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churches I ever remember seeing is in this village, built by the order of a Georgian princess; it is entirely of stone, walls, roof, and steeple. After refreshment we descended into a beautiful, fertile, and well-populated valley, inhabited by Caucasian tribes, intermixed with Georgians. Many villages are to be met with on each side of the Terek, and at the entrance of every branching valley; each village has a square-built tower, of stone; the same material is used for houses, they are even roofed with it, on account of the scarcity of wood.
The road from Kasbek to Kobi (sixteen and a half versts) gave us some hilly work; towards the latter part of it, the high mountains, covered with eternal snow, had a wild effect, as we descended into a marshy plain, about two versts before arriving at our destination.
In this wretched and unhealthy spot is a military station, placed immediately at the entrance of three valleys, under a very lofty mountain. There we got into another government house, and found wood so very dear, that it was difficult to procure sufficient to boil our kettle for three rubles (2s. 6d.) The stove in which we made a fire had not been lighted for a length of time; the consequence was, that it gave us all, more or less, the head-ache; two of the party were very ill; I was a little inclined that way, till I took a dram, and a pipe, which had the desired effect, although unpleasant in the morning.
November 1st.—Left here this morning, by seven o'clock; it was very cold, with piercing winds from the mountains. We purchased three horses from a Russian officer whom we met with here, on his way from the war.
'We had to encounter some rapid and narrow ascents and descents: it was a sharp frost, and the mountain streams, crossing the roads, being frozen, we had great difficulty in getting on at any reasonable pace, the roads being so very indifferent.
The mountains become very grand and imposing, as we proceed; we passed several minerals, on both sides of the road; I filled some bottles, and found the waters very pleasant, and not unlike those of Ems or Wiesbaden. The cold winds, contrasted with the extreme heat of the sun at mid-day, told us we were approaching to a great height, which proved true, for we soon arrived at the highest point of the pass. There is a stone cross erected here, to commemorate the completion of the road, by the Russians, in 1809. The descent is very steep and dangerous. Having arrived in the valley, half an hour brought us to another high ascent; the road is cut on the side of the mountain, round which it winds, with a narrow valley at the bottom. This point of view is scarcely to be equalled; we could clearly distinguish villages, houses, flocks, and almost the source of the river Aragua, beneath us. We continued descending, and at three, P. M., made the pretty and romantic military station of Kashaur, sixteen versts having occupied us eight hours. After refreshing our wearied cattle, we proceeded for Passananoor, (twenty versts), where we began to meet with the inhabitants of Georgia. Four versts from whence we started, brought us to a most frightful descent, winding in a zig-zag direction, from the summit of the mountain, to the river, which flows through the valley at the bottom. I was on horseback, but dismounted, and had great difficulty in keeping my horse from stumbling over me.
In the valley of Passananoor we observed various kinds of merchandize, from Moscow, strewed over some acres of ground; and Georgian
carts, drawn by buffaloes, exchanging their loads with the Russian conveyances. From this we proceeded through a delightful valley, by the side of the Aragua, the mountains on each side covered with fine trees; we still continued the descent, though it was very gentle.
Being anxious to reach Passananoor before it became dark, I passed the carriage, and rode on; it soon, however, became so. Numerous fires are kept up by the Georgian carters, who bivouac in the forest, by the roadside; and Passananoor being a little off the road, I mistook one of those fires for it; and, riding towards it, passed the village. On discovering my mistake, I thought the village must be still farther, and continued trotting on. It was now so dark that I could not see my horse's head: ten o'clock came, and yet no signs of a village; I passed several Ossetinians, and now and then a Georgian, who called out heartily before I came close upon them. I had now got out of the road, when one of those strangers called to me and even put me right. I proceeded, and soon arrived at a bridge, which I dismounted to examine, my suspicions that all was not right being raised by the snorting of my horse. I found it broken in several places. Here I was at a loss how to act; I still thought I could not have passed the station, when I heard the voice of some one calling; I heeded not, and was proceeding to cross the best part of the bridge, when I again heard the same voice, and the noise of horses' feet. I began to feel about, for something to defend myself, when I found that it was a Cossack, who had been sent after me. I was nine versts beyond the station! and most cheerfully returned with the veteran. We turned off the road to a Georgian hut, where a fire was blazing outside the door, surrounded by ten or fifteen natives, some sleeping, covered with their bourkas; we got some refreshment, and proceeded back; on arriving, I found the gentlemen were obliged to occupy an out-house-as wretched an accommodation as we had met with since leaving the Isle of Taman; I was tired, and threw myself down on some hay, and slept soundly till morning.'-pp. 76—81.
Having escaped from the rats and the other various horrors of the Caucasus, the author and his friends at length reached Tifflis, pretty well tired of their journey. That city has a busy, cheerful, showy appearance, which reminded Armstrong of Naples. The houses are partly in the European, partly in the Asiatic style; the streets are narrow, and the Russian authorities have of late made such considerable improvements in them, that Tiflis is likely soon to take rank with the second class of cities. The population consists of about forty thousand, chiefly Georgians, but numbering also many Armenians, Russians, Germans, Tartars, Persians, Jews and Turks. The principal productions of the country are wine and silk; the worn, which manufactures the latter, is found in great abundance in the subject provinces of Mingrelia, Gouria, and Immeritia, where there are extensive forests of mulberry-trees. There is a German colony in the neighbourhood, which supplies the market with vegetables, milk, butter, cheese, and beer. Like the Spaniards, the Georgians keep their wine in skins, retaining so much of the form of the animal to which they had previously belonged, that, as the author truly remarks, their cellars look more
like a slaughter-house, than a repository of that liquid which cheers the heart of man.
From Tifflis, our travellers, who had set out from England for the Balcan, pursued their way to Persia. We fancy that this was their original destination, and that, from the concealment of their names and their operations, they were charged with a political mission, connected possibly with the war in which Russia was then engaged against Turkey in Asia. The Tartar dwellings in Georgia, which they saw upon their route, and in which they occasionally lodged, are of the most primitive description. They are, in fact, a square hole dug in the ground, the top being covered with beams of wood covered with earth, and so level with the surface of the soil around, that the habitations are distinguishable only by the smoke, which issues from a hole in the roof. It is with some difficulty that the men and horses, traversing that part of the country, prevent themselves tumbling in, uninvited, upon the natives seated at their meals below. The scenery, though occasionally flat and dreary, is in general delightful; the country being mountainous, well wooded, and watered by numerous musical streams, almost as far as the confines of Persia. Tabreez, one of the first Persian towns of any importance, which the traveller meets on that side, is nothing better than a confused assemblage of low mud houses; the streets being narrow and dirty, and the bazaars in a ruinous state; yet it contains a population of sixty, some say of eighty thousand, principally Armenians. In this miserable place our party remained during the severe months of winter. In February they quitted it for Tehran, which they reached in seventeen days. While traversing that district of Persia, the author was strongly impressed with the paucity of the natural obstacles, which it would present to a Russian invading army, should the Emperor be at any time actuated by ambitious views upon the dominions of the Shah.
It struck me very forcibly how easy it would be for Russia, or any other civilized power, to march an army through the country we have been travelling in. Since we crossed the Araxis, I have met with nothing to obstruct the progress of artillery: the roads and country, as we advance, appear more accessible to an invading army, than those which we have passed between Tiflis and Tabreez. If the Russians have succeeded, in so masterly a manner, in driving the Persians and Turks before them, and retaining the country wherever they choose, what obstacle is to impede them (in the course of time and events) from proceeding to the shores of the Persian Gulf? This may be thought impossible, knowing the natural dislike those Eastern nations have for Christians, and, more especially, the antipathy they bear to Russia, and the little reliance to be placed in the faith of the Persians; and supposing Persia, as a united body, (which, on account of the jealousy amonst the numerous royal princes, who are all more or less ambitious for the throne, is very doubtful,) were to join with Turkey in a common cause against them; and together, also, with the uncertainty of procuring supplies for an army sufficiently powerful to oppose the enemy.
'But when one looks upon the progress of Russia in Armenia, where much more may be expected than is generally known, as regards provisions and the formation of an army, which might be probably with little trouble organized, at their own will and expense, when it is considered for the safety and foundation of their liberty, of which they have been so long deprived, and they now look forward with anxiety for the approach of the Russians, whom they consider as their deliverers. Then, again, the discontent of the Caucasians and Georgians may be urged: but the latter country is daily becoming more contented under its government; while the Caucasus is at this moment completely surrounded, and must, in the course of time, and shortly too, become entirely subject to the Czar. Then, again, has not Russia the command of all the navigation on the Caspian? can she not, without the slightest interruption, transport an armament or supplies within three days' march of the present capital of Persia? Supposing her to have Armenia, what is to prevent her co-operating with that extensive country? for, it is my opinion, there is not a Koordish chief or discontented Persian, who is not to be bought over, in case of invasion. As to whether a Russian army can put up with the privations and heat of Persia, it is highly ludicrous to suppose otherwise for a moment. I myself have suffered more from cold in the north of Persia than in any other country, and have felt the heat as oppressive upon the steppes of Russia, in summer, as in Egypt, in the month of August.'pp. 120-122.
Armstrong gives a narrative of the late massacre of the Russian embassy at Tehran, in which, however, we discover nothing that has not been already known to the public. Tehran is rather a better sort of Tabreez, built upon a similar plan. The present Shah is a feeble avaricious monarch, and highly unpopular amongst his subjects. Persia is, at this time,' says the author, in a miserable condition, and it would require but little intrigue to establish a revolutionary spirit throughout the whole empire. The King, the Ministry, and, in fact, Persia in general, are alike devoid of principle, and are daily diminishing in importance.' The influence of England is predominant there; the court flies for advice to our embassy, in every exigency of importance. Our party, still rapid and unintelligible in their movements, remained but ten days at Tehran, when they set out upon their return to Tabreez, by a different and much more dangerous route, than that which they had pursued on their journey to the Persian capital. We shall give one or two of the author's adventures among the torrents and precipices of the Koordish mountains.
'On crossing a narrow, but deep and rapid mountain-torrent, over a wicker bridge, my horse, which was young and not very tractable, was leaning too much to one side, when I checked him rather suddenly, and we both fell headlong into the river, and were instantly carried under the bridge. The horse swam out on one side, whilst I was fortunate in grasping hold of the bough of a tree on the other, and thus succeeded in landing; being armed with pistols, sword, and carbine, and also wearing a heavy fur jacket, it would have been impossible for me to swim; and had not
this tree been providentially placed in the way, I should most inevitably have perished.
At about one agach from the village, we joined another river, (the Karason,) and kept in the vicinity of its waters the remainder of the day, crossing and re-crossing it at intervals; our road led us through the most singular and inaccessible country I ever was in. When about the third agach, we observed one of our late friends from the village following us, armed with sword, lance, pistols, dagger, and shield, and also an immense bludgeon, with a knob of iron, at the end, hanging at his saddle-bow; he was presently followed by some others, mounted and armed in the same manner. We became alarmed for our safety, thinking the guide had betrayed us. They approached nearer, and one of them advanced towards us, seemingly much enraged, and spit in the face of our guide, asking why he had taken us this way, and desired us to re-cross the river, and keep on its left bank; they then left us, and we resumed our journey, much satisfied with their departure. During the afternoon we passed an encampment of a wandering tribe; one of our party went to it, and returned with some cheese, and an arm full of new-baked cakes.
'Some of the passes we crossed were so very narrow, and the precipices beneath so frightful, that we were obliged to dismount, and lead our horses; in other places the passages between the rocks were so confined, that the mules had some difficulty in forcing their way through them with the baggage: the scenery was picturesque and beautiful beyond description. Towards the end of our day's journey we cleared the mountains,entered an open country, and forded the river, which, having become swollen by the late rains, was rendered very dangerous. About sunset we arrived at the singularly-situated town of Senna, the capital of Koordistan, (having come eleven agach since the morning). We were conducted to the palace of a nobleman, where we received every attention and hospitality. The Wallee is independent of Persia, but nevertheless pays a tribute to the Shah, who is acknowledged annually by the present of a splendid dress. This present (together with thirty camels, each carrying a piece of light artillery) came whilst we were here; and the Wallee, ac companied by his guards, and hundreds of horsemen, went out to meet it. There is a camp prepared for his reception, where he changes his dress for that sent by the Shah, and afterwards returns in great pomp to the city, preceded by numerous horsemen, who display great agility in their exercises, and the management of their horses, firing off, and re-loading pistols and muskets, in rapid succession, whilst at full gallop, charging with lances, shields, &c., with astonishing activity; nothing, indeed, can possibly surpass the Koordish horsemanship; and never do I remember seeing so many valuable and handsomely caparisoned animals at one time.*
The town is in rather a ruinous state, and has nothing worthy of remark; the bazaars and streets are inferior to those of other places where
*The food of the horses here differs from that in general use throughout Persia; a weed is very abundant in the mountains, which answers all the purposes of chopped straw and barley, the almost universal provender in the East for these useful animals.'