« PreviousContinue »
time, I succeeded in advancing about twenty-five yards.
“ It is not easy to determine how far an individual might advance between the sheet of water and the rock; but were it even possible to explore the recess to its utmost extremity, scarcely any one, I believe, would have courage to attempt an expedition of the kind. .
“ A little way below the Great Fall, the river is, comparatively speaking, so tranquil, that a ferry-boat plies between the Canada and American shores, for the convenience of travellers. When I first crossed, the heaving flood tossed about the skiff with a violence that seemed very alarming ; but as soon as we gained the middle of the river, my attention was altogether engaged by the surpassing grandeur of the scene before me. I was now within the area of a semicircle of cataracts, more than three thousand feet in extent, and floated on the surface of a gulf, raging, fathomless, and interminable. Majestic cliffs, splendid rainbows, lofty trees, and columns of spray, were the gorgeous decorations of this theatre of wonders, while a dazzling sun shed refulgent glories upon every part of the scene.-Surrounded with clouds of vapour, and stunned into a state of confusion and terror by the hideous noise, I looked upwards to the height of one hundred and fifty feet, and saw vast floods, dense, awful, and stupendous, vehemently bursting over the precipice, and rolling down, as if the windows of heaven were opened to pour ano.
. ther deluge upon the earth. Loud sounds, resembling discharges of artillery or volcanic explosions, were now distinguishable amidst the watery tumult, and added terrors to the abyss from which they issued. The sun, looking majestically through the ascending spray, was encircled by a radiant halo; whilst fragments of rainbows floated on every side, and momentarily vanished only to give place to a succession of others more brilliant. Looking backwards, I saw the Niagara river, again become calm and tranquil, rolling magnificently between the towering cliffs that rose on either side, and receiving showers of orient dew-drops from the trees that gracefully overarched its transparent bosom. A gentle breeze ruffled the waters, and beautiful birds fluttered around, as if to welcome its egress from those clouds and thunders and rainbows, which were the heralds of its precipitation into the abyss of the cataract.”
" De EDWARD DANIEL CLARKE,” said Egeria one morning as the first part of his voluminous Travels happened to be lying on the table before the Bachelor; “ Dr Edward Daniel Clarke is about the most interesting and accompKshed traveller that England has yet produced. He is, I admit, occasionally dogmatical,--and, I would almost say, also supersti- tiously credulous; but still he has brought a mind
of very respectable endowment, and superior, per
believe the Fror of suppbefore he could or in
haps extraordinary, acquirements to bear upon all and every thing that he has described. His opinion of the Russians, however, is mere angry prejudice: he must have suffered, either in his interests or in his vanity, probably in both, before he could have fallen into the error of supposing that the world would believe the following description to be in any degree correct, founded, as it evidently is, on hearsay and individual follies; even, prior to the time of Peter the Great, the manners of the Russian nobility could not have been so gross and abominable as these monstrosities.”
· NOBILITY. " Some of the nobles are much richer than the richest of our English peers ; and a vast number, as may be supposed, are very poor. To this poverty, and to these riches, are equally joined the most abject meanness, and the most detestable profligacy. In sensuality they are without limits of law, conscience, or honour. In their amusement always children; in their resentment, women. The toys of infants, the baubles of French fops, constitute the highest object of their wishes. Novelty delights the human race; but no part of it seek for novelty so eagerly as the Russian nobles. Novsity in their debaucheries; novelty in gluttony ; novelty in cruelty ; novelty in whatever they pursue. This is not the case with the lower class, who preserve their habits unaltered from one generation to another. But there are characteristics in which the Russian prince and the Russian peasant are the same: they are all equally barbarous. Visit a Russian, of whatever rank, at his." country seat, and you will find him lounging about, uncombed, unwashed, unshaven, half-naked, eating raw turnips, and drinking quass. The raw turnip is handed
trait, imce to the Neape of the people, by entering
about in slices, in the first houses, upon a silver salver, with brandy, as a whet before dinner. Their hair is universally in a state 'not to be described; and their bodies are only divested of vermin when they frequent the bath. Upon those occasions, their shirts and pelisses are held over a hot stove, and the heat occasions the vermin to fall off. It is a fact too notorious to admit dispute, that from the Emperor to the meanest slave, throughout the vast empire of all the Russias, including all its princes, nobles, priests, and peasants, there exists not a single individual in a thousand, whose body is destitute of vermin. An English gentleman of Moscow, residing as a banker in the city, assured me, that, passing on horseback through the streets, he has often seen women of the highest quality, sitting in the windows of their palaces, divesting each other of vermin ;---another trait, in addition to what I have said before, of their resemblance to the Neapolitans.
“ The true manners of the people are not seen in Petersburgh, nor even in Moscow, by entering the houses of nobility only. Some of them, and generally those to whom letters of recommendation are obtained, have travelled, and introduce refinements, which their friends and companions readily imitate. The real Russian rises at an early hour, and breakfasts on a dram with black bread. His dinner at noon consists of the coarsest and most greasy viands, the scorbutic effects of which are counteracted by salted cucumbers, sour cabbage, the juice of his vaccinium, and his nectar, quass. Sleep, which renders him unmindful of his abject servitude and barbarous life, he particularly indulges: sleep-' ing always after eating, and going early to his bed. The principal articles of diet are the same every where ; grease and brandy. A stranger, dining with their most refined and most accomplished princes, may in vain expect to see his knife and fork changed. If he sends
those to whom ty only. Some scow, by entering in
them away, they are returned without even being wiped. If he looks behind him, he will see a servant spit in the plate he is to receive, and wipe it with a dirty napkin, to remove the dust. If he ventures (which he should avoid, if he ich ingry) to inspect the soup in his plate with too inquisitive an eye, he will doubtless discover living victims in distress, which a Russian, if he saw, would swallow with indifference. Is it not known to all, that Potemkin used to take vermin from his head, and kill them on the bottom of his plate at table? and beauteous princesses of Moscow do not scruple to follow his example. But vermin unknown to an Englishman, and which it is not permitted even to name, attack the stranger who incautiously approaches too near the persons of their nobility, and visit him from their sophas and chairs. If at table he regards his neighbour, he sees him picking his teeth with his fork, and then plunging it into a plate of meat which is brought round to all. The horrors of a Russian kitchen are inconceivable ; and there is not a bed in the whole empire, which an English traveller, aware of its condition, would venture to approach.—There is, in fact, no degree of meanness to which a Russian nobleman will not condescend. To enumerate the things of which we were eye-witnesses, would only weary and disgust the reader. I will end with one.
" A hat had been stolen from our apartments. The servants positively asserted, that some young noblemen, who had been more lavish of their friendship and company than we desired, had gained access to the chambers in our absence, and had carried off the hat, with some other moveables, even of less value. The fact was inconceivable, and we gave no credit to it. A few days after, being upon an excursion to the convent of the New Jerusalem, forty-five versts north of Moscow, a party of the nobles, to whom our intention was made