Letter from T.H. Barker to his wife Mary, 12 December 1903
12th Decr, 1903
I have just received a batch of letters from (illegible text), one from Mr Herman Deaker, one from Ellis Edwards. — I did not get any letters at Ormsk; in fact I did not remember having asked you to write there. I was there only one day, as I could not afford to miss (illegible text) for Moscow, as I should have had to wait 2 days for another. I will write for the letter to be sent home. It took me 4 days to travel from Ormsk here, thro' the Oural Mountains & over the Great Volga Bridge. I enjoyed the rural scenery much; we had a splendid observation car & sat best part of the daylight in it. The day gets dark only around 8 or 9 however. I was berthed in a beautiful car with a Polish gentleman, who for some reason
appeared to have taken a fancy to me. I was alone
from to Chelabinsk(illegible text), when a gentleman put his head throught the curtains and said 'Denay'? you', I know you and came in. He was a Pole whom I had met 2 or 3 times before. He sat on the opposite berth & said "gut": he knew little more than that of German, & I said "sahen kasiko"(illegible text) which in Russ is 'very good' & he took up his quarters with me, & seemed very happy. He was full of anticipation of meeting "liebe Fran" in Moscow. He wore a fur coat worth £25 & had his violin: & he played for me several times. We also had meals together, & tho he only spoke Russian he seemed happy, & shook hands many times. He had a purse full of English coins, which he said were better than Russian money.
We reached here 5 hours late at 6.15pm last night, & I wired you & I then went first to buy a German guide to Moscow & afterwards spent 1½ hours with the British Consul, Mr or rather Capt Groves. Afterwards I drove round the Kremlin to St Saviour's church, a gorgeous church. There they make much of Christ & less of the Virgin. Russia is most religious. The cabdrivers, "visrochecks'(illegible text) take off their hats reverently on passing favourite shrines. Whatever the weather here we go on wheels, as there is little snow in the streets.today. I had working & re-packing to see to, & did not get out until 11am today.
Moscow is a sight, a city of magnificent, ponderous buildings & ancient, richly coloured walls, towers and statutary, a place of barbaric splendour, with every attention to material and pleasure. The baths are magnificent. We have nothing like them: they are relics of Rome.
I shall be here until Tuesday night, when I leave by express for St Petersburg. I have to see here Baron (illegible text)'s sister, who is married to Major General something, Judge of the Court Martial court, evidently a great & powerful functionary. They say the Russians are courting the English just now.
Mr Groves has just told me of the narrow escape of– how delighted I am at the news. It would have been dreadful had she been burnt. The is better, & I hear the is middling.
I will write you again tomorrow & when I must see Cooke the Foreign Office court agent.
I note all home news & wish best love to you all, am yours ever affect husband, Tom.
PS I hope you have got the Japanese things. Parcels go by English mail via Suez; they are larger than standard letters.