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tacle of religious enthusiasm, genuine and universal, mingled with moral turpitude; monkish asceticism and utter abandonment to vice; self-sacrifice and loose indulgence. It may be said that this is not true religion
- not even what these people profess. Perhaps not; but it is what they are accustomed to from infancy, and it certainly develops some of their best traits of character—charity to each other, earnestness, constancy, and self-sacrifice.
On the morning after my arrival in Moscow I witnessed from the window of my hotel a very impressive and melancholy spectacle—the departure of a gang of prisoners for Siberia. The number amounted to some two or three hundred. Every year similar trains are dispatched, yet the parting scene always attracts a sympathizing crowd. These poor creatures were chained in pairs, and guarded by a strong detachment of soldiers. Their appearance, as they stood in the street awaiting the order to march, was very sad. Most of them were miserably clad, and some scarcely clad at all. A degraded, forlorn set they were—filthy and ragged-their downcast features expressive of an utter absence of hope. Few of them seemed to have any friends or relatives in the crowd of by-standers; but in two or three instances I noticed some very touching scenes of separationwhere wives came to bid good-by to their husbands, and children to their fathers. Nearly every body gave them something to help them on their way—a few kopecks, a loaf of bread, or some cast-off article of clothing. I saw a little child timidly approach the gang, and, dropping a small coin into the hand of one poor wretch, run back again into the crowd, weeping bitterly. These prisoners are condemned to exile for three, four, or five years —often for life. It requires from twelve to eighteen months of weary travel, all the way on foot, through barren wastes and inhospitable deserts, to enable them to reach their desolate place of exile. Many of them fall sick on the way from fatigue and privation-many
die. Few ever live to return. In some instances the whole term of exile is served out on the journey to and from Siberia. On their arrival they are compelled to labor in the government mines or on the public works. Occasionally the most skillful and industrious are rewarded by appointments to positions of honor and trust, and become in the course of time leading men.
In contemplating the dreary journey of these poor creatures—a journey of some fifteen hundred or two thousand miles - I was insensibly reminded of that touching little story of filial affection, “ Elizabeth of Siberia,” a story drawn from nature, and known in all civilized languages.
Not long after the departure of the Siberian prisoners, I witnessed, in passing along one of the principal streets, à grand funeral procession. The burial of the dead is a picturesque and interesting ceremony in Moscow. A body of priests, dressed in black robes and wearing long beards, take the lead in the funeral cortége, bearing in their hands shrines and burning tapers. The hearse follows, drawn by four horses. Black plumes wave from the heads of the horses, and flowing black drapery covers their bodies and legs. Even their heads are draped in black, nothing being perceptible but their eyes. The coffin lies exposed on the top of the hearse, and is also similarly draped. This combination of sombre plumage and drapery has a singularly mournful appearance. Priests stand on steps attached to the hearse holding images of the Savior over the coffin; others follow in the rear, comforting the friends and relatives of the deceased. A wild, monotonous chant is sung from time to time by the chief mourners as the procession moves toward the burial-ground. The people cease their occupations in the streets through which the funeral passes, uncover their heads, and, bowing down before the images borne by the priests, utter prayers for the repose of the dead. The rich and the poor of both sexes stand upon the sidewalks and offer up their humble petitions. The deep-tongued bells of the Kremlin ring out solemn peals, and the wild and mournful chant of the priests mingles with the grand knell of death that sweeps through the air. All is profoundly impressive : the procession of priests, with their burning tapers; the drapery of black on the horses; the coffin with its dead; the weeping mourners; the sepulchral chant; the sudden cessation of all the business of life, and the rapt attention of the multitude; the deep, grand, death-knell of the bells; the glitter of domes and cupolas on every side; the green-roofed sea of houses; the winding streets, and the costumes of the people—form a spectacle wonderfully wild, strange, and mournful. In every thing that comes within the sweep of the eye there is a mixed aspect of Tartaric barbarism and European civilization. Yet even the stranger from a far-distant clime, speaking another language, accustomed to other forms, must feel, in gazing upon such a scene, that death levels all distinctions of race—that our common mortality brings us nearer together. Every where we are pilgrims on the same journey. Wherever we sojourn among men,
“The dead around us lie,
And the death-bell tolls.”
TEA-DRINKING. THE traktirs, or tea-houses, are prominent among the remarkable institutions of Russia. In Moscow they abound in every street, lane, and by-alley. That situated near the Katai Gorod is said to be the best. Though inferior to the ordinary cafés of Paris or Marseilles in extent and decoration, it is nevertheless pretty stylish in its way, and is interesting to strangers from the fact that it represents a prominent feature in Russian life—the drinking of tchai.
Who has not heard of Russian tea ?—the tea that comes all the way across the steppes of Tartary and over the Ural Mountains ?—the tea that never loses its flavor by admixture with the salt of the ocean, but is delivered over at the great fair of Nijni Novgorod as pure and fragrant as when it started ? He who has never heard
of Russian tea has heard nothing, and he who has never enjoyed a glass of it may have been highly favored in other respects, but I contend that he has nevertheless led a very benighted existence. All epicures in the delicate leaf unite in pronouncing it far superior to the nectar with which the gods of old were wont to quench their thirst. It is truly one of the luxuries of life—so soft;