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of the country, with the horizon which terminates it.
There is little variety in the villages. Two lines of cottages are regularly arranged at a certain distance from the highway. They are all alike, built of clumsy - shaped pieces of wood, with the gable end toward the street : notwithstanding this tiresome uniformity, there is an air of competence, and even comfort, about them, which cannot fail to interest the traveler. They are rural, and pervaded by the calm of pastoral life, though unpicturesque in appearance. Occasionally, however, some little picture, with its poetic associations, engraves itself upon the memory. The sketch of a peasant family, which we give
COURIER AND DRIVER OF MAIL COACH. on the following page, represents one of those scenes of domes- the stove serves him for the long cold tic life, which are always beautiful and nights of winter. The houses of the vil. poetic in themselves, even in the midst | lagers are generally sufficiently ample, of the most barren surroundings. The and comfortably built, though the domestic young wife and mother wears the national animals are quite universally the occupants kokochnik, a kind of diadem, which en- of the lower floor. tirely covers the head and hair. The Beyond the village there is little to inkokochnik of the young girl is open at terest the traveler. Perhaps you meet the top, and in this she probably won her a caravan of merchandise, consisting of husband at the praznik, or village fete, some thirty or forty vehicles, laden with which is the rendezvous of the betrothed the produce of Europe and the East; and of those who wish to become so. perhaps a government courier or feldjager That her youngest child may enjoy the flies past you in his telega. This is a pale rays of the oblique sun, she is seated kind of live telegraphic communication. at the door of the isba, which her hus- The bearer of the dispatches is usually band, with the assistance of his relations as ignorant as the electric machine of and neighbors, built in a very short time. I the nature of his errand; he delivers the The ax was almost the only implement em- message with which he is charged to ployed in its construction: its foundations, another automaton as ignorant as himself, walls, roof, and staircase, are all cut from who awaits him at his station fifty, a hunthe neighboring forests; no bricks are dred, or perhaps a thousand miles distant. used, except for the stove which warms The telega is the only vehicle capable the house, and which is also the common of resisting the roads of Russia, when kitchen, and in winter the family sleeping- sleighs are rendered useless. But if this place—for the Russian peasant is ignorant strange conveyance can endure the exeof the luxury of beds. During the brief crable roads, who can endure the telega? warm season he reposes upon a bench, and | The death-penalty is nominally abolished in the Russian empire. Instead of sentencing a man to lose his life, he is condemned to receive a certain number of strokes from the rod, the stick, or the knout, though it is well understood that the first siroke of the latter may be rendered as surely fatal as that of an ax. I have always narveled that among the punishments invented by the fertile brains of despots in Russia, the telega has been overlooked. But why are not criminals doomed to travel a hundred leagues in a telega? I would answer for any one's death at the end of the journey. No description could give an idea of the tortures inflicted by these barbarous vehicles. They
RUSSIAN PEASANTS. are small, uncovered, with two seats destitute of springs, or pro- | offenses against his sovereign will. Many tection of any kind. The front one is occu- of these have excited the Czar's displeas. pied by the postillion or coachman, and by ure by political opinions or slight misdea strange good fortune in this country, he meanors, which would pass unnoticed is changed at every relay ; but imagine elsewhere. the condition of the poor feldjager upon The peasants seen on the route from the back seat. To say that he is shaken, St. Petersburgh are generally the property knocked and jolted is to say nothing; he of the crown. As far as inaterial and is literally and continually tossed in the animal life is concerned, and this is what air, like Sancho Panza in the blanket. is understood by happiness in Russia, as One of the minor liabilities of this mode in most unenlightened countries, their po.. of traveling is the danger of having the sition has many favorable points. During tongue severed by the abrupt and violent the frequent famines which often decimate contact of the teeth.
the country, the crown serf is secure of Sometimes groups of prisoners are met nourishment for himself, his family, and on their way to Siberia. The very word his cattle. If the absence of physical or almost chills one's blood with horror ; and moral suffering is a test of enjoyment, the sight of those who are condemned to he may, perhaps, be considered as happy this terrible journey, and the subsequent as the free peasants of any other Eurofate of the exile, is not easily forgotten. pean country. Yet it is scarcely possible Yet so absolute is the power of the auto-that one of the latter class could be found crat, that a word from his lips fixes the so miserable and degraded as to be willing doom of any one of his subjects in those to change places with the Muscovite serf, desolate regions. I have been told that though he has always enough to eat, is two hundred and fifty thousand victims of comfortably warmed in winter, and is never his vengeance are thus expiating their disturbed by any of those mental anxieties
of the future which harass the lives of which he is trained, his condition is the poor. He is gifted by nature with a scarcely above that of the brutes. robust constitution, and possesses all the Of the two classes into which these elements of that negative happiness which unhappy beings are divided, those who depends upon ignorance of every sentiment belong to the government are considered of human dignity. But when everything much more fortunate than those who are is admitted in regard to the material pro- the property of the nobility. Not more vision made for him, it cannot be denied than half the annual tribute or obrok is dethat with the limited requirements to manded of the former, and much better
provision is made for them in times of seize any situation which will free them scarcity or disaster. On the other hand from the continual vexations which they they may be drafted to labor on the public are subjected to by the aristocracy. The works, or summoned to military service number of offices must be multiplied to at any time. It is said here, however, meet this demand, and the salaries must that the soldier is always free under his be proportionally diminished. The emcountry's colors. You will see by this ployé cannot live without means, and conwhat a Russian's idea of freedom is; to sequently he helps himself to a sufficiency. me it would seem rather a questionable Whatever contradictions may be found in exchange from one kind of slavery to writers regarding this country, one uni. another; but after eight years in the form testimony will be borne on the corarmy, the serf returns home a free man, ruption and venality in every department that is, what is left of him.
of the administration. It is said that the One of the first movements of the pres Czar declares himself to be the only perent emperor was to issue an ukase, which son throughout his empire who does not empowered the serf with the right of steal! The traveler, De Lagny, says :making contracts: this made liberty attainable ; for by the purchase of the land
“The existence of this man of genius has,
ever since his accession to the throne, been one from which he pays his annual tribute to
continual struggle with the venality and corhis owner, he becomes a freeman, that ruption which crush his empire ; for his pene is, as free as any one can be in Russia, tration discerned the evil long before it was who is not a serf. The imperial treasury
pointed out to him. On one occasion, he re
solved to probe this evil with all the energy of even furnishes the loans for this purpose ;
an honest heart. He charged two intelligent for which three per cent. interest, and men belonging to his staff of secretaries—two three per cent. of the capital is annually Germans from Courland, in whom he placed required. Though about thirty years' time
implicit confidence--to investigate most thoris generally necessary for the entire pay
oughly all the branches of the public adminis
tration; to observe, to see, to judge everything ment, many serfs have, even at this price, for themselves, and boldly to take the soundings become possessors of the very limited of this ocean of corruption, however deep it
liberty attainable under the absolute gov might be. The will of the Czar is law, and is · ernment of Russia. A woman only be
often attended with beneficial results. The
task was no easy one; thousands of obstacles comes free by marriage with a free man.
were shattered to pieces and overcome. The Russian aristocracy has one peculiarity work was long; and, contrary to his expectawhich distinguishes it from that of other tions, conscientious. It is true, that it would European countries : nobility is not ex
not have been easy to disguise the evil. The
portrait was not flattered. Instances of bribery, clusively an accident of birth ; any free
shuffling and venality were pointed out to the man may possess its privileges by entering
Czar without any respect for persons. Names the civil or military service of the govern were written in full, and proofs were abundant. ment. There is, however, a distinction
The sore gaped as wide as a gulf. Punishment which clings to even this apparently re
was out of the question, for it would have been
necessary to let the knout fall upon the noblest publican idea of rank : the nobleman's son shoulders in his empire, and his vengeance almay obtain the highest honors in a few most everywhere-to open the gates of Siberia months after entering upon his duties, while
to the majority of those who surrounded him
for, figuratively speaking, the very doors of his the commoner's promotion is attained only
palace threatened to fall, eaten away with corat the end of twelve years; unless, in ruption! The Czar threw the report into the deed, he has an opportunity of distinguish fire. ing himself. Such occasions are not un
“The very same evening, weighed down with frequent for those who are seeking them,
grief, he went, according to his usual custom,
to the house of one of his favorite ministers, or are rich enough to buy them. Any Count - The sombre, discontented air of free-born citizen may become a member the autocrat, completely stupefied the mind of of the fourteenth or lowest order of the the favorite, who, in a stammering voice, pluckTchinn, or privileged class, by entering the
ed up sufficient courage to ask his august mas
ter what had occurred to affect his mind to service of the state in any capacity. This
such a degree, and stamp upon his face the facility of obtaining the privileges of no marks of such profound sadness. The Czar, bility has created a kind of subaltern with that sharp, abrupt tone, for which he is aristocracy odious in itself, and terrible
celebrated, related to his minister-general all
he had just learned, told him the revelations in its erects upon the character of the recently made, and exclaimed with concenpeople. Great numbers stand ready to trated indignation :
rogatives which belong to the nobility alone; but he has been unsuccessful. The only way of conferring proper consideration upon them is, by opening to merchants the privileged orders upon fixed conditions, without subjecting them to the service of government. It is certainly very difficult to comprehend why an individual who develops the commerce and industry of his country has not as much right to its titles and privileges as the chancery secretary, whose life is spent in deceiving his superiors, and robbing all who have any business connections with him.
But let the autocrat of all the Russias find his own way out of the difficulties surrounding and accumulating about him. My present occupation of sight-seeing is much more to my taste.
On the morning of the third day,
with the first rays of the rising sun, RUSSIAN MERCHANT.
Moscow, with its walls, towers, and
churches, was seen in the distance. « • Every one robs throughout the empire! | The first impression of this ancient capEvery one around me robs! In whatever direction I choose to glance, I behold pilferers and
| ital, shining in the vast solitude which robbers! There is only one person, a single
surrounds it, is not easily forgotten. It is one, who can walk proudly with head erect. the only object animating the barren and Of this person, at least, I am sure,' he added, ocean-like waste of country in which it is looking at his favorite very fixedly and very
situated. The peculiarity of the picture strangely. “ Count --, imagining that the emperor
| is heightened by the dim poetical associawas alluding to him, bowed and bent himself tions which hang over it, and by the sinalmost to the ground, in order to thank his gularity of its architecture, which has no most august master for having had the goodness
designation and no known model. to think him an honest servant. “But the Czar, striking his breast, added
The allegorical ideas associated with the following words:
the appearance of the Greek churches, “ . And that person who does not rob is my give interest to the spectacle. Their self! I am the only person throughout the
summits are invariably composed of seyempire who does not steal !'”
eral towers, varying in form and height, Merchants and private citizens are but never less than five in number, and held in the lowest contempt by the no often much more numerous. The bellbility, and every opportunity is seized for tower is in the center, and it is always heaping insult and injustice upon them. the highest, the four smaller ones surThey are divided into three classes, or rounding it with respectful deference. guilds, regulated by the amount of capital Their forms sometimes remind you of a they possess. The limits and privileges head surmounted with a pointed cap; of each guild are defined with the strictest some of the gilded and painted belfries exactness. Imagine one of the merchant are like a bishop's miter; others are princes of your country subjected to a tax like a gemmed tiara, or a Chinese pagoda, of more than two thousand dollars for the or a minaret. Frequently they are little right of driving a carriage like the aris- round cupolas terminating in a point. tocracy! The emperor has made many | They are all surmounted with a large efforts to revolutionize public opinion in gilded cross, wrought in such complicated regard to the commercial interests. He designs, that it is quite like filigree work. has even granted them many of the pre- | The number and arrangement of the bel