Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 5/Ana (October 26, 1861)
Serfdom and Emancipation in Russia.—There are amongst the Russian nobility some who possess from 70,000 to upwards of 100,000 serfs. Count Schermetyeff is considered the richest nobleman in Russia. He possesses 120,000 serfs, amongst whom are several whose wealth amounts to millions. His annual income is estimated at 1½ million silver roubles (250,000l.). Every serf pays to his master from 10 to 15 roubles annually, so that the annual income of a possessor of 100,000 serfs cannot be less than 400,000l., independent of the income he derives from forests, mills, fabrics, &c. The total number of serfs now in Russia is upwards of 23,000,000, and taking the value of each serf at only 300 roubles (50l.), the loss sustained by the owners, by the emancipation, is certainly not less than 1,150.000,000l.! or half as much as the National Debt of this country. Taking the interest at 5 per cent., the loss of annual income to the nobility cannot be less than 67,000,000l., or more than double the interest we pay for the National Debt. M.
A Reverse of Fortune.—During the confinement of the last Earl of Cromartie in the Tower his nephew, although taking no part in the rebellion, was imprisoned with him, and on his uncle’s discharge was permitted to leave with him. The earl and countess (earl and countess no longer now) resolved to reside in London, at least for some time, and as simple Mr. and Mrs. Mackenzie fought earnestly against their misfortunes. Their nephew and his two daughters had also to struggle bravely for daily bread. In the end, George III. restored some portion of the attainted property to the earl’s daughter, on whose neck was plainly visible the mark of a blood-red axe, and admitted his nephew into the Charterhouse. But the earl’s two great-nieces had to fight the battle of life alone, and obtained a precarious living by making shirts and mending linen for their friends, and taking care of sets of chambers for gentlemen of the law. In Cannon Street there is a house that looks out upon a little railed-in grave-yard, and there these patient, suffering ladies resided for some time, nobly fulfilling the duties of their fallen station, and dying at length honoured and lamented by all who knew them.
“Ready, Aye Ready!”—We all remember that when, during the Indian mutiny, it was thought necessary to despatch Sir Colin Campbell to Calcutta to assume the command of the forces, the gallant old general gained great credit for having demanded only twelve hours to prepare for his departure. In this, however, he was outdone by the late Earl Cathcart, who when asked by Lord Hill, the then General Commanding-in-Chief, what time he would require to prepare himself for active service, and proceed to Canada with despatches, replied, as he rose to take his departure, after a moment’s hesitation, “Half-an-hour, my lord; but if necessary I will be quite ready in twenty minutes.”