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CHAPTER II.

Illustration of Eccles. xii. 6-Vishnei Volotchok-Superstition respecting Houses burnt by Lightning-Torshok-Mednoi Yam -The Volga-Tver-Description of the Town-Bible Society-Karelian Language, and Gospel of Matthew-Klin

Arrival in Moscow.

HAVING spent the night of the 10th at a small village, at some distance beyond Valdai, we entered the government of Tver at an early hour the following morning, when we became almost instantly sensible of an improvement in the appearance of the villages on the road; the houses being larger and better built, and the inhabitants evidently in better circumstances, than those of the government we had left. On passing through them, we were particularly struck with the number of wells on both sides of the street, over each of which is built a large wooden apparatus, consisting chiefly of a windlass, with a wheel about six feet in diameter, which is turned round by the hand, and by this means the water is drawn up in a bucket. It is, obviously, to a machine of this kind that Solomon refers, in his highly figurative portraiture of old age, Eccles. xii. 6: "Ere the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern."

About nine o'clock, we arrived at the town

VISHNEI VOLOTSHOK.

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of Vishnei Volotshok, a place of rising importance, owing to the canal which is opened here to unite the rivers M'sta and Tvertza, and thereby facilitate the water communication between the Baltic and the Caspian Sea. This canal is, at present, receiving considerable improvements; and the number of barks, of different sizes, which passed through it last season, amounted to not fewer than 7,000. Besides some good wooden houses, we observed several of stone; and a large square, with a bazâr, in front of which is a neat church of recent erection. Even in winter, the town wears a lively appearance; but in summer it is completely crowded with merchants from different parts of the empire, and the peasants, who here find a ready market for their produce, and are supplied with such articles of foreign trade as the limited nature of their means will allow them to purchase. A more eligible spot for a depôt of the Holy Scriptures could not easily be found; and it gave us great pleasure to find the Protopope cordially disposed to establish one, and to charge himself with its management. He had already formed a Bible Association, and raised upwards of 1,000 rubles in the course of the year; but, owing to the want of proper arrangements, they had not yet received any copies of the Holy Scriptures, although he described the anxiety to obtain them as very great. We engaged, on our arrival in Tver, to take such measures as would secure a regular supply in future; while he, on his part, undertook to open a room for their sale, in the church facing the grand bazâr:

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INSTANCE OF SUPERSTITION.

Soon after leaving the town, we passed a fountain, which had originally been dug for the accommodation of travellers; but, having been consecrated to some saint, at whose shrine, on the opposite side of the road, small wax candles are kept constantly burning, it is now regarded as possessing peculiar virtues, and is held in great veneration by the peasants. A little farther on, we passed a monastery dedicated to St. Nicholas, where we had several very narrow escapes from being overturned, owing to the extreme badness of the road. Towards evening, we came to the village of Vodova, where we obtained lodgings in the house of a peasant. The inhabitants of this village belong to a subdivision of the sect known by the name of Bezpopovtchini, or "the Priestless," because they conduct their worship without the assistance of any regularly ordained priest. On inquiring into their circumstances, we found that the village had recently been burnt down by lightning, which our host termed "burnt by the will of God." The same superstitious idea, relative to the efficacy of milk in quenching fires that have been kindled by lightning, prevails here, as in some parts of Germany; the consequence of which is, that, owing to the smallness of the quantity of that liquid which it is possible to procure, compared with the exigency of the case, it not unfrequently happens that, when it is resorted to, instead of a plentiful supply of water, whole villages are consumed, and the inhabitants reduced to circumstances of great misery. The house in which we lodged had been recently fitted up, and

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cost not less than 3,000 rubles, or about £120. sterling. The peasant seemed an intelligent young man; yet, though he received a copy of the Gospels from us with every demonstration of gratitude, we could discern a certain degree of shyness in the manner in which he spoke on the subject of religion, which we attributed to the presence of his parents, who, perhaps, suspected that we had some design of reclaiming him to the orthodox faith. According to his avowal, however, after reading a portion of one of the Gospels, he was convinced it was a book which, if perused and followed, would rectify many mistakes in religion.

The following morning, before reaching the town of Torshok, we passed two beautiful country seats, on the banks of the Tvertza, and were the more struck with their appearance, as they were the only gentlemen's houses we had seen since leaving the vicinity of the metropolis.

As we approached the town just mentioned, the sun shone in full splendour on its gilded spires, and gave it an appearance vastly superior to any thing we had expected to find in a country place. It lies on the river Tvertza, by which it is divided into two parts; and contains a monastery, a nunnery, and upwards of twenty churches; some good stone buildings, such as the Imperial palace, the courts of justice, &c.; and an excellent market-place. On the right bank of the river are still visible the remains of an ancient fortification, which gave to the place no ordinary degree of importance during the civil disputes of the Russians, the Polish wars, and the incursion of the Tatar

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hordes under Batu, by whom it was taken, after a siege of fourteen days. Most of the inhabitants of Torshok, the number of whom is estimated at 15,000, are engaged in different kinds of trade; and the place is famous for its manufactories of Morocco leather, which is made up into boots, slippers, &c., and sent to different towns of the empire.

After visiting the Archimandrite, we prosecuted our journey across an immense plain, entirely covered with snow, and arrived a little before dark at Mednoi Yam, where rather a serious altercation took place between two of the inhabitants, in regard to our lodgings. We first stepped into the house appropriated to the accommodation of travellers; but, not being satisfied with its appearance, we repaired to that of a peasant, where we found we were likely to be much better served. The proprietor of the inn, enraged at the preference given to the house of his neighbour, collected nearly half the village against the poor man, who, having but lately come to reside in the place, seemed to possess no great interest, and was totally unprepared to defend himself, or the strangers he had taken under his protection. At one time, the mob were so loud in their threats, and appeared so determined to wreak their vengeance on the house, that we actually began to consider ourselves in circumstances of danger; but, after spending nearly an hour in noisy deliberation, they began to disperse, and we were permitted to repose in quiet. Such frays are often attended with very disagreeable consequences,

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