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female convent, told us that nobody The new Father Abbé of the Trapcould be received there. I tried, how- pists, settled in the vallies of the ever, to ring the bell at the gate of the Canton of Fribourg, has added to the cloister; a nun appeared behind the austerities of the order. One can have latticed opening through which the por- no idea of the minute degrees of suffertress may speak to strangers. “What ing imposed upon the monks ; they go do you want?” said she to me, in a voice so far as even to forbid them, when without modulation, as we might sup- they have been standing for some bours pose that of a ghost. “I should wish to in succession, from leaning against the see the interior of your convent.”. wall, or wiping the perspiration from “ That is impossible.”_" But I am very their forehead, in short every moment wet, and want to dry myself.”—She of their life is filled with suffering, as immediately touched a spring which the people of the world fill theirs with opened the door of an outer apartment, enjoyment. They rarely live to be old, in which I was allowed to rest myself, and those to whom this lot falls, regard but no living creature appeared. I had it as a punishment from heaven. Such hardly been seated a few minutes, when an establishment would be barbarous becoming impatient at being unable to if any one was compelled to enter it, or penetrate into the interior of the house, if there was the least concealment of I rung again ; the same person again what they suffer there. But on the appeared, and I asked her if no females contrary, they distribute to whoever were ever admitted into the convent; wishes to read it, a printed statement, she answered that it was only in cases in which the rigours of the order are when any one had the intention of be- rather exaggerated than softened ; and coming a nun. “But,” said I to her, yet there are novices who are willing “ how can I know if I wish to remain to take the vows, and those who are in your house, if I am not permitted received never run away, although to examine it:”Oh, that is quite they might do it without the least diffiuseless," replied she,“ Í am very sure culty. The whole rests, as it appears that
you have no vocation for our state," to me, upon the powerful idea of death; and with these words immediately shut the institutions and amusements of her wicket. I know not by what signs society are destined in the world to turn this nun had satisfied herself of my our thoughts entirely upon life: but worldly dispositions; it is possible that when the contemplation of death gets a quick manner of speaking, so differ- a certain hold of the human heart, ent from theirs, is sufficient to make joined to a firm belief in the immorthem distinguish travellers who are tality of the soul, there are no bounds merely curious. The hour of vespers to the disgust which it may take to approaching, I could go into the church every thing which forms a subject of to hear the nuns sing; they were be- interest in the world; and a state of hind a black close grating, through suffering appearing the road to a future which nothing could be seen. You only life, such minds follow it with avidity, heard the noise of their wooden shoes, like the traveller, who willingly faand of the wooden benches as they tigues himself, in order to get sooner raised them to sit down. Their singing over the road which leads him to the had nothing of sensibility in it, and I object of his wishes. But what equally thought I could remark both by their astonished and grieved me, was to see manner of praying, and in their conver- children brought up with this severity : sation which I had afterwards with the their poor locks shaved off, their young father Trappist, who directed them, countenances already furrowed, that that it was not religious enthusiasm, deathly dress with which they were such as we conceive it, but severe and covered before they knew any thing of grave habits which could support such life, before they had voluntarily rea kind of life. The tenderness of piety nounced it, all this made my soul rewould even exhaust the strength; a sort volt against the parents who had placed of ruggedness of soul is necessary to so them there. When such a state is not rude an existence.
the adoption of a free and determined
choice on the part of the person who the standard of the cross, and singing professes it, it inspires as much horror psalms; a profound expression of melas it at first created respect. The monk ancholy reigns upon their countewith whom I conversed, spoke of noth- nances : I have seen them, when not ing but death; all his ideas came money, but food of a better sort than from that subject, or connected them- they had been accustomed to was given selves with it; death is the sovereign them, turn up their eyes to heaven with monarch of this residence. As we astonishment, as if they considered talked of the temptations of the world, themselves unfit to enjoy its bounty. I expressed to the father Trappist my The custom of the common people in admiration of his conduct in thus sac- Poland is to embrace the knees of the rificing all, to withdraw himself from nobility when they meet them ; you their influence. “We are cowards,” cannot stir a step in a village without said he to me, “ who have retired into having the women, children, and old a fortress, because we feel we want the men saluting you in this manner. In courage to meet our enemy in the open the midst of this spectacle of wretchedfield.” This reply was equally modest ness you might see some men in shabby and ingenious.
attire, who were spies upon misery : POLAND.
for that was the only object which The Poles love their country as an could offer itself to their eyes. The unfortunate friend : the country is dull captains of the circles refused passports and monotonous, the people ignorant to the Polish noblemen, for fear they and lazy; they have always wished for should see one another, or lest they liberty ; they have never known how should go to Warsaw. They obliged to acquire it. But the Poles think that these noblemen to appear before them they can and may govern Poland, and every eight days, in order to certify the feeling is very natural. The edu- their presence. The Austrians thus cation however of the people is so much proclaimed in all manner of ways that neglected, and all kind of industry so they knew they were detested in Poforeign to them, that the Jews have land, and they separated their troops possessed themselves of the entire trade, into two equal divisions : the first enand make the peasants sell them for a trusted with supporting externally the quantity of brandy the whole harvest interests of Poland, and the second of the approaching year. 'I he distance employed in the interior to prevent the between the nobility and the peasantry Poles from aiding the same cause. I is so immense, the contrast between the do not believe that any country was luxury of the one, and the frightful ever more wretchedly governed than misery of the other, is so shocking, Gallicia was at that time, at least under that it is probable the Austrians have political considerations; and it was apgiven them better laws than those parently to conceal this spectacle from which previously existed. At every general observation that so many diffipost-house in Gallicia there are to be culties were made in allowing a stranger seen three descriptions of persons who to reside in, or even to pass through gather round travellers' carriages: the the country. Jew traders, the Polish beggars, and the
KIOW. German spies. The country appears
Determined to continue my journey exclusively inhabited by these three through Russia, I proceeded towards classes of men. The beggars, with their Kiow, the principal city of the Ukraine, long beards, and ancient Sarmatian cos- and formerly of all Russia, for this emtume, excite deep commiserațion; it is pire began by fixing its capital in the very true that if they would work they South. The Russians had then conneed not be in that state ; but I know tinual communication with the Greeks not whether it is pride or laziness which established at Constantinople, and in makes them disdain the culture of the general with the people of the East, enslaved earth.
whose habits they have adopted in a You meet upon the high roads pro- variety of instances. The Ukraine is ressions of men and women carrying a very fertile country, but by no means
agreeable; you see large plains of to me then entering into that great réwheat which appear to be cultivated by gularity of the despotism of Napoleon, invisible hands, the habitations and in- which first makes all nations a present habitants are so rare. You must not of the conscription, then of the warexpect, in approaching Kiow, or the taxes, and lastly, of the Code Napogreater part of what are called cities in leon, in order to govern in the same Russia, to find any thing resembling manner, nations of totally different chathe cities of the West; the roads are racters. not better kept, nor do country houses The Dnieper, which the ancients indicate a more numerous population. called Borysthenes, passes by Kiow, On my arrival at Kiow, the first object and the old tradition of the country that met my eyes was a cemetery, and affirms, that it was a boat-man, who in this was the first indication to me of crossing it found its waters so pure
that being near a place where men were he was led to found a town on its banks. collected. The houses at Kiow gene- In fact, the rivers are the most beautirally resemble tents, and at a distance ful natural objects in Russia. It would the city appears like a camp; I could be difficult to find any small streams, not help fancying that the moveable their course would be so much obstructresidences of the Tartars had furnished ed by the sand. There is scarcely any models for the construction of those variety of trees; the melancholy birch wooden houses, which have not a much is incessantly recurring in this uningreater appearance of solidity. A few ventive nature; even the want of stones days are sufficient for building them; might be almost regretted, so much is they are very often consumed by fire, the eye sometimes fatigued with meetand an order is sent to the forest for a ing neither hill nor valley, and to be house, as you would send to market to always making progress without enlay in your winter stock of provisions. countering new objects. The rivers In the midst of these huts, however, relieve the imagination from this fapalaces have been erected, and a num- tigue; the priests, therefore, bestow ber of churches, whose green and gilt their benedictions on these rivers. The cupolas singularly draw the attention. emperor, empress, and the whole court When towards the evening the sun attend the ceremony of the benediction darts his rays on these brilliant domes, of the Neva, at the moment of the seyou would fancy that it was rather an verest cold of winter. It is said that illumination for a festival, than a dura. Wladimir, at the commencement of the ble edifice.
eleventh century, declared, that all the The Russians never pass a church waters of the Borysthenes were holy, without making the sign of the cross, and that plunging in them was sufficient and their long beards add greatly to to make a man a Christian ; the bapthe religious expression of their physi- tism of the Greeks being performed by ognomy. They generally wear a large immersion, millions of men went into blue robe, fastened round the waist by this river to abjure their idolatry. It a scarlet band; the dresses of the won was this same Wladimir who sent depumen have also something Asiatic in ties to different countries, to learn which them; and one remarks that taste for of all the religions it best suited him to lively colours which we derive from the adopt ; he decided for the Greek ritual, East, where the sun is so beautiful, that on account of the pomp of its ceremoone likes to makes bis eclat more con- nies. Perhaps also he preferred it for spicuous by the objects which he shines more important reasons; in fact the upon. I speedily contracted such a Greek faith by excluding the papal partiality to these oriental dresses, that power, gives the sovereign of Russia I could not bear to see Russians dress. the spiritual and temporal power united like other Europeans, they seemed ed.
THE GREEK RELIGION.
marriage, and death. The Russian The Greek religion is necessarily peasants still continue the custom of less intolerant than the Roman Catho- addressing the dead previous to a final lic; for being itself reproached as a separation from his remains. Why is schism, it can hardly complain of it, say they, that thou hast abandoned heretics ; all religions therefore are ad- us? Wert thou then unhappy on this mitted into Russia, and from the bor- earth ? Was not thy wife fair and ders of the Don to those of the Neva, good? Why therefore hast thou left the fraternity of country unites men, ber? The dead replies not, but the even though their theological opinions value of existence is thus proclaimed may separate them. The Greek priests in the presence of those who still preare allowed to marry, and scarcely any serve it. gentleman embraces this profession: it
THE RUSSIAN PEOPLE. follows that the clergy has very little I reached at last that part of my road political ascendancy; it acts upon the which removed me from the theatre of people, but it is very submissive to the war, and arrived in the governments of emperor.
Orel and Toula, which have been so The ceremonies of the Greek wor- much talked of since, in the bulletins of ship are at least as beautiful as those of the two armies. I was received in the catholics; the church music is hea- these solitary abodes, for so the provinvenly; everything in this worship cial towns in Russia appear, with the leads to meditation ; it has something most perfect hospitality. Several genof poetry and feeling about it, but it tlemen of the neighbourhood came to appears better adapted to captivate the my inn to compliment me on my writimagination than to regulate the con- ings, and I confess having been flatterduct. When the priest comes out of ed to find that my literary reputation the sanctuary, in which he remains shut had extended to this distance from my up while he communicates, you would native country. The lady of the govsay that you saw the gates of light ernor received me in the Asiatic style, opening; the cloud of incense which with sherbet and roses; her apartment surrounds him, the gold and silver, and was elegantly furnished with musical precious stones, which glitter on his instruments and pictures. In Europe robes and in the church, seem to come you see every where the contrast of from countries where the sun is an ob- wealth and poverty ; but in Russia it ject of adoration. The devout senti- may be said that neither one nor the ments which are inspired by gothic ar- other makes itself remarked. The chitecture in Germany, France, and people are not poor ; the great know England, cannot be at all compared how to lead, when it is necessary, the with the eliect of the Greek churches ; same life as the people: it is the mixthey rather remind us of the minarets ture of the hardest privations and of of the Turks and Arabs than of our the most refined enjoyments which churches. As little must we expect to characterizes the country. These same find, as in Italy, the splendour of the noblemen, whose residence unites all fine arts; their most remarkable orna. that the luxury of different parts of the ments are virgins and saints crowned world has most attractive, live, while with rubies and diamonds. Magnifi- they are travelling, on much worse food cence is the character of every thing than our French peasantry, and know one sees in Russia ; neither the genius how to bear, not only during war, but of man nor the gifts of nature consti- in various circumstances of life, a phytute its beauties.
sical existence of the most disagreeable The ceremonies of marriage, of bap- kind. The severity of the climate, the tism, and of burial, are noble and af- marshes, the forests, the deserts, of fecting ; we find in them some ancient which a great part of the country is customs of Grecian idolatry, but only composed, place man in a continual those which, having no connection with struggle with nature. Fruits, and even doctrine, can add to the impression of flowers, only grow in hot-houses; vethe three great scenes of life, birth, getables are not generally cultivated;
and there are no vines any where. The even the chateaux, even the population. habitual mode of life of the French pea. You might suppose you were travelling sants could not be obtained in Russia through a country from which the peobut at a very great expense. There ple had just taken their departure. The they have only necessaries by luxury: absence of birds adds to this silence; whence it happens that when luxury is cattle also are rare, or at least they are unattainable, even necessaries are re- placed at a great distance from the nounced. What the English call com- road. Extent makes every thing disforts are hardly to be met with in Ras- appear, except extent itself, like certain sia. You will never find any thing ideas in metaphysics, of which the mind sufficiently perfect to satisfy in all ways can never get rid, when it has once the imagination of the great Russian seized them. nobleman; but when this poetry of wealth fails them, they drink hydro Gilded cupolas announced Moscow mel, sleep upon a board, and travel from afar ; however, as the surroundday and night in an open carriage, ing country is only a plain, as well as without regretting the luxury to which the whole of Russia, you may arrive in one would think they had been habitua- that great city without being struck ted. It is rather as magnificence that with its extent. It has been well said they love fortune, than from the plea- by some one, that Moscow was rather sures they derive from it: resembling a province than a city. In fact, you still in that point the Easterns, who there see huts, houses, palaces, a bazar exercise hospitality to strangers, load as in the East, churches, public buildthem with presents, and yet frequently ings, pieces of water, woods, and parks. neglect the every-day comforts of their The variety of manners, and of the naown life. This is one of the reasons tions of which Russia is composed, are which explains that noble courage with all exhibited in this immense residence, which the Russians have supported the Will you, I was asked, buy some Cashruin which has been occasioned them mere shawls in the Tartar quarter ? by the burning of Moscow. More ac- Have you seen the Chinese town? customed to external pomp than to the Asia and Europe are found united in care of themselves they are not molli- this immense city. There is more lified by luxury, and the sacrifice of mo- berty enjoyed in it than at Petersburg, ney satisfies their pride as much or where the court necessarily exercises more than the magnificence of their great influence. The great nobility expenditure. What characterizes this settled at Moscow were not ambitious people, is something gigantic of all of places; but they proved their pakinds : ordinary dimensions are not at triotism by munificent gifts to the state, all applicable to it. I do not by that either for public establishments during mean to say that neither real grandeur peace, or as aids during the war. The or stability are to be met with in it: colossal fortunes of the great Russia u but the boldness and the imagination nobility are employed in making colof the Russians know no bounds : with lections of all kinds, and in enterprises them every tlfing is colossal rather than of which the Arabian Nights have given well proportioned, audacious rather the models; these fortunes are also than reflective, and if they do not hit frequently lost by the unbridled pasthe mark it is because they overshoot it. sions of their possessors. I was always advancing nearer to
When I arrived at Moscow, nothing Moscow, but nothing yet indicated the was talked of but the sacrifices that approach to a capital. The wooden were made on account of the war. villages were equally distant from each young Count de Momonoff raised a reother, we saw no greater movement giment for the state, and would only upon the immense plains which are serve in it as a sub-lieutenant; a Councalled high roads ; you heard no more tess Orloff, amiable and wealthy in the noise ; the country houses were not Asiatic style, gave the fourth of her inmore numerous: there is so much space come. As I was passing before these in Russia that every thing is lost in it, palaces surrounded by gardens, where