Page images

induced her to put every thing to its best use.

She dressed handsomely and expensively without being extravagant; every thing that she put off as unwearable for herself, she laid aside in a chamber allotted to the purpose, and once a year she sorted and arranged the articles; the more common ones she would give to her nurse and lady’s-maid, but the greatest part of them she sent off to a young

а lady of small income, whose ingenuity and industry converted them to so good a use, as to make them scarcely known again, even to the lady who sent them. Sometimes a friend, hearing of her judicious plan for using these things, would send her a considerable addition io her store, when it was a fresh pleasure to dispatch this second packet, and to think of the happiness she was conferring.


Biblical Researches, and Travels in Russia, &c. By

E. Henderson, author of Iceland, &c. Nisbet, Berners-street, London. 1826.

The interest with which this work is perused, will depend very much upon the mind of the reader--whether that which was the purpose of the author's travel, and of course the chief object of his attention, be a subject of interest or a matter of indifference. There are many to whom a Bible is a thing of no value. It may have sometimes disturbed their happiness, but has added nothing to it. It may have robbed them of some Sabbath hours of profit or amusement, but has never cheered their spirits or enhanced their gains. It is impossible that any one so circumstanced should care where Bibles are and where they are not--and the purpose of the expedition, and the biblical tone of it, will give them too much disgust, to admit of their liking the book, however entertaining else. There are others who, without despising the possession, hold it so common as not to need a fuss. They see Holy Bibles in every bookseller's window, and Holy Bibles upon the shelves of every library and ever since they were born they have had so many more Bibles than were necessary, they are at a loss to conceive how Bibles can be scarce, and why £100,000 a year should be spent in printing them, and the world put in commotion to circulate them. They tell us in their simplicity that the world is overstocked with Bibles-Bibles old and new can be bought at any stall for the value of a song-How can (a want that never has been felt), the world want Bibles? Or if for shame they do not say so, at heart they are sick to death with hearing of Bible Reports, Bible Researches, &c. &c.—not so much that they do not consider the Scriptures of any value, as because, not over-much given to thinking beyond the sphere of their observations, they cannot conceive of any body's wanting a Bible and not being able to get it. They have not imagined among civilized people under a European government, in a Christian country, an intelngent man, possessed of a number of religious books, in whose mind so great an interest was excited by a part of the New Testament put into his hand, that he sate up all night to read it-of another who had heard there was such a book, but had seen po part of it but the Psalmsof churehes, towns, and monasteries, of which it is worthy of remark that they have a copy of the Bibleof Bishops who, if they had a Bible, could not read it. How difficult is it to conceive a want that never has been felt, or estimate'a delight we can never experience that of possessing for the first time the words of life and truth. Yet it would be well to stretch our minds to a little larger compass, before we either express ourselves thus foolishly, or feel disgust so unreasonable. To us who, though we have never wanted a Bible, have known moments when to want one would have been more painful than to want bread, and to have one has been joy, when other joy would have been very difficult to find, this narrative presents pictures of very lively interest respecting the professed object of the journey; besides much amusing detail respecting places and people with whom we are but little acquainted: the travellers having passed through Russia and Russian Tartary, to the shores of the Caspian and the Caucasian Mountains, for the purpose

of planting or encouraging societies and depositaries for the distribution and sale of Bibles, in the languages of the country: and however stale a thing a Bible Society Committee may seem in an English country town, we cannot without interest imagine a committee of Don Cossacks on the banks of the Don. The book is written in a light and entertaining style, and except a few pages of Biblical criticism interesting only to the curious, we think it a work of much interest to general readers, containing very good description of the scenery passed through, adventures met by the way, and peculiar sects and settlements of people, of Jewsparticularly, that the travellers encountered. Nothing excited our attention more than the places selected for depôts of Bibles-scenes so contrasted, in which the pilgrim is to find this stranger treasure. Such was the following---speaking of Kief, one of the most ancient towns of Southern Russia.

[ocr errors]

“The following morning, at eighto'clock, we again visited this place, according to appointment, in order to make the tour of the Catacombs, or the extensive dominions of the dead, consisting of subterranean labyrinths of great extent, which are excavated in the precipitous declivity of the hill forming the bank of the river. Following a young monk, who had been selected to conduct us, and who shewed every disposition to gratify our curiosity, we made our egress from the convent by a wicket-gate in the massy stone wall by which it is surrounded ; and proceeding down a small steep lane, paved with stones, we came to a covered walk, or gallery of wood, about 500 feet in length, which led us to a magnificent chapel, with three gilded turrets, dedicated to “ the Elevation of the Cross," and designed to receive the donations of those who descend into the gloomy abodes below. Our lights being provided, we descended into the passage leading to the Catacombs, known by the name of St. Anthony's, the founder of the monastery, whose relics are preserved in a cubitory at the extremity of the labyrinth. This passage is about six feet in height, but so extremely narrow, that it is with difficulty two persons can pass each other. Like all the other apertures and subterranean galleries to which it leads, it is dug out of the hill, which seems to consist of a mixture of sand and clay, possessing a considerable degree of adhesion, but too soft to be entitled to the character of stone. The sides and roof are, for the most part, black from the smoke of the torches which are incessantly conveyed through the passage; and where there is any turn or winding in it, the projecting angle is partly smooth and worn away by the friction occasioned by the - numerous companies of visitors.


We had not proceeded far, when we came to a niche on the right side of the passage, containing a coffin without a lid, in which lay the mummied body of one of the saints, wrapped in a silken shroud, with one of the stiffened hands placed in such a posture as easily to receive the kisses of those who visit the cemetery for purposes of de votion. This token of respect was paid by our guide, not only to this relic, but to all we passed, the number of which, in this dormitory, amounts to eighty-two. After advancing to the distance of twenty yards in a north westerly direction, we turned round suddenly to the east, by a somewhat circuitous passage, and then proceeded again towards the north; observing, as we passed, the numerous niches on both sides, containing bodies, or parts of bodies of those who had acquired renown by the degree of austerity and mortification to which they attained in reducing to practice the rules of ascetic discipline. Beside these niches, we came every now and then to separate dormitories, in the sides of the pit'-little chambers having been dug in the sand, and after the bodies had been deposited in them, again closed up by a thin wall, parallel with the side of the gallery, in which, about four feet from the ground, a small glass window is inserted, discovering, on a candle being held to it, the funeral attire of its unghostly inhabitant. In one of these little chambers we were shown the remains of a rigorous ascetic of the name of John, who, as the legend goes, constructed his own dormitory, and after building himself in by a walt with a small window, as above described, he intérred himself up to the waist, and in this posture performed his devotions, till death left him in possession of the grave he had-made. A figure representing him is visible through the small aperture, but whether his mummy or merely his effigy we could not determine. Another of these sepulchres is said to contain the relics of the twelve friars who first addicted themselves to the monastic life in this place, one of the bones of the protomartyr Stephen, and some of the children of Bethlehem, murdered by order of King Herod !

“ After penetrating to the northern extremity of this region and shadow of death,' we came to the sepulchre of Nestor, the celebrated father of Russian history, who flourished in the Petcherskoi Monastery from about the middle to the end of the eleventh century, and was contemporary with Ari Frode, the first Icelandic historiographer. From the dormitory of Nestor, the dreary avenue turned round by a gradual descent towards the Boristhenes ; and after leading us past a number of dead bodies, brought us to two subterranean chapels; the first, only a short distance from the river, is dedicated to Anthony, who here lies enshrined in a coffin covered with silver; and the other, situated near the entrance, is dedicated to the Purification of the Virgin. Both are richly ornamented, and are used for the performance of mass on such days in the calendar as are appropriated to these festivals.

The origin of the Catacombs of Kief is to be traced to the introduction of the ascetic life into Russia. Hilarion, Presbyter of Berestof, a learned and devout man, abandoning his church, and the intercourse of the world, dug a cell, two fathoms in depth, in a sequestered and woody part of the hill, close to the spot where the monastery now stands, where he imposed on himself numerous acts of mortification, till called by Iaroslaw to be the Metropolitan of Russia.

[ocr errors]


The cell, however, was soon re-inhabited by a native of Linbeten, who, after performing a pilgrimage to Mount Athos, where he resu ceived the honour of the tonsure, and assumed the name of Antonius, endeavoured to settle in some monastery; but not finding any sufficiently strict in its rules of discipline, he repaired to the cave of Hilarion. Here he led a most retired and austere life, addicting himself to prayer and fasting, and, in a short time, acquired such reputation for sanctity, that immense crowds of devotees, among whom the Grand Duke Iziaslaw himself, came to his cell, in order to obtain his blessing. Other ascetics now associated themselves with him, and enlarged the subterranean seclusion: a regular monastery was at length formed ; churches and chapels were erected for the accommodation of those who visited the place; and in the course of time, after miraculous powers were ascribed to the relics of the original founders and others, who had rendered themselves famous for the rigour of their discipline, the spot obtained that celebrity which it still retains in the present day. What Jerusalem was to the Israelites, Kief is to the Russians; and the veneration in which the grand cathedral of the Petcherskoi Monastery, with its surrounding Holy places'

is held, is at least equal to that paid to the temple in Mount Šion. On this account, it is the great resort of pilgrims from all parts of the empire, not even excepting Kamschatka, and other distant regions of Siberia, who, as they proceed hither, collect money from those who are not able to come in person, with which they purchase candles, to be placed before the images of the saints. The average number of those who annually perform this pilgrimage, is estimated at 50,000.

“ To direct the attention of such weary pilgrims, most of whom are excited to proceed hither from a concern about the salvation of their souls, to that book which alone reveals Him, who is the way to eternal life, we could not but regard as an object highly deserving the consideration of the Bible Society, and accordingly, took the liberty to propose, that depôts of Bibles and New Testaments should be established in the chambers, where all the pilgrims purchase and light the candles with which they proceed into the Catacombs. It gave us pleasure to find that our proposition was instantly approved, and two very appropriate inscriptions, which had been drawn up by the secretary, were read, adopted, and ordered to be affixed in the most conspicuous places at the entrance to the tombs. In consequence of this measure, many a poor fatigued pilgrim may retrace his steps, laden with the precious treasures of Divine Revelation, and perhaps not a few with their minds savingly illuminated by its contents."

The following anecdote pleased us:

Passing in our way a large field of arbuses, or water-melons, we requested the Tartars, who were cutting them, to sell us some; but they returned for answer, that they would not sell any under a ruble a piece. Not very willing to pay so exorbitant a price, we were about to continue our journey, and gave the young Tartar, who came from the field, a copy of the Gospel of St. Luke, which he immediately conveyed to his companions. We had not driven far, when we heard a person hallooing after us, and looking back, we were surprised to find our Tartar, with his arms full of the finest raelons,

« EelmineJätka »