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Canal of


tween the


miles', where PETER THE GREAT projected the
canal which it was PAUL's intention to have com-
pleted. A draught of the intended communi-
cation between the Euxine and the Caspian Sea, cation be
by means of this canal, was first published by Caspian
Perry the English engineer, who was employed and Black
by PETER for the undertaking. A part of Perry's
Narrative, concerning the conduct of the Russian
Government towards himself, is very interest-
ing, because it betrays the false glare around
the greatest sovereign that Russia ever knew.
PETER THE GREAT shuffling with his engineer, to
evade the payment of a few roubles, is a faith-
ful archetype of all the Tsars, Tsarinas, Princes,
and Nobles of the empire; many of whom would
not scruple to defraud their own valet de
chambre; having the meanness of their heroine
Dashhof, who, after losing thirty roubles to Segur
at cards, sent him thirty of the Royal Academy's

(3) The canal of communication between the Volga and the Don, according to Perry, (p. 3.) would have been 140 versts, because it would have followed the course of two other small rivers; the Lavla, which falls into the Don, and the Camishinka, which falls into the Volga; but the section for the canal would not much exceed two miles. Upon these small rivers," says Perry, sluices were to be placed, to make them navigable; and a canal of near four Russian miles (equal to 23 miles English) to be cut through the dry land, where the said rivers come nearest together." A work like this would not long be in agitation in England.


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(4) See the Vignette to this Chapter; also Perry's State of Russia, Lond. 1716.

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CHAP. almanacs, by way of payment'. The Russian people cannot be duly appreciated, excepting by those who have not only actually resided among them, but who have seen them when they are removed from intercourse with civilized nations, and when they appear divested of that external varnish which is so forcibly alluded to by the Lord-lieutenant of the county of Vasa, in the Extract annexed to a former page of this volume. Perry hardly expected to meet with credit, when he gave his humble representation of the hardship he sustained, inasmuch as it affected the integrity of so lofty an individual; but further acquaintance with the country has long reconciled his simple narrative to all our notions of the people'. Englishman will probably pause before he contracts for employment with any future Potentate


(1) See Memoirs of the Court of Petersburg, by Segur, vol. II. p. 130. It was Segur himself to whom this happened.

(2) Page 386.

(3) "In the mean time, his lordship (Apraxin, the Lord-Chamberlain,) upon his return to Moscow, informed me that he had orders from the Czar to pay me my arrears, and he gave directions to his deputy to bring in the account of what was due to me; so that I thought myself now sure of my money: but the next time I waited upon bis lordship, in discourse he told me, that his Majesty was so taken up with the affairs of the army in Poland, that it would perhaps be a long time before he would come again to Moscow, and have leisure to go and view the place, and to give his orders, &c. and pleasantly asked me, what I would do with myself in the mean time." Perry's State of Russia, p. 19. Lond. 1716.


of Russia. The canal has never been accom- CHAP. plished, neither is it likely to be so, without the aid of foreign engineers; and these the Russian Government may find difficulty in procuring.

The Calmucks form large settlements in the neighbourhood of Taganrog. Their camps were numerous at the time of our visit: both Calmuck men and women were seen galloping their horses through through the streets of the town, or lounging in the public places. Calmuck women ride better than the men. A male Calmuck on horseback looks as if he was intoxicated, and likely to fall off every instant, although he never loses his seat:

but the women

sit with more ease, and ride with extraordinary skill. The ceremony of marriage among the Calmucks is performed on horseback. A girl is first mounted, who rides off in full speed. Her lover pursues: if he overtake her, she becomes his wife, and the marriage is consummated upon the spot: after this she returns with him to his tent. But it sometimes happens that the woman does not wish to marry the person by whom she is pursued: in this case she will not suffer him to overtake her. We were assured that no instance occurs of a Calmuck girl being thus caught, unless she have a partiality for her

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Marriage of the Cal






If she dislike him, she rides, to use the language of English sportsmen, "neck or nothing," until she has completely effected her escape, or until the pursuer's horse becomes exhausted, leaving her at liberty to return, and to be afterwards chased by some more-favoured admirer.

We visited one of their largest camps, near the town. The earth all around their tents was covered with the mutilated carcases of dead rats, cats, dogs, suslics, and bobacs: the limbs of horses were placed upon upright stakes, drying in the sun. Their dogs are fierce and numerous. A dreadful storm had happened during the preceding night: we found the Calmucks in considerable distress, owing to the havoc the tempest had made among their tents: some of these it had unroofed, and overthrown others. Their High Priest, in a yellow dirty robe, was walking about to maintain order. To each tent was affixed a small flag-staff, with an ensign of crated En- scarlet linen, containing, in sacred characters, the written law of the Calmucks. By means of an interpreter, who accompanied us upon this occasion, we were told that such banners were always erected in times of general calamity, as preventions of theft, and of intrusion upon each other's property. Many of the banners which


signs of the Calmuck


we examined were torn; and others were so much effaced by use, that we could only discern some of the written characters; yet all of them were sufficiently entire to convince us that they were manuscripts, beautifully written upon coloured linen. It was therefore highly desirable to procure one of these interesting documents; and we ultimately succeeded: but the acquisition was made with considerable difficulty. At first they would not suffer us even to touch them: being told, however, that we were strangers in the land, that we came from very distant western countries, and that we were not subjects of Russia, they entered into consultation with each other: the result of this was an assurance on their part, that if we would pay the Priest for the trouble of transcribing, a fac-simile of one of the banners then used in the camp should be brought to our lodgings in Taganrog. This manuscript, fairly written upon scarlet linen, was accordingly brought, in a very solemn embassy, and with many curious. forms of presentation, by a party of the elder Calmucks, headed by their Priest, the whole party being in their best dresses. We had been absent; and, upon our return, we found these strange-looking people sitting upon the bare earth, in the court-yard of the house where we lodged. As we drew near, the Priest, in a kind



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