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but we should recollect that, in the Russian vocabulary, the terms beautiful, red, and coloured, are all three represented by the same word, so that a confusion of ideas might easily occur.
On another side an old miser is seen on his death-bed: the company surrounding him are, as before, angels and devils; the latter are very urgent to seize upon his parting soul, but prevented by the former, who claim him to themselves, because, forsooth, he had bequeathed a large sum by will to the monastery. The devils, thus disappointed, peruse the will and codicil with much earnestness and apparent chagrin. The moral of the tale needs no explanation.
The profound respect and awe impressed on the countenance of every one we met lent an air of solemnity even to their ludicrous superstitions; and a stranger almost felt inclined to chide himself for making a visit of mere curiosity. Our meditations, however, on this singular spectacle were in terrupted by our guide arriving to inform us the priest was waiting to conduct us to the relics. We descended a long staircase en ramp, to the mouth of the sacred catacomb, being formed into a regular procession, and each bareheaded, carrying a lighted taper in his hand. It was a labyrinth mined in the solid rock, consisting of walks, chambers, branches, &c., ascending and descending for the distance of several hundred yards; the passage about six feet wide, and coved at the top; its sides neatly plastered and stained with a black wash; the flooring laid with iron plates about a foot square. The remains of seventy
three saints, or primitive Christians of Russia, the objects of veneration, were deposited in semicircular niches that occurred at intervals on the passage. The bodies were wrapped round and bandaged up with swathings of silk after the fashion of mummies, though no part, not even the face, was left visible; what was within I know not; but they were scattered over with pieces of money, the offerings of the devotees. The coffins, which were always left open, were of an oblong square figure, decreasing in breadth from the head downwards, adorned on the interior with flowers of gold painted on a red ground. These personages were the same who once found an asylum here while alive, at a day when the unsettled nature of the times rendered them liable to perpetual persecutions abroad.
St. Anthony is the chief and patron saint: we were first shewn his oratory, and the cell in which he dwelt, say they, forty years, which, in memory of the holy man, the monks are constrained to visit at least twice every day. Next we proceeded in regular order to the shrines of St. Precop, St. Polycarp, St. Theodore, St. Luke (the Russian), and St. Nicholas, the last of whom having died at the distance of 3000 versts, was wafted hither by the angels in one hour: there was also a Russian St. Mark, who, to outdo all other acts of abstemiousness, never drank even of pure water oftener than once each day, and then only the contents of a small cruse made in the shape of a cross, containing about a gill in quantity; and a certain St. John
who was pointed out, being buried up to his shoulders in earth; a penance which he imposed upon himself for forty days, when he expired. Here we halted, and the priest, placing the saint's cap on our head, gave us (for it was the custom of the place) a short blessing. The only other persons whose good works entitled them to look for repose here were the twelve men of Constantinople who excavated this subterraneous retreat, about 800 years ago: their bodies were seen collected together in one chamber, and were the last of the series that were shewn us.
On our return to the realms of day, we heard the chant of mass sounding from the church of the monastery, and thither we instantly repaired. The people whom we found assembled completely filled every part of the area: it was a herd of pilgrims, habited in all the various costumes of the southern provinces of the empire, some of them being said to have made a journey on foot of fifteen hundred versts, in order to discharge their vows at Kiev: and indeed their lank worn looks and tattered garments seemed, in many instances, to bespeak the toilsomeness of their undertaking. While their devotions detain them here, they are for the most part obliged to lie out at night, being destitute of money to pay for lodging, and by day only perhaps once receive refreshment, at the gratuitous repast which is provided by the Emperor in the refectory of the monastery. But the enthusiasm, devotion, and superstition of a Russian is easily able to surmount all these difficulties; and there is scarce a person in the
south, either of those who have sins to expiate, or of those whose quiet and holy life requires some notable act to grace its monotonous career, but imposes on himself, at one time or other, the task of performing this burdensome act of over-zealous piety. The ground plan of this building was the same, as to distribution, which seems commonly to have prevailed in all the older Russian churches; a Greek cross divided by four square pillars in the centre, with a vestibule or parvis, one arch in breadth, advanced in front; the rood was, according to custom, covered with three several ranges of pictures of saints, in compartments of rich gilt carved work, profusely interspersed with pearls, lapis lazuli, turquoises, enamel, &c. and exceeding, in gaudy costliness, whatever we had before seen displayed.
From hence we visited the churches of St. Sophie, and of the miraculous St. Avare in old Kiev, where ends the ordinary course of pilgrimage.
The former is the oldest church in the Russian dominions, and though not, as is said, built strictly after the model of the famous church of the same name at Constantinople, yet was, no doubt, the work of architects who came from thence; and bears on the interior many traces of Byzantine architecture. It is, however, almost a singular instance of that style; while the fashions and taste of those oriental nations, whose character is so strongly imprinted in the lineaments of the Russian visage, are easily recognised in the more durable monuments of architecture.
The Gostinnoi dvor, or square market-place, which we see in every town, constructed with double arcades, one above the other, as in an eastern bazar; the thick baluster-shaped column, the pagoda fashion of the old steeples, the façades adorned with painted and glazed tiles, the bulging form of the cupola, and its situation in the centre of the building, surrounded by four smaller ones, all peculiarities common throughout the Mohammedan countries of the east, will sufficiently prove from what quarter this people must have drawn its ideas of architec
The trade of Kiev, though it has attracted a few settlers from Germany, is extremely dull; it consists chiefly in exportation of corn and wood to the south, for which salt or money is received in exchange. But a very considerable business of transit had been carried on, through this place, during the last year or two. The articles of English manufacture, or the produce of our colonies, which the French prevented from being introduced by more direct means, found their way into the interior of the continent, by the circuitous route of Riga or Petersburg, Moscow, and the south of Poland. Some parts of Austria and Germany were latterly supplied in this way; and the quantity of goods was so great, that a merchant, who had considerable dealings in this line, told me he had sometimes forwarded three or four hundred carts in a single day.
Expense of carriage, as was before remarked, is not very heavy; and these articles, when in
large quantities, were forwarded under contract for three roubles and a half, or four roubles, each poud, (36 lb. English,) from Moscow to Kiev. As this distance is about 750 versts, or 500 English miles, the rate may be considered as something lower, in nominal value, than the average amount of the price of water carriage in England.
The necessaries of life were much cheaper here than in any other town of Russia which had fallen within our route; though the inhabitants of Kiev complained that a great augmentation of prices in general had taken place during the visit of the Empress Catherine, and that they never afterwards sunk to their former value.
The town has become, within a few years, a place of greater resort than formerly; for the fair, which used to be held at Dubno, has been transferred hither by the Emperor's command. It is to this the Polish nobles, and indeed all the people of the country around, meet for the sake of transacting business, and making leases or transfers of land, while at the same time the merchants attend with stores of provision for sale, which are purchased for the baronial household in the wholesale way; and the concourse is immense. At present very little company was to be seen except some Greek merchants, who seemed the chief beaux of the place, and displayed themselves every evening with their ladies in the gardens of the governor.
The resident population of Kiev, including its university, is supposed to be about 20,000; they inhabit
inhabit, however, three distinct towns; the Perchask fortress with its adjoining streets, standing upon the summit of a hill on the east; Old Kiev, with its Polish fortifications, lying to the west; and below, the Podolsk quarter; which last is in a dilapidated state, having suffered a dreadful conflagration about four years ago. Many houses had been renewed, but it contains nothing very striking, except the remains of some old Greek convents, and buildings of that nature. On ascending the hill from hence, the road passes near the spring where St. Vlado. mir baptised the first Russian converts the place is held sacred, and a column bearing a cross is erected over it to commemorate the pious act, as well as to record the former importance of Kiev as the seat of sovereignty.
A brief View of the Chinese Drama, and of their Theatrical Exhibitions. Prefixed to a Translation of a Chinese Drama, entitled "An Heir in his Old Age."
Among the many interesting and valuable communications, for which Europe is indebted to the Jesuits and the other less enlightened and more prejudiced orders of the Catholic missionaries, who established themselves in China more than two centuries ago, very little is to be found respecting the taste of that extraordinary nation for lyric poetry, or theatrical exhibitions; and from the infrequency of European visitors, we are left almost wholly in the dark with regard to the nature of this kind of composition, as well as of
the actual state of the drama, and indeed of that department of literature in general which is usually known by the name of belles let
Led astray by Chinese prejudices, and falling in with Chinese feelings, respecting their ancient books, these writers have so stuffed their communications with excessive panegyric on the beauties of the four King, and the wisdom and virtues of Yao and Chun, as to leave themselves no time to inquire into the moderate state of general literature. are told, indeed, by Pere Cibot,* and the remark is copied from him by the Abbé Grozier, "that they would speak, in China, of a man of letters making good verses, just as they would speak, in France, of a captain of infantry playing well on the violin';" yet both the one and the other immediately contradict such a notion, by quoting several pieces of poetry, both ancient and modern, extolling their beauties, and endeavouring
to shew their influence over the
passions, and the estimation in which they have been held from the earliest periods to the present times. The truth is, the most ancient records that remain of China, consist of poetry. The very symbol by which compositions of this kind are designated, points out their early origin;-shee, a character compounded of a word, and a hall or temple, a place from which the magistrates anciently delivered instruction to the people-the words of the temple-being short-measured sentences, composed generally of four characters, so chosen as to be each of them very expres
* Mem. Chin. Tom. viii. p. 237.
sive and significant, and easily committed to the memory. The Book of Odes, one of the four most eminent and ancient of their classics, is chiefly composed of this kind of verse.
It is not necessary, however, to dive into the depths of antiquity, or to have recourse to ancient compositions, in order to prove a very general predilection of the Chinese for epic and lyric poetry. The late Kien-lung amused himself withwriting an epic poem, called Moukden, and two or three others of considerable length, besides several lyrical odes, songs, and epigrams, as half the tea cups in the empire can testify; his unfortunate favourite, whose wealth and influence drew upon him the vengeance of the reigning emperor, wrote verses in his prison the day before his execution; and the editor has in his possession the translation of a copy of verses, entitled "London;" written by a Chinese, who had accompanied a gentleman to England, in the capacity of his servant, describing very concisely, but characteristically, what he saw, and more particularly, those things which contrasted with the manners and appearances of his own country.
It is not correct, therefore, to say that the Chinese have no relish for poetry. They cannot avoid liking it, for every symbol of their written language is poetical; each character presenting to the eye, and through it to the mind, the picture of the idea which it is meant to represent. It is true, some of the missionaries make a reserve in favour of ancient poetry: "the good old times" are praised in more countries than in
China, and with as little knowledge of what their "goodness" consisted in; but Mr. Morrison, in his Chinese grammar, quotes a Chinese author who seems to have sounder notions on the subject than either Pere Cibot or the Abbé Grozier he compares the progress of poetry among his countrymen to the gradual growth of a tree: "the ancient She-king (the Book of Odes) may be likened to the roots; when Soo-loo flourished, the buds appeared; in the time of Keen-ngan there was abundance of leaves; but during the dynasty Tang, many reposed under the shade of the tree, and it yielded rich supplies of flowers and fruit."*
In like manner the two writers above mentioned, Cibot first, and Grozier servilely copying him, pretend to say, that from the earliest periods in which theatrical exhibitions entered into domestic amusements, and the public entertainments of the court, the learned have not ceased to publish philosophical observations on the dangers of the theatre, and its baneful effects on public manners. "Plays (says one of these philosophers) are a kind of artificial fire-works of wit, which appear in the night of disorder; they debase and expose those who let them off, fatigue the delicate eyes of the sage, occupy dangerously idle minds, expose women and children who listen to them, give out more of smoke and stench than of light, leaving only a dangerous dazzling, and often cause dreadful conflagrations." Yet in the same page
Grammar of the Chinese Language,