Page images
[graphic][graphic][ocr errors][merged small]

me that if I were asked to dwell on the chronically. And when we consider the most remarkable trait of the Russian, it rigid veracity of the Fions, and see it acwould be upon his kindliness that I would companied with cold selfishness, easily rest longest. It is the best and greatest aroused anger and pursuit of revenge, or gift of muzhik and lord alike. And it is when we contemplate the extraordinary distinctly un-Asiatic, in spite of Russia's honesty of those who live next beyond the many resemblances to Asia. Everywhere Finns, and have their own hard faults, we that you glance it is upon smiling, kindly, turn to the kindliness of the Russian, and friendly faces. Every accident, misfortune, say to ourselves that it is at least a comor embarrassment you see or meet with pensating virtue. strikes the note of sympathy, which is most The Russians are a restless people, and easily sounded in all Russian breasts. If if the railway statistics do not show that you ask peasant, priest, or noble to direct they travel as much as we, it is partly beyou on your way, he will often go part of cause so many move about on foot, partly the way with you. If you cannot speak because so few, comparatively, have the the language, and yet try to make your- means to make long journeys by rail, and self understood, there is never any ridicule partly because of the limitations imposed or half-concealed amusement-only a de- on travel by the passport system. The monstrative effort to understand and as- railway fares are the lowest in Europe. sist. The native African is happier, be- Since they were made so the chief cities cause the Slav blood in the Russian makes of the country have grown remarkablyhim hang forever between elation and St. Petersburg most of all. The trains despondency, but the African is nowhere run very slowly, express trains are few, so sympathetic, so friendly, or so kind- and, so far as I saw, are confined to the bearted. His critics call the Russian a railroad between St. Petersburg and Mosgreat prevaricator, and declare him singu- cow. On all the other roads the trains larly lacking in a knowledge of the dif- stop for tedious lengths of time at all staference between meum and teum, but at tions. Here criticism of the roads ends, least he is kindly--always, everywhere, and this is a criticism not expressed in




grass line scraped smooth, then patterned

with rake, and in one case sprinkled for miles. At all the busy stations there

l'estaurants, which are a great deal better than any we ever knew before the days of dining - cars, the rule being to set a large and handsome

room with small tables and a bar, and to serve a warm meal either à la carte or table d'hôte. In this land of good fare I have had nearly as satisfactory meals in some of

these stations as Russia, where the rate of railway speed is in the best hotels. The trains are started satisfactory to the people. The road-beds, with two warning - bells preceding the the maintenance of way, the stations, starting-bell-a practice we have no time coaches, and engines, are equal to the best for, but which is admirable where the on the Continent, and whoever takes a stoppages are so long. The use that is French sleeper into Russia finds, when made of spare rails is most extraordihe gets there, that the first-class Russian nary. All the telegraph poles are short sleepers are better. The first railway in sticks riveted to upright rails; the crossRussia was built by an American, and the road gates are made of rails; so are the influence of American railway methods is frames of the cement platforms of the still apparent on all the roads. The pas- stations; so are the station-garden railsenger-cars are modified to meet the exi- ings, which are made by crossing the rails gencies of caste, but the better-class freight in a great variety of pretty patterns. traffic is carried on with very large box The views from the car windows have cars, as with us, instead of on flat cars been often said to remind us Americans roofed with tarpauling, as in England and of home, but they only suggest a certain France. Wood-burning locomotives, like part of our country-South Dakota more those we used to bave, are still to be seen, than any other—and only this because of but on the main lines they are stoking the great areas of land under wheat, the with coal or with naphtha refuse. The nature of the trees, the appearance of lowfirst-class trains are corridored, and carry grade lignite coal in the earth, the use of primitive dining-cars as well as excellent wood for all structures, and in a general compartment sleepers, like those used in way by the character of the surface of the America.

earth. The tremendous and showy-white The stations are uncommonly large, churches which tower devouringly above well built, and handsome, with orderly the villages, the villages themselves, which and often beautiful grounds. Labor is so are often mere collections of huts and cheap and plentiful that the whole route cabins, and finally, the windmills set in is often permanently manned, and instead rows or framing hollow squares—these are of a mere grass line," or tidied edge be- common Russian objects that are not at side the road-bed, such as a few of our all American-like. great railways maintain, I have seen the In the Russian cities one lives fairly soil between the ends of the ties and the well, from a European stand-point. The hotels are not good, and where all classes a stronghold of good fare. In the cities are untidy, and discipline is either lacking the best inventions of the cooks of Europe or spasmodic, it is not possible that they are as familiar as pure Russian cooking, should be. The only really excellent the chief elements of which I found very hotel that I found in my journeys was the palatable. Stchi, the regular soup of the Hotel Orient, in Tiflis, Georgia. It was people, is not half bad; and borsch, which managed by Swiss and his wife, and is stchi colored with beets, enhanced by they had learned to avoid Russians and other vegetables, thickened with Armenians in picking their servants, all cream, and eaten with a side dish of of whom were Georgians. St. Petersburg roasted buckwheat, is a dish that would has none but second-class hotels. Moscow win its way around the world. The best has one great modern hotel building of bread I have found anywhere, better even



[graphic][merged small]

showy design, but while stopping there than the Hungarian, is the Russian white four days on my first visit I saw four bread. The bread of the people is black women servants drunk, the hall porters rye bread, like pumpernickel, but sweeter, were often smoking or asleep on duty, damper, and looser. It is said to keep and the halls and stairs were very dirty. the teeth of the peasants white and their An excellent thing about all the hotels bodies strong. The tea of Russia, to one in Russia is that the servants needed for who has lived in England, where they each floor are kept on that floor, where drink a sort of tanners' dye and call it there is also a rudimentary kitchen. Tea, tea, is delicious. It is always served in coffee, cooked eggs, bread and butter, hot thin glasses, with sugar and a slice of water, and such simple things are to be lemon. The wines are extravagantly bad, had quickly, and so is the attendance of excepting certain brands from the Crimea the hall porter, boy, and maid. Russia is and from Bessarabia, which are nearly as

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small]

good as the Californian–the best low- back to his horses and chats with his priced table wines in the world. The fare, the pasha. Exactly so does the servants are lazy, loquacious, and famil- isvostchik, or cabman, of Russia. Of iar. You always find this suggestion of course this used to be so in the English democracy where there is autocracy, or feudal hall, where the lord and his retyranny, or slavery, or where society is tainers all ate together, and rejoiced over divided into only two classes, as in Russia. his successes and mourned his bereave

The heaviest swell on the steamship go- ments together. But to-day it has being to Russia, an officer of the Empress's come an Asiatic condition. Guard, kept stiffly aloof from the cabin In an article about the people of Ruspassengers, but was freely approached sia and the degree of their civilization and engaged in conversation by the Finn there should be a note upon the appearand Russian peasants of the steerage. ance they present. Since they include The fashionable men on their way to no middle class, there are but two sets to Yalta on the Black Sea for the grape-cure describe, and these may be fairly dealt and the whirl of social dissipation went with as the uniformed class and the muamong the bundled-up dirty peasants on zhiks. When a visitor observes, before the forward deck, and passed their ciga- anything else, the multiplicity of unirettes to them to light their own with, and forms in the streets, far exceeding in chatted freely with them. Everywhere number even those to be met with in in Russia I noticed this. The position of Germany or France, and then learns that the man in uniform is as secure as that of the cities are under military rule, he the wretch in long boots and a sheep- jumps to the conclusion that it is an skin coat, therefore they are at ease with abundance of soldiery which litters every one another. It is so in China, where view with dull blue or gray cloth touchthe mobs flatten their noses against the ed with buttons of silver or gold. It was mandarin's windows to see what he is do- a long time before I learned that these ing in his house. It is so in Turker, military - looking garments were by no where the Araba-ji, or cabman, turns his means all on the persons of soldiers, and to-day I cannot always be certain wheth- ter they donned their warm sheepskin er a man in uniform is a warrior or a coats and wrapped their legs in cloth. professor of rhetoric in a boys' academy. At both times they were dull - looking, It was in the Caucasus that I travelled dirty folk, with very long hair and beards, along with a man in uniform who said he with wives cruelly aged before their time. was an engineer, and offered to prepare and bent and wrinkled terribly. I thought for me an account of the resources of them a very fine race physically, the men that mountain district. Supposing that being stout and strong and often very he was a leader in the highest branch of large, while the young women were as the army, I rejoiced at my good fortune; promising, from the important point of but presently another Russian said: “You view of motherhood, as any peasant womust not trust too much to what he says. men I ever saw. The utter hopelessness He is simply the

of the condition employé of some

of the great black company owning

mass of peasants land here and

which underlies wishing to attract

the light embroidcapital with which

ery of the unito develop it."

formed class in * Isn't be an

Russia makes it officer of the en

the drunkenest gineer corps?" I

peasantry in Euasked.

rope. The fact He is simply

that Russia is a civil engineer,”

mainly a huge said my acquaint

farm brings to ance; and so I

that mass a winter came by degrees

of idleness. The to learn that all

shortness of the students, all gov.

daylight over the ernment emplo

great northern yés, railway men,

half of the empire and all profes

in winter tends sionals, like doc

greatly to increase tors, lawyers, ar

the drinking babchitects, and

its of the muzhik. teachers, as well

Corn brandy, or as all officials,

whiskey, as civil or military,

would say, is the are obliged to

staple intoxicant. wear uniforms.

It is a colorless Therefore the sol

liquid, as transpardiers I saw romping with maid - ser- ent as gin, but with the almost sparkling vants, wheeling baby - carriages, loafing clearness of distilled water-fire would and smoking on the corners, and going be a better word for this sparkle, because about by the thousand with overcoats vodka is a liquid which starts a train caught by one button at the neck and of fire at the palate and blazes its way worn with the sleeves loose, may not througlı one's body to one's boots. Sodhave been soldiers after all. As for the den drunkeuness is what I saw most of. nobles, barring the quantity the men The peculiar, hilarious, noisy, exuberant drank and the publicity with which the intoxication of the whiskey drunkard elderly women smoked cigarettes, they which I had expected to see continually were as like the aristocrats of Europe in fell under my observation only two or taste and richness of dress and apparent three times in all my journeyings. cultivation as one silk bat is like another. Among the many important activities The muzhiks have been described to tire- of M. Witte, the Finance Minister, none is someness perhaps. I was so fortunate as more extraordinary than his effort to make to see them in both their summer and the vodka trade a government monopoly. winter costumes—that is, before and af- The scheme is attractively subtitled one




« PreviousContinue »