Russia eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 979 pages of information about Russia.

“The younger priest, Father Alexander, is of a different type, and the difference may be remarked even in his external appearance.  There is a look of delicacy and refinement about him, though his dress and domestic surroundings are of the plainest, and there is not a tinge of affectation in his manner.  His language is less archaic and picturesque.  He uses fewer Biblical and semi-Slavonic expressions—­I mean expressions which belong to the antiquated language of the Church Service rather than to modern parlance—­and his armoury of terse popular proverbs which constitute such a characteristic trait of the peasantry, is less frequently drawn on.  When I ask him about the present condition of the peasantry, his account does not differ substantially from that of his elder colleague, but he does not condemn their sins in the same forcible terms.  He laments their shortcomings in an evangelical spirit and has apparently aspirations for their future improvement.  Admitting frankly that there is a great deal of lukewarmness among them, he hopes to revive their interest in ecclesiastical affairs and he has an idea of constituting a sort of church committee for attending to the temporal affairs of the village church and for works of charity, but he looks to influencing the younger rather than the older generation.

“His interest in his parishioners is not confined to their spiritual welfare, but extends to their material well-being.  Of late an association for mutual credit has been founded in the village, and he uses his influence to induce the peasants to take advantage of the benefits it offers, both to those who are in need of a little ready money and to those who might invest their savings, instead of keeping them hidden away in an old stocking or buried in an earthen pot.  The proposal to create a local agricultural society meets also with his sympathy.”

If the number of parish priests of this type increase, the clergy may come to exercise great moral influence on the common people.



Unexpected Illness—­A Village Doctor—­Siberian Plague—­My Studies—­Russian Historians—­A Russian Imitator of Dickens—­A ci-devant Domestic Serf—­Medicine and Witchcraft—­A Remnant of Paganism—­Credulity of the Peasantry—­Absurd Rumours—­A Mysterious Visit from St. Barbara—­Cholera on Board a Steamer—­Hospitals—­Lunatic Asylums—­Amongst Maniacs.

In enumerating the requisites for travelling in the less frequented parts of Russia, I omitted to mention one important condition:  the traveller should be always in good health, and in case of illness be ready to dispense with regular medical attendance.  This I learned by experience during my stay at Ivanofka.

A man who is accustomed to be always well, and has consequently cause to believe himself exempt from the ordinary ills that flesh is heir to, naturally feels aggrieved—­as if some one had inflicted upon him an undeserved injury—­when he suddenly finds himself ill.  At first he refuses to believe the fact, and, as far as possible, takes no notice of the disagreeable symptoms.

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Russia from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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