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Preliminary Observations - State of Public Affairs —
Strange Conduct of the Emperor-Insolence of the
Police-Extraordinary Phenomenon. A cuk
CURIOSITY to visit the Eastern boundaries of Europe is naturally excited by the circumstance of their situation, in a country rarely traversed by any literary traveller, and little noticed either in antient or in modern history. Above two thousand years ago, the
CHAP. Tanaïs, watering the plains of SARMATIA, sepa
rated the Roxolani and the Jazyges from the Hamaxobii and the Alani. In modern geography, the same river, altered in its appellation, divides the tribe of the Don Cossacks from the Tchernomorski, whose territory extends from the Sea of Azof to the Kúban, The Greeks, by their commerce in the Euxine, obtained a slight knowledge of the people who lived on the PALUS MÆOTIS. The wars of Russia and Turkey sometimes directed our attention to this remote country; but the knowledge of its inhabitants, both among the Antients and Moderns, has scarcely exceeded the names of the tribes, and their character in war. With their domestic habits, the productions of the land, the nature of its scenery, or the remains of antiquity they possess, we are very little acquainted. By referring to Antient History, we find that the same want of information prevailed formerly as at present. This may be accounted for by the wandering disposition of a people, seldom settled for any length of time upon the same spot: and with regard to their successors, since the establishment of a metropolis in the marshes of the Don, and the expulsion of the Kuban Tartars by the Cossacks of the Black Sea, the country has been submitted to very little examination. It was
among these people that the political differences CHAP. of ENGLAND and RussiA drove the Author, a willing exile, from the cities of Petersburg and Moscow, in the last year of the eighteenth century. Necessity and inclination were coupled together; and he had the double satisfaction, of escaping persecution from the enemies of his country, and of surveying regions which, in the warmest sallies of hope, he had never thought it would be his destiny to explore.
In the course of this journey, through extensive plains which have been improperly called deserts, and among a secluded people who with as little reason have been deemed savages, he had certainly neither the luxuries and dissipation of polished cities, nor the opportunities of indolence, to interrupt his attention to his journal. If therefore it fail to interest the public, he has no apology to offer. He presents it in a state as similar as possible to that wherein notes written upon the spot were made; as containing whatsoever his feeble abilities were qualified to procure, either for information or amusement; and adhering, in every representation, strictly to the truth.
After suffering a number of indignities, in common with others of our countrymen, during our residence in Petersburg; about the middle of March, 1800, matters grew to such extremities, that our excellent Ambassador, Sir Charles (now Lord) Whitworth, found it necessary to advise us to go to Moscow. A passport had been denied for his courier to proceed with despatches to England. In answer to the demand made by our Minister for an explanation, it was stated to be the Emperor's pleasure. In consequence of which, Sir Charles inclosed the note containing his demand, and the Emperor's answer, in a letter to the English Government, which he committed to the postoffice with very great doubts of its safety.
Strange Conduct of the Emperor.
In the mean time, every day brought with it some new example of the Sovereign's absurdities and tyranny, which seemed to originate in absolute insanity. The sledge of Count Razumovsky was, by the Emperor's order, broken into small pieces, while he stood by and directed the work. The horses had been found with it in the streets, without their driver. It happened to be of a blue colour; and the Count's servants wore red liveries : upon which a ukase was immediately published,