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veniently arranged in rooms furnished with doorways and windows, and ornamented in many cases with beams, pillars, mouldings and cornices. The streets and lanes are provided with steps and grooves for carrying off water.
There are • also open spaces and squares, yet,' says Captain Telfer, the whole has been entirely hewn and shaped out of the solid rock.' In general character these excavations—we cannot call them ruins—resemble those of Wardzia, near Achaltzich, described by Herr von Thielmann and attributed to the twelfth century. From Erivan, the ruins of the monastery of Keghart, whence we have copies of numerous inscriptions, as well as those of the fortress of Kharny, said to have been built by Tiridates, were visited. Tiflis and the Dariel are beaten ground, but Captain Telfer secures our attention by his sketch of the history of the Ossetes, and still more by his vivid account of the day's entertainment offered him at the Ossete village of Olghyush, near Vladikafkaz.
But the most interesting and instructive portion of his book is the description of his visit to Svanety, in the company of a Russian official. This district, which has lately become celebrated for the extraordinary splendour of its scenery, had previously been known only for the violence of its inhabitants. The Svany, who profess Christianity, are a mixed race, sprung from the various refugees who have at different times sought shelter between the snowy spurs of Tau Leila and the great icefields of Kotchan Tau in the least accessible fastness of the Caucasian chain. The portion of the valley next to the gorge by which the river escapes towards the sea, had submitted to the rule of a family of Kabardan princes. The villages in the highest glens, from which issue the glacier-fed sources of the Ingur, long acknowledged no external authority, and were neglected by the Russians, who, if the statistics given by Captain Telfer may be relied on* had good reason to hope these undesirable subjects would, left to themselves, soon cease to be formidable. It was in this state of things that Herr Radde, and subsequently a party of our countrymen, whose journey is recorded in The Central Caucasus,'traversed the district from end to end, visiting many of its most remote glens. Fired, perhaps, by the travellers’ tales of a region nominally at least under his control, Count Levaschoff, then Governor of Mingrelia, made in 1869 a military promenade through the mountains at the head of 600 men. This formidable incursion,
The Svany were computed in 1835 to number 30,000. In 1874 they had sunk to 7,000, according to the official census.
which was not followed up by any practical steps for throwing the country open by means of new roads, seems to have rather irritated than awed thc Svany. In 1871 the Russian Government, which up to this time had only maintained a post of a dozen Cossacks at Pari, a hamlet in the lower and comparatively civilised portion of the district, found it necessary to plant a garrison of a hundred men at Betscho, on the banks of a branch of the Ingur, from whose head a glacier-pass, commonly used by the mountaineers, gives access to, and, therefore, possibility of relief from, the Kabardah. How much respect the presence of these troops ensured for the representative of the Russian Government is amusingly shown by Captain Telfer :
*One of the objects of the Chief's official tour in the upper valley of the Ingur was to superintend the fresh elections of the mamasaklysy and their pamóshtchnyky in the several communes; and notice having been given upon our arrival that the voters for Kala and Oushkoul were to assemble in the morning, the male population of those two communes began to muster in front of our encampment at nine o'clock, and when all had assembled the proceedings were opened with an address from the Chief. The instantaneous and unanimous expression of opinion being that the Chief should himself select the most fitting men, the Colonel had to explain at some length that he could only approve the choice of the people, as it was quite impossible for him to make judicious appointments, seeing that every man was a perfect stranger to him. Some dissatisfaction was shown at this reply, but after a time the crowd moved away, and almost immediately hurried back, pushing to the front one of their number who was doing his best to resist. The favourite refused to be the “elder," in the first place because his three years' term as selsky soudyà," rural judge," had just expired and he desired to be released from further responsibility, and because he thought no greater misfortune could visit him than that of becoming mamasaklysy. “I killed a man in the next village to this " ten years ago ; I have paid his relations the full amount of blood
money, but they are not satisfied, and I believe that they are seeking
an opportunity for revenge; if I am made mamasaklysy I know what “ I will do, I will kill another of the family, the man who wants to “kill me." This was the explanation offered; but the Chief told him, that if he persisted in making such a statement he should arrest him, and have him tried for murder; on the other plea, however, that of having already served as judge, he was entitled to decline the new honour, and a fresh election must take place. The determination of the people was not to be altered, for they clamoured in favour of the late judge, and vox populi being vox Dei, he was prevailed upon to accept the office.'
The occasional dangers and annoyances incident to a judge's office in the Caucasian Alsatia may be estimated from the following narrative :
"The “elder" and the priest made their official report, which was to the effect that an old feud between the villages of Tzaldash and Moujab had resulted in the violent death, the previous January, of a son of Kazboulatt Shervashýdze, the mamasaklysy of Moujab, and as the people of Moujab muster stronger than they of Tzaldash, the allies of the deceased man's family had kept the assassin and his friends besieged in their tower since the commission of the crime, for which blood-money had never been paid. The Chief was inclined to the belief, from the evidence at hand, that the murder had not been premeditated, and that one man slew the other in self-defence; he accordingly despatched a messenger to Tzaldash, to tell the accused and his two brothers that they were to leave the tower and come to him forthwith. A first and a second summons remaining disregarded, the Chief himself rode off to Tzaldash, accompanied by his interpreter, the priest, and a Cossack, and ordered the trio to descend, which they promised to do provided they were not constituted prisoners. After being repeatedly urged to give themselves up unconditionally for the easier investigation of the charge preferred against them, a ladder slung to a long rope was let over the parapet, and the three brothers descended to the ground, when he who was accused of the murder hurriedly approached the Chief, and insisting upon kissing him on the naked breast, pronounced his submission and readiness to follow.
*This farce being over, the brothers were ordered to the front, and as the party moved off necessarily at a walking pace, a loud voice at a loop-hole called upon it to halt, under a threat to fire. The explanation offered by the brothers was, that a man of Ypary who had fled his village for murder, had sworn to defend with his life the murderer of Tzaldash, in return for the protection afforded him from his own enemies. The interpreter shouted to the scoundrel that no harm was intended to the brothers, and that they were not being carried off against their will; the Yparian, however, who kept his rifle levelled, still threatened to fire and kill the Chief or the priest, if his friends were not immediately allowed to reascend the tower. Hereupon the youth pleaded to having sworn to stand by the runaway of Ypary, proscribed like himself, to the last extremity, and to avoid further bloodshed begged that he might be permitted to stay, for the Yparian, he said, would most assuredly fire. The advantage being decidedly in favour of the bandit in his unassailable position, the Chief deemed it prudent to release the assassin from his bond, leaving the settlement of the matter to a future occasion, when he should be better prepared for enforcing his authority.'
On another occasion two travellers provided with Russian recommendations were, despite the Chief's personal remonstrance, refused lodging and compelled to sleep under a tree. Captain Telfer explicitly asserts that in Svanety Russian credentials are worse than useless, and when we find a magistrate unable, even when on the spot, to enforce the simplest order, or to procure provisions for his own party, it is easy to believe the statement. The Alpine Club explorers of 1868, although armed only with revolvers and a British passport, succeeded in visiting with impunity, if not without annoyance, the most barbarous communities, Adisch and Jibiani, where the Russian officials do not seem to care to venture themselves. But this was before Count Levaschoff's excursion.
The danger of this policy of letting ill alone and allowing government representatives to be insulted with impunity, was shown last year, when a serious outbreak was only averted by the forbearance of the officials concerned. The survey preliminary to a readjustment of the land-tax roused the discontent of the Svany, who surrounded the detachment at Betscho and prepared to resist in force an advance over the Latpar Pass from Mingrelia. In an appendix Captain Telfer relates from Russian sources the story of the disturbance and its suppression, which was effected without any fighting, except in the dislodgment of an obstinate ringleader from his tower, where he had to be formally bombarded with a howitzer. It is curious to learn that the Russians threw 300 Kabardah Militia into the valley by a glacier pass, apparently that over the main chain from Urusbieh.
Even this warning, however, did not suffice to rouse the Government to the necessity of impressing its strength on the handful of unruly mountaineers. Temporary tranquillity was purchased by concessions, and no force adequate to overawe the turbulent communities was left in the district. The result has been lamentable. During the past summer a small detachment of soldiers was sent to Kala, a group of villages at the northern foot of the Latpar Pass, to arrest a fugitive criminal. The Svany flew to their towers and to arms in defence of the right of asylum. At nightfall the Russian force retreated from the hamlet, having lost its three officers, and leaving dead Colonel Hrinewsky, “the Chief of Captain Telfer's narrative, and his interpreter, who are said to have been treacherously slain.' Such an outrage cannot be overlooked. The Independent Svany 'will afford a few weeks' occupation to two or three Russian regiments; their towers, to the great loss of lovers of the picturesque, will be levelled, and the malefactors may consider themselves lucky if they do not, like their late Abchaz neighbours, disappear off the face of the earth. With them will vanish all remains of resistance to Russian rule; and the last, and most beautiful, region in the Caucasus will be thrown open to travellers.
In another appendix Captain Telfer has reprinted from an old copy
of the Times' a very interesting account of an ascent of Ararat, which seems to have dropped entirely out
of general recollection, and to have escaped the notice even of mountain-climbers. Major Robert Stuart's narrative is singularly clear and simple, and will doubtless be studied with interest in the Alpine Club. The only sentence in it we feel disposed to question, is that in which he expresses a hope that Her Majesty will deign to accept this expression of allegiance' (the drinking of her health on the summit), 'on considering that hers is probably the first name that has ever . been pronounced on that solemn height since it was first * quitted by the great patriarch of the human race. On the claim of Noah ever to have been in a position to descend the mountain we will not venture an opinion; but the ascents of Parrot in 1829 and of General Chodzko, the Dofour of the Caucasus, in 1850 are well authenticated.
Captain Telfer's pencil is more effective than his pen in putting before us the physical features of the region he was fortunate enough to wander through. His descriptions of scenery are somewhat few and meagre, but he says enough to show that he is not dull to the beauties of nature, and it must also be borne in mind that he was persecuted by the same bad weather as Mr. Grove. Moreover, to do any justice to Svanetian landscapes would require rare powers. We shall be content if, by a medley of comparisons, we can succeed in suggesting some image to our readers' consciousness. Imagine the most luxuriant vegetation of an English park, woodland glades where stiff pines stand surrounded by quivering birches, thickets where the glooms of box and laurel are lit by golden showers of laburnum-blossom, turf strewn with the creamy heads of the low-growing Rhododendron Caucasicum; spread this carpet over hillsides large as those of the Wengern Alp, throwing in here and there a towered town such as we are accustomed to look for in the backgrounds of early Umbrian masters; above all this plant between earth and sky a fence of glittering peaks crowned by the Jungfrau (Tau Tetnuld), the southern face of Monte Rosa (the Djanga range), and a double-headed Matterhorn (Uschba), and some faint realisation may be attained of the views round Latal and Ypary.
We may notice in company with the volumes here discussed Mr. Ashton Dilke's article • The Caucasus, published in the 'Fortnightly Review' for October 1874, a lively description of a ride across Daghestan into Kakhetia. From Botlikh the writer traversed a little-used horse-path which descends to Kvareli, after passing a crest, according to Mr. Dilke, 13,000 feet above the sea. The Russian maps do not, we think, show
VOL. CXLV. NO. CCXCVII.