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a superior species of stove, with flues doubly secured with iron plates, to prevent the least particle of heat from escaping.
The wood used for the construction of building is principally cedar, which is also used as fuel in preference to all other kinds of wood; fir and larch not being thought so agreeable, on account of the crackling noise they make when burning
In October the nights are the longest, and we had hardly three hours of day. This brief morning, however, was far from being cloudy, the sun indeed shone brightly, though for so short a space. The air was clear, but was in incessant motion, I might say, tremulous agitation, almost visible to the eye; as though it were composed of a solid mass of tremulous atoms, ever revolving, moving and vibrating. *
* This peculiarity of the air is not limited to Siberia, but may occasionally be observed in portions of northern Europe. The editor happened to witness a remarkable instance of it in his early youth, on the southern boundary of Prussia, near Oletzko, on a clear hot day in August, when the atmosphere seemed not only to consist of moving atoms, 'as described by our authoress, but was like a hard compact mass, tremulously shaken, and even resounded audibly. This condition of the
The three hours of day passed so quickly, as to be scarcely perceptible; but the nights were drawn out to an immense length ; and proved the more irksome from our want of all means of computing the hours. The town of Berezov, in fact, has no clock, whereby the hours of the
be ascertained, or the daily occupations of the citizens regulated, as is usual elsewhere. There exists indeed, an hour-glass, called the clepsydra at the Police office; but this ancient means of measuring time is of but little avail to the generality of the inhabitants, and was most imperfect in its operation.
To those of my readers who may not have seen, and will perhaps, never see such a primitive time-piece, it may not be out of place to give a short description of this instrument. It was composed of a pair of oblong glasses, the thinner extremities of
atmosphere, and its elasticity in connection with the stellar system, may possibly have suggested to Pythagoras his bold theory of “The Harmony of the Spheres.” That the air, or at least the atmosphere surrounding us, is composed of atomic particles, in constant movement, and revolving around each other, there is no longer any doubt; and recent attempts to observe the component parts of the air, by means of microscopic instruments, appear to have satisfactorily established the fact.
which joined each other; and had a small opening in the middle as a passage of communication. One glass was filled with sand, and turned upward, so that the sand it contains may gradually run through the aperture at the bottom into the glass beneath, which is empty. The quantity of sand is measured for an hour and it takes just half an hour running from the glass above into that below, and vice versa. A Cossack is placed as a sentry to watch it, with the injunction, when the sand has run, to turn the glasses, so that the sand may in turn pass from the replenished glass into the empty
In this way the hour-glass, after being turned twice, measures one hour, which being observed by the Cossack on duty, he is bound to run directly to the church, and give as many strokes on the bell as there are hours.
Such a singular mode of notifying the hours must, of course, be liable to great irregularities. Any negligence on the part of the Cossack in turning the glass at the nick of time, however trifling, will throw the computation of time completely out of order.
Notwithstanding all our ingenuity in varying our occupations, so as to render the long winter
evenings less irksome, I cannot say we were successful; and this I attribute to the nature of our employments, which necessarily were more artificial than real, being wholly without an object. The cook, at her work in the kitchen, preparing the simplest of meals to which our hungry family is to sit down, was more fortunate in possessing the happy power of filling up the hours without prolonging them. Needle-work, reading, and talking were our only resources, but our needle-work is destined to be of no use whatever to any human being ; reading is but a state of wasteful passiveness, if the train of ideas which it awakens cannot be embodied in acts; and as for conversation, a chief requisite is, that our observations should call up corresponding or antagonistic sentiments, and give rise to new ideas and thoughts. Failing to accomplish any such ends, conversation becomes blank, motionless, and dead.
Of all evenings, the holiday evenings are the most irksome; as on such days all sorts of work is erased from our short catalogue of occupations. While the light lasts, we spend our time in sorting worsted for our weekly labour ;
then follows the wearisome interminable evening. My eyes ached with reading, my lips, as though they were sealed for conversation, opened only to yawn; ennui, with its heavy weight, oppressed me, bringing in its train an array of dark melancholy images. By what means could I overcome that terrible foe? I seated myself, and again took up a book, but the next moment found myself walking the room, distracted with anxious thoughts. To disperse them, I went at last to the rooms opposite, to see how my landlady and her family spent their time. I found them all assembled; they cracked their nuts—that is, did nothing. Soon, however, I perceived that they were prepared to listen to a story-teller, and I was easily prevailed upon to make one of the party; but I requested them, as we were rather crowded, to come with the story-teller to my apartments, where we should have more room. They willingly accepted my invitation, and returning with me, took their seats in the centre, while the story-teller planted himself on the threshold. The circle was increased by the servants, and all waited with impatience, though knowing by heart what was to be related. Amidst perfect