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infirmities pretty equally; and I must again repeat, that the little stratagems of our northern brother find considerable palliation in the law, that secures not the fruits of his labour, but exposes him to the iron grasp of rapacious and unrelenting oppression.
The late Catherine thought that the glory of government did not consist alone in military triumphs; alarmed, as she most assuredly was, yet wholly uninfluenced, by the terrible storms of the French revolution, it was the anxious aim and the cordial desire of her long and splendid reign to civilize her people, by gradually unfolding to them, through a soft corrected medium, the glorious light of freedom. Her sagacious mind taught her to know, what Cowper has so exquisitely described, that
The modern Semiramis made some, though inconsiderable advances in the abolition of this odious vassalage, and, during its continuance, checked its wanton abuses by some wholesome corrections. The same wise and benign desire exists in the breast of the reigning Emperor. Yet the labours of so noble an undertaking are immense. Genius and patience, firmness and perseverance, unextinguishable enthusiasm and heroic philanthropy, must possess the head and heart of that being who accomplishes so glorious an achievement. Alas! baronial pride and hereditary prejudice, and that invincible attachment of man to property, have opposed, and will long oppose, this « consummation so devoutly to be wished.” When once the Russian peer shall talk of his estate by its quantity and quality, and not by the degrading enumeration of so many heads of peasantry; then, and not till then, can civilization make any rapid and extensive progress in this vast empire.
To say that Nature has irreversibly doomed the Russian to be a barbarian, is an assertion as digraceful as it is unjust, and such as Nature has herself contravened. Amidst all the oppression that weighs him to the earth, that half associates him with the rugged bear of his forest; and taught, as he is, that his condition can never know amelioration, this poor slave of the north has displayed the most heroic valour in the field, the most gentle moderation in success, and the mildest unrepining philosophy in suffering : such as would have done honour to a Roman. If you ask whether the sene sibilities of nature ever softened the Russian breast, read what the poor exiles have expressed in the desolate wilds of Siberia, and it will put the feelings of your own heart to their fullest proof. In those regions of gloom, the poet may catch some of the finest subjects for his muse.
Let us not endeavour to convert the law of climates into the ruthless decrees of immortal vengeance. Well did the
say, “ Ah! massa, a good Negro is like a chesnut, all white within; and
a bad Englishman is like an apple, thought perfect when it has many “ little black grains in its heart.” No! no! the breast of the Russian is not unimpressible. The granite of his inclement region is hard and rugged, harder than any other rock; but under its rough surface gems are sometimes found, and time and toil have proved that it is susceptible of a high polish.
No one who has remarked the Russian with candour, who judges from what he sees, and not from what he has heard or read, will hesitate to pronounce him one of the best tempered creatures in the creation. He will bear the curse and scorn, and frequently the blows of his superior, with mildness. Revenge, almost sanctioned by insults, never maddens his blood; and knowing, perhaps, how hard it is to suffer without resisting, he is scarcely ever seen to strike the animal over which he has power. His horse is seldom propelled by any other influence than a few cherishing and cheerful sounds; if this encouragement encreases not his pace, he does not, heated with savage fury, dissect the wretched beast with the scourge, beat out an eye, or tear out the tongue; no! his patient driver begins to sing to him, and the Russians are all famous singers, as I shall hereafter tell; if the charms of music have no influence on his legs, he then begins to reason with him : “ You silly fellow! why don't you
go on faster? come, get on, get on, don't you know that to-mor“ row is a prashnick (a fast day) and then you will have nothing to u do but to eat?” By this time the sulky jade has generally had her whim out, and trots on gaily. His horse is the object of his pride and comfort; well observing the wisdom of a Russian proverb, “ It is not the horse but the oats that carry you:” as long as the animal will eat he feeds him; and his appearance generally honours, and his grateful services remunerate, the humanity of his master. A Russian, in the ebullition of passion, may do a ferocious thing, but never an ill-natured one. No being under heaven surpasses him in the gaiety of the heart. His little national song cheers him wherever he goes. Where a German would smoke for comfort, the Russian sings. There is nothing cold about him but his wintry climate; whenever he speaks, it is with good-humour and vivacity, accompanied by the most animated gestures; and although I do not think that the Graces would at first pull caps about him, yet in the dance, for spirit and agility, I would match and back him against any one of the most agile sons of carelessness in the Champs Elysées.
In his religious notions the Russian knows not the meaning of bigotry, and what is better, of toleration. He mercifully thinks that every one will go to heaven, only that the Russians will have the best place. When these simple children of Nature address each other, it is always by the affectionate names of
my mother, my brother, or my sister, according to the age and sex of the party. To these good qualities of the heart let me add the favourable and manly appearance of the Russians, I mean the proper Russian : during my stay in their residence I never saw one man that was either lame or deformed, or who squinted, and they are remarkable for the beauty of their teeth. Their dress is plain and simple, consisting of a long coat of woollen cloth, reaching to the knees, and folding before, fastened round the middle by a sash, into which his thick leather gloves are generally tucked, and frequently it holds his axe; his drawers are of the same stuff with his coat, and
are usually covered with heavy boots, or swathed round
with bandages, for they scarcely ever wear stockings, and for shoes he uses coarse sandals made of cloth and the matted bark of linden or birch ; his hair is always cropped: the dress of the common women did not appear to me to vary much from that of our own females of the same degree; it consisted of a tunic, generally of some shewy colour, with the sleeves of the shift appearing. The milk-women looked very well in this dress; and the manner in which they carry an ashen bow, from the ends of which are suspended little jars covered with matted birch bark, resting upon one shoulder, gives them an uncommonly graceful appearance. When the tradesmen's wives go out, they generally cover the top of their caps with a large red silk handkerchief, which falls behind: this appeared to be a very favourite decoration.
Prudence demands some little knowledge of a character before we associate with it, and it is with great pleasure that in this early stage I present the Russian.
What of good he has he owes to himself; his foibles, and they are few, originate elsewhere: he is the absolute slave of his lord, and ranks with the sod of his domains; of a lord whose despotism is frequently more biting than the Siberian blast. Never illumined by education, bruised with ignoble blows, the object, and frequently the victim of baronial rapacity, with a wide world before him, this oppressed child of nature is denied the common right of raising his shed where his condition may be ameliorated, permitted only to toil in a distant district under the protection of that disgraceful badge of vassalage, a certificate of leave, and upon his return compellable to lay the scanty fruits of his labour at the feet of his master; and, finally, he is excluded from the common privilege which nature has bestowed upon the birds of the air, and the beasts of the wilderness, of chusing his mate; he must marry when and whom his master orders. Yet under all this pressure, enough to destroy the marvellous elasticity of a Frenchman's mind, the Russian is what I have depicted him. If the reader is not pleased with the portrait, the painter is in fault.
PEDESTRIANS, HOW CONSIDERED-THE SCAFFOLDING OF THE NEW KAZAN
As I have described that focus of trade, the Gostinnoi-tvor, I must not omit to mention that in the continuation of the perspective towards the admiralty, an Englishman, of the name of Owens, carries on a prodigious trade, chiefly in English manufactures; his house, which is a very magnificent one, has twenty-five rooms en suite, which are filled with the most beautiful merchandize ; each room is a separate shop, and attended by persons who are solely attached to it: the promenade, through magazines of music, of books, of jewels, of fashions, &c. is very agreeable, and I believe perfectly novel. The respectable and enterprising proprietor is said frequently to receive one thousand pounds sterling in one day : it is the constant and crowded resort of all the fashion of Petersburg.
In the streets I rarely ever saw a Russian above the lowest degree walking; the very taylor bestrides his droshka to take measure of his customer, and even many of the officers ride to the parade : this may arise from the great extent of the city, and the distance which one place is from another. If a gentleman is seen on foot he is immediately considered to be an Englishman, who wishes to examine the city ; protected by this consideration, and this alone, he is regarded with tokens of courtesy, should a Russian noble of his acquaintance gallop by in his chariot and four. An Englishman is the only privileged foreigner who may, with safety to his own dignity, perambulate the streets, and investigate the buildings of Petersburg.
As I walked down the Linden footpath of the Grand Perspective, I observed almost every passenger, with whatever hurry he seemed to be moving, stop short before a church on the right hand, a little below the shops, take off his hat, bow, and touch his forehead, and either side of his breast, and then proceed. This building was the church of the Mother of God, of Kazan, which, although an inferior building, is, in religious estimation, the most considerable of the Greek churches, on account of its containing the figure of the Virgin. Upon all public occasions, the emperor and court assist, with