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rioting in the favours of fortune which have been poured upon it without stint, chaffering and haggling in by far the most important concern of society, like an usurious pawnbroker, for a few thousand dollars. In some of the poorer states, such stupid economy would be more excusable, or rather less unaccountable, for nothing can excuse it. The rarest thing in naturecertainly, the rarest thing in America-is a learned and able judge, at the same time, that he is not only, in the immediate administration of justice, but still more, if possible, by his immense influence over the bar and the community at large, beyond all price. But we Americans do not think so, or rather we act as if we did not. The only means of having a good bench is to adopt the English plan-give liberal salaries to your judges, let them hold their offices during good behaviour, and when they begin to exhibit symptoms of senility and decay, hint to them that their pensions are ready to be paid them. The last is a necessary part of the system-but it is what the American people can never be brought to submit to. They are economical, (God save the mark!) and, therefore, will not spend money without a present and palpable quid pro quo-they are metaphysical, and, therefore, they will not violate what is called, we know not why, principle. They deem anything preferable. Extinguish the light of a Kent or a Spenser-submit to the drivellings of dotage and imbecility-nay, even resort to the abominations of an elective judiciary system-anything rather than adopt the plain, manly, and only sure means of securing the greatest blessing, but liberty, which civil society can attain to, the able administration of the laws!
In the present instance, the people of New-York alone are the sufferers. The distinguished person before us has laid up abundantly those miseris viatica canis, which wisdom and virtue, and they alone, confer upon the chosen few-which the world cannot give, neither take away.
ART. IV.-Voyage dans la Russie Méridionale, et particulièrement dans les provinces situées au-delà du Caucuse. Par le Chevalier Gamba. Paris. 2 vols. 8vo. 1826.
FOR the greater part of the last three thousand years, the history of civilized man has, in an extraordinary degree, been confined to those nations that have inhabited the shores of the Mediterranean. Nearly all that we possess of arts, of science, of religion, have been unfolded in those fortunate regions. It is upon them alone, that the uninterrupted light of traditionary or of recorded history has been permitted to shine. Until within a few centuries, the heroic song, the legendary tale, the historic chronicle, have generally dwelt upon the deeds transacted in this limited portion of the globe. All other regions and people arose to view occasionally, and have left only broken and interrupted memorials of their existence and of their glory.
Within a few centuries, a wonderful change has been produced. Knowledge and wealth and power have been distributed over distant and scattered realms. Countries, unknown in ancient days, are becoming the seats of science and of arms, and it may be considered among the extraordinary incidents of modern times, that a nation, arising amidst the inhospitable deserts of Sarmatia, is gradually approaching the range of ancient civilization, overshadowing with its power the abodes of former magnificence and modern barbarity, is found exploring and illustrating provinces and kingdoms, which were only obscurely noticed in the legends of antiquity.
Among those districts which, at intervals, have broken on the view of civilized man with transient celebrity-one, remarkable for the fables which hang over its early history, for many circumstances which at distant periods have distinguished its more accurate annals, is that country which, to the north and east, encircles the Euxine sea, and more particularly, that mountainous isthmus placed between the Euxine and Caspian, which includes the declivities of the great chain of the Caucasus.
The Borysthenes, the Tanais, the Tauric Chersonesus, have all been the occasional theatre of memorable events. But the name of Colchos is still more strongly interwoven with the imagination of the scholar. It awakens the recollection of many of the tales of the heroic age of Greece, recals to our memory the names of Phryxus and of Helle, the misfortunes of
Medea, the adventures of the Argonauts, and the yet undetermined problem of the Golden Fleece. This rugged but beautiful country appears, at times, on the pages of history, as the cause or seat of war between surrounding empires, but like all the dependencies of Mount Caucasus, it has been inhabited by fierce, ignorant, and inhospitable tribes, whose annals are consequently obscure, and whose fortunes were rarely intermingled with those of surrounding empires. It is celebrated as that fortunate clime where the human race is most distinguished for perfection in its stature, its form and its proportion. The fairest variety of our species is now designated by naturalists, as the Caucasian race. It has also become remarkable for a traffic which has rarely been paralleled. On the coast of Africa, we have long been familiar with tribes, who sold their domestic slaves or captives into foreign bondage; but in the districts around Mount Caucasus, has been exhibited for several centuries, the spectacle of a race, professedly Christian, selling their sisters or daughters, to supply the harems of Turkey and Persia, and their sons, to fill up the ranks of the Mamelukes of Egypt, or the Janisaries of Constantinople.
Within the last forty years, the empire of Russia, which has been enlarging its boundaries in so many directions, has extended over these mountain tribes its claims and its jurisdiction-is reducing to subordination a people hitherto lawless and independent and is making known to the world, a country, heretofore wrapt in fiction and in fable.
It may be proper to sketch a brief outline of the geographical and political divisions of this country, even now so little known, before we enter into any details from the volume before us.
The central chain of Mount Caucasus, rising from the margin of the Euxine near the Straits of Taman or Enicale, runs south-east, at a distance of sixty or seventy miles from the shores of that sea until it reaches its eastern limit, then bending to the east, and again to the south-east, passes over to the Caspian. This chain is one of the loftiest and most unbroken on the surface of the globe-many of its peaks, particularly along the Euxine, are covered with perpetual snow, and Elbourous or Elbrus, has been ascertained to be more lofty than the highest of the Alps. In elevation, perhaps the Andes and the Himalaya mountains alone exceed it.
In its course of nearly 600 miles, it offers but one known road sufficient for the passage of an army. This is near its centre, so narrow, so enclosed, so commanded, that it is emphatically called the Gates of Dariel, gates that have been but rarely opened by a hostile power. At its eastern extremity, the moun
tains sink just before they reach the Caspian, near the city of Derbent, leaving there another narrow passage, which has always formed a military position of great importance, and has frequently been designated as the Caspian Gates. To the west, it can more easily be turned, but about one hundred and sixty miles from its termination, a lofty and precipitous ridge, shooting from the central chain, approaches so near the Euxine, as to form a strait which can easily be commanded by a small fortress, and is known as the pass of Gagra or Kotoche.
Between the inhabitants of the opposite declivities of this mountain chain, there could be but little intercourse, and although, perhaps, originally connected, and resembling each other in habits, yet, long before the time of Strabo, they were divided into petty hordes differing in language, and only presenting the common and natural features of savage, mountain tribes.
- To the north of the Caucasus, the mountainous district was bounded by the Terek and Kouban, rivers which rise amidst the icebergs of this great chain, turn after they have descended into the plains in contrary directions, fall into the Euxine at almost opposite points, and serve as a line of separation between the mountaineers and the Nomade tribes of Calmucs and Cossacs, who form the southern borderers of the Russian Empire.
To the south, the natural boundary of this region is, perhaps, the Armenian chain of Taurus or Mount Ararat. Turkey and Persia have both extended their limits over this latter chain, and in the late struggle with Persia, and the present disputes with Turkey, one object with Russia has been, and, probably, will be, to regain these ancient provinces of Georgia.
If we were to suppose this tract of country divided into four not very unequal divisions, the south-eastern slope would be chiefly occupied by the kingdom of Georgia, the largest, and, perhaps, the most civilized portion of the whole. This kingdom, however, did not extend to the Caspian. It was bounded to the east by the warlike and independent tribes of the Lesghi, and the once Persian provinces of Chirvan and Daghestan.
The north-eastern section is principally inhabited by Ossetian tribes, by Ingushes, Tschetchestsies, and some Circassians on the plain of little Kabarda; along the Caspian, it was bordered by Northern Daghestan.
The north-western quarter is the home of the Circassians, or Tscherkessians, as they are called by the consonant loving people of Sarmatia, an unquiet race, and plunderers almost from necessity. Confined on the south by the impassable barriers of the Caucasus, to the east by portions of the same chain,
or by tribes as warlike and as poor as themselves, they generally followed the course of their streams in their rapid descent to the Kouban, and sought on the Russian frontiers, the great articles of their wealth, cattle and slaves. They were often excited to these inroads by the Turks, who still exercise some influence over them, and they were encouraged by the local advantages of their country, for if resisted, or beaten in the field, retreat was easy, and their asylum secure. It is only within twenty or thirty years, that these disorders have been repressed by the increasing power of Russia on this frontier. The Circassians own the coasts of the Euxine for about one hundred miles from the mouth of the Kouban, and through the port of Anapa, now held by the Turks, continue their intercourse with that nation. One or two other ports were formerly places of some trade, but as the Turks who held them, withdrew their garrisons, they have been gradually abandoned by the natives.
Adjoining the Circassians, and extending between the chain of the Caucasus and the Euxine, for nearly two hundred miles to the river Cador, is the country of Abassa or Abazie. Its inhabitants are as wild and unsettled as any of the tribes on this isthmus. The same local circumstances which led the Circassians to the Kouban, exhibited the Abasses as pirates on the ocean-the only outlet to their circumscribed and imprisoned vallies. Like their neighbours, the Circassians, many of their tribes are Mahometans. They are beginning to acknowledge their dependence on Russia, but still maintain some intercourse with Turkey. The pass of Gagra is nearly in the centre of their territory.
From the Cador, south to the mountains of Akhaltzikhe or Akiska, east to the ridge of mountains which divide the waters of the Phasis or Rion from those of the Kour, is the celebrated valley of the Phasis, the Colchos of antiquity. This, with Abazie, occupies the south-western slope of Caucasus, adjoining on its eastern border the district of Georgia. It is now divided into three distinct provinces, kingdoms they have sometimes been called.
From the Cador to the ancient Phasis, and ascending that river as far as the tributary stream of the Tskeniskal, (Tzcheniss-tzquali of the Russians) lies the district of Mingrelia, of which the lower part is a plain of exuberant fertility; the northeastern portion becomes broken and mountainous, as it ascends among the ridges of the great Caucasian chain.
Above the Tskeniskal, extending across the Phasis to the mountains of Akhaltzikhe, on the east to the mountains which