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gang of these helpless little creatures driven to the shambles without thinking of that touching picture, the Murder of the Innocents.
In vain I tried to escape this veal passion in Russia. Nay, even in Finland and Sweden it pursued me. I actually began to feel flabby, and felt ashamed to look the poor cows in the face. It was a marvel how the cattle, of which there seemed to be no lack, ever arrived at maturity. If the people kill all the calves, as appeared to be the case, in the name of wonder, where do the cows come from? This question puzzled me exceedingly for some time, and was only solved when I asked a Russian to explain it. Oh,” said he, smiling at my simplicity,“they only kill the male calves. They allow the cow calves to grow up!”
Still, when I came to reflect upon the reason given, it occurred to me that they must be a very singular race of cows. Perhaps they were Amazonian cows.
This leads me by an easy and not ungraceful transition to the Foundling Asylum of Moscow, one of the largest and most remarkable institutions of the kind in the world. In other public places throughout Europe, especially in picture-galleries and museums, the visitor is required to deliver up his walking-stick at the door, in return for which he receives a ticket corresponding with one fastened upon the article itself—as in baggage-cars upon the railway, so that he may redeem it when he thinks proper. But I had little thought, in my experience of foreign travel, that a similar system should prevail in regard to the deposit of living beings, as in the foundling establishment of Moscow. Here, any body with a surplus baby can carry it and have it labeled around the neck, receive a ticket in return corresponding in number with the deposit, and call for it at any future time, certain that it will be delivered up—if alive. The building is of immense extent, and is situated on the banks of the Moskwa River, near the lower part of the town. The grounds around it are tastefully laid ont, and must occupy twenty or thirty acres, the whole being surrounded by a high wall, and comprising numerous and substantial outhouses, workshops, etc., for the use of the establishment. Many thousand children are annually taken in and nursed at this institution, no restriction being imposed upon the parents, who may be either married or single, to suit their own taste or condition.
The regular force of wet-nurses employed is about six hundred, besides which there are numerous dry-nurses and teachers for the older children. It is estimated that the entire expense of conducting the establishment is not less than five or six hundred thousand rubles per annum, most of which is defrayed by voluntary contributions and interest received on loans.
I spent a forenoon rambling through the various wards, and can safely say I never before saw such an extraordinary collection of human squabs within one inclosure. It was certainly one of the strangest and saddest spectacles I had ever witnessed-so many infant specimens of humanity, bundled up like little packages of merchandise, labeled, numbered, and nursed with a mathematical regularity fearfully inconsistent with one's notions of the softness and tenderness of babyhood. To be sure, they are well treated— kindly and gently treated, perhaps; but it is pitiful to see these helpless little creatures bereft of the gentle motherly touch ; washed, physicked, nursed, and too often buried by hired and unsympathizing hands; and no more thought of them, save in the way of duty, than so many little animals destitute of souls. The very idea of attachments formed by nurses is of itself a painful subject of contemplation; for of what avail is it that a child should be loved by its nurse, or find in her a new mother, when by the rules of the establishment there must be constant separations. It is said that over twenty-five thousand children derive, either directly or indirectly, support from this establishment. About six thousand are taken in annually, of which perhaps one fourth die. Many of them are not
far from dead when admitted ; and it is only surprising, considering the deprivations they must endure in being so suddenly withdrawn from the mother's care, that so large a proportion should survive.
· If it be a wise child that knows its own father, it would be a very remarkable father who could recognize his own child among such a variegated collection as I saw here. Never upon earth was there a more astonishing mixture of baby flesh-big babies and little babies, pug-nosed, black-eyed, blue-eyed, fat and lean, red, yellow, and white babies—all sorts ever invented or brought to light in this curious world of ours. Yet the utmost order was observed, and the beds, purses, cribs, and feeding apparatus looked wonderfully clean for a Russian institution, where cleanliness is not generally the prevailing characteristic. But, great guns! what music they must make when they all get started in one grand simultaneous chorus ! five or six hundred babies, of both sexes, from one to two or three years old, in one department; as many girls from three to five in another; boys of the same age in another; older boys and older girls innumerable in another! What a luxury it must be to hear them all together! In general, however, they do not make as much noise as might be supposed. I only heard about forty or fifty small choruses while there; but, trifling as that was, it enabled me to form an idea of the style of music that might be made when five or six thousand gave their whole mind to it. I am personally acquainted with one small baby not over a couple of years old, who, when excited of nights, can very nearly raise the roof off the house, and am certain that five hundred of the same kind would burst the whole city of Moscow sky-high if ever they got at it together. These Russian foundlings, however, are generally heavy-faced, lymphatic babies, and fall naturally into the machine existence which becomes their fate; otherwise it would seem a hard life for the poor nurses, who are not always gifted with the patient endurance of mothers. I was told that the children only cried periodically, say at in. tervals of every four hours, but hardly credit that statement. Being for the most part soggy little animals, they spend a goodly portion of their time in sleep, and doubtless, when not sleeping, are much given to eating and drinking.
During the summer months several thousand of these children are sent out in the country to nurse, after which they are returned in due order. As soon as they become old enough, they are taught reading and writing, and the most intelligent are selected to become teachers. The boys usually receive a military education, and a certain proportion of them furnish recruits for the imperial army.
. CHAPTER XVI.
DESPOTISM versus SERFDOM. The reader has probably discovered by this time that I have no great affection for the political institutions of Europe, and am pretty strong in my prejudices against despotic governments of all sorts. The fact is, I believe our own, with all its faults, is the best system of government ever devised by man.
The Emperor Alexander II. is admitted on all hands to be a most estimable and enlightened sovereign. He possesses, in a greater degree, perhaps, than any of his predecessors, the confidence and affection of his people. All his labors since he ascended the throne in February, 1855, have been directed to the emancipation of the serfs and the general welfare of his country. No fault can be found with him by the most ardent advocate of human liberty. His sympathies are-as far as it is practicable for those of an autocrat, clothed with absolute powers, to be—in favor of freedom. Toward the people and the government of the United States he entertains the most kindly feeling, and would doubtless sincerely regret the
overthrow of our republican system. He has, moreover, devoted himself with unceasing zeal to the abolition of many onerous and unnecessary restrictions upon the liberty of the press and the civil rights of his subjects; encouraged institutions of learning; prohibited to a considerable extent cruelty and oppression in the subordinate branches of the public service; and in all respects has proved himself equal to the great duty imposed upon him, and worthy the esteem and commendation of the civilized world. Yet I can not see what there is in a despotic form of government, under the very best circumstances, to enlist our admiration or win our sympathies. We may respect and appreciate a good ruler, but every autocrat is not good of his kind; nor is every country in a happy condition because it may be exempt from the horrors of commotion. But no sovereign power can ever attain a rank among the civilized nations of the earth-beyond the respect to which its brute force may entitle it—so long as the very germ of its existence is founded in the suppression of civil and political liberty among its subjects.
What, after all, does the emancipation of the serfs amount to ? They are only to be nominally free. The same power that accords them the poor privilege of tilling the earth for their own subsistence may at any time withdraw it. They are not to be owned by individual proprietors, and bought and sold like cattle; but they possess none of the privileges of freemen; have no voice in the laws that govern them; must pay any taxes imposed upon them; may be ordered, at any time, to abandon their homes and sacrifice their lives in foolish and unnecessary wars in which they have no interest; in short, are just as much slaves as they were before, with the exception that during the pleasure of the emperor they can not be sold. But will every emperor be equally humane? There is nothing to prevent the successor of Alexander the Second from restoring the system of serfage, with all its concomitant horrors. It will not be