An English Writer Has a Poor Opinion of the Czar's People.
The Russians are lazy and effeminate. In the winter they seldom walk, and when they do so they crawl along, muffled up in furs, and do not move with any briskness. One sees a great many military officers in Moscow, and their want of smartness is noticeable. Numbers are always to be seen lounging about the boulevards with their hands in the pockets of their gray overcoats. These boulevard warriors do not look very formidable. The Cossacks are dirty looking ruffians, badly dressed and mounted on small horses, which are said to be excellent animals, possessing wonderful staying power. I was told by an officer that the Cossacks have degenerated very much and have been spoiled by being turned into regulars. The Cossacks of the Don especially have deteriorated, but those of the Caucasian regions are fine soldiers.
One of the worst characteristics of the Russians is their dishonesty in trade. In Moscow, even in many of the best shops, one has to bargain for purchases, as a much higher price than is expected is always asked. In this way foreigners in Moscow no doubt frequently pay three of four times the necessary price for articles. In the same way one has to bargain for everything, and this, in my opinion, constitutes one of the most disagreeable things connected with life in Russia. One always imagines that one is being swindled, and too frequently no doubt the idea is not a vain one.
That the Russians are a dirty people is well known. Very few houses have even a footbath in them, and although there are fine public baths the Russians, even of the upper classes, seldom make use of them. Indeed I believe the lower orders are cleaner in this respect. — Westminster Review.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008