Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Such, were the more prominent formalities that marked the performance of this solemn ceremony. It may not be uninteresting now to add a few of the other circumstances that preceded or followed it; together with a faint idea of the appearance which the interior of the cathedral wore during the solemnity.

Previous to the arrival of their imperial majesties in the cathedral, the einpress dowager and the two great duchesses Maria and Catharine took their places in the church. The empress dowager was seated in a separate box under a canopy on the right of the throne. She wore a crown and the imperial mantle; had no ornament on her head but the crown; a medallion hung at her breast, suspended by two rows of very large pearls. The body and train of her robe was a gold tissue; the petticoat a silver tissue, with flounces of gold flowers.

Next to the empress dowager, on the same side, but nearer the shrine, were placed in a separate box the two great duchesses. They wore the orders of St. Catharine and of Malta; their dress was rich and elegant. Their hair was all braided with brilliants. The elder was dressed in a white silver tissue, the petticoats flounced with gold flowers. The younger also in a silver tissue, with coloured silk flowers. The sleeves of their robes were made of rows of lace.

The reigning empress wore a profusion of diamonds; her dress was all white; a silver tissue petticoat and white flowers.

His imperial majesty was dressed in the uniform of his regiment.

On the left of the throne, within the circle of the church, was a box prepared for the reception of the foreign ministers. Here were placed the Austrian and English ambassadors, Count Sourou and Lord St. Helens : also the envoys from Prussia, Denmark, Sardinia, Wirtemburgh, &c. The English noblemen and gentlemen now here on their travels had also seats in the same box.

In the middle of the church was suspended a rich canopy of crimson velvet, laced and fringed with gold. In the middle of the ceiling of it were embroidered the arms of the Russian empire, and around them the arms of Kiof of Waldimir, of Casanza, of Astracan, of Liber, and of Tauris. On the sides were embroidered cyphers of his majesty's name.

Under this stood two state chairs: one for the emperor, the other for his imperial consort.-Twelve steps descended from the throne, all covered with crimson velvet. The rest of the cathedral was covered with scarlet cloth. In the side aisles were constructed four rows of benches, on which were seated the four first classes of the Nobility. The benches on the right of the throne were also occupied by ladies. Those on the left by gentlemen and ladies. The ladies were all splendidly arrayed in court dresses; and among those on the right stood conspicuously at the end of the topmost bench, the beautiful Countess Panin, the lady of the minister for the for ign department. The gentlemen were mostly dressed in rich uniforms, all ornamented with the ribbons and other brilliant insignia of different orders.

ACCOUNT

ACCOUNT OF THE SCOTCH HIGHLANDERS. [From Belshan's History of Great Britain, from the Revolution to the Accession of the

House of Bourbon.) The Viscount Dundee had infamed his mind with the perusal of the ancient poets and historians, and yet more by listening to the heroic achievements celebrated in the popular and traditionary songs of his countrymen. His army was entirely composed of Highlanders-a singular people, of whom it is not sufficient barely to mention the name. Amidst the clouds and darkness which envelop the high and remote periods of historic antiquity, it appears from strong presumptive evidence, that at this æra the Highland nation exhibited the unmixed remains of that vast Celtic empire which once stretched from the pillars of Hercules to the sea of Archangel. · The Highlanders were composed of a number of tribes or clans, each of which bore a different name, and lived upon the lands of a different chieftain.

The members of every clan were connected with each other not only by the feudal but the patriarchal bond; and each of them could recount with pride the degree of his affinity to the common head. The castle of the chieftain was open

and easy of access to every individual of the tribe. There all were hospitably entertained in times of peace, and thither all resorted at the sound of war. They lived in vil lages built in glens or deep vallies, and for the most part by the sides of rivers. At the end of spring they sowed their grain, and at the commencement of winter they reaped their scanty harvest. The rest of the year was all their own for amusement or for war. In the short interval of summer they indulged themselves in the enjoyment of a bright and lengthened sun, and in ranging over a wild and romantic country, frequently passing whole nights in the open air among the mountains and the forests. They spent the winter in the chase while the sun was up; and in the evening, assembling round a blazing hearth, they entertained themselves with the song, the tale, and the dance. Their vocal music was plaintive even to melancholy, but their instrumental was bold, martial, and animating. In order to cherish high sentiments in the minds of all, every considerable family had an historian who recounted, and a bard who sung, the deeds of the clan and its chiestain, or on more solemn occasions the glorious exploits of their heroic ancestors. The vastness of the objects which surrounded them, lakes, mountains, rocks, cataracts, seemed to expand and elevate their minds; and the severity of the climate, with the nature of the country, and their love, in common with other semibarbarous nations, of the chase and of war, forced them to great corporeal exertions; while their want of regular occupation on the other hand led them to contemplation and social converse. They received the rare and occasional visits of strangers with a genuine and cordial hospitality, never indulging in a rude or contemptuous ridicule of manners opposite to their own.-Considering the inhabitants of the Lowlands in the light of invaders and usurpers, they thought themselves entitled to make reprisals at all

convenient

convenient opportunities. What their enemies, therefore, called violence and rapine, they termed right and justice; and in the frequent practice of depredation they became bold, artful, and enterprising. An injury done to one of the clan was held, from the common relation of blood, to be an injury to all. Hence the Highlanders were in the habitual practice of war; and hence arose in various instances between clan and clan mortal and deadly feuds, descending from generation to generation. They usually went completely armed with a broad-sword, a dirk or dagger, a target, musket, and pistols. Their dress consisted of a jacket and loose lower garment, with a roll of light woollen, called a plaid, wrapt round them so as to leave the right arm at full liberty. Thus equipped and accoutred, they would march forty or fifty miles in a day, sometimes even without food or halting, over mountains, along rocks, through morasses; and they would sleep, on beds formed by tying bunches of heath hastily and carelessly together. Their advance to battle was rapid; and after discharging their muskets and pistols, they rushed into the ranks of the enemy with their broad-swords; and in close fight, when unable to use their ordinary weapon, they suddenly stabbed with the dirk. Their religion, which they called Christianity, was strongly tinctured with the ancient and barbarous superstitions of the country. They were universally believers in ghosts and preternatural appearances. They marked with eager attention the vario, able forms of their cloudy and changeful sky; from the different aspect of which, they foretold future and contingent events; and, absorbed in fantastical imaginations, they perceived in a sort of ecstatic vision things and persons separated from them by a vast interval of space.

Each tribe had its peculiar dogmas and modes of faith, which the surrounding clans regarded with indifference, or at most with a cold dislike far removed from the rancour of religious hatred ; and persecution for religion was happily a species of folly and wickedness unknown and unheard of amongst them.

INTRODUCTION OF CHRISTIANITY

INTO THE RUSSIAN EMPIRE.

(From Tooke's History of Russia.) VLADIMIR

LADIMIR resolved to return thanks to the gods for the success they had granted to his arms, by offering them a sacrifice of the prisoners of war. His courtiers, more cruel in their piety than even their prince, persuaded him that a victim selected from his own people would more worthily testify his gratitude for these signal dispensations of Heaven. The choice fell on a young Varagian, the son of a Christian, and brought up in that faith. The unhappy father refused the victim : the people enraged, as thinking their prince and their religion thus insulted at once, assailed the house; and, having beat in the doors, furiously murdered both father and son, enfolded in mutual embraces.

Thus it was that Vladimir thought to honour the gods. The zealous Olga had never been able to induce her son to embrace

Christianity,

Christianity, and her grandson Vladimir was of all the Russian princes the most bigoted to idolatry. He augmented the number of the idols of Kiet; he commissioned Dobryna, his uncle by the mother's side, to raise a supberb statue at Novogorod to the deity Perune; his offerings enriched both the temples and the priests of his gods, while his zeal inflamed that of the nation. But the grandeur of the Russian monarch was already so conspicuous, as to strike the eyes of the neighbouring princes. All of them courted the frindship of Vladimir

, and dreaded his arms: each was in hopes of fixing his attachment by the lies of one common religion. Accordingly he received, at almost the same time, deputies from the Pope, or rather from some Catholic prince who wished to attract him to the church of Rome; persons from Great Bulgaria, exhorting him to embrace the doctrines of Mohammed; and, it is even said, that some Jews, established among the Kozares, came to expound to him the law of Moses. But none of these deputies had any success. A mission more fortunate was that of a Greek, whom the chronicles call a philosopher, and yet, perhaps, he was not one. If he did not induce Vladimir to embrace the Greek ritual, at least he succeeded in making him think favourably of it, and returned to his country loaded with presents.

The discourse of the Greek had made a lively impression on the mind of the prince; and, desirous of gaining farther information concerning the various systems of faith, of which the missionary had spoken while recommending his own, he dispatched ten persons, in high-reputation for wisdom, to observe in the countries where each was professed, the principles and the rites of these different religions.

These men repaired first to the Bulgarians, eastward of Russia, but they were not very sensibly struck with the devotion of the Manichees, or the Mohammedan worship: thence they proceeded to Germany, coldly considered the ceremonies as performed by some vulgar priest in taudry trappings in the poor Latin churches there, and could take no interest in a sect which shewed so little magnificence, with its motley round of unmeaning gesticulations in its offices of worship. But when these barbarian sages were arrived at Constantinople, when they saw the imposing splendour of religious adoration, amid the gorgeous decorations in the proud basilicum of St. Sophia, they felt iminediately touched by celestial grace, and confessed that the people whose religion displayed. such pomp must have the sole possession of the true belief.

Their imagination still heated with the pompous spectacle of which they had been the astonished beholders, they returned to Vladimir, speaking with scorn of the Latin ceremonial, and describing with enthusiasm what they had seen in the imperial city. They thought themselves, they said, transported into the skies, and requested permission to return to Constantinople to receive the initiatory sacrament into so magnificent a religion.

The grandeur of their recital made an impression on Vladimir. The boyars of his council, who easily read what was passing in

his mind, exclaimed, that the Greek religion must unquestionably be the true one, since the wise deputies had extolled it so much'; and that, if it had not been the best, so prudent a princess as Olga would never have embraced it.*

These arguments determined Vladimir to be baptised; but unfortunately he had no Greek priests at hand. To ask them of the Emperor was a sort of homage, at the very idea of which his haughty soul revolted. He conceived a project worthy of his times, of his country, or perhaps only of himself: it was to commence a war against Greece, and by force of arms to extort instruction, priests, and the rite of baptism.

No sooner had he formed the design than he prepared for its execution, raised a formidable army, selected from all the nations of which his empire was composed, and repaired to the Chersonese, under the walls of Theodosia, now called Kaffa. If we give credit to one chronicle, he put up this prayer:

“ O God, grant me thy help to take this town, that I may carry from it Christians and priests to instruct me and my people, and convey the true religion into my dominions!” He laid siege to the city, destroyed his adversaries, lost a great number of his soldiers, and thousands of men were destroyed, because a barbarian would not suffer himself to be christened like an ordinary person.

However, after carrying on the siege for six months, Vladimir had made no progress : he was even threatened with being obliged to raise the siege, and was in great danger of never becoming a Christian. But a traitorous citizen, according to some it was a priest, tied a letter to an arrow, and shot it from the top of the ramparts. The Russians learned by this paper, that behind their camp was a spring, which, by subterraneous pipes, was the sole supply of fresh water to the besieged. Vladimir ordered this source to be sought out; it was found ; and, by breaking these channels, subjected the town to the horrors of thirst, and forced it to surrender. Being in possession of Theoclosia, he was master of the whole Chersonese.

In consequence of his victory, it was his own choice to receive baptism in the manner he desired. But this sacrament was not the sole object of bis ambition : he aspired to an union by the ties of blood with the Cæsars of Byzantium. As was the case with most of the princes who adopted Christianity, so here political reasons had at least an equal influence with devotion; and when Vladimir was baptised at Korsun, a town of Greece, in 988, and married Anna, the sister of the Grecian sovereign, it was as much his intention by this match to acquire a claim upon the Grecian

* This story, in conformity with the chronicles, is not therefore the less doubtful. In a Greck MS. belonging to the Coibertine library, published by Bandurius, the same facts are related at the reign of Basilius the Macedonian.. Thus it would relate to the conversion of Oskbold and Dir, in whom the first dynasty of the sovereigns of Kief ended. We have seen that this conversion had but little influence on Russia, which in fact did not become Christian till after the baptism of Vladimir. VOL. 2.--NO, Ul.

empire,

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »