« PreviousContinue »
comprising a seventh of the land sur- less forest that belts the north of Russia face of the globe, and a twenty-sixth of and Siberia and travel for a greater numits total area.
It has half a dozen men ber of days over a precisely similar flat to manage it-according to the policy of and tiresome reach of farm-land, everyone of the six-and the people are divided where slovenly and unkempt, and varied into ten millions of men and women of again by sparse woods and villages of the more or less comfortable, more or less brown thatched huts, each village crowdeducated class, and one liundred and nine- ing around a huge white Greek church teen millions of citizens the mass of whom with Oriental towers and points of gold. form the dullest, rudest, least ambitious Mud roads that are mere rough trails, peasantry in Europe. If one travels over low-browed, shaggy-haired, dirty men and Russia to spy out the land, he may go for women, of the intelligent status of Indian days across it from west to east without squaws, are the only other objects he will breaking the continuous view of a fat disk, whose only variety lies between its To obtain a view of what any Eurofarmed flatness and its waste flatness, its pean would honor with the name of squat, shrinking, unkempt villages and scenery he must go to the further bounits sandy districts wooded with thin birch daries of the European half of the empire or evergreens.
-to the lovely wooded and rocky islets Every where it is new, rude, and un- and emerald lakes of Finland in the west, tidy.
to the not very scenically grand Urals in Copyright, 1898, by Harper and Brothers. All rights reserved.
to start for St. Petersburg from London no one who could have smoothed the way for me was in England. Even the Russian minister was absent, and when I
presented to his secretary my letters of the east, to the charming hills by the introduction he read them mechanically Black Sea in what Russia calls its Riviera, and handed them back, and said, "If your or, further south, to the truly splendid, minister in St. Petersburg wishes to make the magnificent scenery of the Caucasus. himself responsible for you, he will do so.
But the men of Russia who see the This embassy knows nothing about you. bulk of their country see only the steppes, Yes, I see your letters from your Secretary marshy or sandy in the north, and black of State and other prominent Americans, and rich in the south, but everywhere a but I know nothing about you. checker-board of farms and waste places, Finally, when I reached St. Peterseverywhere flat as a table, and every- burg, Mr. Breckinridge, our minister, where untidy, or, where the people con- was on his holidays in Finland, so that gregate together, squalid. There are not- never did tourist enter a foreign country able exceptions to this very general rule, with fewer advantages than I, so far as and they are the cities. Warsaw is not the Russians were concerned. The tales Russian at all, but Polish, which is to say, of the difficulties encountered by the viseloquent of the best genius of Europe. itor to Russia, of the close surveillance of St. Petersburg is artificial, planned to be his movements by the police, and of the an imitation European town, and main- facility with which a traveller may subtained as such by the government in ject himself to suspicion and be expelled, spite of its still great unpopularity with or have his passport torn up and himthe mass of the people, even of the most self disappear in Siberia) as completely enlightened among them. Moscow is dis- as if the earth had swallowed him—such appointing as a European city, and yet, tales now form a considerable literature outside the Kremlin, is nothing else; and by themselves; and if a tourist is renderOdessa is a very lively modern commer- ed uneasy by them before he gets to Ruscial and cosmopolitan capital. Helsing- sia, I can assure him that he will gather fors, the Finnish capital, is rather small enough more of such stories after crossing to put in the list, but it is one of the finest the frontier to spoil his visit and his rest small cities in Europe-and is not Rus- at night if he be nervous, timid, or extrasian. Most of the other cities, small and imaginative. I will not say that the oblarge, except Nijni-Novgorod, which has struction, surveillance, suspicion, and exbeen denationalized and rendered exces- traordinary autocratic practices that we sively commonplace by the government have all read and heard about are not in order to render it the artificial setting there to meet you on the frontier, shadfor an exotic exposition, are more or less owing you afterwards, investigating your primitive, shabby, dirty, native-- Asiatic. baggage while you sleep, and opening all
It is of interest for the reader to know letters to and from you the rest of the how the sight-seer in Russia is welcomed, time, but I am compelled to admit that I and in what degree of comfort he travels was unaware of the least part of all this there. It happened that when I was ready during my travels.
I was never less troubled by foreign police, or their agents, the door-porters, customs laws and regulations in any when entering a friendly residence. It journey I have ever made.
is also possible to leave Russia without a Every man in Russia, and every wo- passport if one risks the frontier dangers man, if she wishes to travel from her town of sea, forest, wilderness, and desolate exto the next, must have a passport. Ev- panses — and of detection. But taking erybody must have one in order to pass Russia by and large, in ordinary, peaceful the frontier in either direction. A pass- times, the purpose of its strong governport is as necessary to a Russian who de- ment, one of whose chief items of expense sires to return to his native land as it is must be for police service, is to make it to an American who wishes to visit that impossible to depart, enter, or travel there country. Certain classes of officials have without a passport. special passports that relieve them from I entered by steamer from Stockholm, the necessity of explaining where they are stopping at several Finland ports. I left going when they make a journey in their the ship at each place and roamed about, own country, but these must be carried but as I did not register or put up at any by them. I fancy that even the mem- hotel, I was not asked for my passport. bers of the Czar's cabinet have to carry As I was booked through to St. Peterspassports when they go about Russia. pionage is very strict in Poland, always very uniform and thorough in Russia proper, and has been very mild and somewhat lax in Finland, whose people gave themselves to the Russian Empire, and were treated with marvellous consideration until a few years ago, when the Russianizing process began, and the conscription law was extended to that splendid European, un-Russian province. When there is any new military improvement or ment afoot, as is now apparently the case in trans-Caspia, the surveillance of travellers becomes
very strict. When there is trouble with an unruly population, as was the case in a part of Georgia over the Caucasus when I
there, foreigners are warned away.
I may be mistaken, but it seemed to me that a man might travel in Russia without a passport if he avoided hotels and dwellings, or if he escaped the notice of the
AN IMPERIAL SENTRY.
burg, no customs officer called for it on Nothing happened. If my trunk and the ship at any other place. On the big portmanteau had been filled with ship were three women who were doing dynamite bombs, the Russians would not one of those irregular, unnecessary, risky bave discovered it, for they did not take things that members of their lovely sex the trouble to examine my luggage. are more given to doing than men. They As soon as our ship was tied to the had slipped out of Finland without per- wharf a very dandified officer of middle mission, and were coming back into Rus- age, accompanied by a clerk, hurried into sia without having had their passports the dining-saloon and sat down at a table, viséd where they had travelled. Two, a upon which a waiter had laid an in k-pot married French woman and her English and a pen. “Get the people in line,” companion, had been holidaying in Fin- said the officer. His manner was that of land, and had run over to Stockholm to a man who is already late for a dinner see the World's Fair. The other, a Polish party and is being still longer delayed. Jewess, had slipped out and gone to Paris. He seized the first passport and stabbed There must have been grave dereliction the ink-pot with his pen. The bottle gave to make this possible. All three had out a hollow dry sound of emptiness, and taken tickets back to a Finland port, and from that instant the laws, the watchfulthen bought new tickets from that port to ness, and the majesty of Russia took a St. Petersburg in order to deceive the Rus- back seat, behind and subordinate to the sian police, and to enable the ship-captain, petty annoyance the ink-bottle caused. whose services they easily enlisted, to tell The officer stabbed the bottle hard, tried à white lie, and say they came only from to write, stabbed the bottle harder, made the Russian port where they bought their an incoherent illegible flourish of broken last tickets. Nevertheless, they were lines on the first passport, fumed, stabbed dreadfully alarmed at what might hap- the bottle still harder, seized the next pen at St. Petersburg; and I, with a head passport, and began to damn everything full of sensational stories of Russian around him. The line filed before him strictness and severity and of Russian eagerly, seeing how engrossed he was prejudice against journalists, was inter with his misfortune. New passports ested in my own fate—in a journalistic were pressed upon him. He ground his way—i. e., like one who stands apart and pen around and around in the nearly watches what happens to himself.
dry bottle, and groaned, and cursed the ship. He did not examine a passport except to find the place for his signature, whereupon each time he clutched the bottle in one hand, and with the pen in his other hand tried to dig out its bottom. At last he damned his clerk, who then for the first time took notice of the trouble, and went off to get the captain's ink. It was like a bit of a play to see the Polish Jewess wriggle
ST. ISAAC'S CATHEDRAL, ST. PETERSBURG. abead of her place to get her passport signed before the fresh ink came and faced, grinding the pen in the bottle as a while the officer was in the heat of his chemist uses a pestle in a mortar. fracas with the bottle. The husband of I waited till the last-till he got fresh the French woman with the English ink and plenty, and calmed himself and companion had come aboard, and it was squared off at the table with a sigh of rehe who presented the passports of the lief. If the runaways from Russia had law-breaking women. He was a person come up then, he would have questioned of consequence in diplomatic circles, and them—perhaps convicted them with the tried to impress the officer with the air of things from Stockholm and Paris in their a man of affairs engaging in a tedious boxes. But it was my turn, and my own formality. “Kindly sign this-ladies in passport so surprised him by its novelty my charge—a cab waits,” said he, in that he studied its big eagle and its enFrench.
graved flourishes, and then looked at me “I am permitted to have only half a and said, "Americansky," and bowed as drop of ink," said the officer, now red- if I had gained some admirable quality
by merely coming a great distance, as tea and ostrich feathers did before the days of steam.
My Murray's Guide had told me that I must get a new passport—with new in italics — and yet my old one, all frescoed with Turkish hieroglyphics made in Edhem Pasha's train, had served very well. My Murray next said that the customs examinations
very strict, and that the tourist would find it wisest and quickest to exercise a great deal of patience.
So I held my breath for THE ESPLANADE, HELSINGFORS.
this grand test of quality