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stacle interposed between him and the possession of Constantinople.
Leaving Jassy, we crossed a succession of steep hills and narrow valleys, and arrived at the village of Skoulani, through which runs the Pruth, dividing the town in the centre. Half of it is thus in Moldavia and half in Bessarabia, the latest acquisition made by Russia from Turkey. Upon the eastern bank of the river is established the Russian quarantine station, where we were to undergo a purification of fourteen days.
A dismal spot is this lazaretto at Skoulani. It consists of a huge wooden inclosure upon the low bank of the river, liable to overflow at every flood. Within the inclosure arc some half score of huts of a single story, with clay walls, osier roofs, and mud floors. They arc arranged around a small court, planted with a few sickly trees. The inclosure is guarded by a troop of Cossacks, and over it waves the bodeful yellow flag of the quarantine. As we reached the Russian bank of the river our passports were examined by a compromised official, to be sure that we bore with us nothing more suspicious than the plague. All being found in order, we were conducted to the lazaretto by the guards. The huge plank gate opened to admit us, and closed after us with a heavy sound, and we were left to our meditations. But we were not to enjoy them in solitude. Every hut, except the one assigned to us, was full of victims like ourselves. With scarcely an exception they were either Jews or Armenians. They all wore long loose gowns of dark woolen, which had not been clean probably from the day when they were first assumed. As they wore these day and night, and had been exposed in them to the heavy rains through which we had passed, the assemblage of odors that rose from them defies all analysis or enumeration. The two-score "separate stinks" that are said to be distinguishable in the city famous for Cologne water and the sanctified bones of the Eleven Thousand Virgins, were like gales from Araby the blest, compared with the concatenation of scents proceeding from a score and a half of unwashed Jews and Armenians, cooped up at midsummer within a muddy lazaretto. They had come from every quarter of the insect-haunted world, and had brought with them the fiercest specimens of the tribes that fly and crawl, bite and sting, pierce and stab: great Shanghai-looking musquitoes from the Levant; fleas from Bulgaria, rhinoceros-backed; ticks burrowing molelike, and slimy bugs. To the main army, native to the soil, were joined contingents from Stamboul and Smyrna, from Hungarian pusztas and Dutch fens, from Trebizond, Trieste, and Cadiz. Down they poured upon us in cohorts and squadrons, in line and column, by troops, battalions, and regiments. They made night hideous with their humming and buzzing, their creeping and crawling, their biting and stinging. It was the Grand Industrial Exhibition of the Insects of all Nations. During the long dark hours, how we counted the challenges of the guards outside of our walls, measuring out the night, hour by hour,
longing for daylight to appear and send the foul swarms back to their lurking places. At last the sun would rise, piercing the creeping mists with level rays, like Christian knights charging with lance at rest through the dense lines of the unbelieving hosts. Higher and higher up mid-heaven strode the great luminary, showering his beams down upon us perpendicularly, as the Norman arrows at Hastings fell into the Saxon palisades, piercing helm and brain. Then came the long hot afternoons, when the slant sunbeams swept through our prison like the grape-shot at Buena Vista. How we longed for evening. With evening came thick heavy dews and frequent rains, soaking through the cane roofs of our huts, forming stagnant melancholy pools on the muddy floors, and in the narrow court-yard before our doors. All the while our fellow-prisoners in the rusty gabardines, broad-brimmed hats or high caps, sat coiled up in the corners of their rooms, apparently indifferent to the tortures that irritated us to madness. To be bug-bitten, and flea-stung, to be broiled and roasted, to be soaked and drenched, they appeared to think the most natural thing in the world. But enough. The painter drew a vail over the face of the father whose agony he dared not venture to depict. Let me, in like manner, draw the vail of silence over the miseries of that weary fortnight. The only bright moments that I can recall to remembrance were the two or three times when by special favor, and guarded by a troop of Cossacks ready to transfix us with their lances if we passed the appointed bounds, we were allowed a bath in the river.
We lived through it all, and at the expiration of our term were pronounced free from all suspicion of plague. We then made the best of our way to the post-house and demanded horses. Our residence in Russia had taught us that the surest way was to carry matters with a high hand. To assume authority is to secure obedience. We could not have been more .peremptory had the titles home upon our passports represented a corresponding rank in the Imperial Guard. To hear was to obey; and in a wonderfully short space of time we were whirling through the wilds of Bessarabia. I must acknowledge that it was not without a feeling of positive satisfaction that we found ourselves fairly within the Russian dominions. Wc had begun to have a sort of atfection for the shifty, serviceable mujiks. They have in perfection the faculty of obedience. If a man knows what he wants done, and can direct how it is to be performed, he can be sure of its accomplishment in Russia. The officials and sub-officials, from the highest to the lowest are detestable enough; but the peasantry have an abundance of good traits, which need only a proper development. They are good-natured, serviceable and contented. Their faces now seemed to us like those of old friends. The very odor of their greasy sheepskins had a sort of homelike effect. But the main element of our satisfaction was the thought that we were free from any further apprehension of quarantine annoyances. There was not another lazaretto beSTEPPES OF SOU
tween us and the Chinese wall to the east, or the frozen ocean on the north.
It is not a very creditable confession to make, hut though both of us had been long enough resident in the dominions of the Czar to have acquired the language twice over, our acquaintance was limited to a very scanty stock of phrases. But we aired our vocabulary most thoroughly. We shouted to our postillion the words he was so accustomed to hear—Pashol, "Go ahead"— .Siory, skory, "Faster, faster." He in turn shouted to his horses, harnessed three abreast, flourishing his whip, and uttering all sorts of adjurations and excitements to urge them to the top of their speed, seeming all the time greatly astonished that our objurgations were not followed up in the usual manner by a hearty thwack from a cudgel upon his own shoulders:
For some leagues we passed through a broken ami hilly country. Then we entered the great steppes—those vast level plains that stretch from west to east in an unbroken line of a thousand miles, from the borders of Hungary to the base of the Ural mountains, and two-thirds of that distance from the south to the north.
European Russia consists mainly of a vast plain sloping gradually up toward the centre. The height of land is midway between the Caspian and Black Seas on the south, and the White Sea on the north. The sources of the Volga, the Dnieper, and the Dwina, falling into these seas, lie not far from each other.
The Valdai Hills, the highest points in this
plain, do not rise more than a thousand feet above the level of the shores of the Black Sea so that there is no chain of mountains to interrupt the course of the winds that sweep over this mighty plain. Descending southward from tiilsheight of land, the whole country for hundred* of miles is covered with an almost unbroken forest. A squirrel, it has been said, might journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow without once touching the ground Gradually the forests disappear, and are succeeded by immense plains, still abundantly wooded, the trees standing in scattered masses and along the river courses, but becoming less and less frequent as we proceed southward. These are the great wheat-growing provinces of the empire, whose abundant products find their way northward lo St. Petersburg, and southward to Odessa, whence they are carried through the Bosphorus to the crowded marts of Western Europe.
As we approach the Black Sea the soil begins to lose its exuberant fertility; trees become more and more rare, and finally wholly disappear; the soil is covered with a coarse and abundant herbage; and the whole country assumes a pastoral rather than an agricultural appearance. This is the country of the Cossacks and the Tartars ; the pasturing grounds of those immense herds and flocks which constitute the wealth of a nomadic people.
The steppes begin where trees are no longer found. In the spring and autumn, as far as the eye can penetrate in every direction, th?y stretch away in one ocean of unbounded green, without a tree or a bush, much less a hili to vary the prospect. The level line of the horizon is broken only by groups of those mysterious tumuli, the work of that unknown mound-building race who once held possession of all the fertile unwooded plains of both continents. They have passed away leaving no other memorials than those mounds of earth, to puzzle antiquarians through all coming generations. The great exemplar of them all was perhaps that structure reared on the plains of Shinar, when the whole world was of "one lip and one tongue." Here and there occurs a shallow depression, as though the foot of some great monster had been stamped into the soil. In these the water collects, making spots of herbage long after the surrounding plains are scorched by the fierce summer sun. The inhabitants suppose that from them was taken the earth which composes the tumuli; but they arc doubtless to be ascribed to a subsidence of the limestone strata underlying the steppes.
The inhabitants divide the plants and herbs which grow upon these steppes into two comprehensive classes. Whatever cattlo will eat is called trava; all that they reject is denominated bur1an. Go where you will you hear execrations heaped upon the worthless burian. Some species grow to a size unknown elsewhere. The thistle not seldom assumes the proportions of a tree, overshadowing the low dwellings of the inhabitants, and sometimes attaining a height sufficient to conceal a Cossack and his horse. To one'characteristic species of burian the German colonists have given the name of wind-witch. From a spongy stalk innumerable fibres shoot out in every direction, till the plant assumes the appearance of a gigantic burr, a yard m diameter. It is bitterer than wormwood, and no extremity of hunger or thirst will induce any animal to taste it. In the autumn the plant decays at the root, and detached from the soil, becomes as light and dry as tinder. It is the sport of every wind. On a gusty day hundreds of them may be seen careering over the plain, looking in the distance like a troop of wild horses scouring away before some invisible foe.
The descent of the steppes toward the sea is so imperceptible, that the water runs off but slowly. After the melting of the snows, the whole plain becomes one deep morass through which it is all but impracticable to effect a passage. In the winter a great quantity of snow falls; but it is heaped in spots into enormous drifts, while other places are left wholly bare. The snow, which in more sheltered portions of the country, facilitates intercourse, entirely precludes it on the steppes. Nobody journeys in winter except the government couriers. The inhabitants have a specific name for every species of snow-storm. One denotes a fall of snow direct from the clouds; another indicates a whirl, when the snow is driven before the wind like the shifting sands of the desert. When both of these phenomena occur together, the storm is called a viuga. Nobody dares venture out of
doors during these. The government couriers even are allowed to take refuge in the post-houses during the continuance of a viuga.
The greater portion of the streams dry up during the summer; but they are swollen into torrents by the rapid thaw of the deep snow of winter. They have all in the course of ages cut channels deep into the soft strata, which in summer become dry ravines, intersecting the steppes. These have usually a depth of a hundred feet and more, with steep sides. In the winter the snow is drifted into them, filling them up level with the plain. They then become dangerous pitfalls into which men and cattle sink, and their fate remains unknown until the melting of the snow discloses their relies at the bottom of the ravine.
The climate of the steppes is one of extremes. They have a torrid summer and an arctic winter. The severity of these seasons is aggravated by the scarcity of wood and water. For fuel the inhabitants are obliged to have recourse to reeds and rushes, eked out by the dung of the countless herds, which is carefully collected during summer and dried. This is made up into cakes, and every roof and wall of the solitary dwellings on the steppes is covered with it, in preparation for winter. The scarcity of water in summer is a still more serious evil. During the hot months the ponds dry up, the streams cease to flow, a living spring becomes a possession of priceless value. Vegetation is parched and burnt, and finally disappears, leaving the surface of the ground black and naked. Day after day the sun rises like a red globe of fire, and glaies down from the brazen sky. Not a particle of shade is to be found except when the dense clouds arc swept along. They are almost worse than the unmitigated rays of the sun; for they mock the hopes aroused by their rain-charged volumes. Not a drop do they vouchsafe to yield until their course is checked by mountains hundreds of leagues away. Men and animals grow lean and haggard from the extremity of thirst. The herds of oxen and horses so wild and fierce a few weeks before, are cowed and tamed; or the fiercer and bolder of them rush madly over the plains snuffing in vain for water. In seasons of unusual drought the destruction of animal life is incaleulable.
Thus it continues for the three summer months Early in September come the latter rains. As if by magie, the face of the steppe grows green again, and life in its myriad forms revives. The respite is but brief. Before October has passed, cold gusty winds sweep from the Scythian wastes, piercing like Cossack lances. In November winter gains undisputed sway.
It was midsummer, and we were hurrying at full speed across the extremity of the steppes toward Odessa, the great emporium of southern Russia. The air was filled with impenetrable clouds of dust, so fine as to resemble vapor. Looking back, we could trace our course far over the plain by the dense column which we left be- hind us. In accordance with the universal custom we traveled night and day, for our carriage
was a more convenient sleeping place than the post-stations where we obtained relays of horses. We did not even stop at Bender, famous in the old Muscovite and Ottoman wars, before the Turkish frontier had receded far to the west.
Somewhere near this town died Prince Potemkin, the favorite of the great Catherine, who J M -1 the Crimea to the dominions of his royal mistress. He had set out, as we had done, from Jassy, sick and outworn. Somewhere in the lonely steppe—the precise spot no man knows— the conqueror felt that the hand of death was upon him. He ordered his carriage to be stopped, and alighted, for he said he would meet death, as a soldier should, on his feet. His remains were borne to Kherson, where but a year before a braver spirit than his had encountered the last great enemy. A plain obelisk was erected over the spot hallowed by the dust of Howard. The body of Potemkin was interred with solemn pomp in the Cathedral. Not long after, the son of Catherine ordered the remains of his mother's paramour to be torn from their resting-place, and flung like the carcass of a dog into the nearest ditch.
As we approached Odessa every thing betokened that we were coming into the neighborhood of a great city. We dashed past long caravans of ox-wagons laden with the wheat of the Ukraine and the tallow of the steppes; with charcoal from the forests of Kishencffa hundred miles away; with dried reeds and rushes which arc used for fuel, in default of wood and coal; with water-melons from the sandy plains in fabulous quantities. The melons that grow on the steppes are the finest in the world. They seem to pump up their rich cool juice from the parched seil. as the olive-trees of Sicily extract oil from what appears to the eye like the bare rock. They supply in a measure the want of water. Instead of quaffing a glass of water to quench thirst, you cat a slice of melon. Here for the first time we saw the camel carts of the Tartars. A pair of the huge ungainly two-humped Baetrian camels, harnessed to an enormous carriage of wicker work, led by a Tartar guide, stalk solemnly along, looming large through the dust. Slowly they turn their long necks, and fix their patient eyes upon you, as they hear the rattling of the wheels, and the shouts of your driver. Before you have fairly made out their forms, they
are lost from vision in the impenetrable cloud. You pass on, musing of the desert, and the Arabian Nights; of Mohammed flying on swift dromedary from the enraged Koreish; and of the camel Barak which bore him to the seventh heaven, when the ineffable mysteries of the universe were laid bare to his eyes. They seemed strangely out of place here under the walls of this new city.
The rapid growth of Odessa reminds us of that of our American cities. It stands on a bold bluff overlooking the Black Sea. In front sparkle the bright waves, in the rear stretch the immeasurable steppes. You can stand in one of its broad streets and look southward over the water or northward over the steppe. In cither direction the horizon is alike unbroken; the plain of sand is as level as that of water.
A little more than half a century ago this barren cliff was crowned by an obscure Turkish fort, bearing the name of Hadji-Bey. It guarded the harbor which gave refuge to a few miserable Moslem craft, and now and then to a Genoese brig that sought the waters once burdened with the commerce of the colonies planted by the Italian republies on the shores of the Tauric Chersonessus. Russia and Turkey were then at war, and Potemkin was slowly wresting the shores of the Black Sea from the Sultan. He ordered Ribas, an Italian who commanded the fleet to take possession of the Turkish fortress. Catherino fixed upon its site as the spot upon which to erect a fort to maintain her new dominions, and appointed Ribas its first governor. The Empress favored her new creation; and in Russia a city flourishes in the sunlight of imperial favor—for a season. She submitted to the Academy at St. Petersburg the question as to the name to be given to the rising town. The learned savans found that in the time of the old Greek colonies a city had stood in the neighborhood, called Odyssos, after the "much-enduring man" whose name is handed down to eternity in old Homer's sounding line. So they framed for the new city the name of Odessa.
Odessa found little favor in the eyes of the fantastic Paul, who could ill comprehend the great designs of the Northern Semiramis. The inhabitants vainly petitioned for the grant of commercial privileges, backing their supplication by the present of three thousand choice oranges.
The Czar kept the fruit, but denied the petition.
Alexander, upon his accession to the throne, took Odessa into special favor. But the greatest favor of all that he bestowed upon it was sending a great man to be its governor.
Among the French nobles whom the revolution drove from their country, was ArmandEmanuel, Due do Richelieu. He entered the Russian service, won the favor of Potemkin, and for his bravery at Ismacl he re
ceived the cross of St. George and a sword of honor, beneath the smoking walls of the fortress; and was afterward appointed governor of Odessa.
In 1801, when he assumed the government, the population of Odessa amounted to 9000, of which number only forty-four were artificers. Richelieu soon succeeded in attracting large numbers of workmen to the place, and the city grew apace. The Emperor granted extraordinary privileges to the port. The great wars of Napoleon had turned all the west of Europe into a camp; agriculture languished, and the deficiency of food was supplied by the rich harvests of the Ukraine. Once more the Italian merchants found their way into the Black Sea; and Odessa began to take rank among the great commercial cities of Europe.
Richelieu governed Odessa eleven years, at the close of which the population numbered 25,000. It now exceeds 100.000.
All Odessa is eloquent of Richelieu. His statue stands in the most public place, overlooking the harbor; the finest street, the chief public institutions, the Exchange, the Lyeeum, the Theatre, bear his name; the Hotel Richelieu is famous throughout the Russian empire. To see his monument one needs but look around.
Odessa occupies the extremity of that immense plateau, the sides of which plunge sheer down into the Black Sea. The perpendicular cliff is eighty or a hundred feet high. Its edge is occupied by the esplanade, which forms what would be a fine promenade were it possible for it to be shaded. An avenue of trees has indeed been planted there, but the soil obstinately refuses to second the laudable efforts of the government. In the centre of the esplanade stands the bronze statue of Richelieu, from the foot of which a gigantic flight of steps a hundred feet broad sweep down to the quay. These rest upon a series of arches under which pass the streets leading to the port. Two ravines, which were once the beds of torrents, form inclined planes from the quays to the city above. The terrace which overlooks the sea, is lined with stately edifices, built of a white limestone so soft that it may be worked with a hatchet. This is covered with cement to preserve it from the action of the weather. The adjacent streets running parallel with the esplanade contain many showy edifices; and broad streets stretch through the meaner portions of the town far into the steppe. Around the whole is thrown a wall, not for defense, but for the purposes of the custom-house, the privilege of a free port being limited to the space within the walls.
The harbor is tolerably safe, being sheltered from the southern gales, though exposed to those from the east. Three moles stretch far out into the bay, dividing it into as many basins. One of these is the quarantine harbor, into which all vessels which have passed the Bosphorus must enter. Before, however, entering even this, they are compelled to lie fourteen days in the roadstead. If, in the meanwhile, the plague does not make its appearance, they may then enter the
basin, where they arc permitted to unlade, and the passengers arc suffered to pass the remainder of their forty days in the lazaretto on shore.
The Russians boast that this lazaretto is the finest in the world. It contains a pleasant little garden with a long arcade running through the centre, in which some communication may take place between the clean and the unclean. Due care is taken that there shall be no actual contact, nor even any very close proximity. At a distance of ten or twelve feet arc two wooden fences ,of trellis work, w ith a close grating qf iron wire midway between them. Those who are performing quarantine are suffered to come up to the inner trellis, while their friends from without stand by the outer barrier. They are thus separated by three barriers and the intervening space. The parties, each with Mr face flattened against the trellis-bars can shout their confidential communications to each other at a distance of three or four yards. This pleasant gossiping place goes by the Italian name of 11 Parlatorio— "The Place of Parley."
Merchandise is even more liable to suspicion of infection than persons. Cotton in particular bears a very bad character. Before it can bo admitted into the town, the bales must be opened, the contents picked to pieces, and spread over a grating, where the plague-demon is exorcised by a twelve-hours' fumigation with chlorine. Those who perform the work of purifying cotton arc designated by the name mortvssc or "dead men." They arc all criminals under sentence of transportation to Siberia, who are in the eye of the law defunct. They arc clad in black leather, and perform their functions heavily ironed. Some articles, such as fruits, corn, sugar and the like, bear a much better character, and are suffered to be landed at once. They are placed in a warehouse, one gate of which opens seaward, the other to the land. Into this the goods are brought by the sailors. When these have returned to their vessel, the sea-gate is closed; that toward the land is opened, and the goods are delivered to their owners.
Odessa is hardly a Russian city in appearance. Its principal streets are lined with shops with sign-boards in every language in Europe. Each street and square bears a twofold name, in Russian and Italian. The bulk of the population is of course Russian, but the commerce and trade arc almost wholly in the hands of foreigners. The few vessels belonging to the port which ply beyond the Black Sea, arc almost without exception owned by Greek traders. Austria and Sardinia take the lead in the number of vessels that enter the port, followed at a considerable distance by Russia and England. The languages spoken are as various as the nationalities of the population. The Russian is the language of the great mass of the inhabitants; Italian that of commerce; and French that of polite society.
The intense heat of summer, the constant stifling dust, the utter absence of shade render Odessa a very unpleasant place of residence. The wealthy inhabitants have used very laudable