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TRAVELS IN RUSSIA, THE KRIMEA, THE CAUCASUS, AND GEORGIA. BY ROBERT LYALL, M, D. F. L. S. 2 Vols. 8vO. pp.
- . Dr. Lyall, in a former work, exhibited in many respects an unfavourable portraiture of the Russian character, and then, with great singleness of heart, dedicated his labours to the Emperor. He did not, however, as is usual in such cases, send the Autocrat a copy, nor did his friends at court dare to present one ; but, in some way, Alexander procured our author's work, and, in consequence, issued an ukase to restrain individuals in future from dedicating their books to him without the imperial permission. Alexander's indignation was very natural: - nor are we, on that account, inclined to think less favourably of the justice and fidelity of Dr. L.'s descriptions. That the Russians for the most part are still in a state of barbarism, and their manners degraded by vices, usually attendant on imperfect civilization, cannot surprise; when it is reflected, that it is only within a century the foundations of Petersburg were laid, and this mighty-ijipire began to be formed out of hordes oPwandering' Tartars. Nothing but extraordinary energy and talent on the part of the sovereigns of Russia could have effected so much in so short a period, and have been able to give a partial and external polish to their barbarous population. The relations of travellers, therefore, are far from improbable, and we feel no surprise that the women are still indelicate; that the nobles are addicted to thieving, drinking, and running into debt —that they cannot go to an entertainment without pocketing the pastry and sweetmeats ;— that the population, generally, is prone to lying and uncleanliness; and that a vigorous application of the knout is an indispensable part of correctional police.
With respect to Dr. Lyall, we have several grave charges to make. First, he is a very dull and unentertaining travelling companion; he often complains of the "romantic turn" of sir R. Ker Porter, but we heartily wish he had possessed some portion of the descriptive powers of that artist. Cold, indeed, he must be, in whom the mighty Volga—the tomb of Mithridates—the bridge of Pompey—the country ofTamerlane—and the lofty Caucasus could excite no emotion; nothing like poetical feeling! This, however, is far from the worst: his relations are frequently confused and unintelligible. The Work, too, has been swelled out to a most
unreasonable size: the Doctor has not been content with giving divers unnecessary biographies, and incorporating the labours of Pallas, Tooke, Porter, Clarke, and other modern writers and tourists, but, for lack of stuffing, has actually gone back to the days of Milton and Fletcher, and one Crull, who lived two centuries ago, and published some curious opinions on the manners of the Muscovites. We have been also exceedingly perplexed with DrX.'s orthography. Our old friends, the Cosacks, are called Kozahs; Perecop — Perecrop; Potemkin — Potyemkin; Zingis — Tschingis; and for apparel— appareil; and so on. These changes may be all correct, for aught we know, aud agreeable to local pronunciation, but we think they ought not to have been made without necessity, or, at least, a glossary should have been appended, for the help of readers unacquainted with the niceties of the Russian language.
The scene of Dr. Lyall's travels extended from Moscow to Tula, Kief, Odessa, Cherson, through the Crimea, into Caucasus, and Georgia. It is impossible to accompany him through the different stages of his route; but we will endeavour to select the most striking incidents and noveltiesin his progress. Travelling in Russia is performed with great expedition, for which the long continued level roads, through immense plains, which in dry weather are smooth as a bowling-green, afford great facility. A French traveller has said, " they travel by post in France and England, but in Russia they fly." Thus they often go from Odessa to Petersburg, and vice verstt, a distance of 1,876 verst, (1,251 miles,) in six or seven days; and Mr. Yeames, the British consul, told Dr. L. that he despatched a messenger from Odessa to that capital, and received an answer in thirteen days.
Like a great number of the Russian nobility, when resident upon their estates, he gives a weekly dinner to his friends or neighbours, which is followed by every kind of enjoyment, as we shall see immediately. No one ever showed more anxiety to assemble large parties, either on Sundays or festivals. He sends the most pressing invitations to all ranks of the nobility within twenty or thirty miles of Semeonovskoy£, begging them to honour him with their company ; and from Serpuchof, which is only twelve miles distant from that village, he is generally flattered by the appearance of a party of those hungry gentlemen, who are attached to the tribunals of the district. The Sunday commences with dressing, drinking tea and 149
LYALL'S TRAVELS IN RUSSIA.
coffee, and conversation with some of the inmates of the house. The guests begin to assemble, and as many as have arrived by eleven o'clock, generally accompanied his excellency to church, which is only about forty yards distant from the house. Yet, in the finest weather, a large lineika, (a kind of long, half-open, double-seated carriage, in which a dozen or more persons can sit,) with four horses and a couple of lackeys, besides carriages and droshhis, are always in attendance, and are generally used to convey and bring back those who avail themselves of the opportunity from the place of worship. The church service continues till about twelve o'clock; and, during its performance, the general affects the greatest attention and devotion. Having got into the carriages, the party roll along to the house, in which, in the mean time, a number more visitors have assembled. The dejeuner, consisting of bread, butter, salt herrings, pickled fish, radishes, caviar, &c. &c. with a glass of sweet vodtki, occupies the next half hour. The party now get into groups for conversation, for walking, for cards, and other amusements. Pinner is served up at three o'clock, and generally consists of a number of excellent dishes, prepared in the French style, besides some national dishes. A few glasses of wine, and often of excellent wine of different kinds, are offered to each guest. The party now retire from table, and coffee is handed round. Again the company are in a great degree left to their own will. Some immediately recommence cards, some go to walk, and others to ride, and the remainder to take a siesta: and in summer, it is not rare for the whole party to withdraw to the arms of Morpheus. Between six and seven o'clock, a general muster again takes place, and tea is drank either in the house, or, when the weather permits, iu the garden. Those who remain, now adjourn to the theatre or to the ball-room, and there, besides having their minds or bodies occupied, are supplied with lemonade, grog, and negus. About eleven or twelve o'clock, the day concludes with a good supper, and, at an early hour, the guests either return home or retire to thenapartments for repose. At their departure, all are heartily thanked for their company, and receive the fervent benediction of their host.
I got into a droshki at break of day, and proceeded toward the monument of Howard. I soon arrived at the spot, but was somewhat at a loss where to bestow my tribute of veneration to the shade of
this great man; for two similar pyramidal monuments, formed of the limestone of the country, rise from the plain, at the distance of a few feet from each other. I walked round them with excited curiosity, and then asked the coachman, in Russ, which was Howard's monument! He replied, " These are the monuments of two Englishmen, I know nothing more of them." On one side of the pedestal of the best built pyramid, some kind hand had scratched on the plaster, the words " John Howard." They were sufficient to fix my attention, and Jo recall every feeling of veneration wifew which Englishmen, must approach this sacred tomb. On the opposite side of the pedestal were obscurely traced MXIT PROPTER ALIOS: meant, I suppose, to be mortuus propter alios, which is true. Howard's monument is situated between the country-seat of count Potdtskii and the villa of a rich peasant. It stands in a hollow, surrounded by gentle and bleak hills, which on the south and east are scattered with tumuli. The ground on which it is placed formerly belonged to a French gentleman, M. Franfois Dauphins', but it is now the property of a Greek, whose name is Mr. Gonospulof; at least, so we were informed; but Dr. Clarke relates, that admiral Priestman purchased the spot by Howard's dying request; and that when the intelligence of the conclusion of the bargain was made known to him, he showed great satisfaction.
We met with different individuals who knew Howard intimately, and who venerated his name. Mr. A , after
praising him highly, added, e'etoit «» homme extremement actif, viais vif conime la poudre. The same gentleman also spoke of Dr. Clarke, with great respect. The new monument erected to the memory of Howard, which is near the church of the Assumption, and without the barrier of Kherson, is a simple pyramid, with poplars around it, and is enclosed by a high circular wall, with au iron gate in front, which was locked. T copied the inscription on the pedestal, of which the following is a translation:—
Died on the20th January,
In the Year 179(1,
In the ftith Year of his Age.
We were told that his imperial majesty Alexander had granted the sum of 50,000 roubles for the erection of a monument worthy of Howard, and that this monument only cost 11,000. We were also informed by Mr. Komstadius. the civil governor of Kherson, that it was to be demolished, and that a more worthy monument was to .take its place. That gentleman showed us a large bronze medallion with Howard's portrait, with sharp features, prominent nose, and large wig, which is to be placed in one side of the base of the future monument. Around the medallion are these words in Sclavonic: "I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me." The following information was derived from Mr. Komstadius. In the month of November, 1789, Howard was requested to visit Mademoiselle During, that gentleman's aunt, who lived on the banks of the Dne-per, at the distance of ten, miles from Kherson. In a light oldN^shioned dress, in silk stockings, and without a great coat, he set off on horseback. The day was windy and cold, and he had a fall by the way. He caught a cold, which was followed by a fever, and which terminated in death.
We have heard much of the forbearance, kindness, and toleration of Russia towards her conquered provinces, and she often deserves that praise; but, assuredly, for many years, the Tartars ware treated with much severity, which led to great emigration, They have also suffered the most violent insults: their mosques, their minarets, their palaces, their baths, their water-conduits, their fountains, and even, their tombs, have been thrown down, ruined, and rased. I heartily joined in the noble indignation, and generous feeling, every where shown by Clarke, when these scenes of destruction, and almost total annihilation, presented themselves.
There are no good inns at Karassubazar, and we got possession of some rooms in a private house; but nobody would undertake to make a dinner for us,—a circumstance which greatly excited our surprise. At length an individual, to whom we had sent, returned an answer, that, "If we were not Russians, he would make us a good dinner" and the business was easily arranged. On demanding an explanation of this curious answer, it was replied, that the Russians often take possession of rooms, dine, drink coffee and tea, and call for wine, &c. at pleasure; and, instead of paying a bill, give any trifling sum they please, and depart. There is no doubt of this truth, and such a practice prevails throughout the Russian dominions. Many of the richer nobles, and of the higher classes of officers, would spurn at such conduct; but most of the lower ranks of the aristocracy, and of the military, do not hesitate a moment about *' trifles of this kind."
A CIRCASSIAN PRINCE.
We made. arrangements with the officers
of the establishment (after having received the approbation of the ataman) for seeing a Circassian prince and his suite, as well as some of the common people, on the following day. Our message to him would have sounded very strangely in some princely ears. The translator was desired to say, "that four Italian and British gentlemen having arrived at Yekaterino-' dar, were anxious to have an interview with him, and desired to make him some' trifling presents." On the following morning, precisely at the appointed time, he arrived, and awaited us a quarter of an hour, in consequence of a mistake. The prince, named Pshi Mahmet Khadjemko; his two sons, Sheret Luk, eight years of age, and Alantcherai, seven years of age; his mo/tla, or priest, Mahmet Khatun; two of his mirzas, or nobles; and about a dozen of his suite, all in uniform and well-armed; besides a number of boys, and many Circassians on business, were assembled in the quarantine. After the usual salutations, by means of our interpreter, we held some conversation with the prince and the niohla; and having explained the objects of our curiosity, we begged they would excuse our questions. The prince Khadjemko is a tall, well-proportioned man, of about forty years of age. In his physiognomy there was no expression of talents, but much of good humour. His complacent manners struck us forcibly. His cap was cupola-formed, made of leather, and bordered with black sheepskin. His upper garment, made like the coats of the Kozak officers, was darkcoloured and striped; and above it was a coat of chain armour. This was covered with a sort of white linen tunic. The arms were defended by steel armour, silvered, and gilt, and otherwise ornamented at the wrists; and below it was a sort of sleeve, which reached the middle of the hand. His blue pantaloons were embroidered with silver, and bound at the knees by red leather garters; and his boots, formed of red and yellow leather, were extremely long, sharp-pointed, and drawn close to the leg and foot by iaces. In his right hand he held a Circassian whip, whose handle was short and covered with leather, and which, instead of having a lash, terminated in a heart-shaped expansion, red on one side, and yellow on the other. Such an instrument is admirably calculated for making a noise against the horse's sides. His bow and its case, his quiver full of arrows, and his sabrej we were allowed to examine; but his pistols were in the holsters of his saddle on the other side of the Kuban. The sabre was of Damascus workmanship, and very beautiful; but is handle, formed.of 151
LYAIX'S TRAVELS IN EtrSSIA.
ivdry, was so beset by long and sharp projections, like teeth, that we had to put on gloves before grasping it. The prince's sons were plainly dressed in the Circassian style. The mohla wore a white turban, a wide flowing scarlet robe, and yellow boots, and was also armed with a sabre. The suite were moderately well dressed, and were all well armed. As is usual, their guns were enclosed in goatskin cases, with the hair outside, which had a very primitive appearance. The Circassians, who were here for commercial purposes, for the most part were very badly clothed, and all of them had a wild and savage aspect.
Our curiosity often excited laughter, but all our questions were gratified by direct and civil answers. At our request, the prince strung his bow, and shot off an arrow. During this action his appearance was extremely imposing. The arrow was found by a Circassian boy, at a considerable distance, and I have preserved it as a specimen of the excellent workmanship of the natives. i Having bid us farewell, the prince and suite betook themselves to their canoes, which they paddled across the river. To our surprise, in a few minutes, the whole of the party, mounted on horseback, issued from an enclosure on the other side of the Kuban. The prince first appeared, on a white steed, then the mohla upon a dark grey horse, and they were followed by the whole suite. The horses were remarkably fine, and held their heads extremely high. This cavalcade paraded up and down upon the banks of the river, the prince's eldest son galloped backwards and forwards, and all seemed busy with preparations, the" meaning of which we did not comprehend. At length the prince and suite set off at full gallop on the plain by the river side, fired their pistols in succession, exercised with their sabres, and then formed a circle, and, having made a short ttttour, they repeated the same manoeuvres. After another gallop the whole party halted instantaneously, came down to the beach, formed a line, and, having called to the interpreter to bid us farewell, they rode slowly off,
A DINNER IN GEORGIA.
Here we dined in a half Asiatic and half European manner. For our party a table was covered, and knives and forks, silver spoons, tumblers, wine-glasses, &c. were provided. In lieu of chairs, long benches were used. Wines, in small earthen jars, and in bottles, were placed for every guest, and were also handed round in profusion. The dishes consisted of soup strongly seasoned with mint,
boiled fish, cutlets with mint sauce, roasted beef, roasted fowls, salad, cucumbers, etc. On a low platform, along the side of the same room, a number of Georgian princes and nobles sat cross-legged, and partook of the same dishes as we did, and they were joined by some of our party. A kind of flat cake, like immense biscuits, served them for plates, and they eat with their fingers, in the same way as the Persians. They drank their wine out of a silver ladle, from which it was allowed to trickle into their mouths, and afterwards used immense horns, some of them mounted with silver, and pledged each other to empty them, after the manner which prevailed in our own, as well as in other countries, in more early times. One of the Georgian nobles gave us a strong proof that he was in <he habit of using liberal potations, for he pledged almost every individual in the company to empty the horn with him, and he drank the wine to the last drop. Yet he managed his horse perfectly well afterwards, though a little merry. Coffee was now served up. While the party was occupied, I sallied out, and passing near the apartments of the prince's lady, was addressed by an old duenna, in Russian, who introduced me to the princess and her sister, with whom I had a little conversation. I afterwards conducted our party, one by one, to this lady, who behaved extremely well, and like a person who had seen something of polished life. The prince, who had received notice of our visit, met us as we were retiring from his spouse's apartments, and, it was evident, was not well pleased at our curiosity. The whole of the individuals of the cavalcade were now conducted to an outhouse, which we were told was the wine-cellar. We looked in vain for the wine, and upon inquiry were informed that it was buried in the earth, in enormous sized jars, much larger than hogsheads or puncheons. Spades were brought, the earth was cleared away, and the lids of two of these jars were opened, and the wine was handed round to the whole party in silver ladles. A number of peasants then assembled around them, and with little earthen jugs they made ample amends for our deficiency in the drinking way/
Count Plat6f. I well remember, and my readers will also recall to mind, the various reports which were in circulation in this metropolis during the campaign of 1812-13. The' veteran is said to have offered his daugb. terin marriage, and her weight of gold as her dowry, to the individual who should deliver to him the conqueror of Europe,
Napoleon, dead or alive. This fable, under a modification, 'even found a place in ajustly celebrated review. There, it is said, that "The veteran Platof, whose blood had been so often shed in the defence of Russia on former occasions, now showed his ardour for the cause in which he was engaged, by promising his daughter, and 200,000 roubles, to the hero who should rid the world of the invader."* The said lady was painted in the brightest colours of fancy, and her portrait caught the attention of the passers by, in the shop-windows of London and Edinburgh, and even in the provincial towns of our island. She was beautiful, her father was a hero, and riches abounded at Navo Tcherkosk. But, alas! for the AtacnaVs successors, there was no foundation for such reports: Flattif was never rich, I believe he was in difficulty, if not in debt; and, what is more extraordinary, he had no daughter unmarried in 1812. But such a report, though an imposition, was congenial to the general feeling of the British nation at the time, and thus it met with ready belief. When we lately had the pleasure of dining at the table of PlatdPs successor, I repeated the story as told above, and in the language of the country, so that all present understood. The recital was followed by bursts of laughter; at the cessation of which, one of his best friends told us that it was indeed a great mistake. "Plat6f," said he, " was always poor, because he was always liberal; and had he had a daughter to marry in 1812, instead of thousands of roubles, or her weight of gold, if he could have given the weight of one of her ears of that metal in dowry, it was his utmost!"
In another work I have eutered at great length into the character of the Russian merchants, and their mode of trafficking; and though the picture was drawn from the life, and the colours by no means overcharged, it has been hinted by some, that it is too general, aud too severe. I feel convinced, however, of its being a fair representation, and that the accuracy of every sentence will be borne out by those who have been in Russia, and still more so by those who have had dealings with the native merchants. The character of dishonesty seems to have clung to this class of subjects at least for some hundred years; for even one of the best historians of Russia, Karamzin, frankly avows, "That in the times of the great dukes, the Moscow merchants knew and confirmed
* Quarterly Review, vol, viii. p. 459.
the proverb, that 'A'merchant will tell his face;'" and he adds, that, "Their finesse in buying and selling astonished the Germans, who said, ' Satan alone could cheat a Russian.'"
THE EMPEROR ALEXANDER.
As a private character, the most serious charge that can be brought against the emperor Alexander relates to his affairs of gallantry, which are ever to be regretted for the sake of the empress. But when we candidly take into account the extremely corrupt court at which he was educated,—his early marriage, and perhaps not with the object of his choice,— the facilities, nay, the temptations, to desert the path of virtue, by which so young a sovereign was surrounded,—and the extreme jealousy and rigid coolness of the empress, we must at least think his failings greatly palliated, if not excused. Indeed, all circumstances considered, perhaps not one in a hundred, or in a thousand, would have conducted himself so well as the emperor Alexander. As his years have increased, so has his wisdom; and I have been assured that this monarch now shows his regret at the frolics of his youth by repentance, and the kindest conduct to his imperial consort, with whom he passes much of his spare time in the evenings. The simplicity of manners, and mode of life of Alexander are very exemplary and praiseworthy. He sleeps upon a hard mattress, whether in the palace or in the camp; he rises early, lives very moderately, is almost. never even merry with wine, employs much time in public affairs, and is indefatigable in his labours. His chief amusement, if such it may be called, seems to be the organization and discipline of the army.
The emperor may be seen in summer riding in a one-horse droshhi, and in winter in a one-horse sledge, or walking on the quays of the Neva, or the boulevard of the admiralty, in the most simple uniform. I shall never forget the first time I saw his majesty. A few days after his return from Paris, in 1815, I was introduced to sir James Wylie, with whom I visited some of the military hospitals at Petersburg, and in which I spoke with a number of medical gentlemen. A few days afterwards, on the palace quay, at no great distance from one of these hospitals, I remarked an officer in a plain uniform without epaulets, whom I took for one of the physicians I had seen, and meant to address him. But for my want of knowledge of the French language, at that time, I should have addressed him. While I hesitated whether to say Comment vousportez-vous Monsieur le Docteur ? pr