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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

Passed the time away pleasantly until Kiev


One

or two other similar incidents, and the extreme civility one meets from every one while travelling in Russia, passed the time away pleasantly until Kiev, one of the oldest cities of Russia, was reached.

CHAPTER II

Kiev--Its protecting Saint--Intellectuality and trade--Priests and education--Wherein lies the strength of Russia--Industries--A famous Monastery--The Catacombs of St. Theodosius and St. Anthony--Pilgrims--Veneration of Saints--The Dnieper river--Churches--A luminous cross--Kharkoff--Agriculture--Horse fairs--Rostoff--Votka drunkenness--Strong fortifications--Cheap and good travelling--Baku.

Tradition tells us that Kiev was founded before the Christian era, and its vicissitudes have since been many and varied. It has at all times been considered one of the most important ecclesiastical centres of Russia,--if not indeed the most important--but particularly since St. Vladimir, the protecting saint of the city, preached Christianity there in 988, this being the first time that the religion of Christ had been expounded in Russia. A century and a half before that time (in 822) Kiev was the capital city of the state and remained such till 1169. In 1240 it was captured by Mongols who held it for 81 years. The Lithuanians came next, and remained in possession for 249 years, until 1569; then Poland possessed

it until the year 1654, when it became part of the Russian Empire.

Kiev has the name of being a very intellectual city. Somehow or other, intellectuality and trade do not seem to go together, and although the place boasts of a military school and arsenal, theological colleges, a university, a school of sacred picture painters, and a great many scientific and learned societies, we find that none of these are locally put to any marked practical use, except the sacred-picture painting; the images being disposed of very rapidly, and for comparatively high prices all over the country. Hardly any religious resorts are great commercial centres, the people of these places being generally conservative and bigoted and the ruling priestly classes devoting too much attention to idealism to embark in commercial enterprise, which leaves little time for praying. Agriculture and horticulture are encouraged and give good results.

The priests make money--plenty of it--by their religion, and they probably know that there is nothing more disastrous to religion in laymen than rapid money-making by trade or otherwise. With money comes education, and with education, too powerful a light thrown upon superstition and idolatry. It is nevertheless possible, even probable, that in the ignorance of the masses, in the fervent and unshaken confidence which they possess in God, the Czar and their leaders, may yet lie the greatest strength of Russia. It must not be forgotten that half-educated, or half uneducated, masses are probably the weakness to-day of most other civilised nations.

Some business on a small scale, however, is transacted at the various fairs held in Kiev, such as the great fair at the beginning of the Russian year. There are many beet-root sugar refineries, the staple industry of the country, and next come leather tanneries, worked leather, machinery, spirits, grain and tobacco. Wax candles are manufactured in huge quantities, and in the monastery there is a very ancient printing-press for religious books.


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