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efforts to create for themselves rural retreats in the neighborhood. But nature has been too powerful for them. For leagues upon leagues there U not probably a single tree of native growth; anil the strenuous efforts made to form plantations have proved almost total failures. The only trees which have been tolerably successful are a species of acacia. Apart from these it would be difficult to find, nearer than the Crimea, a single specimen which a man might not clasp with four fingers.
It has been said that Southern Russia is one vast plain, destitute of mountains. To this there is a single notable exception. Midway between the western and eastern extremities of the Black Sea, a peninsula shoots boldly out into the waters, reaching almost half way from the northern to the southern shore. It is connected with the mainland by a narrow, isthmus, scarcely five miles in width. Across the southern end of this peninsula, at a few miles' distance from the shore, runs a bold range of mountains, the highest peak of which reaches an altitude of 5,600 feet. This peninsula is the Crimea, the Tauric Chersonessus of classic times; in later years the scat of the Khans of Crira Tartary, the terrors of whose arms spread as far as Moscow. Subsequently, it fell under the nominal sway of the Sublime Porte; and is now the most valuable of the dominions wrested by Potemkin from Turkey.
The intervention of this range of mountains has a magical effect upon the climate of the Crimea. Their southern slope, sheltered from the keen blasts from the steppe, and open only to the warm breezes from the south, rivals the glories of the most favored portions of Italy. The Russians in general are thoroughly apathetic to the beauties of nature. Their tame country has nothing to develop the taste for natural beauty, and they can travel abroad only by special permission of the Czar. But they become almost eloquent in descanting upon the beauties of the Crimea. Perpetual streams gush from the hillsides, and pour through every valley; the vine and the fig. the olive and the orange flourish; old trees, the growth of centuries, fling abroad their gnarled branches, shading the picturesque Tartar villages, giving grace and beauty to the Alpine scenery. For miles along the southern coast the peninsula is thickly sown with the villas of the Russian nobles, some of whom lavish upon their summer residences sums attainable by those only whose coffers are filled by the forced toils of thousands of serfs. This custom was introduced by Count Woronzow, one of the wealthiest men of the empire. It has been imitated by the Empress and by large numbers of the nobles.
Having endured the stifling heat of Odessa for three weeks, and being in excellent humor with myself on account of the flattering prospect of the transactions in wheat which hail brought me to the South, I resolved to treat myself to an excursion in the Crimea. My traveling companion had been equally lucky in his tallow speculation, and needed little persuasion to induce him to
bear me company. We decided that the pleasure of the trip would be much enhanced by the presence of a servant, who could act as interpreter between us and the Tartars. The very man wo wanted made his appearance at just the time we were about to set out. He deserves a paragraph to himself.
He was a German by birth, and rejoiced in the name of Gottlob Werner, which the Russians had transformed into something ending in " itch," which I never ventured to attempt to pronounce. He was born in the goodly town of Niirnberg— the " treuc flcissige Stadl" of the old song he was always singing when his mouth was at liberty from his meerschaum. "If you would know the German land, how fair and lovely it is, you must go to Nurnberg"—thus ran the song—
"That ancient, leal, and busy town,
Gottlob's father, a stout burgher and disciple of St. Crispin, as was Hans Sachs before him, wished his son to follow in his steps. So at the conclusion of his apprenticeship, he sent him forth on the " Wanderjahr," necessary to be accomplished before he could be admitted a member of the ancient guild of cordwainers. Gottlob having received his father's blessing, a little money, and a stout walking-stick, exchanged a kiss with Gretchen, his betrothed, and set out on his travels. This was nearly a score of years ago, and they are not yet concluded. His whole story came out at intervals during our tour, and is worth the telling—but not here. When we were sitting in some post-house, a group of Tartar postillions smoking around us, and himself rendered a little sentimental by the good wine of the Crimea, Gottlob would burst out into a snatch of his favorite song—declare that he would go back to Nurnberg, marry Gretchen, and become a good citizen and cordwainer. It never seemed to occur to him that the years which had transformed him from a lithe bunch into a heavy, middle-aged beer-drinker, with a huge meerschaum always sticking into his grizzled mustache, had wrought a corresponding change in her. She was still " little Gretchen." Then he would kiss her parting gift, which he had retained through all his wanderings. It was a stout leathern tobacco-pouch, elaborately stitched by her own hands—a little the worse for wear, it is true, but still capable of supplying the owner's Rauchtabak for another score of years. I fear that honest Gottlob is not the first man who thinks that he is fondly remembered long after he has quite forgotten others. However, he made a capital conductor for us; he was as true as steel, and would doubtless have been as brave as a lion had there been any occasion for the exercise of his valor. The chief drawback to the pleasure of his society was that he had imbibed the Russian idea that a change of garments and a bath was a needless superfluity. This, with his perpetual fumigation, rendered the windward side of him much the pleasanter to ride upon.
The necessary police arrangements were speedily made. A few roubles, judiciously insinuated into the hands of the functionaries, secured a promise that our passports should be attended to sichass—"forthwith;" and a repetition of the process procured the fulfillment of the promise in time for us all just to avoid missing the tub of a steamer, which plies twice a month between Odessa and the principal ports of the Crimea.
We were glad to find that among the passengers were two or three officers of rank to be landed at Sevastopol, so that we should be able to catch a seaward view, at all events, of that famous naval depot. These were all naval officers, and among them was an admiral, who wore jack-boots, with an immense pair of spurs—an article of equipment which struck me as not absolutely indispensable on the quarter-deck. These naval heroes gave us no very exalted opinion of their professional efficiency. The Black Sea, as if to show that it had a rightful claim to its old appellation of the " Inhospitable," got up a very tolerable imitation of a storm. Our vessel pitched and tumbled in a somewhat uncomfortable manner; the faces of the officers began to wax dolorous; the admiral kept his ground for a while, but it 'was of no use. We caught sight of him leaning in a very suspicious attitude over the railing; at last he made for his cabin with a woebegone visage, and we saw him no more till next morning, when he was put ashore at Sevastopol. But his whole appearance indicated that he had passed a bad night. Indeed, it is a common jest at Odessa—as much so as men dare to jest on so perilous a theme—that every one on board a Russian man-of-war, from the captain to cabin-boy, is sea-sick whenever there is a cap-full of wind: a circumstance that might sadly impair the efficiency of the fleet in case it should be fallen in with by the French and English squadrons.
All Russians speak of Sevastopol with a kind of mysterious awe. They seem to look upon it as the workshop where the Czar forges the thunderbolts which are to sweep England and France from the seas. This seemed quite natural to us after we had seen the enormous three-deckers of the fleet performing their evolutions, and remembered that the inhabitants had no other opportunity of seeing any vessels, except these, larger than the very moderate-sized merchantmen that alone frequent the ports of the Black Sea. The most that we could learn was that it would be quite out of the question for us to attempt to visit the town, since no foreigner was allowed to pass its walls without an express order from the governor, which was always obtained with the utmost difficulty, and never without far higher influence than we could bring to bear. Any attempt at a clandestine entrance, we were assured, would be most severely punished. Siberia—if we should chance to survive the knout and a season of cotton-picking among the mortussi in the lazaretto,—was the lightest penalty we could expect. A private conversation with honest Gottlob convinced me that the matter might be managed by a little finesse, and the Czar be never the worse
nor the wiser for it. The attempt was successfully made a couple of weeks later, as I shall relate in the sequel. For the present we were forced to content ourselves with a sea view of Sevastopol, with its huge forts mounting three tiers of cannon. One point, which every vessel must pass, is said to be commanded by twelve hundred guns. We did not count them, though we could almost look into their black muzzles; but there seemed to be enough of them to blow out of the water all the fleets that ever floated.
After landing our naval heroes, who seemed vastly relieved by the touch of solid ground, the steamer put off for Yalta, on the southern coast, where we were to disembark. A bold headland juts out into the sea. That is Cape Parthenium, of old renown. Here stood the temple of the Tauric Diana, where were sacrificed all strangers cast upon these inhospitable shores. Here was enacted the drama of Iphigenia, and Orestes the Fury-haunted matricide. As we pored, long years ago, at Old Dartmouth over that immortal tragedy of Euripides, little did Brown and myself dream that, bent on trade, we should together look upon its scene. We had parted at the gates of our Alma Mater, and never met again till we encountered on the Nevski Prospekt at St. Petersburg. I doubt if either of us has proved a worse trader on account of our early tincture in the Humanities; I know that we have been happier men for it. A monastery dedicated to Saint George stands upon the site once occupied by the temple of the inhospitable goddess.
Yalta presented nothing to detain us. Its situation is indeed beautiful, but it has a pert watering-place aspect. It was full of visitors from Odessa, who gathered about the little quay, watching the passengers as they disembarked. The street was full of ponies, whose drivers pestered us with elaborate pictures of the beauties of the country seats and villas of the nobles scattered along the winding shore, and were anxious to afford us an opportunity of visiting them — for a consideration. By the intervention of our serviceable Gottlob, we hired horses and a Tartar guide to convey us across the mountainstoBagtche-Serai— .T"The Garden Palace," A t £W the anc'en^ capital of
/ J '1 the Tartar Khans. Itis
/ J 'J but a long day's ride in
I jflMMT a direct line; butwere
\(f solved to take a week in
reaching it, and ordered our guide to conduct us % through as many Tartar
villages, and along as many mountain valleys as he could.
Ismacl, our guide, UA 1 jME' presented a comical fig
'^^^y dress was much like
Tartar Ouide. that wom by boys at home in the intermediate stage between long-clothes and the full-blown dignity of jacket and trowsera. His head was surmounted by the Tartar cap, made of shumski, a grayish sort of lambskin; this was drawn tightly over his head, inside the ears, which seemed to protrude from his head like those seen on the images of the SouthSea idols. His badge of office was a whip with a flat piece of leather at the end of the lash. This made a great rattling when applied to the flanks of our baggagehorse; but did not seem to do execution proportioned to the noise it made. However, our shaggy ponies did not need much urging. Though small, they were wonderfully stout and hardy, getting over ground at a famous rate; they were, moreover, as sure-footed as goats. The handle of the whip formed a convenient sheath for the long blade of a knife, which looked like a very efficient weapon in case of need.
For a few miles we followed the road along the shore; then struck northward among the mountains. Before many hours all traces of Russian dominion had disappeared, and for aught that appeared to the contrary, we might still be within the sway of the old Tartar Khans, whose picturesque little fortresses crowned the summit of every precipice. The valleys were richly wooded, and capable of the highest cultivation. Abundant springs gushed out at brief intervals, over which the pious care of the Moslem had not
unfrequently erected neat stone fountains lor the refreshment of the tired wayfarers. Frequently our small caravan would be increased by the addition of a mounted traveler, for the Tartars never think of walking. These would fall into our ranks with a '' Salaam aletkoum—Peace be with you ;" and they would leave us with the same Oriental salutation.
A Tartar village is very picturesque. They always prefer to build on the slope of a hill. Three low walls form the sides of their dwellings —the fourth being cut into the hill itself. Over these waits is built a flat roof, with projecting eaves, forming a sort of veranda. The roof is the Tartar's home. Here he breathes the cool evetiing air, solacing the hours by friendly chat, smoking, and watching what goes on around. Regular street there is none, and the unwary traveler is likely, without notice, to find himself on the roof of one of the dwellings. Thickbranched walnuts shadow the vacant spaces, with fountains beneath, around which stand chattering groups of women, in long white vails. The approach of our cavaleade was always the signal for a general break-up, and we could sec their white forms flitting among the trees, or turning their backs upon the infidel strangers. Lively, bright-eyed boys, clad in narrow sacks, with red caps on their heads, peered cautiously out at us from behind the trees. The whole spirit of the scene was one of luxurious indolence and ease. The Tartar, in fact, is naturally an idle fellow, and can see no reason why men should fatigue themselves by over-work.
We were not a little amused by the odd method of shoeing their oxen, which we saw more than once. The unconscious beast is flung upon his back, where he is firmly held by the smith's assistant, who sits upon his head. His four feet are then drawn closely together by a cord. At they thus lie, with their feet pointing directly upward, the operator has a fair field for his opera
We could perceive no traces of oppression on the part of the Russian government. In fact, the Crimea seems to be treated by the conquerors much like a beautiful slave who has had the grace to please her master. Yet somehow the Tartar race is disappearing year by year— another illustration of that natural law, in virtue of which the bare presence of a stronger race inevitably, and often involuntarily, destroys the weaker one.
Punctual at the time appointed, Ismacl conducted us across a stony plateau overlooking a deep valley. From its bottom we could discern glittering spires and minarets shooting far up into the clear air. This was the famous old capital of the descendants of Ghenghis Khan—the "Garden Palace" of the Crimea. We clattered down the stony slope, when a sudden turn brought us
to a stone bridge, and a large Oriental archway, with a Cossack before it, standing sentinel. This was the entrance to the palace of the ancient Khans. Onward we rode through the thickening gloom, along narrow streets, unrelieved by a single light, or the appearance of a passer-by. Ismacl, however, knew the place, and brought us to the khan where we were to pass the night. A light burned dimly over the entrance. The court in the centre was filled with uncouth vehicles, bullock-wains, camel-carts, and donkey-wagons. Around it ran a baleony a few feet from the ground, upon which opened all the doors. In the lower story were the stalls, where the animals were secured. We mused upon the time when, in such a caravanserai as this, a young mother "brought forth her first-born son, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." The pictures in the old Family Bible, of the infant Redeemer laid to sleep among the "horned cattle," came back with the freshness of childhood, and the low hymn with w hich a gentle mother used to hush my boyish fears for the babe's safety, rose calm and clear above the noisy din of the crowded khan. In the centre of what might be styled the "public room," a company of Tartar postillions formed a picturesque group. They had built a fire on the clay floor, and were preparing their evening meal.
Next moming we set out to explore the town. In places the sides of the valley rose in precipitous cliffs, threatening momentarily to topple down. Where they were less steep, their slopes resembled an amphitheatre, the flat-roofed dwellings rising like steps, half visible amid the crowning foliage. Abundant springs of the purest w ater gushed forth at every turn, falling into basins where the faithful were performing their ablutions. Early as it was, as we passed a coffeehouse, we saw within groups of sedate Tartars coiled upon low divans, luxuriously smoking or drinking black coffee from the tiniest of cups. Passing through the streets occupied by the artisans, we gained some insight into the industrial habits of the place. All the operations that with us are performed in obscurity are there patent to view. The houses and shops are destitute of windows, having instead broad shutters which are let down during the day, so as to form counters for the display of wares and manufactures. Here was a baker's shop, the oven so close to the street that by extending your hand from without you could feel its heat. Turners sat cross-legged, patiently boring long cherry sticks for pipe-stems, or fitting the amber mouth-pieces. At a cookshop groups of morning customers wrere fishing out huge bits of meat from the bubbling caldrons, and devouring them in the open air. Here a black-bearded cook bore a joint in his hands, catching the drippings upon a loaf of black bread. This he laid down before a customer on the bare plank which served for a table within. Still further on we came to the fruit-market, abounding in grapes, figs, pomegranates, and fruit to which we could not even give a name; but chief among all were the pasters, the luscious melons from the adjoining plains, heaped up like piles of cannonballs in an arsenal. Still beyond, were the tippling shops, whither the thirsty souls of the town resort to drink 4oo:«, an abominable astringent liquor extracted from millet-seeds, which have
been steeped in water and fermented. To judge, however, from the immense quantities of it stored up in the hogsheads which lined the walls of the dingy room, this must be the favorite beverage of the Tartars.
Some branches of business appear to be wholly in the hands of the Karaite Jews, whose chief seat is an ancient fortress perched upon one of the most inaccessible crags overlooking the valley, whence they descend every morning to the town, returning in the evening. Besides the Cossack guard at the palace gates, we saw not a sign or token of Russian supremacy. The aspect of every thing was purely Tartar, just as it might have appeared three centuries ago, when the Czar trembled in the Kremlin at Moscow at the bare mention of the names of the fierce Khans of the Crimea. We were assured, I believe with truth, that all Russians are forbidden by an Imperial ukase from settling in this lovely valley.
A broad gleam of sunlight lay like a golden bar across the gateway of the ancient palace, as we entered. Its exterior is unpretending enough, affording no indication of the fairy-like beauty inclosed within the blank walls. With a refinement of taste hardly to have been expected, this palace has been restored, precisely as it was in tiic palmy days of its original possessors; even the claims of Eastern hospitality have not been neglected, a portion of it being assigned as a resting place for