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can be restrained. It was before said of the Cossacks, that they are attached to the Calmucks, and even intermarry with them; but a Calmuck can never be taught to endure a domestic life. If compelled to live within walls, he would die of the spleen; and always exhibits uneasiness if there be any disposition towards confining him in a house.
View of the Don.
We had never beheld an acre of Asiatic territory; therefore the land upon the south side of the Don, although it consisted of flat and dreary marshes, afforded to us an interesting prospect. From our balcony we had a commanding view of the river: it appeared broad and rapid, extending towards those marshes. At a distance eastward, we beheld Tcherkask, with its numerous spires, rising, as it were, out of the water. Upon the Europeun side we observed a neighbouring stanitza of considerable magnitude, stationed, like Axay, upon a lofty eminence above the water. The name axay is a Tahtar word, signifying white water. The Don, in this part of its course, exhibits two colours. Near to exay it appears white, because it is here shallow. A similar appearance may be observed from the Castle of Coblentz in Germany, where the Moselle falls into the Rhine: for some distance after the junction, the two rivers appear
Plan of the
Island and Town of TSCHERCHASKOY
the Capital of the DON I'OSS_ICKS,
Shewing the course of the Don, and the
may pofsibly be found in the
Tents of the Calmucks
flowing parallel to each other; exhibiting a distinct and different colour which is peculiar to the respective water of each current. In the shallows of the Don, the Typha palustris flourishes luxuriantly. We found the inhabitants of Axay, and afterwards those of Tcherkask, devouring this plant raw, with as much avidity as if this article of diet had been connected with some religious observance. The stalks appeared in all the streets, and in every house, bound into little fascines about three feet in length, as our gardeners bind asparagus: these bundles were hawked about, or sold in the shops. The season for eating this vegetable had just commenced. The Cossacks, peeling off the outer cuticle, select near the root of the plant a tender white part of the stem; which, for about the length of eighteen inches, affords a crisp, cooling, and very pleasant article of food. We ate of it heartily, and became as fond of it as were the Cossacks; with whom, young or old, rich or poor, it is a most favourite repast. The taste is somewhat insipid; but in hot climates, this cool and pleasant vegetable would be highly esteemed. The Cossack officers, however, who had been in other countries, said that it is only fit for food when it grows in the marshes of the Don.
Celebration of a
The morning after our arrival, the General, who was Commander-in-chief over all the
district, including the town of Tcherkask, as the Festival metropolis, came to åxay. The day was to be
celebrated as a festival, in honour of the recovery of one of the Emperor's children from the smallpox inoculation. He invited us to dinner; and in the forenoon we accompanied him, with all the staff-officers, to a public ceremony in the church. Entering this building, we were much surprised by its internal magnificence. The screen of the altar was painted of a green colour, and adorned with gold : before it was suspended a very large chandelier, filled with tapers of
This screen, and all the interior of the church, were covered with pictures; some of them being tolerably well executed, and all of them curious, owing to their singularity, and to the extraordinary figures they served to represent. Here were no seats, as in other Russian churches. The General placed himself against a wall on the right hand facing the sacristy, standing upon a step covered with a carpet, which was raised about four inches from the level of the floor. We were directed to place ourselves by his right hand. The other Cossacks, whether in military or civil dresses, stood promiscuously in the body of the church.