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notice, and giving a cheerful and vivid picture of a journey in the mountains. In this aim he has fully succeeded under peculiar difficulties. To be accompanied during a tour, necessarily limited in time, by a pillar of cloud which wets you to the skin both by day and night, and blots out what you may never have the chance to see again, is a sore trial to human patience. Bad weather in a mountain inn is vexatious; in a sleeping bag it must be a good deal more. Yet none of the gloom we might expect is reflected on these pages. When any scenery can be seen Mr. Grove is always ready to be pleased with it, and to describe it with appreciation ; when there is none, and this is only too often the case, he finds a resource in the people amongst whom his party are thrown. The distinguishing merit of the volume lies in its admirable description of the mountain tribes of the northern Caucasus.
Their character has, we feel, been studied with care and humorous appreciation, and we are convinced that there is little extenuated and nothing set down in malice in the estimate of them here expressed. This latter quality deserves especial praise. Travellers too often, despite difficulties of language, expect the inhabitants at once to understand and meet their wants, and abuse them whenever they do not. Mr. Grove shows himself superior to this weakness, and even the peculiar provocations of Caucasian indolence and Eastern indifference to time, whatever effect they may have had at the moment, have never succeeded in putting him into a permanent bad temper.
The impression of the northern Caucasian tribes left on our mind is, on the whole, distinctly favourable. The Mohammedan mountaineers whom Russian policy has allowed to remain in the northern Caucasus seem, according to their lights, honest and peaceable men, of whom as subjects any empire might be proud. It is impossible, of course, for a tourist not to be struck and irritated at the oddity of prices being everywhere adapted at a moment's notice to the new demand, so that travellers are in this primitive region constantly imposed on in the most unromantic manner. Possibly the inordinate love of talk frequently referred to by Mr. Grove may in part account for this unexpected difficulty. Where the males of a community have many hours of leisure without literary pursuits they can scarcely be blamed for making the most of any topic that comes within their reach. A bargain may naturally appear to them what a scandal in high life is to idlers nearer home, something too precious to be dismissed under a week at least and the unreasonable impatience of the traveller in cutting
it short, a selfish luxury which it would be difficult to tax too highly.
The second volume on our table completes without repeating The Frosty Caucasus.' Herr von Thielmann, as was to be expected from a German diplomatist, gives us a great deal of solid matter. None perhaps of the previously published books on the Caucasian provinces contains so large an amount of information for the intending traveller. There is a general account of the Caucasus and its inhabitants, a good sketch of the last wars in Daghestan and the career of Schamyl, and an appendix full of excellent practical advice and skeleton routes, which exactly supplies the information Mr. Grove did not care to offer. The author's travels embraced Persia and Bagdad, and we have here to deal with only one-half of the original German volume, equalling the first volume of the English edition. Herr von Thielmann's journey in the Caucasus lay in great part over tolerably beaten ground. From Kutais he went by the ruins of Ani to Erivan, visited Ararat, returned by the postroad to Tiflis, crossed the Dariel to Vladikafkaz, and thence followed the Russian roads through Daghestan to the Caspian. But he made one or two digressions which give his tour novelty to the English reader, who gets from him a description of the luxuriant hills of the Tzchenis Tzchali,* and of a panorama of the main chain of the Caucasus from one of the spurs overlooking the sources of the Ingur, whence he took a Pisgah-view of the Promised Land of Svanety, without himself venturing among its Philistines. For some startling inaccuracies in the description of the chain seen from this point, it is not the German author, but his translator, who is responsible. The English translation, although generally fluent, requires a careful revision, especially in the descriptive passages. Again, on leaving Tiflis, Herr von Thielmann makes an excursion into the great wine-district of Kakhety, where the Alazan flows at the foot of the forest-girt and snow-capped wall of the eastern Caucasus through a vale rich in vineyards and bright with villages, and amongst low hills covered with beechwoods which astonish Europeans, and to Asiatics are a revelation of undreamt-of beauty. But even while he traverses roads already described, the author is a pleasant companion. His story is
In this instance we follow Von Thielmann's spelling. Caucasian nomenclature is in the utmost confusion. It is impossible always to adopt the German rendering of native names. Captain Telfer's method often produces a result too uncouth and complicated for general use.
told lightly, and he gets over the ground rapidly, pointing out the objects of interest on the way without wearying us
with pointless personal details. Into his practical remarks he sometimes infuses a touch of humour, as the following extract shows:-In out-of-the-way parts of the East the traveller
does well to furnish himself with a few mysterious flasks and pills-if possible gilded over—of a mild and harmless cha“racter, to be administered as remedies against every form of • disease to the crowd which seeks for healing. No harm can • be done, and the learned traveller will invest himself with a marvellous halo of sanctity.'
Written without political bias, the descriptions of Russian rule are fair and instructive. A traveller who has sometimes feared that the tortures of a telega may have rendered him unduly hard on a large class will find a gloomy satisfaction in noting that both Herr von Thielmann and Captain Telfer add their testimony to the frequent occurrence of drunkenness, lying, and insolence amongst postal officials. The discreditable condition of the service is, however, only one of the minor results of the system of corruption and jobbery which extends, unfortunately, through a large portion of the official world in Russia. The sum, 4,000,0001., the Dariel road cost the Government tells its own story and explains the extreme slowness with which communications, not immediately needed for military purposes, have been opened up. There seems, we fear, little prospect of the speedy development of a better morality in the members of the Imperial service while an incident such as the following can occur at the seat of government itself. Tiflis has been, it seems, deprived of its usual luxury of an Italian opera for two winters. . · The directors, who are in the
service of the State, contrived to squander in one season * the Government subsidy for three years, amounting to a • total of 90,000 roubles ! The matter has never been cleared ' up, and although the delinquent officials in high places were removed from the management, they have been appointed to still higher offices!' The italics are Captain Telfer's.
But whatever faults may fairly be found with Russian alministration, it must be admitted that the preliminary task · + subiugation has, with one small exception, been fully and erfectually accomplished. Western writers sometimes assume that the perpetual presence of a large army is necessary to keep in order the Caucasian provinces, and hence that in time of war they must prove a serious embarrassment to Russia. Our newspapers now and then foster this belief by a paragraph headed in large type, ' Revolt in the Caucasus. No support for any such calculation is to be found in any of the volumes before us, and it seems ludicrous enough to those who understand the condition of the country. The Western Caucasus was made a desert through the act by which Russia supplied the Sultan with his, lately too famous, Circassian subjects. Even when Schamyl was at the height of his power the Mohammedans of the central valleys remained faithful to the Czar. The conquest of Daghestan if slow was proportionately sure, and the tribes have of late years been leniently and judiciously governed.
The career of the last and only agitator since Schamyl's fall was brought to a speedy end by his own countrymen, who sent in his head, wrapped in its green turban, to the Russian commander. Local disorders may from time to time take place. A band of Kurds from the Turkish highlands commits a murder on the Erivan road; Svanetian villagers, misled by the contemptuous long-suffering of their masters, venture on open resistance and murder. But such puny outbreaks are speedily quelled by a few Cossack Sotnias' or the Kabardan militia. For some time to come the tribes of the Caucasus will be one of Russia's best recruiting grounds. The danger, if it be one, which threatens the northern empire from this quarter is of another nature. There are Russian politicians who fear that the vigorous races which inhabit the Caucasian isthmus may be welded together too successfully, and that a prince resident at Tiflis may some day aspire to independence of Petersburg
Herr von Thielmann is very careful and accurate, and leaves few corrections to be made. The snow-level in Svanety is wrongly put at 12,000 feet, owing probably to a statement of Herr Radde's that he gathered plants on the rocks of Elbruz at this height. Herr Radde elsewhere puts the snow-level on the south side of the chain at 9,600 feet. On the northern slopes, as in the Himalaya, it is, owing to the drier climate, considerably higher. The glaciers, of course, descend lower. The great Karagam Glacier, on the northern slopes of the Adai Khoch group, reaches 5,700 feet, and several of the icestreams in Svanety stop short but little above 7,000 feet. Statistics of the rainfall at various stations in the Caucasus show an enormous excess of wet in the Rion basin in comparison to Daghestan or the Armenian highlands. The main snowy chain and the Suram hills catch and shut in the vapours of the Black Sea, and statements as to the limits of vegetable or snowy zones based on observations taken on the southern slopes between Adai Khoch and Elbruz do not hold good for the rest of the country. The Caucasus has, in fact, not one, but half a dozen climates, and the generalisations sometimes hazarded on this and similar subjects require constant qualification.
On another page we are told that there are no broad glacier basins, like those of the Bernese Oberland or the Bernina, in the Caucasus. A few years ago
A few years ago it was declared that there were no glaciers at all, and the old delusion dies hard. Herr von Thielmann would not write thus if he had visited the northern glaciers of Kotchan Tau or the vast snowfields of the Adai Khoch group. We may add that the comparison based on the statistics given by the Russian staff of the comparative extent of Swiss and Caucasian icefields is worthless, for the reason that no one has yet ascertained the extent of the Caucasian snows, which are absurdly understated on all Government maps.
The third and most recent of the works above alluded to is that by Captain Telfer. The author comes before us in two handsome volumes with every advantage of type, paper, and illustration. But he has other and more important recommendations to notice. Married to a Russian lady, and speaking the language well, he had opportunities of observation such as fall to the lot of few travellers. Every civility—from the loan of the imperial copy of the Times,' to the permission to accompany a magistrate on his official tour through Svanetywas extended to him. Captain Telfer has, on the whole, made excellent use of his facilities. His two volumes are replete with the most varied information. Instead of dashing off, touristfashion, a hasty diary of personal adventure, he has been at the pains to search libraries and make himself master of the facts to be gathered from previous publications. The value of his book is much increased by the footnote references to the authority for each statement; an excellent practice we recommend to the imitation of travel-writers. Its principal fault lies in its arrangement. The information given is so copious that the facts—archæological, ethnological, and so on--might, we think, have been grouped with advantage, at any rate to students, in special chapters, instead of being allowed to fall by the wayside as chance ordered.
The comparative familiarity of the country gone over in the first volume is compensated for by the interesting additions made by Captain Telfer to the reports of his predecessors. The remains of Ouplitz-Tzyche, a rock-hewn city of unknown date, near Gori, appear to rival those of Petra in interest. It is a town with publie buildings, houses, large and small, con