ePub 版

Returning from this pious frolic
They heard the fiddle diabolic,
A sound more rousing to their spirits,
Than squeak of rats and mice to ferrets,
Or the loud cackling of a hen-yard
To prowling weasel, stoat, or reynard.-
Popping their peepers to the casement
They started back with wild amazement-
As when the cleanly Betty sees
A sudden country dance of fleas,
Although she scarcely can believe

Her eyes, she neither lags nor lingers,
Puts every nerve on the qui vive,

Throws all her soul into her fingers,
And arching her indignant nippers
Pounces upon the luckless skippers;
So was each Vice-suppressing prig
Electrified to see the jig,
And felt his restless fingers itching
To be a doing and a catching.

And now I'm excessively shock'd to relate
They no sooner began their intentions to state,
Than the face of their virtuous chairman was scored,
And their truly respectable president-floor’d.-
Each subscriber received, while preparing to speak,
An exordium smack, or a prologuing tweak,
And the friends of good order and quiet were now
Compell’d by their duty to kick up a row.-
The treasurer first in his sinewy grasp
Seiz'd one of the nymphs, as an eagle an asp,
But darting her nails in his countenance solemn,
She presently fluted it down like a column,
Whereat, I'm reluctantly forced to aver,
Mr. Treasurer lost both his temper and her,
And launch'd from his hand, to the midst of the fight,
A candlestick, not very little or light.-
Like an opera hero, though secretly bent
On mischief and murder, it sang as it went,
Impinged upon Muggs who was groping his way
To sneak by the door from the gathering fray,
And squib-like concluded its hissing complaint
By an echoing crack on the head of the saint.
To me 'tis amazing it did not strike light,
Or, at least, that his scull was not fractured outright,
But it must have been crack’d, and I'm free to maintain,
That while its a scull it will ne'er ring again.
Imagine the rest in their fisty-cuff freaks,
And list to the swearing, and tearing, and shrieks,
Occasion’d by sundry kicks, thumps, smacks, and boumces
Bestow'd on ribs, stomachs, eyes, noses, and sconces.-

Our hero meanwhile with a headaching throb, And a bulbous excrescence endorsed on his nob, Reeld forth from the fight, and took up his abode Beneath a large haystack that skirted the road, Where drowsy with liquor, and weary with toil, He forgot in repose all his pain and turmoil.



To travel in Russia it is indis- the Russian language possesses three pensably necessary to possess a qualities, which render it an object knowledge of the language, for hos- of attention to every one who is depitable as the Russian is, it is only termined not to be exclusive in his towards such as can address him in literary studies. In the first place, his native tongue; all others he re- it approaches more nearly than any gards as beings of a distinct and in- other modern tongue, to the ancient ferior species. It is owing to the languages-especially to the Greek want of this knowledge that foreign- and Latin,* in its construction, in ers experience so much to try their the employment of a number of parpatience, or excite their disgust

. A ticiples, and in the conciseness of its trifling misunderstanding is not un- idioms; whereas the other modern frequently the cause of much serious European dialects are all, more or altercation, trouble, inconvenience, less, loaded and deformed with artiand expence; and yet foreigners will cles, auxiliary verbs, and other sucincur all this rather than take the cedanea for varied terminations. trouble to acquire the language of Secondly, it has an advantage over the country. At Petersburg and them, in the inexhaustible treasures Moscow the necessity for conversing of the ancient Slavonic, which conin Russian is not so great, since one tinued for a length of time to be the may always shift tolerably well there dialect consecrated to literature and with either French or German. Yet the church, and from this may be it is very extraordinary that even the borrowed, without at all departing German professors, of whom there from the genius of the modern are so many at the various Univer- Russ, terms to denote all those shades sities, will not study the language of expressiɔn, and all those new ideas, of the people among whom they produced by an increase of national reside, although they are perhaps, ac- culture and civilization. , While, for quainted with every other European want of similar resources, other nadialect. During my stay at Kasan, tions are obliged to derive their phiI attended a mathematical lecture: losophic and abstract terms from the Professor had three pupils, the languages totally unknown to the first of whom could speak a little mass of the people, the Russian German, the second a little French, language, on the coutrary, is capable and the third nothing but Russian.- of developing them from its own The two former were obliged, there. core; and for this reason it possesses fore, to officiate as interpreters to a freshness, a vitality, and an intheir companion, to whom they trans- tegrity, in which other modern idioms lated-or at least affected to translate are all, more or less, deficient. -propositions which they themselves Thirdly, and lastly, it is, as far as probably did not comprehend. And the authority of history will avail although these people may think us, one of the most widely-extended there is nothing worth their learning of all languages, ancient or modern. in Russian—which, by the bye, is a What was the Greek, even at its most very, gross error -- yet they should flourishing period, when it was the consider that, as they are employed language of Magna Græcia in the to teach, it behøves them not to re- west, and of Asia Minor in the east? linquish the only medium by which What was the Latin-at one time they can be enabled to do so effec- spoken, or at least understood, tually.

throughout all the then known and Independently of its other merits, subjugated world ?-What was the

* That the study of Russ would not be wholly unprofitable or uninteresting to the classical scholar, will be admitted by those who have perused Mr. Galiffe's arguments in favour of its being the parent of the Latin tongue. The analogies and adinities which he traces, appear less fanciful than the generality of philological hypotheses.

Arabic, that, during the flourishing more importance to them than we ages of the Caliphat, had spread it should to a trifling excursion for a self from the shores of the Tigris single day. and the Euphrates, even to the peaks It is no unusual thing to hear a of Gebel Tarif (Gibraltar)?—What Russian mention, in the course of were all these in comparison with conversation, that he is just return. Russ, which has not been raised, ed from visiting the catacombs of by favourable circumstances, to a the Holy City-from Spain, Switmomentary elevation merely, but has zerland, Archangel, or Åstrakan, as continued, with all its dependant if from some place in the immediate dialects, to be, since time immemorial, environs. I remember that, on my the language of an immense tract of arrival at Moscow, there lodged at country? From the eastern frontier the same inn as myself, an opulent of Bavaria to Kamtschatka, and even merchant, who was in the habit of to the western shores of North Ame- coming, with his family, every year rica, it is not only understood but from Tobolsk, to spend the carnival spoken.

there, and then return home: and Having pointed out the necessity although the distance is not less than of making one's self acquainted with 2336 versts, he accomplished it in the language of the country, and the only eight days. value of the acquisition, I would The Director of the Gymnasium at next advise whoever intends to travel Irkuzk, travelled, with his family, in Russia, to provide himself with from that city to Kasan, a distance a vehicle of his own. A hired car- of 5070 versts, in nineteen days; and riage may always be procured of a this journey was undertaken merely post-master; but it subjects those for the purpose of paying a short visit who adopt it, to the imputation of a to an old friend. contemptible poverty. Were any one Having procured a carriage of one's to make a pedestrian tour, he would own, the next thing to be observed, infallibly be regarded as a beggar: even is to take no more luggage than is the commonest peasant is generally absolutely necessary. The drivers, the possessor of two or more horses; who consider celerity more than any and so averse are the inhabitants of thing else, are exceedingly impatient some of the provinces, from the exer- of whatever may tend to impede it: cise of walking, that they will not and it will be found in every respect proceed the shortest distance, except more prudent, and, I may add, more in a carriage.

economical, to have all one's baggage Indeed so little idea have they of conveyed either by water or land walking for mere amusement, that a carriage. Owing to imprudence in promenade appears to them an egre- this respect, Gerinans, who proceed gious absurdity; and a man who to settle in Russia, occasion themwalks abroad, apparently for no other selves great delay, vexation, and expurpose than that of returning home pense: and they often incommode again, is regarded as little better themselves during a long journey, than a madman. When unoccupied, with what they could as well purthey indulge in the Oriental luxury of chase at the place of their destination. reposing upon a carpet.

I have sometimes seen a caravan of With respect to the horses, they these settlers with their waggons proceed with extreme rapidity, al- packed with tables, chairs, hen-coops, though they are but meagre, misera- doors, and windows, in short, with ble-looking animals; and instead of all their moveables and fixtures. Thus there being any occasion, as in Ger- they improvidently retard their promany, to urge on the postillions to gress, lose their patience, and begreater expedition, it is here abso- come disgusted with the country, the lutely necessary to entreat them to inhabitants, the language, and every abate somewhat of their speed. In- thing that is Russian. deed it is no uncommon thing for Russia has for some time past bethem to travel 150 or 175 versts in come an object of attention to the twelve hours. Such is the celerity west of Europe, with which it has and the frequency with which they been brought more immediately into perform journeys of 500 or 600 miles contact. Numbers emigrate thitber and upwards, that they attach no from Upper Germany; and the Rus

[ocr errors]

sian Universities are principally filled and repeated sacrifices, will at length with German Professors, who might destroy all energy of character in nahere find enough to exercise both tions, as well as in individuals; and their curiosity and their literary in- thus it happens that states verge todustry; and yet, strange to say, very wards imbecility and complete exlittle is the information they possess haustion: yet, should a people possess of the national character of the Rus sufficient perseverance to work its sians : little more, in fact, than that way through the storms of adversity vague and erroneous species of in- and revolution, until they attain seformation traditionary in popular curity and independence, they will school-books, and systems of geogra- likewise acquire a fixed character, phy. How, indeed, is it possible to That this has been the case with become acquainted with the genius Russia is well known to every one and disposition of any people, so long who is at all acquainted with its as we continue ignorant of their lan- history. This fixity and uniformity guage? A residence of a few months of character, extending through such in the metropolis, where the stranger an immense empire, is a phænomenon generally mixes with his own coun- unparalleled among any other nation, trymen, or with the higher classes of whether of ancient or modern times. the natives, is as little adapted to From Archangel to Cherson, from enable him to judge of the people Wilna and Kiev to Oshotsk and and their peculiar characteristics, as Nishnikamtskatt, there is but one travelling post through the country, language, with hardly any admixand conversing with none but postil- ture of dialects, and but one relions and innkeepers. Whoever tra- ligion; there are the same customs vels from Tala to Moscow, and from and manners; the same education thence to Volodimir, will be con- and way of living ; the same costume vinced, more perhaps than in any and the same popular amusements, other place, how contagious to morals In his temperament, the Russian is is the pestilential atmosphere of a vivacious and sanguine, and it is to great city; but he will be greatly this peculiarly happy constitution, mistaken should he imagine, that the that he is indebted for those advanduplicity and cunning, from which he tages which distinguish him from here suffers, are characteristic of the other nations, and which may, at people in general : in order to con- some future period, elevate him to a vince himself of the contrary, he point that has not hitherto been atneeds only turn aside a few miles tained. From this cause arises his from the high road. Traders and almost indestructable gaiety, and artisans, who have the best oppor- that truly enviable accommodation of tunities of observing the habits and temper, which enables him to elicit manners of the lower and middling enjoyment from every the most triclasses, have seldom either the leisure fling circumstance. or the ability to publish them; and Singing is, with the Russian, an the traveller who mixes only with almost universal specific with which the higher orders of society, will find he sweetens all his toils and difficulbut little to distinguish them from ties. To a foreign ear their national the same ranks in the other civilized melodies appear melancholy and countries of Europe. The best means plaintive; but for a native they posa of becoming acquainted with the sess something tenderly engaging. . most prominent traits of national Never, no not even in Italy during character, is to intermix for some the vintage, have I heard more singtime with the lower and middling ing in the open air then I have in classes, or, if this be not practicable, Russia. In every village, a lively

, , . to study their manners and disposi- troop of youthful peasantry assemtions in their genuine popular ro- bles in a circle during the delightful mances, wherein they are faithfully summer evenings; and the air retranscribed from the life. Of these, sounds with the finest voices, the however, there are scarcely any to most charming melodies, accombe found in Russia, with the excep- panied by songs of such enchanting tion of some national comedies, little, delicacy and simplicity, that they if at all; known, except to the na- might be attributed to a Sappho, or tives.

an Anacreon, without detracting from A series of reverses, misfortunes, the reputation of either. Even in the depth of winter, when the aspect cruit is in a few weeks converted of inanimate nature is so peculiarly into an expert soldier ; into a shoedreary, the lively notes of the sledge-maker, a tailor, or even a musician, driver, and the jingling of his horses' just as his colonel may require: and bells, are gay and animated.-While there can be no stronger proof of the shivering foreigner, buried in the mechanical capacity of the Russome six or seven fur mantles, hastily sians, or of what they may be renleaps into t'e carriage as if fearful of dered by discipline, than their extraa moment's exposure to the air, and ordinary performances on wind-inthere fences himself round with struments; for each musician concushions and curtains; the active fines himself to one note, which be driver, attired in his short pelisse, plays as long as he lives: and yet the and with his neck bared to the in- most difficult passages are executed clemency of the weather, leaps on with a precision and taste truly ashis seat with an agility equal to that tonishing. No other nation can boast of a French opera dancer; and im- of, or could execute, such singular mediately commences both his jours concerts, which, from the number of wey, and his clear, animated song. performers they require, are never The keen winds cut his face, icicles heard, except at the entertainments hang upon his hair, his rugged beard of the nobility. This dexterity is is congealed to a mass of ice, flakes conspicuous in almost all that a of snow fill both his bosom and his Russian does : even the meanest of open mouth-no matter, he still con- them has a freedom, lightness, and tinues to sing until he arrives at the ease in his walk,-has an unconstrainnext inn ; there he hastens into the edness, and even grace, in his mowarm stove; removes the icicles tions : without ever being deficient from his visage, crosses himself be- in respect towards his superiors, he fore the smoked saint placed in one addresses himself, even to those of corner of the apartment; salutes the highest rank, with perfect selfevery one as Matushka and Batushka, * possession, and without manifesting swallows his glass of brandy, and any mauvaise honte. A similar inis again on his seat, and on his trepidity and confidence are displayjourney.

ed in the ease with which he climbs Singing is introduced into their over the most dreadful precipices most serious employments: while without becoming giddy. "Yet this hauling up a vessel on shore through fearlessness often becomes rashness : the breakers, while raising immense to save himself a few steps, he will weights, while extinguishing a fire, cross over a rotten plank, or still they universally keep time in a sort more rotten ice; in the midst of a of chorus, as if it aided them in act- crowd of carriages, he sees as little ing simultaneously.

cause for apprehension as if walkAnother prominent trait in the ing in a room. This apathy of, or character of the Russians, is their rather this predilection for danger, wonderful dexterity, especially in all mixes itself even in his very amusemechanical labours. A foreigner is ments, which would otherwise apastonished at perceiving with what pear to him insipid: a striking insimple means they will elevate the stance of this is to be found in their greatest weights. Their wooden fondness for their precipitous icehouses, which are executed with slides. such neatness, as to appear cut out This dexterity is not merely corof a solid piece, are all formed with poral or manual ; it displays itself in no other tool than the hatchet, which their mental exertions. It is well serves as a saw, a plane, and level. known that the Russian acquires The fingers, or the teeth, perform the every foreign language with particu. office of pincers for the smith; and lar facility ; an advantage for which the glazier has no other instrument he is in some degree indebted to the for cutting his glass : even the most difficulties of his ownt: this renders dangerous operations are performed his organs so pliant, and breaks them with equal simplicity. A raw re- in so well, that he can imitate any

• Diminutives expressive of endearment, meaning, my little father, my little mother + This seenis but bad er.couragement to foreig: ers to follow the recommer:dation given in the former part of this article.Ed.

« 上一頁繼續 »