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THE CAUCASIAN WAR.*
The extraordinary and effectual even the ferocity of barbaric minds stand which the tribes lying along the and manners may eventually be traiueastern coast of the Euxine have made ed to civilization by the pressure of against the gigantic power of Russia, new calamity. But no man, who has has naturally awakened “ strong in the common feeling of right and terest" in Europe ; it has all the fea- wrong inculcated in him by nature, and tures of the times of romance, ex still less, no man who feels the sympahibiting the “ might that slumbers thies commanded by Christianity, can in a peasant's arm, exemplifying doubt, that to covet the territories of the noble resistance that may exist other sovereignties is a national crime;
among men destitute of every thing that to enforce the claim by blood is a .but native intrepidity, and cheering heightening of the crime ; and that to
all independent nations with the evi- protest against the principle and the dence that the feeblest who are deter- practice is equally just, în feeling, in mined to fight for their firesides, may policy, and in religion. Russian agstruggle against the most colossal with grandizement is the true danger of the distinguished honour, and perhaps world. with final victory.
Among the striking features of the It is not our purpose here to pro- present crisis is the prominence into nounce upon the immediate motives of which the tribes of the Central Cauthe Russian Cabinet. But the unde casus have been thrown within the last niable fact is, that Russia has proceed- half dozen years. Until that period ed in a course of violent aggression on they were almost wholly unknown. all the neighbouring states for the last Russia had marched through the counhundred years; that this aggression try in their rear, and swept the borhas been continued until it has actually ders of the Caspian with trivial diffigrown into a settled principle of Rus- culty. She had conquered Mingrelia sian policy; that every successful and Georgia twenty years before, and seizure of territory has been so far held them in firm possession. But from satiating the passion for aggran- the tribes which, by their position, dizement, that it has given new eager were objects of the highest importance ness for encroachment; and that, in a to a power whose direct purpose was desperate and unquenchable ambition the command of both shores of the which palpably aims at the sovereignty Euxine, remained nearly unknown. of the world, the object present to it Mr Bell, from whose narrative we from the beginning of its career under chiefly derive the anecdotes and obthe first Peter, and enlarging and servations that follow, is evidently a spreading with stronger temptation man of ability. He writes with clearbefore it to this hour, is the seizure of ness and force ; he describes spiritedly the empire of the Sultan.
and not too much, seizing on the proHigh purposes may be connected in minent features of the country, withthe councils of Providence with this out confusing them by lavishness of fierce, restless, and inappeasable love colouring or minuteness of detail. of possession ; the mysterious agency Alarmed as our feelings may be at the which brings good out of evil may progress of human ambition, he places render the march of Russian power its criminality in the strongest light, the means of accomplishing great ob- by its contrast with the simple patriotjects, of which Russian policy never ism and natural bravery of the race of dreamt. The excitement of war may gallant mountaineers on whose bodies awake new life in the world of Islam- it must trample before it can enslave ism; the necessity of repelling des- the land of their fathers. potism may give birth to ihe only an By one of the treaties signed by tagonist by which it can be finally re Mabimoud in his days of depression, pelled-constitutional freedom; and Turkey had made over to the Czar all
Journal of a Residence in Circassia during the Years 1837, 1838, and 1839. By James Stanislaus Bell. 2 vols.
that belonged to her of sovereignty the irresistible radiance of the impeover the tribes of the Caucasus, and rial smile, and having accomplished Russia instantly and fearfully availed that object dearest to every Whig and herself of the pretext for bringing the Radical in existence—the enjoyment whole country into subjection. But of a two years' salary-returned to the truth was, that Turkey had signed England, bringing nothing with him away what it was not in her power to but a character from the Czar, and a bestow; that the Caucasian tribes couple of Russian ribands at his buthad never acknowledged more than a tonhole. nominal sovereignty in Turkey; and In 1837, Mr Bell resolved on mak. that the sea-shore was the only part ing a second experiment, and started by which even that was formally ac from Constantinople by the Turkish knowledged. The new demand of steamer for Trebizond, but landed at submission, therefore, came like a Sinope. This town would form a thunderbolt upon the Circassians. study for the antiquarian ; it stands The Russian army advanced in force on the end of a promontory, guarded sufficient to justify the belief at St on the land side by lofty double walls, Petersburg, that no merely barbarian which, having been repaired by the power could resist it for a single Turks from time to time, give numcampaign ; but the Czar, who had berless proofs of the barbaric readiseen nothing but an empire of serfs, ness with which they availed themwas now to take a lesson from a com selves of the labours of the past. The monwealth of freemen. The Circas- walls are patched with slabs bearing sians rose in their villages, cursed the Greek and Latin inscriptions, and name of the invader, pronounced their with fragments of beautifully executed determination to resist ; and adopting, alto-relievos, capitals, entablatures, as if by instinct, the true tactique of and Auted marble columns ! The mountain war, drove their cattle from country affords no less interest to the the valleys, burned their barks on the geologist, presenting a great variety shores, removed their families to the of soil as it recedes from the coast ; hills, stockaded the mountain passes, hills evidently volcanic, those hills and, calling on every man to take up forest-crowned; the valleys fertile and his rifle, prepared to fight to their last abundant in flowers, among which breath against the Czar and slavery. were “ most fragrant violets ; " orchThe result was altogether beyond con ards and vineyards, showing the luxujecture; for what could the desultory riance of the land, and even the quiet resistance of a population of peasants and comfort which the indolence of be expected to perform against the the Turk allows to the Asiatic farmer. disciplined troops, the financial re But this five portion of the earth is sources, and the devouring ambition coming into play, and it will not be of the Russian empire ?
long forgotten or unexamined. The “affair of the Vixen" has been But there is already a silent operafamiliar to the British public. It arose tion going on, whose effects must have out of an attempt, on the part of some been felt, even without the more rapid British merchants, to carry on an in- stimulant of war. The people of dependent trade with Circassia. The Sinope carry on a considerable trade Vixen was seized by the Russians, in the fine oaks with which their adand the whole business produced a joining hills abound. The "steamer formidable addition to the troubles of is abroad,” worth all the schoolmásLord Palmerston, already perilously ters” of this liberal age. The Tre. immersed in protocols, and the official bizond steamers call at Sinope for puzzling of the most puzzled diplo- coals. The Turks and Persians were macy since the days of Laputa. Mr at first afraid to trust themselves to Bell, the chief agent on the occasion, ride on these « fire-horses ;” but they returned to Constantinople. Lord have now got over their terrors, and Durham, the champion of Liberalism they pass, generally, to the number in England, was sent to display his of sixty or a hundred every trip. flexibility at the foot of the despot; These are wondrous doings in Turkey. he performed the suppliant to admira- Twenty years ago the passengers tion, bowed to the Emperor with the would have been taken for madmen, pliancy of a Chinese mandarin, found the captain would have been hanged his Radicalism utterly melted down in as a magician, and the ship would
have been confiscated as a “contra one old wife and one son, and, whenband" of the Prince of the Power of ever I can make some money for them, the Air !
I can laugh all day long." The wind After some discussion as to the fell again; but Moslem invention was mode of arriving at Circassia without not to be exhausted. The Mollah being overhauled by the Russians, Mr went round the deck with a little cup Bell, at length, embarked on board a for paras, to buy candles to place in coaster, commanded by an old Turk the mosque of a saintly Derveish at named Khader. Khader was a hu. Sinab, which paras he wrapped up in a mourist, who scattered his jokes round piece of rag, and tied round the tiller! all his passengers. Their banquet In the evening, another scene perfectly was not much suited to epicurism; Oriental occurred. The sails being twice a day they had a stew of dried trimmed, and the evening prayers salt-meat, eggs, and onions, followed said, the steersman proposed telling by a cup of sugarless coffee, and a them a tale, to pass the time. While pipe. Their other meals were irre he knelt, as they generally do, with gular, optional, and requiring strong the tiller under his arm, and a pipe stomachs; for their composition was in one hand, the other being free garlic, olives, and capsicums. They for action, with the moonlight shin. had five Circassians on board, warrior ning upon his expressive features, and merchants, who brought with them the surrounding circle of Turks and considerable quantities of packages for Circassians all listening in silence and the home trade; but their first care light, the whole was an example of the was to look to their arms and ammu- involuntary picturesque. His tale nition--a sign of the times ! The winds was one of the old Arab family, of were continually shifting, and at length unhappy sultans and wonderful derfell dead calm. Then the native re veishes; but it was broken short by a sources of the Oriental came into play. fresh breeze. Another night was spent A Mollah wrote a verse from the Ko- upon the waters. The sea, under the ran, which he tied aloft in the rigging, full moon, looked like a bath of silver. and another Turk hung up the Koran To add to the interest of the scene, an itself at the stern. It may be pre- eclipse came on. The alarm was obsumed that the charm was effectual, viated by the Englishman's prediction for a breeze set in shortly after. Next of it, from his almanac; but all his day, as they approached the coast, attempts to explain the phenomenon they were startled by the reports of were met with that acquiescent doubt, distant cannon ; but a swallow flew which relieves the Turk from the by, which was regarded as a happy trouble of thinking. " It is the will omen, and they were comforted. The of God," said they ; and this solution captain was a man of experience; his accounted for every thing. It is the vessel had been already captured by Turkish royal road to science; and the Russian cruisers, but he had made saves the brain prodigiously. his escape with his crew in a cock But they were now approaching boat, in which, after four days of has their harbour and their bazard to. zard, he reached the shore. He had gether. Morning showed them the sailed the Euxine for twenty-five mountains of Circassia about forty years. His contrivance for ascertain- miles off; but it soon after showed ing the set of the wind was happy: them two Russian vessels, one a threehis vessel had no vane ; but he stuck masted cutter of six guns, and the out his long pipe, which was seldom other a large gun-brig, coming down out of his hand, over the gunwale, and full upon them. The chase now beit answered the purpose. The wind gan, and the Turks were recommendat last rose, and put the old captain ed to throw their bales overboard. into remarkable good-humour. He But this they would not do : however, had said to an old Circassian gentle as something must be done, they man, who had gone below through a threw overboard a gun-carriage and a fit of sickness, “ that he was happy to Circassian flag. Their only hope was see him again on deck, for when he in the tactique of the Russians, who was asleep so often, and forgot to say are bad sailors.
The cutter commenhis prayers, they had bad winds.” ced firing: the first shots fell short. To a remark, that he seemed in good
Twice before she neared them, way spirits' Yes, yes," said he, “ I have was lost by the necessity of altering
her course, owing to the Russian missed their prey, drew off, after ha. having endeavoured to run in upon ving exhibited a very humble share of them, instead of running between them either seamanship or daring. The and the coast. Four or five times, crew and cargo were now safe landed, while running alongside, and her shot and all was rejoicing, hospitality, and passing far beyond them, she lost way new contempt for the blockaders. by altering her course, either for the The Circassians, though generally purpose of closing with them, or Moslems, have not adopted all the bringing her broadside to bear. The Moslem absurdities. For instance, Turks were in despair, and proposed they are not fatalists, at least so far as an instant surrender ; but the Circas the plague is concerned ; for hospitasians were of other metal. The old bly as Mr Bell was welcomed, his first Circassian who had been sea-sick, place of residence was a kind of rude drew his dagger upon the Captain the lazaretto, and no one would touch any moment he talked of surrender. The of the newly arrived until the captain rest loaded their fire-arms, and fixed had taken an oath, on the Koran, that their daggers in their belts, to keep there was no plague at the port from the sailors to their duty. The Rus- which he came. The goods were all sian fired as slow, as she had ma- fumigated; and, when a house was at næuvred badly; but she was too strong, last chosen for Mr Bell, it was one and the case now seemed hopeless. which had been quitted by the family. The chase had continued for two The country on this shore is strik. hours, and the shot falling round them, ingly beautiful ; and this kind of landMr Bell went below, to get some of scape extends from Anapa to Sukum his stock of gunpowder in readiness Khale, or nearly from the mouth of to be thrown overboard. On his re the Kuban to the borders of Mingrelia. turn, he took an oar like the rest, and The construction of the coast is equally joined in the rowing chant, or in a singular and picturesque ; and would cheer, of “ Madge, Madge,” equiva- probably afford as much interest to the lent to the French" courage,” in geologist as to the poet or the painter. reply to each shot. At length the A continuous range of lofty and woodcutter came within musket range, but ed mountains forms the background, they had now got so near the coast, while from these descend valleys perthat they could see the people rushing pendicular to the shore. Almost all down the hills, and streaming from the hills are clothed with oak nearly both sides along the beech, towards to the summit; the hills chiefly conthe point for which they were making. sisting of a friable clayslate, whose Seeing this, the Circassians on board, dissolution fills the valleys with a rich who had been singing their beautiful soil. The valley of the Subesh, foi rowing chant, “ Arira-ri-ra," set up example, the mountain-stream near a scream of piercivg shrillness, to which the vessel had reached the shore, which their countrymen on shore set was highly fertile. Trees were numeup an equally ear-piercing reply. In rous, and all the larger ones were fesa short time, a boat, literally crammed tooned with enormous vines, from with armed men, was alongside of which the people make excellent wine, them. The Russians now seemed to and even brandy, Moslems though they think, that a reinforcement of twenty- be. Low hills skirted the valley ; five men was not to be trifled with; where not under tillage, clothed with, for the cutter was immediately laid fruit-trees and a beautiful carpet of to, firing a shot now and then, in use grass and wild flowers. But no houses
The gun-brig next came were to be seen in the valley: they up, but also brought to; and content lurked in clusters in the wooded dells ed herself with the safe valour of long above, a result of the war. shots. The shore was now covered with The family in whose "guest-house' warriors, who naturally took the strong Mr Bell resided (for it seems the naest interest in this struggle of das tional habit to have two-one for hospitardly strength with skill and courage. tality and the other for home) at length As the vessel neared the shore, three returned, and they amply fed the Eng. Circassians plunged into the sea and lish stranger. Fresh supplies of pasta, swam off to her, to carry the cable to a thick porridge made of millet,) meat, land. Another large boat soon joined either stewed or roasted; pasta with them. The Russians at length, having goat's milk, pasta with honey,
pouring in upon bim all day. One of the their breakfasts, dinners, and suppers, daughters, of whom, as he was “ un- from the moment of landing at Calais. luckily" from home at the moment, he This is unnecessary, since we have can speak only by hearsay, but who was ascertained that the French are not said to be a beauty of sixteen, waited anthropophagi, though we allow its va. on'him with a bowl of nuts and walnuts, lue in filling up a page. But the bill as a present from the family. He was of fare in remote and barbaric counmore fortunate in personally receiving tries is an indication of the state of the another visiter, the daughter of a Cirs people. The Circassians seem to be cassian noble, who was on a visit in well provided. The breakfast in this the neighbourhood; “ a very pretty family (which was one only in the girl, whose head and bosom were pro- middle rank) was ample. fusely decorated with lace, and orna. First were served 'sweet cake and ments of silver." She also brought milk ; then, on a clean wooden foura bowl of nuts and walnuts, and footed tray, a great mess of thick was presented with a pair of scis-' pasta, with a wooden bowl stuck in sors in return. Both young ladies its middle, in which was the sauce, a were extremely anxious to be sent mixture of milk, walnut oil, and capsi. to “ Stamboul,” which our Euro- cum. There were, unfortunately for pean vocabulary pronounces“ selling the elegance of the table, no plates for them for slaves;” but which the young the meat; but the pieces of boiled kid and handsome among these mountain were arranged round the pasta, helpnymphs look upon as pushing their ed of course with the fingers. Then, fortune; in fact, as what the world of to “ promote the digestion of fat fashion among us calls « bringing meats," as they said, was handed out," and with nearly the same mo- round a huge bowl of grape syrup tives, and not much difference in the and water, which is recommended as morality.
a specific ; and after all came another It being thus known that the Eng- large bowl full of kid-broth, thickenlishman had curiosities in his house, ed with beans, of which the guest was he was frequently honoured with si. expected to taste. If this were the milar levees of his host's family and breakfast, what must be the dinner ? their visiters. The young sultanas We should regard the plethora as were enchanted with his musical much more likely to finish the war snuff-box, and the display of his other than Russian generalship ; and the European wonders. But the visits Circassian warriors more likely to were strictly en règle ; one or two old fall victims to dilated stomachs and gentlemen, corresponding to our cha. short breath, than to the bullets of the perons, accompanied them. There is Muscovite. We should, at all events, nothing new under the sun. Some presume it speedily to disqualify the boys, sons of native nobles, who were female stock in trade for the Constanliving with the family for education, tinople market. No Circassian coastsometimes came. One of them, about er seems equal to the tonnage of a nine years old, was soon to return freight of sultanas on this regimen. home, having become an excellent But, at least, it shows that the narider, and one of the best of shots in tives have something to fight for; the valley. He had completed his that they have property, indepen« education,” and is probably by this dence, and skill to turn both to their time a classic hero, distinguished in proper purposes. We are not surthe songs of his country for his havoc prised, that comparing their own conof the “ Yellow-beards," and his elo- dition with the penury of the wretchquence in national harangues, at an ed serf of Russia, or the solitary savaage when, among us, he would be gery of the Cossack, they should think pea-shooting at Westminster, or re- it better to fight the Czar than to liearsing the typus barytonorum at serve him; to shoot his slaves in the Eton, with the certainty of never field than to drag the chain in his dewriting a line of longs or shorts from serts; and to live free in their pleasant the moment when he arrived at years valleys and noble forests, than to wear of discretion. But in this country we his barness, and go forth at his impecan afford to be idle.
rial bidding, to die in the fens of PoModern tourists are in the habit of land, or freeze in the steppes of Tartiring or tantalizing the reader, as the tary. case may be, by giving a detail of lo makivg his progress through the