149,00EUR

Western Barbary+Letters from the Baltic, 2 works, 1844
[10253]

First book: WESTERN BARBARY: ITS WILD TRIBES AND SAVAGE ANIMALS. BY JOHN H.DRUMMOND HAY, Esq. LONDON: JOHN MURRAY, ALBERMARLE STREET. 1844" The journey, which forms the groundwork of this small volume, was undertaken for the purpose of procuring for Her Majesty, Queen Victoria, a barb of the purest blood from some of the breeders of horses in the region around Laraiche.V leaves, 106 pages. Second book: Rigby, Elizabeth. Letters From the Baltic. London: John Murray, 1844. (160 pages) Elizabeth Rigby, born in England in the year 1809. As a single woman, she traveled from London to Estonia via Norway, Denmark and Russia in 1838. The century and a half after the old “good Swedish” time, following the Great Northern War, which ended with the Peace of Uusikaupunki, was a relatively static period in Estonian history with few momentous events. This was the time of the crystallisation of the class system and the culmination of serfdom, when various socio-political and cultural undercurrents were also active, preparing the ground for the emergence of industrial society and the national-democratic movement in the second half of the 19th century. In 1844 Rigby published her collection of letters, titled Letters from the Baltic. Rigby notes that the purpose of her travels and her letters are an attempt at "the philosophy of this country" While in Estonia, she stays with a sister who is married to a Baltic German. Rigby describes in great detail the Baltic German nobility, their wealthy habits, dissipated lifestyle and willingness not to study local language and habits. Rigby also writes the Estonian nobility need to match their education more with their land for they can do more "to promote the welfare of his little, fertile, favoured province, than the Russian government has at present inclination to thwart it." In her letters from the Baltic Rigby describes realistically the situation of local Estonian peasants. Unfortunately, she tries convincing the reader that the peasant conditions are those of "free people" and she praises the provinces of Estonia, Livonia, and Courland for being amongst the first to enfranchise their serfs. It seams that Rigby does not know or do not want to know the fact that these same regions were forced to free serfs under Swedish rule, only to have it reinstated when the Russians took power in the early 1700’s. (HV 2006)Rigby, Elizabeth. Letters From the Baltic. London: John Murray, 1844. (160 pages) Elizabeth Rigby, born in Norwich, England in the year 1809, began painting and publishing her written articles in her early 20’s. As a single woman, she traveled from London to Estonia via Denmark and Russia in 1838… quite remarkable for a woman of her time. In 1844 she published her collection of letters, titled Letters from the Baltic. In 1846 she published another book on the region titled, Livonian Tales. She married painter Charles Eastlake in 1849 and moved to London where she lived until her death in 1893. Elizabeth Rigby’s letters are full of beautiful, detailed descriptions of life in the Baltic States during the 19th Century. Rigby travels to Estonia after first taking a steam ship from London to St Petersburg via Copenhagen and Cronstadt (Kronstadt, Russia). She spends the summer in St Petersburg and then travels by sledge with a Russian man-servant to Reval (Tallinn), Estonia. While in Estonia, she stays with a sister who is married to a Baltic German. She quickly integrates herself into the Estonian daily life. Throughout her letters, she describes in great detail the Estonians; which include the Baltic German nobility and the native Estonian maids and peasants. She contrasts this life by describing life in high society Russia at the time. Rigby notes that the purpose of her travels and her letters are an attempt at "the philosophy of this country" (Page 132). Shortly after her arrival into Reval, the family leaves the city and winters at their Country Estate. While there, she spends the winter holidays dining and celebrating with Estonian nobles. Rigby writes in great detail about the lifestyle of these people. She explains how Estonia is divided into about six hundred estates. Landholders generally live on their property and, based on her observations, they manage that property as well. She describes the food as "French Cuisine" and comments that the nobles speak German. Their theaters, newspapers and laws are all written in German. When she notes that the Estonian nobles are, "Earls without earldoms, barons without baronies; their titles unsupported by political consequence, and diluted to utter insignificance by the numbers who bear the same -- their jealousy of rank increasing in proportion to its diminution--" (Page 118), she is not only criticizing the nobility but is also giving the reader great insight into the political situation throughout Estonia in the early 1840’s. Almost in a lecturing tone, Rigby writes that the Estonian nobility need to match their education more with their land for they can do more "to promote the welfare of his little, fertile, favoured province, than the Russian government has at present inclination to thwart it." (Page 131) Rigby writes a very detailed description of how the Swedes and then the Russians came into power in Estonia. She describes different military buildings, military ships and the military service based on conversations that she had with the nobles as well as the peasants who both had to send sons into the Russian Military. She was even fortunate enough to board a Russian ship that was docked in Reval’s port and was able to observe and talk with the Russian seamen about their daily life aboard ship. Rigby also gives an amazing description of the 19th century peasant lifestyle. She is invited into a peasant’s home and writes with great detail how by the wooden structure was wisely built for warmth in winter and coolness in summer. She tells, with some humor, how the pigs stay in the front of the house and that they are filthy and smelly and how she had a hard time distinguishing the piglets from the peasant’s children. Stepping up a ledge whose entrance was so low she had to bend over at the waist to get through, she now enters the large room where the peasants live and she describes the smells, sounds and shadows so vividly that the reader can almost imagine the scene while reading it. Interestingly, she tries convincing the reader that the peasant conditions are those of "free people" and she praises the provinces of Estonia, Livonia, and Courland for being amongst the first to enfranchise their serfs. (Unfortunately, she does not note that these same regions were forced to free serfs under Swedish rule, only to have it reinstated when the Russians took power in the early 1700’s. However, it is true about 100 years later that these people were "enfranchised" by the German nobles, just as she says.) Although she often seems to sympathize with the peasants of Estonia and even states that she believes they have the greatest potential to lead Estonia in a new direction, she calls them "poor creatures [who] were very difficult to please." (Page 52) Rigby also notes that there are three main churches throughout Estonia. There is the Lutheran Church, the Roman Catholic Church and the Greek (Orthodox) Church. Rigby and her sister attend a Lutheran service that was conducted in the Estonian tongue. While there, she notes the poverty the church and the priest and also comments on the clothing of the people, who were mainly peasants. She writes that the people were very plain, rather than ugly. She acknowledges that the Christians were oftentimes cruel and selfish when "converting" the pagans. She describes the Reformation arriving in Estonia and comments that it did little to change life for the peasant. One reason they continued their idolatry to that very day, she noted, was because it was free! Rigby meets influential people while in Estonia and while in Russia. She is introduced to numerous nobles from Estonia and Russia. She meets the Countess Rossi who later becomes famous in the English theater. She also meets the Empress of Russia, who was the wife of Emperor Nikolai I. Although she notes the Emperor’s family is of high moral fabric, she decides that the Russian nobility is not very moralistic. She finds the Russians to be rude, pushy, and very distant from the realities of its territories. She writes with disdain that, "Russia has only two ranks -- the highest and the lowest". (Page 132) Elizabeth Rigby does a fascinating job of weaving together learned history, conversations, personal observations and events into her letters while trying to get into the psyche of the Estonian. It is evident in her writing that she realizes the ruling class of Estonia, the German Nobles, has no desire to integrate into Russian society and that Russian society as no desire to learn about the peoples of Estonia. (DQ 2005)
Western Barbary+Letters from the Baltic, 2 works, 1844 by Murray John, London 1745-1793
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