enriched by the cultivation of
large and fertile estates, and favoured in their social development
by long contact with the ancient Western civilization of Poland,
exhibit a similar superiority over the bulk of their compeers in
Great Russia. Except, however, in the case of the larger landed
proprietors, the everyday life of the Southern Russian bears a strong
resemblance to that of the Irish squireen. There is a strong tinge
of the same _insouciance_ as to the material future, and an equal
propensity to reckless hospitality, to sport (principally coursing),
social jollification, and to a great extent to card-playing. Indeed,
there are well-appointed country seats in the South of Russia in
which the long summer days are entirely spent in card-playing, with
interruptions only for meals. There are horses in plenty in the stable,
and vehicles of every description to which they can be harnessed;
but "taking a drive" through endless cornfields along natural roads
or tracks, parched, cracked, and dusty one day, and presenting
the next a surface of black mud, offers but few attractions to the
ladies, and vehicular locomotion is therefore resorted to only
as a matter of necessity, on journeys to estates or towns often
fifty to one hundred miles distant. Country life, indeed, has no
great attractions in any part of Russia Proper, and ever since the
Emancipation of the Serfs and the accompanying extinction of the
power and authority of the proprietary classes, absenteeism has been
largely on the increase, to the advantage solely of the principal
provincial towns, and of certain capitals and watering-places in
Western Europe. Thus, while Kursk and Kharkof owe much of their
riches and progress to the immigration of landed proprietors from
the northerly and eastern districts of the "Black Soil Zone," Kief is
the resort of more princely landlords of the south-western districts,
strongly and favourably affected by Polish culture.

Kharkof, to the east of Kief, is the principal seat of trade in
South Russia, being a centre from which the products and manufactures
of Northern and Central Russia are spread throughout the provinces
to the east and south, down even to the Caucasus.

Sugar, largely produced in this part of Russia from beet-root and
"bounty-fed," and corn, brandy, wool and hides from the central
provinces, are largely sold at the five fairs held each year at
Kharkof, which has also reason to be proud of its university with
upwards of six hundred students, and of its connection by rail with
the shores of the Baltic and those of the Black and Azof Seas.
In 1765, Kharkof became the capital of the Ukraine, after having
been a Cossack outpost town since 1647, when Poland finally ceded
the province to Muscovy. Anciently, this was the camping-ground of
nomadic tribes, particularly of the Khazars, and later the high
road of the Tartar invaders of Russia, whether from the Crimea or
the shores of the Caspian. In the province of Kharkof are found
those remarkable idols of stone which we have seen in the Historical
Museum at Moscow, and a vast number of tumuli, which have yielded
coins establishing the fact of an early intercourse both with Rome
and Arabia.

Poltava, also a place of extensive trade, principally in wool,
horses, and cattle, is familiar to us in connection with the defeat
of Charles XII. by Peter the Great in 1709. The centre of the field
so disastrous to the Swedes is marked by a mound which covers the
remains of their slain. Two monuments commemorate the victory.

At Ekaterinoslaf we are again on the great Dnieper. It was only
a village when Catherine II., descending the river from Kief in a
stately barge accompanied by Joseph II. of Austria, King Stanislaus
Augustus of Poland and a brilliant suite, raised it to the dignity
of a town bearing her own name. On that occasion she laid the first
stone of a cathedral which was not destined to be completed on
the imposing scale she had projected, and which has been reduced
to one-sixth in the edifice that was consecrated only in 1835.
The town consists of only one row of buildings, almost concealed
in gardens and running for nearly three miles parallel with the
Dnieper. Catherine's Palace, a bronze statue which represents her
clad in Roman armour and crowned, and the garden of her magnificent
favourite, Prince Potemkin, constitute the "sights" of Ekaterinoslaf,
the more striking feature of which, however, is its Jewish population,
huddled together in a special quarter between the river and the
bazaar. A considerable number of them pursue the favourite Jewish
occupation of money-changing, and the Ekaterinoslaf Prospekt is
dotted with their stands and their money-chests, painted blue and

A drive over forty miles of Steppe, somewhat relieved in its monotony
by numerous ancient tumuli, bring those who do not proceed by steamer
to the great naval station and commercial port of Nicolaief, at the
junction of the Ingul with the Bug. It was the site until 1775 of
a Cossack _setch_, or fortified settlement, and in 1789 it received
its present appellation in commemoration of the capture of Otchakof
from the Turks on the feast-day of St. Nicholas. Destined from
the first by Potemkin to be the harbour of a Russian fleet in the
Black Sea, temporarily neglected by the naval authorities, Nicolaief
reasserted its claim to that proud position after the fall of
Sebastopol. It owes much of its present affluence to the sound
administration of Admiral Samuel Greig, son of the admiral of Scotch
parentage who, with the aid of some equally gallant countrymen,
won for the Russians the naval battle of Chesmé in 1769. Next to
Odessa, Nicolaief is the handsomest town in New Russia, as this
part of the country was called after its conquest from the Turks
and Tartars. Its large trade, mostly in grain, has been greatly
promoted by the railway, which now connects this important harbour
with Kharkof and other rich agricultural centres.

Of the six ports on the neighbouring Sea of Azof, Taganrog, where
Alexander I. died in 1825, is the most considerable, although steamers
have to anchor at a considerable distance from it, owing to the
shallowness of the roadstead. The annual value of its exports of
corn, wool, tallow, etc., is about five millions sterling, and, as
at Nicolaief, British shipping is chiefly employed in the trade.
Much of the produce shipped here comes from Rostov-on-the-Don, the
chief centre of inland trade in the south-east provinces of Russia,
and one in which many industries (especially the manipulation of tobacco
grown in the Caucasus and the Crimea), are pursued. A short distance
above this great mart is Novocherkask, the capital of the "Country
of the Don Cossacks," anciently the abode of Scythians, Sarmatians,
Huns, Bolgars, Khazars and Tartars. The present population dates
from the Sixteenth Century, when renegades from Muscovy and vagrants
of every description formed themselves into Cossack, or robber
communities. They attacked the Tartars and Turks, and in 1637 took
the Turkish fortress of Azof. Under the reign of Peter the Great
the powerful and independent Cossacks were not much interfered with,
but from 1718 they were gradually brought under subjection to the
Tsar, whom they powerfully assisted in subsequent wars. The town
was founded in 1804, and is adorned with a bronze monument to the
famous Hetman (Ataman or chief) Platof, leader of the Cossacks between
1770 and 1816. It is usual to bestow on the Russian heir-apparent
the title of "Ataman" of the Don Cossacks. The last investiture
with Cossack _bâton_ took place in 1887, when also the reigning
Emperor confirmed, at a "circle," or open-air assemblage, all the
ancient rights and privileges of the warlike Cossacks of the Don.

[Illustration: KHARKOF.]

The chief town of the Kuban district is Ekaterinodar, a name which
signifies, literally, "Catherine's gift," from having been founded
by the sovereign of that name and bestowed, in 1792, together with
the adjacent territory, on the Zaporogian, subsequently known as the
Black Sea Cossacks. Catherine mistrusted their power and influence,
and tempted them to the Kuban with grants of land and other privileges.
The first service of some 20,000 of those new warrior settlers
consisted in barring all egress from the mountains, by means of a
"first fortified line" of stations that extended to Vladikavkas,
where they united with the descendants of the Grebenski Cossacks,
with whom they are not to be confounded. The predominant type amongst
the Zaporogians is still that of the Little Russians, the Grebenski
continuing to preserve their identity with the natives of Great
Russia, whence their origin; and although the whole of this imposing
force, maintained at half a million, has long since adopted the
dress of the Caucasian mountaineers, the Cossacks remain true to
the orthodox faith and to the customs of their forefathers, whose
vernacular tongue has never been forgotten by them. The dress so
universally worn by the male sex, even from boyhood, in all parts
of the Caucasus, consists of a single-breasted garment, like a
frock-coat, but reaching almost to the ankles, tightened in closely
at the waist, with a belt from which are suspended dagger, sword,
and frequently a pistol, and having on either breast a row of ten
or twelve sockets, each of a size to hold a cartridge. A rifle,
which every man possesses, is slung across the back; and a tall
sheep-skin hat finished off at its summit with a piece of coloured
cloth completes the costume.

The number of Cossacks in Transcaucasia being very limited, for
a few only are stationed in each principal town, chiefly as an
escort to the governor of the province, their duties are performed
by _Chapars_, an irregular force, equally dashing horsemen, and
trained in like manner from early youth in those singular exercises
and breakneck evolutions for which the Cossacks of the Caucasus
have become so famous. Setting their horses at full gallop, they
will stand on the saddle and fire all around at an imaginary enemy;
or throw the body completely over to the right, with the left heel
resting on their steed's hind quarter, and fire as if at an enemy
in pursuit, or turn clean round, and sitting astride facing the
horse's tail, keep up a rapid fire. A favourite feat, among many
others, is to throw their hat and rifle to the ground, wheel, and
pick them up whilst going at the horse's fullest speed.

Should the traveller elect to proceed eastward, but north of the
great range, he will meet with the Kabardines, the first amongst the
Circassians to enter into friendly relations with Russia; they are
the "blood" of the Caucasus, a noble race, thoroughly domesticated,
hospitable to strangers, and useful breeders of cattle. To the
south of the Circassians, and occupying about one hundred miles of
the coast in the Black Sea, are the Abkhases, who have enjoyed the
reputation, from time immemorial, of being an indolent and lawless
race, anciently given to piracy, now addicted to thieving when the
opportunity is afforded them, for they are determinedly inimical
to strangers. Their mountains abound in forests of magnificent
walnut and box, where the enthusiastic sportsman will find the
bear, hyena, and wolf, and plenty of smaller game, with seldom a
roof to cover him other than the vault of heaven; but the ordinary
traveller is likely to encounter difficulties and delays that he would
prefer to avoid. Christianity was here introduced by Justinian, who
constructed many churches that would have been notable specimens
of Byzantine architecture, had the Abkhases not destroyed them in
their struggles against the Russians, every such edifice being
occupied and converted by the latter into a military post. One
church, at Pitzunda on the coast, remarkable as being the place
to which John Chrysostom was banished at the instance of Empress
Eudoxia--although the exile never reached his destination--having
escaped the general destruction, has been thoroughly restored of
late years, and is a striking object to passing vessels. Being the
mother church in the Caucasus, Pitzunda, then Pityus, continued to
be the seat of the Catholics of Abkhasia until the Twelfth Century.
Practically, the Abkhases are at present heathens.

Farther south, and extending some way inland from the sea, is the
principality of Mingrelia, where we again tread classic ground,
inasmuch as our wanderings have brought us to the Æa of Circe and
the Argonauts. In a Mingrelian landscape we are struck at the aspect
afforded by the numerous whitewashed cottages as they dot the
well-wooded hills. The Mingrelians, too, like their neighbours
whom we have just quitted, are incurably given to indolence, except
in the making of wine from their abundant vineyards; otherwise they
are content to live on the produce of their orchards, prolific
through the interposition of a beneficent Providence rather than
to any agricultural diligence on their part. They may certainly be
included amongst the handsomest people in Transcaucasia, with their
well-defined features and usually raven black hair. The Dadian, or
prince, is the wealthiest of the dispossessed rulers: the foresight
of his predecessor and his own European training having taught
him the danger of disposing of land and squandering the proceeds,
rather than preserving the property and contenting himself with
a smaller income.

Between Mingrelia and Abkhasia courses the Ingur, and if we ascend
to near its water-shed--a journey easily accomplished on horse-back,
say from Sougdidi, the well-known military station--we should find
ourselves amongst a very wild and singular people, the Svanni,
whose complete subjugation dates back no farther it may be said
than 1876, although they made a formal submission in 1833. They
occupy some forty or fifty miles of the upper valley of the Ingur,
at no part exceeding ten miles in width, and are cut off from all
outside communication between the beginning of September and the
end of May, in consequences of the passes being blocked with snow.
"The scenery in this valley," writes a recent traveller, "is of
great beauty and wildness, and grand beyond description; amid the
most profuse vegetation, every imaginable flower is seen in its
wild state, and bank, meadow, hill-side and grass plot are literally
covered with all that is most lovely; in every forest and grove,
and all undergrowth even, indeed wherever the pure air of heaven
and its divine light is not obstructed, the earth is thus gorgeously



Returning to Mingrelia, we find it bounded on the south by the
river Rion, the ancient Phasis, which flows through the country
whence was introduced into Europe the Phasian bird--our pheasant.
The Rion divides Mingrelia from Guria, another principality, where
is situated Batoum, a somewhat pestiferous but important military
station and commercial port, that has tended in no small degree,
since its annexation to Russia in 1878, towards the development
of the resources of this beautiful country, intersected with good
roads through valleys highly cultivated with maize, corn, and barley,
the hills and their declivities being overspread with the oak and
box, exported in large quantities, and yielding handsome returns.
Ozurgheti, the chief town, attractively situated, was the residence
of the rulers who lie interred at the ancient monastery and episcopal
church, Chemokmedy, about six miles distant.

Passengers from Odessa and the Crimea landing at Batoum find the
train in readiness to convey them to Tiflis, the capital of the
whole Transcaucasia, reached in about fifteen hours, the train
travelling slowly enough, but through a land of much interest,
historically and pictorially. On the right, in the distance, are
the highlands of the old kingdom of Armenia, to the left is Imeritia,
a glory, like Mingrelia and Guria, of the past. If so inclined, the
traveller may exchange, at Rion station, the main for a branch line,
which will take him to Kutaïs, the chief town of the old kingdom of
Imeritia, where he may tarry for a while to great advantage. It
is the ancient Khytæa, the residence of Ætes; at any rate a city
of great antiquity, beautifully situated on the banks of the Rion.

Between Kutaïs and Tiflis is the Pass of Suram, at an altitude
of three thousand and twenty-seven feet, over which are laid the
lines of rail by gradients of one in twenty-two feet over a distance
of about eight miles; a triumph of engineering skill due, as is
the entire railway, to British capital and enterprise. Beyond this
Pass the train stops at Gori, situated at the limits of a glorious
plain, watered by the Kur and its tributaries. Since fairly good
accommodation is obtainable, it were well to halt at this station for
the purpose of visiting the unique rock-cut town, Uplytztzykhé, some
eight miles off. Here is a town--there can be no other designation for
it--consisting of public edifices--if such a term may be employed--of
large habitations, presumably for the great, smaller dwellings
for others, each being conveniently divided, and having doorways,
openings for light, and partitions, while many are ornamented with
cornices, mouldings, beams and pillars. The groups are separated
by streets and lanes, and grooves have been cut, unquestionably
for water-courses, and yet the whole has been entirely hewn and
shaped out of the solid rock. Tradition is replete with incidents
in the history of these remarkable excavations, but faithful
historiographers have hitherto refrained from endorsing any of the
tales that have been handed down by romancers of Georgia.

Tiflis, the chief seat of Government and residence of the
Governor-General, having a population of about one hundred thousand
souls, is unpleasantly situated between ranges of perfectly barren
hills, and but for the River Kur, on the banks of which it is built,
would be almost uninhabitable. Having driven through the suburbs
on his way from the railway terminus, the traveller crosses the
Kur over the Woronzoff Bridge, which at once brings him to the
principal street, where he passes in succession the public gardens,
gymnasium, law-courts, palace of the Governor-General, the main
guard-house, public library, museum, etc.; by which time he will
have reached Palace Street and Erivan Square, where are situated
the best hotels and restaurants, and the National Theatre. From the
square three main thoroughfares lead to as many separate quarters,
viz.: the European, where the wealthy live in well-built houses of
elegant construction; the native bazaars, and the marketplace and
Russian bazaar. An extensive view of the city and an interesting
sight is obtained from the eminence crowned by the old fortress
which immediately overlooks the Asiatic quarter and bazaars, whence
rise the confused sounds of human cries and the din from the iron,
brass, and copper-workers. As is the custom elsewhere in the East,
those of one trade congregate together, apart from the other trades,
and so are passed a succession of silversmiths in their stalls,
of furriers, armourers, or eating and wine-shops, the wine of the
country being kept in buffalo, goat, or sheep-skins laid on their
back, and presenting the disagreeable appearance of carcases swollen
after lengthened immersion in water. The Georgians are merry folk,
rarely allowing themselves to be depressed by the troubles of life.
They love wine and music, and ever seek to drive away dull care
by indulging in their favourite Kakhety--two bottles being the
usual allowance to a man's dinner, an allowance, however, greatly
exceeded when, of an evening, friends meet together to join in
the national dance, called the Lezghinka.

The Cathedral of Zion was formerly the church of the Patriarch of
Georgia. It dates from the Fifth Century, and encloses that most
precious relic, with which the nation was converted to Christianity
in the Fourth Century--nothing less than a cross of vine stems bound
with the hair of St. Nina, the patron saint, who first preached the
truth! The patriarchate has long been suppressed, and is replaced
by a Russian Exarch, so that the Georgian Church may be considered
in all respects identical with that of Russia. The palace of the
kings has entirely disappeared, for not a vestige remains. George
XIII. signed his renunciation of the crown in favour of the Emperor
Paul in 1800, and died shortly afterwards amid the execrations of
his subjects, for having ignominiously betrayed them. Many of his
descendants are in the service of Russia, and are the representatives
of one of the most ancient monarchies of the world--for the Bagrations
first rose to power in 587; and if allowance be made for interregnums
it will be found that their reign extended over 1092 years, during
the twelve centuries that elapsed from their earliest election.

As Georgia is the land of wine and song, so is Armenia essentially
the land of legend and tradition, for which must be held in great
part responsible the magnificent mountain that exhibits itself
suddenly at a dip in the road long before the plains are in sight.
Well may the Armenians glory in "their" Ararat, peerless among the
mighty works of the Creator, almost symmetrical in its outlines,
and rising to an altitude of 16,916 feet above the sea, Lesser
Ararat, 12,840 feet, looking almost dwarfed by the side of its mighty

At Erivan, the largest city in Russian Armenia, the traveller will
find fairly good accommodation, but the place is dull enough, whether
in the Persian quarter, where crooked lanes are lined with high walls,
that mask the dwellings within like the defences of a fortress, or
in the broad streets and unpaved quarter laid out by the Russians
since their occupation of the province in 1829, even though enlivened
by a boulevard and gardens fair to look upon. The population is
Armenian and Persian, for Persia ruled here during a considerable
period until vanquished by Russia; but at the bazaar one meets
with other nationalities, such as Tartars from the Steppes, Kurds,
Greeks, and Turkish dealers in search of good horses, upon which
they will fly across the frontier, defying Cossacks and custom
officers alike.

Within a short distance of Erivan, and the post-station nearest
to the Persian frontier, is Nahitchevan, the first abode of Noah
after he came forth from the ark, and probably also his last, since
his tomb is reverently shown by the inhabitants, who eagerly escort
strangers to see it. Other still more important towns in Armenia,
available by carriage-road, are Alexandropol and Kars, the former
being the largest and most powerful fortress and the principal
arsenal in Transcaucasia; the latter, long a Turkish fortress town,
was gallantly defended in 1855 by Sir Fenwick Williams and a few
British officers, until the garrison was starved into surrender
by General Mouravieff. Kars was finally ceded to Russia by the
Treaty of Berlin in 1878.

[Illustration: TIFLIS.]

A Tartar city brought into prominence of late years through the
introduction of railways is Elizavetpol, on the line between Tiflis
and the Caspian, where we must now pick ourselves up after having
retraced our steps from the plains, to journey by rail to dismal
looking Bakù--a town of recent creation, approached through a desert
of sand and stones, where neither vegetable nor animal life can
possibly find an existence. Viewed from the sea, Bakù presents a
distinctly picturesque appearance, with its sombre citadel, numerous
minarets, and the palace of the princes of bygone days towering
above the old town, where the houses look as if they were piled the
one above the other--the new or Russian quarter being at the base,
and lining the shore of the pretty little bay. Modern Bakù contains
some handsome residences and well-paved streets, the principal
being the busy quay, constructed of massive blocks of greystone
masonry, where the naphtha, the wealth of Bakù, is embarked for
transport to the interior of Russia by the Volga, or for conveyance
across the Caspian to Central Asia. Numerous refineries, worth
inspecting, at the west end of Bakù compose the Black Town, so
called from its begrimed condition, and from being ever enveloped
in clouds of the densest smoke. Since a remote period has this
neighbourhood been considered holy by fire-worshippers, because
of the many naphtha springs that were constantly burning, some
even perpetually; indeed, the fires at Surakan, a suburb of Bakù,
continued to be guarded by fire-worshippers from Yezd in Persia,
and even from India, until, with the connivance of the government,
they were hustled away some ten years ago by the increasing number
of speculators engaged in a trade which has now completely driven
out of the market all American produce.

In Daghestan is Gunib, the last stronghold of the brave Shamyl,
whom the strength of Russia was unequal to subdue during the space
of thirty years. "Do the Russians say that they are numerous as
the grains of sand? Then are we the waves that will carry away
that sand," said the great Tartar chief addressing the numerous
tribes who placed themselves under his leadership to repel the
invader. The mountaineers posted themselves on the heights, and,
hidden by trees, shot down their enemies in scores as they advanced
in column up the narrow defiles.

The great thoroughfare between Transcaucasia and Russia is from
Tiflis to Vladikavkaz, the terminus of the Moscow-Rostof railway, by
way of the Dariel road, a stupendous engineering success completed
in the reign of Nicholas. This road winds over a pass 7,977 feet
above the sea, and is kept in repair and clear for traffic in winter
by the Ossets, whose country it traverses, in return for which
service they are exempt from all taxes.

When the traveller will have completed the journey from Tiflis
to Vladikavkaz, he will have arrived at the dépôt and point of
transit for all goods brought by rail from Russia, and there
transferred, for conveyance to the Transcaucasian provinces, to
clumsy, unwieldly carts or vans drawn by horses or oxen; those in
charge of the caravans never being in a hurry, completely indifferent
as to when they start, or when they arrive at their destination,
and rejoicing in a lengthened stay at Mlety station, after having
accomplished the most tiresome part of the distance--the ascent and
descent of the pass. Vladikavkaz was founded in 1785 on the site
of an Osset village, and became the headquarters and chief military
dépôt of the Russians during their lengthened struggle for supremacy
with the stout-hearted hillmen; it is now the chief town and seat
of government for the province of Kuban, and still an important
military station. The population is made up of Circassians, Armenians,
and Russians, and a few Ossets at the bazaars, for the natives made
off long ago. The chief industries are the manufacture of silver
and gold lace, arms, _burkas_, the Caucasian's all-weathers cloak,
silver ornaments, etc. The hotels are fairly good, but there being
nothing at Vladikavkaz itself sufficiently inviting to encourage
a longer stay than is absolutely necessary, the following choice
of routes lays before the stranger. He may post through Eastern
Caucasus and embark at Petrovsk for Astrakhan and the tedious voyage
up the Volga; or take the railway to Rostof _en route_ to Moscow; or
travel by rail to Novorossisk on the Black Sea, and there embark;
or, following that line as far as Ekaterinodar, post thence to
Taman and cross the straits to Kertch.



We were now fast nearing Khiva, which could be just discerned in
the distance, but was hidden, to a certain extent, from our view by
a narrow belt of tall, graceful trees; however, some richly-painted
minarets and high domes of coloured tiles could be seen towering
above the leafy groves. Orchards surrounded by walls eight and ten
feet high, continually met the gaze, and avenues of mulberry-trees
studded the landscape in all directions.

The two Khivans rode first; I followed, having put on my black
fur pelisse instead of the sheep-skin garment, so as to present
a more respectable appearance on entering the city. Nazar, who
was mounted on the horse that stumbled, brought up the rear. He
had desired the camel-driver to follow in the distance with the
messenger and the caravan; my servant being of opinion that the
number of our animals was not sufficient to deeply impress the
Khivans with my importance, and that on this occasion it was better
to ride in without any caravan than with the small one I possessed.
We now entered the city, which is of an oblong form, and surrounded
by two walls: the outer one is about fifty feet high: its basement
is constructed of baked bricks, the upper part being built of dried
clay. This forms the first line of defense, and completely encircles
the town, which is about a quarter of a mile within the wall. Four
high wooden gates, clamped with iron, barred the approach from
the north, south, east, and west, while the walls themselves were
in many places out of repair.

The town itself is surrounded by a second wall, not quite so high
as the one just described, and with a dry ditch, which is now half
filled with ruined _débris_. The slope which leads from the wall to
the trench has been used as a cemetery, and hundreds of sepulchres
and tombs were scattered along some undulating ground just without
the city. The space between the first and second walls is used
as a market-place, where cattle, horses, sheep, and camels are
sold, and where a number of carts were standing, filled with corn
and grass.

Here an ominous-looking cross-beam had been erected, towering high
above the heads of the people with its bare, gaunt poles. This was
the gallows on which all people convicted of theft are executed;
murderers being put to death in a different manner, having their
throats cut from ear to ear in the same way that sheep are killed.
This punishment is carried out by the side of a large hole in the
ground, not far from the principal street in the centre of the
town. But I must here remark that the many cruelties stated to
have been perpetrated by the present Khan previous to the capture
of his city did not take place. Indeed, they only existed in the
fertile Muscovite imagination, which was eager to find an excuse for
the appropriation of a neighbour's property. On the contrary, capital
punishment was only inflicted when the laws had been infringed; and
there is no instance of the Khan having arbitrarily put any one
to death.

The two walls above mentioned appear to have made up the defenses
of the city, which was also armed with sixteen guns. These, however,
proved practically useless against the Russians, as the garrison
only fired solid shot, not being provided with shell. The Khan
seemed to have made no use whatever of the many inclosed gardens
in the vicinity of the city during the Russian advance, as, if he
had, and firmly contested each yard of soil, I much doubt whether
the Tsar's troops could have ever entered the city.

It is difficult to estimate the population of an Oriental city
by simply riding round its walls; so many houses are uninhabited,
and others again are densely packed with inhabitants. However, I
should say, as a mere guess, that there are about 25,000 human
beings within the walls of Khiva. The streets are broad and clean,
while the houses belonging to the richer inhabitants are built of
highly polished bricks and coloured tiles, which lend a cheerful
aspect to the otherwise somewhat sombre colour of the surroundings.
There are nine schools: the largest, which contains 130 pupils,
was built by the father of the present Khan. These buildings are
all constructed with high, coloured domes, and are ornamented with
frescoes and arabesque work, the bright aspect of the cupolas first
attracting the stranger's attention on his nearing the city.

Presently we rode through a bazaar similar to the one at Oogentch,
thin rafters and straw uniting the tops of the houses in the street,
and forming a sort of roof to protect the stall-keepers and their
customers from the rays of a summer sun. We were followed by crowds
of people; and as some of the more inquisitive approached too closely,
the Khivans who accompanied me, raising their whips in the air,
freely belaboured the shoulders of the multitude, thus securing
a little space. After riding through a great number of streets,
and taking the most circuitous course--probably in order to duly
impress me with an idea of the importance of the town--we arrived
before my companion's house. Several servants ran forward and took
hold of the horses. The Khivan dismounted, and, bowing obsequiously,
led the way through a high door-way constructed of solid timber.
We next entered a square open court, with carved stone pillars
supporting a balcony which looked down upon a marble fountain, or
basin, the general appearance of the court being that of a _patio_
in some nobleman's house in Cordova or Seville. A door of a similar
construction to the one already described, though somewhat lower,
gave access to a long, narrow room, a raised daïs at each end being
covered with handsome rugs. There were no windows, glass being a
luxury which has only recently found its way to the capital; but
the apartment received its light from an aperture at the side,
which was slightly concealed by some trellis-work, and from a space
left uncovered in the ceiling, which was adorned with arabesque
figures. The two doors which led from the court were each of them
handsomely carved, and in the middle of the room was a hearth filled
with charcoal embers. My host, beckoning to me to take the post
of honour by the fire, retired a few paces and folded his arms
across his chest; then, assuming a deprecatory air, he asked my
permission to sit down.

Grapes, melons, and other fruit, fresh as on the day when first
picked, were brought in on a large tray and laid at my feet, while
the host himself, bringing in a Russian tea-pot and cup, poured
out some of the boiling liquid and placed it by my side; I all
this time being seated on a rug, with my legs crossed under me,
in anything but a comfortable position.

He then inquired if I had any commands for him, as the Khan had
given an order that everything I might require was instantly to
be supplied.

In the afternoon two officials arrived from the Khan's palace,
with an escort of six men on horseback and four on foot. The elder
of the two dignitaries said that His Majesty was waiting to receive
me, and my horse being brought round, I mounted, and accompanied
him towards the palace. The six men on horseback led the way, then
I came between the two officials, and Nazar brought up the rear
with some attendants on foot, who freely lashed the crowd with
their whips whenever any of the spectators approached our horses
too closely.

The news that the Khan was about to receive me had spread rapidly
through the town, and the streets were lined with curious individuals
all eager to see the Englishman. Perhaps in no part of the world is
India more talked of than in the Central Asian khanates; and the
stories of our wealth and power, which have reached Khiva through
Afghan and Bokharan sources, have grown like a snow-ball in its
onward course, until the riches described in the garden discovered
by Aladdin would pale if compared with the fabled treasures of

After riding through several narrow streets, where, in some instances,
the house-tops were thronged with people desirous of looking at
our procession, we emerged on a small, flat piece of ground which
was not built over, and which formed a sort of open square. Here
a deep hole was pointed out to me as the spot where criminals who
have been found guilty of murder had their throats cut from ear
to ear.

The Khan's palace is a large building, ornamented with pillars
and domes, which, covered with bright-coloured tiles, flash in
the sun, and attract the attention of the stranger approaching
Khiva. A guard of thirty or forty men armed with cimeters stood
at the palace gates. We next passed into a small court-yard. The
Khan's guards were all arrayed in long flowing silk robes of various
patterns, bright-coloured sashes being girt around their waists, and
tall fur hats surmounting their bronzed countenances. The court-yard
was surrounded by a low pile of buildings, which are the offices
of the palace, and was filled with attendants and menials of the
court, while good-looking boys of an effeminate appearance, with
long hair streaming down their shoulders, and dressed a little like
the women, lounged about, and seemed to have nothing in particular
to do.

A door at the farther end of the court gave access to a low passage,
and, after passing through some dirty corridors, where I had
occasionally to stoop in order to avoid knocking my head against the
ceiling, we came to a large, square-shaped room. Here the treasurer
was seated, with three moullahs, who were squatted by his side, while
several attendants crouched in humble attitudes at the opposite
end of the apartment. The treasurer and his companions were busily
engaged in counting some rolls of ruble-notes and a heap of silver
coin, which has been received from the Khan's subjects, and were
now to be sent to Petro-Alexandrovsk as part of the tribute to
the Tsar.

The great man now made a sign to some of his attendants, when a
large wooden box, bearing signs of having been manufactured in
Russia, was pushed a little from the wall and offered to me as a
seat. Nazar was accommodated among the dependents at the other end
of the room. After the usual salaams had been made, the functionary
continued his task, leaving me in ignorance as to what was to be
the next part of the programme; Nazar squatting himself as far as
possible from one of the attendants, who was armed with a cimeter,
and whom he suspected of being the executioner.

After I had been kept waiting for about a quarter of an hour, a
messenger entered the room and informed the treasurer that the
Khan was disengaged, and ready to receive me. We now entered a
long corridor, which led to an inner court-yard. Here we found
the reception-hall, a large tent, or _kibitka_, of a dome-like
shape. The treasurer, lifting up a fold of thick cloth, motioned
to me to enter, and on doing so I found myself face to face with
the celebrated Khan, who was reclining against some pillows or
cushions, and seated on a handsome Persian rug, warming his feet by
a circular hearth filled with burning charcoal. He raised his hand
to his forehead as I stood before him, a salute which I returned
by touching my cap. He then made a sign for me to sit down by his

Before I relate our conversation, it may not be uninteresting if
I describe the sovereign. He is taller than the average of his
subjects, being quite five feet ten in height, and is strongly built:
his face is of a broad, massive type, he has a low, square forehead,
large dark eyes, a short straight nose with dilated nostrils, and
a coal-black beard and mustache; while an enormous mouth, with
irregular but white teeth, and a chin somewhat concealed by his
beard, and not at all in character with the otherwise determined
appearance of his face, must complete the picture.

He did not look more than eight-and-twenty, and has a pleasant,
genial smile, and a merry twinkle in his eye, very unusual among
Orientals; in fact, to me an expression in Spanish would better
describe his face than any English one I can think of. It is very
_simpatica_, and I must say I was greatly surprised, after all
that has been written in Russian newspapers about the cruelties
and other iniquities perpetrated by this Khivan potentate, to find
the original such a cheery sort of fellow.

His countenance was of a very different type from his treasurer's.
The hang-dog expression of the latter made me bilious to look at
him, and it was said that he carried to great lengths these peculiar
vices and depraved habits to which Orientals are so often addicted.
The Khan was dressed in a similar sort of costume to that generally
worn by his subjects, but it was made of much richer materials,
and a jewelled sword was lying by his seat. His head was covered
by a tall black Astrakhan hat, of a sugar-loaf shape; and on my
seeing that all the officials who were in the room at the same
time as myself kept on their fur hats, I did the same.

The sovereign, turning to an attendant, gave an order in a low
tone, when tea was instantly brought, and handed to me in a small
porcelain tea-cup. A conversation with the Khan was now commenced,
and carried on through Nazar and a Kirghiz interpreter who spoke
Russian, and occasionally by means of a moullah, who was acquainted
with Arabic, and had spent some time in Egypt.



The general characteristics of the Trans-Siberian Railroad may
be described in a few words. It is by far the longest railway on
earth. It is very much more solidly constructed, for the most part,
than is generally supposed. The road bed is perfectly firm, and
the track is well ballasted. Though in certain of the sections
far to the east great engineering difficulties had to be contended
with, the gradients on the greater part of the route are remarkably

Uniformity of gauge is the keynote of Russian railway engineers.
Accordingly in possessing a five-foot guage, the Great Siberian
is uniform with all the railroads throughout the Russian Empire.
Thus, the ample breadth of the cars harmonizes with the luxury
which astonishes the traveller who visits Russia for the first time,
no matter in what region of the Empire he happens to be touring.
The great height of the carriages, proportionate with the width,
adds to the imposing aspect of the trains. It is necessary to bear
these considerations in mind, for the idea prevails throughout the
world outside Russia that this colossal road was carried through,
not only with great haste, but also on a flimsy and superficial
system. The bridges are necessarily very numerous, for Siberia
is a land of mighty rivers with countless tributaries. All the
permanent bridges are of iron. Those which were temporarily made
of timber are being in every case reconstructed, and the Great
Siberian includes some of the most magnificent bridges in the world.

The bridge over the Irtish is unrivalled. Being nearly four miles
long, it is on that account phenomenal; but its stupendous piers,
designed specially to resist the fearful pressure of the ice, would
alone convince any sceptic of the determination of the Russian
administration to spare none of the resources of the Empire in order
to make this railway absolutely efficient, alike for mercantile
and military purposes. The Trans-Siberian Railway is intended to
create a new Siberia. It is already fulfilling that aim, as I shall
show. The most potent of the civilizing factors of the Twentieth
Century is in this enterprise presented to the world, and in a very
few years people will realize with astonishment what this railway

The Trans-Siberian nominally begins in Europe. It is inaugurated
by the magnificent iron bridge which spans the Volga at Samara
in East Russia. The Volga is here a giant river, and this noble
bridge joins the European railway system with the new Asiatic line.
But practically the Asian line commences in the heart of the Ural
Mountains, if that long and broad chain of low and pretty hills
ought to be dignified with the name of mountains. Here lies the
little town of Cheliabinsk, which in 1894 was the terminus of the
European system.

It is an interesting fact that Americans and Englishmen were the
real authors of this splendid and romantic scheme for spanning the
Asiatic continent with a railway from west to east. In 1857, an
American named Collins came forward with a scheme for the formation
of an Amur Railway Company, to lay a line from Irkutsk to Chita.
Although his plan was not officially adopted, it was carefully
kept in mind, and it actually forms the main and central part of
the present line. An English engineer offered to lay a tramroad
across Siberia, after Muravieff had carried Russia to the Pacific
by his brilliant annexation of the mouths of the Amur. In 1858,
three Englishmen offered to construct a railway from Moscow through
Nijni-Novgorod to Tartar Bay. Though all proposals by foreigners
have been courteously shelved, they have in reality formed the
bases of native enterprise. It is to the credit of Russia that
she has determined to depend on the energy and ability of her own
sons to carry out this colossal undertaking.

One of the chronic troubles of the Russian Government arises from
the uneven distribution of the population. It happens that those
are the most thickly inhabited districts which are the least able
to support a dense population. For instance, an immense number of
villages are scattered through the vast forest regions of Central
and Western Russia, where birch trees grow by millions, while the
great wheat-growing plains of the west centre and south-west are
but sparsely inhabited. Then again, the infatuation of the military
oligarchy has been evidenced in the plan by which all the railways
except this new Siberian line have been designed for purely military
purposes. The Emperor Nicholas insisted on all the lines being
developed without the slightest regard to the wants of the towns
and the conveniences of commerce. Even the natural facilities for
engineering operations were not allowed by that autocrat to be
for a moment taken into consideration. His engineers were once
consulting him as to the expediency of taking the line from St.
Petersburg to Moscow by a slight detour, to avoid some very troublesome
obstacles. The Tsar took up a ruler, and with his pencil drew a
straight line from the old metropolis. Handing back the chart,
he peremptorily said: "There, gentlemen, that is to be the route
for the line!" And certainly there is not a straighter reach of
600 miles on any railroad in the world, as every tourist knows who
has journeyed between the two chief cities of the Russian Empire.
For instance, not very far beyond the Urals there is one magnificent
stretch of perfectly straight road for 116 versts, or nearly eighty

The traveller who expects that on the great Siberian route he will
speedily find himself plunged into semi-savagery, or that he will
on leaving Europe begin to realize the solitude of a vast forlorn
wilderness, will be agreeably disappointed. This great line is
intended to carry forward in its progress all the comforts of modern
civilization. Every station is picturesque and even artistic. No
two stations are alike in style, and all are neat, substantial,
comfortable, and comparable to the best rural stations anywhere in
Europe or America. In one respect Russian provision for travellers
is always far in advance of that in other countries. Those familiar
with the country will know at once that I refer to the railway
restaurants. The Great Siberian follows the rule of excellence
and abundance. There, at every station, just as on the European
side of the Urals, the traveller sees on entering the handsome
dining-room the immense buffet loaded with freshly cooked Russian
dishes, always hot and steaming, and of a variety not attempted in
any other land excepting at great hotels. You select what fancy
and appetite dictate, without any supervision. To dine at a railway
restaurant anywhere in the Russian Empire is one of the luxuries
of travel. Your dinner costs only a rouble--about two shillings,
and what a dinner you secure for the money! Soup, beef, sturgeon,
trout, poultry, game, bear's flesh, and vegetables in profusion
are supplied _ad libitum_, the visitor simply helping himself just
as he pleases. I mention these little details to prove that the
longest railway in the world is to push civilization with it as
it goes forward.

Readers who will glance at any map of the new line will notice
that the track runs across the upper waters of the great rivers,
just about where they begin to be navigable. All through the summer,
at any rate, America and England will, by the Arctic passage and
by these mighty rivers, communicate with the heart of Asia, the
railway in the far interior completing the circle of commerce.
Other results will follow. Siberia at present contains a population
of four million--less by more than a million than London reckons
within its borders. Millions of the Russian peasantry in Europe are
in a condition of chronic semi-starvation. Ere long thousands of
these will weekly stream to the new Canaan in the East. Within the
borders of Siberia, the whole of the United States of America could
be enclosed, with a great spare ring around for the accommodation
of a collection of little kingdoms. In the wake of the new line
towns are springing up like mushrooms. Many of these will become
great cities. There are several reasons for this development. The
first is that the railway runs through South Siberia, where the
climate is delightfully mild compared with the rigorous conditions
of the atmosphere further north. The next reason is that all the
chief gold-fields are in this southern latitude.

One characteristic worthy of note is the absolute security aimed
at by the administration of the line. Train and track are protected
by an immense army of guards. The road is divided into sections
of a verst each, a verst being about two-thirds of a mile. Every
section is marked by a neat cottage, the home of the guard and
his family. Night and day the guard or one of his household must
patrol the section. A train is never out of sight of the guards,
several of whom are employed wherever there are heavy curves. There
are nearly 4,000 of these guards on the stretch between the Urals
and Tomsk. All sense of solitude is thus removed from the mind of
the traveller. The old post road through Siberia is one of the
most dangerous routes in the world, being infested by murderous
"brodyags," or runaway convicts; but the Siberian line is as safe
as Cheapside or Oxford Street. With the fact of perfect safety
is soon blended in the mind of the observer that of plenty. All
along this wonderful route grass is seen growing in rank luxuriance
that can hardly be equalled in any other part of the globe, Siberia
being emphatically a grass-growing country. It is the original home
of the whole graniferous stock. Wheat is indigenous to Siberia.
Here is the largest grazing region in existence. Through this the
train rolls on hour after hour, as in European Russia it goes on and
on through interminable birch forests. Countless herds of animals in
superb condition are everywhere seen roaming over these magnificent
flowering Steppes, over which the Muscovite Eagle proudly floats.

Parts of the great railway, however, traverse regions other than
these. To make the reader understand the general characteristics
of Siberia and the importance of the railway in the light of these
characteristics, a few words must be said about the three great
zones which mainly make up the country. The first is the _tundra_,
the vast region which stretches through the northern sub-arctic
latitudes. This desolate belt is not less than 5,000 miles in extent.
In breadth it varies from 200 to 500 miles. In winter the _tundra_
is, of course, one vast frozen sheet. In the brief summer it is
swampy, steaming, and swarming with mosquitoes. Treeless and sterile,
the _tundra_ is the home of strange uncouth tribes, but it is a
valuable training ground for hardy hunters. To the minds of most
people the _tundra_ is Siberia. This mischievous fallacy is difficult
to dispel. In a few years the Siberian railway will have completely
dissipated it. Much more valuable is the far wider zone called
the _taiga_, the most wonderful belt of forest on the surface of
the earth. I can testify to the profound impression of mingled
mystery and delight produced on the mind by riding a thousand miles
through Russian forests as they still exist in European Russia,
where myriads of square miles in the north and centre of the land
are covered by birch, spruce, larch, pine, and oak plantations.
Where do these forests begin and where do they have an end? That
is the traveller's thought. He finds that they thicken and broaden,
and deepen as they sweep in their majestic gloom across the Urals,
and make up for thousands of miles the grand Siberian arboreal belt.
In this _taiga_ the Tsar possesses wealth beyond all computation;
and the railway will put it actually at his disposal. The third
zone, the most valuable of all, is that which mainly constitutes
Southern Siberia. It is the region of the Steppes, that endless
natural garden which again makes Siberia an incomparable land.
Sheeted with flowers, variegated by woodlands, it holds in its lap
ranges of mountains, all running with fairly uniform trend from
north to south, while in its heart lies the romantic and mysterious
Baikal, the deepest of lakes. Through the spurs of the _taiga_,
running irregularly through the lovely Steppes, passes the new
railroad, which thus taps the chief resources of the land. It will
open up the forests, the arable country land, the cattle-breeding
districts, and, above all, the mineral deposits. Here is a fine
coming opportunity for the capitalists of the world.

The Siberian railway starts at Cheliabinsk, just across the Ural
Mountains, which it reaches through Samara on the Volga from the
European side, coming over the boundary hills through Ufa, Miass
and Zlatoust. Shortly after leaving the latter town, which is the
centre of the Uralian iron industry, the train passes that pathetic
"Monument of Tears," which marks the boundary between Europe and
Asia. The triangular post of white marble, which thousands of weeping
exiles every year embrace as they pay their sad farewell to Europe,
is simply inscribed on one of its three sides, "Asia," on another,
"Europe." Passing down the eastern slopes of the Urals the train
soon reaches Cheliabinsk, running beside the Isset, a tributary
of the Irtish, one of the main branches of the grand Obi river.
On leaving Cheliabinsk, the traveller begins to realize that he
is in Siberia. In the near future this section of the line will
be traversed by many an explorer and many a hunter, who will in
summer come to seek fresh fields on the course of the Obi, to track
out towards the north the haunts of the seal, the walrus, and the
white bear. The line crosses the Tobol at Kurgan, the Ishim at
Patropavlosk, and the Irtish at Omsk, where the majestic new bridge
spans a stream of two hundred yards. The three fine rivers are
confluents of the Obi. Kurgan lies embosomed in the finest and
richest, as well as the largest pasturage in the world. The magnitude
of this undertaking may be imagined from the fact that the Yenisei
river is only reached after a ride of 2,000 miles from Cheliabinsk,
and then the traveller has not traversed half the distance across
the continent which this railroad spans.

We arrive at the main stream of the Obi when the train rolls into
the station at Kolivan. Thus Tomsk, one of the chief cities of
Siberia, is missed, for it lies further north on the Obi. In the
same way does the line ignore Tobolsk, the Siberian capital, as it
touches the Irtish far south of the city. These important places
will be served by branch lines. Indeed, the branch to Tomsk is
already finished. It is eighty miles long, and runs down the Tom
valley northward to the city, which is the largest and most important
in all Siberia. Tomsk will become the "hub" of Asia. It lies near
the centre of the new railway system. It has a telephone system, is
lighted by electricity, and possesses a flourishing university with
thirty professors and 300 students. Tomsk, Tobolsk, and Yeniseisk
would be difficult to reach by the main line as they are surrounded
by vast swamps, and therefore the line is thus laid considerably
south of these great towns. They are accessible with ease by side
lines down their respective rivers.

The Siberian line is designed to run through the arable lands of
the fertile zone. The adjacent land will be worth countless millions
of roubles to a Government which has not had to pay a single copeck
for it. On for many hundreds of versts rolls the train through the
pasture lands of the splendid Kirghiz race. The Kirghiz are by
far the finest of the Tartars. They are a purely pastoral people,
frugal, cleanly, and hospitable, living mainly on meats, and milk
and cheese, the products of their herds. Both for pasture and for
the culture of cereals, the vast territory between the Obi and
the Yenisei will be unrivalled in the whole world. Kurgan is the
capital. It will become an Asiatic Chicago.

On the Shim river, a fairly important though minor tributary of
the Obi, is Patropavlosk, with a population already of 20,000.
It is growing rapidly, and fine buildings are springing up, in
attestation of the immense influence of the new line. This city was
once the frontier fortress erected by Russia against the Kirghiz.
It was of commercial importance before the railroad was thought
of, as the emporium of the brisk trade with Samarkand and Central
Asia; great camel caravans constantly reaching it. All the old towns
which are traversed by the Great Siberian are being transformed as
if by magic. From Patropavlosk to Omsk is a distance equal to that
between London and Edinburgh, about 400 miles. New and promising
villages are frequently espied in the midst of the level, fertile
flowery plains, varied by great patches of cultivated land. All
along the track the land is being taken up on each side, and crops
are being raised. We are in the midst of the great future granary
of the whole Russian Empire, and not of that Empire alone.

Reaching the Yenisei river, the grandest stream in Siberia, the
train crosses a bridge 1,000 yards in length. But some time before
this a stoppage is made at the town of Obb, which is a striking
sample of the magical results of the railway. The whole country was
till recently a scene of wild desolation. The thriving community,
busy with a prosperous trade, is typical of the coming transformation
of Siberia.

A short distance beyond Irkutsk the line reaches one of the most
remarkable places in the world--Lake Baikal. This grand lake is as
long as England. It is nearly a mile deep, and covers an area of
13,430 square miles. Its surface is 1,500 feet above the level of
the sea. On every side it is hemmed in by lofty mountains, covered
with thick forest. Only a few tiny villages relieve its dreary
solitude. The early Russian settlers, impressed by the mystic silence
and gloomy grandeur of Baikal, named it the "Holy Sea." It abounds
in fish of many species, and every season thousands of pounds' worth
of salmon are caught and dried. At the north end great numbers of
seals have their habitat, the Buriat hunters sometimes taking as
many as 1,000 in a single season. Baikal is the only fresh-water
sea in the world in which this animal is found.

The Transbaikalian section takes the line from Lake Baikal to the
great Amur River. The line gradually ascends to the crest of the
Yablonoi Mountains, reaching a height of 3,412 feet above the sea
level. This is the greatest altitude of the Siberian Railway. In
this province of Transbaikalia lies the interesting city of Chita,
the far-off home of the most famous and estimable Socialist exiles
sent from Russia. From this point to the Amur, where Manchuria is
reached, the line is carried down the Pacific slope, through one
of the wildest and most romantic tracks ever penetrated by railway
engineers. It is not generally remembered that the Great Siberian
Railway was begun at the Pacific end, and that the present Tsar
Nicholas II., when Tsarevitch, inaugurated the colossal enterprise
by laying the first stone of the eastern terminus at Vladivostock,
on May 12, 1891.



The Russian aristocracy and plutocracy have few powers or privileges
beyond that of serving their sovereign, and their position depends
entirely on the will of the emperor. Official rank is the only
distinction, and all ranks or "tchin," as it is called, is regulated
according to the army grades. By this "tchin" alone is the right of
being received at Court acquired. Society is, therefore, subservient
to the Court, and occupies itself more with those whose position can
best procure them what they desire than with any other ideas. The
Court itself is very magnificent, and its entertainments display
unbounded splendour, taste, and art. In the midst of winter the whole
palace is decorated for the balls with trees of camellias, dracænas
and palms. The suppers seem almost to be served by magic. Two thousand
people sup at the same moment: they all sit down together, and all
finish together in an incredibly short space of time. The palace
is lit by the electric light, the tables are placed under large
palm-trees, and the effect is that of a grove of palms by moonlight.
At these Court balls, besides the Royal Family of Grand Dukes and
Duchesses, with gorgeous jewels, may be seen many of the great
generals and governors of the provinces who come to St. Petersburg
to do homage to their sovereign; a splendid-looking Circassian
Prince, whose costume of fur and velvet is covered with chains of
jewels and gold; the commander of the Cossack Guard, Tchérévine,
who watches over the Emperor's safety, dressed in what resembles
a well-fitting scarlet dressing-gown, with a huge scimitar in his
belt sparkling with precious stones; Prince Dondoukoff Korsakoff,
the Governor of the Caucasus, also in Cossack attire, with the
beard which is the privilege of the Cossack birth. M. de Giers,
whose civilian blue coat with gold buttons is remarkable among
the numberless brilliant uniforms, talks to the Ambassadors with
the wearied anxious expression habitual to his countenance. The
Empress dances, but not the Emperor; he does not sit down to supper
either, but walks about, after the Russian fashion of hospitality,
to see that all his guests are served.


If, to the outsider, society seems to lack the serious side, science,
learning, and politics, it gains energy from its contact with men who
are continually engaged in distant provinces, carrying Russian rule and
civilization to the conquered Eastern tribes. Notwithstanding the great
ease and luxury, the fact that so much of the male portion is composed
of officers, who wear no other clothes than their uniforms, gives
something of a business-like air, and produces a sense of discipline
at the entertainments. Individually, the Russians have much sympathy
with English ways and habits, and the political antagonism between
the two nations does not appear to affect their social intercourse.
They are exceedingly courteous, hospitable, and friendly, throwing
themselves with much zest into the occupation or amusement of the
moment. In these days of rapid communication social life is much
the same in every great capital. St. Petersburg is a very gay society,
and the great troubles underlying the fabric do not come to the
surface in the daily life. There are of course representatives
of all the different lines of thought and policy, and because they
cannot govern themselves, it must not be supposed that they have
not predilections in favour of this or that line of action.

The season in St. Petersburg begins on the Russian New Year's Day,
which is thirteen days late, for they adhere to what the Western
nations now call the Old Style. It lasts till Lent, which the Eastern
Church fixes also by a different calculation from the Western, and
during that time there are Court balls twice a week and dancing at
private houses nearly every other night, Sundays included. Private
balls begin, as in London, very late and end very late. The dancing
is most vigorous and animated. The specially Russian dance is the
Mazurka, of Polish origin, and very pretty and graceful. Like the
Scotch reel, it is a series of different figures with numerous
and varied steps. The music, too, is special and spirited. The
supper, which is always eaten sitting down, is a great feature
of the evening, and there is invariably a cotillon afterwards.
The pleasantest and most sociable entertainments are the little
suppers every evening, where there is no dancing, and where the
menu is most _recherché_ and the conversation brilliant. The houses
are well adapted for entertainments, and those we saw comfortable
and luxurious as far as the owners are concerned. The bedrooms
were prettily furnished, and the dressing-rooms attached fitted
up with a tiled bath, hot and cold water, and numberless mirrors.
The wives of the great Court and State officials, as well as many
other ladies, have one afternoon in the week on which they sit at
home and receive visitors. There is always tea and Russian bonbons,
which are most excellent. What strikes an English-woman is the
number of men, officers of the army, and others, who attend these
"jours," as they are called in French. Many of noted activity,
such as General Kaulbars, may be seen quietly sipping their tea
and talking of the last ball to the young lady of the house. A fête
given by Madame Polovtsoff, wife of the Secrétaire de l'Empire,
was wonderfully conducted and organized. It took place at a villa
on the Islands, as that part of St. Petersburg which lies between
the two principal branches of the Neva is called. It is to villas
here that the officials can retire after the season when obliged
to remain near the capital. The rooms and large conservatories
were lit by electricity. At the further end of the conservatory,
buried in palm-trees were the gipsies chanting and wailing their
savage national songs and choruses, while the guests wandered about
amongst groves of camellias, and green lawns studded with
lilies-of-the-valley and hyacinths; rose-bushes in full flower at
the corners. When the gipsies were exhausted, dancing began, and
later there was an excellent supper in another still more spacious
conservatory. The entertainment ended with a cotillon, and for
the stranger its originality was only marred by the fact that it
had been thawing, and the company could not arrive or depart in
"_troikas_,"--sleighs with three horses which seem to fly along the
glistening moonlit snow. A favourite amusement, even in winter, is
racing these "_troikas_," or sleighs, with fast trotters. The races
are to be seen from stands, as in England, and are only impeded by
falling snow. The pretty little horses are harnessed, for trotting
races, singly, to a low sleigh (in summer to a drosky) driven by
one man, wearing the colours of the owner. Two of these start at
once in opposite directions on a circular or oblong course marked
out on a flat expanse of snow and ice, which may be either land
or water, as is found most convenient. It is a picturesque sight,
and reminds one of the pictures of ancient chariot races on old
vases and carved monuments.

The character of a nation can scarcely fail to be affected by the
size of the country it inhabits, and a certain indifference to time
and distance is produced by this circumstance. There is also a
peculiar apathy as regards small annoyances and casualties. Whatever
accident befalls the Russian of the lower orders, his habitual
remark is "_Nitchivo_" ("It is nothing"). Nevertheless, Northern
blood and a Northern climate have mixed a marvellous amount of
energy and enterprise with this Oriental characteristic. Take for
example the Caspian railway, undertaken by General Annenkoff. This
general completes fifteen hundred miles of railway in the incredibly
short space of time of a year and a half, and almost before the
public is aware of its having been commenced, he is back again in
St. Petersburg dancing at a Court ball in a quadrille opposite the
Empress. The railway made by him runs at present from the Caspian
Sea to the Amou-Daria River, and will be continued to Bokhara,
Samarkand, and Tashkend, in a northerly direction, while on the
south it is to enter Persia. Should European complications, by
removing the risk of foreign interposition, make it possible for
a Russian army to reach the Caspian by way of the Black Sea and
the Caucasus, this railway gives it the desired approach to India.
By attacking us in India, which they possibly do not desire to
conquer, the Panslavists and Russian enthusiasts believe they would
establish their empire at Constantinople, and unite the whole Sclav
race under the dominion of the Tsar.

The one preponderating impression produced by a short visit to
Russia is an almost bewildering sense of its vastness, with an
equally bewildering feeling of astonishment at the centralization
of all government in the hands of the Emperor. This impression is
perhaps increased by the nature of the town of St. Petersburg. Long,
broad streets, lit at night by the electric light, huge buildings,
public and private, large and almost deserted places or squares, all
tend to produce the reflection that the Russian nation is emerging
from the long ages of Cimmerian darkness into which the repeated
invasions of Asiatic hordes had plunged it, and that it is full
of the energy and aspirations belonging to a people conscious of
a great future in the history of mankind.



The amount of territory given up to the serfs by the Emancipation
Act of 1861 was about one-half of the arable land of the whole
empire, so that the experiment of cutting up the large properties
of a country, and the formation instead of a landed peasantry,
has now been tried on a sufficiently large scale for a quarter of
a century to enable the world to judge of its success or failure.
There is no doubt of the philanthropic intentions of Alexander
the First, but he seems to have also aimed (like Richelieu) at
diminishing the power of the nobles, which formed some bulwark
between the absolute sway of the Crown and the enormous dead level
of peasants.

The serfs belonged soul and body to the landowner: even when they
were allowed to take service or exercise a trade in distant towns,
they were obliged to pay a due, "_obrok_," to their owner, and to
return home if required; while the instances of oppression were
sometimes frightful, husbands and wives were separated, girls were
sold away from their parents, young men were not allowed to marry.
On the other hand, when the proprietor was kind, and rich enough
not to make money of his serfs, the patriarchal form of life was
not unhappy. "See now," said an old peasant, "what have I gained
by the emancipation? I have nobody to go to to build my house,
or to help in the ploughing time; the Seigneur, he knew what I
wanted, and he did it for me without any bother. Now if I want
a wife, I have got to go and court her myself; he used to choose
for me, and he knew what was best. It is a great deal of trouble,
and no good at all!" Under the old arrangements three generations
were often found living in one house, and the grandfather, who was
called "the Big One," bore a very despotic sway. The plan allowed
several of the males of the family to seek work at a distance,
leaving some at home to perform the "_corvêe_" (forced labour)
three days a week; but the families quarrelled among themselves,
and the effect of the emancipation has been to split them up into
different households. A considerable portion of the serfs were
not really serfs at all. They were coachmen, grooms, gardeners,
gamekeepers, etc., while their wives and daughters were nurses,
ladies'-maids, and domestic servants. Their number was out of all
proportion to their work, which was always carelessly done, but
there was often great attachment to the family they served. The
serfs proper lived in villages, had houses and plots of land of
their own, and were nominally never sold except with the estate.
The land, however, was under the dominion of the "_Mir_"; they could
neither use it nor cultivate it except according to the communal

The outward aspect of a Russian village is not attractive, and
there is little choice in the surrounding country between a wide
grey plain with a distance of scrubby pine forest, or the scrubby
pine forest with distant grey plains. The peasants' houses are
scattered up and down without any order or arrangement, and with
no roads between, built of trunks of trees, unsquared, and mortised
into each other at the corners, the interstices filled with moss
and mud, a mode of building warmer than it sounds. In the interior
there is always an enormous brick stove, five or six feet high,
on which and on the floor the whole family sleep in their rags.
The heat and the stench are frightful. No one undresses, washing
is unknown, and sheepskin pelisses with the wool inside are not
conducive to cleanliness. Wood, however, is becoming very scarce,
the forests are used up in fuel for railway engines, for wooden
constructions of all kind, and are set fire to wastefully--in many
places the peasants are forced to burn dung, weeds, or anything
they can pick up--fifty years, it is said, will exhaust the peasant
forests, and fresh trees are never planted.

The women are more diligent than the men, and the hardest work is
often turned over to them, as is generally the case in countries
where peasant properties prevail. "They are only the females of
the male," and have few womanly qualities. They toil at the same
tasks in the field as the men, ride astride like them, often without
saddles, and the mortality is excessive among the neglected children,
who are carried out into the fields, where the babies lie the whole
day with a bough over them and covered with flies, while the poor
mother is at work. Eight out of ten children are said to die before
ten years old in rural Russia.

In the little church (generally built of wood) there are no seats,
the worshippers prostrate themselves and knock their heads two or
three times on the ground, and must stand or kneel through the
whole service. The roof consists of a number of bulbous-shaped
cupolas; four, round the central dome, in the form of a cross is
the completed ideal, with a separate minaret for the Virgin. These
are covered with tiles of the brightest blue, green, and red, and gilt
metal. The priest is a picturesque figure, with his long unclipped
hair, tall felt hat largest at the top, and a flowing robe. He must
be married when appointed to a cure, but is not allowed a second
venture if his wife dies. Until lately they formed an hereditary
caste, and it was unlawful for the son of a pope to be other than
a pope. They are taken from the lowest class, and are generally
quite as uneducated, and are looked down upon by their flocks.
"One loves the Pope, and one the Popess" is an uncomplimentary
proverb given by Gogol. "To have priests' eyes," meaning to be
covetous or extortionate, is another. The drunkenness in all classes
strikes Russian statesmen with dismay, and the priests and the
popes, are among the worst delinquents. They are fast losing the
authority they once had over the serfs, when they formed part of
the great political system, of which the Tsar was the religious and
political head. A Russian official report says that "the churches
are now mostly attended by women and children, while the men are
spending their last kopeck, or getting deeper into debt, at the
village dram shop."

Church festivals, marriages, christenings, burials and fairs, leave
only two hundred days in the year for the Russian labourer. The
climate is so severe as to prevent out-of-door work for months,
and the enforced idleness increases the natural disposition to
do nothing. "We are a lethargic people," says Gogol, "and require
a stimulus from without, either that of an officer, a master, a
driver, the rod, or _vodki_ (a white spirit distilled from corn);
and this," he adds in another place, "whether the man be peasant,
soldier, clerk, sailor, priest, merchant, seigneur or prince."
At the time of the Crimean War it was always believed that the
Russian soldier could only be driven up to an attack, such as that
of Inkermann, under the influence of intoxication. The Russian
peasant is indeed a barbarian at a very low stage of civilization.
In the Crimean hospitals every nationality was to be found among
the patients, and the Russian soldier was considered far the lowest
of all. Stolid, stupid, hard, he never showed any gratitude for
any amount of care and attention, or seemed, indeed, to understand
them; and there was no doubt that during the war he continually put
the wounded to death in order to possess himself of their clothes.

The Greek Church is a very dead form of faith, and the worship of
saints of every degree of power "amounts to a fetishism almost as
bad as any to be found in Africa." I am myself the happy possessor
of a little rude wooden bas-relief, framed and glazed, of two saints
whose names I have ungratefully forgotten, to whom if you pray
as you go out to commit a crime, however heinous, you take your
pardon with you--a refinement upon the whipping of the saints in
Calabria and Spanish hagiolatry. The icons, the sacred images,
are hung in the chief corner, called "The Beautiful," of a Russian
_izba_. A lamp is always lit before them, and some food spread
"for the ghosts to come and eat." The well-to-do peasant is still
"strict about his fasts and festivals, and never neglects to prepare
for Lent. During the whole year his forethought never wearies;
the children pick up a number of fungi, which the English kick
away as toadstools, these are dried in the sun or the oven, and
packed in casks with a mixture of hot water and dry meal in which
they ferment. The staple diet of the peasant consists of buckwheat,
rye meal, sauerkraut, and coarse cured fish" (little, however,
but black bread, often mouldy and sauerkraut, nearly putrid, is
found in the generality of Russian peasant homes). No milk, butter,
cheese, or eggs are allowed in Lent, all of which are permitted to
the Roman Catholic, and the oil the peasant uses for his cooking
is linseed instead of olive oil, which last he religiously sets
aside for the lamps burning before the holy images. "To neglect
fasting would cause a man to be shunned as a traitor, not only
to his religion, but to his class and country."

[Illustration: RUSSIAN FARM SCENE.]

In a bettermost household, the samovar, the tea-urn, is always
going. If a couple of men have a bargain to strike, the charcoal
is lighted inside the urn, which has a pipe carried into the stone
chimney, and the noise of the heated air is like a roaring furnace.
They will go on drinking boiling hot weak tea, in glasses, for
hours, with a liberal allowance of _vodki_. The samovar, however,
is a completely new institution, and the old peasants will tell
you, "Ah, Holy Russia has never been the same since we drank so
much tea."

The only bit of art or pastime to be found among the peasants seems
to consist in the "circling dances" with songs, at harvest, Christmas,
and all other important festivals, as described by Mr. Ralston.
And even here "the settled gloom, the monotonous sadness," are
most remarkable. Wife-beating, husbands' infidelities, horrible
stories of witches and vampires, are the general subjects of the
songs. The lament of the young bride who is treated almost like
a slave by her father and mother-in-law, has a chorus: "Thumping,
scolding, never lets his daughter sleep"; "Up, you slattern! up,
you sloven, sluggish slut!" A wife entreats: "Oh, my husband, only
for good cause beat thou thy wife, not for little things. Far away
is my father dear, and farther still my mother." The husband who is
tired of his wife sings: "Thanks, thanks to the blue pitcher (_i.
e._, poison), it has rid me of my cares; not that cares afflicted
me, my real affliction was my wife," ending, "Love will I make to
the girls across the stream." Next comes a wife who poisons her
husband: "I dried the evil root, and pounded it small;" but in
this case the husband was hated because he had killed her brother.
The most unpleasant of all, however, are the invocations to _vodki_.
A circle of girls imitate drunken women, and sing as they dance:
"_Vodki_ delicious I drank, I drank; not in a cup or a glass, but a
bucketful I drank.... I cling to the posts of the door. Oh, doorpost,
hold me up, the drunken woman, the tipsy rogue."

The account of the Baba Zaga, a hideous old witch, is enough to
drive children into convulsions. She has a nose and teeth made
of strong sharp iron. As she lies in her hut she stretches from
one corner to the other, and her nose goes through the roof. The
fence is made of the bones of the people she has eaten, and tipped
with their skulls. The uprights of the gate are human legs. She
has a broom to sweep away the traces of her passage over the snow
in her seven-leagued boots. She steals children to eat them.

Remains of paganism are to be found in some of the sayings. A curse
still existing says, "May Perun (_i. e._, the lightning) strike
thee." The god Perun, the Thunderer, resembles Thor, and like him
carries a hammer. He has been transformed into Elijah, the prophet
Ilya, the rumbling of whose chariot as he rolls through heaven,
especially on the week in summer when his festival falls, may be
heard in thunder. There is a dismal custom by which the children are
made to eat the mouldy bread, "because the Rusalkas (the fairies)
do not choose bread to be wasted." Inhuman stories about burying
a child alive in the foundation of a new town to propitiate the
earth spirit; that a drowning man must not be saved, lest the water
spirit be offended; that if groans or cries are heard in the forest,
a traveller must go straight on without paying any attention, "for
it is only the wood demon, the lyeshey," seem only to be invented
as excuses for selfish inaction. Wolves bear a great part in the
stories. A peasant driving in a sledge with three children is pursued
by a pack of wolves: he throws out a child, which they stop to
devour; then the howls come near him again, and he throws out a
second; again they return, when the last is sacrificed; and one
is grieved to hear that he saves his own wretched cowardly life
at last.

The Emancipation was doubtless a great work. Twenty million serfs
belonging to private owners, and 30,000,000 more, the serfs of
the Crown were set free. They had always, however, considered the
communal land as in one sense their own. "We are yours but the
land is ours," was the phrase. The Act was received with mistrust
and suspicion, and the owners were supposed to have tampered with
the good intentions of the Tsar. Land had been allotted to each
peasant family sufficient, as supposed, for its support, besides
paying a fixed yearly sum to Government. Much of it, however, is
so bad that it cannot be made to afford a living and pay the tax,
in fact a poll tax, not dependent on the size of the strip, but on
the number of the souls. The population in Russia has always had a
great tendency to migrate, and serfdom in past ages is said to have
been instituted to enable the lord of the soil to be responsible for
the taxes. "It would have been impossible to collect these from
peasants free to roam from Archangel to the Caucasus, from St.
Petersburg to Siberia." It was therefore necessary to enforce the
payments from the village community, the Mir, which is a much less
merciful landlord than the nobles of former days, and constantly
sells up the defaulting peasant.

The rule of the Mir is strangely democratic in so despotic an empire.
The Government never interferes with the communes if they pay their
taxes, and the ignorant peasants of the rural courts may pass sentences
of imprisonment for seven days, inflict twenty strokes with a rod,
impose fines, and cause a man who is pronounced "vicious or pernicious"
to be banished to Siberia. The authority of the Mir, of the Starosta,
the Whiteheads, the chief elders, seems never to be resisted, and
there are a number of proverbs declaring "what the Mir decides
must come to pass"; "The neck and shoulders of the Mir are broad";
"The tear of the Mir is cold but sharp." Each peasant is bound
hand and foot by minute regulations; he must plough, sow and reap
only when his neighbours do, and the interference with his liberty
of action is most vexatious and very injurious.

The agriculture enforced is of the most barbarous kind. Jensen,
Professor of Political Economy at Moscow, says: "The three-field
system--corn, green crops and fallow--which was abandoned in Europe
two centuries ago, has most disastrous consequences here. The lots
are changed every year, and no man has any interest in improving
property which will not be his in so short a time. Hardly any manure
is used, and in many places the corn is threshed out by driving
horses and wagons over it. The exhaustion of the soil by this most
barbarous culture has reached a fearful pitch."

The size of the allotments varies extremely in the different climates
and soils, and the country is so enormous that the provinces were
divided into zones to carry out the details of the Emancipation
Act--the zone without black soil; the zone with black soil; and,
third, the great steppe zone. In the first two the allotments range
from two and two-thirds to twenty acres, in the steppes from eight
and three-quarters to thirty-four and one-third. "Whether, however,"
says Jensen, "the peasants cultivate their land as proprietors at
1_s_. 9_d_. or hire it at 18_s_. 6_d_. the result is the same--the
soil is scourged and exhausted, and semi-starvation has become the
general feature of peasant life."

Usury is the great nightmare of rural Russia, at present, an evil
which seems to dog the peasant proprietor in all countries alike.
The "Gombeen Man" is fast getting possession of the little Irish
owners. A man who hires land cannot borrow on it; the little owner
is tempted always to mortgage it at a pinch. In Russia he borrows to
the outside of its value to pay the taxes and get in his crop. "The
bondage labourers," _i. e._, men bound to work on their creditor's
land as interest for money lent, receive no wages and are in fact a
sort of slaves. They repay their extortioners by working as badly
as they can--a "level worst," far inferior to that of the serfs of
old, they harvest three and a half or four stacks of corn where
the other peasants get five. The Koulaks and Mir-eaters, and other
usurers, often of peasant origin, exhaust the peasant in every
way; they then foreclose the mortgages, unite the small pieces
of land once more, and reconstitute large estates. A Koulak is
not to be trifled with; he finds a thousand occasions for revenge;
the peasant cannot cheat the Jew as he does the landlord, and is
being starved out--the mortality is enormous.

The peasant class comprises five-sixths of the whole population--a
stolid, ignorant, utterly unprogressive mass of human beings. They
have received in gift nearly half the empire for their own use,
and cling to the soil as their only chance of existence. They
consequently dread all change, fearing that it should endanger
this valuable possession. A dense solid stratum of unreasoning
conservatism thus constitutes the whole basis of Russian society
backed by the most corrupt set of officials to be found in the
whole world. The middle and upper classes are often full of ardent
wishes for the advancement of society and projects for the reform
of the State. These are generally of the wildest and most terrible
description, but their objects are anything but unreasonable. They
desire to share in political power and the government of their
country, as is the privilege of every other nation in Europe, and
they hope to do something for the seething mass of ignorance and
misery around them. The Nihilists have an ideal at least of good,
and the open air of practical politics would probably get rid of
the unhealthy absurdities and wickedness of their creeds. But the
Russian peasant cares neither for liberty nor politics, neither
for education, nor cleanliness, nor civilization of any kind. His
only interest is to squeeze just enough out of his plot of ground
to live upon and get drunk as many days in the year as possible.[1]
With such a base to the pyramid as is constituted by the peasant
proprietors of Russia, aided by the enormous army, recruited almost
to any extent from among their ranks, whose chief religion is a
superstitious reverence for the "great father," the Tsar is safe
in refusing all concessions, all improvements; and the hopeless
nature of Russian reform hitherto, mainly hangs upon the conviction
of the Government that nothing external can possibly act upon this
inert mass. "Great is stupidity, and shall prevail." But surely
not forever!

[Footnote 1: "When God created the world He made different nations
and gave them all sorts of good things--land, corn and fruit. Then
He asked them if they were satisfied, and they all said 'Yes' except
the Russian, who had got as much as the rest, but simpered 'Please
Lord, some _vodki_.'"--_Russian Popular Tale_.]



The essential point in the service of the Russian dinner is--as
is now generally known throughout Europe--that the dishes should
be handed round instead of being placed on the table, which is
covered throughout the meal with flowers, fruit, and the whole
of the dessert. One advantage of this plan is, that it makes the
dinner-table look well; another, that it renders the service more
rapid, and saves much trouble to the host. The dishes are brought
in one by one; or two at a time, and of the same kind, if a large
number are dining. The ordinary wines are on the table, and nothing
has to be changed except the plates. At the end of dinner, as the
cloth is not removed, the dessert is ready served; and this has
always been one of the great glories of a Russian banquet.

"I was particularly struck," says Archdeacon Coxe, "with the quantity
and quality of the fruit which made its appearance in the dessert.
Pines, peaches, apricots, grapes, pears, and cherries, none of
which can in this country be obtained without the assistance of
hot-houses,[1] were served," he tells us, "in the greatest profusion.
There was a delicious species of small melon, which had been sent
by land-carriage from Astrakhan to Moscow--a distance of a thousand
miles. These melons," he adds, "sometimes cost five pounds apiece,
and at other times may be purchased in the markets of Moscow for
less than half-a-crown apiece." One "instance of elegance" which
distinguished the dessert, and which appears to have made an impression
on the Archdeacon, is then mentioned. "At the upper and lower ends
of the table were placed two china vases, containing cherry-trees
in full leaf, and fruit hanging on the boughs which was gathered by
the company." This cherry-tree is also a favourite, and certainly
a very agreeable ornament, in the present day. At the conclusion
of the dessert coffee is served as in France and England. Men and
women leave the table together, and after dinner no wine is taken.
Later in the evening tea is brought in, with biscuits, cakes, and
preserved fruits.

[Footnote 1: That is to say, not in the winter. In the summer,
pears and cherries abound in Moscow, and every kind of fruit ripens
in the south.]

The reception-rooms in Russian houses are all _en suite_; and instead
of doors you pass from room to room through arches hung with curtains.
The number of the apartments in most of the houses I remember varied
from three to six or seven; but in the clubs and in large mansions
there are more. Grace before or after dinner is never said under
any circumstances; but all the guests make the sign of the cross
before sitting down to table, usually looking at the same time
towards the eastern corner of the room, where the holy image hangs.
This ceremony is never omitted in families, though in the early
part of the century, when the Gallomania was at its height, it is
said to have been much neglected. In club dinners, when men are
dining alone, it will be easily believed that the same importance
is not attached to it; but the custom may be described as almost
universal among the rich, and quite universal among the poor. Indeed,
a peasant or workman would not on any account eat without first
making the sign of the cross. In Russia, with its "patriarchal"
society (as the Russians are fond of saying), it is usual to thank
the lady of the house, either by word or gesture, after dining at
her table; and those who are sufficiently intimate kiss her hand.


We now come to the composition of the Russian dinners; and here I
must repeat with Archdeacon Coxe, that although the Russians have
adopted many of the delicacies of French cookery, they "neither
affect to despise their native dishes nor squeamishly reject the
solid joints which characterize our own repasts." I was astonished,
at one Russian dinner, which I was assured was thoroughly national
in style, to meet with the homely roast leg of mutton and baked
potatoes of my native land. Like the English, the Russians take
potatoes with nearly every dish--either plain boiled, fried, or
with parsley and butter over them. Plum-pudding, too, and boiled
rice-pudding with currants in it, and with melted butter, are known
in Russia--at all events in Moscow and St. Petersburg; and goose is
not considered complete without apple-sauce. As in France, every
dinner begins with soup; but this custom has not been borrowed
from the French. It seems to date from time immemorial, for all
the Russian peasants, a thoroughly stationary class, take their
soup daily. The Russians are very successful with some kinds of
pickles, such as salted cucumbers and mushrooms; and they excel
in salads, composed not only of lettuce, endive, and beetroot, but
also of cherries, grapes, and other fruits, preserved in vinegar.
The fruit is always placed at the top, and has a very picturesque
effect in the midst of the green leaves. Altogether it may be said
that the Russian _cuisine_ is founded on a system of eclecticism,
with a large number of national dishes for its base. Of course,
in some Russian houses, as in some English ones, the cooking is
nearly all in the French style; but even then there are always a
few dishes on the table that might easily be recognized as belonging
to the country. We need scarcely remark, that only very rich persons
dine every day in the sumptuous style described by Archdeacon Coxe,
though the rule as to service may be said to be general--one dish
at a time, and nothing on the table but flowers and the dessert.
In the winter, when it is difficult and expensive to get dessert,
those who are rich send for it where it _can_ be obtained--perhaps
to their own hot-houses; and those who are not rich, as in other
countries, go without. At the _traktirs_, or _restaurants_, the
usual dinner supplied for three-quarters of a rouble consists of
soup, with a pie of mince-meat, or minced vegetables, an _entrée_,
roast meat, and some kind of sweet. That, too, may be considered
the kind of dinner which persons of moderate means have every day
at home. Rich proprietors, who keep a head-cook, a roaster, a
pastry-cook, and two or three assistant-cooks, would perhaps despise
so moderate a repast; but from a little manual of cookery which
a friend has been kind enough to send me from Russia, it would
appear that the generality of persons do not have more than four
dishes at each meal.

The most ancient and popular drinks in Russia are hydromel or mead
(called by the same name in Russia), beer, and _kvass_. Mead, the fine
old Scandinavian drink, is mentioned as far back as the Tenth Century;
and in a chronicle of Novgorod of the year 989, it is stated that "A
great festival took place, at which a hundred and twenty thousand
pounds of honey were consumed." Hydromel is flavoured with various
kinds of spices and fermented with hops. Gerebtzoff states that
beer is mentioned (under the name of _oloul_--the present word being
_pivo_) in the _Book of Ranks_, written in the Eleventh and Twelfth
Centuries. But no drink is so ancient as _kvass_, which, according
to the chronicle of Nestor, was in use among the Sclavonians in
the first century of our era. Among the laws of Yaroslaff there
is an old edict determining the quantity of malt to be furnished
for making _kvass_ to workmen engaged in building a town.

The Russians learnt to drink wine from the Greeks, during their
frequent intercourse with the Eastern Empire, long before the Mongol
invasion. During the Tartar domination there was less communication
with Constantinople and the consumption of wine decreased, but
it became greater again during the period of the Tsars. In the
beginning of the Seventeenth Century wine was supplied to ambassadors,
but the Russians for the most part still preferred their native
drinks. The cultivation of the vine was introduced at Astrakhan
in 1613, and a German traveller named Strauss, who visited the
city in 1675, found that it had been attended with great success;
so much so, that, without counting what was sold in the way of
general trade, the province supplied to the Tsar alone every year
two hundred tuns of wine, and fifty tuns of grape brandy. The wines
of Greece were at the same time replaced by those of Hungary, which
were in great demand when Peter came and introduced the vintage
of France. This by many persons will be considered not the least
of his reforms.

The Russians acquired the art of distilling from grain in the Fourteenth
Century from the Genoese established in the Crimea, and seem to
have lost no time in profiting by their knowledge. They soon began
to invent infusions of fruit and berries, which under the name of
"_nalivka_" have long been known to travellers, and which I for
my part found excellent. "_Raki_," about the consumption of which
by the Russian soldiers so much was written during the Crimean
war, is a Turkish spirit, and is unknown in Russia. The Russian
grain-spirit is called "_vodka_." The best qualities are more like
the best whiskey than anything else, only weaker; but it is of various
degrees of excellence as of price. The new common _vodka_, like other
new spirits, is fiery; but when purified, and kept for some time, it
is excellent and particularly mild. Travellers to Moscow who are
curious on the subject of _vodka_ may visit a gigantic distillery
in the neighbourhood, to which it is easy to gain admission, and
where they can obtain information and samples in abundance. _Vodka_
is sometimes made in imitation of brandy, and there are also sweet
and bitter _vodkas_; and, indeed, _vodka_ of all flavours. But
the British spirit which the ordinary _vodka_ chiefly resembles
is whiskey. There is one curious custom connected with drinking in
Russia which, as far as I am aware, has never been noticed. The
Russians drink first and eat afterwards, and never drink without
eating. If wine and biscuits are placed on the table, everyone takes
a glass of wine first, and then a biscuit; and at the _zakouska_
before dinner, those who take the customary glass of _vodka_ take an
atom of caviare or cheese after it, but not before. It may also be
remarked that, as a general rule, the Russians, like the Orientals,
drink only at the beginning of a repast.

A hospitable Englishman entertaining a Russian, on seeing him eat
after drinking, would press him to drink again, and having drunk
a second time, the Russian would eat once more on his own account;
which would involve another invitation to drink on the part of the
Englishman. As a hospitable Russian, on the other hand, entertaining
an Englishman, would endeavour to prevail upon him to eat after
drinking, and as it is the Englishman's habit to drink after eating,
it is easy to see that too much attention on either side might
lead to very unfortunate results.

A great deal is said about the enormous quantity of champagne consumed
in Russia. Champagne, however, costs five roubles (from sixteen to
seventeen shillings) a bottle--the duty alone amounting to one rouble
a bottle--and is only drunk habitually by persons of considerable
means. Nor does the champagne bottle go round so frequently at
Russian as at English dinners. It is usually given, as in France,
with the pastry and dessert, and no other wine is taken after it.
The rich merchants are said to drink champagne very freely at their
evening entertainments; but the only merchant at whose house I
dined had, unfortunately, adopted Western manners, and gave nothing
during the evening but tea. However, at festivals and celebrations
of all kinds--whether of congratulation, of welcome, or of
farewell--champagne is indispensable. What Alphonse Karr says of
women and their toilette--that they regard every event in life
as an occasion for a new dress--may certainly be paraphrased and
applied to the Russians in connection with champagne. Besides the
champagne which is given as a matter of course at dinner-parties
and balls, there must be champagne at birthdays, champagne at
christenings, champagne at, or in honour of, betrothals, champagne
in abundance at weddings, champagne at the arrival of a friend, and
champagne at his departure. For those who cannot afford veritable
champagne, Russian viniculture supplies an excellent imitation in
the shape of "_Donskoi_" and "_Crimskoi_,"--the wines of the Don
and of the Crimea. As "_Donskoi_" costs only a fifth of the price
of real champagne, it will be understood that it is not seldom
substituted for the genuine article, both by fraudulent wine merchants
and economic hosts. However, it is a true wine, and far superior to
the fabrications of Hamburg, which, under the name of champagne,
find their way all over the north of Europe. It has often been
said that the Russians drink champagne merely because it is dear.
But the fact is, they have a liking for all effervescing drinks,
and naturally, therefore, for champagne, the best of all. Among
the effervescing drinks peculiar to Russia, we may mention apple
_kvass, kislya shchee_, and _voditsa. Kislya shchee_ is made out of
two sorts of malt, three sorts of flour, and dried apples; in apple
_kvass_ there are more apples and less malt and flour. _Voditsa_
(a diminutive of _voda_, water), is made of syrup, water, and a
little spirit. All these summer-drinks are bottled and kept in
the ice-house.



Lent is heralded by carnival, called by Russians "Maslanitza"--the
"_Butter Wochen_" of the Germans. _Maslanitza_ is held during the
eighth week preceding Easter, the fast proper is observed during the
intervening seven weeks. During Maslanitza every article of diet,
flesh excepted, is allowed to be partaken of, but over-indulgence
in other articles, including drinks, is not forbidden.

Carnival commences on Sunday at noon and continues till the close
of the succeeding Sunday. The salutation during the week is
"_Maslanitza_," or "_Sherokie Maslanitza_," "_Sherokie_" meaning,
literally "broad," indicating a full amount of pleasure, and the
facial expression accompanying this salutation shows plainly that
unrestrained enjoyment is the aim and object for the week. Upon
the discharge of the time gun at noon, there emerge from all parts
of the city tiny sleighs driven by peasants, chiefly Finns, who for
the time are allowed to ply for hire by the payment of a nominal
tax imposed by the police or city corporation. Most of these Finns
are unable to speak Russian intelligibly, although living at no
great distance from the capital. It is said that from 5,000 to 10,000
of these jehus come annually to St. Petersburg for _Maslanitza_,
and they add materially to the gaiety of the city as they drive
along the streets. These Finns are mostly patronized by the
working-classes, for the simple reason that their charges are lower
than the ordinary _isvozchick_, or cabby.

During the festivities the great centre of attraction for the working
population is the "Marco Polo," or "Champ de Mars," an immense
plain on the banks of the Neva. Here a huge fair is held, with
the usual assortment of stalls, loaded with sweetmeats and similar
dainties. Actors from the city theatres are upon the ground, with
smaller booths where the stage-struck hero acts the leading part.
There are dwarfs, fat women, giants, and the renowned ubiquitous
Punch and Judy, merry-go-rounds, card-sharpers, cheap-jacks, and
a medley crowd of men and women all catering for the roubles of
the crowd. What are termed the "ice-hills" are perhaps the most
attractive feature of the gathering.

In the city feasting and visiting are the order of the day. There
is no limit to the consumption of "_bleenies_," a kind of pancake
made of buckwheat flour, and eaten with butter sauce or fresh caviare,
according to the circumstances of the families. Morn, noon, and
night _bleenies_ are cooked and eaten by the dozen, moistened,
of course, with the indispensable _vodka_ or native gin, which is
distilled from rye.

When midnight of the second Sunday arrives, all gaieties are supposed
to vanish, and a subdued and demure aspect must be assumed, and
the form of congratulation between friends and acquaintances
is--"_Pozdravlin vam post_," or "I congratulate you on the fast."
The church bells toll mournfully at brief intervals from 4 or 5
A. M., when early mass is celebrated until about 8 P. M., when
evening service closes.

Before the Passion--like the Jews, who at Passover search diligently
for and cast out the old leaven--the Russian housewife likewise
searches out every corner, most remorselessly sweeps from its
hiding-place every particle of dust. Everything is done to make the
house and its contents fit to meet a risen Saviour. The streets,
always very clean, receive special attention, even the lamp-posts
are carefully washed down and the kerbs sanded. Everything that
will clean has brush and soap-and-water applied to it. The reason
of this is the belief that our Saviour invisibly walks about the
earth for forty days after Easter, that is, until Ascension Day.

On the Thursday of Passion Week "_Strashnaya Nedelli_," _i. e._,
"_Terrible Week_," is enacted in a very realistic fashion one of
the last acts of our Saviour--"the washing of the Disciples' feet."
After the close of the second diet of worship at St. Isaac's Cathedral
this ceremony is performed.

The most important day of the week is that of "_Strashnaya Piatnitsa_,"
or Good Friday, when the burial of our Lord is enacted before the
people in a truly solemn and impressive manner. In every church
there is a sarcophagus in imitation of our Saviour's tomb, and
many of these sarcophagi are of elaborate workmanship with gorgeous
gilt and otherwise ornamented. The lid is adorned with a painting
representing our Saviour in death. At dawn this lid is carried
into the chapel, and by 3 P. M. the sarcophagus is in its place
on the daïs ready to receive the body of our Lord. Shortly before
the service is concluded, all the worshippers have their tapers
lighted, the flame being procured from a candelabrum in front of
the sacred icon. This is done by those nearest to the candelabrum
lighting their tapers, while those behind them get the sacred flame
from them, and in this way all get their tapers lit. Many endeavour
to carry their burning tapers home, so that they may have the holy
flame in their dwellings.


Leaving the chapel the crowd musters in the street. Then there
emerges a church dignitary bearing a large brightly-burnished crucifix,
followed by others bearing bannerettes and other symbols, the names
and uses of which are to us a mystery. Last of all come forth four
priests, clad in their gorgeous canonical vestments, bearing the
lid of the sarcophagus which is supported on brass rods. Under
the lid walks an aged priest clad in his clerical vestments,
representing the dead Christ being carried to his tomb. Slowly,
sadly, and reverently he is borne to the tomb, the worshippers
crossing themselves most devoutly. A sudden rush is made for the
church to witness the interment, the big bell meanwhile tolling
mournfully as the procession moves on. The sad procession enters
the church, and, going up to where the sarcophagus is placed with
all the external appearances of love, mourning, and lamentation,
the lid is placed on the sarcophagus and the last obsequies of
the crucified "Christ" are over.

Preparations are now industriously made for the due celebration of
the Resurrection morn. Shopping, shopping, shopping goes on without
intermission. Those who can, prepare to adorn their bodies with one
or more articles of new clothing, but all make preparations for a
sumptuous feast. It is interesting to watch the shops, especially in
the public markets, to see the avidity with which every article of
food is bought up. The butchers come in, perhaps, for the largest
share of custom, as flesh, especially smoked ham, is in universal
demand. Ham among all classes of the community is indispensable for
the breaking of the fast and the due celebration of the feast. Dyed
eggs are in universal request. The exchange of eggs, accompanied with
kissing on the lips and cheeks in the form of the cross, accompanies
all gifts or exchange. The _koolitch_ and _paska_ have also to be
bought. The _koolitch_ is a sweet kind of wheaten bread, circular
in form, in which there are raisins. It is ornamented with candied
sugar and usually has the Easter salutation on it: "_Christos
vozkress_"--"Christ is risen"--the whole surmounted with a large
gaudy red-paper rose. The _paska_ is made of cords, pyramidal in
shape, and contains a few raisins, and, like the former, has also
a paper rose inserted on the top. These are the _sine qua non_ for
the due observance of Easter, but what relation they may have, if
any, to the Jewish Feast of the Passover, it is difficult to see,
although in many other respects there is a striking resemblance
to the service of the Temple in Jerusalem in the ritual of the
Russo-Greek Church. The _koolitch_ and _paska_ and dyed eggs are
brought to, but not into, the church on the Saturday evening. Some
have burning tapers inserted into them, while a pure white table
napkin is spread on the ground, or on benches specially provided
for the purpose, awaiting the priests' blessing. The hours for
this purpose are six, eight, and ten o'clock. The priests sprinkle
the _koolitch, paska_, and dyed eggs at these hours, those to whom
they belong slipping a silver or copper coin into his hand as a
reward for his services. These articles are then carried home,
and along with the other necessities for the feast are laid out
on a table, there to lie untouched till the resurrection of the
"Saviour" is an accomplished fact. Meanwhile the lessons are being
read over the tomb of "Christ," and the devotees, still in large
numbers, kiss His face and feet. About 11 P. M. the sarcophagus is
wheeled to its usual place in the church, where it remains until
the following Easter.

All the churches by this time are densely packed with worshippers,
silently waiting with eager expectancy the time when their "Saviour"
will break the bonds of death and rise from the tomb in which he
has now lain for three days.

As if by magic, everyone has lighted his or her taper, and looks
anxiously towards the altar-screen, where preparations are being
made by the priests to go to Joseph of Arimathea's garden, as the
disciples and women did of old to visit the tomb where Christ was
buried. This they do by forming a procession with the crucifix,
bannerettes, etc., each carrying a lighted candle in his hand.
There is a rush among the worshippers to join the procession. They
walk thrice round the church, searching diligently by the aid of
their candles for "Christ," and not finding Him, they go to bring
the disciples word that He is risen from the dead.

When the procession enters the threshold of the church, the royal
gates are thrown back, suddenly displaying a marvellously beautiful
stained glass window, and all eyes behold an enchanting representation
of the Saviour in the act of rising from the cold grave.

The priests with the choristers, as they enter the church, proclaim
in joyful tones, "_Christos vozkress_" ("Christ is risen"), the
response being "_Voestenno vozkress_" ("Truly He is risen"). It
is really a jubilant song of praise they sing--the finely trained
voices of the choir and priests, joined with those of the worshippers,
making it most impressive. Every face in the vast crowd bears the
joyous expression of gladness, for to these men and women a really
dead Christ has risen, and is now invisibly in their midst. Relatives
and friends kiss each other and shake hands, and the salutation,
"_Christos vozkress_," with the refrain, "_Voestenno vozkress_,"
is heard on every side. The officiating priest begins the usual
early morning service (celebrated on ordinary Sundays at 5 A. M.),
which continues until nearly three o'clock, when the churches are
closed for the day.

Immediately after midnight a salute of one hundred and one guns is
given from the fortress to greet the sacred morn. The whole city
is stirred as the loud peal of cannon reverberates, proclaiming
to the faithful that Christ is indeed risen from the dead. Some
few worshippers remain in church until the early service is over,
but the majority retire to their homes to tender the greetings
of the day.

Then families and friends assemble at the domestic board that groans
under a load of the good things of this life, according to their
circumstances, and to make reparation to their stomachs for the
privation they have endured during the seven weeks of Lent. And
full compensation their stomachs get, as the feast is a literal
gorge of meat and drink. Ham is on the table of prince and peasant
alike, and it is first partaken of. The table of the rich is spread
with all gastronomical luxuries, _vodka_ and wines, cold roast
beef, eggs, etc. These dainties remain on the table for several
days; indeed a free table is kept, and all who call to congratulate
are expected to partake of the hospitality. Not to do so is regarded
in the light of an insult.

On Easter Sunday only gentlemen pay visits of congratulation; ladies
remain at home for that day to receive and entertain visitors.
Presents are dispensed to domestic and other servants. A good drink
is as indispensable to the feast among the peasant class as a good
feed, and they neither deny themselves the one nor the other, their
potations lasting for several days.

To the Western mind the continual kissing and giving of eggs on
the streets appear strangely out of keeping with the solemnity
of the hour. To see a couple of bearded men hugging and kissing
each other and each other's wives on the public streets, with the
salutation, "_Christos vozkress_," is indeed peculiar. But use
and wont justify this, and it would be a breach of courtesy to
withhold the lips and cheeks, and would be regarded as indicating
indifference to the great feast of the Church. Present-giving,
although on somewhat similar lines to our Christmas greetings,
is a much heavier tax on a Russian household than Christmas gifts
are with us. In the ordinary house in St. Petersburg, the master,
on gaining his breakfast-room, is saluted by his domestic servant
with "_Prazdnik_ (holiday), _Christos vozkress_," which involves a
new dress for the female, or a money equivalent. Then the _dvorniks_,
or house-porters, resplendent in clean white aprons, make their
appearance, giving the usual salutation, and one or two roubles
must be given. They have scarcely vanished when a couple of
chimney-sweepers put in an appearance, necessitating another appeal
to the purse; postmen follow, and in their rear come the juvenile
representatives of your butcher, greengrocer, etc., all bent upon
testing your liberality. You go to church and the doorkeeper gravely
says, "_Christos vozkress_," while he of the cloak-room echoes
the sentiment to the impoverishment of one's exchequer. But this
seeming mendicancy is not confined to these classes, for even the
reverend fathers and brethren walk in the same footsteps unblushingly.
Either on foot or by carriage they call upon the well-to-do of
their church, give the usual salutation, "_Christos vozkress_,"
and the kiss, partake of the general hospitality, and get their
gratuity or "_Na Chai_," as it is called, and retire. They are
scarcely gone when the "_Staroste_," or elders, put in an appearance,
followed by the "_Pyefche_," or choristers, all of whom share in
the bounty and hospitality of those on whom they call. The priests,
of course, come in for the largest share, and, generally speaking,
they know the value of the adage, "First come first served."

At mid-day of Easter Sunday a salute is fired from the fortress,
and carnival begins again. It is a repetition of the same amusements
as in carnival before Lent, and continues until the following Sunday



A true Russian _restaurant_, or _traktir_ (probably from the French
_traiteur_), is not to be found in St. Petersburg, whose _cafés_
and _restaurants_ are either German or French, or imitated from
German or French models. One of the large Moscow _traktirs_ is not
only very much larger, but at least twelve times larger than an
ordinary French _café_. The best of them is the Troitzkoi _traktir_,
where the merchants meet to complete the bargains they have commenced
on the Exchange--that is to say--in the street beneath, where all
business is carried on, summer and winter, in the open air. St.
Petersburg is more fortunate, and has a regular bourse, with a
chapel attached to it. The merchants always enter this chapel before
commencing their regular afternoon's work ('Change is held at four
o'clock in St. Petersburg), and remain for several minutes at their
devotions, occasionally offering a candle to the Virgin or some
saint. Now and then it must happen that a speculator for the rise
and a speculator for the fall enter the chapel and commence their
orisons at the same time. Probably they pray that they may not
be tempted to cheat one another.

There is no special chapel for the Moscow merchants, nor is there
one attached to the Troitzkoi _traktir_, which I am inclined to
look upon after all as the real Moscow Exchange. But in each of
the rooms, of which the entrances as usual are arched, and which
together form an apparently interminable suite, the indispensable
holy picture is to be seen; and no Russian goes in or out without
making the sign of the cross. No Russian, to whatever class he
may belong, remains for a moment with his hat on in any inhabited
place; whether out of compliment to those who inhabit it, or from
respect to the holy pictures, or from mixed reasons. The waiters,
of whom there are said to be a hundred and fifty at the Troitzkoi
_traktir_, are all dressed in white, and it is facetiously asserted
that they are forbidden to sit down during the day for fear of
disturbing the harmony and destroying the purity of their spotless
linen. The service is excellent. The waiters watch and divine the
wishes of the guests, instead of the guests having to watch, seek,
and sometimes scream for the waiters, as is too often the case in
England. Here the attendants do everything for the visitor; cut
up his _pirog_ (meat, or fish patty), so that he may eat it with
his fork; pour out his tea, fill his _chibouk_, and even bring it
to him ready lighted. The reader perceives that there is a certain
Oriental style about the Russian _traktirs_. The great article
of consumption in them is tea. Every one orders tea, either by
itself, or to follow the dinner; and the majority of those who
come into the place take nothing else. You can have a tumbler of
tea, or a pot of tea; but in ordering it you do not ask for tea at
all, but for so many portions of sugar. The origin of this curious
custom it is scarcely worth while to consider; but it apparently
dates from the last European war, when, during the general blockade,
the price of sugar in Russia rose to about four shillings a pound.

All sorts of stories have been told about the quantity of tea consumed
by Russian merchants, nor do I look upon any of them as exaggerated.
From twelve to twenty cups are thought nothing of. I have seen
two merchants enter a _traktir_, order so many portions of sugar,
and drink cup after cup of tea, until the tea-urn before them is
empty; yet the ordinary tea-urn of the _traktir_ holds at least
a gallon, or a gallon and a half.

"Tea," says M. Gerebtzoff, "has become, for every one, an habitual
article of consumption, and replaces, advantageously for morality,
brandy and beer; for on all occasions when a bargain has to be
concluded, or when a companion has to be entertained, or on receiving
or taking leave of a friend, tea is given instead of wine or brandy."
Indeed, I not only observed that in the Moscow _traktirs_ nearly
every one drank tea, but that it was a favourite beverage with
all classes on all occasions. The middle and upper classes take
tea twice or three times a day,--always in the morning, and often
twice in the evening. The _isvostchik_, who formerly had a reputation
for drunkenness, which travellers of the present day continue to
ascribe to him, appears to prefer tea to every other drink. Such,
at least, was my experience; and his mode of asking for a _pour
boire_ seems to confirm it. Some years since travellers used to
tell us of the _isvostchik_ asking at the end of his drive for
_vodka_ money ("_na votkou_"); at present the invariable request
is for tea-money ("_na tchai_"). Even in roadside inns, where I
have seen from twelve to twenty coachmen and postilions sitting down
together, nothing but tea was being drunk. A well-known tourist has
told us that every Russian peasant possesses a tea-urn, or _samovar_;
but this is not the case. The majority of the peasants are too
poor to afford such a luxury as tea, except on rare occasions,
but a tea-urn is one of the first objects that a peasant who has
saved a little money buys; and it is true, that in some prosperous
villages there is a samovar in every hut; and in all the post-houses
and inns each visitor is supplied with a separate one.


The samovar, which, literally, means "self-boiler," is made of brass
lined with tin, with a tube in the centre. In fact, it resembles
the English urn, except that in the centre-tube red-hot cinders
are placed instead of the iron heater. Of course, the charcoal,
or _braise_, has to be ignited in a back kitchen or court-yard;
for in a room the carbonic acid proceeding from it would prove
injurious. It has no advantage then, whatever, over the English
urn, except that it can be heated with facility in the open air,
with nothing but some charcoal, a few sticks of thin dry wood,
and a lucifer; hence its value at picnics, where it is considered
indispensable. In the woods of Sakolniki, in the gardens of Marina
Roschia, and in the grounds adjoining the Petrovski Palace, all close
to Moscow, large supplies of samovars are kept at the tea-houses, and
each visitor, or party of visitors, is supplied with one. Indeed,
the quantity of tea consumed at these suburban retreats in the
spring and summer is prodigious. In Russia there is no interval
between winter and spring. As soon as the frost breaks up the grass
sprouts, the trees blossom, and all nature is alive. In that country
of extremes there is sometimes as much difference between April and
May as there is in England between January and June. The summer is
celebrated by various promenades to the country, which take place
at Easter, on the first of May, Ascension Day, Trinity Sunday,
and other occasions. The great majority of these promenades are of
a festive nature, but some, like that which is made on the 19th of
May to the monastery and cemetery of the Don, have a penitential, or,
at least, a mournful character. The samovar, however, is present even
in the churchyard. I never joined in one of the funeral pilgrimages
to the Donskoi convent; but in other cemeteries outside Moscow and
St. Petersburg (intramural burial not being tolerated), I noticed
that the custodians kept in their lodges a supply of samovars for the
benefit of visitors. And, after all, what can be more appropriate
than an urn in a cemetery?

Between St. Petersburg and Kovno or Tauroggen, there are upwards of
fifty "stations," at each of which tea can be procured. Travellers
whose route does not lie along the government post-roads, take
samovars with them in their carnages; and small samovars that can
be packed into the narrowest compass are made for the use of officers
starting on a campaign, and other persons likely to find themselves
in places where it may be difficult to procure hot water. Small
tea-caddies are also manufactured with a similar object. Each caddy
contains one or more glasses; for men among themselves usually drink
their tea, not out of tea-cups, but out of tumblers. Not many years
since it was the fashion to give cups to women and tumblers to
men in the evening; but the tumbler is gradually being banished,
at least from the drawing-room.

The Russians never take milk in their tea; they take either cream,
or a slice of lemon or preserved fruit, or simply sugar without
the addition of anything else. They hold that milk spoils tea,
and they are right. Tea with lemon or preserves (forming a kind
of tea-punch, well worthy the attention of tea-totallers), is only
taken in the evening. Sometimes the men add rum.



If I were asked to state what a Russian schoolboy does with his
spare time after working hours are over, I should be much puzzled
what to say.

Unfortunately young Russia has not the faintest glimmering of knowledge
of the practice or even of the existence of such things as football,
cricket, fives, rackets, golf, athletic sports, hockey, or any other
of the numerous pastimes which play so important a part in the
life of every schoolboy in this merry land of England. Therefore
there is no question, for him, of staying behind at the school
premises after working hours, in order to take part in any game.
He goes home; that much is certain; most of his time is loafed
away--that, too, is beyond question. He may skate a little, perhaps,
in the winter, if he happens to live near a skating ground, but
he will not go far for it; and in the summer, which is holiday
time for him, from June to September, he walks up and down the
village street clothed in white calico garments, or plays cup and
ball in the garden; fishes a little, perhaps, in the river or pond
if there happen to be one, and lazies his time away without exertion.
Of late years "lorteneece," as lawn-tennis is called in the Tsar's
country has been slightly attempted; but it is not really liked:
too many balls are lost and the rules of the game have never yet
been thoroughly grasped. A quartette of men will occasionally rig
up their net, which they raise to about the height of a foot and
a half, and play a species of battledore and shuttlecock over it
until the balls disappear; but it is scarcely tennis. As a matter
of fact, a Russian generally rushes at the ball and misses it; on
the rare occasions when he strikes the object, he does so with
so much energy that the ball unless stopped by the adversary's
eye, or his partner's, disappears forever into "the blue."

Croquet is a mild favourite, too; but it is played very languidly
and unscientifically.

Most gardens in Russian country houses contain a swing, a rotting
horizontal bar for the gymnastically (and suicidally) inclined, and
a giant stride. Occasionally there is a flower-bed in the centre,
in which our dear old British friend the rhubarb, monopolizes the
space, and makes a good show as an ornamental plant; for he is
not known in that benighted country as a comestible, though, of
course, children are acquainted with and hate him in his medicinal
capacity. Besides the swings and the rhubarb, there are sand or gravel
paths; and built out over the dusty road is an open summer-house,
wherein the Muscovitish householder and his ladies love to sit
and sip their tea for the greater part of each day--this being
their acme of happiness. The dust may lie half-an-inch thick over
the surface of their tea and bread and butter, but this does not
detract from the delights of the fascinating occupation.

I should point out that in all I have said above, I refer not so
much to the highest or to the lowest classes of Russian society,
as to that middle stratum to which belong the families of the
_Chinovnik_, of the infantry officer, or the well-to-do merchant.
The aristocracy amuse themselves very much in the same way as our
own. They shoot, they loaf and play cards in their clubs, they
butcher pigeons out of traps, they have their race-meetings, they
dance much and well; some have yachts of their own. Many of them
keep English grooms, and their English--when they speak it--for
this reason smacks somewhat of the stable, though they are not
usually aware that this is the case. If a Russian autocrat has
succeeded in making himself look like an Englishman, and behaves
like one, he is happy.

Of winter sports--in which, however, but a small minority of the
Russian youth care to take part--there are skating, ice-yatching,
snow-shoeing, and ice-hilling. The skating ought, naturally, to be
very good in Russia. As a matter of fact the ice is generally dead
and lacking in that elasticity and spring which is characteristic
of our English ice. It is too thick for elasticity, though the
surface is beautifully kept and scientifically treated with a view
to skating wherever a space is flooded or an acre or two of the
Neva's broad bosom is reclaimed to make a skating-ground. Some
of the Russian amateurs skate marvellously, as also do many of
the English and other foreign residents. Ice-yachting is confined
almost entirely to these latter, the natives not having as yet
awakened to the merits of this fine pastime. Ice-hilling, however,
at fair-time--that is, during the carnival week, preceding the
"long fast" or Lent--is much practised by the people. This is a
kind of cross between the switchback and tobogganing, and is an
exceedingly popular amusement among the English residents of St.

Snow-shoeing, again, is a fine and healthful recreation; it is
the "ski"-running of Norway, and is beloved and much practised by
all Englishmen who are fortunate enough to be introduced to its
fascinations. It is too difficult and requires too much exertion,
however, for young Russia, and that indolent individual, in consequence,
rarely dons the snow-shoe.

The Russians are a theatre-loving people, and the acting must be
very good to please their critical taste. Many of their theatres
are "imperial," that is, the state "pays the piper" if the receipts
of the theatre so protected do not balance the expenditure. In
paying for good artists, whether operatic or dramatic, the Russians
are most lavish, and the Imperial Italian Opera must have been a
source of considerable expense to the authorities in the days of
its state endowment.

Nearly every Russian is a natural musician, and cannot only sing in
tune, but can take a part "by ear." The man with the _balaleika_,
or _garmonka_, is always sure of an admiring audience, whether in
town or village; and there is not a tiny hamlet in the empire but
resolves itself, on holidays, into a pair of choral societies--one
for male and one for female voices--which either parade up and down
the village street, singing, without, of course, either conductor
or accompaniment, or sit in rows upon the benches outside the huts,
occupied in a similar manner.

Occasionally, but very rarely, you may see a party of Russian children,
or young men and women, playing, in the open air, at one of two
games. The first is a variant of "prisoner's base"; the other is a
species of ninepins, or skittles, played with a group of uprights
at which short, thick clubs are thrown. The Russian youth--those
who are energetic enough to practise the game--sometimes attain
considerable proficiency with these grim little weapons, and make
wonderful shots at a distance of some thirty yards or so.

As for the middle-class Russian sportsman, he forms a class by
himself, and is a very original person indeed, unless taught the
delights of the chase by an Englishman. In his eyes the be-all and
end-all of a true sportsman is to purchase the orthodox equipment
of a green-trimmed coat, Tyrolese hat, and long boots, and to pay
his subscription to a shooting club. He rarely discharges a gun;
the rascally thing kicks, he finds; and the birds _will_ fly before
he can point his weapon at them as they crouch in the heather at
his feet; of course he is not such a fool as to fire after they
are up and away. As a rule, however, he goes no farther afield
than the card-table of the club-house. Why should he? He has bought
all the clothes; and what more does a man need to be a sportsman?
I cannot honestly affirm that I ever saw one of these good fellows
actually fire off a gun; for whenever I have been informed that
such an event is about to take place, I have always done my best
to put two or three good miles, or a village or two, between myself
and the Muscovitish "sportsman."



The aspect of the country now underwent an entire change. We had
left all traces of civilization behind us, and were regularly upon
the Steppes. Not the Steppes as they are described to us in the
summer months, when hundreds of nomad tribes, like their forefathers
of old, migrate from place to place, with their families, flocks,
and herds, and relieve the dreary aspect of this vast flat expanse
with their picturesque _kibitkas_, or tents, while hundreds of
horses, grazing on the rich grass, are a source of considerable
wealth to the Kirghiz proprietors.

A large dining-table covered with naught but its white cloth is not
a cheery sight. To describe the country for the next one hundred
miles from Orsk, I need only extend the table-cover. For here,
there, and everywhere was a dazzling, glaring sheet of white, as
seen under the influence of a mid-day sun; then gradually softening
down as the god of light sunk into the west, it faded into a vast,
melancholy-looking, colourless ocean. This was shrouded in some
places from the view by filmy clouds of mist and vapour, which
rose in the evening air and shaded the wilderness around--a picture
of desolation which wearied, by its utter loneliness, and at the
same time appalled by its immensity; a circle of which the centre
was everywhere, and the circumference nowhere. Such were the Steppes
as I drove through them at night-fall or in the early morn; and
where, fatigued by want of sleep, my eye searched eagerly, but
in vain, for a station.

On arriving at the halting-place, which was about twenty-seven
versts from Orsk, Nazar came to me, and said, "I am very sleepy; I
have not slept for three nights, and shall fall off if we continue
the journey."

When I began to think of it, the poor fellow had a good deal of
reason on his side. I could occasionally obtain a few moments'
broken slumber, which was out of the question for him. I felt rather
ashamed that in my selfishness I had over-driven a willing horse,
and the fellow had shown first-class pluck when we had to pass
the night out on the roadside; so, saying that he ought to have
told me before that he wanted rest, I sent him to lie down, when,
stretching his limbs alongside the stove, in an instant he was
fast asleep.

The inspector was a good-tempered, fat old fellow, with red cheeks
and an asthmatic cough. He had been a veterinary surgeon in a Cossack
regiment, and consequently his services were much in request with
the people at Orsk. He informed me that land could be bought on
these flats for a rouble and a half a _desyatin_ (2,700 acres);
that a cow cost £3 2s. 6d.; a fat sheep, two years old, 12s. 6d.;
and mutton or beef, a penny per pound. A capital horse could be
purchased for three sovereigns, a camel for £7 10s., while flour
cost 1s. 4d. the pood of forty pounds. These were the prices at Orsk,
but at times he said that provisions could be bought at a much lower
rate, particularly if purchased from the Tartars themselves. The
latter had suffered a great deal of late years from the cattle-pest,
and vaccinating the animals had been tried as an experiment, but,
according to my informant, with but slight success.

The Kirghiz themselves have but little faith in doctors or vets.
It is with great difficulty that the nomads can be persuaded to
have their children vaccinated; the result is, that when small-pox
breaks out among them it creates fearful havoc in the population.
Putting this epidemic out of the question, the roving Tartars are
a peculiarly healthy race. The absence of medical men does not seem
to have affected their longevity, the disease they most suffer
from being ophthalmia, which is brought on by the glare of the snow
in the winter, and by the dust and heat in the summer months.

The country now began to change its snowy aspect, and party-coloured
grasses of various hues dotted the Steppes around. The Kirghiz had
taken advantage of the more benignant weather, and hundreds of
horses were here and there to be seen picking up what they could
find. In fact, it is extraordinary how any of these animals manage
to exist through the winter months, as the nomads hardly ever feed
them with corn, trusting to the slight vegetation which exists
beneath the snow. Occasionally the poor beasts perish by thousands,
and a Tartar who is a rich man one week may find himself a beggar the
next. This comes from the frequent snow-storms, when the thermometer
sometimes descends to from forty to fifty degrees below zero,
Fahrenheit; but more often from some slight thaw taking place for
perhaps a few hours. This is sufficient to ruin whole districts,
for the ground becomes covered with an impenetrable coating of
ice, and the horses simply die of starvation, not being able to
kick away the frozen substance as they do the snow from the grass
beneath their hoofs. No horses which I have ever seen are so hardy
as these little animals, which are indigenous to the Kirghiz Steppes;
perhaps for the same reason that the Spartans of old excelled all
other nations in physical strength, but with this difference, that
nature doles out to the weakly colts the same fate which the Spartan
parents apportioned to their sickly offspring.

The Kirghiz never clothe their horses, even in the coldest winter.
They do not even take the trouble to water them, the snow eaten
by the animals supplying this want. Towards the end of the winter
months the ribs of the poor beasts almost come through their sides;
but once the snow disappears and the rich vegetation which replaces
it in the early spring comes up, the animals gain flesh and strength,
and are capable of performing marches which many people in this
country would deem impossible, a hundred-mile ride not being at all
an uncommon occurrence in Tartary. Kirghiz horses are not generally
well shaped, and cannot gallop very fast, but they can traverse
enormous distances without water, forage, or halting. When the
natives wish to perform any very long journey they generally employ
two horses: on one they carry a little water in a skin, and some
corn, while they ride the other, changing from time to time, to
ease the animals.

It is said that a Kirghiz chief once galloped with a Cossack escort
(on two horses) 200 miles in twenty-four hours, the path extending
for a considerable distance over a mountainous and rocky district.
The animals, however, soon recovered from the effects of the journey,
although they were a little lame for the first few days.

An extraordinary march was made by Count Borkh to the Sam, in May,
1870. The object of his expedition was to explore the routes across
the Ust Urt, and if possible to capture some Kirghiz _aúls_ (villages),
which were the headquarters of some marauding bands from the town
of Kungrad. The Russian officer determined to cross the northern
Tchink, and by a forced march to surprise the tribes which nomadized
on the Sam. Up to that time only small Cossack detachments had
ever succeeded in penetrating to this locality. To explain the
difficulties to be overcome, it must be observed that the Ust Urt
plateau is bounded on all sides by a scarped cliff, known by the
name of the Tchink. It is very steep, attaining in some places an
elevation of from 400 to 600 feet, and the tracks down its rugged
sides are blocked up by enormous rocks and loose stones. Count Borkh
resolved to march as lightly equipped as possible, and without
baggage, as he wished to avoid meeting any parties of the nomad tribes
on his road. His men carried three days' rations on their saddles,
while the artillery took only as many rounds as the limber-box
would contain. The expedition was made up of 150 Orenburg Cossacks,
sixty mounted riflemen, and a gun, which was taken more by way of
experiment than for any other reason, the authorities being anxious
to know if artillery could be transported in that direction.

The detachment reached Ak-Tiube in six days without _contretemps_,
after a march of 333 miles, and with the loss of only two lame



Russia in the summer is no more like Russia in the winter than a
camp in time of peace is like a camp in the presence of the enemy.
Moreover, snow is one of the chief natural productions of the country;
and without it Russia is as uninteresting as an orchard without fruit.
One always thinks of Russia in connection with its frosts, and of
its frosts in connection with such great events as the campaign of
1812, or the winter of 1854 in the Crimea. Accordingly, a foreigner
in Russia naturally looks forward to the winter with much interest,
mingled perhaps with a certain amount of awe. He waits for it,
in fact, as a man waits for a thief, expecting the visitor with
a certain kind of apprehension, and not without a due provision
of life-preservers in the shape of goloshes, seven-leagued boots,
scarves, fur coats, etc.

The house I lived in was in the middle of Moscow; and with the
exception of the stoves, the internal arrangement seemed like that
of most other dwellings in Europe. The Russian stoves, however, are,
in fact, thick hollow party-walls, built of brick, and sometimes
separating, or connecting, as many as three or four rooms, and
heating them all from one common centre. The outer sides of these
lofty intramural furnaces are usually faced with a kind of white
porcelain, though in some houses they are papered like the rest
of the wall, so that the presence of the stove is only known in
summer by two or three apertures like port-holes, which have been
made for the purpose of admitting the hot air, and which, when
there is no heat within, are closed with round metal covers like
the tops of canisters. Sometimes, especially in country houses,
the stove, or _peitchka_ as it is called, is not only a wall, but
a wall which, towards the bottom, projects so as to form a kind
of dresser or sofa, and which the lazier of the inmates use not
infrequently in the latter capacity. In the huts the _peitchka_
is almost invariably of this form; and the peasants not only lie
and sleep upon it as a matter of course, but even get inside and
use it as a bath. Not that they fill their stoves with water--that
would be rather difficult. But the Russian bath is merely a room
paved with stone slabs and heated like an oven, in which the bather
stands to be rubbed and lathered, and to have buckets of water poured
over him, or thrown at him, by naked attendants; and accordingly a
stove makes an excellent bath on a small scale. As a general rule,
every row of huts has one or more baths attached to it, which the
inhabitants support by subscription; but when this is not the case,
the peasant, after carefully raking out the ashes, creeps into
the hot _peitchka_, and is soon bathed in his own perspiration.
He would infallibly be baked alive but for the pailfuls of water
with which he soon begins to cool his heated skin. Thanks, however,
to this precaution, he issues from the fiery furnace uninjured,
and, it is to be hoped, benefited.

[Illustration: THE RED SQUARE, MOSCOW.]

When a stove is being heated, the port-holes are kept carefully
shut, to prevent the egress of carbonic-acid gas. But after the
wood has become thoroughly charred, and every vestige of flame
has disappeared, the chimney is closed on a level with the garret
floor, the covers are removed from the apertures in the side of
the stove, and the hot air is allowed to penetrate freely into
the room; which, if enough wood has been put into the _peitchka_,
and the lid of the chimney closes hermetically, will, by this one
fire, be kept warm for twelve or fourteen hours.

Occasionally it happens that the port-holes are opened while there
still flickers a little blue flame above the whitening embers.
In this case there is death in the stove. The carbonic-acid gas,
which is still proceeding from the burning charcoal, enters the
room, and produces asphyxia, or at all events some of its symptoms.
If you have not time, or if you are already too weak, to open the
door when you find yourself attacked by _ougar_ (as the Russians
call this gas), you had better throw the first thing you have at
hand through the window; and the cold air, rushing rapidly into the
room, will save you. A foreigner unaccustomed to the hot apartments
of Russia will scarcely perceive the presence of _ougar_ until he
is already seriously affected by it; and in this manner the son
of the Persian ambassador lost his life, some years since, in one
of the principal hotels of Moscow. A native, however, if the stove
should chance to be "covered" before the wood is thoroughly charred,
will detect the presence of the fatal gas almost instantaneously;
and having done so, the best remedy he can adopt for the headache
and sickness, which even then will inevitably follow, is to rush
into the open air, and cool his temples by copious applications of
snow. Persons who are almost insensible from the effect of _ougar_
have to be carried out and rolled in the snow,--a process which
speedily restores them to their natural condition.

One morning there was a fall of snow; and the cream was brought
in from the country in jars wrapped carefully round with matting
to prevent its freezing. Hundreds of cabbages and thousands of
potatoes, similarly protected, were purchased and stowed away.
Furlongs of wood (in Russia wood is sold by the foot), were laid
up in the courtyard; an inspector of stoves arrived to see that
every _peitchka_ was in proper working order; and an examiner and
fitter-in of windows was summoned to adjust the usual extra sash.
At last the windows had been made fast, each pane being at the
same time reputtied into its frame. On the window-sill, in the
space between the outer and inner panes, was something resembling
a long deep line of snow, which was, however, merely a mass of
cotton-wool placed there as an additional protection against the
external air. Indeed, the winds of the Russian winter have such
powers of penetration that, in a room guarded by _triple_ windows,
besides shutters closed with the greatest exactness, I have seen
the curtains slightly agitated when the howling outside was somewhat
louder than usual. "The wind," says Gregorovitch in his _Winter's
Tale_, "howls like a dog; and like a dog will bite the feet and calves
of those who have not duly provided themselves with fur-goloshes
and doubly-thick pantaloons." Such a wind must not be suffered to
intrude into any house intended to be habitable.

Besides the cotton-wool, which is a special provision against draughts,
the space between the two sashes is usually adorned with artificial
flowers; indeed, the fondness of the Russians for flowers and green
leaves during the winter is remarkable. The corridors are converted
into greenhouses, by means of trellis-work covered with creepers. The
windows of many of the apartments are encircled by evergreens, and
in the drawing-rooms, flower-stands form the principal ornaments. At
the same time enormous sums are paid for bouquets from the hot-houses
which abound in both the capitals. Doubtless the long winters have
some share in the production of this passion for flowers and green
plants, just as love of country is increased by exile, and love
of liberty by imprisonment.

There are generally at least two heavy snow-storms by way of warning
before winter fairly commences its reign. The first fall of snow
thaws perhaps a few days afterwards, the second in about a week,
the third in five months. If a lady drops her bracelet or brooch
in the street during the period of this third fall, she need not
trouble herself to put out handbills offering a reward for its
discovery, at all events not before the spring; for it will be
preserved in its hiding-place, as well as ice can preserve it,
until about the middle of April, when, if the amount of the reward
be greater than the value of the article lost, it will in all
probability be restored to her. The Russians put on their furs at
the first signs of winter, and the sledges make their appearance
in the streets as soon as the snow is an inch or two thick. Of
course at such a time a sledge is far from possessing any advantage
over a carriage on wheels; but the Russians welcome their appearance
with so much enthusiasm, that the first sledge-drivers are sure
of excellent receipts for several days. The _droshkies_ disappear
one by one with the black mud of autumn; and by the time the gilt
cupolas of the churches, and the red and green roofs of the houses,
have been made whiter than their own walls, the city swarms with
sledges. It is not, however, until near Christmas, when the "frost
of St. Nicholas" sets in, that they are seen in all their glory.
The earlier frosts of October and November mayor may not be attended
to without any very dangerous results ensuing; but when the frigid
St. Nicholas makes his appearance,--staying the most rapid currents,
forming bridges over the broadest rivers, and converting seas into
deserts of ice,--then a blast from his breath, if not properly
guarded against, may prove fatal.

It has been said that it is not until the _Nikòlskoi Maros_, or
Frost of St. Nicholas, that the sledges fly through the streets in
all their glory. By that time the rich "boyars"[1] (as foreigners
persist in styling the Russian proprietors of the present day),
have arrived from their estates, and the poor peasants, who have
long ceased to till the ground, and have not thrashed all the corn,
begin to come in from theirs; for, humble and dependent as he may
be, each peasant has nevertheless his own patch of land. For the
former are the elegant sledges of polished nut-wood, with rugs
of soft, thick fur to protect the legs of the occupants; whose
drivers, in their green caftans fastened round the waist with red
sashes, and in their square thickly-wadded caps of crimson velvet,
like sofa-cushions, urge on the prodigiously fast trotting horses,
at the same time throwing themselves back in their seats with
outstretched arms and tightened reins, as though the animals were
madly endeavouring to escape from their control. The latter bring
with them certain strongly-made wooden boxes, with a seat at the
back for two passengers and a perch in front for a driver. These
boxes are put upon rails, and called sledges. The bottom of each
box (or sledge), is plentifully strewn with hay, which after a
few days becomes converted, by means of snow and dirty goloshes,
into something very like manure. The driver is immediately in front
of you, with his brass badge hanging on his back like the label
on a box of sardines. He wears a sheepskin; but it is notorious
that after ten years' wear the sheepskin loses its odour, besides
which it is winter, so that your sense of smell has really nothing
to fear. The one thing necessary is to keep your legs to yourself,
or at all events not to obtrude them beneath the perch of the driver,
or you will run the chance of having your foot crushed by that
gentleman's heel. Sometimes the horse is fresh from the plough,
and requires a most vigorous application of the driver's thong
to induce him to quit his accustomed pace; but for the most part
the animals are willing enough, and as rapid as their masters are
skilful. The driver is generally much attached to his horse, whom
he affectionately styles his "dove" or his "pigeon," assuring him
that although the ground is covered with snow, there is still grass
in the stable for his _galoùpchik_--as the favourite bird is called,
etc., etc.

[Footnote 1: It would be equally correct to speak of the English
nobility of the present day as "the barons."]

As for the real pigeons and doves, they are to be found everywhere,--on
the belfries of the churches, in the courtyards of the houses, in
the streets blocking up the pavement, and above all, beneath the
projecting edges of the roofs, where you may see them clustering
in long deep lines like black cornices.

At home we associate snow with darkness and gloom; but, when once
the snow has fallen, the sky of Moscow is as bright and as blue as
that of Italy; the atmosphere is clear and pure; the sun shines for
several hours in the day with a brightness from which the reflection
of the snow becomes perfectly dazzling; and if the frost be intense,
there is not a breath of wind. The breath that really does attract
your notice is that of the pedestrians, who appear to be blowing
forth columns of smoke or steam into the rarefied atmosphere, and
who look like so many walking chimneys or human locomotives. And
if breath looks like smoke, smoke itself looks almost solid. Rise
early, when the fires are being lighted which are to heat the stoves
through the entire day, and if the thermometer outside your window
marks more than 15°, you will see the grey columns rising heavily into
the air, until at a certain height the smoke remains stationary, and
hangs in clouds above the houses. Looking from some great elevation,
such as the tower of Ivan Veliki in the Kremlin, you see these
clouds beneath you, agitated like waves, and forming a kind of
nebulous sea, which is, however, soon taken up by the surrounding

It is astonishing how much cold one can support when the sky is
bright and the sun shining; certainly ten or fifteen degrees more
by Réaumur's thermometer, than when the day is dark and gloomy.
And the effect is the same on all. On one of these fine frosty
days there is unwonted cheerfulness in the look, unwonted energy
in the movements of everyone you meet. If there were the slightest
wind with so keen a temperature, you would feel, every time it grazed
your face, as if you were being shaved with a blunt razor,--for to
be cut with a sharp one is comparatively nothing. But the air is
calm; and as the day exhilarates you generally, it makes you walk
more briskly than you are in the habit of doing in your _shouba_
of cloth, wadding, and fur; and the result is, you are so warm and
so surrounded by sunshine, that, but for seeing the cold, you might
fancy yourself on the shores of the Mediterranean instead of on the
banks of the Moskva, which is now a long, shiny, serpent-like path
of ice. In London, on a damp, foggy, sunless winter's day, when
the thermometer is not quite down to freezing-point, the system
is so depressed by the atmosphere and the cheerless aspect of the
streets, that you feel the cold more acutely than you would do on
a sunshiny morning in Moscow with ten degrees of frost. In St.
Petersburg, where the winter sun is, "as in northern climes, but
dimly bright," and where the city is frequently enveloped in a
mist (which is, however, ethereal vapour compared to the opaque
fogs of London), the cold is, on the same principle, more severely
felt than in Moscow. Nevertheless, in St. Petersburg people go
about far more lightly clad than in the more southern towns of
the empire,--for St. Petersburg is half a foreign city, and the
numerous pedestrians have found it necessary to reject the ponderous
_shouba_ for a long wadded paletot with a fur-collar. The real
Russian _shouba_ is undoubtedly very warm; for it enables the Moscow
merchant to go upon 'Change, which in the old capital, during the
coldest weather, is held in the open air.

In considering the advantages and disadvantages of a Russian winter,
one should not forget the question of rain. It is evident, then,
that where there is frost there can be no rain; and accordingly,
for nearly six months in the year, you can dispense altogether
with that most unpleasant encumbrance, the umbrella. For it must
be remembered that in Russia the snow does not fall in the soft
feathery flakes to which we are accustomed in the more temperate
latitudes. It comes down in showers of microscopic darts, which,
instead of intercepting the light of the sun, like the arrows of
Xerxes' army, glitter and sparkle in the rays as they reflect them
in every direction. The minute crystals, or rather crystalline
fragments, can be at once shaken from the collars of fur, on the
points of which they hang like needles, but above all like Epsom
salts; and on the cloth of the men's _shoubas_ and the satin of
the women's cloaks they have scarcely any hold.

The most pleasant time of the whole winter is during the moonlight
nights, when the wind is still and the snow deep on the ground.
In the streets the sparkling _trottoir_, which appears literally
paved with diamonds, is as hard as the agate floor of the Cathedral
of the Annunciation in the Kremlin. In the country, where alone you
can enjoy the night in all its beauty, the frozen surface crunches,
but scarcely sinks, beneath the sledge, as your _troika_ tears
along the road as fast as the centre horse can trot and the two
outsiders gallop. For it is a peculiarity of the _troika_ that
the three horses that constitute it are harnessed abreast; and
that while the one in the shafts, whose head is upheld by a bow,
with a little bell suspended from the top, is trained to trot,
and never to leave that pace, however fast he may be driven, the
two who are harnessed outside must gallop, even if they gallop
but six miles an hour; though it is far more likely that they will
be called upon to do twelve. Lastly, the _troika_ must present a
fan-like front; to produce which the driver tightens the outside
reins till the heads of the outriggers stand out at an angle of
forty or fifty degrees from that of the horse in the shafts. At
the same time the centre horse trots with his head high in the
air, while the two who have their existences devoted to galloping
have their noses depressed towards the ground, like bulls running
at a dog.

There may be enough moonlight to read by when the moon itself is
obscured by clouds. But if it shines directly on the white ermine-like
snow, which covers the vast plains like an interminable carpet, the
atmosphere becomes full of light, and the night in its brightness,
its solitude, and its silence, broken only by the bells of some
distant team, reminds you of the calmness of an unusually quiet
and beautiful day. As you turn away from the main road towards
the woods, you pass groups of tall slender birch-trees, with their
white silvery bark, and their delicate thread-like fibres hanging
in frozen showers from the ends of the branches, and clothing the
birch with a kind of icy foliage, while the other trees remain
bare and ragged. The birch is eminently a winter tree, and its
tresses of fibres, whether petrified and covered with crystal by
the frost, or waving freely in the breeze which has stripped them
of their snow, are equally ornamental. The ground is strewed with
the shadows of the trees, traced with exquisite fineness on the
white snow, from which these lunar photographs stand forth with
wonderful distinctness. To drive out with an indefinite number of
_troikas_ to some village in the environs, or to the first station
on one of the Government roads, is a common mode of spending a
fine winter's night, and one which is equally popular in Moscow
and St. Petersburg. These excursions, which always partake more
or less of the nature of a picnic, form one of the chief pleasures
of the cold season. Of course such expeditions also take place
during the day, but, whatever the hour of the departure, if there
happen to be a moon that night, the return is sure not to take
place before it has made its appearance.



"Bring out another sleigh," said my friend. "How the wind cuts!
does it not?" he continued, as the breeze, whistling against our
bodies, made itself felt in spite of all the precautions we had
taken. The vehicle now brought was broader and more commodious than
the previous one, which, somewhat in the shape of a coffin, seemed
especially designed so as to torture the occupants, particularly if,
like my companion and self, they should happen to be endowed by
nature with that curse during a sleigh journey--however desirable
appendages they may be when in a crowd--long legs. Three horses
abreast, their coats white with pendent icicles and hoar-frost,
were harnessed to the sleigh; the centre animal was in the shafts
and had his head fastened to a huge wooden head-collar, bright with
various colors. From the summit of the head-collar was suspended
a bell, while the two outside horses were harnessed by cord traces
to splinter-bars attached to the sides of the sleigh. The object
of all this is to make the animal in the middle trot at a brisk
pace, while his two companions gallop, their necks arched round in
a direction opposite to the horse in the centre, this poor beast's
head being tightly reined up to the head-collar.

A well-turned-out _troika_ with three really good horses, which get
over the ground at the rate of twelve miles an hour, is a pretty
sight to witness, particularly if the team has been properly trained,
and the outside animals never attempt to break into a trot, while
the one in the shafts steps forward with high action; but the
constrained position in which the horses are kept must be highly
uncomfortable to them, and one not calculated to enable a driver
to get as much pace out of his animals as they could give him if
harnessed in another manner.

Off we went at a brisk pace, the bell dangling from our horse's
head-collar, and jingling merrily at every stride of the team.

The sun rose high in the heavens: it was a bright and glorious
morning in spite of the intense cold, and the amount of oxygen we
inhaled was enough to elevate the spirits of the most dyspeptic of
mankind. Presently, after descending a slight declivity, our Jehu
turned sharply to the right; then came a scramble and a succession of
jolts and jerks as we slid down a steep bank, and we found ourselves
on what appeared to be a broad high-road. Here the sight of many
masts and shipping which, bound in by the fetters of a relentless
winter, would remain imbedded in the ice till the ensuing spring,
showed me that we were on the Volga. It was an animated spectacle,
this frozen highway, thronged with peasants who strode beside their
sledges, which were bringing cotton and other goods from Orenburg
to the railway. Now a smart _troika_ would dash by us, its driver
shouting as he passed, when our Jehu, stimulating his steeds by
loud cries and frequent applications of the whip, would vainly
strive to overtake his brother coachman. Old and young alike seemed
like octogenarians, their short thick beards and mustaches being
white as hoar-frost from the congealed breath. According to all
accounts the river had not been long frozen, and till very recently
steamers laden with corn from Southern Russia had plied between
Sizeran and Samara. The price of corn is here forty copecks the
pood of forty pounds, while the same quantity at Samara could be
purchased for eighteen copecks. An iron bridge was being constructed
a little farther down the Volga. Here the railroad was to pass,
and it was said that in two years' time there would be railway
communication, not only between Samara and the capital, but even
as far as Orenburg.

Presently the scenery became very picturesque as we raced over the
glistening surface, which flashed like a burnished cuirass beneath
the rays of the rising sun. Now we approach a spot where seemingly
the waters from some violent blast or other had been in a state
of foam and commotion, when a stern frost transformed them into a
solid mass. Pillars and blocks of the shining and hardened element
were seen modelled into a thousand quaint and grotesque patterns.
Here a fountain, perfectly formed with Ionic and Doric columns,
was reflecting a thousand prismatic hues from the diamond-like
stalactites which had attached themselves to its crest. There a
huge obelisk, which, if of stone, might have come from ancient
Thebes, lay half buried beneath a pile of fleecy snow. Farther
on we came to what might have been a Roman temple or vast hall in
the palace of a Cæsar, where many half-hidden pillars and monuments
erected their tapering summits above the piles of the _débris_. The
wind had done in that northern latitude what has been performed
by some violent pre-adamite agency in the Berber desert. Take away
the ebon blackness of the stony masses which have been there cast
forth from the bowels of the earth, and replace them on a smaller
scale by the crystal forms I have faintly attempted to describe,
and the resemblance would be striking.

Now we came to some fishing-huts, which were constructed on the
frozen river, the traffic in the finny tribe which takes place in
this part of Russia being very great, the Volga producing the sterlet
(a fish unknown in other rivers of Europe), in large quantities. I
have often eaten them, but must say I could never appreciate this
so-called delicacy. The bones are of a very glutinous nature, and
can be easily masticated, while the taste of a sterlet is something
between that of a barbel and a perch, the muddy flavour of the
former predominating. However, they are an expensive luxury, as,
to be perfection for the table, they should be taken out of the
water alive and put at once into the cooking-pot. The distance to
St. Petersburg from the Volga is considerable, and a good-sized
fish will often cost from thirty to forty roubles, and sometimes
even a great deal more.

We were now gradually nearing our first halting-place, where it
was arranged that we should change horses. This was a farm-house
known by the name of Nijnege Pegersky Hootor, twenty-five versts
distant from Sizeran. Some men were engaged in winnowing corn in a
yard hard by the dwelling; and the system they employed to separate
the husks from the grain probably dates from before the flood,
for, throwing the corn high up into the air with a shovel, they
let the wind blow away the husks, and the grain descended on to a
carpet set to catch it in the fall. It was then considered to be
sufficiently winnowed, and fit to be sent to the mill. The farm-house
was fairly clean, and, for a wonder, there were no live animals
inside the dwelling. It is no uncommon thing in farm-houses in
Russia to find a calf domesticated in the sitting-room of the family,
and this more particularly during the winter months. But here the
good housewife permitted no such intruders, and the boards were
clean and white, thus showing that a certain amount of scrubbing
was the custom.

The habitation, which was of a square shape, and entirely made of
wood, contained two good-sized but low rooms, a large stove made
of dried clay being so arranged as to warm both the apartments.
A heavy wooden door on the outside of the building gave access to
a small portico, at the other end of which there was the customary
_obraz_, or image, which is to be found in almost every house in
Russia. These _obrazye_ are made of different patterns, but generally
take the form of a picture of saints or of the Trinity. They are
executed in silver-gilt or brass relief, and adorned with tawdry
fringe or other gewgaws. The repeated bows and crosses made by the
peasantry before these idols is very surprising to an Englishman,
who may have been told that there is little difference between the
Greek religion and his own; but if this is the case, the sooner
the second commandment is omitted from our service, the better.
It may be said that the Russian peasantry only look upon these
images as symbols, and that in reality they are praying to the
living God. Let any one who indulges in this delusion travel in
Russia and talk to the inhabitants with reference to the _obrazye_,
or go to Kief at the time of a pilgrimage to the mummified saints
in that sanctuary, and I think he will then say that no country
in the world is so imbued with superstitious credences as Russia.

Above the stove, which was about five feet high, a platform of
boards had been erected at a distance of about three feet from the
ceiling. This was the sleeping resort of the family, and occasionally
used for drying clothes during the day. The Russian _moujik_ likes
this platform more than any other part of the habitation, and his
great delight is to lie there and perspire profusely, after which
he finds himself the better able to resist the cold of the elements
outside. The farm-house in which I now found myself had cost in
building two hundred roubles, about twenty-six pounds of our money,
and her home was a source of pride to the good housewife, who could
read and write, an accomplishment not often possessed by the women
of this class in the province of Russia.

By this time our former team had been replaced by three fresh horses,
and the driver who was to accompany us had nearly finished making
his own preparations for the sleigh journey. Several long bands
of cloth, first carefully warmed at the stove, were successively
wound round his feet, and then, having put on a pair of thick boots
and stuffed some hay into a pair of much larger dimensions, he
drew the latter on as well, when, with a thick sheep-skin coat,
cap, and _vashlik_, he declared that he was ready to start.

The cold was very intense when we quitted the threshold, and the
thermometer had fallen several degrees during the last half-hour;
the wind had also increased, and it howled and whistled against the
eaves of the farm-house, bearing millions of minute snowy flakes
before it in its course. Presently the sound of a little stamping on
the bottom of the sleigh announced to me that the cold had penetrated
to my companion's feet, and that he was endeavouring to keep up the

Very soon that so-called "pins-and-needles" sensation, recalling
some snow-balling episodes of my boyish days, began once more to make
itself felt, and I found myself commencing a sort of double-shuffle
against the boards of the vehicle. The snow was falling in thick
flakes, and with great difficulty our driver could keep the track,
his jaded horses sinking sometimes up to the traces in the rapidly
forming drifts, and floundering heavily along the now thoroughly
hidden road. The cracks of his whip sounded like pistol-shots against
their jaded flanks, and volumes of invectives issued from his lips.

"Oh, sons of animals!"--[whack].

"Oh, spoiled one!"--[whack]. This to a brute which looked as if
he never had eaten a good feed of corn in his life. "Oh, woolly
ones!" [whack! whack! whack!].

"O Lord God!" This as we were all upset into a snowdrift, the sleigh
being three parts overturned, and our Jehu precipitated in the
opposite direction.

"How far are we from the next halting-place?" suddenly inquired
my companion, with an ejaculation which showed that even his good
temper had given way under the cold and our situation.

"Only four versts, one of noble birth," replied the struggling Jehu,
who was busily engaged endeavouring to right the half-overturned
sleigh. A Russian verst about night-fall, and under such conditions
as I have endeavoured to point out to the reader, is an unknown
quantity. A Scotch mile and a bit, an Irish league, a Spanish _legua_,
or the German _stunde_, are at all times calculated to call forth
the wrath of the traveller, but in no way equal to the first-named
division of distance. For the verst is barely two-thirds of an
English mile, and when, after driving yet for an hour, we were
told that there were still two versts more before we could arrive
at our halting-place, it began fully to dawn upon my friend that
either our driver's knowledge of distance, or otherwise his veracity,
was at fault.

At last we reached a long, struggling village, formed of houses
constructed much in the same way as that previously described,
when our horses stopped before a detached cottage. The proprietor
came out to meet us at the threshold. "_Samovar, samovar!_" (urn),
said my companion. "Quick, quick! _samovar!_" and hurrying by him,
and hastily throwing off our furs, we endeavoured to regain our
lost circulation beside the walls of a well-heated stove.

The Russian peasants are not ignorant of the good old maxim that
the early bird gets the worm, and the few hours' daylight they
enjoy during the winter months makes it doubly necessary for them
to observe this precept. We were all up a good hour before sunrise,
my companion making the tea, while our driver was harnessing the
horses, but this time not three abreast, for the road was bad and
narrow; so we determined to have two small sleighs with a pair of
horses to each, and put our luggage in one vehicle while we travelled
in the other.

Off we went, a motley crew. First, the unwashed peddler who had
wished to be my companion's bedfellow the night before; then our
luggage sleigh; and, finally, my friend and self, who brought up
the rear, with a careful eye upon our effects, as the people in
that part of the country were said to have some difficulty in
distinguishing between _meum_ and _tuum_.

The sun was bright and glorious, and in no part of the world hitherto
visited have I ever seen aurora in such magnificence. First, a pale
blue streak, gradually extending over the whole of the eastern
horizon, arose like a wall barring the unknown beyond; then, suddenly
changing colour until the summit was like lapis-lazuli, and its
base a sheet of purple waves of grey and crystal, radiating from
the darker hues, relieved the eye, appalled by the vastness of
the barrier; the purple foundations were in turn upheaved by a
sea of fire, which dazzled the eye with its glowing brilliancy,
and the wall of colours floating in space broke up into castles,
battlements, and towers, which were wafted by the breeze far away
from our view. The sea of flame meanwhile had lighted up the whole
horizon; the eye quailed beneath the glare. The snowy carpet at
our feet reflected like a camera the wonderful panorama overhead.
Flakes of light in rapid succession bound earth to sky, until the
globe of sparkling light arising from the depths of this ocean of
flame dimmed into insignificance the surroundings of the picture.

Presently a sudden check and exclamation of our Jehu told us that
the harness had given way, and a conversation, freely interlarded
with epithets exchanged between the driver and the peddler, showed
that there was decidedly a difference of opinion between them. It
appeared that the man of commerce was the only one of the party
who knew the road, and having discovered this fact, he determined
to make use of his knowledge by refusing to show the way unless
the proprietor of the horses who drove the vehicle containing our
luggage would abate a little from the price he had demanded for
the hire of the horse in the peddler's sleigh. "A bargain is a
bargain!" cried our driver, wishing to curry favour with his master,
now a few yards behind him. "A bargain is a bargain. Oh, thou son
of an animal, drive on!" "It is very cold," muttered my companion.
"For the sake of God," he shouted, "go on!" But neither the allusion
to the peddler's parentage nor the invocation of the Deity had
the slightest effect upon the fellow's mercenary soul.

"I am warm, and well wrapped up," he said; "it is all the same to
me if we wait here one hour or ten;" and with the most provoking
indifference he commenced to smoke, not even the manner in which
the other drivers aspersed the reputation of his mother appearing
to have the smallest effect. At last the proprietor, seeing it
was useless holding out any longer, agreed to abate somewhat from
the hire of the horse, and once more the journey continued over
a break-neck country, though at anything but a break-neck pace,
until we reached the station--a farm-hause--eighteen versts from
our sleeping quarters, and, as we were informed, forty-five from



The Russian people, composed of diverse elements in which the Sclav
predominated at the moment when that vast empire began to be established
under great princes and amid incessant struggle, was in too close
communication with Byzantium not to have been to a certain extent
in submission to Byzantine art; but nevertheless each of these
elements was in possession of certain notions of art which we must
not neglect.

The Sclavs, like the Varangians, knew scarcely anything but construction
by wood, but at a comparatively early period they had already carried
the art of carpentry very far, and in many different channels.

The Sclavs (as extant traditions show), proceeded by piles in their
wooden buildings: and the Scandinavians resorted to joining and
dove-tailing. Thus, the latter early attained great skill in naval

These two methods of construction in wood have persisted till the
present day, which fact is easily established on examining the
rural dwellings of Russia.

The Sclavs, moreover, as well as the Varangians, possessed certain
art expressions which denote an Asiatic origin.

Even in Byzantine art, so far as ornamentation is concerned, there
were origins that were evidently common to those that are felt in
the Sclav arts; and these original elements are again found in
Central Asia.

That ornamentation, composed of interlacings and conventional floral
motives, dry and metallic, which was adopted at Byzantium, where it
very soon destroyed the last vestiges of Roman art, also appears
on the most ancient monuments of the Sclavs, and even on objects
that in France are attributed to the Merovingians, that is to say,
the Franks who came from the shores of the Baltic.

Thus, Russia was to take her arts, as regards ornamentation, from
branches that are far apart from one another in time and distance,
but which sprang from a common trunk.

About the Tenth Century, the Russian buildings were of wood; all
texts agree on this point, and consequently these constructions
could have no part in Byzantine architecture, which does not recall
even the traditions of carpentry work.

Towards the Eleventh Century, when the Russians began to build
religious edifices of masonry, the structure of which, particularly
in the vaulting, is inspired by Byzantine art, they adapted to this
structure, together with a sensibly modified Byzantine garb, an
ornamentation, derived from Asiatic, Sclavic and Turanian elements
in variable, that is to say local, proportions.


For at least three centuries, Byzantium was the great school sought
by the Latin, Visigothic and Germanic nations of Europe for art
teaching, and it was not till the end of the Twelfth Century that
the French broke away from these traditions. Their example was
followed in Italy, England and Germany more or less successfully.
Russia held aloof from these attempts: she was too closely identified
with Byzantine art to try any other course; it may be said that she
was the guardian of that art, and was to carry on its traditions
by mingling with it elements due to the Asiatic Sclavic genius.

All the dominant elements in Russian art, whether they come from
the north or south, belong to Asia. Iranians or Persians, Indians,
Turanians, or Mongols have furnished tribute, though in unequal
quantities, to this art.

It may also be said that if Russia has borrowed much from Byzantium,
the art elements among her population have not been without influence
upon the formation of Byzantine art. We think even that the influence
of Byzantine upon Russian art has been greatly exaggerated, and
that Persia may have had at least as much effect upon the course
of art in Russia.

However, we must except everything pertaining to images. But even
here Asiatic influence makes itself felt, not in the form, but in
the preservation of the types. The imagery of the Greek school
has never gone out of favour in Russia, and it still holds its
place there in the representation of holy personages. In this,
Russia shows her attachment to tradition, as all the Asiatic races
do, and shows how little her intimate sentiments have suffered

The Russians avoided the influence of the Iconoclasts which was
felt so violently in the Western Empire in the Eighth Century, and
later still in various parts of Western Europe; among the Vaudois
and Albigenses in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Century, the Hussites
in the Fifteenth, and the Reformers in the Sixteenth.

But if Russian architecture and ornamentation show marked originality,
this does not seem to be the case with the representation of holy
personages. These remain Byzantine. It was the school of Mount
Athos that supplied Russia with the types, as it did to almost all
the Greek Christians of the Orient.

In these representations, we have difficulty in finding a tendency
towards realism, which, morever, does not appear till quite late,
and does not come to full bloom.

In Russian art, it is possible to find a few Scandinavian traces,
or, to be more exact, in the arts of Scandinavia we find some elements
borrowed from the same sources whence the Russians took theirs.

Russia has been one of the laboratories in which the arts, brought
from all parts of Asia, have been united to adopt an intermediate
form between the Eastern and the Western world.

Geographically, she was favourably placed to gather together these
influences; and, ethnologically, she was entirely prepared to assimilate
these arts and develop them. If she has stopped short in this work,
it was only at a very recent period, and when repudiating her origin
and traditions, she tried to become Western, in spite of her own

In the first place, the oldest religious edifices of Russia affect
slender forms, in elevation, which distinguishes them from the
purely Byzantine buildings.

Evidently, the Russians, from the Twelfth Century on, employed
in their religious edifices a geometrical plan that was different
from that employed by the Byzantine architects, but one very close
to that admitted by the architects of Greece during the early years
of the Middle Ages.

In Georgia and Armenia, a number of ancient churches, the majority
of which are very small, are also of this character. But, while
submitting to these dispositions, as soon as they adopted masonry
instead of wood for building, the Russians gave quite individual
proportions to their religious edifices.

By the Fifteenth Century, Russia had combined all the various elements
by the aid of which a national art should be constituted. To
recapitulate these origins: We find already among the Scythians
some elements of art fairly well developed, foreign to Greek art
and derived from Oriental tradition. Byzantium, in constant contact
with the people of Southern Russia, made its arts felt there; but in
the North, some slight Finnish influences and then some Scandinavian
ones, make themselves felt. From Persia likewise, Russia received
impulses in art, on account of her commercial relations with that
country through Georgia and Armenia. In the Thirteenth Century,
the Tartar-Mongol domination was imposed upon Russia, employed
her artists and craftsmen, and thus placed her in direct contact
with that Mediæval Orient that was so mighty and so brilliant in
all its art productions.

At length left to herself, in the Fifteenth Century, Russia constituted
her own art from these various sources. But this variety of sources
is more apparent than real. It is enough to examine Scythian
ornamentation to recognize that it is of a pronounced Indo-Oriental
character. Byzantine taste has exerted a preponderating influence
upon Russia. But it has been recognized that this Byzantine style
is itself composed of very varied elements among which figure most
largely the art of Eastern Asia, and that from this Byzantine art
Russia likes to appropriate the Asiatic side in particular.

So that we may regard Russian art as composed of elements borrowed
from the Orient to the almost complete exclusion of all others.

Moreover, if we follow the streams of art to their sources, we soon
come to recognize that the tributaries are not at all numerous.

In the matter of architecture, there are only two principles: structure
by wood and concrete structure: grottoes, and construction with clay,
and with masonry, which is derived from it. As to construction with
cut stones, there results, either from a tradition of building
with wood or from concrete construction, grottoes or conglomerate
masses, sometimes both, as in Egyptian art, for example.

The innumerable races who issued from the East and finally overwhelmed
the Roman Empire had preserved from their cradle their own traditions,
and continued to keep up communication with their old homes. Better
than any other nation, the Russians preserved these traditions, and
they were, so to speak, rejuvenated every time a new wave passed
across their territories; for it was always from the northern or
southern Orient, from the Ural or the Taurus, that the invaders
came. Whether they presented themselves as enemies or colonists
they brought with them something of Asia, the great mother of

This Russian art, therefore, was never struck with decadence as
was the Byzantine art. It did not live solely upon itself, but
profited by all that was brought from the Orient. So, when the
Eastern Empire fell during the Fifteenth Century, leaving only
a pale trace of the last expressions of its arts, Russia, on the
contrary, was raising edifices and fabricating objects of great
value from an artistic point of view.

The West had only a small share in these productions, but even
this was enough to enable Russian art to be distinguished from the
arts of the East by a certain freedom of conception and variety in
the execution that rendered it an original product full of promise,
the developments of which might have been marvellous if the natural
course of events had not been hindered by the passion with which
high Russian society threw itself on the works of art of Italy,
Germany and France.



Western influence was very strongly felt in sculpture and painting
in Russia during the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries. Narrowly
confined to the representation of conventional types of saints,
these arts did not acquire either personality or expression for
two centuries. It was not until the Eighteenth Century that they
began to raise statues to the memory of Russia's great men: one
of the first monuments was consecrated, as was indeed just, to
Peter the Great, Russia's great reformer; in his lifetime, Count
Bartolomeo Rastrelli the sculptor, father of the architect, executed
a _Peter the Great on Horseback_, which was cast in bronze in 1847;
but the successors of Peter the Great did not like this group which
they did not consider sufficiently animated and would not allow
it to be erected on a public square. Catherine II. had Falconet
model a _Peter the Great_ mounted on a fiery horse climbing up
a rock; this bronze group is placed in the centre of the Square
of Peter the Great on the Neva, at St. Petersburg. Among the most
celebrated works of Russian sculpture, we may cite the bronze monument
erected to the memory of Prince Poyarski and the butcher Minine
on the Red Square, Moscow (by Martoss, rector of the Academy of
Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, in 1888); Lomonossov's monument (by
Martoss); those of Generals Barclay de Tolly and Koutousov (1818-1836
after the model by B. Orlovski, placed in front of the Cathedral
of Kazan, St. Petersburg); the colossal bust of Alexander I. (by
Orlovski); the commemorative monument of Alexander I. (1832, by
Montferrand), with a statue of the Angel of Peace, by Orlovski;
the statue of Krilov, the fabulist, 1855, by Baron Clodt in the
Summer Garden, St. Petersburg; an equestrian statue of the emperor
Nicholas I. (by Clodt, 1859, on the St. Mary square); the monument
of Novgorod, elevated in memory of the millenary of the Russian
occupation (1862), in the form of a gigantic bell containing scenes
from Russian history, by Mikiechin; the monument to Catherine II.
by Mikiechin, she being represented as surrounded by her generals
and statesmen (1874, before the Alexander Theatre); the monument to
Pushkin in Moscow (1830, by Objekuchin and Bogomolov); the monument
to Bohdan-Chmelnizki, at Kiev (1873, by Mikiechin and other sculptors).
The principal Russian sculptors are Popov, Antokolski (statue of Ivan
the Terrible, 1871, in St. Petersburg), Tchichov and E. Lanceray.
They are characterized by a very pronounced realism that is common
to all.

Russian painting has developed in various directions during the
last two centuries under the influence of Western Europe; until
the first half of the Nineteenth Century the imitation of Italian
painting, the classical French school and the execution of strictly
academic painting were the three principal paths attempted by the
Russian artists. But for half a century, art has found a national
expression for itself. At the end of the Eighteenth and beginning of
the Nineteenth Century, the principal representatives of religious
and historical painting were Losenko (died in 1773), Antropov (died
in 1792), Akimov (died in 1814), Ugriumov (died in 1823), Levizki
(died in 1822), Ivanov (died in 1823), and Moschov (died in 1839).
The landscape and marine painters of greatest repute are Sim. and
Sil. Schtchedrin (the first died in 1804, and the second in 1830),
Pritchetnikov (died in 1809), F. Alekseiev (died in 1824). Academic
painting was cultivated principally by Tropinin (died in 1827),
Warnek (died in 1843), Lebediev (died in 1837), Worobiev (died
in 1855), K. Rabus (died in 1857), Bruni (died in 1875), Markov
(died in 1878), A. Beidemann (died in 1869) and Willewalde. The
chief painter of the romantic school is K. Brullov, who formed
a school and had numerous scholars. Other romantic painters of
repute are Bronnikov and various landscape and marine painters
such as Aivasovski, Bogolnibov, L. Lagorio and A. Mechtcherski.
Religious and popular painting has A. Ivanov for its representative.
The principal realistic painters in genre and historical painting
are Fedotov, Makovski, Perov, Polenor, Vereschagin, etc.


Ornamental sculpture seems to be superior to statuary in Russia:
it is abundantly practised in the decoration of churches; the
innumerable chapels standing at the street corners in honour of some
saint possess icons and lamps of bronze and silver; the iconostases
of the cathedrals are extremely rich,--gold, silver-gilt, silver,
lapis-lazuli, malachite and enamel-work are lavishly employed there.
In the churches of Saint Isaac and the Saviour there are many admirable
and veritable _chefs d'œuvre_ of originality and brilliancy to be
found. The industry of bronze and goldsmith's work in religious
objects is very flourishing and gives occupation to numerous workmen
and artists in Moscow and St. Petersburg. An imperial manufactory
produces the mosaics which occupy such a great place in the decoration
of the churches.

Industrial arts are very prosperous in Russia and have made great
progress during the last century: silken goods are no longer imported
from Lyons; and the Russian cabinet-makers produce beautiful furniture,
not only in their national style, but in the purest forms of French
art of the Louis XV. and Louis XVI. styles. Civil goldsmith's work
and jewellery have also been benefited by the national Renaissance:
the Emperor Alexander III. restored to honour the national feminine
costume for official balls, and ordered works of art to be made
after the models of the Muscovite style, and indeed even after
the marvels found in the excavations of the Cimmerian Bosphorus.
The religious images, particularly those made in Moscow and Kazan,
come very near being works of art. Numerous manufactories produce
icons painted on wood or copper, ornamented with reliefs of copper,
_crysocale_, silver, silver-gilt and gold. The workmen are monks
and peasants: each part of the icon--eyes, nose, mouth, hands and
feet--is executed by a specialist who always makes the same thing,
after the immutable types that the Muscovite convents received
from Mount Athos.



Russian music is the strangest paradox--it owes more to the music
of other countries than any other school, yet no music is more
thoroughly individual and unmistakable. It clothes itself after
the form and fashion of its neighbours, but beneath its garb peeps
out a physiognomy indubitably Sclavonic. Its utterances impress us
as the most modern--yet the student who would correctly analyze
many of its unique characteristics of harmony and modulation is often
obliged to take a flying leap backwards over a space of centuries
in order to investigate old Church modes, or Persian and Arabian
scale systems, both so ancient as to be well-nigh forgotten in
Western Europe.

Sixty years ago, there was no Russian school of music, properly
speaking; then suddenly it sprang into being. The wonderful rapidity
of its growth almost confuses one. Its exponents at once displayed
the astonishing receptiveness common to their race. _D'un trait_, as
the French would say, they appropriated the knowledge and experience
which the Italian and German schools had been slowly amassing for
centuries. Technique, form, counterpoint--all these they found
ready made to their hand, and borrowed them unstintingly. Had they
done this and no more, the onlooker might have dismissed them as
clever plagairists, and probably no one would have paid them any
further attention. But they had other means at their disposal. Their
country contained a treasure-house of native melody and rhythm;
a region albeit which few Russians had hitherto thought it worth
their while to explore. It is true that, since the middle of the
Seventeenth Century, tentative excursions had been made in this
direction from time to time, chiefly, though, by outsiders settled
in Russia, nor had any of their efforts led to very appreciable
results. The man who first turned with serious intent to the pent-up
musical resources of his own country was Michael Ivanovitch Glinka.
He had sufficient strength of purpose to carry out his designs--he
became the founder of the modern Russian school of music and the
father of Russian opera.

Glinka belonged to a good if not very wealthy family, who lived upon
their estate in the government of Smolensk, where he was born in 1804.
From babyhood upwards he delighted his friends and relations by his
aptitude not for music alone, but also for languages, literature,
zoology, botany--in fact, for each and every intellectual pursuit
which came in his way. The brilliance of his college course in St.
Petersburg was noteworthy. He quitted it to occupy a civil post
under Government, a position, however, which he soon abandoned,
in order to devote himself solely to music. Like so many other men
of genius, he married a woman quite incapable of comprehending
his artistic aims and ambitions; to quote the words of a Russian
writer, Madame Glinka, _née_ Maria Petrovna, "was only a pretty doll,
who loved society and fine clothes, and had no sympathy whatever
with her husband's romantic, poetic side." One is glad to state
that Glinka never had to struggle with poverty. He died at Berlin
in 1857.

He did for Russian music what his contemporary, Pushkin, did for
Russian literature, each in his own department representing a national
movement. Perhaps it is not too far-fetched a theory to trace this
movement to the momentous date of 1812, when it fell to the lot
of Russia to administer the first check in Napoleon's triumphant
career. Ever since the reign of Peter the Great it had been the
fashion to ape foreign habits, to speak foreign tongues, to import
foreign music, to mimic foreign literature. But when a foreign
invader, who had marched all-conquering through the rest of Europe,
appeared in serious earnest at the very gates of Moscow, there
was a rebound: slumbering patriotism awoke with a great shout,
and, united by a common danger, all classes gathered together for
the protection of their Tsar and their Kremlin. To have repulsed
a Napoleon was a mighty deed, which could reveal to the Russians
of what stuff they were made. It taught them to rely upon each
other and be strong in themselves; and as the art of a nation is
invariably the outcome of its history, so the rising generation
of Russian thinkers looked inwards rather than abroad. Glinka,
Pushkin, and their followers sought no foreign aid; they represent
a Russian Renaissance. They were content, indeed, to abide by the
forms universally adopted elsewhere, but the spirit of their art
manifestation was Russian to its core. In literature, Pushkin and
Gogol were never weary of delineating their compatriots in every grade
of Sclavonic society, whilst Glinka took his musical inspirations
from his native folk-songs and dance-rhythms--from the historic
chronicles of his country or its legendary lore. In reality, the
foreign influences and environment with which he came so continuously
into contact served more and more to convince him that Russia in
her turn had as great a mission in music as any other nation. For
thirty years the idea was gradually gaining strength in his mind.
"I want," he said to a friend, "to write an essentially national
opera both as regards subject and music; something which no foreigner
can possibly accuse of being borrowed, and which shall come home
to my compatriots as a part of themselves."

His fame depends solely upon the two operas, _La Vie pour le Tsar_
and _Russlan et Ludmille_. That he should have chosen to express
himself especially in opera is a significant fact. The unerring
instinct of his genius evidently told him that in this form, rather
than in purely instrumental music, he would most truly represent
that people whose musical aspirations he wished above all else
to portray faithfully, and certainly in opera lay his surest way
towards enlisting the sympathies of his compatriots. As before
remarked, one might have imagined that opera would scarcely ally
itself to his personal individuality; it seems probable, therefore,
that various salient traits inherent in the Russians as a nation
must have led him to the choice. First and foremost, any music
which claims to proceed from the very heart of the Russian people
must contain a vocal element. So universal a love of singing as
exists throughout Russia is to be met with in no other country.

By this one does not mean to infer that Russian cultivated singing,
either solo or choral, is in any way superior to what is heard
elsewhere. The Russian peasant knows absolutely nothing about voice
production, nor, maybe, is he gifted with any unusual vocal material,
nevertheless, singing is closely bound up with every rural event of
his cheerless existence. During the last half-century many hundreds
of the native melodies sung by the Russian country people for
generations past have been collected and written down by different
musicians--Balakireff, Rimsky-Korsakoff, Prokoudin, and Lisenko
amongst others. The variety of these folk-songs is astonishing.
They never become monotonous, each song having its distinctive
climax, and the air always suits the words. Often the untutored
singer has one melody in his _répertoire_, but intuitively he modifies
its strains according to the sentiment of his subject.

This general love of music applies as much to the noble as to the
peasant. "Where there is a Sclav there is a Song," says a Sclavonic
proverb, and no public ceremony or Court function is ever deemed
complete in Russia without an outburst of singing to heighten its
impressiveness. There is besides a marked dramatic ingredient in the
Sclavonic character. The typical Russian loves acting. To discover
this, it is only necessary to visit a Russian village and witness
the unconscious presentments of lyric drama or of desolate tragedy
set forth by the quaint rites of a country wedding or a rustic
funeral. Or study a Russian legend. It at once impresses you with
its wealth of dramatic situations most concisely defined. In this,
the Sclavonic folktale differs radically from its Celtic neighbour.
A comparison of the two types suggests that the Russian principally
desires a clear statement of facts; a poetic idea which must be
extracted from clouds of metaphor conveys but little significance
to his mind. An innate love of song, an innate love of acting, a
keen perception of dramatic unity, combined with a passionate love
of colour and a strong sense of movement--here surely, without any
manner of doubt, one has the basis of a well-nigh perfect school of
opera. Glinka, the cultivated musician, himself a Russian, thoroughly
appreciated these national qualities; indeed they were part and
parcel of his birthright. He could assimilate the characteristics
of his race and merge them into his own very remarkable originality.
The first product of the combined motors was _La Vie pour le Tsar_,
given at St. Petersburg in 1836. Fifty years later it had reached
its 577th performance, and from all accounts it still retains an
undiminished popularity.

[Illustration: THE THEATER, ODESSA.]

If we dissect this opera and examine its wonderful mastery of technique
and its depth of musical inspiration, it displays beauties which
cannot fail to appeal to connoisseurs of every race and school. But
regarded as a whole, one is inclined to doubt its ever becoming a
standard work outside its native home. Its true scope and meaning
can only be justly estimated by a public acquainted with Russia
herself, with her people, her history and her innermost modes of

Glinka attached the highest value to the folk-song, of which, as
already stated, he found a treasure trove ready to his hand. Nothing,
though, was further from his thoughts than to employ this material
in _pot-pourri_ style. Russians themselves are all agreed that it
would be difficult to select one whole folk-song from any single
work of Glinka's. It would naturally require a native of Russia
with an accurate knowledge of these native tunes to tell us exactly
when and where he used them. He seized their mood. In this way he
developed every species of Sclavonic folk-song--Great Russian,
Little Russian, Circassian, Polish, Finnish--with a passing flavour
contributed by Persia, for undoubtedly Oriental music had, at some
remote period, influenced its Sclavonic neighbour very strongly.
Glinka may be said to have attained his end almost unconscious
of his mode of procedure. Determined to compose Russian music,
he pursued his idea unremittingly, but it was only towards the
close of his life that he began to seriously analyze his effects,
asking himself whence he had obtained them and in what essential
points they exhibited their nationality. This inquiry involved
him in a field of research bewildering in its magnitude, and one
which his early death unfortunately prevented him from thoroughly
investigating. Nor is the task by any means completed now, some
forty years later, although many Russian musicians have thrown
considerable light upon its varied aspects. The first step towards
a folk-song analysis was the collecting of the melodies in sufficient
numbers for comparison. So much being done, it flashed upon Glinka
that there was an intimate connection between the Russian folk-song
and the most ancient Russian Church music. That is to say, the
melody and the freedom of rhythm typical of the folk-song had been
evolved by the people, whilst its harmonization, in which lay one
of its most striking essentialities, had been bequeathed it by the
Church. From all that can be gathered concerning music in Muscovy
prior to the introduction of Christianity, it seems justifiable to
admit that harmony, or part singing, was already practised amongst
the inhabitants, in what manner it is impossible to conjecture.
At any rate, when the Church of Byzantium took root there, the
Sclav was sufficiently advanced musically to imbibe a new idea. We
know that the Byzantine Church modes were purely diatonic, so is
the harmonization of the Russian folk-song in its most elementary
and uncorrupted form. That the one produced the other is a most
natural conclusion. In the oldest of the Russian national melodies
Glinka discovered the most clearly defined type of the earliest
Christian songs on record.

A wonderful testimony this to the indwelling religious spirit of
the Russian people, who change but little and who are singularly
tenacious of their customs in spite of all their ready receptiveness.
In one sense the folk-song is as rude and hardy as its singer; from
another point of view it is a shy, delicate emanation shrinking
from all human intercourse outside its own small coterie of familiar
voices. In Russia, as in every other country, it has had to be
sought in the remote Steppes and far-off districts where foreign
influences had never penetrated, and by a curious inverse process
its harmonies, of course, transmitted orally, were the means of
preserving the Byzantine Church tonality long after this "first
cause" had accepted chromatic and enharmonic modulations. In the
chief Russian cities and more opened-up parts of the country, the
Italian, French, and later on German elements gradually formed
themselves into Church as well as secular music, and only within
the last sixty years have attempts been made to restore this to
its pristine and, perhaps it may be added, somewhat monotonous
purity. The minor key in which the Sclavonic folksong was usually
couched, together with its extraordinary variety of rhythm and
phrase, protected it from this monotony, the minor keys having
infinitely richer resources of colour, even when strictly diatonically
treated, than the major.

Sclavonic music figures so constantly upon every concert programme
in these days that we are probably most of us accustomed to its
vagaries of rhythm, or what may be styled irregularity of metre.
This is a direct heritage from the folk-song, which Glinka and
his successors have borrowed largely.

The leading musical spirits of his day were quick to accredit him
a kindred genius. Berlioz welcomed him gladly, and furthered his
cause by eloquent writing as well as by obtaining him a hearing
in Paris. Liszt was another enthusiastic "Glinkite," and Schumann,
unfailingly keen to notice new talent pursuing a new path, speedily
drew attention to a Russian who was doing for the music of his
country what Chopin and Moniusco had done for Poland. Rubinstein,
who was still a boy when Glinka's sun was near setting, grew up
with a warm admiration for the founder of his native school, and
in 1855 he spent some of his ardour upon a highly laudatory article
in the _Wiener Zeitschrift fir Musik_, placing Glinka on a par with
Beethoven. Glinka thoroughly detesting anything that savoured of
flattery, took the young musician soundly to task for his pains;
but Rubinstein remained true to his tenets, and later on, when
years had matured his judgment, we find him including the name of
Glinka with that of Bach, Beethoven, Schubert and Chopin, as the
chief germinators of modern music; whilst one of the last acts of
his generous public career was a concert given in aid of a national
monument to the composer of _La Vie pour le Tsar_. With one or
two minor exceptions, successive Russian masters have followed
faithfully in Glinka's footsteps. To Borodine, Dargomijsky, Seroff,
Balakireff, and Rimsky-Korsakoff a full meed of nationality has been
granted. To Rubinstein and Tscháikowski criticism is at present
disposed to deny the quality in its most salient features. But
their prolific mass of compositions has so far scarcely been
sufficiently explored outside their own Russian domain for a final
judgment to be hazarded. A nearer inspection of their work, indeed,
together with a more accurate study of Russian art as a whole,
distinctly leads to the opinion that a revolution of feeling may
eventually spring up, especially on the subject of their operas.
Also Rubinstein's dramatic works, now mostly dismissed by foreigners
as his weakest productions, may in due course be accepted as his
finest creations. From the different reasons previously deduced
there can be little doubt that in opera Glinka purposely laid the
corner-stone of what he earnestly believed to be a true Russian
school, and a glance at contemporary musical activity shows that
here Russia has every opportunity for distinguishing herself, and
that with very little competition.



Of the Russian there are the following chief dialects--Great, Little,
and White Russian. The Great Russian is the literary and official
language of the Empire. In its structure it is highly synthetic,
having three genders and seven cases, and the nouns and adjectives
being fully inflected. Its great peculiarity (which it shares in
common with all the Sclavonic languages), is the structure of the
verbs, which are divided into so-called "aspects," which modify
the meaning, just as the Latin terminations _sco, urio_, and _ita_,
only the forms are developed into a more perfect system. The letters
employed are the Cyrillian, held to have been invented by St. Cyril
in the Ninth Century. They are on the whole well adapted to express
the many sounds of the Russian alphabet, for which the Latin letters
would be wholly inadequate, and must perforce be employed in some
such uncouth combinations as those which communicate a grotesque
appearance to Polish. It would be out of place here to discuss the
Ecclesiastical Sclavonic employed in so many of the early writings
composed in Russian. I shall proceed to speak of the literature in
Russian properly so-called. The great epochs of this will be--

I. From the earliest times to the reign of Peter the Great.

II. From the reign of Peter the Great to our own time.

The Russians, like the rest of the Sclavonic peoples are very rich
in national songs, many (as one may judge from the allusions found
in them), going back to a remote antiquity. For a long time, and
especially during the period of French influence, these productions
were neglected. In the last twenty years, however, they have been
assiduously collected by Bezsonov, Kirievski, Rîbnikov, Hilferding and
others. The Russian legendary poems are called _Bîlini_ (literally,
tales of old time), and may be most conveniently divided into the
following classes:--

1. That of the earlier heroes. 2. The Cycle of Vladimir. 3. The
Royal, or Moscow Cycle.

The early heroes are of a half-mythical type, and perform prodigies
of valour. To this class belong Volga Vseslavich, Mikoula Selianinovich
and Sviatogor. The great glory of the Cycle of Vladimir is Ilya
Murometz. The _Bîlinas_ are filled with his magnificent exploits,
either alone, or in the company of Sviatogor.

The national songs are carried on through the troublous times of
Boris Godunov, and the false Dimitri, to the days of Peter the
Great, when they seem to have acquired new vigour on account of
the military achievements of the regenerator of his country. Nor
are they extinct in our own time, for we find exploits of Napoleon,
especially his disastrous expedition to Russia, made the subject
of verse. The interest, however, of these legendary poems fades
away as we advance into later days. The number of minstrels is
rapidly diminishing; and Riabanin, and his companions among the
Great Russians, and Ostap Veresai among the Malo-Russians, will
probably be the last of these generations of rhapsodists, who have
transmitted their traditional chants from father to son, from tutor
to pupil. A great feature in Russian literature is the collection
of chronicles, which begin with Nestor, monk of the Pestcherski
Cloister at Kiev, who was born about A. D. 1056, and died about

During the time when Russia groaned under the yoke of the Mongols,
the nation remained silent, except here and there, perhaps, in some
legendary song, sung among peasants, and destined subsequently
to be gathered from oral tradition by a Rîbnikov and a Hilferding.
Such literature as was cultivated formed the recreation of the
monks in their cells. A new era, however, was to come. Ivan III.
established the autocracy and made Moscow the centre of the new
government. The Russians naturally looked to Constantinople as
the centre of their civilization; and even when the city was taken
by the Turks its influence did not cease. Many learned Greeks fled
to Russia, and found an hospitable reception in the dominions of
the Grand Duke. During the reigns of Ivan the Terrible and his
immediate successors, although the material progress of the country
was considerably advanced, and a strong Government founded, yet
little was done for learning. Simeon Polotzki (1628-80), tutor
to the Tsar Feodor, son of Alexis, was an indefatigable writer
of religious and educational books, but his productions can now
only interest the antiquarian. The verses composed by him on the
new palace built by the Tsar Alexis, at Kolomenski are deliciously
quaint. Of a more important character is the sketch of the Russian
government, and the habits of the people, written by one Koshikin
(or Kotoshikin--for the name is found in both forms), a renegade
diak or secretary, which, after having lain for a long time in
manuscript in the library of Upsala, in Sweden, was edited in 1840,
by the Russian historian Soloviev. Kotoshikin terminated a life
of strange vicissitudes by perishing at the hands of the public
executioner at Stockholm, about 1669.

With the reforms of Peter the Great commences an entirely new period
in the history of Russian literature, which was now to be under
Western influence. The epoch was inaugurated by Lomonosov, the
son of a poor fisherman of Archangel, who forms one of the curious
band of peasant authors--of very various merit, it must be
confessed--who present such an unexpected phenomenon in Russian
literature. Occasionally we have men of real genius, as in the cases
of Koltzov, Nikitin, and Shevchenko, the great glory of southern
Russia; sometimes, perhaps, a man whose abilities have been overrated
as in the instance of Slepoushkin. Lemonosov is more praised than
read by his countrymen. His turgid odes, stuffed with classical
allusions, in praise of Anne and Elizabeth, are still committed
to memory by pupils at educational establishments. His panegyrics
are certainly fulsome, but probably no worse than those of Boileau
in praise of Louis XIV., who grovelled without the excuse of the
imperfectly educated Scythian. The reign of Catherine II. (1762-96),
saw the rise of a whole generation of court poets. The great maxim,
"_Un Auguste peut aisément faire un Virgile_," was seen in all its
absurdity in semi-barbarous Russia. These wits were supported by
the Empress and her immediate _entourage_, to whom their florid
productions were ordinarily addressed.

[Illustration: THE LIBRARY, ODESSA.]

From Byzantine traditions, from legends of saints, from confused
chronicles, and orthodox hymnologies, Russia was to pass by one
of the most violent changes ever witnessed in the literature of
any country, into epics moulded upon the _Henriade_, and tedious
odes in the style of Boileau and Jean Baptiste Rousseau. Oustrialov,
the historian, truly characterizes most of the voluminous writers
of this epoch, as mediocre verse makers, for claiming merits in the
cases of Bogdanovich, Khemnitzer, Von Vizin, Dmitriev, and Derzhavin.
Bogdanovich wrote a very pretty lyric piece, styled _Dushenka_
based on the story of Cupid and Psyche, and partly imitated from
Lafontaine, with a sportive charm about the verse which will preserve
it from becoming obsolete. With Khemnitzer begin the fabulists. But
I shall reserve my remarks upon this species of literature and
its Russian votaries until I come to Krîlov, who may be said to
be one of the few Sclavonic authors who have gained a reputation
beyond the limits of their own country. In Denis Von Vizin, born
at Moscow, but as his name shows, of German extraction, Russia saw
a writer of genuine national comedy. Hitherto she had to content
herself with poor imitations of Molière. His two plays, the _Brigadier_
and the _Minor_ (_Nederosl_), have much original talent. No such
vigorous representations of character appeared again on the stage
till _The Misfortune of being too Clever_ (_Gore et Ouma_) of
Griboiedov, and the _Revisor_ of Gogol. Dmitriev deserves perhaps
no more than a passing mention.

The name of Derzhavin is spoken of with reverence among his countrymen:
he was the laureate of the epoch of Catherine, and had a fresh ode
for every new military glory. There is much fire and vigour in
his productions and he could develop the strength and flexibility
of his native language which can be made as expressive and concise
as Greek. Perhaps, however, we get a little tired of his endless
perfections of Felitza, the name under which he celebrates the
Empress Catherine, a woman who--whatever her private faults may
have been,--did a great deal for Russia.

In Nicholas Karamzin appeared the first Russian historian who can
properly claim the title. His poems are almost forgotten: here and
there we come upon a solitary lyric in a book of extracts. His
_History of the Russian Empire_, however, is a work of extensive
research, and must always be quoted with respect by Sclavonic scholars.
Unfortunately, it only extends to the election of Michael Romanov.
Karamzin was followed by Nicholas Polevoi, son of a Siberian merchant,
who hardly left any species of literature untouched. His _History
of the Russian People_, however, did not add to his reputation,
and is now almost forgotten. In later times both these authors
have been eclipsed by such writers as Soloviev and Kostomarov.
A new and more critical school of Russian historians has sprung
up; but for the early history of the Sclavonic peoples, the great
work is still Schafarik's _Sclavonic Antiquities_, first published
in the Bohemian language, and more familiar to scholars in the
West of Europe in its German version.

With the breaking up of old forms of government caused by the French
Revolution, came the dislocation of the old conventional modes of
thought. Classicism in literature was dead, having weighed like an
incubus upon the fancy and fresh life of many generations. England
and Germany were at the head of the new movement, which was at a
later period to be joined to France. The influence was to extend
to Russia, and may be said to date from the reign of Alexander I.
It was headed by Zhukovski, who was rather a fluent translator
than an original poet. He has given excellent versions of Schiller,
Goethe, Moore, and Byron, and has better enriched the literature
of his country in this way than by his original productions. He
had, however, some lyric fire of his own; the ode entitled _The
Poet in the Camp of the Russian Warriors_, written in the memorable
year 1812, did something to stimulate the national feelings, and
procure for the poet a good appointment at court.

In Alexander Pushkin, the Russians were destined to find their
greatest poet. His first work, _Rouslan and Lioudmilla_, was a tale
of half-mythical times, in which the influence of Byron was clearly
visible, but the author had never allowed himself to become a mere
copyist. The same may be said of _The Prisoner of the Caucasus_,
in which Pushkin had an opportunity of describing the romantic
scenery of that wild country, which was then entirely new ground.
In the _Fountain of Bakchiserai_ he chose an episode in the history
of the Khans of the Crimea, which he has handled very poetically.
The _Gipsies_ is a wild oriental tale of passion and vengeance. The
poet, who had been spending some time amid the Steppes of Bessarabia,
has left us wonderful pictures of the wandering tribes and their
savage life. Many Russians consider the _Evgenié Oniegin_ of Pushkin
to be his best effort. It is a powerfully written love-story, full
of sketches of modern life, interspersed with satire and pathos.

A criticism of Pushkin would necessarily be imperfect, which left
out of all consideration his drama on the subject of _Boris Godunov_.
Here he has used Shakespeare as his model. Up to this time the
traditions of the Russian stage--such as they were--were wholly
French. The piece is undoubtedly very clever, and conceived with
true dramatic power.

Since Pushkin's attempt, the historical drama based upon the English,
has been very successfully cultivated. A fine trilogy has been
composed by Count A. Tolstoi (whose premature death all Russia
deplored), on the three subjects, _The Death of Ivan the Terrible_
(1866), _The Tsar Feodor_ (1868) and the _Tsar Boris_ (1869).

The Russian fabulists, whose name is legion, demand some mention;
Khemnitzer, Dmitriev, Ivanov and others, have attempted this style
of poetry; but the most celebrated of all is Ivan Krilov (1768-1844).
Many of his short sentences have become proverbs among the Russian
people, like the couplets of Lafontaine among the French, and Butler's
_Hudibras_ among ourselves. His pictures of life and manners are
most thoroughly national. In Koltzov the true voice of the people,
which had before only expressed itself in the national ballads was
heard. The life of this sensitive and warm-hearted man of genius
was clouded by poverty and suffering.

The poems of Koltzov are written, for the most part, in an unrhymed
verse; the sharp, well-defined accent in Russian amply satisfying
the ear, as in German. His poetical taste had been nurtured by
the popular lays of his country. He has caught their colouring
as truly as Burns did that of the Scottish minstrelsy. He is
unquestionably the most national poet that Russia has produced;
Slepoushkin and Alipanov, two other peasant poets, who made some
little noise in their time, cannot for one moment be compared with
him; but, on the other hand, he has been excelled by the fiery
energy and picturesque power of the Cossack, Taras Shevchenko, of
whom I shall speak. Since the death of Pushkin, Lermontov alone
has appeared to dispute the poetical crown with him. The short life
of this author (1814-41), ended in the same way as Pushkin's--in
a duel provoked by himself. Many of his lyrics are exquisite, and
have become standard poems in Russia, such as the _Gifts of Terek_
and _The Cradle Song of the Cossack Mother_.

In Gogol, who died in 1852, the Russians had to lament the loss
of a keen and vigorous satirist. With a happy humour reminding
us of Dickens in his best moods, he has sketched all classes of
society in the _Dead Souls_, perhaps the cleverest of all Russian
novels. No one, also has reproduced the scenery and habits of Little
Russia, of which he was a native, more vigorously than Gogol, whether
in the pictures of country life in his _Old-Fashioned Household_
(if we may translate in so free a manner the title _Starovetskie
Pomestchiki_), or in the wilder sketches of the struggles which
took place between the Poles and Cossacks in _Taras Boulba_. In the
_Portrait_ and _Memoirs of a Madman_, Gogol shows a weird power,
which may be compared with that of the fantastic American, Edgar
Allan Poe. Besides his novels, he wrote a brilliant comedy called
the _Revisor_, dealing with the evils of bureaucracy.

Towards the end of the year 1877, died Nicholas Nekrasov, the most
remarkable poet produced by Russia since Lermontov. He has left
six volumes of poetry, of a peculiarly realistic type, chiefly
dwelling upon the misfortunes of the Russian peasantry, and putting
before us most forcibly the dull grey tints of their monotonous
and purposeless lives.

I have not space to enumerate here even the most prominent Russian
novelists. No account, however, of their literature would be anything
like complete which omitted the name of Ivan Tourgheniev, whose
reputation is European. With the Russians the English novel of the
realistic type is the fashionable model. In this branch of literature,
French influences have hardly been felt at all. The historical
novel--an echo of the great romances of Sir Walter Scott--had its
cultivators in such writers as Zagoskin and Lazhechnikov; but at
the present time, with the exception of the recent productions
of Count Tolstoi, it is a form of literature as dead in Russia
as in our own country. The novel of domestic life bids fair to
swallow up all the rest, and it is to this that the Russians are
devoting their attention.

Tourgheniev first made a name by his _Memoirs of a Sportsman_,
a powerfully written work, in which harrowing descriptions are
given of the miserable condition of the Russian serfs. Since the
publication of this novel, or rather series of sketches, he has
written a succession of able works of the same kind, in which all
classes of Russian society have been reviewed. No more pathetic
tale than the _Gentleman's Retreat_ (_Dvorianskoe Gnezdo_) can
be shown in the literature of any country. There are touches in
it worthy of George Eliot. In _Fathers and Children_ and _Smoke_,
Tourgheniev has grappled with the nihilistic ideas which for a
long time have been so current in Russia.

The study of Russian history, so well commenced by Karamzin, has
been further developed by Oustrialov and Soloviev.

The Malo-Russian is very rich in _skazki_ (national tales) and
in songs. Peculiar to them is the _douma_, a kind of narrative
poem, in which the metre is generally very irregular; but a sort
of rhythm is preserved by the recurrence of accentuated syllables.
The _douma_ of the Little Russians corresponds to the _bîlina_
of the Great Russians.

As might naturally be expected, most Malo-Russian authors of eminence,
have preferred using the Great Russian, notably Gogol, who however
is very fond of introducing provincial expressions which require a
glossary. The foundation of the Malo-Russian cultivated literature
was laid by the travisty of the _Æneid_, by Kotliarevski, which
enjoys great popularity among his countrymen. A truly national
poet appeared in Taras Shevchenko, born a serf in the Government
of Kiev, at the village of Kirilovka.

Of the literature of the White Russians, but little need be said,
as it is very scanty, amounting to a few collections of songs edited
by Shein, Bezsonov and others.


_E. S._

Nicholas I., Tsar of all the Russias (born in 1868), the eldest
son of Alexander III. and the Princess Dagmar, daughter of King
Christian IX. of Denmark, ascended the throne on the death of his
father in 1894. He is descended from Michael Romanof, elected Tsar
in 1613, after the extinction of the House of Rurik, and also from
the Oldenburg family. Nicholas II. was married in 1894 to Princess
Alexandra Alix (Alexandra Feodorovina), daughter of Ludwig IV., Grand
Duke of Hesse, and Alice Maud Mary, daughter of Queen Victoria. Their
four daughters are: Olga (born 1895); Tatiana (born 1897); Marie
(born 1899); and Anastasia (born 1901). The Grand Duke Michael (born
1878), brother of the Emperor, is the Heir Presumptive. The Emperor's
vast revenue is derived from Crown domains: the amount is unknown,
as no reference is made in the budgets or finance accounts. It
consists, however, of more than a million of square miles of cultivated
lands and forests, besides gold and other mines in Siberia.

[Illustration: THE TSAR NICHOLAS.]

Russia is an absolute hereditary monarchy. The Emperor's will is
law, and in him the whole legislative, executive and judicial power
is united. The administration of the Empire is entrusted to four
great boards or councils: the Council of the State; the Ruling
Senate; the Holy Synod; and the Committee of Ministers.

The Council of State, established by Alexander I. in 1801, consists
of a president nominated every year by the Emperor and a large
number of members appointed by him. This council is divided into
four departments: Legislation; Civil and Church Administration;
State's Economy and Industry; Sciences and Commerce.

The Ruling Senate, founded by Peter I. in 1711, is really the high
court of justice for the Empire. It is divided into six departments,
or sections.

The Holy Synod, founded by Peter I. in 1728, has charge of the
religious affairs of the Empire. Its members are the Metropolitans
of St. Petersburg, Moscow and Kief, the archbishop of Georgia and
several bishops who sit in turn. The President is Antonious, the
Metropolitan of St. Petersburg. The Emperor has to approve of all
the decisions of the Holy Synod.

European Russia consists of Russia Proper (50 Provinces), Poland
(10 Provinces), and Finland (Grand Duchy). The population in 1897
was respectively, 93,467,736; 9,401,097; and 2,527,801. Asiatic
Russia consists of Caucasia (11 Provinces; population 9,291,000);
Siberia (8 Provinces and Regions; population 5,726,719); and Central
Asia (10 Provinces and Regions; population 7,740,394). Russian
subjects in Khiva and Bokhara number 6,412. Of the total population
128,161,249, 64,616,280 were men and 64,594,883, women. In European
Russia the annual increase of population is at the rate of nearly
a million and a half. The chief cities of European Russia are St.
Petersburg (1,267,023); Moscow (988,614); Warsaw (638,208); Odessa
(405,041); Lodz (315,209); Riga (256,197); Kief (247,432); Kharkoff
(174,846); Tiflis (160,645); Vilna (159,568); Tashkend (156,414);
Saratov (137,109); Kasan (131,508); Ekaterinoslav (121,216);
Rostov-on-the-Don (119,889); Astrakhan (113,001); Baku (112,253);
Tula (111,048), and Kishineff(108,796). The population of Novgorod,
Samara, Minsk and Nikolaieff is between 95,000 and 90,000. Tiflis
and Baku in the Caucasus have respective populations of 160,000
and 112,000. The largest towns in the Trans-Caspia are Askhabad
(19,500) and Merv (8,750), and those of Turkestan are Tashkend,
Namangan Samarkand and Andijan. There are about 50,000 in each
of the Siberian towns of Tomsk, Irkutsk and Ekaterinburg.

[Illustration: THE TSARINA.]

There has been no census since 1897, but in 1900 the population of
St. Petersburg was 1,439,739; Moscow, 1,035,664; and Riga, 282,943.
The mortality in the towns is so great that the deaths exceed the
births. Emigration is on the increase, and, of late years, the
Russians, particularly the Jews, flock to the United States, chiefly
through Hamburg, Lübeck and Bremen. In 1900, 49,580 emigrated to
the United States; 1,253 to Argentina; and numbers to Canada and
Brazil. Emigration to Siberia varies from year to year, but is on
the increase. In 1898, 80,000 went and in 1901 from 150,000 to
200,000. There is also much emigration to the Southern Ural and
the Steppe provinces.

In European Russia, there is an average of a town or village to
every four or seven square miles, and in the Caucasus, one to every
nine square miles; but in Asiatic Russia the average varies; for
example, in Samarkand there is one to every fourteen square miles,
and in the province of Yakutsk, one to every 2,760 square miles.

The principal ports are St. Petersburg, Cronstadt, Narva, Riga,
Libau, Pernau and Vindau (on the Baltic); Hango (on the Gulf of
Bothnia); Revel, Helsingförs and Wiborg (on the Gulf of Finland);
Archangel and Ekaterinsk (Arctic and White Seas); Odessa, Nicolaieff,
Sebastopol, Nova-Rossiisk, Berdiansk and Batoum, Taganrog, Marinpol,
Rostov and Kertch (on the Black Sea and Sea of Azov); Astrakhan,
Derbent and Baku (on the Caspian Sea); Nicolaieffsk, Vladivostok
and Petrapaulovsk in Kamtchatka; and Port Arthur and Dalni or
Ta-lien-wan (Gulf of Pechili), have been occupied since the
Russo-Chinese Treaty of 1898.

The established religion is the Russo-Greek, or Græco-Russian, known
officially as the Orthodox Catholic Faith. It maintains the relations
of a sister church with the four patriarchates of Constantinople,
Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria. The Emperor is the head of the
church. The Russian Empire is divided into 64 bishoprics, under 3
metropolitans, 14 archbishops and 48 bishops; in 1898, there were
66,146 churches (718 of which were cathedrals), and 785 monasteries.
With the exception of the Jewish, all religions are allowed to be
professed. There are more than 12,000,000 dissenters scattered
throughout the Empire. The numbers are: Orthodox Greek, 87,384,480;
Dissenters, 2,173,738; Roman Catholic, 11,420,927; Protestants,
3,743,209; other Christians, 1,221,511; Mohammedans, 13,889,421;
Jews, 5,189,401; and other religions, 645,503. In 1903, the Holy
Synod received 28,388,049 roubles from the Imperial budget, besides
other revenue and gifts.

The Empire is divided into 15 educational districts: St. Petersburg,
Moscow, Kasan, Orenburg, Kharkoff, Odessa, Kief, Vilna, Warsaw,
Riga, Caucasus, Turkestan, West Siberia, East Siberia and Amur.
In some of the primary village schools, there are school-gardens,
while bee-keeping and silk-worm culture, as well as trades and
handiwork, are taught. In 1900, the Ministers contributed 51,062,842
roubles for schools and universities. The universities are in Moscow
(4,344 students in 1902); St. Petersburg (3,708); Kief (2,316);
Kharkov (1,340); Dorpat (1,791); Warsaw (1,312); Kasan (823); Odessa
(1,116); and Tomsk (549). Helsingfors, Finland, had 1,211 students
in 1900-1.

Since 1874 military service has been obligatory for all men from
the age of 21. The period of service in European Russia is five
years in the active army (reduced by furloughs to four) 13 in the
Zapas those who have passed through active service and five years
in the Opolchenie, or reserve; in Asiatic Russia, seven years in
the active army and six in the Zapas; and in Caucasia, three years
in the active army and 15 in the Zapas. The Opolchenie is a reserve
force of drilled conscripts.

The Cossacks (Don, Kuban Terek, Astrakhan, Orenburg, Ural, Siberia,
Semiryetchensk, Transbaikalia, Amur and Usuri) are divided in three
classes; the first in active service, the second on furlough with
their arms and horses; the third with arms and without horses. Some
of the Cossack cavalry serves with the regular cavalry. Military
service is also obligatory in Finland.

The Russian army consists of 31 corps. The lowest estimate of its
peace strength is about 1,100,000 with 42,000 officers; the war
strength about 75,000 officers, 4,500,000 men and 562,000 horses.

Owing to its widely separated seas, the Russian navy maintains
four squadrons: the Baltic, the Black Sea, the Pacific and the
Caspian. Cronstadt is the chief base of the Baltic Fleet; Sebastopol
of the Black Sea; and Vladivostok and Port Arthur of the Pacific.
The Caspian fleet is comparatively insignificant. In 1903, the navy
consisted of 26 battleships, 14 coast defence ships, 24 first-class
cruisers, 15 second-class cruisers, 161 gunboats and torpedo craft.

The ocean shipping of the Russian Empire is not relatively large,
but its lake and river shipping is very extensive. In 1900, the
sea-going marine consisted of 2,293 sailing vessels and 745 steamers.

The total length of railway open for traffic and travel on January
1, 1903, was 35,336 miles (not including 1,753 miles in Finland).
Of this 4,965 miles were in Asiatic Russia.

The legal unit of money is the silver rouble of 100 kopecks of
the value of 2s. 1.6d., or about fifty cents of American money.
The coins called imperial and half-imperial contain 15 and 7-1/2
roubles respectively. There are also credit notes of 100, 25, 10,
5, 3 and 1 rouble.

Russia's chief source of revenue is the liquor traffic. Her chief
exports are spirits, tallow, wool, tow, bristles, timber, hides and
skins, grain, raw and dressed flax, linseed and hemp. Her principal
imports are tea, cotton and other colonial produce, iron, machinery,
wool, wine, fruits, vegetables and oil.

Russia is the second largest European grower of wheat. Hemp, flax,
potatoes and tobacco are also raised in large quantities. Barley,
buckwheat, oats, millet and rye form the staple food of the inhabitants.

Mines of great value exist in the Ural, Obdorsk and Altai mountains,
which produce gold, copper, iron, silver, platinum, rock-salt,
marble and kaolin or china clay. Rich naphtha springs exist on
the Caspian and an immense bed of coal has been discovered between
the Donetz and Dnieper rivers.

The Grand Duchy of Finland, which Russia conquered from Sweden
and finally annexed in 1808, had a population in 1898 of about
2,595,000 (2,230,000 Finns; 350,000 Swedes; 12,000 Russians; 2,000
Germans; and 1,000 Laps). The chief religion is the Lutheran. The
capital is Helsingfors with a population of 111,000, including the
Russian garrison. The Tsar of Russia is the Grand Duke; Lieut.-Gen.
N. Bobrikov, the governor-general; and V. von Plehwe, Secretary of
State. The Diet, convoked triennially, consists of nobles, clergy,
burgesses and peasants, but the country is chiefly governed by the
Imperial Finnish Senate of twenty-two members. The army consists
of nine battalions of Finnish Rifles (5,600 men), and one regiment
of dragoons (900 men, with a reserve of 30,000). The chief export
is timber and the chief industry iron mines. In 1898, the marine
comprised 2,298 vessels of 324,344 tons.

Bokhara and Khiva in Central Asia are vassal states of Russia.
Bokhara, bounded on the north by Russian Turkestan, was once the
most famous state of Central Asia. Genghis Khan took it from the
Arabs in the Thirteenth Century, and it was taken by the Uzbegs,
fanatical Sunni Mahommedans of Turkish extraction, in 1505. After
the Russian capture of Tashkend in 1865, the Amir Muzeffared-din
proclaimed a holy war against the Russians, who invaded his province
and captured Samarkand in 1868. By a treaty of 1873, no foreigner may
be admitted into Bokhara without a Russian passport. The population
is estimated at 2,000,000. The Amir Syed Abdul Ahad succeeded in
1885. The Uzbegs are still the dominant race. The religion is
Mahommedan. The chief towns are Bokhara (about 75,000) and Karshi
(25,000). The chief products are sheep, goats, camels, horses,
rice, cotton, silk, corn, fruit, hemp and tobacco. Gold, salt,
alum and sulphur are the chief minerals. There are cotton, woollen
and silk manufacturers. Many Indian goods such as shawls, tea,
drugs, indigo and muslins are imported. The Amir has 11,000 troops,
4,000 of which are quartered in Bokhara. The Russian Trans-Caspian
Railway runs through Bokhara and there is steam navigation on the
Oxus. A telegraph connects Bokhara with Tashkend.

The conquest of Khiva, another Uzbeg State also founded on the
ruins of Tamerlane's Central Asian Empire, was attempted by Peter
the Great in 1717 and again in 1839 by the Tsar Nicholas. On the
pretext that the Khivans had aided the rebellious Kirghiz, the
Russians invaded Khiva in 1873 and forced the Khan to sign a treaty
putting the Khanate under Russian government. The reigning sovereign
is Seyid Mahomed Rahim Khan who succeeded his father in 1865. He was
born about 1845. The population is estimated at 800,000, including
400,000 nomad Turcomans. The principal towns are Khiva (about 5,000)
and New Urgenj (3,000). The religion is Mahommedan. The army consists
of about 2,000 men. The chief productions are silk and cotton.


In 1898, Russia obtained a lease of twenty-five years from China of
Point Arthur and Ta-lien-wan with the adjacent seas and territory
to the north. To this the name of Kwang-Tung was given in 1899. Port
Arthur, the capital, is a naval station for Russian and Chinese
ships. At the end of the port a new town, Dalni, has been founded;
it is connected by rail with the Trans-Siberian railway system.

Russia's history in 1903 was marked by general disquietude and
turbulence. The disorders among the peasantry in 1902 led to a
special committee being appointed to inquire into and ameliorate
their condition and also to improve agriculture. On March 11, 1903,
the Tsar issued a manifesto promising reform in the government of
local towns and tolerance in religion. As little or no improvement
was noticed, strike riots resulted in Slatoust (Ufa) and at
Nijni-Novgorod, and riots also broke out in the university of St.
Petersburg. In May, the Governor of Ufa was assassinated. To these
disturbances, the Anti-Semitic outrages were encouraged at Kishineff
(Bessarabia) when forty-five Jews were killed, 484 injured, 700
houses demolished, and 600 houses sacked. Strike riots also broke
out in South Russia and the Caucasus, particularly in the towns of
Kief, Odessa, Baku, Rostov, Nikolaieff. Many smaller towns also
suffered loss of life. Military troops were called out to quell
the rioters. The policy of Russification was carried on in Finland
as well as in the more recent acquisitions. The chief interest,
however, lay in the extension of Russia's diplomatic and military
policy in the Far East under Admiral Alexeieff (appointed August
13, 1903).

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Russia - As Seen and Described by Famous Writers" ***

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