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small towns, and in country districts; ministration-officials' salaries, rations, and in every home where I have ever &c.—amounts to only one-twentieth of been I have found the inmates well the whole cost of the home; and that content, nay thankful to be there. In in none of them does it amount to the homes, too, that I know in Austria more than one-fifth. the same state of things prevails, but Between the old-a homes in Den. with them I must not deal, as they mark and those in Russia there are have already been described in this fundamental differences, of course; for Review. These old people evidently whereas in the one country these instiall consider the life they lead well tutions are but the complement to a worth living; they have their full meed singularly perfect poor-relief system, of its joys and its sorrows; and on in the other they practically take the the whole they are happy, as happy at place of any poor-relief system at all. least as it lies in their nature to be. Russia, it must be remembered, has And that it is thus is due almost en- no poor law, no poor rate; as a State, tirely to the fact-no one can go about indeed, she does nothing whatever for among them and doubt it-that they her poor beyond punishing them someare treated not only with kindness but times for being poor. In Denmark with sympathy; their feelings are con- old-age homes are public institutions; sidered, their tastes are consulted, and they are there by the law's decree; deference is shown even to their preju. they were built out of public funds, dices. Denmark, in fact, takes thought and are supported in the same fashion. for her worn-out workers; she studies In Russia, on the contrary, they are what they like and what they dislike for the most part private institutions, -lets them even give free rein to their the property either of the Crown or of little foibles, their harmless vanities- individuals; the money wherewith they and it is by so doing, not by lavishing were built was a free gift; it is by on them money, that she has succeed. means of free gifts, too, that they are ed in rendering them the happiest old- chiefly supported. In Denmark it is age community in the whole world. the law that decides who shall and The average cost per head in the Da- who shall not go to these places; and nish homes is only a shilling a day; whoever goes, goes not by favor but in the country it is a little less; in by right, by the right of his own pertowns it is sometimes a little more; sonal merit; while in Russia the law but the difference is never very great. has nothing whatever to do with the In the home at Fredensborg it is ex- matter, and luck, perhaps, has almost actly a shilling a day; in that at Copen- as much as merit. None the less, in hagen one shilling and fourpence-half- spite of these differences, the Danish penny. In the most comfortless of all homes and the Russian have much in the London workhouses it is one shil. common, as is proved by the fact that ling and elevenpence. Thus our poor in both happy, contented old men and miserable old paupers actually cost us women are to be found, old men and considerably more than Denmark's women who are most thankful to be well-cared for pensioners cost her. And there. In the latter the company is no all because we do not take thought for doubt less "select” than in the former, them, but content ourselves with lav. the inmates have not been so carefully ishing on them money, money for sifted and sorted; but this, so far as which we obtain in return scant value. their own comfort is concerned, is a
It is interesting to note that in some point of little importance; for Russians of the Danish homes the cost of ad- are mucb too good-natured, too easygoing, to worry themselves, as Danes table for them. Widows are not ad. and Englishmen do, about the moral mitted to the home until they are status of those around them.
sixty, whereas spinsters may go there St. Petersburg prides itself on its at forty; the spinsters, however, are nice appreciation of social distinctions, by no means so well off when they are and holds that, in decid how even there as the widows. They have only the destitute are to be provided for, half a room each, and they must dine respect must be paid not only to merit in the common ball, for there are no but to birth. This being the case it is servants to wait on them. None the but natural that the most attractive less they have no reason to complain of its old-age homes should be reserved of their lot, for they are treated both exclusively for those who have seen kindly and respectfully, and much better days, for gentlefolk in fact. trouble is taken to make things pleasThis is the Widows' House, as it is ant for them. They have nice little called, in spite of the fact that among dinners, too, every day-a fact that the six hundred old ladies whose home has its influence, of course, on their it is, there are more spinsters than tempers, and thus on the general welwidows. It is a beautiful place, a pal- fare. They had three courses the day ace, the old Tsaritsa Elizabeth Palace, I was
there, and everything served which stands just opposite the well- was wholesome, appetizing, and well known Smolnyi Institute and close to cooked. the great Cathedral. The inmates in In theory the inmates of the Palace their faded, well-worn clothes seem home, as of many Russian old-age oddly out of keeping with their sur- homes, are supposed to contribute toroundings, as they walk up and down wards their own support. The full the great corridors where Court recep- cost per head is 280 roubles a year (18. tions were once held, or make their 7d. a day); and every widow who is way up the splendid staircase to their admitted is expected to pay, or to find gorgeous chapel, or still higher to that someone to pay for her, 250 roubles a quaint little portable chapel which year; and every spinster 200 roubles Peter the Great used always to have a year. Nearly one half of these old carried about with him wherever he ladies do actually either pay for themwent. Still, far from being oppressed selves or find friends to pay for them; by the grandeur of their habitation, and the rest are paid for by the trus. they seem to derive from it positive tees of the Tsaritsa Marie Fund, to pleasure; and certainly everything that whom the house belongs, and who could be done has been done to render make good the deficits in its budget. the place comfortable. One side of the This Tsaritsa Marie Fund was founded Palace is set aside entirely for the at the beginning of the last century widows, each one of whom has a room by Nicholas 'the First in memory of to herself, as pretty a
bis mother, and is administered under could wish for. One old lady whom I the personal supervision of the Tsarvisited had divided hers into three itsa Marie Feodorovna. It now amounts parts—a salon, a dining-room, and a to some 100,000,000 roubles, and out bedroom-and was living there quite of it more than 5,000 old men and in state. The widows dine in their own women are partially or entirely housed, rooms, all their food being brought to fed, and clothed. them from the common kitchen by 'ser- The Old Women's House, which vants who are there to help them with stands quite near the Old Ladies', or their work and make things comfor- Widows' House, is 'a modern institu18.
tion. One wing of it was built in 1862 while the other two-thirds sleep in to commemorate the coming of age of small dormitories. In this house, as in, the Tsarewitch Nicholas, the eldest the Widows' House, the inmates must son of Alexander the Second; and the either pay for themselves, or find some other wing, a few years later, to com- one to pay for them; 100 of them, memorate his death. Here some 400 however, are always paid for by the old women find a refuge in their old Tsar, 155 are paid for out of charity age-a very pleasant refuge too. The funds, and many of the others, by their inmates of this home, unlike their near former masters and mistresses. The neighbors, have not come down in the charge for a woman who has a private world. On the contrary, they are prob)- room is 300 roubles a year (1s. 9d. a ably seeing better days now than they day); for one who has half a room, ever saw in their lives before; for they id. a day; and for those who sleep in all belong to the working classes, the the dormitories, 1042d. Attached to servant-class for the most part, and the home there is a beautiful church, not a few of them were born serfs. and also an infirmary, where the old Probably the long rest they are having women are sent when the end is draw. now is the first rest many of them ing near. have ever had; little wonder, therefore, By far the largest of the St. Petersthey enjoy it, and enjoy it they cer- burg old-age homes, and in some retainly do. When I paid them a visit spects the most interesting, is the I found most of them assembled in Gorodskaia Bogodielna, or Municipal their great vestibule, laughing and House, which Catherine the Second talking together in the most cheery, built at her own expense and presented good-humored fashion, evidently on to the city, having previously forced the best of terms with themselves, one the city to present to her the ground another, and their official caretakers. on which to build it. It is a huge There seemed to be a quite delightful place, much too huge for any old absence of rules and regulations in the people to live in it comfortably, exestablishment, inmates and officials cepting Russians, who seem to have working together in a friendly give- none of that horror of great buildings and-take spirit to make life go and large rooms which marks the Eng. smoothly. The result was as happy a lish and the Danish poor. They are little company as one would wish to evidently quite content, and, oddly.
They showed me the menu-it enough, they look quite comfortable in was in French-of the dinner they had this home in spite of its size. It is curihad on the previous Sunday: "Soupe ous to note how much more is done in pot-au-feu, jambon aux pommes de Russia for women, in the way of proterre, crêpes avec des confitures." They viding them with homes, than for men; showed me, too, the menu of the din- in this Municipal House, for instance, ner they had had that very day: there are 3,000 women and only 800 “Soupe aus choux, côtelettes, estur
Men and women alike belong geon avec du raifort et des pommes de for the most part to the poorest secterre.” They were just going to have tion of the community, the unskilled tea when I left them; and later in labor section; still there are among the evening they would have “gruau them members of a somewhat higher d'orge” for supper, they told me. class-small traders, petty functiona
About one-third of the women have ries, and even a school-mistress or two; either a separate room, or one which for the Gorodskaia Bogodielna opens they share with one other woman, its doors to all classes, just as our
workhouses open theirs. How little every town in England. Both these there is in common, however, between institutions belong to the city; they even this old-age home, which is of were built and endowed by private the lowest class, and English work- citizens, and then handed over to the houses, may be judged from the fact keeping of the municipality, which has tbat its inmates betake themselves und ken not only to watch over the there gladly and regard admission as working of them, but to supplement a privilege. No fewer than 300 of them when necessary their endowment funds pay seventy-two roubles each towards by annual grants. They are both in the cost of their own maintenance; the pleasantest part of the town, the while 700 more are paid for by their healthiest, too, and they both stand in friends, and the rest by the municipal- large gardens. ity. Most of those who pay for them- The Heier Home is beautiful selves are lodged in small rooms, two building, and in a style singularly apin each room; and the other inmates, propriate to its purpose; everything in large rooms. In this home, too, the about it is as simple and plain as posfood is decidedly good, and the old sible, yet every room is so prettily arpeople are all well-cared for; they are ranged that it is a pleasure to see it. all provided with comfortable chairs On one side of the house there are and soft warm beds. The only complaint rooms for thirty-three old men; and I heard, indeed, when I was there, on the other, for thirty-three old womcame from an old lady of German ex- en; and between them is the common traction, who assured me in confidence sitting-room, where the whole comthat the company was very mixed, not pany pass most of their time, the men at all what she had been accustomed reading their papers or playing domito. Her feelings had been wounded, noes, the women sewing or knitting, it seems, by being called upon to share and both alike talking their bardest her room with a woman-a most peace- more often than not. Although the ful, gentle old creature—who had no full cost there is only 180 roubles a “quarterings.”
year per head (1s. a day) the inmates The St. Petersburg Municipality has are well fed and well clothed; they are solved the creed problem in what is, well cared for, too, and life is made for that part of the world, a somewhat as pleasant for them as possible. It is unusual fashion. In Gorodskaia Bo- the rule of the house that everyone godielna there are three chapels, an shall do exactly what he likes, so long Orthodox, a Lutheran, and a Catholic; as he does nothing to hurt himself or and three ministers, a pope, a pastor, to interfere with the comfort of those and a priest, all living side by side on around him. “What would you do if terms of perfect equality, and in peace!. one of your old men came home from
It is not in St. Petersburg, however, his walk drunk?" I asked the Direcbut in Moscow, that the best of the tor. “What should we do?" he reRussian old-age homes are to be found, peated, evidently surprised that there the best, at least, according to our could be any doubt on the point. Western notions. Moscow, indeed, is “Why we should put him to bed, of the model city of the whole Empire course, poor old fellow.” Such acci. in all that concerns the poor; and two dents do happen sometimes, he conof the homes there, the Heier and the fessed, but very rarely; for it is only Boew, are perfect models of what such the thoroughly respectable who are adplaces should be—the very sort of home mitted to the Heier. And certainly a one would gladly see established in more respectable little community I never saw, although the majority of nished rooms, six in some rooms, twelve them belong to the poorest class in others, and they have good dinners only one woman out of the thirty-three to eat every day and good clothes to could read. Some of the men, how- wear. These people, too, belong to ever, were quite surprisingly intelli- the respectable class, and are theregent and fairly well informed. Sev- fore left to go their own way as much eral of them volunteered the informa- as possible. For the aged poor who are tion that they had been serfs, while not respectable, who cannot be trusted one assured me "those were good to go their own way, Moscow reserves days.” He had had a kind master, he a special old-age home, one which is said. One room in the house is re- attached to the Beggars' Depot, an inserved exclusively for popes who have stitution that corresponds roughly to been forced to resign their livings our casual ward. The inmates of this through old age or lack of strength. home neither receive much consideraThere were five of them there, and tion nor are yet allowed much liberty; very happy they were, at least so one still, unless their faces belie them of them told me an old man with a most cruelly, they are treated every long white beard, and eyes that made whit as well as they deserve. one think of Tolstoi.
Of the old-age homes in country disIn the Heier Home I found what I tricts in Russia, I know nothing, nothhad never found before in an old-age ing at least beyond the fact that they home, a mother and son sitting side are few and far between-the veriest by side, both inmates. The mother white ravens, indeed, in some provwas eighty, the son sixty-three, but inces. It is only the town homes that the one did not look a day older or I have visited, and they certainly are younger than the other. They had in many respects admirable. They are spent all their lives working for each not perfect of course—in some of them other; and when the time came that there are glaring defects-none the they could work no longer, they had less they all serve their purpose; for applied for admission and had both the old and destitute, the weary and been taken in on the same day. And worn, find in them a peaceful, comdelighted they were to be there; the fortable refuge. In the worst among old woman's face was simply beaming. them life smacks of Paradise comAll the inmates, indeed, seemed to be pared with life in the Day-Room of keenly alive to the fact that the Fates, our London workhouse. Yet there is in sending them there, had dealt with not a single old-age home in Russia them most kindly.
where the cost per head is so high as The Boew Institution is much larg- in that very workhouse. Thus not er than the Heier, and on that account only Denmark, but Russia, turns to less homelike; but in all other respects
better account the money she spends on it is just as comfortable, as well or- her aged poor than England. Even in ganized and managed. It has 300 in- St. Petersburg and Moscow respectmates, 180 old women and 120 old able old men and women not only fare men, who are maintained at a cost of much better than they fare in London, 120 roubles a year each-93-4d. a day. but they cost their fellows much less. They live in pleasant, prettily fur
Edith Sellers. The Nineteenth Century and After.