Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, No. CCCXXIX. - March, 1843, Vol. LIII.
Author: Various
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The English mania for travelling, which supplies our continental neighbours with such abundant matter for wonderment and witticism, is of no very recent date. Now more than ever, perhaps, does this passion seem to possess us:

"——tenet insanabile multos Terrarum [Greek: kakoithes], et aegro in corde senescit:"

when the press groans with "Tours," "Trips," "Hand-books," "Journeys," "Visits."

In spite of this, it is as notorious as unaccountable, that England knows very little, or at least very little correctly, of the social condition, manners, and literature of one of the most powerful among her continental sisters.

The friendly relations between Great Britain and Russia, established in the reign of Edward V., have subsisted without interruption since that epoch, so auspicious to both nations: the bond of amity, first knit by Chancellor in 1554, has never since been relaxed: the two nations have advanced, each at its own pace, and by its own paths, towards the sublime goal of improvement and civilization—have stood shoulder to shoulder in the battle for the weal and liberty of mankind.

It is, nevertheless, as strange as true, that the land of Alfred and Elizabeth is yet but imperfectly acquainted with the country of Peter and of Catharine. The cause of this ignorance is assuredly not to be found in any indifference or want of curiosity on the part of English travellers. There is no lack of pilgrims annually leaving the bank of Thames,

"With cockle hat and staff, With gourd and sandal shoon;"

armed duly with note-book and "patent Mordan," directing their wandering steps to the shores of Ingria, or the gilded cupolas of Moscow. But a very short residence in the empire of the Tsar will suffice to convince a foreigner how defective, and often how false, is the information given by travellers respecting the social and national character of the Russians. These abundant and singular misrepresentations are not, of course, voluntary; and it may not be useless to point out their principal sources.

The chief of these is, without doubt, the difficulty and novelty of the language, and the unfortunate facility of travelling over the beaten track—from St Petersburg to Moscow, and from Moscow, perhaps, to Nijny Novgorod, without any acquaintance with that language. The foreigner may enjoy, during a visit of the usual duration, the hospitality for which the higher classes are so justly celebrated; but his association with the nobility will be found an absolute obstacle to the making even a trifling progress in the Russian language; which, though now regaining a degree of attention from the elevated classes,[1] too long denied to it by those with whom their native tongue was an unfashionable one—he would have no occasion at all to speak, and not even very frequent opportunities of hearing.

[1] There is, strictly speaking, no middle class in Russia; the "bourgeoisie," or merchants, it is true, may seem to form an exception to this remark, but into their circles the traveller would find it, from many reasons, difficult, and even impossible, to enter.

But even in those rare cases where the stranger united to a determination to study the noble and interesting language of the country, an intention of remaining here long enough to learn it, he was often discouraged by the belief, that the literature was too poor to repay his time and labour. Besides, the Russian language has so little relation to the other European tongues—it stands so much alone, and throws so little direct light upon any of them, that another obstacle was thrown into his way.

The acquisition of any one of that great family of languages, all derived, more or less remotely, from the Latin, which extends over the whole south and west of Europe, cannot fail to cast a strong light upon the other cognate dialects; as the knowledge of any one of the Oriental tongues facilitates, nay almost confers, a mastery over the thousand others, which are less languages of distinct type than dialects of the same speech, offshoots from the same stock.

Add to this, the extraordinary errors and omissions which abound in every disquisition hitherto published in French, English, and German periodicals with regard to Russian literature, and deform those wretched rags of translation which are all that has been hitherto done towards the reproduction, in our own language, of the literature of Russia. These versions were made by persons utterly unacquainted with the country, the manners, and the people, or made after the Russian had been distilled through the alembic of a previous French or German translation.

Poetry naturally forces its way into the notice of a foreign nation sooner than prose; but it is, nevertheless, rather singular than honourable to the literary enterprise of England, that the present is the first attempt to introduce to the British public any work of Russian Prose Fiction whatever, with any thing like a reasonable selection of subject and character, at least directly from the original language.

The two volumes of Translations published by Bowring, under the title of "Russian Anthology," and consisting chiefly of short lyric pieces, would appear at first sight an exception to that indifference to the productions of Russian genius of which we have accused the English public; and the popularity of that collection would be an additional encouragement to the hope, that our charge may be, if not ill-founded, at least exaggerated.

We are willing to believe, that the degree—if we are rightly informed, no slight one—of interest with which these volumes were welcomed in England, was sufficient to blind their readers to the extreme incompetency with which the translations they contained were executed.

It is always painful to find fault—more painful to criticise with severity—the work of a person whose motive was the same as that which actuates the present publication; but when the gross unfaithfulness[2] exhibited in the versions in question tends to give a false and disparaging idea of the value and the tone of Russian poetry, we may be excused for our apparent uncourteousness in thus pointing out their defects.

[2] In making so grave a charge, proof will naturally be required of us. Though we might fill many pages with instances of the two great sins of the translator, commission and omission, the poco piu and poco meno, we will content ourselves with taking, ad aperturam libri, an example. At page 55 of the Second Part of Bowring's Russian Anthology, will be found a short lyric piece of Dmitrieff, entitled "To Chloe." It consists of five stanzas, each of four very short lines. Of these five stanzas, three have a totally different meaning in the English from their signification in the Russian, and of the remaining two, one contains an idea which the reader will look for in vain in the original. This carelessness is the less excusable, as the verses in question present nothing in style, subject, or diction, which could offer the smallest difficulty to a translator. Judging this to be no unfair test, (the piece in question was taken at random,) it will not be necessary to dilate upon minor defects, painfully perceptible through Bowring's versions; as, for instance, a frequent disregard of the Russian metres—sins against costume, as, for example, the making a hussar (a Russian hussar) swear by his beard, &c. &c. &c.

It will not, we trust, be considered out of place to give our readers a brief sketch of the history of the Russian literature; the origin, growth, and fortunes of which are marked by much that is peculiar. In doing this we shall content ourselves with noting, as briefly as possible, the events which preceded and accompanied the birth of letters in Russia, and the evolution of a literature not elaborated by the slow and imperceptible action of time, but bursting, like the armed Pallas, suddenly into light.

In performing this task, we shall confine our attention solely to the department of Prose Fiction, looking forward meanwhile with anxiety, though not without hope, to a future opportunity of discussing more fully the intellectual annals of Russia.

In the year of redemption 863, two Greeks of Thessalonika, Cyril[3] and Methodius, sent by Michael, Emperor of the East, conferred the precious boon of alphabetic writing upon Kostislaff, Sviatopolk, and Kotsel, then chiefs of the Moravians.

[3] Cyril was the ecclesiastical or claustral name of this important personage, his real name was Constantine.

The characters they introduced were naturally those of the Greek alphabet, to which they were obliged, in order to represent certain sounds which do not occur in the Greek language,[4] to add a number of other signs borrowed from the Hebrew, the Armenian, and the Coptic. So closely, indeed, did this alphabet, called the Cyrillian, follow the Greek characters, that the use of the aspirates was retained without any necessity.

[4] For instance, the j, (pronounced as the French j), ts, sh, shtsh, tch, ui, yae. As the characters representing these sounds are not to be found in the "case" of an English compositor, we cannot enter into their Oriental origin.

These characters (with the exception of a few which are omitted in the Russian) varied surprisingly little in their form,[5] and perhaps without any change whatever in their vocal value, compose the modern alphabet of the Russian language; an examination of which would go far, in our opinion, to settle the long agitated question respecting the ancient pronunciation of the classic languages, particularly as Cyril and his brother adapted the Greek alphabet to a language totally foreign from, and unconnected with, any dialect of Greek.

[5] Not to speak of the capitals, the [Greek: gamma, delta, zeta, kappa, lambda, mu, omicron, pi, rho, sigma, phi, chi, theta], have undergone hardly the most trifling change in form; [Greek: psi, xi, omega], though they do not occur in the Russian, are found in the Slavonic alphabet. The Russian pronunciation of their letter B, which agrees with that of the modern Greeks, is V, there being another character for the sound B.

In this, as in all other languages, the translation of the Bible is the first monument and model of literature. This version was made by Cyril immediately after the composition of the alphabet. The language spoken at Thessalonika was the Servian: but from the immense number of purely Greek words which occur in the translation, as well as from the fact of the version being a strictly literal one, it is probable that the Scriptures were not translated into any specific spoken dialect at all; but that a kind of mezzo-termine was selected—or rather formed—for the purpose. What we have advanced derives a still stronger degree of probability from the circumstance, that the Slavonic Bible follows the Greek construction. This Bible, with slight changes and corrections produced by three or four revisions made at different periods, is that still employed by the Russian Church; and the present spoken language of the country differs so widely from it, that the Slavonian of the Bible forms a separate branch of education to the priests and to the upper classes—who are instructed in this dead language, precisely as an Italian must study Latin in order to read the Bible.

Above the sterile and uninteresting desert of early Russian history, towers, like the gigantic Sphynx of Ghizeh over the sand of the Thebaid, one colossal figure—that of Vladimir Sviatoslavitch; the first to surmount the bloody splendour of the Great Prince's bonnet[6] with the mildly-radiant Cross of Christ.

[6] The crown was not worn by the ancient Russian sovereigns, or "Grand Princes," as they were called; the insignia of these potentates was a close skull-cap, called in Russian shapka, bonnet; many of which are preserved in the regalia of Moscow. This bonnet is generally surrounded by the most precious furs, and gorgeously decorated with gems.

From the conversion to Christianity of Vladimir and his subjects—passing over the wild and rapacious dominion of the Tartar hordes, which lasted for about 250 years—we may consider two languages, essentially distinct, to have been employed in Russia till the end of the 17th century—the one the written or learned, the other the spoken language.

The former was the Slavonian into which the Holy Scriptures were translated: and this remained the learned or official language for a long period. In this—or in an imitation of this, effected with various degrees of success—were compiled the different collections of Monkish annals which form the treasury whence future historians were to select their materials from among the valuable, but confused accumulations of facts; in this the solemn acts of Government, treaties, codes, &c., were composed; and the few writings which cannot be comprised under the above classes[7] were naturally compiled in the language, emphatically that of the Church and of learning.

[7] For instance, sermons, descriptions, voyages and travels, &c. Two of the last-mentioned species of works are very curious from their antiquity. The Pilgrimage to Jerusalem of Daniel, prior of a convent, at the commencement of the 12th century; and the Memoirs of a Journey to India by Athanase Nikitin, merchant of Tver, made about 1470.

The sceptre of the wild Tartar Khans was not, as may be imagined, much allied to the pen; the hordes of fierce and greedy savages which overran, like the locusts of the Apocalypse, for two centuries and a half the fertile plains of central and southern Russia, contented themselves with exacting tribute from a nation which they despised probably too much to feel any desire of interfering with its language; and the dominion of the Tartars produced hardly any perceptible effect upon the Russian tongue.[8]

[8] The only traces left on the language by the Tartar domination are a few words, chiefly expressing articles of dress.

It is to the reign of Alexei Mikhailovitch, who united Little Russia to Muscovy, that we must look for the germ of the modern literature of the country: the language had begun to feel the influence of the Little Russian, tinctured by the effects of Polish civilization, and the spirit of classicism which so long distinguished the Sarmatian literature.

The impulse given to this union, of so momentous an import to the future fortunes of the empire, at the beginning of the year 1654, would possibly have brought forth in course of time a literature in Russia such as we now find it, had not the extraordinary reign, and still more extraordinary character, of Peter the Great interposed certain disturbing—if, indeed, they may not be called in some measure impeding—forces. That giant hand which broke down the long impregnable dike which had hitherto separated Russia from the rest of Europe, and admitted the arts, the learning, and the civilization of the West to rush in with so impetuous a flood, fertilizing as it came, but also destroying and sweeping away something that was valuable, much that was national—that hand was unavoidably too heavy and too strong to nurse the infant seedling of literature; and the command and example of Peter perhaps rather favoured the imitation of what was good in other languages, than the production of originality in his own.

This opinion, bold and perhaps rash as it may appear to Russians, seems to derive some support, as well as illustration, from the immense number of foreign words which make the Russian of Peter's time

"A Babylonish dialect;"

the mania for every thing foreign having overwhelmed the language with an infinity of terms rudely torn, not skilfully adapted, from every tongue; terms which might have been—have, indeed, since been—translated into words of Russian form and origin. A review of the literary progress made at this time will, we think, go far to establish our proposition; it will exhibit a very large proportion of translations, but very few original productions.

From this period begins the more immediate object of the present note: we shall briefly trace the rise and fortunes of the present, or vernacular Russian literature; confining our attention, as we have proposed, to the Prose Fiction, and contenting ourselves with noting, cursorily, the principal authors in this kind, living and dead.

At the time of Peter the Great, there may be said to have existed (it will be convenient to keep in mind) three languages—the Slavonic, to which we have already alluded; the Russian; and the dialect of Little Russia.

The fact, that the learned are not yet agreed upon the exact epoch from which to date the origin of the modern Russian literature, will probably raise a smile on the reader's lip; but the difficulty of establishing this important starting-point will become apparent when he reflects upon the circumstance, that the literature is—as we have stated—divisible into two distinct and widely differing regions. It will be sufficiently accurate to date the origin of the modern Russian literature at about a century back from the present time; and to consider Lomonosoff as its founder. Mikhail Vassilievitch Lomonosoff, born in 1711, is the author who may with justice be regarded as the Chaucer or the Boccacio of the North: a man of immense and varied accomplishments, distinguished in almost every department of literature, and in many of the walks of science. An orator and a poet, he adorned the language whose principles he had fixed as a grammarian.

He was the first to write in the spoken language of his country, and, in conjunction with his two contemporaries, Soumarokoff and Kheraskoff, he laid the foundations of the Russian literature.

Of the other two names we have mentioned as entitled to share the reverence due from every Russian to the fathers of his country's letters, it will be sufficient to remark, that Soumarokoff was the first to introduce tragedy and opera, and Kheraskoff, the author of two epic poems which we omit to particularize, as not coming within our present scope, wrote a work entitled "Cadmus and Harmonia," which may be considered as the first romance. It is a narrative and metaphysical work, which we should class as a "prose poem;" the style being considerably elevated above the tone of the "Musa pedestris."

The name of Emin comes next in historical, though not literary, importance: though the greater part of his productions consists of translations, particularly of those shorter pieces of prose fiction called by the Italians "novelle," he was the author of a few original pieces, now but little read; his style bears the marks, like that of Kheraskoff, of heaviness, stiffness, and want of finish.

The reputation of Karamzin is too widely spread throughout Europe to render necessary more than a passing remark as to the additions made by him to the literature of his country in the department of fiction: he commenced a romance, of which he only lived to finish a few of the first chapters.

Narejniy was the first to paint the real life of Russia—or rather of the South or Little Russia: in his works there is a good deal of vivacity, but as they are deformed by defects both in style and taste, his reputation has become almost extinct. We cannot quit this division of our subject, which refers to romantic fiction anterior to the appearance of the regular historical novel, without mentioning the names of two, among a considerable number of authors, distinguished as having produced short narratives or tales, embodying some historical event—Polevoi and Bestonjeff—the latter of whom wrote, under the name of Marlinski, a very large number of tales, which have acquired a high and deserved reputation.

It is with Zagoskin that we may regard the regular historical novel—viewing that species of composition as exemplified in the works of Scott—as having commenced.

With reference to the present state of romance in Russia, the field is so extensive as to render impossible, in this place, more than a cursory allusion to the principal authors and their best-known works: in doing which, we shall attend more exclusively to those productions of which the subject or treatment is purely national.

One of the most popular and prolific writers of fiction is Zagoskin, whose historical romance "Youriy Miloslaffskiy," met with great and permanent success. The epoch of this story is in 1612, a most interesting crisis in the Russian history, when the valour of Minin enabled his countrymen to shake off the hated yoke of Poland. His other work, "Roslavleoff," is less interesting: the period is 1812. We may also mention his "Iskonsitel"—"the Tempter"—a fantastic story, in which an imaginary being is represented as mingling with and influencing the affairs of real life.

Of Boulgarin, we may mention, besides his "Ivan Vuijgin," a romance in the manner of "Gil Blas," the scenery and characters of which are entirely Russian, two historical novels of considerable importance. "The False Dimitri," and "Mazeppa,"—the hero of the latter being a real person, and not, as most readers are aware, a fictitious character invented by Byron.

Next comes the name of Lajetchnikoff, whose "Last Page" possesses a reputation, we believe, tolerably extensive throughout Europe. The action passes during the war between Charles XII. and Peter the Great, and Catharine plays a chief part in it, as servant of the pastor Glueck, becoming empress at the conclusion. The "House of Ice," by the same writer, is perhaps more generally known than the preceding work. The last-named romance depicts with great spirit the struggle between the Russian and foreign parties in the reign of Anna Ivanovna. But perhaps the most remarkable work of Lajetchnikoff is the romance entitled "Bassourman," the scene of which is laid under Ivan III., surnamed the Great.[9] Another Polevoi (Nikolai) produced a work of great merit:—"The Oath at the Tomb of Our Lord," a very faithful picture of the first half of the fifteenth century, and singular from the circumstance that love plays no part in the drama. Besides this, we owe to Polevoi a wild story entitled "Abbaddon." Veltman produced, under the title of "Kostshei the Deathless," a historical study of the manners of the twelfth century, possessing considerable merit. It would be unjust to omit the name of a lady, the Countess Shishkin, who produced the historical novel "Mikhail Vassilievitch Skopin-Shuisky," which obtained great popularity.

[9] The non-Russian reader must be cautioned not to confuse Ivan III. (surnamed Velikiy, or the Great) with Ivan IV., the Cruel, the latter of whom is to foreigners the most prominent figure in the Russian history. Ivan III. mounted the throne in 1462, and his terrible namesake in 1534; the reign of Vassiliy Ivanovitch intervening between these two memorable epochs.

The picturesque career of Lomonosoff gave materials for a romantic biography of that poet, the work of Xenophont Polevoi, resembling, in its mixture of truth and fiction, the "Wahrheit und Dichtung" of Goethe.

Among the considerable number of romances already mentioned, those exhibiting scenes of private life and domestic interest have not been neglected. Kalashnikoff wrote "The Merchant Jaloboff's Daughter," and the "Kamtchadalka," both describing the scenery and manners of Siberia; the former painting various parts of that wild and interesting country, the latter confined more particularly to the Peninsula of Kamtchatka. Besides Gogol, whose easy and prolific pen has presented us with so many humorous sketches of provincial life, we cannot pass over Begitcheff, whose "Kholmsky Family" possesses much interest; but the delineations of Gogol depend so much for their effect upon delicate shades of manner, &c., that it is not probable they can ever be effectively reproduced in another language.

Mentioning Peroffsky, whose "Monastirka" gives a picture of Russian interior life, we pass to Gretch, an author of some European reputation. His "Trip to Germany" describes, with singular piquancy, the manners of a very curious race—the Germans of St Petersburg; and "Tchernaia Jenstchina," "the Black Woman," presents a picture of Russian society, which was welcomed with great eagerness by the public.

The object of these pages being to invite the attention of British readers to a very rich field, in a literature hitherto most unaccountably neglected by the English public, the present would not be a fit occasion to enter with any minuteness into the history of Russian letters, or to give, in fact, more than a passing allusion to its chief features; the translator hopes that he will be excused for the meagreness of the present notice.

He will be abundantly repaid for his exertions, by the discovery of any increasing desire on the part of his countrymen to become more accurately acquainted with the character of a nation, worthy, he is convinced, of a very high degree of respect and admiration. How could that acquaintance be so delightfully, or so effectually made, as by the interchange of literature? The great works of English genius are read, studied, and admired, throughout the vast empire of Russia; the language of England is rapidly and steadily extending, and justice, no less than policy, demands, that many absurd misapprehensions respecting the social and domestic character, no less than the history, of Russia, should be dispelled by truth.

The translator, in conclusion, trusts that it will not be superfluous to specify one or two of the reasons which induced him to select the present romance, as the first-fruit of his attempt to naturalize in England the literature of Russia.

It is considered as a very good specimen of the author's style; the facts and characters are all strictly true;[10] besides this, the author passed many years in the Caucasus, and made full use of the opportunities he thus enjoyed of becoming familiar with the language, manners, and scenery of a region on which the attention of the English public has long been turned with peculiar interest.

[10] The translator recently met in society a Russian officer, who had served with distinction in the country which forms the scene of "Ammalat Bek." This gentleman had intimately known Marlinski, and bore witness to the perfect accuracy of his delineations, as well of the external features of nature as of the characters of his dramatis personae. The officer alluded to had served some time in the very regiment commanded by the unfortunate Verkhoffsky. Our fair readers may be interested to learn, that Seltanetta still lives, and yet bears traces of her former beauty. She married the Shamkhal, and now resides in feudal magnificence at Tarki, where she exercises great sway, which she employs in favour of the Russian interest, to which she is devoted.

The picturesqueness as well as the fidelity of his description will, it is hoped, secure for the tale a favourable reception with a public always "novitatis avida," and whose appetite, now somewhat palled with the "Bismillahs" and "Mashallahs" of the ordinary oriental novels, may find some piquancy in a new variety of Mahomedan life—that of the Caucasian Tartars.

The Russian language possessing many characters and some few sounds for which there is no exact equivalent in English, we beg to say a word upon the method adopted on the present occasion so to represent the Russian orthography, as to avoid the shocking barbarisms of such combinations as zh, &c. &c., and to secure, at the same time, an approach to the correct pronunciation. Throughout these pages the vowels a, e, i, o, y, are supposed to be pronounced as in French, the diphthong ou as in the word you, the j always with the French sound.

With respect to the combinations of consonants employed, kh has the gutteral sound of the ch in the Scottish word loch, and gh is like a rather rough or coarse aspirate.

The simple g is invariably to be uttered hard, as in gun or gall.

To avoid the possibility of errors, the combination tch, though not a very soft one to the eye, represents a Russian sound for which there is no character in English. It is, of course, uttered as in the word watch.

As a great deal of the apparent discord of Russian words, as pronounced by foreigners, arises from ignorance of the place of the accent, we have added a sign over every polysyllable word, indicating the part on which the stress is to be laid.

The few preceding rules will, the translator hopes, enable his countrymen to attack the pronunciation of the Russian names without the ancient dread inspired by terrific and complicated clusters of consonants; and will perhaps prove to them that the language is both an easy and a melodious one.

St Petersburg, November 10, 1842.


"Be slow to offend—swift to revenge!" Inscription on a dagger of Daghestan.

It was Djouma.[11] Not far from Bouinaki, a considerable village of Northern Daghestan, the young Tartars were assembled for their national exercise called "djigitering;" that is, the horse-race accompanied by various trials of boldness and strength. Bouinaki is situated upon two ledges of the precipitous rocks of the mountain: on the left of the road leading from Derbend to Tarki, rises, soaring above the town, the crest of Caucasus, feathered with wood; on the right, the shore, sinking imperceptibly, spreads itself out into meadows, on which the Caspian Sea pours its eternal murmur, like the voice of human multitudes.

[11] Djouma answers to our Sabbath. The days of the Mahomedan week are as follows: Shambi, Saturday; Ikhshamba, Sunday; Doushamba, Monday; Seshamba, Tuesday; Tchershamba, Wednesday; Pkhanshamba, Thursday; Djouma, Friday.

A vernal day was fading into evening, and all the inhabitants, attracted rather by the coolness of the breeze than by any feeling of curiosity, had quitted their saklas,[12] and assembled in crowds on both sides of the road. The women, without veils, and with coloured kerchiefs rolled like turbans round their heads, clad in the long chemise,[13] confined by the short arkhaloukh, and wide toumans,[14] sat in rows, while strings of children sported before them. The men, assembled in little groups, stood, or rested on their knees;[15] others, in twos or threes, walked slowly round, smoking tobacco in little wooden pipes: a cheerful buzz arose, and ever and anon resounded the clattering of hoofs, and the cry "katch, katch!" (make way!) from the horsemen preparing for the race.

[12] Sakla, a Circassian hut.

[13] A species of garment, resembling a frock-coat with an upright collar, reaching to the knees, fixed in front by hooks and eyes, worn by both sexes.

[14] The trowsers of the women: those worn by the men, though alike in form, are called shalwars. It is an offence to tell a man that he wears the touman; being equivalent to a charge of effeminacy; and vice versa.

[15] It is the ordinary manner of the Asiatics to sit in this manner in public, or in the presence of a superior.

Nature, in Daghestan, is most lovely in the month of May. Millions of roses poured their blushes over the crags; their odour was streaming in the air; the nightingale was not silent in the green twilight of the wood, almond-trees, all silvered with their flowers, arose like the cupolas of a pagoda, and resembled, with their lofty branches twined with leaves, the minarets of some Mussulman mosque. Broad-breasted oaks, like sturdy old warriors, rose here and there, while poplars and chenart-trees, assembled in groups and surrounded by underwood, looked like children ready to wander away to the mountains, to escape the summer heats. Sportive flocks of sheep—their fleeces speckled with rose-colour; buffaloes wallowing in the mud of the fountains, or for hours together lazily butting each other with their horns; here and there on the mountains noble steeds, which moved (their manes floating on the breeze) with a haughty trot along the hills—such is the frame that encloses the picture of every Mussulman village. On this Djouma, the neighbourhood of Bouinaki was more than usually animated. The sun poured his floods of gold on the dark walls of the flat-roofed saklas, clothing them with fantastic shadows, and adding beauty to their forms. In the distance, crawling along the mountain, the creaking arbas[16] flitted among the grave-stones of a little burial-ground ... past them, before them, flew a horseman, raising the dust along the road ... the mountain crest and the boundless sea gave grandeur to this picture, and all nature breathed a glow of life.

[16] A kind of rude cart with two wheels.

"He comes, he comes!" was murmured through the crowd; all was in motion. The horsemen, who till now had been chattering with their acquaintance on foot, or disorderedly riding about the meadow, now leaped upon their steeds, and dashed forward to meet the cavalcade which was descending to the plain: it was Ammalat Bek, the nephew of the Shamkhal[17] of Tarki, with his suite. He was habited in a black Persian cloak, edged with gold-lace, the hanging sleeves thrown back over his shoulders. A Turkish shawl was wound round his arkhaloukh, which was made of flowered silk. Red shalwars were lost in his yellow high-heeled riding-boots. His gun, dagger, and pistol, glittered with gold and silver arabesque work. The hilt of his sabre was enriched with gems. The Prince of Tarki was a tall, well-made youth, of frank countenance; black curls streamed behind his ears from under his cap—a slight mustache shaded his upper lip—his eyes glittered with a proud courtesy. He rode a bright bay steed, which fretted under his hand like a whirlwind. Contrary to custom, the horse's caparison was not the round Persian housing, embroidered all over with silk, but the light Circassian saddle, ornamented with silver on a black ground; and the stirrups were of the black steel of Kharaman, inlaid with gold. Twenty noukers[18] on spirited horses, and dressed in cloaks glittering with lace, their caps cocked jauntily, and leaning affectedly on one side, pranced and sidled after him. The people respectfully stood up before their Bek, and bowed, pressing their right hand upon their right knee. A murmur of whispered approbation followed the young chief as he passed among the women. Arrived at the southern extremity of the ground, Ammalat stopped. The chief people, the old men leaning upon their sticks, and the elders of Bouinaki, stood round in a circle to catch a kind word from the Bek; but Ammalat did not pay them any particular attention, and with cold politeness replied in monosyllables to the flatteries and obeisances of his inferiors. He waved his hand; this was the signal to commence the race.

[17] The first Shamkhals were the kinsmen and representatives of the Khalifs of Damascus: the last Shamkhal died on his return from Russia, and with him finished this useless rank. His son, Suleiman Pacha, possessed his property as a private individual.

[18] The attendants of a Tartar noble, equivalent to the "henchman" of the ancient Highlanders. The nouker waits behind his lord at table, cuts up and presents the food.

Twenty of the most fiery horsemen dashed forward, without the slightest order or regularity, galloping onward and back again, placing themselves in all kinds of attitudes, and alternately passing each other. At one moment they jostled one another from the course, and at the same time held in their horses, then again they let them go at full gallop over the plain. After this, they each took slender sticks, called djigidis, and darted them as they rode, either in the charge or the pursuit, and again seizing them as they flew, or picking them up from the earth. Several tumbled from their saddles under the strong blows; and then resounded the loud laugh of the spectators, while loud applauses greeted the conqueror; sometimes the horses stumbled, and the riders were thrown over their heads, hurled off by a double force from the shortness of their stirrups. Then commenced the shooting. Ammalat Bek had remained a little apart, looking on with apparent pleasure. His noukers, one after the other, had joined the crowd of djigiterers, so that, at last, only two were left by his side. For some time he was immovable, and followed with an indifferent gaze the imitation of an Asiatic combat; but by degrees his interest grew stronger. At first he watched the cavaliers with great attention, then he began to encourage them by his voice and gestures, he rose higher in his stirrups, and at last the warrior-blood boiled in his veins, when his favourite nouker could not hit a cap which he had thrown down before him. He snatched his gun from his attendants, and dashed forward like an arrow, winding among the sporters. "Make way—make way!" was heard around, and all, dispersing like a rain-cloud on either side, gave place to Ammalat Bek.

At the distance of a verst[19] stood ten poles with caps hanging on them. Ammalat rode straight up to them, waved his gun round his head, and turned close round the pole; as he turned he stood up in his stirrups, turned back—bang!—the cap tumbled to the ground; without checking his speed he reloaded, the reins hanging on his horse's neck—knocked off another, then a third—and so on the whole ten. A murmur of applause arose on all sides; but Ammalat, without stopping, threw his gun into the hands of one of his noukers, pulled out a pistol from his belt, and with the ball struck the shoe from the hind foot of his horse; the shoe flew off, and fell far behind him; he then again took his gun from his nouker, and ordered him to gallop on before him. Quicker than thought both darted forward. When half-way round the course, the nouker drew from his pocket a rouble, and threw it up in the air. Ammalat raised himself in the saddle, without waiting till it fell; but at the very instant his horse stumbled with all his four legs together, and striking the dust with his nostrils, rolled prostrate. All uttered a cry of terror; but the dexterous horseman, standing up in the stirrups, without losing his seat, or even leaning forward, as if he had been aware that he was going to fall, fired rapidly, and hitting the rouble with his ball, hurled it far among the people. The crowd shouted with delight—"Igeed, igeed! (bravo!) Alla valla-ha!" But Ammalat Bek, modestly retiring, dismounted from his steed, and throwing the reins to his djilladar, (groom,) ordered him immediately to have the horse shod. The race and the shooting was continued.

[19] 3500 English feet—three quarters of a mile.

At this moment there rode up to Ammalat his emdjek,[20] Saphir-Ali, the son of one of the poor beks of Bouinaki, a young man of an agreeable exterior, and simple, cheerful character. He had grown up with Ammalat, and therefore treated him with great familiarity. He leaped from his horse, and nodding his head, exclaimed—"Nouker Memet Rasoul has knocked up the old cropped[21] stallion, in trying to leap him over a ditch seven paces wide." "And did he leap it?" cried Ammalat impatiently. "Bring him instantly to me!" He went to meet the horse—and without putting his foot in the stirrup, leaped into the saddle, and galloped to the bed of a mountain-torrent. As he galloped, he pressed the horse with his knee, but the wearied animal, not trusting to his strength, bolted aside on the very brink, and Ammalat was obliged to make another turn. The second time, the steed, stimulated by the whip, reared up on his hind-legs in order to leap the ditch, but he hesitated, grew restive, and resisted with his fore-feet. Ammalat grew angry. In vain did Saphir-Ali entreat him not to force the horse, which had lost in many a combat and journey the elasticity of his limbs. Ammalat would not listen to any thing; but urging him with a cry, and striking him with his drawn sabre for the third time, he galloped him at the ravine; and when, for the third time, the old horse stopped short in his stride, not daring to leap, he struck him so violently on the head with the hilt of his sabre, that he fell lifeless on the earth.

[20] Foster-brother; from the word "emdjek"—suckling. Among the tribes of the Caucasus, this relationship is held more sacred than that of nature. Every man would willingly die for his emdjek.

[21] This is a celebrated race of Persian horses, called Teke.

"This is the reward of faithful service!" said Saphir-Ali, compassionately, as he gazed on the lifeless steed.

"This is the reward of disobedience!" replied Ammalat, with flashing eyes.

Seeing the anger of the Bek, all were silent. The horsemen, however, continued their djigitering.

And suddenly was heard the thunder of Russian drums, and the bayonets of Russian soldiers glittered as they wound over the hill. It was a company of the Kourinsky regiment of infantry, sent from a detachment which had been dispatched to Akoush, then in a state of revolt, under Sheikh Ali Khan, the banished chief of Derbend. This company had been protecting a convoy of supplies from Derbend, whither it was returning by the mountain road. The commander of the company, Captain ——-, and one officer with him, rode in front. Before they had reached the race-course, the retreat was beaten, and the company halted, throwing aside their havresacks and piling their muskets, but without lighting a fire.

The arrival of a Russian detachment could have been no novelty to the inhabitants of Daghestan in the year 1819; and even yet, it must be confessed, it is an event that gives them no pleasure. Superstition made them look on the Russians as eternal enemies—enemies, however, vigorous and able; and they determined, therefore, not to injure them but in secret, by concealing their hatred under a mask of amity. A buzz spread among the people on the appearance of the Russians: the women returned by winding paths to the village, not forgetting, however, to gaze secretly at the strangers. The men, on the contrary, threw fierce glances at them over their shoulders, and began to assemble in groups, discussing how they might best get rid of them, and relieve themselves from the podvod[22], and so on. A multitude of loungers and boys, however, surrounded the Russians as they reposed upon the grass. Some of the Kekkhouds (starosts[23]) and Tehaoushes (desiatniks[24]) appointed by the Russian Government, hastily advancing to the Captain, pulled off their caps, after the usual salutation, "Khot ghialdi!" (welcome!) and "Yakshimousen, tazamousen, sen-ne-ma-mousen," (I greet you,) arrived at the inevitable question at a meeting of Asiatics, "What news?"—"Na khaber?"

[22] The being obliged to transport provisions.

[23] The chief of a village.

[24] The subordinates of the atarost.

"The only news with me is, that my horse has cast a shoe, and the poor devil is dead lame," answered the Captain in pretty good Tartar: "and here is, just apropos, a blacksmith!" he continued, turning to a broad-shouldered Tartar, who was filing the fresh-shod hoof of Ammalat's horse. "Kounak! (my friend,)—shoe my horse—the shoes are ready—'tis but the clink of a hammer, and 'tis done in a moment!"

The blacksmith turned sulkily towards the Captain a face tanned by his forge and by the sun, looked from the corners of his eyes at his questioner, stroked the thick mustache which overshadowed a beard long unrazored, and which might for its bristles have done honour to any boar; flattened his arakshin (bonnet) on his head, and coolly continued putting away his tools in their bag.

"Do you understand me, son of a wolf race?" said the Captain.

"I understand you well," answered the blacksmith,—"you want your horse shod."

"And I should advise you to shoe him," replied the Captain, observing on the part of the Tartar a desire to jest.

"To-day is a holiday: I will not work."

"I will pay you what you like for your work; but I tell you that, whether you like it or not, you must do what I want."

"The will of Allah is above ours; and he does not permit us to work on Djouma. We sin enough for gain on common days, so on a holiday I do not wish to buy coals with silver."[25]

[25] Go to the devil.

"But were you not at work just now, obstinate blockhead? Is not one horse the same as another? Besides, mine is a real Mussulman—look at the mark[26]—the blood of Karabakh."

[26] The Asiatics mark their horses by burning them on their haunch with a hot iron. This peculiar mark, the [Greek: stigma] or [Greek: kotpa] of the Greeks is called "tavro."

"All horses are alike; but not so those who ride them: Ammalat Bek is my aga (lord.)"

"That is, if you had taken it into your head to refuse him, he would have had your ears cropped; but you will not work for me, in the hope that I would not dare to do the same. Very well, my friend! I certainly will not crop your ears, but be assured that I will warm that orthodox back of yours with two hundred pretty stinging nogaikas (lashes with a whip) if you won't leave off your nonsense—do you hear?"

"I hear—and I answer as I did before: I will not shoe the horse—for I am a good Mussulman."

"And I will make you shoe him, because I am a good soldier. As you have worked at the will of your Bek, you shall work for the need of a Russian officer—without this I cannot proceed. Corporals, forward!"

In the mean time a circle of gazers had been extending round the obstinate blacksmith, like a ring made in the water by casting a stone into it. Some in the crowd were disputing the best places, hardly knowing what they were running to see; and at last more cries were heard: "It is not fair—it cannot be: to-day is a holiday: to-day it is a sin to work!" Some of the boldest, trusting to their numbers, pulled their caps over their eyes, and felt at the hilts of their daggers, pressing close up to the Captain, and crying "Don't shoe him, Alekper! Do nothing for him: here's news, my masters! What new prophets for us are these unwashed Russians?" The Captain was a brave man, and thoroughly understood the Asiatics. "Away, ye rascals!" he cried in a rage, laying his hand on the butt of his pistol. "Be silent, or the first that dares to let an insult pass his teeth, shall have them closed with a leaden seal!"

This threat, enforced by the bayonets of some of the soldiers, succeeded immediately: they who were timid took to their heels—the bolder held their tongues. Even the orthodox blacksmith, seeing that the affair was becoming serious, looked round on all sides, and muttered "Nedjelaim?" (What can I do?) tucked up his sleeves, pulled out from his bag the hammer and pincers, and began to shoe the Russian's horse, grumbling between his teeth, "Vala billa beetmi eddeem, (I will not do it, by God!)" It must be remarked that all this took place out of Ammalat's presence. He had hardly looked at the Russians, when, in order to avoid a disagreeable rencontre, he mounted the horse which had just been shod, and galloped off to Bouinaki, where his house was situated.

While this was taking place at one end of the exercising ground, a horseman rode up to the front of the reposing soldiers. He was of middling stature, but of athletic frame, and was clothed in a shirt of linked mail, his head protected by a helmet, and in full warlike equipment, and followed by five noukers. By their dusty dress, and the foam which covered their horses, it might be seen that they had ridden far and fast. The first horseman, fixing his eye on the soldiers, advanced slowly along the piles of muskets, upsetting the two pyramids of fire-arms. The noukers, following the steps of their master, far from turning aside, coolly rode over the scattered weapons. The sentry, who had challenged them while they were yet at some distance, and warned them not to approach, seized the bit of the steed bestridden by the mail-coated horseman, while the rest of the soldiers, enraged at such an insult from a Mussulman, assailed the party with abuse. "Hold hard! Who are you?" was the challenge and question of the sentinel. "Thou must be a raw recruit if thou knowest not Sultan Akhmet Khan of Avar,"[27] coolly answered the man in mail, shaking off the hand of the sentry from his reins. "I think last year I left the Russians a keepsake at Bashli. Translate that for him," he said to one of his noukers. The Avaretz repeated his words in pretty intelligible Russian.

[27] The brother of Hassan Khan Djemontai, who became Khan of Avar by marrying the Khan's widow and heiress.

"'Tis Akhmet Khan! Akhmet Khan!" shouted the soldiers. "Seize him! hold him fast! down with him! pay him for the affair of Bashli[28]—the villains cut our wounded to pieces."

[28] The Russian detachment, consisting on this occasion of 3000 men, was surrounded by 60,000. These were, Ouizmi Karakaidakhsky, the Avaretzes, Akoushinetzes, the Boulinetzes of the Koi-Sou, and others. The Russians fought their way out by night, but with considerable loss.

"Away, brute!" cried Sultan Akhmet Khan to the soldier who had again seized the bridle of his horse—"I am a Russian general."

"A Russian traitor!" roared a multitude of voices; "bring him to the Captain: drag him to Derbend, to Colonel Verkhoffsky."

"'Tis only to hell I would go with such guides!" said Akhmet, with a contemptuous smile, and making his horse rear, he turned him to the right and left; then, with a blow of the nogaik,[29] he made him leap into the air, and disappeared. The noukers kept their eye on the movements of their chief, and uttering their warcry, followed his steps, and overthrowing several of the soldiers, cleared a way for themselves into the road. After galloping off to a distance of scarce a hundred paces, the Khan rode away at a slow walk, with an expression of the greatest sang-froid, not deigning to look back, and coolly playing with his bridle. The crowd of Tartars assembled round the blacksmith attracted his attention. "What are you quarrelling about, friends?" asked Akhmet Khan of the nearest, reining in his horse.

[29] The whip of a Kazak.

In sign of respect and reverence, they all applied their hands to their foreheads when they saw the Khan. The timid or peaceably disposed among them, dreading the consequences, either from the Russians or the Khan, to which this rencontre might expose them, exhibited much discomfiture at the question; but the idle, the ruffian, and the desperate—for all beheld with hatred the Russian domination—crowded turbulently round him with delight. They hurriedly told him what was the matter.

"And you stand, like buffaloes, stupidly looking on, while they force your brother to work like a brute under the yoke!" exclaimed the Khan, gloomily, to the bystanders; "while they laugh in your face at your customs, and trample your faith under their feet! and ye whine like old women, instead of revenging yourselves like men! Cowards! cowards!"

"What can we do?" cried a multitude of voices together; "the Russians have cannon—they have bayonets!"

"And ye, have ye not guns? have ye not daggers? It is not the Russians that are brave, but ye that are cowards! Shame of Mussulmans! The sword of Daghestan trembles before the Russian whip. Ye are afraid of the roll of the cannon; but ye fear not the reproach of cowardice. The ferman of a Russian pristav[30] is holier to you than a chapter of the Koran. Siberia frightens you more than hell. Did your forefathers act, did your forefathers think thus? They counted not their enemies, they calculated not. Outnumbered or not, they met them, bravely fought them, and gloriously died! And what fear ye? Have the Russians ribs of iron? Have their cannon no breach? Is it not by the tail that you seize the scorpion?" This address stirred the crowd. The Tartar vanity was touched to the quick. "What do we care for them? Why do we let them lord it over us here?" was heard around. "Let us liberate the blacksmith from his work—let us liberate him!" they roared, as they narrowed their circle round the Russian soldiers, amidst whom Alekper was shoeing the captain's horse. The confusion increased. Satisfied with the tumult he had created, Sultan Akhmet Khan, not wishing to mix himself up in an insignificant brawl, rode out of the crowd, leaving two noukers to keep alive the violent spirit among the Tartars, while, accompanied by the remainder, he rode rapidly to the ootakh[31] of Ammalat.

[30] A superintendent.

[31] The house, in Tartar, is "ev;" "outakh," mansion; and "sarai," edifice in general; "haram-khaneh," the women's apartments. For palace they employ the word "igarat." The Russians confound all these meanings in the word "sakla," which, in the Circassian language, is house.

"Mayest thou be victorious," said Sultan Akhmet Khan to Ammalat Bek, who received him at the threshold. This ordinary salutation, in the Circassian language, was pronounced with so marked an emphasis, that Ammalat as he kissed him, asked, "Is that a jest or a prophecy, my fair guest?"

"That depends on thee," replied the Sultan. "It is upon the right heir of the Shamkhalat[32] that it depends to draw the sword from the scabbard."

[32] The father of Ammalat was the eldest of the family, and consequently the true heir to the Shamkhalat. But the Russians, having conquered Daghestan, not trusting to the good intentions of this chief, gave the power to the younger brother.

"To sheath it no more, Khan? An unenviable destiny. Methinks it is better to reign in Bouinaki, than for an empty title to be obliged to hide in the mountains like a jackal."

"To bound from the mountains like a lion, Ammalat; and to repose, after your glorious toils, in the palace of your ancestors."

"To repose? Is it not better not to be awakened at all?

"Would you behold but in a dream what you ought to possess in reality? The Russians are giving you the poppy, and will lull you with tales, while another plucks the golden flowers of the garden."[33]

[33] A jeu-de-mots which the Asiatics admire much; "kizil-gulliar" means simply roses, but the Khan alludes to "kizil," ducats.

"What can I do with my force?"

"Force—that is in thy soul, Ammalat!... Despise dangers and they bend before you.... Dost thou hear that?" added Sultan Akhmet Khan, as the sound of firing reached them from the town. "It is the voice of victory!"

Saphir-Ali rushed into the chamber with an agitated face.

"Bouinaki is in revolt," he hurriedly began; "a crowd of rioters has overpowered the detachment, and they have begun to fire from the rocks."[34]

[34] The Tartars, like the North American Indians, always, if possible, shelter themselves behind rocks and enclosures, &c., when engaged in battle.

"Rascals!" cried Ammalat, as he threw his gun over his shoulder. "How dared they to rise without me! Run, Saphir-Ali, threaten them with my name; kill the first who disobeys."

"I have done all I could to restrain them," said Saphir-Ali, "but none would listen to me, for the noukers of Sultan Akhmet Khan were urging them on, saying that he had ordered them to slay the Russians."

"Indeed! did my noukers say that?" asked the Khan.

"They did not say so much, but they set the example," said Saphir-Ali.

"In that case they have done well," replied Sultan Akhmet Khan: "this is brave!"

"What hast thou done, Khan!" cried Ammalat, angrily.

"What you might have done long ago!"

"How can I justify myself to the Russians?"

"With lead and steel.... The firing is begun.... Fate works for you ... the sword is drawn ... let us go seek the Russians!"

"They are here!" cried the Captain, who, followed by two men, had broken through the disorderly ranks of the Tartars, and dashed into the house of their chief. Confounded by the unexpected outbreak in which he was certain to be considered a party, Ammalat saluted his enraged guest—"Come in peace!" he said to him in Tartar.

"I care not whether I come in peace or no," answered the Captain, "but I find no peaceful reception in Bouinaki. Thy Tartars, Ammalat, have dared to fire upon a soldier of mine, of yours, a subject of our Tsar."

"In very deed, 'twas absurd to fire on a Russian," said the Khan, contemptuously stretching himself on the cushions of the divan, "when they might have cut his throat."

"Here is the cause of all the mischief, Ammalat!" said the Captain, angrily, pointing to the Khan; "but for this insolent rebel not a trigger would have been pulled in Bouinaki! But you have done well, Ammalat Bek, to invite Russians as friends, and to receive their foe as a guest, to shelter him as a comrade, to honour him as a friend! Ammalat Bek, this man is named in the order of the commander-in-chief; give him up."

"Captain," answered Ammalat, "with us a guest is sacred. To give him up would be a sin upon my soul, an ineffaceable shame upon my head; respect my entreaty; respect our customs."

"I will tell you, in your turn—respect the Russian laws. Remember your duty. You have sworn allegiance to the Tsar, and your oath obliges you not to spare your own brother if he is a criminal."

"Rather would I give up my brother than my guest, Sir Captain! It is not for you to judge my promises and obligations. My tribunal is Allah and the padishah! In the field, let fortune take care of the Khan; but within my threshold, beneath my roof, I am bound to be his protector, and I will be!"

"And you shall be answerable for this traitor!"

The Khan had lain in haughty silence during this dispute, breathing the smoke from his pipe: but at the word "traitor," his blood was fired, he started up, and rushed indignantly to the Captain.

"Traitor, say you?" he cried. "Say rather, that I refused to betray him to whom I was bound by promise. The Russian padishah gave me rank, the sardar[35] caressed me—and I was faithful so long as they demanded of me nothing impossible or humiliating. But, all of a sudden, they wished me to admit troops into Avar—to permit fortresses to be built there; and what name should I have deserved, if I had sold the blood and sweat of the Avaretzes, my brethren! If I had attempted this, think ye that I could have done it? A thousand free daggers, a thousand unhired bullets, would have flown to the heart of the betrayer. The very rocks would have fallen on the son who could betray his father. I refused the friendship of the Russians; but I was not their enemy—and what was the reward of my just intentions, my honest counsels? I was deeply, personally insulted by the letter of one of your generals, whom I had warned. That insolence cost him dear at Bashli ... I shed a river of blood for some few drops of insulting ink, and that river divides us for ever."

[35] The commander-in-chief.

"That blood cries for vengeance!" replied the enraged Captain. "Thou shalt not escape it, robber!"

"Nor thou from me!" shouted the infuriated Khan, plunging his dagger into the body of the Captain, as he lifted his hand to seize him by the collar. Severely wounded, the officer fell groaning on the carpet.

"Thou hast undone me!" cried Ammalat, wringing his hands. "He is a Russian, and my guest!"

"There are insults which a roof cannot cover," sullenly replied the Khan. "The die is cast: it is no time to hesitate. Shut your gate, call your people, and let us attack the enemy."

"An hour ago I had no enemy ... there are no means now for repulsing them ... I have neither powder nor ball ... The people are dispersed."

"They have fled!" cried Saphir-Ali in despair. "The Russians are advancing at full march over the hill. They are close at hand!"

"If so, go with me, Ammalat!" said the Khan. "I rode to Tchetchna yesterday, to raise the revolt along the line ... What will be the end, God knows; but there is bread in the mountains. Do you consent?"

"Let us go!" ... replied Ammalat, resolvedly.... "When our only safety is in flight, it is no time for disputes and reproaches."

"Ho! horses, and six noukers with me!"

"And am I to go with you?" said Saphir-Ali, with tears in his eyes—"with you for weal or woe!"

"No, my good Saphir-Ali, no. Remain you here to govern the household, that our people and the strangers may not seize every thing. Give my greeting to my wife, and take her to my father-in-law, the Shamkhal. Forget me not, and farewell!"

They had barely time to escape at full gallop by one gate, when the Russians dashed in at the other.


The vernal noon was shining upon the peaks of Caucasus, and the loud voices of the moollahs had called the inhabitants of Tchetchna to prayer. By degrees they came forth from the mosques, and though invisible to each other from the towers on which they stood, their solitary voices, after awaking for a moment the echoes of the hills, sank to stillness in the silent air.

The moollah, Hadji Suleiman, a Turkish devotee, one of those missionaries annually sent into the mountains by the Divan of Stamboul, to spread and strengthen the faith, and to increase the detestation felt by the inhabitants for the Russians, was reposing on the roof of the mosque, having performed the usual call, ablution, and prayer. He had not been long installed as moollah of Igali, a village of Tchetchna; and plunged in a deep contemplation of his hoary beard, and the circling smoke-wreaths that rose from his pipe, he gazed from time to time with a curious interest on the mountains, and on the defiles which lay towards the north, right before his eyes. On the left arose the precipitous ridges dividing Tchetchna from Avar, and beyond them glittered the snows of Caucasus; saklas scattered disorderly along the ridges half-way up the mountain, and narrow paths led to these fortresses built by nature, and employed by the hill-robbers to defend their liberty, or secure their plunder. All was still in the village and the surrounding hills; there was not a human being to be seen on the roads or streets; flocks of sheep were reposing in the shade of the cliffs; the buffaloes were crowded in the muddy swamps near the springs, with only their muzzles protruded from the marsh. Nought save the hum of the insects—nought save the monotonous chirp of the grasshoppers indicated life amid the breathless silence of the mountains; and Hadji Suleiman, stretched under the cupola, was intensely enjoying the stillness and repose of nature, so congenial to the lazy immobility of the Turkish character. Indolently he turned his eyes, whose fire was extinguished, and which no longer reflected the light of the sun, and at length they fell upon two horsemen, slowly climbing the opposite side of the declivity.

"Nephtali!" cried our Moollah, turning towards a neighbouring sakla, at the gate of which stood a saddled horse. And then a handsome Tchetchenetz, with short cut beard, and shaggy cap covering half his face, ran out into the street. "I see two horsemen," continued the Moollah; "they are riding round the village!"

"Most likely Jews or Armenians," answered Nephtali. "They do not choose to hire a guide, and will break their necks in the winding road. The wild-goats, and our boldest riders, would not plunge into these recesses without precaution."

"No, brother Nephtali; I have been twice to Mecca, and have seen plenty of Jews and Armenians every where. But these riders look not like Hebrew chafferers, unless, indeed, they exchange steel for gold in the mountain road. They have no bales of merchandise. Look at them yourself from above; your eyes are surer than mine; mine have had their day, and done their work. There was a time when I could count the buttons on a Russian soldier's coat a verst off, and my rifle never missed an infidel; but now I could not distinguish a ram of my own afar."

By this time Nephtali was at the side of the Moollah, and was examining the travellers with an eagle glance.

"The noonday is hot, and the road rugged," said Suleiman; "invite the travellers to refresh themselves and their horses: perhaps they have news: besides, the Koran commands us to show hospitality."

"With us in the mountains, and before the Koran, never did a stranger leave a village hungry or sad; never did he depart without tchourek,[36] without blessing, without a guide; but these people are suspicious: why do they avoid honest men, and pass our village by by-roads, and with danger to their life?"

[36] A kind of dried bread.

"It seems that they are your countrymen," said Suleiman, shading his eyes with his hand: "their dress is Tchetchna. Perhaps they are returning from a plundering exhibition, to which your father went with a hundred of his neighbours; or perhaps they are brothers, going to revenge blood for blood."

"No, Suleiman, that is not like us. Could a mountaineer's heart refrain from coming to see his countrymen—to boast of his exploits against the Russians, and to show his booty? These are neither avengers of blood nor Abreks—their faces are not covered by the bashlik; besides, dress is deceptive. Who can tell that those are not Russian deserters! The other day a Kazak, who had murdered his master, fled from Goumbet-Aoul with his horse and arms.... The devil is strong!"

"He is strong in them in whom the faith is weak, Nephtali;—yet, if I mistake not, the hinder horseman has hair flowing from under his cap."

"May I be pounded to dust, but it is so! It is either a Russian, or, what is worse, a Tartar Shageed.[37] Stop a moment, my friend; I will comb your zilflars for you! In half-an-hour I will return, Suleiman, either with them,—or one of us three shall feed the mountain berkoots (eagles.)"

[37] The mountaineers are bad Mussulmans, the Sooni sect is predominant; but the Daghestanetzes are in general Shageeds, as the Persians. The sects hate each other with all their heart.

Nephtali rushed down the stairs, threw the gun on his shoulders, leapt into his saddle and dashed down the hill, caring neither for furrow nor stone. Only the dust arose, and the pebbles streamed down after the bold horseman."

"Alla akber!" gravely exclaimed Suleiman, and lit his pipe.

Nephtali soon came up with the strangers. Their horses were covered with foam, and the sweat-drops rained from them on the narrow path by which they were climbing the mountain. The first was clothed in a shirt of mail, the other in the Circassian dress: except that he wore a Persian sabre instead of a shashka,[38] suspended by a laced girdle. His left arm was covered with blood, bound up with a handkerchief, and supported by the sword-knot. The faces of both were concealed. For some time he rode behind them along the slippery path, which overhung a precipice; but at the first open space he galloped by them, and turned his horse round. "Salam aleikom!" said he, opposing their passage along the rugged and half-built road among the rocks, as he made ready his arms. The foremost horseman suddenly wrapped his bourka[39] round his face, so as to leave visible only his knit brows: "Aleikom Salam!" answered he, cocking his gun, and fixing himself in the saddle.

[38] The Circassian sabre.

[39] A rough cloak, used as a protection in bad weather.

"God give you a good journey!" said Nephtali. repeating the usual salutation, and preparing, at the first hostile movement, to shoot the stranger.

"God give you enough of sense not to interrupt the traveller," replied his antagonist, impatiently: "What would you with us, Kounak?"[40]

[40] Friend, comrade.

"I offer you rest, and a brother's repast, barley and stalls for your horses. My threshold flourishes by hospitality: the blessing of the stranger increaseth the flock, and giveth sharpness to the sword of the master. Fix not the seal of reproach on our whole village. Let them not say, 'They have seen travellers in the heat of noon, and have not refreshed them nor sheltered them.'"

"We thank you for your kindness; but we are not wont to take forced hospitality; and haste is even more necessary for us than rest."

"You ride to your death without a guide."

"Guide!" exclaimed the traveller; "I know every step of the Caucasus. I have been where your serpents climb not, your tigers cannot mount, your eagles cannot fly. Make way, comrade: thy threshold is not on God's high-road, and I have no time to prate with thee."

"I will not yield a step, till I know who and whence you are!"

"Insolent scoundrel, out of my way, or thy mother shall beg thy bones from the jackall and the wind! Thank your luck, Nephtali, that thy father and I have eaten one another's salt; and often have ridden by his side in the battle. Unworthy son! thou art rambling about the roads, and ready to attack the peaceable travellers, while thy father's corse lies rotting on the fields of Russia, and the wives of the Kazaks are selling his arms in the bazar. Nephtali, thy father was slain yesterday beyond the Terek. Dost thou know me now?"

"Sultan Akhmet Khan!" cried the Tchetchenetz, struck by the piercing look and by the terrible news. His voice was stifled, and he fell forward on his horse's neck in inexpressible grief.

"Yes, I am Sultan Akhmet Khan! but grave this in your memory, Nephtali—that if you say to any one, 'I have seen the Khan of Avar,' my vengeance will live from generation to generation."

The strangers passed on, the Khan in silence, plunged, as it seemed, in painful recollections; Ammalat (for it was he) in gloomy thought. The dress of both bore witness to recent fighting; their mustaches were singed by the priming, and splashes of blood had dried upon their faces; but the proud look of the first seemed to defy to the combat fate and chance; a gloomy smile, of hate mingled with scorn, contracted his lip. On the other hand, on the features of Ammalat exhaustion was painted. He could hardly turn his languid eyes; and from time to time a groan escaped him, caused by the pain of his wounded arm. The uneasy pace of the Tartar horse, unaccustomed to the mountain roads, renewed the torment of his wound. He was the first to break the silence.

"Why have you refused the offer of these good people? We might have stopped an hour or two to repose, and at dewfall we could have proceeded."

"You think so, because you feel like a young man, dear Ammalat: you are used to rule your Tartars like slaves, and you fancy that you can conduct yourself with the same ease among the free mountaineers. The hand of fate weighs heavily upon us;—we are defeated and flying. Hundreds of brave mountaineers—your noukers and my own—have fallen in fight with the Russians; and the Tchetchenetz has seen turned to flight the face of Sultan Akhmet Khan, which they are wont to behold the star of victory! To accept the beggar's repast, perhaps to hear reproaches for the death of fathers and sons, carried away by me in this rash expedition—'twould be to lose their confidence for ever. Time will pass, tears will dry up; the thirst of vengeance will take place of grief for the dead; and then again Sultan Akhmet will be seen the prophet of plunder and of blood. Then again the battle-signal shall echo through the mountains, and I shall once more lead flying bands of avengers into the Russian limits. If I go now, in the moment of defeat, the Tchetchenetz will judge that Allah giveth and taketh away victory. They may offend me by rash words, and with me an offence is ineffaceable; and the revenge of a personal offence would obstruct the road that leads me to the Russians. Why, then, provoke a quarrel with a brave people—and destroy the idol of glory on which they are wont to gaze with rapture? Never does man appear so mean as in weakness, when every one can measure his strength with him fearlessly: besides, you need a skilful leech, and nowhere will you find a better than at my house. To-morrow we shall be at home; have patience until then."

With a gesture of gratitude Ammalat Bek placed his hand upon his heart and forehead: he perfectly felt the truth of the Khan's words, but exhaustion for many hours had been overwhelming him. Avoiding the villages, they passed the night among the rocks, eating a handful of millet boiled in honey, without the mountaineers seldom set out on a journey. Crossing the Koi-Sou by the bridge near the Asheert, quitting its northern branch, and leaving behind them Andeh, and the country of the Boulinetzes of the Koi-Sou, and the naked chain of Salataou. A rude path lay before them, winding among forests and cliffs terrible to body and soul; and they began to climb the last chain which separated them on the north from Khounzakh or Avar, the capital of the Khans. The forest, and then the underwood, had gradually disappeared from the naked flint of the mountain, on which cloud and tempest could hardly wander. To reach the summit, our travellers were compelled to ride alternately to the right and to the left, so precipitous was the ascent of the rocks. The experienced steed of the Khan stepped cautiously and surely from stone to stone, feeling his way with his hoofs, and when they slipped, gliding on his haunches down the declivities: while the ardent fiery horse of Ammalat, trained in the hills of Daghestan, fretted, curveted, and slipped. Deprived of his customary grooming, he could not support a two days' flight under the intense cold and burning sunshine of the mountains, travelling among sharp rocks, and nourished only by the scanty herbage of the crevices. He snorted heavily as he climbed higher and higher; the sweat streamed from his poitrel; his large nostrils were dry and parched, and foam boiled from his bit. "Allah bereket!" exclaimed Ammalat, as he reached the crest from which there opened before him a view of Avar: but at the very moment his exhausted horse fell under him; the blood spouted from his open mouth, and his last breath burst the saddle-girth.

The Khan assisted the Bek to extricate himself from the stirrups; but observed with alarm that his efforts had displaced the bandage on Ammalat's wounded arm, and that the blood was soaking through it afresh. The young man, it seemed, was insensible to pain; tears were rolling down his face upon the dead horse. So one drop fills not, but overflows the cup. "Thou wilt never more bear me like down upon the wind," he said, "nor hear behind thee from the dust-cloud of the race, the shouts, unpleasing to the rival, the acclamations of the people: in the blaze of battle no more shalt thou carry me from the iron rain of the Russian cannon. With thee I gained the fame of a warrior—why should I survive, or it, or thee?" He bent his face upon his knee, and remained silent a long time, while the Khan carefully bound up his wounded arm: at length Ammalat raised his head: "Leave me!" he cried, resolutely: "leave, Sultan Akhmet Khan, a wretch to his fate! The way is long, and I am exhausted. By remaining with me, you will perish in vain. See! the eagle soars around us; he knows that my heart will soon quiver beneath his talons, and I thank God! Better find an airy grave in the maw of a bird of prey, than leave my corse beneath a Christian foot. Farewell, linger not."

"For shame, Ammalat! you trip against a straw....! What the great harm? You are wounded, and your horse is dead. Your wound will soon healed, and we will find you a better horse! Allah sendeth not misfortunes alone. In the flower of your age, and the full vigour of your faculties, it is a sin to despair. Mount my horse, I will lead him by the bridle, and by night we shall be at home. Time is precious!"

"For me, time is no more, Sultan Ahkmet Khan ... I thank you heartily for your brotherly care, but I cannot take advantage of it ... you yourself cannot support a march on foot after such fatigue. I repeat ... leave me to my fate. Here, on these inaccessible heights, I will die free and contented ... And what is there to recall me to life! My parents lie under the earth, my wife is blind, my uncle and father-in-law the Shamkhal are cowering at Tarki before the Russians ... the Giaour is revelling in my native land, in my inheritance; and I myself an a wanderer from my home, a runaway from battle. I neither can, nor ought to live."

"You ought not to talk such nonsense, dear Ammalat:—and nothing but fever can excuse you. We are created that we may live longer than our fathers. For wives, if one has not teazed you enough, we will find you three more. If you love not the Shamkhal, yet love your own inheritance—you ought to live, if but for that; since to a dead man power is useless, and victory impossible. Revenge on the Russians is a holy duty: live, if but for that. That we are beaten, is no novelty for a warrior; to-day luck is theirs, to-morrow it falls to us. Allah gives fortune; but a man creates his own glory, not by fortune, but by firmness. Take courage, my friend Ammalat.... You are wounded and weak; I am strong from habit, and not fatigued by flight. Mount! and we may yet live to beat the Russians."

The colour returned to Ammalat's face ... "Yes, I will live for revenge!" he cried: "for revenge both secret and open. Believe me, Sultan Akhmet Khan, it is only for this that I accept your generosity! Henceforth I am yours; I swear by the graves of my fathers.... I am yours! Guide my steps, direct the strokes of my arm; and if ever, drowned in softness, I forget my oath, remind me of this moment, of this mountain peak: Ammalat Bek will awake, and his dagger will be lightning!"

The Khan embraced him, as he lifted the excited youth into the saddle. "Now I behold in you the pure blood of the Emirs!" said he: "the burning blood of their children, which flows in our veins like the sulphur in the entrails of the rocks, which, ever and anon inflaming, shakes and topples down the crags." Steadying with one hand the wounded man in the saddle, the Khan began cautiously to descend the rugged croft. Occasionally the stones fell rattling from under their feet, or the horse slid downward over the smooth granite, so that they were well pleased to reach the mossy slopes. By degrees, creeping plants began to appear, spreading their green sheets; and, waving from the crevices like fans, they hung down in long ringlets like ribbons or flags. At length they reached a thick wood of nut-trees; then came the oak, the wild cherry, and, lower still, the tchinar,[41] and the tchindar. The variety, the wealth of vegetation, and the majestic silence of the umbrageous forest, produced a kind of involuntary adoration of the wild strength of nature. Ever and anon, from the midnight darkness of the boughs, there dawned, like the morning, glimpses of meadows, covered with a fragrant carpet of flowers untrodden by the foot of man. The pathway at one time lost itself in the depth of the thicket; at another, crept forth upon the edge of the rock, below which gleamed and murmured a rivulet, now foaming over the stones, then again slumbering on its rocky bed, under the shade of the barberry and the eglantine. Pheasants, sparkling with their rainbow tails, flitted from shrub to shrub; flights of wild pigeons flew over the crags, sometimes in an horizontal troop, sometimes like a column, rising to the sky; and sunset flooded all with its airy purple, and light mists began to rise from the narrow gorges: every thing breathed the freshness of evening. Our travellers were now near the village of Aki, and separated only by a hill from Khounzakh. A low crest alone divided them from that village, when the report of a gun resounded from the mountain, and, like an ominous signal, was repeated by the echoes of the cliffs. The travellers halted irresolute: the echoes by degrees sank into stillness. "Our hunters!" cried Sultan Akhmet Khan, wiping the sweat from his face: "they expect me not, and think not to meet me here! Many tears of joy, and many of sorrow, do I bear to Khounzakh!" Unfeigned sorrow was expressed in the face of Akhmet Khan. Vividly does every soft and every savage sentiment play on the features of the Asiatic.

[41] Tchinar, the palmated-leaved plane.

Another report soon interrupted his meditation; then another, and another. Shot answered shot, and at length thickened into a warm fire. "'Tis the Russians!" cried Ammalat, drawing his sabre. He pressed his horse with the stirrup, as though he would have leaped over the ridge at a single bound; but in a moment his strength failed him, and the blade fell ringing on the ground, as his arm dropped heavily by his side. "Khan!" said he, dismounting, "go to the succour of your people; your face will be worth more to them than a hundred warriors."

The Khan heard him not; he was listening intently for the flight of the balls, as if he would distinguish those of the Russian from the Avarian. "Have they, besides the agility of the goat, stolen the wings of the eagle of Kazbec? Can they have reached our inaccessible fastnesses?" said he, leaning to the saddle, with his foot already in the stirrup. "Farewell, Ammalat!" he cried at length, listening to the firing, which now grew hotter: "I go to perish on the ruins I have made, after striking like a thunderbolt!" At this moment a bullet whistled by, and fell at his feet. Bending down and picking it up, his face was lighted with a smile. He quietly took his foot from the stirrup, and turning to Ammalat, "Mount!" said he, "you shall presently find with your own eyes an answer to this riddle. The Russian bullets are of lead; but this is copper[42]—an Avaretz, my dear countryman. Besides, it comes from the south, where the Russians cannot be."

[42] Having no lead, the Avaretzes use balls of copper, as they possess small mines of that metal.

They ascended to the summit of the crest, and before their view opened two villages, situated on the opposite sides of a deep ravine; from behind them came the firing. The inhabitants sheltering themselves behind rocks and hedges, were firing at each other. Between them the women were incessantly running, sobbing and weeping when any combatant, approaching the edge of the ravine, fell wounded. They carried stones, and, regardless of the whistling of the balls, fearlessly piled them up, so as to make a kind of defence. Cries of joy arose from one side or the other, as a wounded adversary was carried from the field; a groan of sorrow ascended in the air when one of their kinsmen or comrades was hit. Ammalat gazed at the combat for some time with surprise, a combat in which there was a great deal more noise than execution. At length he turned an enquiring eye upon the Khan.

"With us these are everyday affairs!" he answered, delightedly marking each report. "Such skirmishes cherish among us a warlike spirit and warlike habits. With you, private quarrels end in a few blows of the dagger; among us they become the common business of whole villages, and any trifle is enough to occasion them. Probably they are fighting about some cow that has been stolen. With us it is no disgrace to steal in another village—the shame is, to be found out. Admire the coolness of our women; the balls are whizzing about like gnats, yet they pay no attention to them! Worthy wives and mothers of brave men! To be sure, there would be eternal disgrace to him who could wound a woman, yet no man can answer for a ball. A sharp eye may aim it; but blind chance carries it to the mark. But darkness is falling from heaven, and dividing these enemies for a moment. Let us hasten to my kinsmen."

Nothing but the experience of the Khan could have saved our travellers from frequent falls in the precipitous descent to the river Ouzen. Ammalat could see scarcely any thing before him; the double veil of night and weakness enveloped his eyes; his head turned: he beheld, as it were in a dream, when they again mounted an eminence, the gate and watch-tower of the Khan's house. With an uncertain foot he dismounted in a courtyard, surrounded by shouting noukers and attendants; and he had hardly stepped over the grated threshold when his breath failed him—a deadly paleness poured its snow over the wounded man's face; and the young Bek, exhausted by loss of blood, fatigued by travel, hunger, and anguish of soul, fell senseless on the embroidered carpets.

* * * * *


No. VI.


"Vivos voco—Mortuous plango—Fulgura frango."

Fast, in its prison-walls of earth, Awaits the mould of baked clay. Up, comrades, up, and aid the birth— THE BELL that shall be born to-day! And wearily now, With the sweat of the brow, Shall the work win its grace in the master's eye, But the blessing that hallows must come from high.

And well an earnest word beseems The work the earnest hand prepares; Its load more light the labour deems, When sweet discourse the labour shares. So let us ponder—nor in vain— What strength has wrought when labour wills; For who would not the fool disdain Who ne'er can feel what he fulfills? And well it stamps our Human Race, And hence the gift TO UNDERSTAND, When in the musing heart we trace Whate'er we fashion with the hand.

From the fir the fagot take, Keep it, heap it hard and dry, That the gather'd flame may break Through the furnace, wroth and high. Smolt the copper within— Quick—the brass with the tin, That the glutinous fluid that feeds the Bell May flow in the right course glib and well.

What now these mines so deeply shroud, What Force with Fire is moulding thus, Shall from yon steeple, oft and loud, Speak, witnessing of us! It shall, in later days unfailing, Rouse many an ear to rapt emotion; Its solemn voice with Sorrow wailing, Or choral chiming to Devotion. Whatever sound in man's deep breast Fate wakens, through his winding track, Shall strike that metal-crowned crest, Which rings the moral answer back.

* * * * *

See the silvery bubbles spring! Good! the mass is melting now! Let the salts we duly bring Purge the flood, and speed the flow. From the dross and the scum, Pure, the fusion must come; For perfect and pure we the metal must keep, That its voice may be perfect, and pure, and deep.

That voice, with merry music rife, The cherish'd child shall welcome in; What time the rosy dreams of life, In the first slumber's arms begin. As yet in Time's dark womb unwarning, Repose the days, or foul or fair; And watchful o'er that golden morning, The Mother-Love's untiring care!

And swift the years like arrows fly— No more with girls content to play, Bounds the proud Boy upon his way, Storms through loud life's tumultuous pleasures, With pilgrim staff the wide world measures; And, wearied with the wish to roam, Again seeks, stranger-like, the Father-Home. And, lo, as some sweet vision breaks Out from its native morning skies, With rosy shame on downcast cheeks, The Virgin stands before his eyes. A nameless longing seizes him! From all his wild companions flown; Tears, strange till then, his eyes bedim; He wanders all alone. Blushing, he glides where'er she move; Her greeting can transport him; To every mead to deck his love, The happy wild flowers court him! Sweet Hope—and tender Longing—ye The growth of Life's first Age of Gold; When the heart, swelling, seems to see The gates of heaven unfold! O Love, the beautiful and brief! O prime, Glory, and verdure, of life's summer time!

* * * * *

Browning o'er the pipes are simmering, Dip this fairy rod within; If like glass the surface glimmering, Then the casting may begin. Brisk, brisk to the rest— Quick!—the fusion to test; And welcome, my merry men, welcome the sign, If the ductile and brittle united combine.

For still where the strong is betrothed to the weak, And the stern in sweet marriage is blent with the meek, Rings the concord harmonious, both tender and strong: So be it with thee, if for ever united, The heart to the heart flows in one, love-delighted; Illusion is brief, but Repentance is long.

Lovely, thither are they bringing, With her virgin wreath, the Bride! To the love-feast clearly ringing, Tolls the church-bell far and wide! With that sweetest holyday, Must the May of Life depart; With the cestus loosed—away Flies ILLUSION from the heart! Yet Love lingers lonely, When Passion is mute, And the blossoms may only Give way to the fruit.

The Husband must enter The hostile life, With struggle and strife, To plant or to watch, To snare or to snatch, To pray and importune, Must wager and venture And hunt down his fortune! Then flows in a current the gear and the gain, And the garners are fill'd with the gold of the grain, Now a yard to the court, now a wing to the centre! Within sits Another, The thrifty Housewife; The mild one, the mother— Her home is her life. In its circle she rules, And the daughters she schools, And she cautions the boys, With a bustling command, And a diligent hand Employ'd she employs; Gives order to store, And the much makes the more; Locks the chest and the wardrobe, with lavender smelling, And the hum of the spindle goes quick through the dwelling; And she hoards in the presses, well polish'd and full, The snow of the linen, the shine of the wool; Blends the sweet with the good, and from care and endeavour Rests never! Blithe the Master (where the while From his roof he sees them smile) Eyes the lands, and counts the gain; There, the beams projecting far, And the laden store-house are, And the granaries bow'd beneath The blessings of the golden grain; There, in undulating motion, Wave the corn-fields like an ocean. Proud the boast the proud lips breathe:— "My house is built upon a rock, And sees unmoved the stormy shock Of waves that fret below!" What chain so strong, what girth so great, To bind the giant form of Fate?— Swift are the steps of Woe.

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