A Servant Boy serving drink to gentlemen with pipes


OUR travels were now drawing to a close. We had accomplished, with all due conscientiousness, this our studious enterprise, and now it was time to think of returning homeward. The season was already far advanced, and the fine weather, which we st18ill expected to fall in with on the coast of the Crimea, had vanished before the [278] gloomy harbingers of winter. On the 29th of October we were in Odessa, and only too well pleased to find that the road across the steppes was not closed to us by the setting in of the rainy season.

Tombstones in Graveyard

Before taking leave of the Crimea, however, that hospitable land, so worthy of interest, let us cast one last glance at it. Let us, if possible, sum up in a few pages its past history ; and what history was ever more replete with events, with hopes, with poetry and with reality ?

We must go back to the age of fable, to trace the origin of Taurida. All attempts to throw a light upon this dark period, have only added to the number of deceptive phantoms which have been evoked. The most grave historians have not thought it beneath them to relate, one after the other, the dramatic legends of mythology : not that the study of these was of sufficient importance to arrest the attention of serious minds, but because all these stories had been already so well told by narrators not less than forty centuries old, there has been a certain charm in repeating them, and thus even the grave searchers after truth, allowing themselves to be amused by fables, have found in them, like the good Lafontaine, an extreme pleasure.

If we may trust historians, the first inhabitants of Taurida were an aboriginal people, called Tauri or [279] Taurians ; but scarcely is our attention directed on this race of people and their name, when the Tauri suddenly vanish, swept away by a formidable invasion of Amazons. These singular heroines had, while overrunning Europe, sent an expedition into Taurida. Those who wish to summon chronology to the assistance of poetry, will find in all works relative to the subject, that this invasion occurred exactly four hundred years before the expedition of the Argonauts. How unfortunate, that we cannot relate here the rare and curious history of the Amazons ; a history in all respects worthy of Ariosto, but which was preserved by tradition, and communicated to the world under the auspices of such great names as Herodotus, Justin, Strabo, Diodorus, Sicilus, the grave recorders of the simple legends of a world in its childhood.

However the case may be, these conquering hordes of women, this fantastic republic, sometimes cruel, sometimes merciful to the hostile sex, had invaded Taurida. As soon as they were established, they founded their temples – at whose blood-stained altars barbarous rites were celebrated, the presiding priestess being a virgin, and men the victims sacrificed. Need we inform the reader that the most deadly, the most dreaded of these temples, was that erected on the headland which was afterwards called Cape Parthenium, [280] that this temple was dedicated to Diana Tauropolitana, and that the statue of the deity presided over these human shambles? Are. we not now at the prologue of the fatal drama of the Atrides, that eternal subject which furnishes the Greek theatre with inexhaustible sources of terror and pity ? But time rolls on, and the scene of war is before the walls of Troy : behold the daughter of Agamemnon, the poetical Iphigenia, chaste and love-breathing creation, at once the daughter of Euripides and of Racine ; behold her devoted to a horrible sacrifice, as though, in those times, the blood of man had been the ultimate argument of the priesthood ! Iphigenia is carried off, takes refuge in Taurida, and from a victim becomes a priestess. The reader knows what expiation was imposed upon her as a sister, how the recognition was brought about, that first yet never failing source of dramatic emotion, and how Orestes and Pylades carried off and fled to Argos with the priestess and the effigy of the implacable goddess.

At a later period, the Scythians, who might be called a tempest on horseback, proeella equestris, rushed down upon Taurida, a land which seems to have been formed to serve as a passage for the hordes of barbarians flowing from the east to the west. The Scythians long remained masters of Taurida; but suddenly the [281] Amazons appeared a second time upon these shores. Strange history ! These women-soldiers, conquered by Hercules and by Theseus, had been led captive into Greece, when they seized on the vessels, slew their conquerors ; and, being thrown by a storm on the coast of Taurida, disembarked, laying waste the country, and spreading terror among the Scythians. Meanwhile, recovering from their first confusion, the Scythians discovered what weak enemies they had to contend with, and deemed their youngest warriors a sufficient force to oppose the terrible Amazons. The battle was like that at Pharsalia : the combatants struck at each other's faces and hearts ; but a peace was soon concluded.

We will pass rapidly over all this early period, which belongs rather to the province of the imagination. Darius, that meteor who threw out so much empty smoke, directed a formidable expedition against the Scythians, but was conquered; and only owed his safety to a bridge very opportunely thrown across the mouth of the Danube. Soon afterwards, Greece, famous both in arms and eloquence, sent out among the barbarians an expedition, as a sort of forlorn hope of civilisation. It was at this time that Jason came, not far from these shores, in search of the golden fleece, the noble prize won by his valour and his beauty A number of Greek colonists settled between the Boug [282] and the Dnieper, and a temple was erected to Ceres. Let us leave fable to its poetical tales, history will come but too soon.

Seven hundred years before our era, the Milesians occupied the eastern part of Taurida, where they founded Theodosia, Nymphceum, Panticapceum, Myrmikione ; at the same time the Heracleotes landed on the little western peninsula, and laid the first foundations of their conquest. Between these two germs of civilisation, in the east and in the west, pressing them on either side, the savage inhabitants, the mingled remains of the Taurians and the Scythians, had no refuge left but their mountains, whither they retreated in a mass, and defended their approaches. The Greek emigrants now learned the way to these shores, which had become easy of access. The Pontus Euxinus--the sea favourable to strangers, as it was called by the Greeks, who were so prodigal of this ironical antiphrasis, and called the furies the Eumenides–the Pontus Euxinus then beheld adventurous fleets braving its tempests, and the eastern portion of Taurida became peopled with new cities, rapidly rising to power. The Scythians, in their turn neighbours, and frequently hostile neighbours, of this flourishing civilisation, were unable to withdraw from its beneficial influence. It was exactly at this period that the kingdom of Bosphorus was founded. Leucon [283] was the first king of the new kingdom ; and for three centuries the prosperity of this power, which was continually increasing, appeared based on solid foundations.

Let us now advert to the passage of the Sarmatians : long the possessors of the adjacent countries, they withdrew, after the lapse of half a century, leaving behind them troubles and commotions, which lasted for two centuries, continually exhausting themselves in attacks on the frontiers of the kingdom, but never succeeding in shaking its strength. We now come to the reign of Mithridates Eupator, fourth of that name, with whose successes and reverses the world is acquainted; a great man it is true, but great after the manner of barbarians. Stained with the blood of his own family, and driven from Asia, Mithridates sought to strike at the heart of Rome ; he meditated the conquest of Italy at the very moment when the Roman yoke weighed upon the whole of Greece, and left him alone in his audacious designs. The undertaking was immense, unexpected, and incredibly rash : it was no less an ambition than that of treading in the footsteps of Hannibal. The expedition had to force its way through the territory of the Scythians ; checked by these unconquerable hordes, Mithridates united with the Sarmatians to break through their inopportune barrier ; but treason broke out : the army, alarmed at so vast an undertaking, [284] was urged to rebellion, and Pharnace was appointed by the soldiers in the place of his father. But what need is there that we should relate this history; it is popular, from the amount of heroism, of cruelty and of suffering which it exhibits.

Mithridates having fallen, the sceptre of Rome was extended, without opposition, over these wretched provinces, which it governed through phantoms of monarchs. We are thus brought down to the Christian era, to the middle of the first century, ere we have to record the first invasion of barbarians with which Taurida was visited, viz.–that of the Alani. These were a nomadic people, whose days were spent on horseback, and their nights in their covered cars ; bold in war, and eager for pillage. They levelled Theodosia, and oppressed the whole country for more than a century. The Goths next appeared upon these shores : barbarian fought with barbarian ; but the new-corners carried the day. They overthrew the Alani, and drove them to their mountains. At this period, Taurida was called Gothia. Meanwhile, the Sarmatians coveted the tottering remains of the kingdom of Bosphorus. The Chersonites of the little republic of the west hastened to the assistance of the distracted provinces : they took possession of Panticapceum, and bravely withstood the attack of the Sarmatians. The two armies, wearied by an inveterate conflict [285] in the neighbourhood of Theodosia, had paused in the midst of blood, when a singular combat took place : a chivalrous and deadly joust between the two chiefs was proposed and accepted. Savromates on the barbarian side, and Pharnaces on that of the Chersonites, descended into the arena. The barbarian was a giant, cased in iron, and looked like a living wall ; the Greek was slight and weak ; but an artifice came to his rescue. At a preconcerted signal, the army gave three shouts ; the giant was astonished, and his adversary became victor. Is not this one of those world-old traditions of which the world will never tire? After this, the conquered Sarmatians, true to their plighted faith, submitted to the conqueror, and passed over into Asia. Pharnaces, who possessed a mighty soul in a weak frame, exacted no return for his victory from those whom he had rescued, and left the Bosphorians at liberty. The country then fell into the hands of new masters. The Huns appeared in their turn in this fitful history : they came towards the west, driven onwards by the Tatars from the east, and now fell upon Taurida. They destroyed the Goths and the Alani, whom they surprised in a defenceless condition, and extended their conquests northward, towards the Baltic. But when Attila, their king, the scourge of God and the terror of the world, at last met with his death at the end of his erratic conquests, this gigantic empire, cemented by [286] violence, crumbled like the work of a day. The Huns, dispersed by internal dissensions, fell back upon all the nations which they had borne along in their course. For the space of two centuries they were found scattered in all directions, they and their banded allies, Hungarians, Oulzigourians, infesting Taurida and the neighbouring provinces with their depredations. At last the Republic of Cherson was threatened. It was then that the Emperor Justinian sent assistance to the dismayed Greek population, and built, for the defence of the coast, that line of forts, of which we have already described the remains.

As soon as this formidable irruption had exhausted itself, Taurida seemed to breathe once more ; but it was destined soon to submit to a fresh subjugation. The Khazars made a descent upon her. The Khazars sprung from the Huns ; and, left by them in those regions which now form Lithuania, had acquired a degree of power which was destined to spread still further.

After the invasion of the Khazars, which occurred at the commencement of the seventh century, Taurida took the name of Khazaria. Kiovia, the provinces of the Don, Caucasia, Moldavia, Transylvania and Hungary; became, in the course of time, the conquest of this people, whose alliance even the Byzantine Empire did not disdain to seek. Towards the year 811, this state had taken [287] the rank of a powerful monarchy ; but scarcely was this colossus raised, than on its forehead appeared the mark which announces the destruction of men and of nations. The Russians and the Petchenegues fell upon Khazaria like one of those scourges which must be destroyed, if we would not ourselves perish under them. The Russians at that early period were already constituted under a government, strong from its political unity. At this fatal juncture, the Khazars, who needed the support of the Greeks, invoked the assistance not only of their arms but of their religious dogmas, to which the Khazars were converted towards the year 858. But the efforts of the Russians, the progress of the Petchenegues, and civil dissensions, soon reduced this empire to the last extremity ; and Khazaria, resuming the name of the Tauric Chersoneee, fell exclusively into the hands of the Petchenegues. The southern coast, however, did not belong to them ; it was a dependency of the republic of the Chersonites, and became united to the Byzantine Empire.

Meanwhile, it was not long ere the new inhabitants, an active, industrious people, endowed with a great commercial genius, supplanted the Chersonites in their trade with the east. They placed themselves, by a direct intercourse, between Byzantium and Asia, to the detriment of the Chersonites, who soon beheld the [288] downfall of their ancient prosperity. This Oasis of enrichment, however, was not prolonged beyond a cen- tury and a-half. Attacked and conquered by the Romans, the Petchenegues returned into Asia.

The Comans, who had fallen upon Taurida in their flight from the Mongul Tatars, lived in that country, first as tributaries of the mountaineers : this people formed, as it were, a national stock, riding over every transitory storm, and who, yielding at last to their warlike impulses, were now harassing the country. The unexpected advance of the Tatars drove back the Comans towards Thracia. A new era was just dawning, both for Taurida and the whole of Eastern Europe. Tchinghis-Khan, the immortal founder of the Empire of Kaptchak, had died in 1226. One of his grandsons, Batou-Khan, eager to tread in the footsteps of his terrible ancestor, threw himself upon Europe with 600,000 men. Russia, Poland and Hungary were overwhelmed by this impetuous torrent. European Sarmatia and Taurida could not escape the fierce conqueror; they were comprised in little Tatary. Batou-Khan dying, the Crimea became the appanage of one of his descendants, Oran-Timour. Solgate, which we visited under the name of Eski-Krim, then became the residence of the Khan.

The face of the country soon became altered. Its masters, who professed the mahomedan religion, behaved [289] with tolerance towards the subjugated people, and trade once more began to flourish in that land, which it never deserted but with regret. Solda%iuml;a, the modern Sou-dagh, became a wealthy entrep˘t for ali the merchandise of the east, while Or-Kapy, the present Perecop, traded on its inexhaustible salt lakes, until at last the navigators of the Mediterranean, those skilful politicians, scenting afar the richest prizes, came to explore these shores, where so rich a future was promised. Venice, Genoa and Pisa, those three republics of merchant nobles, contended at that time for supremacy in navigation and commerce. The Genoese gained the ascendant over their competitors. As early as 1162 they had already established factories at Constantinople. Eighteen years later, a Genoese landed in the bay, where, once beneath the walls of ancient Theodosia, vessels had found a shelter. He bought a parcel of land from the khan of Solgate, whose possessions extended to these shores, and Kaffa was founded.

To describe the prodigious aggrandisement of this power, from the time it had thus almost stealthily set its foot on the Theodosian shore, would be to relate all the artifice, genius, and activity employed by the new corners; and when, at last, the Tatars perceived the unscrupulous encroachments of the Genoese, it was too late, and Genoa was the stronger. Ka lbi, having grown [290] up to be a rich and flourishing commercial city, excited the violent jealousy of the Venetians. They determined to destroy it; and in 1292, having fitted out a formidable fleet, they captured the new city, and sacked it ; but this victory was of no advantage to the spoilers. Exhausted by famine and sickness, the Venetians soon deserted their capture, leaving behind them several galleys, for which they could not supply crews to bring them back to Venice. Meanwhile, Genoa was scarcely affected at all by this blow aimed at her power. In 1304, the modest factory of Constantinople became a Genoese city, and flourished under the name of Pera. Andronicus Paleologus, who would have parted with his empire at need, had given permission to build, on this site, any thing that might he thought proper to be built. As to Kaliii, wealth and power returned to it with the Genoese banner. John XXII., the sovereign Pontiff, made an episcopal see of this city of infidels. All this prosperity was, however, suddenly forfeited by the most insignificant of accidents.

Tana, an ancient city, situated at the extremity of the sea of Azoff, near the mouth of the Tana´s, on the spot now occupied by Taganrog, was the residence of Djanibek- Khan, to whom the empire of Kaptchak had in those days descended. The Genoese and Venetians traded in perfect freedom with this city. A Tatar of Tana [291] having insulted a Genoese, the latter, prompt in wreaking vengeance, slew his aggressor. A Horrible massacre of the Italians followed this inconsiderate act, and Djanibek- Khan, in his rage, ordered the Genoese of Kaffa to quit the Mussulman territory. The Genoese refused, and war was declared.

Kaffa was besieged ; it was delivered by a sally, and Genoa, being victorious, would consent to no terms save the degenerate successor of Tchinghis and Batou-Khan craved them on his knees. The Tatar prince abased himself, and promised a tribute, but soon broke his word by acts of pillage and assassination. The war broke out with fresh activity ; the Genoese closely blockaded the sea of Azoff, and Kaffa prepared for a vigorous resistance. Europe was alarmed at the danger which threatened the republic, to such a degree that Clement VI. invoked all christendom to the assistance of the true faith menaced in Kaffa ; but exhaustion on both sides brought about a compromise, and relations were once more established. Kaffa, nevertheless, provided against any fresh alarms, and it was at this time that the imposing line of ramparts was built, the ruins of which we explored. In 1386, its formidable enclosure of walls and towers was completed. This immense enterprise afforded a just measure of the power and wealth of the republic at this period. Let [292] us add, that the great and noble character of its institutions failed not in raising it ere long still higher in the esteem of the Tatar population. The Genoese colony dealt with so much integrity and justice towards its neighbours, that the latter frequently referred their internal litigations to their decision. In 1365 it had become mistress of those two important points of the coast, Cembalo and Solda´a ; the Balaklava and Sou-dagh of the present day. These places were fortified, as is still attested by the ruins, of whose imposing appearance we have given a sketch. The acquisition of these two noble ports was but a slight step in the progress of Kaffa ; they were but as the land-marks, pointing out the limits which the powerful republic had assigned to itself. Fifteen years after, they were united one with the other by a conquest of inestimable value, and which was no less than the whole of the southern coast, that delightful tract of land, so full of beauty and natural resources, extending from Balaklava to Soudagh. Gothia–for this name was still applied to that mountain region–thus became a dependency of the Genoese.

But while the power of this exotic republic continued day by day to augment, the empire of Kaptchak was visibly declining. Wars, usurpations, treason, discord, every calamity seemed banded together to overwhelm [293] this unfortunate country, and Taurida, as a portion of the empire, shared in the general strife. The race of Tchingis-Khan, alternately weak or cruel, had drawn down upon the country a multitude of disasters. The last direct descendant of this illustrious family, Tokat-Myche, having imprudently summoned the descendants of Tamerlane to his assistance, was dispossessed by them of his power. Abou-Se´d, whose aid was thus implored, had in 1401 invaded the ancient empire of Kaptchak ; subsequently an engagement took place, in which the usurper slew, with his own hand, his determined rival, the wretched Tokat-Myche. Abou-Se´d being thus delivered of an importunate opponent, caused all the descendants of Tchingis-Khan to be made away with. All the scions of this illustrious stock were handed over to the assassin, with the single exception of Devlet, a poor child of ten years of age, for whom a high destiny was in store. He was saved by a shepherd, and was secretly brought up in the obscure condition of a herd.

A day came when the Tatars, having long groaned beneath the oppressive rule of the princes of the race of Tamerlane, violently threw off the yoke. The entire nation bitterly regretted the murder of its legitimate sovereigns. Devlet appeared, proved his identity, and was hailed as a saviour. He was unanimously proclaimed a [294] Hadji, a title only given to the pilgrims who have visited Mecca ; but his exile, a weary pilgrimage, had won him this pious distinction. Now came the shepherd's turn. His adopted son asked him what recompense he demanded for having saved the life of the noble scion of the khans ? Adopt my name, sire, in conjunction with your own, and let the name of Ghera´ be transmitted to your descendants, in memory of the poor shepherd by whom you were saved. This noble recompense was not withheld from one who showed himself so disinterested, and to the last day of this monarchy the name of the peasant was joined with the names of the khans of' the Crimea.

While Devlet-Gherai, after having subdued, though not without peril, tl ds turbulent people, was consolidating Lis newly acquired power, by wisely marking out the limits of his vast empire, Genoa experienced some reverses. The Greeks of Balaklava had unexpectedly attacked and expulsed the Genoese, who, however, shortly afterwards inflicted a severe punishment on then. On the other hand, a quarrel with the Tatars of Solgate proved fatal to the Genoese, who were conquered. From that time the star of the republic began to pale.

The capture of Constantinople--that Rome of the east, which Mahonet seized in 1453--struck a fatal [295] blow at the power of Genoa. Pera was unable to repel the conqueror, and Kaffa was threatened. It was during this same year that the Genoese republic, to repair its losses, pledged the colonies of Taurida with the bank of St. George, which continued in possession of them for twenty-two years. At this juncture, MengliGhera´ ascended the throne of the khans. He was one of the eight sons left by Devlet. Each of these rival princes believed himself called to rule absolutely over this country, distracted by so many conflicting ambitions. Mengli, favoured by the intrigues of Kaffa, triumphed over his competitors. This being accomplished, the bankers of Genoa (no longer now as formerly, models of justice) wished to build upon their services, and rule the khan, whose destiny was in their hands ; for in order to raise him to the throne, they had simply imprisoned his brothers in their fortress at Sou-dagh. The nation now began to murmur, and the unjust and intriguing spirit of the insolent tyrants excited indignation in every heart. The storm which had long been gathering, broke out at last with terrible effect. While a multitude of Tatars surrounded Kaffa, an agent who had been dispatched to Constantinople offered the Genoese colonies to Mahomet, and soon after, on the 1st of June, 1475, a Turkish fleet of 482 sails appeared menacingly before Kaffa. After a [296] desperate resistance, which lasted six days, Kaffa, the beautiful city, the rich colony, surrendered at discretion. The victors were tyrannical and exacting. Overwhelming tributes, humiliating conditions, and the banishment of all the Boman catholics to Constantinople, were among the lightest consequences of this defeat. The colonies of Genoa fell one after the other into the hands of the Turks. Sou-dagh was the last settlement over which the banner of the republic was seen to float ; it yielded at last to famine. Thus fell, beneath the brutal and senseless hands of the followers of )Mahomet, the great and glorious edifice which it had taken two centuries to raise.

Mengli-Ghera´, who had taken refuge in Constantinople, after the fall of the power which had befriended him, left the empire of the khans a prey to the conflicting claims of his brothers, now delivered from their captivity at Sou-dagh. The Tatars, harassed by this storm of rival pretensions, had recourse to the Sultan, and besought him to send them a ruler capable of restoring peace. Their prayer was heard ; Mengli-Ghera´ was restored to them, but, previous to his departure, he had received his instructions. He was commanded to deliver to the Turks the country thus confided to his treachery. The undertaking was difficult. Mengli knew 10 what an extent such conditions would exasperate the [297] nation ; and ,perhaps it was to make the threatened bondage appear less intolerable, that he suddenly gave himself up to the most lamentable and blood-stained excesses of power. This same prince, who was long honoured for his clemency and kindness, brought down as many curses on his name as Hadji Devlet, his noble father, had won blessings. A scourge to his subjects, after plunging them into the depth of degradation and barbarism, he died in 1515, leaving a son, if possible, more detestable still than his father.

For a long period the princes of this race deserved no other title than that of brigand chiefs. They took advantage of the wars between their neighbours, to sell their assistance to the highest bidder, and sometimes even to both sides at once ; at the same time, however, the Porte, abusing the right which it had usurped in the days of Mengli-Ghera´, of appointing or deposing the khans, treated those princes as its pachas, and raised or degraded them at its pleasure. For a period of a hundred and fifty years, fourteen khans, the ephemeral creatures of the Ottoman power, succeeded each other. Some of these princes, friends of peace, imposed a curb on the turbulent spirit of their subjects. One only among them, Gazi-Gherai, deserves unconditional praise ; an accomplished warrior, but generous at the same time ; an erudite poet, a skilful musician, and endowed with a [298] noble and pure soul, Gazi-Ghera´ would have made his reign the source of every blessing, had not the degenerate people over whom he ruled loved war for its most deplorable attendants--pillage and rapine. This prince died peacefully in 1608. During the reign of the eight khans of his race who succeeded him, the same alternation of wars and alliances, truce and pillage, rapine and treachery, with the Tatars, Russians, Poles and Cossacks, continued as in the past.

The line of Mengli-Ghera´ became extinct in 1666, and the collateral dynasty of the Tchobans, or shepherds, occupied the throne. Adel-Ghera´, the first of this family, was dethroned by the Sultan. Selim-Ghera´, his successor, several times deposed and reinstated, ascended the throne every time a fresh war broke out with the Germans, the Russians, or the Poles. He was a man of great courage, and defeated these three allied powers in a single campaign. The Janissaries, captivated by his splendid qualities, wished to place him at their head. Selim preferred retirement, to a throne unjustly usurped ; he set out for Mecca, on a holy pilgrimage. Devlet, his son, was deposed before the had even placed the crown upon his head ; Selim returned, for the fifth time, and died in the exercise of that authority to which he attached so little value.

Meanwhile, events of immense importance had oc [299] curred within a short distance of the Crimea. Peter the Great, the immortal genius to whom Russia owes its greatness, had, in 1722, commenced that campaign which, beginning at Pultawa, terminated in so critical a conjuncture on the Pruth, when Baltadji-Mehemet-Pacha allowed the noblest prize to slip through his hands with which the fortune of war ever presented a general. The prince at that time reigning over the Crimea was Devlet-Ghera´, who never forgave the purchased complaisance of the Paella Grand Vizier, as was proved ten years later. Devlet, chosen for the fourth time to rule over Little Tatary, had betaken himself to Adrianople, in order to concert with the divan the plan of a new war, the conduct of which had been confided to his experience and rare talents, with which the Grand Signor was well accquainted. At the conclusion of the conference, Devlet was in the act of mounting his horse to return to the Crimea, when he suddenly stood still, with one foot in the stirrup. " What can make Devlet-Ghera´ tarry thus?" inquired the Sultan. " I am waiting," replied the former, " that thou shouldst send me the head of Baltadji-Mehemet." The head was brought, and the Sultan, in a vein of complaisance, added to it the head of the Reis-Effendi, and that of the Aga of the Janissaries, the khan of the Crimea having appeared displeased with them.


Let us hasten to reach a less remote period, leaving to their cowardly intrigues and daily enacted treachery the Kaplan-Ghera´s and the Mengli-Ghera´s, those rival brothers, the senseless instruments of the resentment of the Porte, alternately raised to power, or disgraced, according to the caprice of the Ottoman rulers. We will now come to the year 1736, when an army of a hundred thousand Russians marched upon the Crimea, to avenge broken pledges, and an insolent violation of territory.

This formidable force wa,s commanded by the Count de Munich. The intrenchment at Perecop, that long foss uniting two seas, was carried by storm ; the Russians pursued their enemies as far as Ak-Metchet, now called Sympheropol, and then retired, wearied by so arduous a campaign, in an unsheltered country, and during the hot season. The Tatars, on their side, advancing almost in the steps of the Russians, carried devastation into Lesser Russia. The following year the campaign was re-commenced, and the Count de Lascy presented himself again with a Russian army. The frontier of Perecop, the ruins of which had been repaired, was now defended by the khan in person. The Russian general entered by the Straits of Yenitchi, upon the sands of Arabat; he attacked the fortress, which was undefended, and after burning, according to historians, [301] more than a thousand villages, in the steppe of the Crimea, Lascy withdrew.

An audacious aggression, on the part of the Khan, drove Count de Lascy to a third invasion. This time the army, unable to subsist in a country so wasted, was obliged to abandon the undertaking. This disastrous war terminated in 1140 by a treaty.

The Khan was at that period master of a vast empire. Contiguous with the possessions of the Grand Signor on the Danube, its northern frontier extended as far as Poland and Lesser Russia ; to the east it reached Taganrog, and descended to the Caucasus, which separated it from Georgia. The Tatars occupied the Crimea; the Noga´s inhabited the whole country from the Danube to the Don beyond the peninsula; and the Circassians dwelt along the eastern shores of the Black Sea and the skirts of the Caucasus. Of these three races the Tatars of the Crimea were undoubtedly the most advanced in polity. The prosperity of commercial dealings, long carried on with success, had given them a greater taste for the luxuries of wealth. The cultivation of the land was well and skilfully carried on in the Crimea; education had long been disseminated by a number of elementary schools ; and the organisation of communal settlements, paternally governed, had softened the manners of these people. [302] The land was divided into feofs, which belonged to the nobility; and the whole territory of the Crimea proper was divided into forty-eight districts or kadiliks. Land paid no tax to the prince, except that when he engaged in a war (and wars were frequent) each kadilik had to furnish a waggon drawn by two horses, and laden with corn. The revenue of the prince was derived from the saltworks, the customs, the annual tributes paid by Moldavia and Wallachia, and, more especially, the booty taken in war. The khans, accordingly, were exceedingly rich, but, on the other hand, they were royally lavish in their bounty. The race of the Ghera´s seems to have inherited, together with its rank, that virtue which, in great princes, redeems many vices. None among them was wanting in this honourable quality ; and if ever these princes, whose fortunes were so uncertain, were urged to economy, they would reply : "What good is it to hoard up wealth? Who ever knew a Ghera´ to die of poverty?"

The Khan could put in the field an army of two hundred thousand men, without sensibly depriving the country. Such an army was maintained at little cost; for the nobles fought at their own expense, and the vassals supported themselves until the next pillage, when their arrears were more than paid up.

The peace which ensued on the treaty above mentioned, [303] lasted eighteen years. During this time, Alim-Ghera´ had to contend with several serious attempts at sedition. When he was deposed, Krim-Ghera´ ascended the throne in his stead. This sovereign was loved by his subjects to a degree amounting to fanaticism; he was a man of genius, greedy of praise, a lover of the arts, which he himself cultivated, protecting merit, but of unswerving justice. He too was dethroned, but was soon after recalled, on the occasion of an expedition against Servia. This great prince died by poison, at Bender; the poison was administered by a Greek. Krim-Ghera´, feeling his end draw near, resolved to die like a poet and an artist ; he sent for his musicians, that he might fall asleep more pleasantly, he said.

Devlet, Kaplan, and Selim-Ghera´ assumed in turn the supreme power. War was rekindled at this period with more inveteracy than ever, on account of these very pretensions urged against Servia. The Russians sent an army against the Turks, and both attacked the Tatars at the same time. Dolgorouky penetrated into the Crimea, by forcing Perecop, at the very same moment that one of his divisions entered by the promontory of Arabat, taking the fortress by storm. Selim, in dismay, sued for peace, and it was granted him : he treacherously violated his engagements. Conquered a second time, he withdrew himself, by flight, from the effects of the victor's resentment. [304]

The Tatars then proclaimed Sahim-Gherai his successor ; this was the last of their sovereigns. Sahim, in concert with his subjects, threw off the yoke of the Porte, and placed himself under the protection of Catherine II. By the terms of this alliance, three fortresses passed into the hands of Russia ; this was a- terrible blow at the power of the Sultan, who, feeling the difficulty of his position. contented himself with exciting the people to rebellion. The Ottoman Porte, however, was reduced openly to recognise the independence of the Tatars, in the treaty of Koutchouk-Kainardji, signed on the 17th of July, 1774. From that moment the conquest was planned. While the great empress was preparing the success of her plans, by the establishment of colonies on the sea of Azoff, where she attracted the Armenians and the Jews-- those ancient settlers on the shores of the Crimea, and founders of its commercial prosperity–partial revolts broke out on the soil of Taurida, in suppressing which, Russia lent a powerful assistance to Sahim. Kaffa, which had revolted for the second time in 1779, and Baghtcheh-SaraÏ, the city of the Khans, received a terrible lesson; all germs of rebellion, however, though steeped in blood, were not eradicated. The Porte was skilful in keeping them alive, and would have succeeded in effecting the total ruin of this unfortunate country. In this cruel position of affairs, Sahim resolved to give up his states to the [305] Empress of Russia; Lesser Tatary was then incorporated with the Empire, by a treaty concluded on the 10th of June, 1783. After this treaty, Sahim, enticed by fallacious promises to Constantinople, expiated his abdication by the bow-string.

Thus were the destinies of Taurida accomplished, and thus were united, under one guardian rule, all the scattered nations of which the peninsula had preserved the half-faded traces. The establishment of peace soon became general ; the inhabitants of the soil of the peninsula, driven at first by their alarms to a useless emigration, soon learned to obey the laws of a generous conqueror, who even then, as now, respected the habits and religion of his conquered subjects. We have related the origin of the new Russian cities under ancient names. The Tatar cities felt no ill effects from this rivalry, which was sometimes enhanced by immediate proximity. The more elevated portion of Taurida, that which for a long time was called Gothia, retained almost all its inhabitants ; descended from a race of mountaineers, they were but little disposed to leave their native country. The Tatars of the steppe, a race evidently differing from those of the mountains, could not be induced to descend once more towards the once fertile plains, which had suffered such cruel ravages during the wars. The southern coast was shortly after explored by adventurous settlers, and the [306] attractions of this beautiful and picturesque country soon asserted their influence. The vine spreads its grateful and fecundating shade over the fertile soil, and after remaining barren and deserted for so long a space, it is now clothed with thick forests, and teeming with flowers and fruit.

The Crimea forms part of the government of Taurida. The districts of this government, contained within the limits of the peninsula, properly so called, are those of Sympheropol, which is the capital, Eupatoria, Theodosia and Perecop.

The population of the Tauric peninsula may be estimated, according to the most recent account, as follows : but though we have derived these figures from authentic sources, they cannot be considered as rigidly accurate.

DISTRICTS. Nobles. Priests. Peasants. Foreign Settlers.Total of Districts
Moullahs. Greeks. Tatars. Russians. .
Sympheropol 365 1,540 6   27,444 1,5721,128 32,0.55
Eupatoria 557 1,255 17,503 17419,489
Theodosia 78 1,037 1421,321959 1,755 25,161
Perecop 123 1,536 0 24,41014626,215







Adding the total number of women, estimated at 82,843
Karaïms 1,383 87,140
Jews 325
Greeks and Armenians 2,589
The total population would amount to

Our narrative brings us back to Odessa, where we were actively engaged in making preparations for our return. One portion of the expedition was soon in readiness to take leave of this city under my guidance, and proceeded to the Austrian frontier by Bender, Kicheneff, and that part of Bessarabia which we had previously travelled through. Fortunately, up to the present time the rain had respected this part of the country, which, being intersected by shallow and boggy valleys, is extremely difficult to travel over in wet weather. Novoceltz is the nearest point to the frontiers of the Empire. The Pruth is crossed here, and the territory of Gallicia entered. The capital of this circle, so called, is Tchernovitz ; it is also called Bukowine, on account of the fine forests of beech covering the western slopes of the Karpathian mountains, the name for this tree, in Sclavonian, being Bukow. Tchernovitz is a pretty town, situated at the foot of the mountains ; it is bathed by the Pruth, and is justly proud of its elegant churches. It may be easily imagined with what satisfactory feelings such a place is hailed on emerging from the steppe. What a beautiful country is this Gallicia, and what pleasant and easy travelling it affords ! The character of the scenery, and the picturesque costumes of the inhabitants, all combine to give to the journey the attractive charm of variety. In Lemberg may be seen all that constitutes a large German town, not forgetting [308] the Jews, that busy and swarming people, whose whole life is centred in the stir of traffic.

But this time, those of us who took this road were making all the haste to reach Vienna compatible with the use of Austrian post-horses. It was with a degree of speed utterly unknown in these countries that they whirled through the beautiful scenery of Moldavia and Silesia, dressed in its autumnal garb. Our travellers had avoided passing through Cracow, as, from the alarming rumours of cholera which were beginning to spread through all these provinces, it was to be feared that quarantine lines might be established, and rise up like brazen walls to stop their progress. This was what induced us to hurry our march ; for the experience of Skoulani was not of a nature to be easily forgotten. Accordingly, we hastened back to Vienna, our starting point, with a degree of rapidity which was anything but favourable to observation. From the capital of Austria I directed my course, through Linz and Nuremberg, to Frankfort, and thence, proceeding to Belgium, we reached the French frontier, at a season when winter, in these climes, begins to declare itself, and makes us think of the pleasures of study and retirement.

As to those of our companions who remained, after my departure, at Odessa, they were unable to follow the route I had laid down for them, and which they might probably have taken under more favourable chances than [309] ourselves, as the visitation which had filled the Austrian possessions with apprehension, was gradually disappearing. But at the very instant when every necessary step was taken, all the collections assembled and classed, ready for the first convenient means of conveyance that should present itself–in a word, when every preliminary was completed–a fresh disaster threatened them ; but on this occasion I must allow them to describe themselves the trials they had to undergo, and which are now classed with the haec meminisse juvabit !

We were all busy making our preparations for departure. The day was spent in labours which all deemed important, the object to be secured being no less than assembling our collections, and providing for their protection against the casualties of a long journey. On beholding accumulated at Odessa all the treasures which had been separately gathered by such good fortune, our naturalists were beside themselves with delight, and marvelled at the extent of their acquisitions. In the evening we visited those persons who had so kindly received us as friends, and we must acknowledge that the most flattering, no less than the most courteous invitations claimed our hours of leisure. At last we were ready, and the 3rd of November was fixed for our departure for the Austrian frontier, when suddenly, on the 1st of November, a vague rumour began to circulate in Odessa. This terrible rumour, beginning in a sort of feverish excitement, and [310] frequently ending in a cry of anguish, raised by a whole people, had already assumed some consistency ere we had become aware of it ; but soon it was no longer possible to doubt the fact,. It was the plague ! the plague was in Odessa ! A pelisse, which had surreptitiously passed through the lazaretto, had spread the infection : at the first discovery of the fact, two victims had already perished. On the morrow of this fatal day several quarters were cut off from communication ; but the deadly symptoms, spurning all obstacles, broke out within the barriers which were vainly attempted to be raised against them. The city then really became seized with terror. Fear assumed a calm and horrible aspect, bearing no resemblance to the active terror and the erotic delirium described by Boccacio and Machiavelli. Order and silence existed everywhere in company with fear. The authorities, however, had promptly taken counsel ; the governor-general had been apprised, and in the interval of his return from the Crimea, the administration had adopted the wisest measures. Finally, on November the 3rd, the city was closed at twelve o'clock, and all whom chance or necessity had brought into Odessa were declared the prisoners of the plague.

We must acknowledge that it was a time of cruel anxiety to us. We might have left the city the day before, but once outside the wall, what was to be done ? What would become of us ? How could we expose [311] ourselves to such chances ? What would be done with us, when it was known from what a scene of wretchedness we had escaped ? Several well-meaning persons, however, urged us to take this desperate step. It was called back to mind that once the city of Odessa had been cut off from the rest of Europe for six months from a similar cause. We were accordingly in a perplexing state of indecision, when it was cut short by the closing of the city. Such incessant good fortune, however, had not accompanied us throughout this long journey, to desert us thus at the critical moment. Odessa was cut off by land, but the sea was open to us, and on it floated the steamer " Nicolas the First," preparing for her passage to Constantinople.

Assuredly had any one told us a week before that we should go to Constantinople, we should have been strangely surprised. What a convenient city, and how easily are all things taken there ! You are not asked, whence do you come ? Have you the plague? Plague struck or not, you are welcome. Pray come in ! Thus we were enabled to proceed without impediment. We embarked on board the steamer on the 4th, and quitted the roadstead at nightfall, not without many wishes for the speedy relief of the beautiful city, where we had received such generous and courteous attentions.

The next day we passed within a short distance of the Island of Serpents, the only island in the Black [312] Sea. This island is the LeukÚ, the white island of the ancients, and has received many other names. Achilles was presented with it as a gift by his mother ; a wretched apanage for so wealthy an heir. The son erected a temple and founded a city upon this rock, in honour of his mother. In the present day, the Island of Serpents, deserted by mythology, and denuded of anything like vegetation, presents the appearance of a barren and desolate islet, exclusively inhabited by sea birds. The island was soon passed, without, however, our having perceived any of those marks mentioned by Arrian in the periplus of the Pontus Euxinus. Moreover, the shades of Achilles and Patroclus declined to take the trouble of showing us–as is said to be their custom–on what part of the coast a landing may most easily be effected : accordingly we continued on our journey. A rough sea, a grey sky, and a cold wind, accompanied us to about latitude 44°. This temperature, and the appearance of the sky, were in perfect accordance with the experience of the sailors relative to this coast. Though they may no longer believe in Achilles and Patroclus, they are perfectly convinced, and justly so, that the sea and winds are more inclement there than in any other part of the sea opposite the Delta of the Danube. On the 6th of November, the mildest autumnal sun, and the most calm and limpid sea, favoured our entrance into the Bosphorus. We had [313] long looked forward to the moment when we should behold this celebrated channel, wishing it were nearer, but directly we descried it, we began to think our progress too rapid. Running, as we were, at the rate of nine knots an hour, in the midst of the most diversified scenery, was enough to bewilder one. The eye grows weary with following out the splendid landscapes and admirable prospects, alternately revealed and shrouded from the sight. This incomparable channel of the Bosphorus is one immense panorama, extending on both sides of the vessel for a distance of five leagues, studded with forts, towers, villages and palaces. On first entering the channel, these wonders appear few, and scattered at intervals along the sloping sides of the hills. As you advance, however, the houses become more numerous, and at closer distances, till at last they present a complete row of brilliant and fanciful edifices. Above this first plane of the picture, it is wonderful to see the mass of red roofs, varnished panels, gilt blinds, rounded walnut trees, ancient cypresses, and white spires of the mosques heaped together in the most picturesque disorder. The nearer you approach to Constantinople, the more confused does this admirable chaos become, and louder grows on either shore those sounds of life which betray the presence of a large and active population. A large number of caïques are seen ploughing the waters of the Bosphorus in all directions. [314]

Up Up to this point we had travelled with extreme speed, but on coming abreast of the Bouyouk-Déré, the great valley, as the Turks picturesquely call that splendid spot where the palace of the Russian embassy stands, the "Nicolas the First" slackened its pace. A war corvette was stationed there, and sent on board for the steamer's despatches. Shortly afterwards we were alongside Terapia, the residence of the French embassy, with its magnificent gardens. Further on, we threaded our way through a numerous Turkish squadron, consisting of ships of the line, and frigates lying at anchor before a spacious dockyard. They were new ships, constructed on the most perfect model by an American engineer. We were now in the midst of a noisy city, compactly crowded with buildings, of which the limpid waters of the Bosphorus form the populous highway. At length, at six o'clock in the evening, we cast anchor near the point of the seraglio, in the midst of the celebrated basin called the Golden Horn. A resplendent spectacle now appeared, rising nobly above the ever-shifting scene presented by the Bosphorus. It was Constantinople, bathed in a glowing and transparent light ; the great hills and tall summits of this immense city flooded with the golden light of the sun, majestically sinking behind the large domes and minarets of the mosques of Achmet.


At a short distance from us the French packet, the [315] " Dante," one of the steamers in the service of the postoffice, was preparing to start for Marseilles. We had only twenty-four hours to explore this living capital ; and moreover, we had arrived exactly in time to be kept on board our vessel by the rigid law which forbids all communication with the land after nightfall. Accordingly we remained in our vessel, chained to the deck by the magnificent spectacle around us, the grand outlines of which were rendered still more imposing by the light of the moon. We next tried to catch some stray sound of life from the midst of the sleeping city, but every human being was buried in deep silence, and all we heard was the howling of those nocturnal masters of Constantinople--the dogs. With the return of light, everything awoke to life : the city, the ships, and the caïques--those frail boats, upset by the slightest movement--upwards of ten thousand of which are daily seen gliding in every direction through the waters.

Ten hours is too short a time to explore this quadruple city, to climb from Galata to Pera, which still retains its gigantic Genoese tower ; to thread the labyrinth of streets and bazaars in Stamboul, or attempt to visit Scutari. We rushed at the task like a forlorn hope, or like headlong school boys, who take advantage, with eager delight, of an hour, or even a few minutes' relaxation. We who were flying from the plague, were now about gaily to brave it in those narrow streets [316] along which it sweeps in perfect liberty, with that proud deportment peculiar to the Turk, who knocks against everything in his way, without ever crying " look out." But what right have we to open our mouths, we who hurried breathlessly through mosques, bazaars, cemeteries and palaces ? Can we attempt even a single stroke of a sketch, for which it would take whole days to prepare? No, certainly ; those who have explored the Crimea, step by step, who have religiously made a point of halting at the door of every poor Tatar mosque, who have counted one by one all their humble clay-built villages, buried in the shade of trees, those who have done this, should remain under the influence of their simple admiration of these things. We, who had devoted three months to the study of poor hamlets, what could we do with a few hours, fleeting as thought, spent in this metropolis of the Ottoman world!

No, Heaven be thanked, travels are, now-a-days, easy, Constantinople is now next door to Marseilles ; and we enthusiastic and studious pilgrims, who have seconded, to the best of our ability, a leader full of activity, and burning with the love of science, we shall very certainly re-visit, for their own sake, these beautiful scenes, so deserving of study and admiration.

The "Dante" started on the 7th of November; on the 8th we met the Turkish fleet of Tahir-Pacha in the [317] Dardanelles. A few hours after, we beheld a French fleet nobly riding at anchor between Tenedos and the Trojan shore, campos ubi Troja fuit. The following day we entered the port of Smyrna. We shall carefully abstain from any description of this Eastern city, which has been so admirably painted by so many illustrious visitors. The " Dante," a traveller familiar with these beautiful seas, was, nevertheless, unable to avoid a dangerous collision. An Austrian steamer, crossing our course during the night in the channel of Scio, received, as did we, the most violent and unexpected concussion. Fortunately the two vessels, though injured, were able to continue their journey. A gale rising between the Morea and Malta, obliged the "Dante" to stop its engines ; for endeavouring any longer to resist the storm, would have been to risk the lives of all on board. Malta received us beneath its walls, and after coasting Sicily, and saluting all the cities on the Italian coast, we reached Marseilles after six months' absence, to seek in the lazaretto an interval of repose and solitude, charmed by many a reminiscence.


Here ends the simple narrative of our travels, during which we were in continual movement ; and in our rapid survey each day, each country brought to the travellers their tribute of new emotions and interesting studies. What yet remains to be said relative to the countries a journey through which this book has just sketched, [318] science will relate it in its grave and precise language. As for me, my task is accomplished, and all my wishes will be fulfilled, if the indulgent attention of the reader has been able to follow me thus far through this labyrinth of scenery, history, observations and poetry, which our active cohort has been threading for the last six months with so much zeal and good fortune. This, therefore, will, in point of fact, only be a necessary introduction to the labours of the savans and naturalists in whose adventurous career we participated. When, therefore, each of us shall have added his share of labour to the completion of this monument, we shall have jointly accomplished a task which, if not in talent, at least in truth and conscientiousness, will, perhaps, not prove unworthy the object proposed in this expedition, and the august patron to whom this book is dedicated.

Men Unloading onto Shore
Men Unloading onto Shore.

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