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The priest, in very rich robes, with his back CHAP. towards the people, was elevated upon a kind of throne, placed beneath the chandelier, and raised three steps from the platform, facing the great doors of the sacristy, which were shut. Over these doors there was a picture of the Virgin; and before it, suspended by a string, were two wooden angels, joined back to back, like the figures of Janus, bearing candles in their hands. Whenever the doors of the sacristy were thrown open, the wooden angels were lowered before the centre of the entrance: here they were whirled about in a most ludicrous manner.
As soon as the ceremony commenced, the priest, standing upon the throne, loosened a girdle, bound across his breast and shoulders, whereon was an embroidered representation of the cross. This he held between his forefinger and thumb, repeating the service aloud, and touching his forehead with it; while the people chaunted responses, and were busied in crossing themselves. The vocal part of the ceremony was very solemn. The clear shrill voices of children placed among the choristers, reaching to the dome of the church, and seeming to die away in the air, had a most pleasing effect. It is the same in all the Russian churches;
CHAP. and perhaps there is nothing with which it
may be more aptly compared than the sounds
In notes with many a winding bout
At last there was an interval of silence : after
(1) It is an antient Heathen prayer. Vossius says that Kugie laines was a usual form of prayer among the Gentiles as well as the Jews. So Arrian, Τον Θεόν επικαλούμενος, δεόμεθα αυτού, Κύριε ελέησον Calling upon God, we pray, Lord have mercy upon us !" Arrian. Epict. lib.ii. c. 7.
their names being enumerated in a tone of CHAP. voice and manner resembling that of a corporal or a serjeant at a roll-call. Passages were also read from the Psalms; but the method of reading, in Russian churches, cannot easily be described. The young priests who officiate, pride themselves upon mouthing it over with all possible expedition, so as to be unintelligible, even to the Russians ; striving to give to a whole lesson the appearance of a single word of numberless syllables. Some notion may be formed of this bruiting, by hearing the crier in one of our courts of justice, when he administers the oath to a jury.
The dinner given by the General, after this Mode of ceremony, served to
Cossacks, as elsewhere, religious abstinence by no means implies privation as to eating and drinking. We were taught to expect a meagre diet; but we found the table covered with all sorts of fish, with tureens of sterlet soup, with the rich wines of the Don, and with copious goblets of delicious hydromel or mead, flavoured by juices of different fruits. We took this opportunity to request the General's permission to open one of the tumuli in the neighbourhood. It was granted, and an order was given for thirty of the Cossack soldiers to assist us in the under
CHAP. taking: but afterwards, when we had assembled
our workmen, an alarm was spread, and speedily increased, by the observations of an ignorant physician, that the plague might be thus communicated to the people: in consequence of which we were forced to abandon the design. Several of the Cossacks, nevertheless, assured us that they had formerly opened several mounds; and affirmed that they had found in them bones of men and of horses. Sometimes, they said, (and this, if true, would be indeed remarkable,) that gun-barrels were discovered in these tombs, exhibiting very antient workmanship. A Cossack officer shewed to us a very extraordinary weapon of this nature, which he declared had been discovered in one of the mounds in the steppes. But, notwithstanding all that may be urged concerning any knowledge which the Chinese and Oriental hordes are supposed to have possessed of gunpowder before its use in Europe, it must appear evident that such weapons were derived from the inhabitants of Poland, who employed them with matchlocks; yet the officer alluded to had no motive for deviating from truth. Other things, (such as vessels of terra-cotta, and instruments of war, common to antient nations,) said to have been found in these heaps, are more consistent with probability.
In the evening of this day we embarked CHAP. upon the Don for Tcherkask, accompanied by Lieutenant-Colonel Alexi Gregorivitch Papof. To this officer we were indebted for instances of hospitality and polite attention, such as strangers might vainly expect in more enlightened cities of Europe. His education had been liberal, although received in the marshes of the Don; and his accomplishments might have graced the most refined society, although acquired among the natives of Tcherkask'.
In almost all its characteristics, the Don Analogy bears resemblance to the Nile. It has the same regular annual inundation, which covers a Nile.
between the Don and the
(1) Colonel Papof has since published an account of the Don Cossacks, in a work which was printed at Charkof in 1814. Mr. Heber, in his observations on A.ray, has offered a genuine tribute to the enlightened minds of the Cossacks of the Don.
“ There is here a very decent Kabak, with a billiard-table, and a room adorned with many German engravings; and one English print, that of The Death of Chevalier Bayard. The Cossacks, having never heard of the Chevalier sans reproche, called it The Death of Darius. On my asking if Bourbon was Alexandro Macedonsky, they answered, to my surprise, that he was 'not present at the death of Darius, and shewed themselves well skilled in his history, which one would hardly expect,” Heber's MS. Journal.
“ Education among the Cossacks is not so low as is generally thought, and it improves daily. All the children of officers are sent to the academy of Tcherkask, and learn French, German, &c. It was holiday-time when we were there; but their progress was well spoken of." Ibid.