Page images

characteristic scene that I wish to ridicule any form of religion. I saw precisely what I state, and am in no way responsible for it. If people imagine this sort of thing does them any good, they are quite welcome to enjoy it; but they must not expect every body else to be impressed with the profound sensations of solemnity which they feel themselves. The Russians may kiss the heads off every saint in Moscow without the slightest concern or opposition on my part. The Romans have kissed a pound of brass off the big toe of St. Peter, in the grand Cathedral at Rome, and I see no reason why other races should not enjoy similar privileges, only it does not produce the same effect upon every body. - Yet, in some sense, such scenes are not without an as

pect of sadness. It is melancholy to look upon such a mingling of glitter and barbarism, wealth and poverty, sincerity, debasement, and crime. No human being is truly ridiculous, however grotesque may be the expression of his feelings, when they are the genuine outpouring of a contrite heart. These nobles, common citizens, and beggars, thus meeting upon common ground, in a country where the distinctions of rank are so rigidly observed, and for the time being disregarding all differences of condition ; forgetting their ambitions, their jealousies, and animosities, and giving themselves up with such unselfish zeal to all the demands made upon them by their forms of religion, is, in itself, a touching and impressive sight. I confess that when the first shock of grotesqueness, so strikingly connected with all I saw, passed away, the feeling left was one of unutterable sadness. These people were all fellow - beings, and, right or wrong, they were profoundly in earnest; yet, while thinking thus, I could not but fancy the same divine strain of warning that was wafted to the house of Israel still lingered in the air: “Every man is brutish in his knowledge; every founder is confounded by the graven image; for his molten image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them; they are vanity and the work of errors; in the time of their visitation they shall perish.”

In reference to the interiors of the churches of the Kremlin, I can only find space to say, after having visited them all, that they present a confusion of gilded and glittering aisles, pillars, alcoves, chapels, and painted domes, which baffles any thing like accurate description. The Cathedral of the Assumption is literally lined with gilding, daubs of paintings representing scriptural scenes, figures and pictures of saints, dragons and devils of every conceivable color and oddity of design and costume, and burnished shrines and candelabras. Through the dazzling mazes of this sacred edifice crowds of devotees, priests, and penitents are continually wandering; here, casting themselves upon their knees, and bowing down before some gold-covered shrine; there standing in mute and rapt adoration before some pictured symbol of eternity-grandees, beggars, andall; the priests bearing tapers and chanting; the air filled with incense; the whole scene an indescribable combination of moving appeals to the senses. All the churches of the Kremlin partake, more or less, of this character. In some of them, the old bones and other relics held peculiarly sacred are inclosed within iron gratings or railings, and are only accessible to the visitor through the services of a priestly guide. Every visitor must, of course, pay for the gratification of his curiosity; so that the bones of the most venerated characters in the history of the Russian Church are turned into a considerable source of profit. It may well be said that every saint pays his own way, so long as there is a fragment of him left in this world. If one could be assured of the truth of all he learns during a tour of inspection through these receptacles of sacred relics, it would indeed confound all his previous impressions that the days of miracles had passed. There is a picture in the Uspenski Saber, the bare contemplation of which, combined with a fervent appeal, it is confidently asserted, recently effected a sudden and wonderful cure in the case of a crippled man, who was carried there from his bed, but after his devotions before this picture walked out of the door as well as ever; and every where about these sacred precincts pictures and carved images are abundant which at stated intervals shed tears and manifest other tokens of vitality.

Outside, on the steps of these churches, the stranger encounters innumerable gangs of beggars, who watch his incoming and his outgoing with the most intense eagerness—rushing toward him with outstretched hands, calling upon all the saints to bless him and his issue forever and ever, and sometimes bowing down to the earth before him, in their accustomed way, as if he himself partook of some sacred attributes. Apart from the wretched aspect of these poor creatures, among which were the lame, the halt, and the blind from all the purlieus of Moscow, there was something very revolting in the debasement of their attitudes. To assist them all was impossible; and I often had to struggle through the crowds with feelings akin to remorse in being compelled to leave them thus vainly appealing to my charity. When alone, hours after, the weary and pathetic strain of their supplications would haunt me, bearing in its sorrowful intonations a weird warning that we are all bound together in the great fellowship of sin.

And now, while we are taking our last lingering look at the Kremlin, the mighty bells of the tower toll forth a funeral knell. A priest lies dead in one of the churches, his coffin draped in the habiliments of woe. The chanting rises ever and anon above the death - knell that sweeps through the air. Standing aloof, we listen to the solemn sounds of mourning. The funeral cortege comes forth from the church. The hearse, with its plumed horses all draped in black, receives the coffin ; priests and mourners, bearing lighted tapers, lead the way, chanting a requiem for the departed ; and thus they påss before us—the living and the dead-till they reach the Holy Gate. Then the priests and the crowd

es uneing rise through Of mourniche The ceives the

bow down and pray; and when they have passed out from under the sacred arch, they turn before the image of the Savior and pray again; then rising, they cross themselves devoutly and pass on to the last earthly resting-place of their friend and brother.

Surely death draws us nearer together in life. I thought no more of forms. What matters it if we are all true to our Creator and to our convictions of duty ! Life is too short to spend in earthly contentions.

“In the morning it flourisheth and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down and withereth.”


RUSSIAN MANNERS AND CUSTOMS. · RUDE and savage as the lower orders are in their external appearance, they certainly can not be considered deficient in politeness, if the habit of bowing be taken as an indication. In that branch of civilization they are well entitled to take rank with the Germans and French, from whom, doubtless, they have acquired many of their forms of etiquette. Something, however, of Asiatic grarity and courtliness mingles with whatever they may have adopted from the more sprightly and demonstrative races of the South; and a certain degree of dignity, accompanied though it may be with rags and filth, is always observable in their manners. The alacrity, good nature, and enthusiasm so characteristic of the Germans, and the dexterous play of muscles and vivacious suavity of the French, are wholly deficient in the Russians, such of them, at least, as have retained their nationality. The higher classes, of course, who frequently spend their summers at the watering-places of Germany and their winters in Paris, come home, like all traveled gentlemen, with a variety of elegant accomplishments, the chief of which is a disgust for their own language and customs. This, indeed, seems to be a characteristic of several other nationsman inordinate desire to become denationalized by imitating whatever is meretricious and absurd in other people; and you need not be surprised should you fail to recognize even your unpretending friend and correspondent on his return to California; for although I still pretend to write a little English, I no longer speak it except in broken accents. Having also worn out three good hats practicing the art of bowing on the boulevards of Paris and the glacis of Frankfort, I never pretend now to recognize any body without striking the top of my tile against the cap of my knee.

This, you see, is all in the way of excuse for the Russians, and arises rather from an excess of good nature than an excess of egotism. Constant practice in the solemnities of street-worship-uncovering their heads and bowing low before their numerous saints and shrinesmay have some influence upon the stateliness of Russian politeness. It is, however, a very prominent and characteristic trait, and in some of its phases rather astounding to a stranger. A common thing in the streets of Moscow is to see a couple of sturdy beggars, uncouth as grizzly bears, meet and stop before each other with the utmost and most punctilious gravity. Beggar number one takes his greasy cap from his head slowly and deliberately, gives it a graceful sweep through the air, and, with a most courtly obeisance, exhibits the matted tuft, or the bald spot on the top of his head, to his ragged friend. Beggar number two responds in a similar courteous style, neither uttering a word. Each then gravely replaces his cap, touches the brim of it once or twice by way of representing a few extra bows, and passes on his way with an expression of profound dignity, utterly unconscious of the grotesque effect of all this ceremony to a stranger. I have seen the most vagabond-looking istrovoschik, or drosky-drivers, jump out of their drosky and perform similar courtesies toward each other; and where men of this craft are given to politeness, one may rest assured that it must be a na

ty, utteny to a strposchik, on similar couft are given nacereid-looking ky and were men

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