« السابقةمتابعة »
CHAP. entertained of the inhabitants of this country;
notions still propagated by the Russians concerning the Cossack people. Perhaps few in England, casting their eyes upon a map of this remote corner of Europe, have pictured in their imagination a wealthy and enlightened society, enjoying not only the refinements, but even the luxuries, of the most civilized nations. Their conversation had that polished and agreeable cast which characterizes well-educated military
Some peculiarities, common to our ancestors, and still retained in the ceremonial feasts of antient corporate bodies, might be observed. Among these, the practice of drinking toasts, and of rising to pledge the security of the cupbearer, may be adduced as remarkable instances. Another very antient custom, still more prevalent, is that of bowing to and congratulating any person who happens to sneeze. The Cossacks of the Don always do this. When we took leave of the General, he said, if we preferred returning by water, for the sake of variety, we might use his barge, already prepared, and waiting to convey us. Being conducted to it, we found it manned by ten rowers, and decorated in a most costly manner. It was covered with fine scarlet cloth; and Persian carpets were spread beneath a canopy of silk. The current being in our favour, we embarked,
and were speedily reconducted to our quarters CHAP. in Åtay.
tion for the
The next morning we bade farewell to the EmbarkaDon Cossacks ; and, having placed our carriage Sea of Azof. on board a barge, sailed delightfully down the river (often looking back at the fine view of the town of Åxay and Tcherkask), to Nakhtshivan, an Armenian colony, established about twenty years Armenian before our arrival: this had attained a very flou- Nakhishirishing state, even in that short period'. Its
(1) “A verst (by land) from the fort of Rostof, is a large Armenian town, called Nakitchivan, after the antient town of that name. We spent the evening in looking over it. They affirmed that it contains 1500 families. It has four churches, and two very large bazars, which are very much crowded, and have great appearance of industry. We had a letter to one of the principal inhabitants, who had the rank of Colonel, and whose son was one of Mr. Andre's pupils (of Rostof), and our interpreter. His name was Abraamof. I found that Armenians usually expressed their names in this manner, from the Christian names of their parents, yet with the termination in of, which is a mark of gentility. This man had two sons in the Russian navy; and possessed the reputation of great wealth. He knew Lazarof, who sold Orlof the great diamond; and described in strong terms the misery and anxiety the Armenian had felt while it remained in his possession. His house was well furnished, and had a billiard-table, and many other European luxuries : all however sat cross-legged, except the master, whose dress also was something after the European mode. He had several curious sabres and poignards richly ornamented, which he exhibited with much pride. He said, himself and the greater part of his fellow townsmen had emigrated from the Crimea during the disturbances there; that they had this situation given them, and a charter, by which they had the same privileges as their countrymen at Astrachan. The principal trade of the town is in leather. The women are almost
CHAP. inhabitants were derived from the Crimea. They
had about four hundred shops: these were all placed in one great covered building, after the manner observed in Moscow. The towns near the mouths of the Don present the traveller, with a novel and varied picture of society. He encounters half-a-dozen different nations and languages in the same number of minutes; and each nation in its peculiar dress. As we approached the Armenian settlement, we beheld
all veiled, but those we caught a glimpse of were extremely beautiful. Their veils were very carelessly disposed, and they betrayed no timidity. The men are also handsome; but they have a Jewish expression in their coutenance. The Russians declare they have all a natural unpleasant odour, like that we attribute to the Jews. They dislike them greatly; and have a proverb, “Two Jews equal one Armenian ; two' Armenians one Greek; two Greeks, one Devil.' The Armenians, it is well known, are a very favoured sect by the Russian Government; and many of the noblest families bave a mixture of their blood. Of these are Dolgorucky and Bagration. Joan the First gave the title of Knæs to great numbers of Armenians, and permitted to all a free trade and settlement, with full liberty of worship, and even of making their processions openly. They have a magnificent church in Petersburg, and many in Astrachan and Casan. Their enterprize and activity are well known. Mr. Anderson of Petersburg told me he knew one who bad been twice to Bassora, and once to Sarmacand and Tibet. · I asked Abraamof if such journeys were common; and if they could take an European with them, as their servant, or in any other disguise. He answered both these questions in the afirmative. He himself had been in Georgia, and many parts of Turkey, but never farther. We observed several Mahometans, at least persons in green turbans, which no Armenian would wear.” Heber's MS. Journal.
As the green turban is a mark of high distinction in Turkey, and the Armenians of Nakhtshivan are under no fear of offending Mohammedans, perhaps they are worn merely in consequence of the freedom tbey here enjoy.
Tahtars, Turks, Greeks, Cossacks, Russians, Italians, CHAP. Calmucks, and Armenians; these, together with our English party, formed a representation of the costume of nine different nations within the compass of a quarter of an English mile. The Tahtars were fishing in the river, or driving cattle towards the town; the Turks were smoking in their coffee-houses; the Greeks, a bustling race, were walking about, telling lies, and bartering merchandize; the Cossacks were scampering in all directions on horseback; the Russians, as police-officers, were scratching their heads; the Italians appeared as Venetian and Neapolitan, sailors; the Calmucks jabbering with each other;. the Armenians, both men and women, airing in droskies ; and the English staring at them all. Towards the Don, and especially towards its embouchure, Tahtars are found in great numbers; and this race of men appears in journeying hence, westward, the whole way towards the Dnieper, in all the towns by the Sea of Azof, and in the Crimea, and throughout the dreary plains lying to the north of that Peninsula.
View of the
All the South of Russia, from the Dnieper to General the Volga, and even to the territories of the South of Kirgissian and Thibet Tahtars, with all the North of the Crimea, is one flat uncultivated desolate waste, forming, as it were, a series of those
CHAP. deserts bearing the name of Steppes. The XIV.
very earliest adventurers from the civilized parts of Europe to these remote and barbarous regions, found the country exactly as it now appears. A faithful description of its features occurs in the narrative of W. de Rubruquis, who was employed as a missionary about the middle of the thirteenth century'.
“ We journeyed," says he, “ towards the East, with no other objects in view than earth and sky, and occasionally the sea upon our right (which is called the Sea of Tanaïs), and moreover the sepulchres of the Comani; these seemed about two leagues distant, constructed according to the mode of burial which characterized their ancestors.
What the land of the Comani was, is clearly ascertained by the Voyage of the Ambassador from Pope Innocent the Fourth to Tahtary, in the year 1246, as taken out of the thirty-second book of the Speculum Historiale of Vincentius Beluacensis “ We journeyed through the
(1) Ibamus ergo versus orientem, nihil videntes nisi cælum et terram, et aliquando mare ad dextram, quod dicitur Mare Tanais, et etiam sepulturas Comanorum, quæ apparebant nobis a duabus leucis, secundum quod solebant parentelæ eorum sepeliri simul.” Itinerarium W. de Rubruquis, anno 1253. See Hakluyt, vol. I. p. 80.
(2) “ Ibamus autem per terram Comanorum, quæ tota est plana, et flumina quatuor habet magna. Primum appellatur Neper (Borysthenes); secundum appellatur Don (Tanaïs); tertium dicitur Volga (Rha); quartum nominatur Jaec (Rhymnus)." Ib. p. 47.