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this part of his journey prevented any addition to our knowledge of the great glaciers and mountain-ridges surrounding the source of the eastern Tcherek, the true centre of the Caucasian chain. A few days were spent at one of the Mohammedan villages composing the group known as Balkar, which lie in a broad, featureless, and singularly unattractive basin, between the granite spurs of Dychtau and the broken cliffs of the outer limestone chain. During this halt Mr. Grove rode down to see the upper end of the gorge of the Tcherek mentioned by Klaproth and later travellers. From its centre he had a glimpse of the wooded country to the north,* the beauty of which excited the utmost admiration in his predecessors of 1868.
The existence of a great belt of northern forest, west as well as cast of the Dariel, had been so seldom alluded to in books on the Caucasus, that seven years ago a writer in a leading German geographical magazine could speak of it as a discovery. The real discoverers were the authors of the FiveVerst Map, on which its extent is shown with an accuracy which contrasts singularly with the loose dealings of the same engineers with the principal glaciers and mountain-ridges. The unequal care bestowed on these details is perhaps explained when we remember that the military importance and dangers of a forest zone were deeply impressed on the Russians by some of the incidents of their Caucasian campaigns.
Whether the western Tcherek traverses a gorge similar to that of the eastern stream is a question Mr. Grove does not answer. The easy pass connecting the two valleys was traversed in such bad weather that nothing could be seen of the surrounding country, and the only incident worth noting was the narrow escape of the party from the loss of their invaluable interpreter, who was rescued by the timely intervention of Mr. Grove from the jaws of three gigantic sheep-dogs. We regret to say that, while their masters are advancing in civilisation, these animals, like our lower classes in Western Europe according to Tory writers, seem to be yearly becoming more dangerous.
The next two chapters are to a geographer the newest and most interesting of Mr. Grove's book. At Bezingi, a village on the western Tcherek, the Englishmen were entertained by a kind but invisible Princess. This good lady was not exempt from the curiosity of her sex, but Mohammedan
• South' is printed in place of north by an obvious slip in Mr. Grove's book.
etiquette compelled her to indulge it by proxy. A man who puzzled Mr. Grove by continually coming, taking a good * stare, and then going away, returning shortly afterwards,
having another gaze and again departing, as though a very
grubby Englishman shone, like Moses on the Mount, too long * to be borne for long,' proved to be the special reporter of the Bezingi harem. The attentions of its hospitable head were repaid before parting by the seemingly inappropriate present of an eight-bladed knife. We are surprised to find no mention here or elsewhere, among the various delicacies offered to the travellers by their hosts, of the intoxicating honey frequently alluded to by earlier writers.* Mr. Grove makes a point of the fact that the diet of the Caucasians contains neither sugar nor alcohol. Have the tipsy bees been banished, along with their disorderly Tcherkess or Abkhasian owners, by a sternly moral government? Ascending from the village through a savage glen encumbered with ancient moraines, the travellers found themselves on a vast ice-stream formed by the union of two branches descending respectively from the great Kotchan Tau (17,096 feet) and the gap west of Tau Tetnuld. As they mounted it they came full in face of Kotchan Tau, the next in height to Elbruz of Caucasian peaks :
"The mist which had clothed the upper part of the mighty mountain cleared away and it was revealed to us in all its grace and nobleness of form. Tier after tier of steepest escarped crags rose on its side, and above them was a fan-like ridge so thin seemingly that its huge rock articulations looked to me from below like the delicate fibres and veins in a leaf. Above them was the crest of the mountain, a sharp arête marked by a series of gentle curves of great length covered with a new garment of fresh snow. Kotchan Tau shown with dazzling brightness under the eastern sun, and I think the eye of man could hardly rest on a more noble and beautiful mountain than it looked on that summer morning.'
A speedy relapse in the weather prevented the party from escending Tau Tetnuld, the mighty snow-cone which looks down on Svanety, or crossing, according to their plan, into that delightful, if dangerous, region. But they were able to clear up several disputed points of topography, and to supply important corrections for the Russian map, which is in this, in
See Klaproth, Spencer, and the Travels of Josafa Barbaro,' in the Hakluyt Society's Publications, 'I was divers times with their lorde : whose lief was bent to be in contynuall dronkenes with drinkeng of
wyne made of honey.'
many respects the most interesting portion of the range, vague
and almost worthless.' Hence to Urusbieh we are led over a series of grass passes at some distance from the main chain. Clouds were once more predominant, and little was seen of the country except the wonderful gorge which leads westwards from Tchegem. During a walk up this cleft our travellers accomplished their single sporting feat—one, however, which, pace the Poet Laureate, we believe to be unique. In the narrowest part of the gorge they came suddenly on a bouquetin,
caught the wild goat by the hair, and led him back in triumph to the village. At Urusbieh, the next halting-place, the weather, happily, at last mended; we are not surprised, therefore, to find Mr. Grove's impressions of the spot very favourable. The hearty hospitality and intelligence of the chiefs who inhabit it no doubt strengthened the pleasant re-collections brought away by the travellers.
From one of these princes' Mr. Grove heard marvellous stories of a vast untrodden forest south of the chain ‘full of beauty and also full of game-deer, wildboar, bouquetin and chamois.' As has been already pointed out, in the Alpine * Journal,' this region is probably identical with the “alpine desert' described by our countryman Mr. Spencer, in a. volume published so long ago as 1838. Mr. Spencer's geography is, as a whole, distressingly vague, but his forest clearly occupies the exact spot where Mr. Grove is inclined to place that of the Urusbieh hunters, that is, the southern spurs of the chain west of Svanety. His description fully bears out . the statements made to Mr. Grove, and he mentions that every crag was alive with chamois, which, owing to the vast scale of the scenery, appeared about the size of squirrels! The walk up Tau Sultra, a panoramic point (12,000 feet) commanding a superb view of the chain, formed a pleasant prelude to the ascent of Elbruz. Despite first appearances it turned out that the latter mountain had, by the aid of mists, deceived the first English party in making them believe it had but one summit..
Uno avulso non deficit alter' might well have been the motto.. of the chapter in which Mr. Grove records his ascent. To his, natural satisfaction Elbruz revealed a second top, probably. some feet higher than that climbed in 1868. Thus, instead of merely treading in others' footsteps, Mr. Grove was able to complete his predecessors' work and claim the honours of a new ascent. Unfortunately the leader of the party, Mr. A. W. Moore, did not share its crowning success. With singular and self-sacrificing good-nature he had agreed to wait twenty four hours for some Russian officers who were anxious to share in,
the ascent; and this delay proved fatal, for the weather again broke, and a furious windstorm rendered the mountain temporarily inaccessible.
Utchkulan, a large village near the sources of the Kuban, corresponds in position on the west to Urusbieh on the east of Elbruz. There are two routes round the mountain, one over the ice-covered spur connecting it with the central chain, the other across the great rolling downs,' which fall away gradually from the huge volcano towards the northern steppe, where the scenery, if not beautiful, is original in the highest degree,' and the traveller moving from camp to camp of the shepherds, who feed here in summer immense flocks and herds, finds himself, at a day's journey from a gay Russian watering-place, in the midst of the most primitive pastoral life. The inhabitants of Utchkulan seem, with one important exception, specimens of the worst kind of northern Caucasian. Their greedy and contumacious disposition brought our countrymen into great straits. The men of the village, after long delays, broke off the once-concluded negotiations, and it was only through the goodwill and exertions of the chief, who sent round to neighbouring hamlets and collected a troop sufficient to carry the travellers' baggage across the chain, that they were able to proceed. On the march the difficult temper which seems to mark this tribe soon displayed itself. The porters having picked a quarrel over the distribution of the joints of mutton, threatened to desert in a body. Then they lounged at their own pace across the
pass, indifferent to all protests. At the last, however, they appear in a better light. The completion by the travellers of their part of the contract by paying their attendants in full, although they had been dismissed some miles short of the spot agreed on, seems to have touched these hardened consciences. We give the confession and apology of the leader, as reported by Mr. Grove:
'Tell the gentlemen that we feel indeed what noble and honourable persons they are, and how greatly above us. It has been most truly a pleasure to serve them. For those wild, foolish, and miserable words which were spoken two nights ago, we most humbly implore the gentlemen to forgive us. I did indced endeavour to restrain the young men, but they were full of folly and violence, and would not listen to me (he had been the worst of them all). Now, in truth, they feel how bad and rude their conduct was (murmurs of assent from the others); and we all pray the gentlemen to forgive us, and to look upon the words spoken as those of mere madmen and idiots, meaning nothing, for madmen and idiots indeed we were when we insulted men so honourable and so much above us. We were dogs and sons of dogs to behave as we did (applause), and indeed the gentlemen may well despise what we said, and look upon it as so much mud, dirt, and mire under their feet (general assent from the rest).'
To reach Lata Mr. Grove had to traverse a rather dull pass, the Nakhar, and the glorious woodland scenery of the Ködor. Both Herr Radde, who once approached Elbruz by this route, and Mr. Grove speak of this valley as a noble specimen of the combination of forest and mountain scenery which distinguishes the Black Sea slopes of the chain. Either this pass or the slightly more westerly Marukh Pass is clearly alluded to in the following passage, which gives a curious picture of the Caucasus in the middle of the fifteenth century :
* From the sea of Bachu unto the sea Maggiore, the streight waie, as it were, by line, is Vc (500) myles. All which grounde is full of mountaignes and valleys, in some places well enhabited by certein Lordes of it (through whose territories no man darr passe for feare of robbyng); but, for the more parte, it is disenhabited. And, if any man wolde determyn to passe that waie, leaving Derbenth, he shulde be constregned first to go through Giorgiana, and then through Mengrelia, on the cost of the sea Maggiore, at a castell called Aluathi, wheare is a mountaigne of so great height that it shall behove him to leave his horse and to clyme up afoote by the rockes, so that betweene ascending and descending he shulde travaill two io'neys, and then entre into Circassia, of the wch I have spoken in the beginneng, and that passaige is only vsed by them that dwell neere it, besides the which in all the said distance there is no passaige knowen, by reason of the difficultie of the places.' *
The Dariel is, it will be noticed, completely ignored by the old traveller. Alua is found on Kiepert's map of the Caucasus close to the Lata of Mr. Grove. Hence an easy ride led the travellers to Soukhoum Kaleh, the term of the journey. But when on the point of quitting Caucasian shores they unluckily caught and carried away with them an unpleasant remembrance in the form of fever. Their experience is a warning that every precaution should be taken in the low-lying districts along the coast, not only by abstaining, according to Mr. Galton's advice, from the ablutions in tempting streams to which Englishmen are by habit inclined, but also by taking preventive doses of quinine.
Mr. Grove does not pretend to offer any very solid information on scientific or political topics. His book is the journal of a holiday tour carefully re-written and thrown into a pleasant literary form. He seems to have made up his mind to be content with recording the facts which came under his own
* Travels of Venetians in Persia, p. 87, Hakluyt Society's Publications for 1873.