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Arrival at åxayPublic EntryReception by the Don

CossacksPopulation of their TerritoryView of the DonCelebration of a Court FestivalMode of Fasting - Analogy between the Don and the Nile - Natural Curiosities and Antiquities Fishes - Extraordinary Appearance of Tcherkask-Inhabitants and Public BuildingsOrigin of the CossacksCauses 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

CHAP.
XIII.

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XIII.

Arrival at Aray. Public Entry.

van.

CHAP. knowledge, passed us upon the road, and given

very absurd notice to the inhabitants, that a
great General from England was upon the road
to the town. A party of Cossack cavalry, armed
with very long lances, came out to meet us,
and, joining our escort, took their station in the

The Postmaster, with his drawn sabre,
rode bare-headed by the carriage-side; and
in this conspicuous manner we made our
entry. As the annual inundation of the Don
had laid the streets of Tcherkask under water,
its Chancery had been removed to this place,
and almost all the principal families were in
åxay. We found the inhabitants waiting our
arrival, and the Cossack officers drawn out to
witness it. The Ataman of Acay came to us im-
mediately; and we took care to undeceive him

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
disposed to give. Every possible attention and
politeness were manifested. We expressed an
inclination to proceed as far as Tcherkask the
same evening. The Ataman observed, that the
day was far advanced; that the current of the
Don, swoln by the inundation, was extremely
rapid and turbulent; and that he could not
undertake to be responsible for our safety, if
we persisted in our determination. He had

Cossacks.

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XIII.

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.

XIII.

CHAP. should shew us the greatest degree of kindness.

Hearing us complain of the inaccuracy of the
Russian maps, they brought from their Chancery
(without any of those degrading suspicions which
had so often insulted us their own accurate
surveys of the country, and allowed us free
access, at all times, to their most authentic do-
cuments. The secretaries of the Chancery were
ultimately ordered by their General to copy for
us a survey of the whole territory of the Don
Cossacks. That we were instigated to accept
of the offer by any other motive than a desire
of adding to the public stock of geographical
knowledge, may perhaps require no proof. The
Procurator' employed by the Russian Govern-
ment, however, thought otherwise; it being a
maxim in the policy of that country, that “ to
enlighten, is to betray.” This liberal intention of
the hospitable Cossacks was therefore thwarted;
although no menace of the Russian police can
now prevent an acknowledgment, which would
equally have been made if we had been enabled
to communicate more interesting and valuable

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(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."

Heber's Journal.

XIII.

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

of their

(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.

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