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Arrival at åxay—Public Entry—Reception by the Don
Cossacks—Population of their Territory—View of the Don—Celebration of a Court Festival—Mode of Fasting - Analogy between the Don and the Nile - Natural Curiosities and Antiquities — Fishes - Extraordinary Appearance of Tcherkask-Inhabitants and Public Buildings—Origin of the Cossacks—Causes of their Increase -Emigrations— Foundation of their Capital— Circassians-Commerce of Tcherkask-Polished Manners of the People— Remarkable Wager--Survey of the Town -Entire Houses moved - Diseases of the People-Greek Impostor-Departure from Tcherkask.
THE Postmaster of Tuslovskaia met us, as we drew near to åxay. He had, without our
Arrival at Aray. Public Entry.
CHAP. knowledge, passed us upon the road, and given
very absurd notice to the inhabitants, that a
The Postmaster, with his drawn sabre,
with regard to our supposed generalship. It Reception seemed to make no alteration, either in the by the Don
respect paid to us, or the welcome they were
already provided excellent quarlers, in a spacious CHAP. and clean apartment, with numerous windows, a balcony commanding a view of the Don, and every protection that an host of saints, virgins, and bishops, whose pictures covered the walls, could afford. Their General was at his countryseat, ten miles from the town': an express was therefore sent to him, for his instructions concerning our future reception. In the mean time, sentinels were stationed at our carriage; and an officer, with Cossack soldiers, paraded constantly before our door. During the whole time we remained in their country, the same honours were paid to us; and although we frequently remonstrated against the confinement thus occasioned to the young officers, we never went out without finding the sentinels in waiting, and the officer at his post. The Ataman came frequently to offer his services; and the constant endeavour of the people seemed to be, who
(1) “ Most of the richer Cossacks have houses in Tcherkask, which they make their metropolis ; but pass the greater part of their time in their farms, on the northern bank of the river. Platof, the Ataman, said he kept there two hundred brood mares. He had, however, no land in tillage, though he possessed a vineyard a little to the east of Axy. Of the wine produced from these vineyards, they vaunted greatly. The best always struck me as mixed with Greek wine, or raisins. The ordinary wines are very poor, and tasteless. Spirits are very cheap, and much drunk. Platof himself took a glass of brandy, with a spoonful of salt in it; as if brandy was hardly strong enough."
Heber's MS. Journal.
CHAP. should shew us the greatest degree of kindness.
Hearing us complain of the inaccuracy of the
(1) The Procureur (Procurator) is a kind of comptroller, or visitor; appointed to watch over the execution of the laws; to examine the decision of courts of justice; to visit the prisons; attend the executions, &c. He is generally a native of a different province from that wherein he is stationed. At Tcherkask, he is always a. Russian, at least not a Cossack."
information to the geographers of Europe. It CHAP. is some consolation that we were allowed to delineate the different channels of the Don, towards its embouchure: this will be found a faithful representation. For the rest, it may
be said, the course of the Don itself is not accurately given in our best maps; and of the other rivers falling into it, not even the names are noticed. Those steppes which are described as being so desolate, and which appear like a vast geographical blank in every atlas, are filled with inhabitants. Stanitzas are stationed along the numerous rivers traversing them; although the common route, by not following the course of any of those rivers, afford no knowledge of the number of the people. They contain one hun- Population dred stanitzas, or settlements, and two hundred Territory. thousand Cossack inhabitants. Of this number, thirty-five thousand are in arms. There are also, in the territory of the Don Cossacks, thirty thousand Calmucks : five thousand bearing arms, as persons who are ready at all times for actual service. The last are not permitted to leave the country, although it be extraordinary how persons of their vagrant inclination and habits
(2) For a further account of their population, see the Note, extracted from Mr. Heber's MS. Journal, in a subsequent page, containing much valuable information.