Edward Daniel Clarke writes about his experience with Don Cossacks in the first Stanitsa he visited in the Don Country

One evil consequence, which‘ arises from attention paid to tales of danger (Stereotypes), is the habit it occasions of putting false re presentations even on the most harmless and trivial incidents. The first night of our residence among the Cossacks, we were full of idle fancies. The ataman was intoxicated, and, accompanied by his wife, set off into the country, leaving us in possession of his house. As we had heard a violent altercation without doors, and saw the ataman in a corner of the court, frequently whispering to other Cossacks, and pointing to our carriage, the effect of the silly stories we had heard began to operate, and we imagined some preparation was being made to rob us; for which purpose it was necessary to get rid of the ataman and his wife, as they otherwise might be made responsible for our safety. The apprehension of our servants did not diminish the suspicion thus excited; and we concluded the plot the more probable, as we knew that they had never before seen an equipage so attended. Since this happened, I have every reason to believe that the good old ataman was only giving directions for our advantage, and like all intoxicated persons, was making an important concern of the most trifling business, such as cording and repairing our wheels, and a few other commissions we wished to have executed. How easy it is for travelers so circumstanced to raise an alarm about nothing; make a great stir to defend themselves against ideal danger; offend those who intended good instead of evil ; and finish, by congratulating themselves upon an escape, when there was not the slightest reason for an apprehension! . We received a visit, on the evening of our arrival, from the ataman of one of the neighboring stanitzas, who chanced to be in the place. He represented the voyage down the Don to Tscherchaskoy, as very pleasant, but tedious; and that it would require at least a month for its performance. The mosquitoes also are very troublesome upon the water; and the voyage is liable to impediments from the frequent shallows of the river. Below the town, which stands on the western bank of the Don, we beheld the river, augmented to a most magnificent piece of water, rolling in a full and copious tide, and marking its progress through a sterile country by clumps of trees an flowers, and an abundant vegetation, which always hangs about its sloping sides; but all beyond is bare and desolate. I bathed frequently, and found the current very rapid. The fine sterlets caught here were often brought to regale us during our stay. I preserved one of them tolerably well, but they have often been engraved; and were this not the case, 21 young sturgeon will give a very good idea of their appearance. A fine large fish is also taken in this river like the bream in shape, but quite equal to the sterlet in flavor. We had one served up which weighed half a poud (eighteen pounds). The women of this place are very beautiful. The shops are supplied with several articles of luxury which he did not expect to find; such as loaf sugar, costly silks, and other wares of large towns. But by much the most numerous articles were sabres. The Cossacks call this weapon sabla, the Poles and Malo Russians, sabel. We found the bag pipe frequently in use. The puppets common in Calabria, and carried by the inhabitants of that part of Italy over all Europe, were much in vogue here. They consist of two small figures suspended by a string, one end of which a piper fastens to his knee or to one of his fingers, while the other end is held by a gimblet screwed into a table or floor; and by the motion of the knee, the figures are made to move in time. The Calabrians manage them with great dexterity, and often collect a crowd in the streets of London and Paris. We saw also the Cossack dance, which much resembles the dance of the gipsies in. Russia, and our English hornpipe. Like every other national dance, it is licentious. As the female recedes or approaches, the male dancer expresses his desire or his disappointment; yet so adapted is the figure of the dance to the small rooms in which such exercise is chiefly carried on, that the performers hardly stir from one spot. The whole expression is by movements of the body, especially of the arms and head, accompanied by short and sudden shrieks, and by whistling. The method they exhibited of moving the head from one shoulder to the other, while the hands are held up near the ears, is common to the dances of all the Tartars, Chinese, and even the inhabitants of the isles in the Pacific Ocean. In the evening of June 16, we left this hospitable stanitza, crossing the Don on a raft. The people of the house in which we had been so comfortably lodged, positively refused to accept payment for all the trouble we had given them. No entreaty could prevail upon any one of them to allow us further satisfaction, by any remuneration. “Cossacks,” said they, “do not sell their hospitality.”