« VorigeDoorgaan »
matrons assisted in disrobing her of the bridal vestments, and in assuming the garb appropriate to the chamber in which they were. The Passajonaiatetz next performed the like office of conducting the bridegroom to the chamber, who put on his schlafrack, or night-gown, the married ladies having previously retired. These operations being concluded, the doors of the bed-chamber were thrown open, and we all walked in in procession, quaffing a goblet of Champagne to the health of the parties, kissing the bride's hands, who returned the salutations on our cheeks, and embracing a la Francaise the cheeks of the bridegroom, who luckily, in the present instance, had neither the Russian beard, nor the modern English whiskers. With one voice, we then wished the happy pair a hearty blessing and withdrew, when the doors were closed. The company gradually dispersed. Dinners and dancing went on for three successive days. On the first of these I attended for a few minutes, being determined to satisfy my curiosity to the last. I had, however, to pay for this indulgence, having been compelled, by immemorial usage, on entering the room, to drink a bumper of the sparkling juice to the dregs, in honour of the bride, to undergo the same ceremony of bride and bridegroom's salutation, and to whirl half a round of a waltz with the former. But I had made up my mind to bear even worse inconveniences than these, should it have been necessary, rather than forego the advantage of judging for myself of the truth or falsehood of the many exaggerated and fanciful descriptions given by travellers of a Russian wedding. To complete this account of what I witnessed, I should add, that on the eighth day, the happy pair attended once more at the church, for the ceremony of "dissolving the crowns," which is performed by the priest, with appropriate prayers, in allusion to the rites of matrimony.
From this scene of joy we turn to one of grief and sorrow, to examine the usages prevalent in St. Petersburgh
VOL. II. P
in regard to the disposing of the dead. A Russian funeral, from what I have seen in that capital, differs but little from that of the Catholics. There are, however, a few circumstances attending it which are commonly observed in the interior of the country, and sometimes even at St. Petersburgh. When a patient is in imminent danger, and death seems to await him, he assembles his family round his bed, and blesses them with an image, and with some bread and salt, distributing gifts, and declaring his testamentary determination. After his dissolution, the eyes and mouth are closed by the nearest relation, when two copper coins are laid on the former; a practice not uncommon among the lower classes in England, but still more frequent in Ireland. After some time the body is washed and dressed; if it be that of a girl, a garland of flowers is placed on her head; but on a married woman, a rich coiffe. Children are habited entirely in robes of a pink colour, a bouquet of flowers is placed in one hand, and the coffin is also strewed and afterwards filled with flowers. In all cases, the hands are crossed on the breast. A priest is now sent for, who perfumes the body with incense, singing a psalmody over it. On the third day it is placed in the coffin, which is kept open and exposed on a table, and a succession of priests and clerks attend in the chamber of death reading the gospel or the psalter, both by day and by night, until the burial has taken place. The coffin is surrounded by a profusion of torches according to the rank and fortune of the deceased. In the case of girls, it is not the priest who watches the body day and night, but young girls of the same age, who sing psalms all the time, and relieve each other. On the third day the body is taken to the church, where the coffin is still left open, while the officiating priest recites the prayer for the dead. At the funerals of the great, the procession is accompanied by a large number of priests, all carrying lighted torches, and singing all the while the trisagiah. In some parts of Russia, women are hired to lament and mourn over the
dead; a practice borrowed from the ancients. The coffin is either carried on men's shoulders, or transported to the church in a sort of car, where, after the short service for the dead has been read, the priest, and then all the relations of the departed, take their last farewell, some kissing the body, others only the coffin. The latter is made of different sorts of wood, and covered of cloth of a pink colour for young people and children ; crimson for women; brown for widows; but in no case black. After the interment, the friends who have been invited by cards to the ceremony, just as if it were to a dinner or to a rout, return to the house of the deceased, where a table spread with refreshments offers an opportunity to the tired spectators to recruit their strength. The principal dish is the Koutiya, which is a composition of hoaey, wheat, and raisins.* The priest first blesses and incenses this dish, of which every one immediately after partakes. During the succeeding six weeks, psalms are sung and prayers read every day in the chamber in which the departed terminated his existence. On the third, the sixth, eleventh, and fortieth day after the interment, the priests and many of the relatives again repair to the church and celebrate a solemn service, among the ceremonies of which the Koutiya forms, once more, not the least conspicuous feature. It is laid out on a small table in the centre of the church, the priest blessing it, and incensing it, that the attendants may not only partake of it, but take it home. All these funeral ceremonies invariably terminate by singing requiem eternam, eternal rest to the departed. The music though triste is, at times, beautiful, and always appropriate to such solemn occasions.
• Koutiya is generally prepared in a small dish or deep plate, filled with boiled wheat, round which honey is poured, and over it raisins are placed in the form of a cross. Wheat is used as an emblem of resurrection, in allusion to St. Paul's 1 Corinth, xv. 36—44. &c. Honey, &c. conformable to the sincere wishes of Requiem eternam to the departed friends.
Preliminary Notice.—The Ukivebsitt Of St. Petersburgh.—Scientific Education.—General and Elementary System of Education.— Schools for the People.—Encouragement for the Cultivation of the Russian Language.—The Imperial Russian Academy Of Literature. —New Plan of Elementary Education.—Professor Greitsch's Lectures on the Russian Language.—Pedagogic Schools.—Sentiments of the reigning Emperor respecting Education.—His means of promoting it —Enumeration of Public Places of Education existing in St . Petersburgh.—Oriental Institute.—The Land Cadet Corps, and the Marine Cadet Corps.—Naval Academy, and other Establishments. —Domestic or Private Education.—General Benkendorff.—Imperial Message.—Doctor Ruhl.—Recognition.—The Communaute des Demoiselles Nobles.—The Institute Of St. Catherine.—System of Female Education for the higher Classes of Society.—Imperial Public LiBrary.—Kriloff, the Fabulist.—Manuscript Letters of Sovereigns.— Specimen of Louis XIV.'s early Notions of Royal Authority.—The Press.—Encouragement to Authors.—Modern Russian Literature.— Death of Karamsin, the Historian.—Russian Poetry—Alexander Poushkine, the Russian Byron.—Fabulists, Soumarokoff, Khemnitzer, Dmitrieff, Ismailotf, and B. Pouschkine.—The Romantic School.—Baratinsky.—Joukovsky.—Mademoiselle Zeuaide Yolkonsky.—Dramatic Literature.—Prince Chakhovsky.—Number of Books published in Russia, since the Introduction of the Art of Printing.—Periodical Literature.—List of Periodical Publications at St. Petersburgh and Moscow.
In proportion as I proceed in my present undertaking, my apprehensions increase lest I should tire out the patience of my readers by the accumulating descriptions of public establishments and buildings connected with my
account of the city of St. Petersburgh. I look back to the subdivisions of this part of my work, which already amount to a considerable number, and which chiefly relate to those two points of investigation, with some feelings of doubt, whether the public will be found to agree with me, in attaching that interest to considerations of such a nature, which I cannot but think they deserve. These doubts are not a little increased by the prospect lying before me, of what must yet follow to complete a faithful picture of St. Petersburgh. Dry matters of fact, I am aware, are not always amusing, however necessary; and still less, perhaps, is the methodical arrangement which I have adopted on this occasion. Unenlivened, I admit, by either wit or philosophy, such a lengthened account of the actual state of the Russian metropolis may be considered tedious. But how is the English reader to judge for himself of the real state of the Russian capital, in all its various departments, and to form a correct idea of the present spirit, if not of the people at large, at least of those who lead, and will ultimately mould that nation, to which the eyes of Europe are at present directed? That this can only be effected by patiently examining the public institutions of the capital, by inquiring into the nature of the efforts made to improve them, by studying the character of the men who are at their head; in fine, by comparing what was with what is, and with what is likely to be the rank of the Russians in the scale of European nations, is too manifest to require demonstration. To accomplish such objects, therefore, both minuteness of detail and methodical distribution of subjects are absolutely requisite; and to this merit alone I lay claim in my present performance, and in this spirit I shall crave permission to proceed. Conclusions I shall not attempt to draw; but the materials for enabling my readers themselves to form them correctly, shall not be wanting,—accurate and full—as far as industry could procure them, in the short space of time during which I