תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

zin.

funeral entertainments, that is to say, on the third, the ninth, and the twentieth day after the interment. A priest, who is contracted with for that purpose, must spend some time in prayer for the consolation and repose of the soul of the deceased every night and morning, for forty days successively in a tent, which is erected on that occasion over the grave

of the deceased. They commemorate their dead, likewise, once a year: this ceremony consists, principally, in mourning over their tombs, and in taking care that they be duly perfumed with incense by some of their mercenary priests, who, besides the fee or gratuity which they receive for their incense, (or more properly the small quantity of wax with which they thurify the tombs) make an advantage likewise of the various provisions which are frequently brought to such places, or of the alms which are left there, and intended by the donors for the relief and maintenance of the poor ; for the Russian nobility and gentry hope to atone, by their charitable donations, for their manifold and inhuman acts of oppression.

We shall add in this place an interesting account of the burial of Prince Galitzin, in Moscow, taken from Dr. Clarke's Travels, who was an eyeBurial of

witness of the ceremony. This ceremony was performed in Prince Galit- a small church near the Mareschal bridge. The body was laid

in a superb crimson coffin, richly embossed with silver, and placed beneath the dome of the church. On a throne, raised at the head of the coffin, stood the archbishop, who read the service. On each side were ranged the inferior clergy, clothed, as usual, in the most costly robes, bearing in their hands wax-tapers, and burning incense.

The ceremony began at ten in the morning. Having obtained admission to the church, we placed ourselves among the spectators, immediately behind his grace. The chanting had a solemn and sublime effect. It seemed as if choristers were placed in the upper part of the dome, which, perhaps, was really the

The words uttered were only a constant repetition of “ Lord hade mercy upon us !" or, in Russian,“ Ghospodi pomilui!" When the archbishop turned to give his benediction to all the people, he observed us, and added in Latin, “ Pax vobiscum !to the astonishment of the Russians ; who not comprehending the new words introduced into the service, muttered among themselves. Incense was then offered to the pictures and to the people; and that ceremony ended, the archbishop read aloud a declaration, purporting that the deceased died in the true faith ; that he had repented of his errors, and that his sins were absolved. Then turning to us, as the paper was placed in the coffin, he said again in Latin : “This is what all you foreigners call the passport; and you relate, in books of travels, that we believe no soul can go to heaven without it. Now I wish you to understand what it really is ; and to explain to your countrymen upon my authority, that it is nothing more than a declaration, or certificate, concerning the death of the deceased.” Then laughing, he added, “ I suppose you commit all this to paper; and one day I shall see an engraving of this ceremony, with an old archbishop giving a passport to St. Peter.”

The lid of the coffin being now removed, the body of the prince was exposed to view; and all the relatives, servants, slaves, and other attendants, began their loud lamentations, as is the custom among the Russians ; and each person, walking round the corpse, made prostration before it, and kissed the lips of the deceased. The venerable figure of an old slave pre

M

case.

a cere

sented a most affecting spectacle. He threw himself flat on the pavement, with a degree of violence which might have cost him his life, and quite stunned by the blow, remained a few seconds insensible; afterwards, his loud sobs were heard ; and we saw him tearing off and scattering his white hairs. He had, according to the custom of the country, received his liberty upon the death of the prince; but choosing rather to consign himself for the remainder of his days to a convent, he retired for ever from the world, saying, “since his dear old master was dead, there was no one living who cared for him.”

A plate was handed about, containing boiled rice and raisins; mony I am unable to explain. The face of the deceased was covered by linen, and the archbishop poured consecrated oil, and threw a white powder, probably lime, several times upon it, pronouncing some words in the Russian language ; which supposing us not to understand, he repeated aloud in Latin : “ Dust thou art; and unto dust thou art returned !The lid of the coffin was then replaced ; and, after a requiem, “sweet as from blest voices," a procession began from the church to a convent in the vicinity of the city, where the body was to be interred. There was nothing solemn in this part of the ceremony. It began by the slaves of the deceased on foot, all of whom were in mourning. Next came the priests, bearing tapers; then followed the body on a common droski; the whip of the driver being bound with crape ; and afterwards a line of carriages, of the miserable description before observed. But, instead of that slow movement usually characteristic of funeral processions, the priests and the people ran as fast as they could ; and the body was jolted along in an uncouth manner. Far behind the last rumbling vehicle were seen persons following, out of breath, unable to keep up with their companions.

Sect of Raskolniki, or Ibraniki.—This is the only sect that has separated from the established church in Russia. They are supposed to amount to about one million. The date of their separation was about the year 1666. They pretend to be ardent lovers of the Holy Scriptures, and distinguished for their piety. Its members assume the name of Ibraniki, that is, the multitude of the elect; or, according to others, Straoidertsi, that is, believers in the ancient faith : but the name given them by their adversaries, and that by which they are generally known, is Raskolniki, that is, schismatics, or the seditious faction. In defence of their separation, they allege the corruptions, in both doctrine and discipline, that have been introduced into the Russian church. They profess a rigorous zeal for the letter of the Holy Scripture, which they do not understand; and the transposition of a single word in a new edition of the Russian Bible, though this transposition was intended to correct an uncouth phrase in the translation commonly received, threw them into the greatest tumult. They will not allow a priest to administer baptism after having tasted spirituous liquors; and in this, perhaps, they act rightly, since it is said, “ that the Russian priests seldom touch the flask without drinking deep." They hold, that there is no subordination of rank, no superior or inferior

among the faithful; that a Christian may kill himself for the love of Christ; that Hallelujah must be only twice pronounced, that it is a great sin to repeat it thrice; and that a priest must never give a blessing except with three fingers. They are regular, even to austerity, in their manners; but, as they have always refused to

[ocr errors]

OTHER BRANCHES OF THE GREEK CITURCII.

163 admit Christians of other denominations into their religious assemblies, they have been suspected of committing in them various abominations; this, however, ought not to be believed without the strongest demonstrative proof. They have suffered much persecution; and various means have been used to bring them back into the bosom of the church, but in vain; and arguments, promises, threatenings, dragoonings, the authority of synods and councils, seconded by racks and gibbets-in a word, all the methods that artifice or barbarity could suggest, have been practised ; but these, instead of lessening, have increased their numbers, and, instead of closing, have widened the breach. Some wealthy merchants and great lords are attached to this sect; and it is widely diffused among the peasants. It ought to be added, that the members of this sect consider the worship of images as gross idolatry; and, perhaps, this practice, real or supposed, in the Russian church, was one reason of their separating from it.

SEC. III.-OTHER BRANCHES OF THE GREEK CHURCH. Besides the Greek Church Proper, of which the Russian Church may

be considered an independent branch, there are several other branches of the same church, which are scattered over a great extent of country in the East, embracing an unknown, but large number of members. Those which we shall briefly notice are, the Georgian and Mingrelian Greek Churches, the Nestorians, Christians of St. Thomas, Jacobites, Copts, Abyssinians, and Armenians. It

may

be remarked, however, of these several com*munions, that they are in a miserable state of ignorance, superstition, and wretchedness. The Holy Scriptures are but little known among them ; but the British and Foreign Bible Society has, within a few years, directed considerable attention to their necessities ; and has circulated nearly two hundred thousand copies of the Bible, for their use, in their several languages.

Sec. 1.Georgian and Mingrelian Churches. Georgia and Mingrelia are two countries of Asia. The former of which lies between the Black and Caspian seas; and the latter between

The Circassia on the north, and Guriel on the south. Situation of Georgia and former was the ancient Iberia, the latter in part the ancient Mingrelia. Colchis. The inhabitants of both these countries are sunk in poverty, ignorance, and semi-barbarism. Yet an interest attaches to them on account of their religion, which was once more flourishing than at present. They are a branch of the Greek Church. These two people are said to profess the same faith, with this difference, however, that the Mingrelians, residing in the mountains and woods, are more vicious and depraved in morals than the Georgians.

Each of these nations has a pontiff at its head, whom they call Catholicos, or the Catholic—who is obliged to pay a certain tribute to

the Patriarch of Constantinople—but is, in every other respect, Their independent of any foreign jurisdiction. They have bishops Pontiffs.

and priests, who are not only ignorant, but exceedingly dissolute and corrupt. Some of their bishops are able neither to read nor write, and in order to discharge their duty learn to say mass by heart ; which, how

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

ever, they are never inclined to do without being very well paid for their trouble.

The priests are allowed not only to marry, according to the custom of the Greek Church, before ordination, but also to enter into second marTheir Priests. riages at the expense only of a dispensation from the bishop,

which amounts to about a pistole. In short, they may marry a third or fourth time upon paying double fees for every new indulgence. The patriarch, likewise, never ordains a bishop without being first paid the sum of five hundred crowns.

When any person is very much indisposed amongst them, he sends for a priest, who attends him rather in the capacity of a physician, than as a father-confessor ; for he never mentions one word of confession to his patient. · Turning over the leaves of a particular book, which he carries about him for that purpose, with an extraordinary display of fictitious gravity and circumspection, he pretends to find therein the real cause of the distemper, which he usually ascribes to the high displeasure of some of their images ; for it is a received notion amongst them, that their images are capable of gratifying their resentments on those who have offended them. The cause of the disorder being thus decidedly ascertained, the priestly physician enjoins his patient to make atonement for his sins by some acceptable oblation to the incensed image,—that is to say, some valuable present in money or effects, which he always takes care to apply to his own private advantage.

In regard to their baptismal ceremonies, -as soon as an infant is born, the papas, or priest, makes the sign of the cross on his forehead, and eight

days afterwards anoints him with the Myrone—that is, their Baptismal Ceremonies.

consecrated oil; but he never baptizes him till two years

after; and the following form is observed :—The child is brought to the church, and presented to the papas, who immediately asks his name, and lights a little wax-taper ; after which he reads a long lesson, and repeats several prayers suitable to the occasion. After that, the godfather undresses the infant, and plunges him naked into a kind of font or bathing-vessel, full of lukewarm water, mixed with walnut-oil, and washes his body all over, the papas taking no share in this part of the ceremony, nor pronouncing a single syllable during the whole of the time. After this general ablution, however, he advances towards the watervessel, and gives the Myrone to the godfather, to anoint the infant. The godfather accordingly anoints his forehead, nose, eyes, ears, breast, navel, knees, soles of the feet, heels, hams, loins, shoulders, and the crown of his head. After this ceremony is over, he plunges him again into the font, or water-vessel, and offers him a bit of blessed bread to eat, and a small portion of sacred wine to drink. If the child swallows them, it is looked upon as a happy omen. In conclusion, the godfather returns the infant to its mother, saying three times, “ You delicered him into my hands a Jew, and I return him to you a Christian.”

We shall now proceed to the nuptial ceremonies of the Georgians, which are, in fact, nothing more than a mere contract, by way of bargain

and sale. The parents bring their daughters to market, and Ceremonies. agree with the purchasers for a particular sum, which is greater

or smaller, according to the value of the living commodities.

[ocr errors]

A female who has never been married commands a much higher price than a widow, and a virgin in her bloom more than an antiquated maid. As soon as the purchase-money is raised and ready, the father of the bridegroom gives an entertainment, at which the son attends with his cash in hand, and deposits it on the table before he offers to sit down : at the same time, the relations of the bride provide an equivalent, which is generally as near the value of his money as possible, consisting of all manner of necessary household goods, cattle, clothes, slaves, &c. This custom appears to be very ancient; and after the entertainment is over, the bride repairs to the bridegroom's house, attended by her relations, friends, and acquaintance. The procession is enlivened by a concert of instrumental music; the contractors going before, to inform the family that the newly-married couple will arrive soon at home. These messengers, on their first arrival, are presented with bread, wine, and meat ; without offering to enter the house, however, they take the flagon of wine, and pour it lavishly round about it. This libation is consecrated by their hearty wishes for the health, prosperity, and peace of the newly-married couple. After this they return to the bride, and conduct her home to her husband's apartment, in which the other relations and friends are all assembled. In the middle of the room a carpet is spread upon the floor ; and a pitcher of wine, with a kettle-full of dough, called Gom, with which they make their bread, are set upon it. Soon after her entrance, the bride kicks down the pitcher, and scatters the paste with both her hands all over the room. We are at a loss to determine the mystical design of this practice, unless it be emblematical of the plenty and fruitfulness of the marriage state. The ceremony is attended with the usual pastimes and demonstrations of joy which are customary on such public occasions.

The essential part of the nuptial mystery, however, is not solemnized here, but in a private apartment, for fear the sorcerers should cast a spell upon the newly-married couple. The bridegroom and his bride stand with their godfather before a priest, who reads over the marriage words by the light of a wax-taper; and two garlands of flowers, either natural or artificial, are set close to each other on an adjoining table, with tufts of various colours ; a tavaiole, that is, a veil; a glass of wine, a piece of bread, and a needle and thread. The godfather now throws a veil over the bridegroom's head, and, whilst the priest is reading the ceremony, sews the garments of the bride and bridegroom together. This godfather likewise puts crowns upon their heads, changing them three or four times, successively, according to the tenor of the prayers repeated on the occasion. After this, he takes the glass and the pieces of bread into his hands, and gives the bridegroom one bit, and the bride another : this he repeats three times, and eats what is left himself. He now gives them the glass three times a-piece, and then drinks the remainder, which concludes the ceremony.

The veil made use of on this occasion, is the emblem or image of the nuptial bed; and the thread, with which the bridegroom and bride are sewed together, the symbol of the conjugal knot ; but as the Georgians and Mingrelians are addicted to divorce and to discard their wives, and as they are frequently guilty of fornication and polygamy, the fragility of the thread is looked upon as a lively representation of the precarious and

« הקודםהמשך »