Short URL for this page:
In the XVIIIth century, particularly in the second half, there were many travellers in Ukraine who left extensive memoirs containing their impression of the Ukrainian people and the Ukrainian land. But the character of these memoirs differs sharply from those of the preceding century because of the change of the political status of Ukraine. In the XVIIth century Ukraine had been an object of international politics; and various European powers had endeavored to win the friendship of the Kozak state for their respective governments. Now, after the weakening and destruction of that state by Moscow, Ukraine had become the object of alien exploitation. Foreigners who for one reason or another visited Ukraine were still impressed by the beauty of Ukrainian nature and praised the Ukrainian customs and the old Ukrainian culture. However, they stressed the economic exploitation of the country and its economic possibilities for Moscow.
An exception to this type of foreign comment of foreign writers on Ukraine are the memoirs of General Christoph Hermann Manstein, which cover the years 1727‑1744. Although they are not completely impartial and do not altogether reflect the actual situation, they do present a fairly accurate historical account and they are interesting because of the author's views on the Ukrainian troops and the influence of Ukrainian culture on Muscovy.
The translation of Manstein's memoirs into the English language bears the title: Memoirs of Russia, historical, political, and military. Translated from the original manuscript. The book was published in London in 1773 and contains maps of Perekop, the Crimea and the Sea of Azov, as well as diagrams of the fortifications of Azov and Ochakov.
26. Map of Ukraine from the book,
The map as printed is unreadable even magnified.
27. Map of the Dnieper delta and the city of Ochakiv
20. The City of Ochakiv
The illustration is a substitute for the printed image, which was inferior.
p140 Under date of April 7, 1728, General Manstein writes in his Memoirs:
"It was nearly about this time that the Cossacks of the Ukrain made some stir. Peter I had brought them low enough after the revolt of Mazeppa, to hinder them from ever shaking off his dominion, so that not having dared to lift their heads during the life of that Prince, they imagined the time of the ministry of Peter II would be more favorable and began to raise commotions; but they were soon reduced to order, by the sending troops against them. Some of the richest, and the most turbulent, were seized, and sent to Siberia: the rest begged mercy, and obtained it; not, however, without having been compelled to send a numerous deputation to Moscow, to implore the imperial mercy. Their Prince, or Hetman, was at the head of it. They were, besides, obliged to leave hostages for the security of their future good behaviour. Since that time, there has been no need of watching them so narrowly. They were so thoroughly subdued after the last war with the Turks, that they cannot for a long time be in any condition of revolt. As probably this nation is not sufficiently known, I shall here give a succinct account of them. There are several kinds of the Cossacks; the most known are those of the Don, the Zaporozhian Cossacks, and those of the Ukrain. It is of these last I have just made mention; they inhabit the Ukrain, which is also called Mala Russia, or little Russia, and is unquestionably one of the finest countries in Europe; one half of it belongs to the Emperor of Russia, the other to Poland. The Borysthenes or Dnieper divides this country into two parts, forming at the same time their respective frontiers.
"These Cossacks were once a free nation, descending from the same race; when these people were united, they could bring a hundred and fifty thousand men into the field. They were long under the protection of the republic of Poland, and did it great service in its wars against the Turks; but the Polanders attempting to treat them like slaves, they revolted about a hundred years ago, under the conduct of the Hettman Chmelninski (Khmelnytsky) . . . Some years after the death of Chmelninski, the successor, p141 Doroschenko (Doroshenko), gave himself and country up to Russia. This brought on a war, which terminated in the destruction of the town of Czigrin (Chyhyryn), at that time the capital of Ukrain. This happened in the year 1674.
"For the first years ensuing they preserved all their privileges, and were governed by a Prince of their own chusing among themselves. But the Hettman Mazeppa having taken the part of Charles XII, King of Sweden, Peter I reduced this restless people to a condition of inability of striving to shake oftº their yoke.
"At present they have no longer any privileges, and are looked upon in the light of a conquered province. Their last Hettman, Apostel (Apostol) dying in 1734, they were not left at liberty to chuse another, and are actually now governed by a Russian Regency, which resides at Glouchov (Hlukhiv). They can absolutely bring two and twenty thousand men into the field . . .
"The Zaporozhian Cossacks inhabit the islands of the Borysthenes, and a small tract of country on the side of Crimea, beyond the cataracts . . . Their general, or chief of their republic, has the p142 appellation of Koschovy (Koshovy) Hettman. They chuse him among themselves, and for so long a time as pleases them, they pay him a blind obedience; but the moment they are discontented with him, they depose him, without further ceremony, and chuse another in his place."
In the "Supplement" on pages 391‑394 Manstein writes about the founding by Peter I of the Russian Academy and other schools in Moscow, where the principal organizers and professors were Ukrainian pedagogues, educated in the Kiev Academy (University) and other Ukrainian schools. He writes:
"When Peter I ascended the throne, he found his people plunged in the greatest ignorance; even the priests could scarce write: the most essential qualities required at that time in a good divine, were, to read currently the service, and to know the ceremonies of the church; if with that he had a fine bushy beard, and a grim visage, he passed for a great man.
"It was only the clergy of the Ukrain that had some tincture of erudition; yet among them it was that there was a necessity of selecting personages fit in any degree to instruct others. For Peter I having wished that his subjects, and particularly the clergy, should be more enlightened, gave it in charge to the Archbishop Stephen Javorsky (Yavorsky), to establish schools in the monasteries of Moscow, and in other proper places. This prelate sent for professors from Kiow (Kiev) and Czernichov (Chernihiv), and the instruction of youth was begun, who did not, however make much progress. In 1709, he found in the monastery of Kiow a monk, called Prokopowich, who had not only in his youth studied under the Jesuits in Poland, but afterwards passed some years at Rome; and in different academies of Italy, where he had acquired a reasonable fund of learning; and having sent for him to Petersburg, declared him abbot of the monastery of St. Alexander Nevsky, newly built near that capital, giving him at the same time in charge, to reestablish some good schools and academies in Russia.
"Prokopowich began with having several youths taught in a school which he had set up in his own house, and after that they p143 had made some progress, he sent them to foreign academies, to acquire learning enough to be employed at their return in quality of professors and preceptors, in the academies that were to be instituted in Russia. In the meanwhile, till these new establishments could be ready, he took care the instructions of youth should be continued in the monasteries, where they were taught the Latin language, and the first elements of philosophy. Prokopowich did not, however, succeed in his design. A part of those whom he had sent abroad did not return at all; and those that did, did not bring back with them the necessary qualifications for instructing others; so that the scheme fell to the ground."
Some information on the Zaporozhian Kozaks is found in the Relation by Claudius Rondo of 1730, a British resident in Petersburg. His report pertains to that period in the history of the Zaporozhian Kozaks when, after the first destruction of the Zaporozhian Sich by the Russian troops, the Kozaks returned from Oleshky and Kaminka and founded a new Sich. Rondo writes that the Zaporozhians
"are a very robust and enduring people . . . They are a caste of Knights, who exclude women from their p144 society . . . If there happen to be cases of thievery and the thief is apprehended on the spot, he is punished for his crime by hanging by his rib. Also a murderer is punished by death and most often he is buried together with his victim in the same grave."
Dr. John Bell of Antermony (1691‑1780), being in the Russian service at the time of the Russo-Turkish War, 1736‑1739, on instructions of the Chancellor Osterman, travelled with a mission to Constantinople. With this he had to pass almost through the whole of Ukraine, which he describes in the Diary of his journey.
On December 15, 1737 John Bell arrived in Hlukhiv, "the first town in Ukraine, a large and populous place"; next day he was in Baturin, "formerly the residence of the Hetman Mazeppa . . . The country adjacent is very pleasant and exceedingly fruitful." Kiev is described in detail, and here the traveller remarks: "Besides they have a University of Kiev of considerable repute in these parts." This is a reference to the famous Kiev Academy, for two centuries a cradle of culture in the East of Europe.
22. Map of Ukraine by T. K. Lotter, 1745.
One of the most interesting descriptions of Ukraine in the second half of the XVIIIth century is that in the Travels by Joseph Marshall, an English author, covering the years 1768‑1770. It is a very detailed description of the economic life of Ukraine; particularly the cultivation of flax and hemp by Ukrainian peasants. The author is particularly impressed by the cultivation of flax and hemp, the cultivation of which he recommends for North America.
The title of Marshall's book reads: Travels Through Holland, Flanders, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Lapland, Russia, The Ukraine and Poland in the Years 1768, 1769 and 1770. The first edition of the book appeared in London in 1770 and was followed by four other editions. We are using the text of the second edition which appeared in 1772 in London.
23. The title page of the book:
Although Ukraine at that time had been completely subjugated by Russia, John Marshall did not hesitate to single it out as a separate nation, and underscored its geographical, economical p146 and cultural independence of Russia, which he termed Moscovia.
Under date of October 23, 1770 Marshall on leaving Moscow, wrote:
I left that city, taking the road towards Ukraine. I was fortunate in having very fine clear weather, and found the roads everywhere exceedingly good, no autumnal rains having yet fallen. I got that night to Molasky, the distance •about sixty miles, nor did I find such a day's journey too much for the horses; the country all this way is a level plain, very fertile, and much of it well cultivated, with many villages, and in general, a well peopled territory; the peasants seemed tolerably easy, but scarcely any of them have any property. From Molasky, •fifty six miles carried me the next day to Arcroisy, a small town situated in a territory not so well peopled as the preceding; the villages thinner, and but a little of the soil cultivated, being covered with much timber of great size and beauty. The 25th (October, 1770) I reached Demetriovitz, at the distance of •more than fifty miles, every step of which was across a forest in which I saw not the least vestige of any habitation. The road was not difficult to find, even if I had not had a guide, but it is not much frequented; the mercantile people making this part of the journey to the Ukraine by water. This immense track of wild country, is part open meadow and part covered with timber, which would in England be thought a glorious sight; the soil is all a fine sand, and, if I may judge from the spontaneous vegetation, a most fertile loam; so that nothing is wanting but an industrious population, but without that, the whole territory is of little worth. I baited the horses in the middle of the forest, and refreshed myself and company, much admiring the uncommon extent of country that was without the least appearance of being inhabited. I apprehended that the country must have a great resemblance to the boundless plains and woods of Louisiana.a
"The 26th I rode forty miles through an uninhabited plain to Serensky, no timber in it, but all one level fertile meadow. I saw some herds of cattle feeding as if wild, but the land was p148 not a tenth part stocked; for the grass, if we turned out of the road, was up almost to the bellies of the horses. Such meadow would, I apprehend, in any part of England let readily for five and twenty shiftings an acre, yet here of no value. Such are the effects of population, liberty and industry! The same distance the 27th carried me to Brensky (Bryansk), a pretty little town on the banks of a river in the middle of a forest, a place truly romantick. I felt myself rather fatigued with hard riding since I left Petersburg, and therefore rested myself here the 28th, lest a continuance of this great exercise should give me a fit of illness, for which Russia is the most unfit place in the world; for every man out of Petersburg or Moscow must be his own physician.
"The 29th I got to Staradoff (Starodub) at the distance of •fifty miles:b full twenty of which are through a rich and pleasant country, much of it very well cultivated; they were getting in part of their harvest; they cultivate all the grain and pulse common in England and from what I saw I have little doubt but their husbandry is extremely good."
24. A page from the book by J. Marshall
25. A page from the book by J. Marshall
Marshall was especially impressed with the agriculture of the Ukrainians, writing:
"I found they had an idea here,c that hemp is a great cleaner of the land, and that no weeds can live among it, which is what I do not recollect any writer of husbandry mentions, as being the practice of English farmers . . .
"The quantity of hemp sown in all this country is very considerable. Indeed, I was told, that this province, which joins a part of the Ukraine in some places, is much like that country, only the soil is not quite so fine."
The industrial city of Chernihiv, which Joseph Marshall visited on November 1, 1770, is described by him as follows:
" (Chernihiv) is a very well built town, finely situated on the banks of the River Desna, which is navigable for barges of fifty tons, is very well fortified, and inhabited by about fifteen thousand people . . . All the track of country, which lies upon the River Desna, is very rich, and well cultivated . . . For the government, although milder in the Ukraine, and the neighbouring p149 provinces, from having been conquered from Poland, is yet the same, and the police as strict as in any other part of the empire. I made here concerning the danger of travelling through the Ukraine in this time of war, and they assured me, that whether it was war or peace, I should not see the least appearance of any danger; that I should find the Ukraine . . . as well as regulated a province as any county in England."
On November 3, 1770 Marshall arrived in Kiev and wrote in his Travels:
Kiovia, the capital of the Ukraine . . . a great part of it is being well-peopled and cultivated . . . The present race of the Ukraine are a civilized people and the best husbandmen in the Russian empire.
"Kiovia (Kiev), one of the most considerable cities I have seen in Russia is a place well known in the history of that empire; for tho' it has been subject to many revolutions, which reduced it to a low state compared with its former grandeur, yet it has now recovered also those blows; it is well built of brick and stone. The streets are wide and strait and well paved, it has a very noble cathedral, much of it lately rebuilt, and eleven other churches. It has forty thousand inhabitants, and is strongly fortified. The Nieper (Dnieper) is here a noble river; and several larger rivers falling into it, after washing some of the richest provinces , enable this town to carry on a very considerable commerce. It is the grand magazine of all the commodities of the Ukraine, particularly hemp and flax, which in this fine province are raised in greater quantities, and of a better quality, than in any other part of Europe. The Ukraine is the richest province in the Russian empire (1770).
November 5th, I left the capital of this province, and as I purposed making a circular detour of the western part, I went to Buda that day, which is about fifty miles; most of the country rich and very well cultivated; the soil is a black loam, and they raise the various sorts of grain and pulse that are commonly met with in England. I passed through great tracks of stubble ground, from off which the wheat, barley, and oats were carried. And p152 I observed numerous hemp grounds, though not so much of the country is under that crop as corn; in some villages where I made enquiries . . . In the management of their cattle they are very good farmers; they have large stocks, and they house them all whenever the snow is above •four inches deep upon the ground . . . and they sell immense quantities of butter and cheese, though it is extremely remarkable . . . The property of all this country is very much divided; here are very few great estates belonging to nobility: the old inhabitants of the country were very free, and had a great equality among them, and this in possessions as well as other circumstances; and fortunately this continues, though in subjection to Russia, most of the peasants are little farmers, whose farms are their own, with ten times the liberty among them that I anywhere else saw in Russia; the government is extremely cautious of oppressing or offending them, for they never will be in want of solicitations from the Turks to join the Tartars in alliance with the Porte. They pay a considerable tribute, but raise it among themselves according to their own customs; and they also furnish the Russian armies with a great many very faithful troops.
"These points, with the immense value of the trade the Russians carry on by means of their products, hemp and flax in particular, render the province of the first importance. I passed in this line of fifty miles, great numbers of villages and scattered farms.
Buda is a little town, or rather a large village, prettily situated between two rivers in a country perfectly pleasant. I turned off to the north-west and got the 6th to Kordyne a little town fifty two miles from Buda. All this country is equal to the preceding day's journey; I never saw a track of land that had more resemblance to the best parts of England. Nothing could be more fortunate than the weather for my expedition; the rains usually come very heavy the middle of September, and soon after them frosts and snow, but I have yet had a constant azure sky, with warm winds. If it holds five days more, I shall have passed this province, and I do not hear that there is any thing worthy of notice between the Ukraine and Petersburg, p153 therefore the weather will not be so essential to the journey. I remarked in the country I passed today, several tobacco plantations; they resemble hop grounds when the hillocks are not poled; they reckon it as profitable as hemp, which is owing I believe to the ready rent they find for all they cultivate . . . The 7th I reached Leszoryn,d at the distance of six and thirty miles, the country continuing the same; much hemp and tobacco being planted through the whole: At a village by the way where I stopped to make enquiries, I found they preferred a red clay for their hemp, and planted all the black mold with tobacco. I observed many ploughs at work, some with six horses, of a little weak breed, but in general each was drawn by four stout oxen."
Travelling south down the Ukrainian steppe in the city of Ochakov, Marshall wrote:
"All the country is divided into small estates, or rather farms, cultivated by the owners; though I am told that in some parts of the province to the south, where I have not been, there are large estates belonging to the nobles, and that those parts are not near as well peopled or cultivated as these parts; which is a strong proof that much of the good husbandry met with in the Ukraine is owing to the peasants being owners of their lands, and vassalage almost unknown in the province . . . They have, it is true, a noble country, equal, I think, in soil, &c. to Flanders, and almost as well cultivated; but I have seen in other provinces of this empire immense waste tracks of land, not at all inferior in every thing derived from nature; but enslaved peasants are utterly inconsistent with a flourishing husbandry.
"It is this territory (Ukraine) which raises nine-tenths º of the hemp and flax which we import at such a vast expense from Russia; it is therefore deserving of a little attention; for the best politicians, who have given most attention to the affairs of our American colonies, have all of them insisted very strenuously upon the possibility and even ease of supplying ourselves totally from thence. What truth there is in this I know not; but it will be of use to consider this province of the Ukraine with more attention than any writer has hitherto done, because from knowing p154 it perfectly we may judge how far we can reason by analogy when America is spoken of; and this is the more necessary, as the accounts which have hitherto been published of it are strangely contradictory; for on one hand they tell us truly, that the Russian hemp comes from thence; but on the other, they give such a picture of the state of the country, that one would suppose it was possessed by herds of wandering Cossacks, which is utterly inconsistent with the idea of such a state of agriculture as is necessary for making so great a proficiency in the culture of hemp and flax."
Furthermore, he points out the lack of information about Ukraine in Europe, and that such information as is available is scant and not infrequently untrue. It is particularly untrue, he writes, that hemp and flax are being imported from Russia, that is, from Moscow and Petersburg. He continues:
"It has been supposed that hemp and flax, coming to us from so northern a place as Petersburg, would grow in the midst of perpetual frosts and snows; but though we import it from latitude 60 (degrees), yet it all grows in the Ukraine, which lies between latitude 47 and 52, and is besides as fine, mild a climate as any in Europe; this is the latitude of the south of France; and with these advantages, the soil is superior to most I have seen, being in general a very rich, deep mould, between a loam and a dry clay, but without any of that tenacious stickiness which is so disagreeable in moving through a clay country in England. I am clear in the importance of conveying a precise idea, when we speak of soils; but not having been used to practical husbandry as much as I wish I had, I cannot properly make use of the necessary technical terms. To these advantages, which this province enjoys, I should certainly add, whether from accident or natural ingenuity, their good husbandry, which is much superior to any thing that I have seen since I left Flanders.
"After giving these particulars, we may examine, upon a good foundation, the capability of our colonies affording hemp and flax in equal quantities. These gentlemen who have travelled through them, best know how well they answer to the above p155 description; but if I may be permitted to speak on the authorities which many modern relations give us, the settlements on the sea-coasts of North-America will never yield hemp in any quantities; the climate is much too changeable and severe; sharp cutting frosts are met with in Carolina, in 30 degrees of latitude, and a burning sun, equal in heat to any part of the world: in New‑England, Nova-Scotia, &c. where hemp has been attempted, it has always failed, from the severity of the climate and the badness of the lands. But all accounts give a very contrary description of the countries on the Mississippi: from the descriptions which I have read of the track on that river, from lat. to lat. 40, I should apprehend it to be, of all other places in America, the most adapted to this culture: for the soil is rich, black, and very deep; the climate much more regular and pleasant than on the sea‑coast, which is all marshes and swamps, and the lands in immense plenty, and all fresh. Hemp certainly might be raised in those parts to great advantage, provided the descriptions of them, which we have had, are just; which I do not see any reason to doubt.
"But then the misfortune is, that these beautiful tracks of country are without inhabitants; and great numbers of people are necessary for an advantageous culture of hemp. Another circumstance to be considered is, the profit of such an application of the land: hemp would never be cultivated to any purpose in Carolina, or our southern colonies, if the climate was proper, because rice and indico, and I believe even cotton, pay the planter much superior profits; and if indico and cotton were introduced on the Mississippi, as in all probability they would be, hemp would be neglected till those markets failed which took off the more beneficial articles. But, on the other hand, we ought not to regret this, for the national profit is proportionably greater: the more the planter's advantage, the more the national income is increased. Hemp in fact is not an article of culture that is comparable to many others in profit, and will consequently never be cultivated except in those countries where corn and pulse, and other less profitable articles, would occupy the land if that did p156 not; but when the soil and climate will do for richer commodities, it is idle to suppose that poorer ones will be attended to.
"If, therefore, it is an essential point to raise all the hemp in our colonies which we bring from Russia, new plantations must be formed on the manumission, in a latitude that will not do for the rich American staples; such for instance as that of 37 to 40, or thereabouts. The country so included is one of the finest in the world for all common husbandry; so that the inhabitants, like those of the Ukraine, would very easily raise all the necessaries of life, at the same time that their principal attention was given to hemp as their staple."
The well-known German writer, philosopher and ethnographer, Johann Gottfried Herder in his Diary of My Travels of 1769 wrote of Ukraine:
"Ukraine will become one day a new Greece; the beautiful climate of this country, the gay disposition of the people, their musical inclination and the fertile soil will all awaken; from so many small tribes which in the past were Greeks, there will rise a great and cultured nation and its boundaries will extend to the Black Sea, and thence into a far‑flung world."
Karol Chojecki, a Polish nobleman of Cracow who was captured by Russian troops in Cracow and sent together with the other Confederates of Bar (Polish insurgents) through Ukraine into Siberia, left his Memoirs of 1768‑1776, in which he mentions the haydamaks, the Zaporozhians who participated in the Uman uprising against the Russian government.
Chojecki writes that in the town of Polonne over 90 Ukrainian haydamaks were incorporated into a party of Polish Confederates in the fall of 1768. In Kiev, he writes, both Poles and Ukrainians were imprisoned in barracks under such inhuman conditions that five to eight persons died every day, their corpses being left inside for three or more days despite the fact that many of the prisoners were seriously ill.
"Every day," writes Chojecki, "we saw them take them out (haydamaks), punish them by flogging them with knouts and tearing p158 out their nostrils, as is a custom of the Muscovites, and then send them into exile for life."
Going through Ukraine in a convoy of Polish prisoners, Chojecki remarks that the Ukrainian population was unusually sympathetic:
"Nizhyn was a well-ordered, densely populated and well-built city; the buildings were mostly of wood, but a few were built of stone. The inhabitants conducted trade on a large scale, and their merchants were partly Greeks and partly Ukrainians. The inhabitants proved to be very humane: not only the dwellers with whom we had to pass the night were gracious and polite, but all the other inhabitants were equally so, for as we were leaving the city, they passed us on their sleds and threw wheat and rye bread to us and even money. We were deeply touched by the humanity of these people."
But when the prisoners crossed the Ukrainian border and found themselves in Muscovy, conditions quickly changed for the worse, Chojecki wrote:
"We met an entirely new population, which differed sharply (from the Ukrainians) in its behaviour . . . Whenever we entered a (Muscovite) village, the inhabitants regarded us as if we were a circus; they ridiculed us, threw snow-balls and dirt at us, and treated us as enemies; in general, they refused to sell us anything, and if they did consent to sell some things, it was at exorbitant prices."
The German doctor and scientist, Samuel Gottlieb Gmelin, in his four-volume Travels Through Russia (1770‑1784) wrote that the Ukrainians were
"very diligent, gay by nature, and friendly, devoted to music and a drink . . . They like and cultivate cleanliness; therefore, even the humblest house is much cleaner than the richest palaces of the Russians . . . Also, their food is much more delicate."
Gmelin also comments on the clothing of the Ukrainians and upon their appearance:
"They shave their heads. The lower part of their attire (trousers) is made of wool, silk or cloth, which they support with p159 silk sashes; the outer covering, which falls to the heels, is always of cloth. They wear nothing around their necks, and their hats are round . . . The women also wear long frocks of good cloth."
Gmelin also mentions that in Ukraine there was a well developed chemical industry; he was amazed to find that the Ukrainians possessed a saltpeter industry. He was also impressed with the fact that in Ukraine various types of chemical medicines were known and that inoculation against smallpox was common.
An unknown author who wrote an article entitled "Remarks on Travel from Petersburg to Crimea in 1771," which appeared in the Magazine of Science and Literature of Goettingen, devoted much space to the moods of the Ukrainians and the system in Ukraine. On passing through the former capital of the Ukrainian hetmans, Baturyn, the author comments:
"The people as a whole recall with pleasure the times when Ukraine was independent, and feel indignant towards the present government which endeavors to curtail their ancient liberties . . . In the land of these people one can travel much more safely than in states of the greatest police surveillance. This difference is at once evident upon crossing from Muscovy into Ukraine. In Muscovy the post stations usually had to warn the passengers of dangerous places, whereas such places simply do not exist in Ukraine."
21. The city of Kaffa (Theodosia),
The English diplomat Harris Malmesbury, in a letter sent to William Eden from Petersburg on February 2, 1778, characterizes the life of the capital of Catherine II as follows:
"Great splendor and immorality seem to be typical among all classes; servility and kowtowing characterize the lower classes, while conceit and pride are rampant among the upper classes . . . Their (Russians') entertainment, furnishing of homes and the number of servants have a distinct Asiatic character, and despite the fact that they like to imitate foreigners and have nothing of their own to show, a foreigner finding himself among them, is received very crudely."
p160 A very interesting description of Ukraine is found in the writings of J. A. Hueldenstaedt, an academician who devoted much time to the study of the economy of Ukraine. During his first trip to the coast of the Azov Sea in 1771‑1774 Hueldenstaedt describes the coastal town,º their trade and industry, the rivers and the transportation system area around the Sea of Azov. In describing the city of Rostov, he comments on the Kozak settlement outside the city and writes about the shipyards and the types of vessels near Rostov and Tahanrih (Taganrog), which were built by Ukrainian engineers. He writes that Turkish prisoners of war and Ukrainians were working on the enlargement of the port of Rostov.
Hueldenstaedt also writes about the methods of preparing dried fish and canned fish, which at that time comprised one of the main industries in that part of Ukraine. He also refers to the hauling of salt from the salt lakes, which "the Zaporozhians are using for their fish factories." He also describes a leather factory near Azov.
From Hueldenstaedt's remarks it is evident that the Russian administration was trying to settle the unpopulated steppes on the Black Sea with Don Cossacks, who spoke the Russian language, while the Ukrainians were used as specialists in agriculture, industry and shipbuilding. He mentions three Ukrainian settlements near Tahanrih on the banks of the Mius River with 100 families in each. Ukrainian villages were also located in the vicinity of the forts of Mius and Pavlovsk. He writes that the fish industry contributed to the richness of the area, and that the Ukrainians were the people engaged in the fish industry. He also makes a distinction between the houses of the Russians and those of the Ukrainians: the former "for the most part live in smoky huts," while the latter dwell in houses built of clay, which, unlike those of the Russians, had chimneys.
"By order (of the Muscovite government), he writes, "the River Kal‑Mius was declared the boundary between the Don Cossacks and the Zaporozhian Cossacks. But up to the time of the war with the Turks, in which the decisive part was played p162 by the Ukrainian Kozaks, the Zaporozhians had settlements all the way up to the fort of Mius . . ."
In the account of his second journey in 1774 Hueldenstaedt gives much important material on the natural resources, industry and trade of Ukraine. There is also much information about Kiev itself, where, we read, "fruit trees can be found near almost every house."
He also wrote that in Kiev walnut and mulberry trees were to be found, while in "the Podol in Kiev (a section of Kiev) there was a state silk (mulberry) plantation with 500 big mulberry trees." He writes that in the towns of Khorol and Kamyshyn of the Myrhorod regiment (district) a ceramic industry was highly developed, while in "Reshetylivka there was a tannery producing a fine quality of furs for men's hats used throughout Ukraine."
One of the most important centers of trade in Ukraine was the city of Nizhyn, where the merchants were Ukrainians, Russians and Greeks.
"In Nizhyn," he writes, "one could see merchandise from all countries: European, Turkish, Crimean, Muscovite, Siberian . . ." From there they export to Danzig, Leipzig and Silesia all sorts of furs, wax, leather, paste, bristles; and they import from there a thin Dutch and English cloth, Silesian linen, French and German silk and woolen apparel, scythes and dry goods. To Poland they export furs, tobacco, leather and fine leather, and from there they import salt and finished tobacco. Also they export to Moldavia and Turkey such products as rough linen, furs and leather, and import from Moldavia and Wallachia wine and rock salt; from Turkey they import silk and colonial products — sheep, cheese, rice, coffee, almonds, Greek nuts, figs, raisins, spices, lemons, tropical fruits (fresh and preserved), and the juice from them.
The Ukrainians exported to the Crimea such products as rough linen and furs, while importing salt, fine leather, hat furs, nuts, rice and wine. On the Nizhyn market the most common Ukrainian products were rough linen (from Starodub), good leather from Dobryansky on the Dnieper, fine tobacco from Romno, Ivanhorod, p163 Ostriv and Uman, and good whiskey from Korop. The author also cites the prices on the Ukrainian markets, which rose considerably after the liquidation of the Zaporozhian Sich by Russian troops. In Nizhyn, in addition to its famous markets, there were also textile and hat‑making industries. Textile factories also existed in Ryasky near Pryluky and in Baturyn, while fine linen was made in Vyshenka on the Desna.
From the description of Ukraine by Hueldenstaedt it is clear that Ukrainian industry in the second half of the XVIIth century was well developed, due to the fact that the country was on the road to economic recovery in the time of the Ukrainian Kozak state.
Jean Benoit , author of Annals of Little Russia (Paris, 1778), wrote in the preface to the book:
"The chronicle which we are now publishing is a history of a people who are more glorious than they are known, and whose early history dates back 800 years, but whose name has been barely known for the last 200 years."
The Ukrainian people, he wrote, are worthy of the attention of every enlightened European,
"because, if the picture of the efforts of that people toward the preservation of their liberties, faith system and customs — in one word, of everything which is treasured by a man is of interest to our century, avid of knowledge, then we are incapable of sufficiently appraising the ardor and motivation which activate these people."
We read that the Ukrainian Kozaks
"preferred the inconveniences of difficult campaigns rather than the tranquil life of slaves. From their history we learn how fathers passed on to their sons the proud feeling of independence as the best heritage, where 'Death or Liberty' was the only real bequest which passed from father to son together with the grandfather's arms."
"The Ukrainian Kozaks were a peaceful people; they responded initially by giving in to the usurpation of Polish magnates and clergy; but later on, when they realized that there existed only one motive — to destroy them — it was not surprising that they should have taken to the sword in order to throw off p164 the yoke and manifest their inclination for independence . . . This people, rich in the historical tradition which was passed down from generation to generation, threw off the yoke of serfdom, and the oppressors cannot forgive them for it. This, that the Kozaks did to protect themselves, is looked upon as a revolution, and every uprising is considered a crime . . ."
Scherer characterizes the Ukrainians as follows:
"The Ukrainians are tall and strong people, friendly and hospitable, not disposed to impose upon others, but not tolerating any limitation of their own personal liberty . . ."
Another Western European writer, Johan Christian Engel, in the preface to his History of Ukraine and the Ukrainian Cossacks, and also of Galicia and Lodomeria (Halle, 1796) writes:
"Ukraine, from the viewpoint of territory is equal to the Kingdom; it is a for there is land liberally endowed by nature; it is a frontier wall between cultured Europe and uncivilized Asia, a pasture and gateway to so many Asiatic hordes which have tried to invade Europe, and for this reason alone it merits much attention. Now Ukraine forms a part of the great Russian empire. But how did it come to be under Russia? How did it happen that the independent Kozaks found themselves under the Muscovite yoke, how did the Muscovites succeed in putting shackles on the Kozaks, who in the past were the terror of the Turks, Tartars and Poles? How did it happen that the place of a constitutional Hetman, who was bound to the Kozaks, is taken by a governor (Muscovite)? The history of the Kozaks also had a great influence upon the history of Poland, Sweden and Transylvania. Without it the splendor and the decline of Poland could not be imagined. The successors of Charles Gustave and Charles XII might have ruled up to this day in Warsaw, Moscow and Petersburg, as was desired by Khmelnytsky and the Kozaks of Mazepa. And perhaps Rakoczi would have become a second Batory, had he not been stopped by the Kozaks in his campaign of 1657 . . . The history of the Kozaks is instructive in itself. The energy of the entire people as well as of individuals . . . manifested itself on the battlefields of Bilhorod, Korsun and Zbarazh, as well p165 as on the heroic undertakings of Khmelnytsky and Mazepa. One needs only such a pen as had the one who depicted with such art and intelligence the separation of the Netherlands."e
At the end of the XVIIIth century, as is known, the Russian government began the colonization of the Black Sea Steppes, the conquest of which had cost the Ukrainians tremendous sacrifices during several centuries. This colonization was conducted with the assistance of various foreigners who were given special privileges, such as state loans, equipment, exemption from taxes, and the like. Similar privileges were also enjoyed by Russians brought from Muscovy. At the same time the Russian government pursued a different policy with respect to the Ukrainians in the same area. Not only did they not enjoy any of these privileges, but their taxes were extremely heavy and crushing. In addition, the Russian government treated them with suspicion, because they were Kozaks, former Zaporozhians and "followers of Mazepa" (mazepyntsi), always ready to fight for their political and cultural liberty, independence, and human decency.
This colonization of the Black Sea steppe was rather severely criticized by Digurov, a professor of the Kharkiv University and a Frenchman by birth, who had Russified his name. In his work, De la Civilisation des Tatars-Nogais, he writes that the Ukrainians who settled together with the Tatars on the River Molochna and who came from Central Ukraine, were living under extremely adverse conditions.
"The chief reason for their poverty is that they have come here without any means, while at the same time they have been compelled to pay taxes although they have very little land."
Discussing the methods which eventually could elevate the status of these Ukrainian settlers, Digurov writes:
"Why not give them some agricultural equipment, cattle and money for the construction of houses? They certainly would return this loan with no less dispatch than the Italians, Germans and Jews . . . An exemption of their taxes for five years by the 'captain-managers' (Russian administration) would be a true relief for them."
p166 But such voices as this were very few and, as a rule, ignored.
About 1775 there was published an anonymous work in French entitled Le Faux Pierre III ou la vie et les aventures du rebelle Jemelyan Pugatschev. It was suspected that the author of this book of 296 pages, was in all probability the French Minister to the Russian government, Duran, who hid his identity behind the initials, "Mr. F. S. G. D. B." It was claimed that this book, directed against the despotism of Catherine II, was published in London, but in reality it was published in Paris. In this book we find some interesting references of the Ukraine and the old‑time Ukrainians (les anciens Ukrainiens) and their persecution by the Russian troops at the time of the destruction of the Zaporozhian Sich by Catherine II. Duran emphasizes that the territory of Ukraine lies between Poland and Russia (Moscovia) and that in this territory are a number of greater and larger rivers — Dniester, Boh, Dnieper, Desna, Donets, Don, Samara and others.
On page 30 of the book the author gives the following explanation of the name "Ukraina" and "Okraina":
"One has to make a distinction between Ukraine, which the geographers also call the Land of the Kozaks, and l'ukraina or l'ocraina, of which we speak now. The former (Land of the Kozaks) lies between Poland and Russia, and is extremely fertile . . . has a few large rivers . . . L'ocraina, on the other hand, is a land still covered with forest and almost uncultivated, and is populated by Tatars who pay contributions and have no cities or towns. It (ocraina) lies between Southern Muscovy (Moscovie Méridionale) and Little Tartaria."
There is no doubt that the author had in mind a district (okraina), comprising areas of the present‑day districts of Voronizh, Kharkiv and Yelets. This small territory, which was known as okraina, was identified on some maps of that time, for instance, on the map of J. Massy of 1633, on the globe of Cornelius of 1660‑1670, found in the Bibliothèque Nationale de Paris, and in the atlas of De Witte of the XVIIth century. (See the Dutch map in this book, found by the author in the Baworowsky Library in Lviv, Illustr. 15).
p167 In the book of Duran, on page 66, the following statement is made with reference to the events that followed after 1654 (the year of the Treaty of Pereyaslav between Ukraine and Muscovy):
"When Ukraine became enslaved by Russia, many Ukrainians emigrated to Okraina . . . and swore to hate uncompromisingly everything that was Muscovite . . ."
Another book that deals with the same period (the end of the XVIIIth century) is the Mémoires sur la Russie, by Charles François Masson, which was translated into English in 1801. (The English translation of 1801 was inaccessible to the author.) f The author, a Frenchman by origin, served the Russian government in 1762‑1802, and was very close to the Tsarist court, its affairs and intrigues. Although he was extremely cautious in expressing his thoughts on the Muscovite tyranny in order to "maintain a balance between the gratitude for the nation which accepted me, and the antipathy toward the government," nevertheless his remarks regarding Ukraine and the Ukrainian aspirations are extremely interesting. He was well oriented in the relationship between Russia and Ukraine and makes a definite distinction between russe and ukrainien. For instance, in chapter XIV, Masson writes:
"The warlike nation of the Kozaks is diminishing from day to day. It will soon disappear from the face of the earth as have disappeared others fallen under the Russian sceptre, unless some happy revolution would soon arrive to liberate it from the yoke which it endures . . . The Kozaks have nothing in common with the Russians, with the exception of the Greek religion and corrupted language.g Their custom, their mode of life, food, wars — are totally different, if one does not take into consideration certain similarities which always exist in neighboring peoples. The Kozaks are most handsome, taller, more active, more dexterous, more ingenious, and above all, more honest than the Russians, less used of the serfdom. They are sincere and brave and speak their minds. Their appearance is less uniform, and the imprint of slavery has not made midgets out of them nor rendered them base . . . The Kozaks are cruel and bloody, but only in battle, p168 while the Russian is, by nature, cold-blooded, merciless and severe . . . The Kozak nation is losing its independence which it enjoyed before uniting with Russia. They are not spared as long as they (the Russians) believe they can go unpunished. The uprising of the great Hetman Mazepa provoked by bad treatment, initiated the beginning of their oppression even during the reign of Peter I. This emperor took away their right to elect their own leader. He conducted compulsory recruitment in the country and had limited Kozak contingents which thereafter could be only periodical and temporary. Angered by their loyalty to Charles XII, he suppressed the Kozaks' families and dispersed their warriors throughout the various districts of his boundless empire. Nevertheless his successors were more careful and respected the remaining Kozak military and civil institutions for fear that by oppressing them more and more severely they might push them under the protection of the Turks or Poland. . . . But as soon as these enemies ceased to be dangerous to Russia, the Kozaks found themselves in the enslavement of Tsarism. Now their ancient republican constitution exists no longer, the equality among them has disappeared . . . The union of the Kozaks with Russia was voluntary and conditional . . . and no foreigner, including Russian, could settle there without the approval of the community, and the republic with great determination defended its frontier against the onslaughts of its neighbors. Such was the ancient status of the Kozaks, a status quite happy, when one compares their complete ancient independence with the complete present‑day enslavement by the Russians . . . their present‑day masters, but comrades of slavery . . . From the time of Mazepa they did not have any great hetman elected from among themselves. This dignity was abrogated and the title alone remained as a decoration for a few favorites of the Russian empresses such as Rozumovsky and Potemkin . . .
"The Russian government is always alarmed and always suspicious because it always oppresses, and it has not limited itself to one safeguard against a nation which has so many claws. p169 It was not enough that it took away their military strength, that it parcels their territory and incorporates it into old Russian provinces. Not so long ago it began dismemberment of the nation itself." (What the author has in mind is the forceful deportation and resettlement of some 50,000 Ukrainians into the Kuban territory, the Caucasus and the Crimea).
Masson concludes his chapter on the Ukrainians as follows:
"The Kozak nation is today in a state of crisis, it is restless and endeavors to emerge from under the heel of a colossus which wants to crush it."
The last of the Western European authors dealing with the Ukrainian problem at the end of the XVIIIth century was , Attorney General (procureur général) and member of the French Convention, who wrote Recherches politiques sur l'Etat ancien et moderne de la Pologne, appliquées à sa dernière révolution (Paris, 1795). The entire sixth chapter of the book is devoted to the Kozaks and Ukraine, "a land," as he writes, "limitless and fertile, beautiful and great as a half of France, where there reigned a pleasant air of liberty, independence, brotherhood and equality."
Touching on the history of Ukraine from the time of the union of Lithuania and Poland, when Ukraine became a vassal state, the author dwells at length on the era of Bohdan Khmelnytsky and the Russian supremacy of the XVIIth century. He writes:
"Tsar Peter I easily gave royal promises to the Kozaks, promises which rulers never refuse to grant but also never fulfill." But after the liquidation of Ukrainian autonomy, "a great part of the Ukrainian lands was distributed among the type of slaves known as the Russian nobility (dvoryanstvo). In Ukraine there were installed Russian courts, the most corrupt in Europe, with an officer caste of Muscovite origin. Finally, Catherine gathered her slaves from all provinces in order to prepare a law codex,º which in fact was never done, and when during that occasion the Kozaks demanded the restitution of their rights and the autonomy of Ukraine, their delegates were shackled and taken to Petersburg where they all died in prison from cold and hunger. p170 The unfortunate Kozaks made their last attempt to liberate themselves from under the Russian yoke, and at the beginning of this century joined the Swedes . . . When peace was established in Ukraine, which always follows enslavement, one day Europe found out about the complete destruction of the Zaporozhians. In her manifesto the 'virtuous' Catherine accused the Zaporozhians of leading 'profligate lives' (!) and of being loyal to their own laws, which she herself — 'this religious tsaritsa' — had sworn to uphold. From that time on Ukraine fell more and more into a state of darkness."
Garran de Coulon ended his chapter on Ukraine with a significant :
"But nature in its creativeness and freedom is stronger than tyranny, and a handful of Goths who escaped into the mountains of Asturia succeeded in expelling the Moors from all the provinces of Spain. The genius of independence wanders also among the unfortunate Ukrainian Kozaks. And it could be that the time is not far off when together with the Crimean and Kuban Tartars under the leadership of a new Pugachev, the Ukrainian Kozaks will change the face of Russia, and Ukraine, enslaved at various times in its history, will no longer tolerate the shame of being shackled by hands, destined to the needle and spindle." (Allusion to Tsaritsa Catherine II)
a So far, none of this is in Ukraine: Marshall has been describing Russia south-southwest of Moscow. Only when he gets to Starodub can he be considered to be describing Ukraine. ("Louisiana", by the way, is not the modern state, which did not exist in Marshall's time: but rather the entire French territory extending from the Gulf of Mexico to today's State of Missouri; and it was indeed one vast wilderness.)
Sichynsky carefully avoids identifying Molasky, the most unRussian-sounding Arcroisy, Demetriovitz, and Serensky, but I'll step in where he feared to tread.
Very tentatively: Molasky is Mozhaysk, 60 miles (97 km) west-southwest of Moscow along what is a main road today and must have been one in Marshall's time. From there, roughly 120 miles (193 km) to Dmitrovka (Marshall's Demetriovitz: 106 miles/171 km, plus some) then about 70 miles (113 km) to Bryansk (Marshall: 80 miles/129 km). The intervening "Arcroisy" and "Serensky" are still resisting me.
Alternatively, there is a tiny village today called Serensk in a reasonable place given Marshall's itinerary, about 80 miles from Bryansk and about 35 miles from Dmitrovka along the modern main roads; it lies on the Serena river, so that if not that place, another is possible. The main difficulty is that Serensk would have come before Dmitrovka. This solution is still not out of the question, though: it wouldn't be the first time a travel writer reversed the stages of his trip, as we find quite incontrovertibly in another almost exactly contemporary 18c travel narrative, in which Tobias Smollett coming from Rome puts Assisi before Foligno, when in fact it is well after it (Travels through France and Italy, p519 of the 1796 edition, with my note there).
b From Bryansk to Starodub is already about 80 miles as the crow flies, let alone by road, so something is wrong here. Marshall will later say (p167) that "from Staradoff to Chernisheu (firmly Chernihiv, from his description of it) is •seventy five miles"; the true straight-line distance is about 95 miles. One wonders how he arrives at his mileages: if there were no milestones, that would account for estimated figures.
c "Here": somewhere on the road to Starodub. On the northern edge of what was then Ukraine. Now in Russia, and probably then as well.
d Sichynsky has Leszoryn; Marshall's original edition has Leszozyn. Leszoryn appears on a 17c map of Ukraine, according to Andrew B. Pernal who reproduces the maps, so I suspect Sichynsky made a good correction, but there does also seem to exist a place called Leszozyn. I have not tried to untangle Marshall's itinerary here to make the identification.
e The author seems to have Hugo Grotius' Kroniek van de Nederlandse Oorlog in mind.
g With "corrupted language" it can look like Masson bought into the Russian line that the Ukrainian language is some kind of corruption of Russian — although he might equally well be taken as meaning that Russian is a corrupted version of the original language spoken in Rus′. Either way, he's wrong, since there's no "corruption" in either direction: Ukrainian and Russian have long been independent languages both growing from a common stock (with many further mutual cross-influences), in the normal way that languages come to differentiate, much like Spanish and Portuguese. Unfortunately, the two languages are to some extent mutually understandable, so that with a bit of ill‑will and hostility, speakers of either language might call the other some kind of bastard lingo.
Images with borders lead to more information.
The thicker the border, the more information. (Details here.)
in Foreign Comments and Descriptions
History of Ukraine
A page or image on this site is in the public domain ONLY
if its URL has a total of one *asterisk.
If the URL has two *asterisks,
the item is copyright someone else, and used by permission or fair use.
If the URL has none the item is © Bill Thayer.
See my copyright page for details and contact information.
Page updated: 27 Aug 22