Page images

against making which they have no law; and though they live chiefly by what is styled trick and cheating, yet they seldom rob on the highway or break into houses; and few classes of men are less castigated by the penal law. They rob without being robbers, beg without being vagrants. Influenced by no laws, and yet so conforming to those under which they live that they are almost independent of them. There is no means they will leave untried to pilfer you; nothing that they will not willingly undertake for money, proof to all kinds of rebuke, callous to offence. Load them with opprobrious epithets, call them unbelievers, cut-throats, dogs, or spit upon their Jewish gaberdine, nothing makes any impression upon them. Nay, I have seen them struck by passers-by, and that with the greatest injustice, and yet show no resentment even in expression. Give them the slightest pittance, they are content, and will kiss your garment. Detect them in their frauds, they neither deny nor justify them; but if too severely rebuked, they show you, rather by signs than words, that you can have no pretensions to fair dealings with those with whom you yourself deal so hardly.

A carefully hoarded fee.

The following morning I was beset as usual by my friends the Jews, all of whom came to consult me. A more quacking race of people does not exist, and they are always swallowing some kind of medicine. It was curious to watch the physiognomies of some of them, as they doubted within themselves whether they should offer me a fee. I remember a poor woman, and a pretty young woman she was too, which makes me remember her so well; though a pretty Jewess is no uncommon sight in Poland; but, after taking the prescription in her hand, she fell upon her knees, and began to bless me, and then she cried, and, putting her hands to her head, she took off her cap, and under this was a second and less ornamented cap, which she also removed, and under this was a pocket-handkerchief, and in removing this she wept bitterly, and when she had removed it, she felt in one corner of the rag for a piece of money of the value of sixpence, and bursting into tears, she offered it to me as a fee.

The Physician entertains no very flattering opinion of the Polish aristocracy.

In the kingdom of Poland, the nobility, in order to evade this freedom, (the legal emancipation of the serf,) enter into stipulations with each other not to afford runaway or vagrant peasants any protection; so that if a peasant, from ill-treatment, should be inclined to leave his master and seek a milder one, every door is shut against him; and the violation of this tacit agreement by any one proprietor would be productive of a duel between the two parties; so that in reality the peasant, free by law, is a slave by usage. All his legal freedom turns to his master's advantage, for it allows him the privilege of starving, without any redress from his owner; whereas the slave in Austria (and I speak of the Polish provinces of that empire) can compel his owner to feed him in time of scarcity, or when from illness he is unable to procure bread for himself or his family.

There are no harder taskmasters than the Polish nobility; and the liberties they seem to appreciate so well for themselves, they are little anxious to

extend to their inferiors. The law which allowed them to murder their peasants under such easy penalties no longer exists, but the spirit of that law still exists; and their indifference to human suffering tends to diminish much of that enthusiasm for them as a people which is natural to all Englishmen who have not seen them at home in their own country.

I was playing at cards on New-Year's Eve, when the cold was very intense, I think 27 degrees Reaumur: and a servant entered the room to inform a nobleman that three of his peasants were found frozen to death about a mile from the town. "Il n'y a que trois, c'est peu de chose," and continued his game of quinze, without making another observation. The same circumstance might have occured in England, but would not he to whom the news was communicated make it his care immediately to send his steward to give all the consolation possible to the distressed families? Not so with the Pole; he only became more anxious to win his game at cards, to make up for the loss of the three peasants. This, it is true, was an instance only of passive conduct; but I witnessed so much more active brutality exercised by the rich towards the poor, so much want of common humanity in the relations existing between them on the part of the superior, that, so far from sympathizing with them upon the loss of their liberty, I could not but regret that they ever should have had so much in former times, seeing how cruelly they abused the little which was still left them.

Preludes to winter in Russia.

It is a mistake which almost all new comers make, to brave the cold too long; allowing it to penetrate before they take measures against it. Now the secret is, never to feel it. Take preventive measures; arm against it; never let it lay hold: this is the secret worth knowing, and the natives do know it, for they are seen walking about in their furs to the astonishment of new-comers, who hardly feel the cold sufficient to warrant a greatcoat.

Heat breaks no bones, says a Russian proverb. The Russians also say, wear warm clothing the first winter of your arrival, and you may do as you please ever after.

A few days previous to the closing of the navigation, the weather assumes a deceptive appearance. The sun is bright and the atmosphere clear; there is a nipping and an eager air, and the spirits are light and buoyant. Scarcely any wind prevails: the river flows calmly along without a ripple on its surface; there is a peculiar brightness in the atmosphere, which pushes forth as it were its last rose of summer. It seems as if it would last for ever, as if spring were about to return, making a leap-year winter. The sun sets with a deep orange ray; the moon rises pale and silvery. The stars tremble in the firmament. The actual thermometric cold is about 10 degrees of Fahrenheit. The nights are splendid, but colder than the days. The morning dawns bright and cheerful. The surface of the river is smooth and glistening. No swallow skims over its surface; no gnat dances in the sunbeam reflected from it; but, floating upon its top, is seen a thin pellicle of ice, which, resembling a film of suet, caused by pouring it when melted upon water, is called by the natives sala.

A Russian house in winter.

As in other countries clocks and time-pieces are considered indispensable pieces of furniture, so here two thermometers are equally indispensable to the comfort and convenience of the inmates of every house. The one, attached to the outer frame of the double windows, which are also universal in this country, marks the external cold; the other, suspended to a wall, or placed in an ornamental form upon a table in the drawing-room, marks the degree of warmth within doors. The scale of Reaumur is the one used in this country, and some hundreds of thousands must be manufactured in the capital; for not only is every house supplied, but often every room in the house is furnished with them. Upon quitting the bed, the first step is towards the window, to ascertain the degree of cold without, by which many movements of the day are to be regulated; and those who take pleasure in meteorological observations are provided with register thermometers, by which they not only ascertain the actual degree of cold, but learn what it has been during the night; for there are generally a few degrees of difference in the night and day temperatures. This transit from the warm bed to the freezing window is not made through cold space, as it would be in England, making the reader shiver and shake at the very idea; for the drawing-room, the parlour, the hall, the staircase, and the bed-room, are all of the same temperature in a Russian house. The Russian does not undress in an ague-fit, as in a bed-room at Christmas in England; he does not jump into bed and smother himself under a heap of blankets to bring on the hot stage, nor does he rise in the morning with any idea of finding the water in his jug frozen. His bedroom is warmer in winter than in summer; and instead of adding to the number, he generally abstracts a blanket in the winter-season from his bed.

As he finds the degree of cold marked by his thermometer externally, so does he understand how to clothe himself when he issues from his warm halldoor.

There are three degrees of comparison in the warmth of clothing,-the schenelle, or warm mantle; the bekêche, or English greatcoat, lined throughout with warm fur; and the schube, or large mantle wrapper, lined with a coarser fur than the bekêche.

A Russian theatre.

You must give in your name at the pit door before you take out your ticket, to be registered in a book. This was the custom at Odessa, at least when I was there. As soon as you enter the house, should you forget to take off your hat, you are reminded of your neglect by a servant in court livery, who gives you a jog, and points above to the spread-eagle of Russia. Then you must sit down in one spot during the whole of the time; you cannot go in and out, nor loll against the boxes. It seems that pleasure is a command, and that you are a voluntary slave. Then there is no hissing permitted; silent contempt is the only mark of disapprobation; but for applause, oh, you may "roar till the duke shall say, let him roar again.

Storks in the Ukraine.

Wherever we halted to change or rather bait our horses, provided that the resting place comprised a house graced by a chimney, so surely upon that

chimney-top was there to be seen a stork's nest. The bird is quite domesticated in these wild steppes, and walks about unmolested, and as fearlessly as a turkey cock in a farm-yard. He is the common scavenger; and luckless was the day to the frogs when they chose him for their king. By the side of every pond is he to be seen, picking up the croakers with as much sang froid as a fowl picks up a grain of wheat; and away he flies with his victim to the nest, where the young, impatient for their meal, are thrusting out their long necks and contending for the tit-bit. He is not over-choice in the delicacies with which he feeds his offspring. I have often seen him rise on wing with a large portion of a dead dog in his jaws; for storks are like Chinese in this respect-they have no prejudice against animals which have died a natural death.

Tea aboard a Neva steamer.

The passengers on board the steamer offer a motley appearance-some for pleasure and some for business, as in all cases; but the scene is different from any thing out of Russia. We had a cargo of wood-merchants, who came down from the banks of the Ladoga to look after their wood-barges in St. Petersburg. They are a drunken set; one of the best-looking of them was soon sprawling upon the deck. It was hard to keep him out of mischief. He would go down below to see the engine work. It was necessary to hold him by main force, till he fell asleep: as Sancho says, "It covered him over like a blanket ;" and when he awoke, he was no longer mischievous. It is curious to see the people drink tea aboard these steamers: a passenger asks for tea, by which the French understand un the complet; the Russians, a portion; we should say, tea for one. This comprises a small teapot in which the tea, and that of the best kind, has been infused; a larger teapot full of hot water, a small saucer full of lump sugar, an empty tumbler and teaspoon, a slice of lemon, and a small decanter of spirits. All this is served simultaneously upon a tray. As soon as the tea is sufficiently infused, he pours it out into the tumbler; to which he adds a glass of spirits and a slice of lemon, and then fills up the smaller with hot water from the larger pot.

The first glass of tea expedited, he brews again in the same way, and this for five or six times, till the tea has no longer colour or flavour; but there is the lemon, the sugar, and the brandy, and the tea is now the apology. The effect produced will depend upon the quantity of brandy which he has thus sipped. If he have been sparing, he remains quiet upon deck, or converses freely with his fellow-passengers.

If he have sucked the monkey too strongly, he is mischievous, and is for looking after the machinery.

Popularity in Russia of Sir Robert Ker Porter.

Sir R. K. Porter had made himself known by his pencil first, and then by his pen. During his first sojourn in Russia he had espoused a native princess, who died, leaving him an only daughter. His first essay as a literary man, was his history of the campaign in Russia, which circumstances conspired to make very popular at the time of its production. Everything was read with avidity at that moment; and so popular were the Russians at

the time, that although the colouring which the author's pen borrowed from his pencil lightly varnished the tale, it was not perceived at the moment. Many a defeat was transformed into a victory under the touch of his pencil; but the public could not resist the impression made upon their feelings by such panegyrics as the following, put into the mouth of the conqueror Alexander. It was the appeal of an Emperor to the justice of God, and a reliance on his people. "Should the enemy take Moscow, have I not still Petersburg? if not Petersburg, Archangel? if not Archangel, my fleets and the hearts of my people?—and Russia is still my empire.”

Sir R. K. Porter's recent death; his fame as a traveller, an author, and an artist, his earliest celebrity and much of that which attaches to the latter portion of his active and variegated life, being closely connected with the efforts of his pencil; and the fact that a sale is about to take place, under peculiar circumstances of an interesting nature, of the museum of antiquities and ancient inscriptions, collected by this distinguished man, and many curious literary and other records worth the attention of artists, virtuosos, and the learned,are circumstances which give additional effect to whatever is told of him by an authority so good as the writer before us.

ART. V. Journal of a Tour through Egypt, the Peninsula of Sinai, and the Holy Land, in 1838, 1839. 2 vols. Printed by Richard Watts, Crown-court, Temple Bar. Intended solely for private circulation. 1842.

WE deem ourselves invested with no ordinary privilege, in being permitted to lay before our readers some portion of these talented volumes, which, although abounding with a rich diversity of original and valuable information on subjects of peculiar and permanent interest, have been printed solely for private circulation. A sentiment of amiable and becoming modesty has induced the authoress to confine the result of her literary efforts to the sphere of her personal acquaintance; and, even under the comparative privacy of such a limitation, she has abstained from adding the recommendation of her name to the work. The distribution of the contents as a private journal, in lieu of the more formal arrangement due to their literary pretensions, and the importance of the topics discussed, may also be cited as additional testimony of the total absence of display, and even apparent unconsciousness of superior merit, which have marked the preparation of her writings for the press. We are not, however, without hope, that a just sense of the value and interest of her production may dissuade the authoress from her design of withholding it from popular perusal; nay, we are quite sure that, to a mind constituted like hers, a consideration of public advantage will far outweigh any personal motive that might dictate an opposite decision,

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »