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CHAP.
XIII.

great extent of territory. Over this we now passed by water to Tcherkask. The water retires in the month of July or August. The same aquatic plants are found in both rivers; tall flags, reeds, and bulrushes, sometimes rising to the height of twenty feet. The manner of their entrance into the sea, by several mouths, is also the same; forming small islands, as in the Delta, with fens and morasses. Both one and the other serve as boundaries to two principal quarters of the globe. When the waters retire, the astonishing variety of insects might induce a zealous entomologist to visit the Don, if it were only on their account. During the inundation, when the waters were

at the highest, we observed above thirty different kinds of flies, at the same instant, upon the tables of our apartment. Many of these we collected, but they were too much injured in the subsequent journey to be delineated. The whole course of the Don is about six hundred and sixty-six miles'. It rises near Tula, in a lake called Ivan Ozero, or St. John's Sea. Below Woronetz, it is from three hundred to six hundred fathoms broad; and of sufficient depth for ships of burthen, from the middle of April to

(1) One thousand versts.

СНАР. .
XIII.

the end of June : during the rest of the year, the water is so low, that upon several of the shallows it is not above eighteen inches deep. In the Spring floods it rises from sixteen to eighteen feet, and the current is very rapid. The principal rivers falling into it are, the Danaetz, the Woronetz, the Choper, the Medvéditz, and the Ilavla'; but there are others, unnoticed hitherto by geographers, not perhaps of equal importance, although entitled to a place in maps of the country, owing to the number of inhabitants found upon their shores.

Curiosities

About twenty miles below Woronetz, close to Natural the river, near a town called Kastinskoy, Gmelin and Antiobserved one of those deposits of fossil quities. elephants’ bones, of which there exist such wonderful remains in Siberia, at the mouths of rivers falling into the Icy Sea. These bones are described as lying in the greatest disorder; teeth, jaw-bones, ribs, vertebræ, not mineralized, but in their natural state, having only sustained a partial decomposition". The antiquities of the

(2) Lord Whitworth's Account of Russia, p. 120. Strawberry Hill, edit. 1788.

(3) Tableau abrégé de l'Empire de la Russie, par Pleschtjeicf, p.23. Moscou, 1796.

(4) Journal des Savans Voyageurs, p. 81.

XIII.

CHAP. Don are also worthy of a more particular de

scription than can now be afforded. A tradition exists in the country, that Alexander the Great passed the Don, and built a city, or a citadel, upon the river, at a place called Zimlanskaia, two hundred miles above the town of Tcherkask, where the best Don wine is now made. Some insignificant traces of such a work are still said to be visible. At General Orlof's house were two Stélæ of marble, actually brought from thence. The Cossacks are too little interested in such matters to invent tales of this kind; and they would do so the less where no inquiry was made to instigate them. The information, such as it is, was given spontaneously; and, indeed, the circumstances of their tradition are somewhat corroborated by reference to antient history. The ETHAAI or Pillars of Alexunder were, according to Ptolemy, in Asiatic Sarmatia, and in the vicinity of the Tanais. The Altars or BAMOI of Alexander were on the

(1) The Reader will pardon the author's reference to his account of the Cambridge Marbles, for a more particular description of the Monumental Pillar called Stélè; for this word having been almost always improperly translated, has given rise to much er: in our notions of antient history.

(2) Επίχουσι δε και αι μεν Αλεξάνδρου ΣTΗΛΑΙ. Ptolomai Geogr. lib. ν. p. 264. Edit. Par. 1546.

XIII.

European side of the river': of these we shall CHAP. have occasion to speak hereafter. We heard, moreover, of coins of Alexander; but none were to be seen. Perhaps, among the numerous Greeks who reside in Tcherkask, both spurious and genuine coins of Alexander may have been found, and thus have given foundation to the report. Of the marble Stélæ, however, the history is unequivocal; because General Orlof himself, who possessed them, and who issued orders for their removal from Zimlanskaia, gave to us the intelligence. The boats upon the Don exhibit the most antient form of vessel used for navigation; that of a canoe, scooped from a single tree, consisting of one piece of timber: in this they move about with a single paddle. Sometimes, as in the South Seas, they join two of those canoes by transverse planks laid across, and so form a kind of deck, capable of conveying considerable burthens 4. The breadth of the river at åxay, at this season of the year, appeared to be at least half a mile. The current is rapid, and even turbulent. The fishes caught in it are much too numerous to be mentioned, as perhaps there is no river in the

(3) Ptolemæi Geogr. ibid. p. 142.
(1) See the Vignelte to this Chapter, from a drawing by Mr. Heber,

CHAP.
XIII.

Fishes.

world affording a greater variety, or in greater perfection. Among the principal are, the beluga, the common sturgeon, the sterlet, sudak, trout, Prussian carp, tench, pike, perch, water-tortoises, and crawfish of an enormous size. Some of the last, equal in size to our lobsters, are caught in great abundance, by sinking small cylindrical nets, abouť six inches in diameter, baited with pieces of salted fish. They sold at the rate of twopence (English) per hundred; and in certain seasons of the year the same number may be had for half that sum. The leluga is the largest eatable fish known. In the kidneys of very old lelugas are sometimes found calculi, as large as a man's fist. Professor Pallas gave us a concretion of this nature, which Doctor Tennant has since analyzed : it consists almost wholly of phosphat of lime. The lower sort of people keep these calculi as talismans, for the cure of certain disorders. Strahlenberg relates, that he saw a beluga fifty-six feet long, and near eighteen feet thick. In the Don they seldom exceed twelve feet in length. This fish, in its shape, resembles the sturgeon. One of the oldest fishermen upon the Don possessed a secret, enabling him to ensnare the largest belugas; but he would not communicate to any one his valuable discovery. We saw him fishing at a considerable distance from our boat, and could distinctly

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