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HARVARD 
COLLEGE 
LIBRARY 




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THE 



CENTRAL CAUCASUS AM) BASHAN. 



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TRAVELS 



IN THE 



CENTRAL CAUCASUS AND BASHAN 



TSCLTTDISQ 



VISITS TO ARARAT AND TABREEZ 



▲NO 



ASCENTS OF KAZBEK AND ELBRUZ. 



BT 



DOUGLAS W. FRESHFESLD. 



' Per Alpiiuu jaga 
InhospiUlem ot Oftocasom.* 

HoR. Epod, I. 12. 



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LONDON: 

LONGMANS, GEEEN, AND CO. 

1869. 



Tht right tff trantlaUon is reserved. 



5/av ^'^2.^. y5 



HARVARD UNIVERSITY 
LIBRARY 

ShF 1 7 1991 



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V 



PREFACE. 



<0t' 



The following pages sufficiently explain how the 
journey described in them was planned and carried 
out. In the course of our wanderings, we visited two 
countries, well known, indeed, by name to the general 
reader, but concerning which vague, and in some 
respects incorrect impressions are frequently enter- 
tained. A truthful traveller may do as good service 
by destroying illusions as by bringing forward fresh 
information, and I have felt bound to record our con- 
viction that the belief that there are * Giant Cities ' 
in Bashan is as unfoimded as the stiU more prevalent 
idea that all the men in the Caucasus are brave, and 
all the women beautiful. 

Our Syrian travels .owed their chief interest to a 
sudden access of vigour on the part of the Turkish 
Pashas, which enabled us to visit, with little risk or 
expense, the remarkable ruins of the HJauran and Lejah, 
and to form our own opinion as to their date — a question 



VI PREFACE. 

as yet discussed principally by unskilled witnesses, 
and still awaiting the decision of a competent judge. 

The exploration of the passes and glaciers of the 
Central Caucasus, and the ascent of its two most 
famous summits, formed the chief aim of our journey, 
and are the main subject of the present volume. I 
trust that the record of our adventures in the moun- 
tain fastnesses may prove of sufficient interest to draw 
the attention of our coimtrymen to a range surpassing 
the Alps by two thousand feet in the average height of 
its peaks, abounding in noble scenery and picturesque 
inhabitants, and even now within the reach of many 
* long-vacation tourists.' When the Caucasus, as . yet 
less known than the Andes or the Himalayas, becomes 
a recognised goal of travel, this work will have fulfilled 
its object, and will be superseded by the production 
of some author better qualified, both by literary skill 
and scientific attainments, to treat of so noble a theme. 

The reader will not find in these pages any political 
speculations, for which so rapid a journey afibrded 
scant opportunity ; he may more justly complain of 
the absence of ethnological details concerning the tribes 
of the Caucasus. My excuse is, that information filtered 
through an uneducated interpreter is difficult to obtain 
and httle trustworthy ; the subject, moreover, has been 
fully treated of by German travellers, in works al- 
ready translated into Enghsh, and accessible to those 
in whom the present account of the natural features of 



PREFACE. VU 

the Caucasian region may raise a wish to learn 
more. of its inhabitants. 

The Map of tlie Central Caucasus is reduced 'from 
the Five Verst Map, executed by the Eussiau Topo- 
graphical Department at Tiflis, with many corrections 
suggested by our own experience. The illustrations 
are derived from various sources; some have been 
engraved from paintings by a Eussian artist resident 
at Tiflis, others are from photographs or pencil-sketches. 
Two of the smaller plates are borrowed from a privately- 
printed work of Herr Eadde, our numerous obliga- 
tions to whom I gladly take this opportunity of 
acknowledging. 

I owe my best thanks to Mr. Edward Whymper 
for the skill he has shown in dealing with the rough 
materials placed at his disposal, a task for which his 
well-known knowledge of mountain scenery eminently 
qualified him. I. have also to thank Mr. Weller for 
the care he has taken to make the maps accurate and 
intelligible. 

I cannot conclude these few words of preface with- 
out bearing grateful witness to the constant encourage- 
ment, and very important aid, which I have received 
from my companions, Mr. A. W. Moore and Mr. C. C. 
Tucker, in the preparation of the volume now sub- 
mitted to the pubhc. 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER I. 

EGYPT AND PALESTINE. 

PAas 
Intzodactory — Choosing a Dragoman — ^Djebel Mokattam — ^The Nile 

Steamer — ^The Mecca Caravau — Sail for Syria — ^A Poor Trayeller — 

Struck byldglitning — Syrian Sloughs and Storms — ^TheBiverKishon — 

Arrival at Jerusalem — An Idea worked out — * Vive la Mer Morte !' — 

Jericho— We fall among Thieves — ^The Jordan Valley — Capture of a 

Standard-bearer — ^Ferry of the Jordan . - 1 



CHAPTER n. 

BASHAN. 

The English Soldier— A Mountain Ride^-Bs-Salt— Lost on the Hills— 
The Jabbok — Camp of the Beni-Hassan — Suppressing a Sheikh — ^The 
Oak Forests of Gilead— -The Tablelands— An Uxorious Sh<nkh— Derat— 
The Roman Road — The Robbers repulsed — Ohusam — ^Bozrah — Honoured 
Quests — ^A^Ramble in the Ruins — Kureiyeh — ^Patriarchal Hoepitali^ — 
Hebran — ^A Stone House — ^Kufr — ^Ascent of El-E[leib — Suweideh — 
Hunawat — ^Noble Ruins — Shuhba — Hades on Earth — Visiting Extra- 
ordinary— The Lqah— A Lava Flood — Ahireh — Khubab— A Rush to 
Arms — ^The Stolen Mule — ^A Village in Pursuit — Mismiyeh — ^The * Giant 
Cities ' are Roman Towns— The Wrath of the Beys— A Friendly Sulut 
— ^Eesweh — ^Entrance to Damascus 16 

CHAPTER m. 

LEBANON AND THE LEVANT. 

Damascus — ^Bazaars and Gkodens — ^An Enthusiastic Freemason — Snow- 
storm on Anti-Lebanon — ^Baalbeo — ^An Alpine Walk — ^The Cedars — 
Return to Beyrout — Cyprus and Rhodes — Smyrna — ^The Valley of the 
Msander — ^Excavations at Ephesus — Constantinople-r- The Persian 
Khan — May-Day at the Sweet Waters— Preparations for the Caucasus . 63 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER IV. 

TRANSCAUCASIA. 

PACK 

On the Block Sea — ^Trebizonde — Rival Interpreters — Paul — Running a 
Muck — Batoum — ^The Caucasus in Sight — Lauding at Poti — The Rion 
Steamer — A Driye in the Dark — Kutais — Count lieverschoff — Splendid 
Costumes — ^Mingrelian Princesses — ^Azaleas — ^The Valley of the Quirili — 
A Post Station — The Georgian Plains — Underground Villages — Gori — 
First View of Kazbek— Tiflis— The H6tel d'Europe— The Streets- 
Silver and Fur Bazaars — Maps — Chuman Savants — The Botanical 
Grarden — The Opera — Officialism Rampant— A False Frenchwoman — 
A Paraclodnaia — The Postal System in Russia . . . -. .74 



CHAPTER V. 
THE PERSIAN POST-ROAD. 

The Banks of the Kui^— Troops on the March— A Romantic Valley — 
Delidschan — ^A Desolate Pass — ^The Gokcha Lake — ^Ararat — ^Erivan — 
The Kurds — ^The Valley of the Araxes — ^A Steppe Storm — ^A Dangerous 
Ford — Kakhitchevan — ^A Money Question — ^Djulfa — Charon's Feny and 
a Modem Cerberus — ^A Friend in Need — ^A Persian Khan — Maraud — 
Entrance to Tabreez — Chez Lazarus 112 



CHAPTER VL 
TABREEZ, ARARAT, AND THE GEORGIAN HILL-COUNTRY. 

The City— Brick Architecture— The Shah's Birthday— The European 
Colony — A Market Committee — Return to rjulfa — A Dust Storm — Ford 
of the Araxes — ^Aralykh — Start for Ararat — ^Refractory Kurds — ^AMoon- 
light Climb— Failure — A Lonely Perch — ^Vast Panorama — ^Tucker^s 
Story — ^AGloomy Descent— Return to Erivan — Etchmiadzin — The Arme- 
nian Patriarch — ^A Dull Ride — Hammamly — The Georgian Hills — ^Dje- 
laloghlu — ^A Moist Climate — Schulaweri — Tiflis again — ^Moore joins us . 141 

CHAPTER VIL 

THE KRESTOWAJA GORA AND ASCENT OF KAZBEK. 

Start for the Mountains — The Pass of the Caucasus — Kazbek Post Station 
— ^The GovemorB — ^A Reconnaissance in force — ^Legends — Avalanches — 
The Old Men's Chorus — ^Men in Armour — Our Bivouac — ^A Critical 
Moment — Scaling an Icewall — ^The Summit — The Descent — A Savage 
Glen — ^A Night with the Shepherds — Return to the Village — Caucasian 
Congratolations « • 179 



CONTENTS. XI 



CHAPTER Vm. 

THE VALLEYS OF THE TEREK, ARDON, AND RION. 

A Geographical Disquisition — The Upper Terek — Savage Scenery — ^Fero- 
cious Dogs — ^Abano — ^A Dull Walk— Hard Bargaining — ^An Unruly 
Train — ^A Pass — ^Zaoca, on the Ardon<'— A Warm Skirmish and a Barren 
Victory — ^An Unexpected Climb — The Lower Valley — ^A Russian Road 
-> Teeb— The Ossetes— The Mamisson Pass— Adai Khokh— A Shift 
in the Scenery — GurschaTi — ^The Boy-Prince — ^An Idle Day — ^Viewfrom 
the Rhododendron Slope— Glola — ^The Pine-Forests of the Rion — Chiora 208 



CHAPTER IX. 
THE GLACIERS AND FORESTS OF THE CENTRAL CAUCASUS. 

Caucasian Shepherds — ^A Lovely Alp— Sheep on the Glacier — A New Pass 
— ^A Snow Wall — ^A Rough Glen — ^The Karagam Glacier — ^Bivouac in the 
Forest — ^An Icefiill — ^A Struggle and a Victory — ^The Ui^>er Snowfields 
—The Watershed at last— Check— A Useful Gully— An Uneasy Night 
— Glola again — ^Pantomime — Gebi — Curious Villagers — ^A Bargain for 
Porters — ^Asalea Thickets— The Source of the Rion — ^Rank Herbage 
— Camp on the Zenes-Squali — ^A Low Pass — Swamps and Jungles — 
Path-finding— The Glen of the Scena— Wide Pasturages— The Naksagar 
Pass 245 



CHAPTER X. 

SUANETIA. 

Free Snanetia, Past and Present — ^Herr Radde's Experiences — Physical 
Features — Fortified Villages — Jibiani — ^Pious Savages — A Surprise — 
Glaciers of the Ingur — Petty Theft — ^Threats of Robbery — ^Alarms and 
Excursions — ^A Stormy Parting — The Horseman's Home — The Ruined 
Tower — A Glorious Icefall — Adisch — Sylvan Scenery — The Mushalaliz 
— Suni — Ups and Downs — Midday Halt — ^Latal — A Suanetian Farm- 
house — Murder no Crime — Tau Totonal — A Sonsation Scene — The Cau- 
casian Matterhorn— Pari at last — Hospitable Cossacks . . ,292 



XU CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER XI. 

FROM PARI TO PATIGORSK, AND ASCENT OF ELBRUZ. 

PAGE 

A Captive Bear — ^Moore Harangnes the Porters — Camp in the Forest — 
A Plague of Flies— Lazy Porters — A Nook in the Mountains — Cattle- ' 
Lifting — ^Across the Chain in a Snowstorm — A Stormy Debate — A 
Log Hut — ^Baksan Valley — Umspieh — ^The Ghiest House— Villany 
Kevaided — ^Minghi-Tau — ^An Idle Day — An Enlightened Prince — Passes 
to the Karatchai — ^Tartar Mountaineers — A Night with the Shepherds 
— A Steep Climb—Camp on the Socks— Great Cold — On the Snowfield 
— In a Crevasse-— Frigid Despair — ^A Crisis — Perseverance Bcwarded — 
The Summit — ^Panorama — ^The Betum — ^Enthusiastic Reception — The 
Lower Baksan — ^A Long Ride — ^A Tcherkess Village — Grassy Downs — 
Zonitzki — ^Patigorsk . . . « 387 



CHAPTER Xn. 
PATIGORSK AND THE TGHEREK VALLET. 

The Caucasian Spas — ^Their E[istory and Development — ^View from 
Machoucha — ^The Piatients— Essentuky — ^Kislovodsk — ^The l^aizan — 
Hospitable Reception — ^A Fresh Start — A Russian Farmhouse — ^By the 
Waters of Baksan — ^Naltschik — The 'Tcherek — Camp in the Forest — ^A 
Tremendous Gorge — ^Balkar — ^A Hospitable Sheikh — ^The MoUah —  
Gloomy Weather — ^A Solemn Parting — Granitic Clifib — ^Kaiaoul — ^A 
Mountain Panorama — Sources of the Tcherek — ^The Stuleveeak Pass — 
Koschtantau and Dychtau — ^A Noble Peak — Our Last Camp. • .381 



CHAPTER XIIL 

THE URUCH VALLEY AND RETURN TO TIFLIS. 

Wooded Defiles — Styr Digor — A Halt — ^We Meet a Cossack — A Rain- 
storm — 2iadele8k — ^The Gtite of the Mountains — ^Across the Hills and 
Through the Forest — ^Tuganova — Novo-Christiansky — ^A Christian 
Welcome — A Wet Ride — Ardonsk — A Breakdown on the Steppe — ^Vladi- 
kafkaz — ^A Diligence Drive — ^The Dariel Gorge — Return to Tiflis — 
Reflections on the Caucasian Chain — Its Scenery and Inhabitants — Com- 
parison with the Alps— Hints for Travellers 422 



CONTENTS. Xlll 



CHAPTER XIV. 

TRANSCAUCASIA AND THE CRIMEA : HOME THROUGH 

RUSSIA. 

PAOK 

Borjom — Bad Road — ^Beautiful Scenery — Achaltzich — ^Across the Hills — 
Abastuman — A Narrow Valley — The Burnt Forest — ^Panorama of the 
Cancasos — ^Last Appearance of Kazbek and Elbnu — ^A Forest Bide — 
Bagdad — ^Mingrelian Hospitality — A French Baron's Farm — ^The Rion 
Basin — Kntais — ^The Postmaster — ^Poti — A Dismal Swamp— Soukhoum- 
Kal6 — Sevastopol — The Battli^fields — The Crimean Comiche — 
Bakhchi-S&rai — Odessa — A Run across Russia — ^A Jew's Gait — ^The 
Dnieper Steamboat — Kieff — Picturesque Pilgrims — The Lavra 
— Sainted Mummies — A Long Drive — Vitebsk — St. Petersburg — 
Conclusion 466 

APPENDIX. 

I. The Elbruz Expedition of 1829 .... 497 

II. Heights of Peaks, Passes, Towns, and Villages in the Caucasian 

Provinces 500 

in. Catalogue of Plants 502 



LIST OF MAPS AND ILLUSTRATIONS. 



-o* 



MAPS. 

/PAGE 

I. Hoate Map of the Hanran lb/ace 16 

II. The Caacasian ProTinoes „ 74 

III. The OentnU GaxxMsxis End of Vol. 

FULL-PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS. 

Elbrnz from the Nortli Frontispiece 

Ararat To face 125 

Kaibek from the Port Station „ 185 

Kaibek from the Boath „ 197 

PANORAMAS. 

The Gancaens from PtttigorBk „ 881 

The Koschtantaa Groap 881 

WOODCUTS IN TEXT. 

A Geoxgfan Chttrch 95 

The Geoigiaa Castle, Tiflia 104 

Monntaineen in Armour ^ .... 199 

An OflBete Village 218 

AnOasete S27 

Adai Ehokh from the Rion Valley 287 

Soimx of the Eoatem Zenes-Sqoall 282 

Our Camp-fire in the Fbreet 288 

A Natiye of Jibfani SOO 

Tan l^tttnal from aboTe Lotal 328 

Uachba from aboTB Latal 329 

Woman of Unupieh ... 357 

Peak in the Tcherek Valley ^n 

FortofDarlel 442 

Qrand-Dncal Villa at Borjom 4^6 

HingreUan Wine Jar ; 479 



TRAVELS 



XM 



THE CENTRAL CAUCAJSUS AND BASHAN. 



CHAPTER L 

EaXPT AKD PALESTOTE. 

Intzodactoiy — Chooeiog ft ' Dragoman — I>jel>el Kokattam — ^The Kila 
Steamer — ^The Mecca CaraTaa— Sail for Syria — A Poor Trayeller — 
Struck by Lightning — Syrian Sloughs and Storms — ^Tho River Kishon — 
Aarival at Jerusalem — An Idea "worked out — 'Yiye la Mer Morte!'^ 
Jericho— We fall among Thieves — ^The Joxdan Valley — Capture of a 
Standard-bearer — ^Ferry of the Jordan. 

Befobe carrying mj readers into the primitiTe wilds of 
Bashan^ and amongst the tmknown yaUeys and ridges of 
the Caucasus, I must give some explanation of the circum- 
stances which induced me to imdertake the journey I 
am about to describe. In many summer holidays, spent 
among the Alps, I had acquired a taste for mountain 
scenery, and when an opportunity of being absent from 
home for a longer time than usual presented itself, I 
looked for some country where the zest of novelty would 
be added to those natural features which chiefly at- 
tracted me. For many reasons the Caucasus seemed to be 
the very region I was seeking. Less distant than the 
Andes or the Himalayas, its mountains were yet unknown 
to ordinary travellers, and none of our countrymen had 

B 



2 EGYPT AND PALESTINE. 

• 

explored the recesses of the finest portions of the chain, 
although not a few had crossed the great highway of 
the Dariel, or followed in the footsteps of the Eussian 
armies in Daghestan. 

My journey was to begin in January, at which time 
it was obviously too early to start on a mountaineering 
excursion, and the ease with which a visit to the Cauca- 
sian provinces might be fitted on to an Eastern tour 
induced me to spend the intervening months in Egypt 
arid the Holy Land. 

The plan was definitely settled when my friend Mr. 
Tucker agreed to join me in the whole of the proposed 
journey. I had the good fortune to secure a second comrade 
for our Caucasian explorations in Mr. Moore, who was, 
however, unable to leave London until the summer, and 
therefore promised to meet us, at Tiflis, about June 
20th. So far our party was complete, but for moun- 
taineering work it was evidently necessary to have the 
assistance of at least one skilled guide. My old com- 
panion, Pran9ois Devouassoud of Chamouni, was just the 
man we wanted, and. he proved not only willing but 
anxious to join us. . The only question was whether he 
should meet us at some point in our journey, or should 
accompany us from its outset. I finally determined to 
accede to his wishes, and take him as a travelling servant, 
having full confidence in his intelligence and readiness 
to accommodate himself to new scenes and unaccustomed 
modes of life. We had no reason to repent this decision. 

After a busy fortnight, spent in getting together the 
necessaries for our journey — which included a tent, water- 
proof saddlebags, a portable kitchen, and large quantities 
of Liebig's soup — we left England on January 4th, 1868. 
We passed through the South of Prance in the most intense 
cold; at Avignon the Ehone was frozen from bank to 



CHOOSING A DRAGOMAN. S 

bank, and the fountains at Marseilles were turned into 
masses of icicles. On January 8th we sailed for Egypt, 
on board the Messageries Imperiales' steamer *Port 
Said/ with a miscellaneous batch of passengers, in- 
cluding two French officers who were going to Abys- 
sinia, two directors of the Suez Canal, Gerdme the 
painter, the Viceroy of Egypt's dentist, two missionary 
ladies bound for Jerusalem, and a party of Algerine 
Arabs on their way to Mecca, who lay all day and night 
on deck, huddled in their cloaks. With such variety on 
board, and a constantly-changing horizon, we found the 
voyage by no means monotonous. 

On the sixth morning the tall lighthouse and low coast 
of Alexandria came in sight. * We landed in a storm of 
i%dn, which added to the difficulties of newcomers in an 
Eastern city. We were at once surrounded by a host of 
dragomen, and pestered by their persistent attentions, 
xlntil we at last selected one, whose personal appearance 
was in his fietvour, and whose terms and promises were 
more reasonable than those of most of the men we saw. 
By the kind assistance of a European resident, a contract 
was made with him to accompany us during our Syrian 
tour; his duties were to begin on our la.nciing at JaflFa or 
Beyrout. The successful candidate was Elias Abbas, a 
Maronite of the Lebanon. 

I have no intention of adding to the already too 
numerous descriptions of Egypt and the Nile, but I 
cannot refrain from one hint to all visitors to Cairo. 
Visit the petrified forest, and make your donkey-boy bring 
you back by Djebel Mokattam, or you will lose one of the 
most wonderful views in the East. After riding for miles 
over the arid African desert, with a narrow horizon, and 
nothing to attract the attention save a distant train of 
camels or a troop of gazelles, the edge of an abrupt 

b2 



4 EGYPT AND PALESTINE. 

descent is reached, and the view of Cairo and the vallej 
of the Nile bursts upon the eyes with an almost magical 
suddenness. The immediate foreground is formed by 
the quarried heights of Djebel Mokattam, in the centre 
of the picture rise the taper minarets of the mosque 
of the citadel, in a valley on its right are the tombs 
of the Memlooks, a deserted town of the dead, and the 
vast modem city spreads itself out in the plain below. 
In the centre of the broad bluish-green ribbon of fertile 
land, dotted with clusters of pyramids, the Nile itself, 
can be traced to the commencement of the Delta, while 
beyond, on the west, the yellow sands of the desert 
mark the limits of its fertilising inundation* 

At Cairo we were fortunate in falling in with some 
pleasant Americans, who were making up a party to hire 
a steamboat for a trip up the river. They asked us to 
join them, and although the Nile had not formed part, 
of our programme, the opportunity was too good to be 
lost, and we gladly accepted the offer. 

Although our company consisted of eleven Americans 
and only four Englishmen, the majority were not at all 
disposed to abuse their power, and we gave an example of 
unbroken harmony to the other steamers going up the 
river at the same time. Indeed, I believe that on this 
account, as well as from our being so fortunate as to carry 
with us some pretty and lively Transatlantic cousins, we 
were an object of envy and heartburning to most of the 
boats we met. 

Time could not hang heavy on the hands of those who, 
when their admiration was no longer called forth by ^ the 
mysterious type of beauty' peculiar to the broken-nosed 
sisterhood of Sphinxes, could turn their eyes on the 
fresher charms which the Far West had sent to compete 
with the stony loveliness of the East. On February 14th 



SAIL FOR SYKIA. 6 

we bade farewell to the little steamer in which we had 
spent three very pleasant weeks on the NOe, and returned 
to our old quarters in Shepherd's Hotel at Cairo. 

We witnessed the departure of the Haj caravan for 
Mecca, admired the holy camel, draped with cloth of gold, 
carrying the annually renewed covering of Mahomet's 
tomb, and laughed heartily at a sheikh of extraordinary 
sanctity and obesity, who, stripped to the waist and shining 
with oil, swayed himself backwards and forwards on his 
camel with the air of a tipsy Falstaff. ' A few hours later 
we bade adieu to Cairo and our Nile Mends, and on the 
next day embarked at Alexandria for Syria. 
• We had been asked to take out from England a long 
box, labelled * Delicate instnunents — ^with care,' for the 
use of Lieutenant Warren, the officer engaged in super- 
intending the excavations lately undertaken by the ' Pales- 
tine Exploration Committee.' On our leaving Alexandria 
the custom-house officer wanted to examuie the box, and 
it was only by loud protests and threats of official ven- 
geance that we saved the instruments from the risk of 
being spoiled by the Egyptians. This was the beginning 
of woes to these ' delicate instruments,' which became 
celebrated characters with lis during the next fortnight. 

We spent a day at Port Said, an utterly xminteresting 
town of third-class villa residences, and wide streets lined 
with* hastily-ruri-up stores, built upon a sandspit. It is 
probably destined to future importance as the Mediter- 
ranean port of the Suez Canal. We had not time to 
see much of the works how in progress there, but enjoyed 
a ramble on the beach, which is entirely formed of lovely 
little shells of the most delicate shapes and colours. We 
re-embarked on Tuesday the 17th, and in the evening the 
sea became very rough. At midnight half the passengers 
were pitched out of their berths by some terrible rolls ; 



6 EGYPT AND PALESTINE. 

then the cabin-benches got loose, and tombled about 
noisily. At 7 a.m. we were off Jaffa, but landing was 
out of the question; an hour later the cabin in which 
I was dressing was filled with a blaze of light, and the 
ship shook with a report as if she had fired a broadside. 
Our foremast had been struck by lightning, but, being 
provided with a conductor, the vessel escaped injury. All 
that day we ran on through a big tumbling sea, and 
anchored at night in the roadstead of Beyrout. 

On Wednesday morning we disembarked, and went to 
the *H6tel de Damas.' Our original plan, to land at 
Jaffa and go up direct to Jerusalem, had been thrown out 
by the storm, and new arrangements were necessary. 
Mr. Williams, one of our American friends, was in the 
same position, and now agreed to join us in our Syrian 
journey, so that we were a party of three. As attendants, 
besides the dragoman, Elias Abbas, we had a cook and 
a waiter, with the usual staff of muleteers. 

Elias's preparations took him several days, and it was 
not till Sunday that we succeeded in leaving Beyrout. 
Meantime we heard complaints from all sides of the extra- 
ordioary severity of the season; Damascus was virtually 
inaccessible, owing to the heavy snowstorms, which had 
blocked up the passes of the Lebanon. The rain fell almost 
incessantly, and the mock torrents ^vrhich poured down 
the streets of Beyrout augured ill for our chance of. pass- 
ing the formidable streams which intersect the road to 
Jerusalem. At last we set out. We made a long circuit 
through the hills to Deir-el-E[amr, to find a bridge over 
the Damur, the first and most formidable of the rivers we 
had to cross. Along the coast of Tyre and Sidon we 
journeyed on through rain and mud, imtil at Acre the tide 
of our mishaps reached its highest point. We had 
pitched our tent beneath a ruined villa a mile outside 



SYRIAN SLOUGHS AND STORMS 7 

the town ; about 9 P.M. the wind rose ; an honr later it 
was blowing a gale, and the ropes began to part ; however, 
by doubling our fastenings, and by dint of constant sallies, 
we kept a shelter over our heads all night. At 6 a.m. 
the outside roof of the tent was in rags, the wooden sup- 
ports of the sides mostly broken, and the wind generally 
master of the situation. I was too sleepy to stir out of 
bed, and lay in momentary expectation that we should 

friends, however, did not wish to try this new sensation, 
so we roused ourselves to action, and with much difficulty 
succeeded in lowering and fastening up the canvas ; then 
we took refuge, with the horses, in a ruinous cellar. 

Next morning, just outside Acre, the passage of a river, 
which entered the sea by two mouths, rendered necessary a 
double loading and unloading of the baggage. We crossed 
in boats, but our animals had to swim. I shall not easily 
forget the transit of the three donkeys. They were driven 
into the stream as far as whips would reach them, but 
just within their, depth, and beyond the reach of their 
persecutors' weapons, the trio unanimously halted* Never 
was the vis inertuB more strikingly exemplified. In vain 
their masters hurled on the patient beasts every form 
of Christian and Moslem imprecation. The donkeys ^ were 
not a penny the worse' ; they felt they had the best of 
the situation, and exhibited a stolid contempt for all the 
uproar of which they were the cause. At last one of 
the muleteers stripped, and, entering the water, launched 
the obstinate little brutes, one by one, by main force. 
Once committed to the deep, they swam bravely, and 
emerged on the farther bank dripping and shaking their 
long ears as if, after all, they were the heroes of the day. 
An hour's scamper over the sandy beach brought us to 
the mouth of 'that ancient river, the river Kishon.' It 



f EGYPT AND PALESTINE. 

was, of coiirse, flooded, and, considering the combination 
of difficulties caused by a gale, a sandstorm, helpless ferry- 
men, and ropes breaking every minute, it was a wondet* 
that we and our mules were not carried out to sea in a 
body. Altogether our baggage was twelve hours in 
getting over the nine miles of flat ground between Acre 
.and Caifa. 

The weather now changed, and continued fine for our 
ride down the travel-beaten track that leads through 
Nablous to the. capital of Palestine. Our only remain- 
ing difficulty was the mud, which made the Plain . of 
Esdraelon almost impassable : now one mule, now another, 
stuck in the treacherous quagmire, but the ' deUcate in- 
struments ' had been confided to an animal equal to his 
trust, which either kept its legs, or sank in the gentlest 
and most graceful manner. We reached Jerusalem on 
February 18th, having been twelve days on the road. 

We quartered ourselves in. the Damascus Hotel, which 
is fiiirly comfortable, and commands a fine view of the 
Mosque of Omar and Mount Olivet from the windows of 
the adUe^-manger. As soon as possible we enquired for 
Lieutenant Warren, hoping to deliver to him in person 
the case of ^ delicate instruments,' and to hear how their 
internal organisation had borne the joumej; but he had 
already left Jerusalem for the trip to the east side of the 
{Dead Sea, which ended so sadly in the death of one of his 
companions, of Jericho fever. 

The English Vice-Consul kindly accompanied me when 
I went to present a letter of introduction from M. Musurus 
(the Turkish Ambassador in London) to the local Pasha, 
who was most courteous, and promised to do anything 
in his power for us. Thus encouraged, we reflected 
.what boon we should ask. We .were all somewhat dis-r 
appointed with the unadventurous character of a ride 



JiN IDEA WORKED OUT. 9 

throagli Palestine, so little realising the common idea of 
Eastern travel, and were eager to seize the first favour- 
able opportunity to escape from the beaten track 
between Jerusalem and Damascus. When, therefore, the 
map was produced, and the directness of a route via 
Jerash, Bozrah,'and the 'Giant Cities' of Bashan was 
pointed out, mj proposal to take that course was ima- 
nimouslj adopted. We had read Mr. Tristram's most 
interesting description of Jerash, and we purchased, at 
Jerusalem, Mr. Porter's sensational account of the ruins of 
the. Eauran. We knew, therefore, something of the 
country we proposed to visit, and were aware that to pass 
from Jerusalem to Damascus by the east side of the Jordan, 
with all the impedimenta of a dragoman, was not a matter 
to be lightly imdertaken. Travellers who, like Mr. Tristram, 
have of late years visited Jerash and Amman, have 
almost invariably paid large sums of money as * backsheesh * 
to the Adwan and other Bedouin tribes of the Jordan 

 

valley ; while those who, like Mr. Porter and Mr. Cyril 
Graliam, have explored the wilds of Bashan have generally 
been Arabic scholars, and have travelled with little baggage. 
We could find no record of any traveller since Lord Lind- 
say, in 1887, who had gone through to Damascus by this 
route, although several had penetrated eastward from the 
Jordan valley as far as Bozrali. 

Our dragoman, greatly to his credit, at once entered 
into and heartily furthered our plans, although he warned 
us of a faxit we already knew, that an Arab escort was 
both an expensive and unsatisfietctory luxury. An alterna- 
tive, however, suggested itself. During the past year (1867) 
the Pasha of Damascus had made an expedition against 
the Trans-Jordanic Arabs, had thrashed them soundly, and 
taken prisoner one -of the Adwan Sheikhs, who was now in 
durance at Nablous. The Arab power was in consequence 



10 EGYPT AND PALESTINE. 

somewliat broken, and the re-establisliment of Turkisli 
garrisons at Es-Salt and Bozrah kept the surronnding dis- 
tricts in more than the nominal subjection they had 
previously shown to the central authority. 

Elias recommended us to have, if possible, nothing to 
do with the Arabs, but to ask from the Pasha a sufficient 
escort of Turkish cavalry to insure our safety. Just at 
the right moment he chanced to meet in the bazaars an 
old acquaintance, a sergeant of Bashi-Bazouks, Tniasim by 
name. The pair discussed our plans, and Tniasim en- 
treated to be allowed to take us in charge. One morning 
our future guardian was brought, by appointment, to be 
introduced to us, and first impressions were most favour- 
able. To describe his personal appearance would require 
the language of an Eastern story-teller ; I can only cata- 
logue his beauties like a slave-merchant. ETia.8im stood at 
least six feet two inches in height ; he had fine features, 
and was of a fair but sunburnt complexion, with curly 
brown hair, and long tawny moustaches, which^curled be- 
hind his ears. We fell in love with him at first sight, 
and were perfectly ready to promise that we would ask 
the Pasha to gprant him leave to accompany us. 

An opportunity of making the request offered before 
we expected it. We were sitting in the scdle-cb-mayigery 
discussing our plans, when we suddenly observed a com- 
motion in the street below. In another minute the master 
of the house dashed upstairs, in breathless haste, and an- 
nounced ' His Excellency the Pasha,' who had come, 
attended by fifteen soldiers and six attendants, to return 
our visit. Unprepared for such an honour, we received 
him as well as we could, but it was not easy to get the 
coffee and sweets proper for the occasion on the spur of 
the moment. Nothing could exceed the Pasha's polite- 
ness; he accorded us any guard we might choose, and 



*VIVE LA MER MORTEI' 11 

promised us letters to the commanders of the garrisons 
at Es-Salt and Bozrah. 

We now definitely concluded our arrangements, and 
secured the escort of Khasim, who was to bring with him 
a second soldier : these two formed our guard to Es-Salt, 
where the officer in command would, we were told, give us 
farther protection, if necessary. 

Eor the last day or two of our stay at Jerusalem, we 
were the objects of much misplaced pity and well-meant 
advice. Certain imdeniable facts were thrust down 
our throats at every public meaL We were reminded 
that Lieutenant Warren was at that moment paying the 
Adwan for permission to travel on the east side of the 
Jordan, we were treated to all the details of the bargain 
then being made, at the rival hotel, between Goblan, the 
young Sheikh of the Adwans, and two American gentle- 
men, who were anxious to visit Jerash, and all the 
threats which the former had uttered, on being told that 
some Englishmen meant to pass through his territory 
without paying blackmail, were repeated for our benefit. • 

Despite all this, we managed to keep up our spirits, and 
even to find a companion who was ready to share our 
luck, in Mr. Cross, an old Oxford acquaintance, who made 
a most welcome addition to our party. On Thursday, 
March 12th, we defiled, an imposing train, through the 
narrow streets of Jerusalem — Cross, Williams, and the 
dragoman armed with double-barrelled guns. Tucker and I 
with revolvers, and the two Turkish irregulars bristling 
with a whole armoury of guns, swords, and pistols. We 
rode over to Bethlehem, to my mind one of the most 
satisfactory of the * holy places ' of Palestine, despite the 
crowds of pert children, who, fearless of another Herod, 
demand * backsheesh ' with Egyptian pertinacity. As we 
rode on over the bare hills to the Convent of Marsaba, the 



12 ' EGTPT AND PALESTINE* 

beanty of the first view of the Dead Sea so roused 
Fraii9ois' enthusiasm that, with somewhat Irish bril- 
liancy, he exclaimed, * Vive la M^r Horte ! ' We slept in 
the convent. 

Friday was a gloriously fine but very hot day. No 
one can fail to be struck by the views of the bright 
blue lake surrounded by red and yellow rocks, and 
the wastes of sand, every now and then relieved by strips 
of verdure; Some of the party, of course, bathed in the 
Dead Sea, and we lunched at the ford of the Jordan, 
which had as little the appearance of a ford as possible. 
A turbid stream three feet deep was pouring round the 
tree, under the shelter of which travellers generally make 
their midday halt. A hot ride, across a plain covered 
with brushwood, brought us to the modem Jericho. In 
the course of the evening a troop of villagers, men and 
women, came to dance before us; the women exhibited 
first, then the men, but the performances were very 
similar — a perpetual swinging of the body and clapping 
of hands, accompanied by a monotonous chaunt of 'Iwa 
backsheesh Howadji ! ' The people of Jericho bear a very 
ill name, and we took the precaution to station Fran9ois 
at the door of the second tent, to prevent robbery. While 
he was keeping a look-out in front, some rascal, peering 
through the opening at the back, where the sides of the 
tent join, saw Cross's watch lying on the' bed close by, 
put his arm through, and abstracted it. Fortunately, the 
Sheikh of Jericho, Mahmoud, had been ordered by the 
Pasha to send two of his men with us frx>m Jerusalem, as 
a pledge' of his protection during our journey through his 
territory. The Sheikh's brothers were' now in the village ; 
their responsibility, therefore, was clearly fixed, and we 
sent off news of our loss next morning to the English 
Cionsul and the Pasha, by the dragoman of a Scotch 



CAPTURE OF A STANDARD-BEARER. IS 

party who were encamped near us on their way back to 
Jerusalem. In justice to the Turkish authorities, I must 
narrate the result of our letters. So effectual a pressure 
was put on the Sheikh, that he was compelled to disgorge 
his prey, and on our arrival (five weeks later) at Beyrout, 
we found the watch awaiting us. 

Our ride on Saturday led us off the beaten track of 
eastern travel. We passed the mounds supposed to mark 
the site of Herodian Jericho, which a body of Lieutenant 
Wairen's workpeople were employed in excavating. Their 
labour, as we heard afterwards, was attended with but 
trifling results. 

Our track skirted the &ice of the hills on the west side of 
the Jordan valley — ^now crossing low spurs, now passing 
through flowery dells. After traversing a wide plain we 
approached the base of a bold hill, which in form reminded 
me of Snowdon; its sides were clothed in verdure of the 
most vivid green. By the roadside were seated a group of 
twenty Bedouins armed only with clubs. To our intense 
surprise, Khasim dashed in amongst them, and pounced 
on one ragged old fellow. The man selected endeavoured, 
in vain, to kiss his captor's hand and soften his heart ; in a 
minute his 'kefiyeh ' was plucked off his head, and his hands 
were tied with it behind his back. TThaBiTn then galloped 
off in pursuit of the rest of the party, who had scattered in 
all directions ; he soon iietumed with a second prisoner, 
and we rode on, driving the two men before us. 

We were naturally anxious for an explanation of the 
scene, but it was some time before we could come to a 
clear understanding of the facts of the case. We gathered 
at last the following particulars. In the war last year the 
Turks took away their arms firom some of the Adwan, and 
strictly forbad them to appear on the west bank of the 
Jordan. The party we had come upon were thus on for- 



i 



14 EGYPT AND PALESTINE. 

bidden ground, and were doubtless on the look-out for some 
defenceless donkey-rider going down to Jericho, whom 
they might rob. The old gentleman first seized had been 
the standard-bearer of the tribe during the war, and was 
a well-known reprobate. After driving our prisoners for 
several miles, as a warning to them not to be again found 
on the road, we, reflecting that the men might be an 
awkward encumbrance on the other side of the river, inter- 
ceded for them with their captor; the Bedouins were 
liberated, and, having sufficiently demonstrated their grati- 
tude to us by repeatedly kissing our boots, made off in the 
direction taken by their companions. 

The ford of the Jordan we were now approaching is on 
the direct road fix>m Nablous to Es-Salt, and is guarded by 
a few Turkish soldiers, who keep in repair the old ferry- 
boat, which has been stationed here to maintain the com- 
munication of the outlying garrison at Es-Salt with the 
rest of Palestine. The river flows in a deep trench, a 
quarter to half a mile broad, and at least 200 feet below 
the level of the rest of the valley. At the foot of the sharp 
descent, on a knoll overlooking the turbid stream, we 
found the tents of the American gentlemen, who, like our- 
selves, had made up their minds to visit the east side of the 
Jordan. They had contracted with young Goblan to pro- 
vide an Arab escort for thirty napoleons — a moderate sum 
compared with those paid to his father by former travellers. 
The old Sheikh of the Adwan had, however, failed to 
appear, according to the contract, to ratify his son's 
bargain, and our acquaintances naturally hesitated to cross 
the river vrithout him. 

It was still early in the afternoon, and we ordered our 
^^ggtige forward to cross at once, while we spent a 
pleasant half-hour in the tent of the Americans. They were 
most luxuriously provided for by their dragoman, a young 



TH£ JORDAN FERRY. 15 

and inexperienced man, who seemed somewhat terrified at 
the prospect of carrying his elaborate hatterie de cuisine 
among the Arabs. 

The transit was, as usual, a long business, and was made 
really troublesome by the swollen state of the river, which 
had lately overflowed its banks and cut off the ferry-boat 
from the shore by creating between them several yards of 
mire and water, across which we and all our luggage were 
carried on men's backs. . Fran9ois was a heavy load ; his 
porter was not up to the work, and the unlucky burden was 
deposited in the thickest of the mire. He however, as 
usual, was not at a loss for consolation, and prided 
himself on being the only one of the paxty who had 
fulfilled the duties of a pilgrim by immersion in the 
Jordan. 



16 BASHAN. 



CHAPTER n. 

BASHAN. 

The English Soldier — ^A Mountain Hide— Es-Salt — ^Lost on the Hills — 
The Jabbok — Camp of the Beni-Hassan — Suppressing a Sheikh — ^The 
Oak ForesU of Gilead— The Tablelands— An Uxorious Sheikh— Derat— 
The Boman Boad — ^The Bobbers repulsed — Ghusam — Bozrah— Honoured 
Guests — ^A Bamble in the Buins — Kureiyeh — ^Patriarchal Hospitality — 
Hebran — ^A Stone House — ^Eufr — ^Asoentof M-Kleib— Suweideh — ^Kunawat 
— ^Noble Buins — Shuhba — Hades on Earth — ^Visiting Eztraordinazy — 
The Lejah— A Lara Flood — Ahireh — Khubab — A Bush to Arms — The 
Stolen Mule — ^A Village in Pursuit — Mismiyeh — The * Giant Cities ' are 
Boman Towns — ^The Wrath of the Beys — ^A Friendly Sulut — ^Eesweh — 
Entrance to Damascus. 

OuE tents were pitched, close to the river, in a pictur- 
esque situation on the eastern bank. In this our first 
camp beyond Jordan, we felt, if not all the emotions so 
eloquently described by the author of * Eothen * on finding 
himself in the Arab territory, at least a pleasant sensa- 
tion of having escaped from the everyday track of travel, 
and of being on the edge of a fresh and unspoilt country. 

During the evening our dragoman was exposed to the 
tender solicitations of Goblan junior (or * young Gobbler,' 
as Williams preferred to call him), who had, when at Jeru- 
salem, declared that we might cross the Jordan, but that 
our coming back again was a different matter. He was 
now perfectly civil, but represented that we were robbing 
his tribe of their prescriptive dues, by refusing the escort 
they would be happy to furnish, and that any harm which 
might happen to us would be on our own heads. Our 



AN ENGUSH SOLDIER. 17 

minds, however, were already made up, and we turned a 
deaf ear to his arguments. 

March loth. — Early in the morning Sergeant Birtles, 
a bronzed English soldier, the aide-de-camp of Lieutenant 
Warren, rode into our camp, having travelled all night from 
Nimrin, where the exploring party was detained by the 
illness of one of their number. Sergeant Birtles had 
ridden twice within the week to Jerusalem and back, to 
procure a nurse and necessaries for the invalid. He was 
entirely alone, and seemed thoroughly to despise the 
dangers of the road, as he had proved on the first occa- 
sion, by returning with a sister of mercy under his sole 
charge. 

The Sergeant had been up to Jerash with Lieutenant 
Warren some months previously, and gave us ficiendly 
warning against the Sheikh of Suf and his men, who 
while with them had begun to show off their pranks, and 
had required to be checked by a display of revolvers. 
These were the same villains who plundered Mr. Tristram 
in 1864. After half-an-hour's talk with us. Sergeant Birtles 
crossed the river, hoping by hard riding to reach Jeru- 
salem the same night. We also mounted our horses, but 
our train was scarcely in motion, when two of the mules 
stuck in a swamp, and had to be unloaded. A well- 
marked track led j6^m the ferry to the foot of the bluffs 
which bound the river-bed. Tucker and Williams galloped 
on ahead, a proceeding which called forth a remonstrance 
from Khasim, who insisted that, on this side of the river, 
it was unsafe to divide the party. A short climb through 
a curious, apparently waterwom, ravine brought us on to the 
plain, where we met two picturesque wayfarers — a hand- 
somely-dressed Arab with a servant in attendance, both 
bearing long spears. They returned our greeting with 
a contemptuous scowL A. little further on^ we received 





18 BASHAN, 

an enthusiastic * bonjour ' from a Turkish lientenant on 
leave from Es-Salt, who was not a little pleased to display 
his slight knowledge of French. 

Our track turned southward, along the opposite side of 
the valley to that which we had ridden up the previous 
day. The ground was bright with scarlet anemones, 
which tinted the hillsides a mile off; other wild flowers 
grew in almost equal profusion, although they did not 
produce such a striking distant effect. 

At last we turned sharply to the left, and began to 
climb, by steep zigzags, the bare hillside. At every 
comer of the road we extended our horizon ; the higher 
ranges of Central Palestine rose behind the hills which 
dominate the Jordan valley^ and the Dead Sea came into 
view in the south. After a considerable ascent the path 
entered a glen, and wound round the hillsides at some 
height above the dry torrent-bed. During our midday 
halt our sportsmen went off in pursuit of partridges, but 
came back empty-handed. On reaching the head of the 
glen, we faced more zigzags, up which the laden mules 
climbed laboriously ; they led us to a high brow, pro- 
jecting from the main range, which commanded the 
finest view we had seen in Syria. We overlooked the 
whole Jordan valley from the Lake of Tiberias to the 
Dead Sea. A comer only of the former was visible, but 
we could see the whole basin of the great salt lake, and 
trace out the long peninsula of El-Lisan, with the far- 
off southern shore beyond it, through the heat-haze which 
always rests on these strange waters. 

The hillsides became more broken, and the dwarf oaks 
which clothed them added to their picturesque features. 
Circling round to the south of the highest portion of 
Jebel-Jilad, we crossed two of its spurs with scarcely 
any fell in |ihe road between them, Erom the second 



ES-SALT. 19 

ridge a short but sharp descent led to Es-Salt^ the ancient 
Bamoth-Gilead. The town is built in a nook among the 
hills, on steep sun-baked slopes, uglily picturesque, if 
one may use such a phrase. We found a pleasant camp- 
ing-ground on a grassy ledge of the slope opposite the 
town. 

Our starting-point in the morning had been more than 
1,000 feet below the sea-level, and the ridge we had 
crossed is 8,676 feet above it, so that we had made an 
actual ascent of 4,676 feet from the Jordan valley to the 
pass. 

After a short rest we walked over to the opposite hill, to 
call on the Bimbashi (Colonel) in command of the garri- 
son, who received us in his tent with great politeness. 
He said there was no difficulty in our going to Bozrah ; 
that if we liked we might have a company of horse, 
but that he should be quite content to send his own 
wives under the escort of the two men we had with us. 
He pressed us to stay at Es-Salt a day or two, which we 
declined, and withdrew after a somewhat lengthy inter- 
view. All our conversation had to pass through two 
interpreters, being translated by Elias into Arabic, and 
into Turkish by a servant of the commander. The latter 
process was doubtless unnecessary ; but the Bimbashi's 
dignity would have suffered, in Oriental estimation, had 
he not had his own interpreter. 

On our return we found the camp in commotion* Cross 
was the only member of the party who strove to keep up 
an irreproachable exterior in the wilderness ; he generally 
rode in a somewhat sporting costume, crowned by a white 
turban, the construction of which cost Elias much time 
and anxiety every morning. On the present occasion 
Cross had entrusted his greatcoat to Elias in the morning ; 
the latter ignorant or careless of the respect due to a 

c 2 



20 . BASHAN. 

garment better fitted for Pall Mall than Palestine, had 
stufifed it into a saddlebag, whence it emerged, naturally 
sadly creased. We found its o>vner severely reprimanding 
the carelessness of the dragoman ; but the effect of the 
rebuke was rather lessened by the untimely mirth excited 
in Williams by the forlorn appearance of the once shapely 
^oat. 

In the course of the evening the Bimbashi sent us a 
3heep. 

March 16th. — ^We broke up camp early, and rode down 
the glen under the town, through a ruinous street, passing 
tombs and some broken columns below the modem 
JLouses ; the bottom of the glen was well irrigated and 
cultivated. We soon turned up a lateral ravine, opening 
on the left, and followed it nearly to its head, through 
scenery which was quite savage for this part of Syria. Big 
boulders lay about, and a stream foamed and brawled 
amongst them. A steep climb led us up to a broad grassy 
tableland, forming the southern watershed of the Jabbok 
valley. We came occasionally on circular ponds, exactly 
like those to be seen on the South Downs, of which the 
scenery constantly reminded us. The road was continu- 
ally up or down-hill, till we left on the right the track to 
Amman, and sweeping round a brow to the north, gradu- 
ally descended into abroad oval basin, environed by hills — 
the greater part sown with com, although no village or 
inhabitants were visible. The drainage of this curious 
hollow, which is called by the natives El-Bukaah, or the 
Little Plain, finds its way through a narrow opening to 
the Jabbok. 

Having passed a ruin, apparently that of a small build- 
ing, surrounded by a courtyard, we traversed the whole 
length of the basin (about eight miles), and mounted the 
ridge dividing it from the Jabbok valley. The country 



LOST ON THE HILLS. 21 

now became more wooded, the principal tree being the 
dwarf evergreen oak. We sat down to Innch, on a spot 
commanding a lovely view northwards, over a broken and 
richly-wooded landscape, in the centre of which, in an 
upland plain, on the i^irther side of the Jabbok valley, 
we could distinguish the golden-coloured columns of the 
great temple at Jerash. In the foreground were some 
picturesque peasants, natives of Es-Salt, engaged in 
ploughing the ground with the most primitive of agri-* 
cultural instruments* We rode on in a north-easterly 
direction, across an undulating country ; from the position 
of the Jabbok valley, I fancied we must be going too far 
east; Elias, however, turned a deaf ear to my remon-' 
strances, and went off in fatile pursuit of some partridges. 
The baggage Inuled lingered, and for some time our 
cavalcade was separated into three detachments, each of 
which had, more or less, lost its way« A good deal of time, 
and much temper, was expended before we rejoined our 
scattered forces, but luckily no foes were at hand to profit 
by such bad generalship. The glen through which the 
Jabbok flows is narrow, steep-sided, and not accessible at 
all points for laden beasts^ As we descended the slopes, 
we passed many prostrate columns and blocks of marble, 
the relics of some town unknown to fame. 

Before making the final descent to the stream, Elias and 
I trotted off to reconnoitre the country, and look for a 
good camping-ground« The day was already £Eir spent, 
and we were not best pleased to discover that the grassy 
plain we had previously fiixed upon as our halting-place, at 
the junction with the Jabbok of a northern affluent, was 
occupied by an Arab encampment. We determined, 
notwithstanding^ to put a bold face on the situation, 
and adhere to our original plan* We were too near to 
^scape the notice of the Arabs, and the best course was 



22 BASH AN. 

to show that we were not afraid of them. We crossed the 
Jabbok, a clear trout-stream hidden in a dense thicket of 
oleanders, and rode down its right bank half a mile to the 
plain. Halting on its verge, we began to unload our 
mules, while Khasim went oflF on an embassy to the 
Sheikh's tent, conspicuous amongst the rest by its size. 
The fear of European weapons, and the unknown force of 
government at our back, joined to the Oriental dislike to 
attax3k strangers who have assumed the character of 
guests, overcame even the covetousness of a needy horde 
of Bedouins, and a deputation soon returned Khasim's 
visit, bringing as presents some milk and a lamb. For 
the latter it was afterwards suggested payment would be 
acceptable. 

Our hosts turned out to be of the Beni-Hassan tribe — 
one formerly of great power, but now down in the world. 
Their encampment consisted of thirty-five long black 
tents, each holding about ten men, besides women and 
children. It was already evening, and the flocks were 
being gathered in; tall camels strolled listlessly about, 
cows placidly awaited their milking-time, sheep and goats 
hustled one another down the slopes, wiry little horses 
grazed, or were picketed, near the tents, and an odd 
donkey or two brayed a fussy welcome to his brothers in 
our train, who were not slow to return the greeting. 

While our dinner was preparing, we were surrounded by 
the most iIl-&voured crowd I ever saw. The viUanous 
expression of coxmtenance common to almost all the men 
reminded me of the Sepoy faces, as they were drawn in 
the illustrated papers, at the time of the Indian Mutiny. 
The Bedouin dress, the long burnous, and kefiyeh or scarf 
round the head, though picturesque, did not lessen the 
savage aspect of the assemblage. All our small belong- 
ings were objects of perpetual wonder — ^in particular. 



CAMP OP THE BEXI-HASSAX. -23 

WiUiams's carved pipe and Cross's kid gloves. Never 
before had the Beni-Hassan seen a man with such a 
peculiar skin, or one so readily put on and off. The 
revolvers, which appeared to go off for ever, came in for 
their due share of admiration and awe. We had some 
difficulty in keeping the tents dear, but it was necessary 
to draw a line somewhere, and we sternly refosed admission 
to any but the two chiefs. The sheep was cooked entire, 
and our muleteers, with a select circle of Beni-Hassan^ 
kept up the feast round the camp-fire till a late hour. 

March 17th. — ^The night passed peaceably. At break- 
fast a stork was brought in which Williams had wounded 
by a long shot the night before. The poor bird's wing 
was broken, and he hopped about, pursued by the Arab 
urchins, in a way that was both ludicrous and painful. 
Elias had been sharply reprimanded for his wanderings 
on the previous day, and warned that this kind of thing 
must not be repeated; he now came with pride to tell 
us that he had arranged with one of the Beni-Hassan to 
conduct us to Jerash. He took great credit for his choice, 
having, as he said, secured the greatest robber in the 
tribe. There was wisdom in this odd recommendation, 
as the man who had stolen most sheep was, by implica- 
tion, he who best knew the roads and bye-paths to the 
neighbouring villages. 

Our guide led us up a dell separated by an intervening 
ridge from the stream which entered the Jabbok close to 
our encampment. The country was green and well- 
wooded, and the soil was free from the detestable crop 
of stones which Palestine everywhere produces. As we 
climbed out of the deep valley, the ridges of Jebel Ajlun 
appeared behind the round top of a lower hill, Neby Hut, 
crowned by the white tomb of some Moslem saint. An- 
other deep and rugged hollow, the edge of which we 



24 BASHAN. 

skirted, lay beneath us on tlie left. The landscape re- 
minded me much of some of the finer parts of South 
Wales, but its beauty was marred by the low clouds which 
scudded across the sky, and promised us a wetting before 
long. Near a beautiful fountain, encased in broken 
masonry, and ornamented with rich evergreen shrubs, the 
source of the before-mentioned stream, we passed some 
ruins too dilapidated for our unskilled eyes to make any-- 
thing out of them. They seemed, for the most part, to be 
the remains of small houses built against the rocks, with 
caves at their back, which had served for cellars or store- 
houses. We rode up a succession of picturesque glades^ 
opening one out of another, till we reached a ridge 
north-east of the tomb-crowned hill, and suddenly saw 
beneath us, close at hand, the columns of Jerash. 
. The scene was very striking : before us were the remains 
of a noble Homan town^ its ruined walls four miled in 
circumference, not only traceable^ but in places almost 
intact ; its public buildings still so perfect that, looking 
round, one could say, * Here is the theatre, there the circus^ 
there the baths, there the colonnaded High Street, there 
the later Christian cathedral * ; for it was only after three 
hundred years of Christian civilisation that the Arabs 
laid waste the city. The fertile land around is still as 
capable as ever of cultivation; but. a long period of in-t 
security to life and property has be^n the ruin of Syria, 
and now not a single inhabitant is to be foimd within the: 
circuit of the ancient Gerasa. 

We rode through the walls near their south-eastern 
angle, and, passing the massive ruin of a bath, crossed the 
oleander-fringed brook which runs through the centre of 
the deserted city. A very convenient site was selected for 
our camp, in the vaulted chamber of a second bath, where 
the tents were sheltered from the thick drizzle which had 



JERASH. 25 

begun to fall. After an early lunch we set out to explore 
the ruins, which are fully described by Mr, Tristram, and 
in Murray's ^ Handbook to Syria.' We went first to the 
magnificent Temple of the Sun, the remaining columns of 
which, standing on elevated ground facing the east, are 
conspicuous in all distant views of the city. Near them, 
in the side of the hill, is the largest theatare. Beturning 
to the great street, we stopped to admire the exquisite 
carving of a richly-decorated gateway, and then proceeded 
to the ' Forum,' an oval space surrounded with columns* 
On the brow above it, near the southern gate of the city, 
stand another temple and theatre. The latter is wonder- 
fully little injured by time ; the stage is ahnost perfect, 
and very tastefully decorated. When will some photo-* 
grapher carry his camera across the Jordan, and reap 
the rich^ and as yet almost untouched, field which 
awaits him amidst the ruins of Amm&n, Jerash, and 
the Hauran? 

Outside the town, on the top of the ascent from the 
Jabbok vaUey, stands a fine though florid triumphal arch, 
between which and the city is a circus. We went down 
to the banks of the brook in search of game, and then, 
retracing our steps, found a pretiy waterfall, and the 
remains of an ancient mill. Having re-entered the town, 
we crossed to. the eastern quarter by a fine bridge of three 
arches, and explored its comparatively imimportant ruins. 

In the course of the evening we had a visitor. We 
were engaged in a rubber of whist, when Elias came in 
and announced that the Sheikh of a neighbouring village 
requested the honour of an interview. We enquired his 
name, and simultaneously burst out laughing when told it 
was the Sheikh of Suf, of whose iniquities we had been 
reading Mr. Tristram's account not ten minutes before. 
We declined to see him, but agreed to look over his testis 



•i6 BASHAX. 

monials. They extend over thirty years, and are probably 
unique. One Englishman writes thus : — * On no account 
have anything to do with the bearer of this ; he is a 
thorough villain and awful liar.* The other writers are 
more guarded in their language, but they all give, in effect, 
the same advice. After amusing ourselves by a thorough 
inspection of the documents, we returned them with a 
message, ' that the Sheikh of Suf 's character was already 
too well known among Englishmen to require to be sup- 
ported by testimonials ; that for ourselves we were travel- 
ling under the protection of the Government, as he could 
see by our being accompanied by a Bashi-Bazouk ; and 
that if he had a commission from the Pasha to escort us, 
it was well — otherwise we must decline his services.' On 
the receipt of this message the Sheikh grew angry and 
violent, and attempted to force an entrance through the 
archway of the baths to our tent. This was blocked, except 
in one place, by stones, and Eliasim, who had stationed 
himself in the gap, put a stop to the Sheikh's proceedings 
by seizing him by the beard, and waggUng his head with 
one hand while he boxed his ears with the other. After 
this, Yusuf and his followers rode off, not unnaturally in 
a huff; while Elias shouted [after him, that as he had 
chosen to come over, we should hold him personally re- 
sponsible if anything was stolen in the night. 

To avoid any such misfortune, the mules and horses 
were picketed in a ruined chamber close by. We could 
not help speculating on the chance of old Yusuf seeking 
revenge, and congratulated ourselves on the strength of 
our position, which was protected on all sides by broken 
masses of wall. The night passed quietly, except for an 
alarm caused by my jumping out of bed with the idea that I 
had been hit over the head. When a light was procured, 
and it was discovered that one of the wooden poles, used 



JEBEL KAFKAFKA. 27 

to stiffen the sides of the tent, had suddenly flapped in- 
wards and fallen across mj face, I was roundly abused by 
my companions for so needlessly disturbing their slumbers. 

March 18^A. — To our great delight the morning was 
fine, for we dreaded a repetition of the weather from 
which we had suffered on first landing at Beyrout. We 
had wished to strike across as directly as possible from 
Jerash to Bozrah, passing through XTm-el-Jemal, where 
there axe extensive ruine, which were visited bj Mr. Cyril 
Graham. Our Beni-Hassan guide, however, seemed un- 
acquainted with this road, and threw obstacles in the 
way of its adoption, declaring it to be * desert,' and 
infested at the present moment by Beni-Sakhr. We 
a^eed, finally, to take a more northerly but somewhat 
circuitous route, by Er-Remtheh and Derat. 
. We were on the point of starting, when four horsemen 
from Suf rode up; the Sheikh was not amongst them. 
The newcomers told Elias they were going to act as our 
escort; he, by our instructions, replied, that if they came 
with us at all, they would come as far as Damascus, and 
there be handed over to the tender mercies of the Pasha. 
This prospect was too much for them, and they soon rode 
off, to be seen no more. We had been careful to leave 
the men of Suf to suppose that we should follow the route 
taken by Mr. Tristram to the Lake of Tiberias ; and if the 
Sheikh and his friends were prepared to do ns any 
mischief, they probably lay in wait on that road. We set 
out in the opposite direction, our course being at first 
nearly due east. From the slopes behind Jerash we had 
a most beautiful view of its columns. We noticed the 
ruins of a small temple situated a mile higher up the 
valley, and passed several fine sarcophagi, lying over- 
turned and empty amongst the trees. 

For some distance we rode through open glades, whera. 



28 BASHAN4 • 

the Komart road was constantly visible, running parallel 
to the more erratic tracks of modem travellers. When 
we began to ascend the side of Jebel Kafkafka, the 
scenery became most picturesque ; grey crags jutted out 
from the hillside, the forest trees grew larger, and the 
foliage, although evergreen oaks and firs predominated, 
was more varied- The narrow glade by which we climbed 
the hill wound every moment between rocks, and 
branches of trees overarched and shut in the vista. 
Our long cavalcade lent life to the scene, which was a 
complete realisation of one of Salvator Bosa's pictures. It 
was impossible not to remark what an admirable place 
this would have.been for an ambuscade, if the men of Suf 
had had the pluck to waylay us ; but beyond a solitary shep- 
herd and his flock^ we saw no living creatures except eagles 
and partridges. The sportsmen of the party knocked 
over several of the latter. In the wood the canteen m\ile, 
who was subject to fits of obstinacy, charged a tree and 
upset hi^ load* Five minutes afber this incident we 
reached the top of the pass, the height of which must be 
considerable, as we overlooked Jebel Osha and the other 
hills round Es-Salt» The view in this direction was fine ; 
the depths of the Jordan valley were hidden, but we 
easily recognised the Mils round Nablous and Jerusalem. 
In the east^ lower wooded ranges shut out aU distant 
view. Grass rides, at right-angles to the track we were 
following,, branched off constantly through openings in 
the forest ; following one of them, we descended intq the 
Wady Warran, a long and tortuous valley, the sides of 
which are clothed with park-like timber, in some in- 
stances of very large size. The landscape was entirely 
unlike ordinary Syrian scenery, and we could constantly 
have fancied ourselves in the wilder part of an English 
park, but for the absence of running water in the bed . of 



THE HA J ROAD. 29 

the winter torrent, which, even at this early season, con- 
tained only occasional pools. As we advanced, the hills 
become lower and less wooded, until we at last emerged 
upon a vast undulating plain, the nearer part green grass- 
land, the more distant, rich brown loam, recently ploughed. 
The afternoon was hot and hazy, and from time to time 
fine mirage effects were produced by the state of the 
atmosphere. Er-Bemtheh, the only village in sight, was 
a long way off, but was conspicuous from its position on 
a spur projecting from the low range of Ez-Zumleh which 
bounded the north-eastern horizon* On entering the plain, 
our Beni-Hassan guide requested to be allowed to return ; 
he had committed some robberies lately in the district we 
'were entering, and was afruid to be caught there. We 
gave him eleven francs for his services, and let him go. 

Soon after he lefb, a long train of camels met us, laden 
with black basalt millstones, which seem to be the princi- 
pal manufacture and, except corn, the only export of the 
Hauran. 

Afber leaving behind Jebel Kafkafka, the country was 
-quite bare. With our goal ftill in sight, we pushed on ra- 
pidly, and brought a long but fast day's ride to a conclusion 
in capital time. Mr. Porter says that the dwellers on the 
Haj road (the route of the yearly caiuvan fr^m Damascus 
to Mecca) are remarkable for their fanatical hostility to 
Europeans ; we felt, therefore, some doubts as to what the 
character of our reception would be. A meadow north 
of the village, and near the pond which supplied the only 
water in the neighbourhood,* was selected for our camping 
ground. After our tents were pitched, two of the party, 
finding that the people appeared a remarkably mild and 

* Eastern trayellers, who object to swallowing as much mud and insect life 
as water, should provide themselres before leaving England with portable 
filters. 



30 BASHAN, 

inoffensive thoagh inquisitive race, walked off to explore 
the village. It was of the nsnal ruinous character, and 
we found nothing of any interest, except the base of a 
black basalt column. At a distance of about five miles to 
the north-west, the ruins of a large village were con- 
spicuous on the plain. In the evening the Sheikh of the 
place, a good-looking merry old gentleman, visited us in 
our tent. Strange to say, he reftised a pipe, on the ground 
that his three wives would not let him smoke. With an 
absence of the usual Oriental reserve, he entered into some 
amusing details of his domestic arrangements. His wive^ 
had each of them, he said, cost him 35,000 piastres ; his 
last acquisition was the dearest of the three, and he wais 
contemplating adding a fourth (the full number allowed to 
orthodox Mussulmen), still dearer. All these ^ dear things,' 
together, appeared to be somewhat too much for the old 
gentleman, and he seemed relieved to escape from home 
and chat with us, even though his fears of being accused 
of smelling of smoke prevented the enjoyment of a pipe. 

We asked when he had last seen European travellers. 
The Sheikh replied that, three years before, a party, in- 
cluding some ladies, had passed, on the way to Damascus, 
by the direct road through Mezarib, the residence of the 
Turkish governor of the Uauran. 

During the night our second Turkish soldier, who had 
been left behind at Es-Salt, and had ridden on to ATnTna.Ti 
instead of Jerash, came into camp. He was horribly afraid 
of our anger at his involuntary desertion, and was in an 
abject state of contrition. 

Ma/rch 19th. — Before we started, a caravan of 400 camels, 
laden with com for shipment at Acre, passed by. It 
struck us as curious, that a land described, by the latest 
authority, as ^utterly desolate,' should be able not only 
to feed its inhabitants, but to send away such quantities 



DERAT. 31 

of grain. What we saw later in the day explained the 
mystery, and proved how far preconceived ideas may lead 
a writer into misrepresentation. It was interesting to 
watch the long train defiling endlessly over the dewy plain. 
The camels were attached, head to tail, in batches of about 
twenty each, headed by their drivers ; and lively little 
donkeys, bestridden by boys, trotted alongside the great 
solemn beasts. As the sun rose the mists rolled away, and 
before we started, the long snowy ridge of Hermon stood 
out bright and clear against the blue sky. It looked 
very imposing, though at a distance of at least fifby 
miles*. 

Our track led in a north-easterly direction, over a chain 
of low hills, where we encountered another t^^ of laden 
camels, and in a short two hours from Er-Bemtheh, we 
approached Derat, a large inhabited village of black basalt 
houses, each surrounded by a high wall — ^the lower six feet 
of solid masonry, the upper part built of loosely-piled 
stones. Dead animals — dogs, horses, and mules — lay about 
the streets in every stage of decomposition, offending equally 
the senses of sight and smell. 

The principal ruin at Derat is that of a Christian church. 
A large quadrangle, surrounded by cloisters, leads into a 
low-roofed edifice supported by numerous columns. Archi- 
tecture there is none, but the building is quite a museum 
of capitals stolen from older edifices. Derat is a good 
specimen of the modem architecture of the Hauran. The 
houses are mere piles of ruins. Having passed, perhaps 
by a stone door, through the high outer wall, you find 
yourself in a small open space, whence steps lead down- 
wards into sundry burrows, half excavated in the earth, 
half built up and roofed in with unhewn stones. Anything 
more sombre and unhomelike than these piles of black 
basalt boulders it is impossible to conceive. It would be 



52 B AS EI AX. 

too ridiculous to imagine the sentiment of ^ Home, sweet 
home ! ' entering into the head of an inhabitant of Derat, 
and most of the villages of Bashan are similar to it. The 
town stands above a deep ravine, at the bottom of which 
flows the Yarmuk, the ancient Hieromax, which we crossed 
by a ford close to the river-side, where we found two fine 
sarcophagi, one ornamented with a human bust, the other 
with lion's heads. A little above the ford the Hieromax 
is crossed by a Boman aqueduct, which, spanning the 
ravine by a very bold bridge, is carried at least eighty feet 
above the water. Our course now lay almost in a direct 
line east, across a great plain ; on the further side rose the 
group of Jebel Hauran, with the conical peak of El-Kleib 
conspicuous in their midst, and the castled crag of Salkhat 
on a southern spur. We followed exactly in the line of the old 
Boman road, the pavement of which was in places intact. 
After passing the ruins of Gharz, where we failed to discover 
unything remarkable, we rode on through cultivated land, 
dotted at intervals by bla<;k villages. Presently ten horse- 
men appeared in the distance ; suspecting their character, 
we at once fell back on the baggage. The Bedouins 
pdvanced, then split into two bodies, and wheeled round 
on either flank of our party; after an interval of apparent 
indecision, they again united their forces. By this time 
we were within 300 yards of them, and could judge from 
their demeanour that they were out on no lawful errand. 
Elhasim rode forward to meet them, when one of the party 
(apparently the chief) saluted him, and they held a parley 
together in high tones. As they rode alongside, we ad- 
mired the skill with which Khasim made his horse dance 
round the other, constantly keeping his rifle pointed in the 
face of the Bedouin chief. After a few minutes' conversa- 
tion, Elhasim rode back to us, while the Arabs wheeled 
round and scampered away. We found out that they were 



* Saba,' a branch of the great Anazeh tribe. The gist of 
their parley with Khasim was, that they requested him 
and his soldier to stand by while we were plundered — an 
offer which brought down on them such indignant menaces 
from our men, that having reckoned our force, and seen 
that, though superior in numbers, they were far inferior in 
weapons, they deemed it prudent to let us go our way in 
peace. 

We recrossed to the left bank of the river by a Eoman 
bridge in good preservation. The country was now more 
undulating, and exceedingly well-cultivated, great pains 
having been exjpended in irrigating the soil thoroughly, 
by mean^ of a complicated system of water-channels. . We 
had some difficulty in persuading our men to push^ on to 
Ghusam. Mohammed, the second Bashi-Bazouk, was 
anxious to turn off the road to some village with which 
he was acquainted ; but we persisted in riding on, and in 
course of time Ghusam appeared, though not in the posi- 
tion assigned to it on Van de Yelde's map. The view 
from our camping-ground was magpuficent. We were in 
the centre of a vast plain, bounded on the west and north 
by the mountains of Gilead and Hermon, on the east by 
the Jebel Hauran, and stretching on the south into the 
^ vasty wilds ' of Arabia. In the distance the black walls 
of Bozrah glittered in the evening sunshine, like some 
enchanted city of the 'Arabian Nights.' In our walk 
round the place, we noticed the remains of a Christian 
church, with the cross carved on the walls, some re- 
servoirs, and an old stone house, answering better than 
anything we had yet seen to Mr. Porter's descriptions. 
A fine pair of folding stone doors, which were thrown 
wide open at our approach, gave access to the Sheikh's 
courtyard, into the walls of which were built well^xecuted 
carvings of a vine and grapes, the common Ohristiaa 



54 BASHAN. 

emblems. On a raised terraxje we found carpets and 
coffee prepared for us ; the conversation consisted chiefly 
of an interchange of the usual laborious compliments, 
but in the course of it we learnt that the marauding party 
we had met on the march had stolen two hundred sheep 
from the next village. The scoundrels must have been 
sorely grieved when they found that * very strong man * 
Khasim and twenty-five barrels interposed between them 
and the luggage of the Giaour. On our return the Sheikh 
posted a guard round our tents, and sent us a lamb. It was 
an uncommonly pretty little animal, and Cross was so over- 
,come by its winning ways that he got up in the night and 
•let it loose; but his kindness was useless, for the lamb 
•was found in the next field in the morning, atid was 
ruthlessly despatched and made into cutlets by Moham- 
med the cook. ' 

Ma/rch 20th. — ^This morning we had a long argument 
with Elias. He had come to me with several small extra 
charges since we crossed the Jordan, and now expected 
us to pay the 'backsheesh^ in return for the Sheikh's 
hospitality. This we declined to do, and produced our 
contract, which was fortunately precise on this question. 
Wishing to avoid a prolonged altercation, I told Elias 
he must make a list of all extra expenses h6 wished us 
to pay as they arose, and on arrival at Damascus we 
would show it to Mr. Rogers, H.B.M.'8 Consul, and abide 
by his decision oti the subject. This strategy was entirely 
successful, and from that moment we never heard anything 
morie of the claim for extras. 

. A ride of two hours and a quarter over cultivated plains 
brought us to the walls of Bozrah. Passing, on the left, a 
fine triumphal arch, we rode straight to the gates of the 
fortress, over - which the Turkish flag was flying. An 
application to the commandant procured us immediate 



BOZRAH. S5 

admission, and a practicable passage having been found 
for the mules, we pitched our tents on a level plot in the 
interior of the Roman theatre. The ruins at Bozrah having 
been lately and well described, I shall uiake but a shoH 
reference to our rambles through the deserted city. 

Having first visited a gracefiil group of columns, we 
followed one of the principal streets, which was easily 
traced by a colonnade of Koman date, filled in with the 
remains of later buildings, to the Great Mosque. This 
must have been a noble structure, though, like so many 
other of the Saracenic masterpieces, it is buUt mainly 
with the materials of older edifices. The marble monolithic 
columns, some of which have Boman inscriptions on 
them, are superb. There is a good general view from the 
top of the tower attached to the mosque ; I nearly got 
shut up there, owing to the swinging-to of a stone door, 
which it required all our united strength to reopen. On the 
opposite side of the street was a bath, the walls of which are 
decorated tastefully with inlaid squares of Greek pattern. 
In this quarter are the principal Christian churches. 
The cathedral must have been a fine building, and is ex- 
ceedingly interesting, as a specimen of the way in which 
classical architecture adapted itself to the new religion. 
The external wall is square, the comers being occupied 
by four chapels ; internally the building is circular, with a 
lofty dome. Frescoes are still traceable in the aisle. 
The other two churches are of smaller dimensions, and of 
that unlovely siyle of architecture which has beeti rendered 
familiar by the London churches of sixly years ago, of 
which they at once reminded us. In one of these build- 
ings, however, the roof was supported by a pair of noble 
arches. Passing through the part of the town where 
'the modem population burrows miserably among the 
ruins of ancient splendour, we came upon a second fine 

D ^ 



3C BASHAK. 

trimnplial arcli^ and the remains of a palace. We found 
oorselyes finally near a large reservoir, in which two of 
the party bathed, while the others returned to the Castle, 
now close at hand. To our great amusement the sentinels 
presented arms whenever we passed in or out. The in- 
terior of the theatre, where our tents were pitched, has 
been more than half filled by a gigantic storehouse, but 
the upper tiers of benches are in splendid preservation. 
The stonework is very neatly finished, and the decorations 
of the stage struck us as being in less florid style than 
most of the Koman remains in this part of Syria. 

Various theories have been broached to account for the 
strange conjunction of a theatre and a fortress. Should 
I hazard a guess at the solution of the problem, it would 
be, that the theatre stood originally outside the walls of 
the town, and that when the more frequent visits of the 
Arabs, and the &iling strength of the legions, rendered it 
liable to injury, the BtUl-existing fortifications were built 
round it. At night a sentry was posted outside our tents, 
but the quiet of the dark hours was undisturbed except 
by a furious storm of thunder, lightning, and rain. Cross, 
always ready with sympathy for man or beast, pitied the 
sorrows of the poor man on guard, and having hunted up 
some piastres from his coat-pocket, he suddenly appeared 
in his night-shirt at the tent-door, and presented them to 
the astonished soldier. 

Mcurch 2l8t, — ^Early in the morning, we climbed up to 
the battlements to enjoy the view of the plain. Large 
flocks were being driven out to pasture ; as we watched 
them, and gazed over the wide expanse of cultivated land 
we had ridden through from Derat, we were naturally 
led to contrast the facts under our eyes with the desola- 
tion described by Mr. Porter, and to indulge in a hope 
— ^which even the most ardent enthusiast for the frOfil- 



II llrfl-MHW 



JEBEL HAUBAN. 37 

ment of prophecy might share — ^that better times may be 
in store for Bashan. 

Before leaving Bozrah, we sent to thank the commandant, 
whom we had not yet seen, for his courtesy. We were at 
once invited to visit him in his quarters, an airy little room 
on the house-roof. The commandant expressed great dis- 
appointment at our short stay, said that he had meant to 
o£Eer ns an entertainment, and excused himself for not 
having called on the previous day, on the ground that he 
thbnght we shonld be tired after onr journey, and prefer to 
repose. He prepared sundry documents for the villages 
of the Jebel, which were handed over to Khasim. I do not 
fancy they did us much service, for the Druses pride them- 
selve&i on maintaining a practical independence of the 
Turkish Pacha at Damascus, and are little disposed to obey 
the orders of his lieutenants. 

•We were now within the borders of a district which has 
acquired great celebrity &x)m the extent and peculiar cha- 
racter of its ruins, and has been recently brought into 
prominent notice by the well-known Syrian traveller, Mr# 
Porter. A perusal of his pages had set before us the 
exciting prospect of seeing whole towns, deserted indeed, 
but so little ruined, that they might be inhabited again 
at a moment's notice, although said to be of an age 
compared to which Pompeii may be considered a modern 
city. We naturally laid our plans so as to include the 
places considered most noteworthy by our predecessors, and 
arranged a zigzag route by which we might in three days 
reach the northern extremity of the Jebel Hauran, visiting 
Kureiyeh, Suweideh, and Kunawat on the road. From 
Shuhba we intended, if possible, to foUow the plan which 
Mr. Porter found impracticable, and to' ride through the 
centre of the strange volcanic district known as the Lejah, 
and celebrated equally for the bad character of its roads 



39 . BASHAN. 

and its inhabitants. Onr first day's journey was a short one, 
for we did not mean to push beyond Hebran. As we rode 
out of Bozrah, we passed several small reservoirs. On the 
way, Elias told us an amusing story of native manners. 
The head-man of the village had the previous night given 
a feast to our muleteers. One of them, a Christian of the 
Lebanon, ate with a fork. * Mashalla ! * exclaimed his Boz- 
ran host, * what a brute ; he has not yet learned to eat with 
his fingers ! ' 

We rode across a plain strewn with volcanic boulders, 
with patches of cultivation between them. Here, for the 
first time, we saw the Druse women, with their extra- 
ordinary horns and long white veils. The latter only 
cover one-half the face, the division being made vertically, 
so as to show one eye and cheek, instead of both eyes 
and nothing else, in the Egyptian fashion. The Druse 
style leaves room for a good deal of coquetry, and the girls 
with any pretensions to good looks are at no pains to 
conceal them; but beauties are rare in the Hauran, 
and the ugly women are, much to the traveller's relief, 
uniformly bashfrd. 

After fording a clear Welsh-like stream, one of the 
feeders of the Hieromax, we rode over a perfect wilder- 
ness of stones into Kureiyeh, It was a marvel how 
our animals kept their legs on such ground, but it takes 
a great deal to puzzle a Syrian horse. 

Under its ancient name of Kerioth, Kureiyeh is one of 
the places distinguished by having had a special judg- 
ment pronounced on it by Jeremiah. We explored its 
ruins on foot, and found an old tank, beside which is a 
curious edifice, supported by stumpy columns. We saw 
no stone doors equal to those at Ghusam, and the houses 
were all more or less dilapidated. On the whole, though 
we strove to repress our feelings, we were decidedly dis-: 



KUBEIIEH. 3S> 

appointed with the first of the ' Giant Cities.' I thus 
recorded, on the evening of the same day, the impression 
ma<le on us by the famous stone-houses attributed by« 
some recent writers to the Bephaim mentioned in Deu- 
teronomy :^-* Among many houses, the comparatively re- 
cent date of which is evidenced by fragment]^ of Boman 
sculpture built up into the interior walls, a few of earlier 
times probably exist. These may be of the time of Og, 
or they may not; there is nothing to^ show they were 
built by giants.' 

The Sheikh of the village, a powerful Druse chieftain, 
was away, but his steward pressed us hard to stay tO' 
partake of a sheep, saying, ^ What wiU my lord say, when 
he returns, and finds travellers have passed his door with-' 
out tasting food?. He will be angry with me, and I shall* 
have nothing to answer him.V Throughout the JebeL 
Hauran we were almost oppressed by the hospitality of 
the inhabitants, and did not find any inconvenience from 
being unattended by a Druse escort. 

Hebran is in sight from J^ureiyeh, and the track to it 
is a gradual ascent. The first half of the way is dreary 
and monotonous, but, as we neared our resting-place, 
dwarf oaks clothed the hillsides; and though, being 
unprovided with magnifying glasses or poetical imagina- 
tions, we failed to discover the ' dizzy crags ' and ^ deep 
ravines ' described by a previous traveller, the landscape 
redeemed itself from the charge of actual ugliness. We 
met many parties of villagers on the road — some re- 
turning from labour in the fields, others driving laden don- 
keys. The position of Hebran itself is really fine. It stands 
out boldly on a spur of the mountains, if a raiige rising 
less than 3,000 feet from the tablelands at their base may 
be dignified by the name. From the ruined temple which 
Qrowns the crest, a wonderful panoramic view is obtained 



40 . BASHAN. 

of the plain-coTintrj of Baslian. The temple itself is not 
very remarkable, compared with the ruins we afterwards 
saw. In the village we found no antiquities worthy of 
notice, although the inhabitauts were very civil in point- 
ing out any old carvings or inscriptions likely to interest 
us. The younger portion of the population, never having 
seen so many Europeans before, thought us a capital joke, 
and enjoyed themselves immensely at our expense. 

An isolated building, about a quarter of a mile to the 
south-east of the village, attracted our attention, and we were 
well repaid for visiting it. As it was the first specimen 
of stone architecture we saw which was at all perfect, I 
will describe it in detail. On the ground-floor a stone 
door led into a long room, the ceiling of which, made 
of huge blocks of stone, was supported by two circular 
arches. In this instance I did liot notice any stair- 
case, but ..in other buildings it was outside the walls ; 
above^jwcase-several small rooms, where a giant must often 
have knocked his head, and one curiously small door^ 
about four feet high. The windows were closed by stone 
shutterSj which still swung more or less easily in their 
sockets^ - , 

Our tents were pitched in a field below the village^ 
whence the view of the conical peak of El-Kleib, *the 
Little Heart,' now temptingly near at hand, rising behind 
low wooded hills, suggested an ascent on the following 
morning. Elias and Khasim went off in the evening 
to take coffee at the Sheikh's, where, if the account 
Elias afterwards gave was true, guests and host must 
have required all their Oriental politeness to get through 
the evening pleasantly* 

In the course of conversation, it came out that Ehasim, 
in some affiuy with the Druses, had killed a brother of the 
Sheikh ; but matters were squared by the discovery that 



EASTERN DIPLOMACY, 41 

the Sheikh had killed a near relation of Khasiniy and 
they agreed to postpone all discussion on the subject. I 
fancy that during the next few days, Elias's diplomatic 
talent, which was very great, found constant employment 
in keeping things smooth between our escort and the 
Druses, who, living in a normal state of resistance to the 
GoTemment, naturally look with dislike on its officers. Our 
dragoman must have burthened his conscience with no 
slight weight if he really uttered half the untruths for 
which he afterwards took credit. We were represented by 
him as princes, Williams being specially distinguished as 
the American prince, while Elias modestly described himself 
as a commissioner sent by the GoTemment to secure us 
proper attention, and to report where it was found wanting. 
Doubtless he played the part well, for he was a great 
dandy in his dress, always wearing a splendid gold-shot 
kefiyeh, and, to use his own words, he had a ^ certaine poll- 
tesse, tout a fait particuli^re,' in the Arab tongue. 

March 22nd. — ^This morning the ground was hard with 
white frost. This waa not extra^r^ary, for we were en- 
camped at a height of 4,000 feet, and snow lay in patches 
not far above us. We despatched our baggage-mules, under 
Mohammed's charge, straight over the hills to Kunawat, 
as we intended to take a considerable circuit in order to 
visit Suweideh and AtiL 

A sea of mist covered the plain below us, and before long 
the fleecy billows broke against and rolled up the hillsides, 
enwrapping ns in iheir chilly folds. A short ride across 
a brow, covered with stunted oaks, and watered by 
numerous springs, brought us to Ku£r. The place must 
have been very large, to judge by its ruins, but its in- 
habitants do not now appear to be numerous. In a long 
ramble in search of the gates, 10 feet high, mentioned by 
Porter, I came across relics of a Boman temple, many 



42 BASHAN. 

old houses, and a curious window, consisting of two square 
apertures, with a circular one in the middle, all sheltered 
by a projecting eave. The doors turned out to be 7 feet 
high; they were folding, and each half was of a single 
block ; they did not fully fill the gateway, which was a foot 
loftier. The ruins formed a perfect labyrinth, and we 
separated, each taking a quarter in order to examine them 
as thoroughly as time would permit. 

It was but a short distance to the foot of El-Kleib, 
5,725 feet, the finest in form and second in height of the 
summits of Jebel Hauran. Tucker and I started on foot, 
with Pran9ois, to ascend it, leaving the rest of the party 
with the horses. The mountain presents the appearance 
of a symmetrical cone clothed with a dense forest of 
evergreen oak, except on the south, where the lava and 
scorisB are entirely bare. Just under the highest point 
is a small but very perfect crater. On the summit, layers 
of squared stones, the foundation of some ancient building, 
are visible. The view must be very striking; unluckily 
a dense mist hid it from us, and we waited in vain in 
hopes of its clearing oflF. In descending, we contrived to 
miss our way, and wandered about for some time, dis- 
charging revolvers into the fog, till we fell in with some 
peasants ploughing, and managed to understand their 
directions. Rejoining our friends, we remounted, and 
rode nearly due west to Suweideh, one of the chief seats 
of the Druse power. When we emerged from the cold 
mist that had enveloped us, the country was by no means 
interesting, and we were glad when Suweideh appeared in 
the distance. On arriving there, we avoided halting 
near the house of the chief, not wishing to waste time 
in receiving his tedious hospitality, and therefore cast 
but a passing glance at the ten columns of a ruined 
temple close to his door. Riding on through the town, 



TEMPLES AT ATIL. 43 

we dismounted to visit the interesting remains of an ancient 
house ; the masonry was extraordinarily massive, like that 
of a Cyclopean wall, and the building impressed us with 
the appearance of greater antiquity than any other we saw 
in the Hauran. We then continued our journey, and 
crossing the stream, which flows in a deep bed on the nor^ h 
side of the town, rode up to a fine Soman tomb, erected by 
a husband to his wife.* A broad track led us over the 
bare spurs, through which the hills sink down into the 
plain, to Atil. Here there are the ruins of two diminutive 
but exquisitely decorated temples. The immense size of 
the stones employed in the construction of these small 
baildings was very remarkable. Close to one of the 
temples we found some good pieces of carving — a winged 
figure of Victory, a horse, and a fine head of Apollo. 
Nothing could exceed the intelligence and courtesy of the 
inhabitants in pointing out the Roman fragments which 
lay about everywhere. We were led, through an excep- 
tionally heavy stone door, into a house of very ancient- 
looking and massive masonry, to inspect a bit of the 
frieze of one of the temples, which was built into the 
interior wall. This must be taken for what it is worth, 
but it aided to shake our belief in the extreme antiquity 
of the greater number of the Hauran ruins. The columns 
of Kunawat were already in sight over intervening woods, 
and half-an-hour's scramble up a rocky path brought us to 
our tents, which had been pitched in a charming situation 
between the town and the beautiful temple, which stands 
apart from the other ruins on the west. 

Mcurch 2Srd. — Early in the morning, a dense mist again 
veiled the plain ; Hermon alone stood up above it, flushed 
with a sunrise glow, and as the bells of the outgoing flocks 
rang through the air, we could almost fancy ourselves 

* It is well described in ' Giant Cities/ p. 55. 






44 BASHAK, 

in the Alps. Eonawat, the ancient Eenath, celebrated 
for the worship of Astarte, whose image now lies pros- 
trate before her ruined temple, is built on the edge of an 
upland plateau, on which its principal group of buildings 
stands ; the remainder of the place, enclosed by walls, 
runs down the slope, and overlooks the great plain. In 
the background rises a circle of wooded hills, and on one 
side a strong green torrent forces its way in numerous 
cascades through a narrow ravine. On a brow visible from 
the plain, and forming a landmark for the traveller 
approaching Eunawat, stands a temple raised on a high 
artificial platform^ The wall and many of the columns 
have been overthrown, but enough is left standing to form 
one of the most picturesque ruins in Syria. 

A little higher up the hillside seems to have been the 
fashionable cemetery, and we found numerous mauso- 
leums scattered amongst the thick underwood. Though 
varying in size and architecture, they agree in their 
general form, which is that of a small square tower, 
vrith a chamber inside containing shelves for coffins. 
Entering the old city walls, which are still well preserved, 
we were led to a most remarkable group of ruins, now 
called the Serai, or palace. Here we found the remains of 
a temple, and of an extensive building, or rather several 
buildings, which must have been used either as a palace or 
for some public purpose. The richness of the architectural 
ornaments, and the picturesque irregularity of the whole 
mass, would make these ruins beautiful without their addi- 
tional attractions. The space round them is paved, and 
(as is seen where the pavement has fallen in) supported 
on the arches of large subterranean reservoirs. The 
streams, which formerly filled them, now burst out eyery- 
where among the ruins, and cause the growth of a mass of 
vegetation which conceals the surrounding desolation with 



KUNAWAT. 45 

a mantle of greenery, sucli as is seldom seen in the East. 
Some of the water flows down a conduit, to work an ancient 
mill, still perfect, and in use. It is an old one-storied 
chamber ; the windows have the usual stone shutters, and 
nothing, except perhaps the millstone, has been changed 
since it was built. On the steep path leading down into 
the gorge, we remarked several fine stone doors, one 
of which was ornamented with vine-leaves, and another 
with bosses. In the centre of the town is an old Christian 
church, now used as a storehouse ; inside another build- 
ing we saw a very flat arch of great span. Kunawat 
would repay a much more careful inspection than we 
were able to give it. Descending over a beautiful piece 
of Boman pavement, to the bridge, we turned aside to 
inspect the remains on the right bank. Here there is a 
quaint little theatre, and a temple with a fountain in 
its centre, both on a very small scale. Steps cut in 
the rock lead up to the brow, on which stood a tower- 
tomb. Kunawat is the religious centre of the Hauran 
Druses, and a great Sheikh lives here ; but, anxious to 
jspend all our time in the ruins, we did not make any 
advances, and our intercourse, although friendly, wad slight. 
To-day we again sent our luggage on by a short cut. The 
ride down to Suleim is very pretty. Although there are no 
large trees, the environs of Kunawat are clothed in luxuri- 
ant vegetation, and the ground was painted with anemones, 
varying between bright scarlet and pure white, through 
numerous shades of pink and purple. 

In the middle of a wood we turned off the path, to visit 
an isolated ruin placed on a slight eminence. There was 
a large quadrangle, enclosed by walls, against one of which 
Btood a small building, with some good carving on the 
doorway* Suleim is in the bare country; its principal 
attraction is a small temple with an exquisite Meze : w^ 



>«» •- li.  I ai II «— ^—a*.   I 1 1 1 I I - - - 11  ^ » ^*V ^i«M. 



46 BASHAN. 

also noticed a fine doorway, over which was a long inscrip- 
tion in Greek hexameters. Close to the temple is a sub- 
terranean reservoir similar to those at Kunawat. We 
were now approaching the boundaries of that curious tract 
of country which has been successively known as Argob, 
Trachonitis, and the Lejah. In point of fact, it is nothing 
but a huge lava-glacier, if one may be pardoned the ex- 
pression. The northern summits of Jebel Hauran are a.U 
volcanic cones ; from these the lava-streams have issued 
forth, and flowing northwards have spread fanwise over a 
.vast extent of country. 

The limit of the inundation is in general sharply defined, 
and those who have ridden along the borders of the Lejah, 
and wondered at its broken crags and forbidding aspect 
of desolation, have not unnaturally taken a part for the 
whole, and described the entire tract as absolutely unpro- 
ductive and desert. The wild and rapacious character of 
the inhabitants has added to its reputation for inaccessi- 
bility, and to the vague feeling of terror vrith which it has 
been often associated. We were now in fiill view of its 
south-west border, and the towns of Nejran and Edrei, 
ithe latter celebrated as the capital of Og, were plainly 
distinguishable. Our track bore away to the east,- along 
the lower slopes of the hills. liCaving on our right the ham- 
let of Miurduk, the inhabitants of which were ploughing 
the neighbouring fields, we soon entered a barren volcanic 
tract of countir. Our road gradually ascended, in the 
direction of a depression under the most southern of the 
three conspicuous cones which are the northern outposts 
of the Jebel Hauran. The surface over which we were 
riding was rocky and broken, and lava-cragi^ protruded on 
all sides, with little beds of withered grass lying amongst 
them. The desolation of the scenery increased as we 
^vanced, and its effect was rather heightened than 



■i^^M^kA^' ^^WhP 



SHUHBA. 47 

diminished by the guunt arches of a long Boman aqneduct 
which had supplied the ancient Shuhba with water drawn 
from Abu Tumeis, the fourth in height of the summits 
of Jebel Hauran. As we rounded the south-east comer 
of the volcano, we came suddenly upon the old gateway 
of the !Boman town, the very name of which has been 
lost. Inside the walls, all was as desolate as without ; the 
old roadway was torn up, and the modem track zig- 
zagged in and out, and up and down, among the lava-crags, 
which were contorted into the most extraordinary forms. 
"What motive can have led to a large town being built on 
a site so gloomy, and so little adapted to human habitation, 
it is hard to divine. Its inhabitants had at least one ad- 
vantage ; the journey to the shades must have been robbed 
of half its terrors to men who, on their arrival in Hades, 
found the scenery just like home, and Pluto's palace not 
quite so sombre-looking as their own theatre. In its 
prosperity Shuhba must have been a strange city ; in its 
desolation it is the weirdest spot imaginable. 

The ruins of the ancient town and the modem village 
do not together occupy quite a quarter of the extent of 
ground included within the ancient walls. We found our 
tents pitched in an enclosure near the inhabited houses. 
Our muleteers had managed to get into a dispute with 
the people about the camping-ground, and there had been 
some disturbance ; the question had, however, been referred 
to the Sheikh, who, on hearing they were the servants of 
Englishmen, at once ordered all civility to be shown 
them, and on our arrival peace was quite restored. 
. The ruins at Shuhba are not so ornate as others in this 
/country, but are peculiarly interesting. There are two 
temples, similar in character to many we had seen else- 
where, and a mysterious building which looks as if it 
might have formed the apse of a 'basilica,' and which 



48 BASHAN. 

seems to have puzzled most travellers. The four main 
streets are still easily traceable, and, at their point of 
junction, the pedestals, once probably crowned with groups 
of statuary, are still entire. From this point to the 
southern gate of the city, a distance of full one-third of 
a mile, the pavement is as perfect as the day it was laid 
down. The baths were the best preserved we had yet 
seen ; they contained several large and handsome chambers, 
and the stucco still adhered to the interior walls. Many 
of the pipes remain in their places, and the great aque- 
duct which supplied the water still exists, and terminates 
beside the building. We found a staircase which led 
us on to the top of. its arches, whence we had an excel- 
lent general view of the bare northern slopes of Jebel 
Hauran, and the plain, dotted with conical mounds, which 
spreads to the east of it. South of the walls are some 
large open reservoirs. On our way back we visited the 
theatre, which looks spacious externally, but the building 
is so exceedingly solid that the size of the interior is dis- 
appointing. The massiveness of the masonry and the 
hardness of the material (black basalt) have been the 
causes of its preservation. The stage, the rooms and 
passages behind it^ are uninjured, and very slight repairs 
would be wanted to make the building again service- 
able. 

Sheikh Fares, who received Mr. Porter so hospitably, 
was dead, and had been succeeded by his son. The Sheikh 
of Shuhba is one of the most powerful of the Druse chief- 
tains, and although of late we had made it a rule to avoid 
invitations and visits of ceremony, we felt it would be 
wrong not to call on him, especially as we wanted some 
advice and information as to the best route through the 
ill-reputed Lejah. Having sent notice of our intention, 
■vfe went in a body to pay our respects. A large gateway 



THE SHEIKH OF SHUHBA. 49 

led into a courtyard surroanded by buildings. As we 
entered, seven dignified white-turbaned Druses bowed to 
the ground ; then the Sheikh — a fine-looking man about 
thirty-five years of age — came forth to welcome us, and 
ushered us into his abode. We were received in the winter 
residence, a large ill-lighted room, with a fireplace in the 
centre, and divans round it. The Sheikh took his place on 
one side of the fire, attended by a younger brother, and 
several white-bearded elders. We, with our guard and 
Fran9oi8 in the background, sat opposite to him. The room 
was quite filled with villagers. The conversation opened 
with the usual compliments and enquiries as to the success 
of our journey, but after we had requested the young brother 
to sit down, which he at first declined to do, it diverged 
into more general topics. We enquired as to the poa- 
sibility of traversing the interior of the Lejah, and received 
satisfactory replies. We were told that in two days we 
might easily reach £hubab, on the north-western border, 
but that Ahireh, half a day's journey distant, was the only 
stopping-place on the road, as Damet-el-Alya was now 
uninhabited. 

Meanwhile coffee was prepared. Among those Easterns 
who maintain their primitive customs, this is a very im- 
portant ceremony, and must always be performed in public. 
The coffee-maker is an old servant, well practised in the 
art, and any fitilure on his part would be considered a 
disgrace to the whole household. In the present case the 
beans were first roasted over the fire in an open pan, 
which the Sheikh himself took occasionally into his hand 
for a moment, in order to keep up the appearance of 
serving his guests in person. Then followed the pounding. 
This is done in a finely-carved wooden mortar, and must 
require considerable dexterity, as the operator is expected 
to beat, a lively march, like the rat-a-tat of a French 

£ 



50 BASHAN. 

drummer. The coffee was next boiled in a small tin-pot, and 
when ready was tasted by the maker, to show that it had 
not been poisoned. The Sheikh himself sweetened the 
fragrant beverage, which was handed round to us in the 
usual Eastern cups. The taste and aroma were delicious, 
but an unfortunate detail of etiquette prevented our in- 
dulging in such deep potations as we should have liked. In 
the filling of cups, as in greater things, the Eastern rule is 
exactly the reverse of the Western. Instead of filling a 
friend's glass to the brim, as a mark of goodwill, you give 
him a mere spoonful at the bottom of his cup ; to pour out a 
full cup is a declaration of enmity to the man to whom it 
is presented. After the select circle round the fire had 
been served twice, the coffee was sent round to the crowd 
who- filled up the background. As soon as the ceremony 
was concluded we rose to go, but the Sheikh came out vrith 
us, and showed us his • summer residence, the fa9ade of 
which was riather striking. A flight of steps led up to a 
portico, built to catch the cool northern breezes from Her- 
mon, and supported by two pillars crowned by magnificent 
capitals, stolen fi:om some ancient building. The interior 
was gaudily paintedj in the usual Eastern style, with 
quaint representations of birds and beasts ; built into the 
walls of the courtyard we noticed two pieces of sculpture, 
one representing a seated figure, the other a winged wind; 
the latter struck us as good. 

On the way back to our tents we were taken into a 
camel-stable, above the door of which was a beautifuUy- 
cut Greek inscription. Later in the evening the Sheikh and 
his son, a sleepy boy of about twelve years old, returned 
our visit. The Sheikh talked a great deal of the constant 
firiendship which had existed between the English and the 
Druses, and of his pleasure at seeing any members of our 
nation in the Hauran. Our visitors stayed so long that our 



A LAVA-FLOOD. 51 

stock of conyersation became completely ezhauBted, and 
we Tvere immensely relieved when they departed. 

We hired a Druse to guide us through the Lejah, as 
Khaaim was unacquainted with the paths in its interior, 
and set out on the morning of the 24th, which was dull 
and showery. We rode out of Shuhba, by a gap near the 
north-west comer of the walls, and skirting the north 
base of the same cone we had passed on the previous day, 
descended a long slope covered with the most extraordinary 
lava-streams, cracked in places exactly like the broken 
portion of a glacier. Mohamnied, Khasim's subordinate, 
managed to be left behind for the second time, and did not 
come up with us tiU we had been nearly an ^hour on the 
road. ETiafflm meantime was alarmed lest the Druses 
should have done him some mischiefs. When the truant 
appeared, he told us that he had been purposely mis- 
directed. If there was any truth in his statement, which 
I very much doubt, it was the solitary unfriendly act 
we met with among the Druses of the Jebel Hauran, 
whom we found (as Mr. Porter well describes them) ^a 
people of patriarchal manners and genuine patriarchal 
hospitality.' 

The ground after a time became rather less rugged, 
and some traces of cultivation appeared before we passed 
the hamlet of Selakhid, a quarter of a mile to the right. 
Its Sheikh rode out to invite us to turn aside and rest in 
his house. He was well-mounted, and was a most pictu- 
resque figure, as he caracoled by our side, accoutred in 
jackboots, and clad in loose-flowing garments, which 
rivalled the rainbow in their varied colours. Finding w.e 
were not to be persuaded, he rode with us for some 
distance, and then, wishing us a prosperous journey, 
turned back to his home. Crossing the Boman high- 
road from Bozrah to Damascus, which ran through the 

E 2 



62 BASHAN. 

centre of the Lejah, and leaving another village behind 
us on the left, we came to a tract bristling with lava-crags, 
and scantily covered with gaunt deciduous trees. This 
kind of country continued till we came in sight of Ahireh, 
which is situated in a sort of oasis with a good deal of 
corn-land to the westward. The village is built at the 
foot of Tell Ahmar, a green mound about the size of 
Primrose Hill, which is crowned by a Mahommetan * wely,' 
or tomb. It is the highest eminence in the Lejah, of 
which it commands a complete vifew. The proportion of 
green grass and brown rock seemed pretty equal : here and 
there a black spot showed the position of a village. We 
spent the afternoon in rambling about among the houses of 
Ahireh, and came upon four Greek inscriptions, some he^vy 
stone doors, and fragments of carving from a small temple. 
The people, far from showing any jealousy of our copying 
the inscriptions, took pains to point them out. The only 
other curiosity we lighted upon was a great cave, probably 
used as a tank. The Sheikh of the village came down to 
our tents, but his looks were not prepossessing, and we did 
not cultivate his acquaintance. He was, however, reputed 
to be a gallant soldier, and a deep sabre-cut across his face 
confirmed his reputation, although it increased the ugli- 
ness of an otherwise ruffianly countenance. 

Ma/rch 25th. — ^The night was disturbed by rain-storms 
and howling dogs ; the latter we quieted by firing off a 
revolver at one of the noisiest. No more, formidable 
animals made their appearance, and we had not the luck 
of Mr. Porter and his friends, who, during the night they 
spent within the Lejah, were surrounded by jackals, wolves, 
and hyaenas, and afterwards somewhat naively congratu- 
lated themselves on the fulfilment of Isaiah's remarkable 
prediction: ^The wild beasts of the desert shall also 
meet with the wild beasts of the island, and the satyr 



THE LEJAH. 53 

shall cry to his fellow.' The village Sheikh had, as usual, 
entertained our guard in the evening, and had bragged to 
Khasim of his power, saying that he might tell the Pasha 
of Damascus to come with 5,000 men at his back, and he 
would beat him. In the morning this warlike hero con- 
descended to cheat our muleteers out of six francs, in 
settUng for some provender they had bought; but before 
riding off we sent for him, and told him very plaiiUy our 
opinion of his conduct. 

The morning was damp and lowering, and we made up 
our minds for a wet day, or (as Williams put it) ^ guessed it 
was going to flop.' We were not deceived, and when we 
reached Damet-el-Alya, were glad to stable our horses 
aiid shelter ourselTes in a mosque with st<;ne doors and 
windows, while we ate our lunch. The pelting rain in- 
terfered somewhat with our explorations, but I found one 
interesting old house. The folding-gates of the entrance 
arch, still in their places, led into a courtyard, from which 
several doors opened into rooms of various sizes. The 
basement, ground and first floors were all perfect; the 
staircase was, as usual, external. Our baggage-mules 
had gone on while we rested, and we therefore shortened 
our halt, and rode on in pursuit, as fast as the nature 
of the ground would permit, for the character of the 
district was so bad that we were uneasy at leaving them 
long unprotected. The interior of the Lejah is not such 
a desert as it has been represented, and the path was 
decidedly better than the highway from Jerusalem to 
Nablous. In the wilder parts little green paddocks are 
interspersed between the banks of lava, and we several 
times during the day came upon considerable tracts of 
corn-land. The outside lim answers better to the des- 
cription given of the whole in Murray's ^ Syria ' ; but even 
here the language must be modified, and ^ mound ' must 



54 BASHAN. 

be read everywhere for * hill,' and ^ crack/ or * depression/ 
for ^ ravine.' 

We met with no dangerous chai-acters during the day to 
justify the bad name the district has acquired — ^perhaps the 
rain kept them all at home ; but so easy and unad venturous 
was our progress that we had some difficulty in realising 
the fact that, with the exception of Burckhardt and Mr. 
Cyril Oraham, we were the only European travellers who 
had succeeded in penetrating into the interior of the 
Lejah. As we neared the edge of the * black country ' 
the scenery became wildly picturesque; several villages 
occupied the knolls before us, their dark towers at a 
distance reminding us forcibly of feudal castles. Tucker 
and I turned off, under Khasim's escort, to visit Zebireh, 
the nearest of these villages, and found it entirely deserted. 
There were plenty of old stone houses, and in one was an 
upstairs-room, with a fireplace, and stone window-shutters. 
The roofs were in some instances supported by quaint 
pillars, primitively constructed of stones of unequal sizes, 
piled, like cheeses, one on another. The manner of build- 
ing the interior walls in these strange dwellings is very 
curious. A framework is first constructed of large stones, 
with square pigeon-holes left between them ; these are gene- 
rally filled up, but sometimes left open, when they look 
not unlike wine-bins. We found here a stable with a 
stone manger, and also saw an inscription recording the 
erection of some monument, * on account of the safety of 
the Lord Autocrator Severus Antoninus Csesar, Bri- 
tannicus.' Having finished our explorations we remounted, 
and, leaving behind us several mounds covered with towers, 
rode through a sort of pass or gap in the high bank of 
lava which runs along this side of the Lejah. In about 
an hour we reached Khubab, situated on the edge of the 
plain, where our companions had arrived before us. They 



A RUSH TO ARMS. 55 

amused us with the account of a row, of which they had 
been the cause, and which had only just terminated. The 
history of the dispute was rather complicated. The Sheikh, 
it seems, indicated to Elias a plot of ground where our 
tents might be pitched, and his son, a lad of seventeen, 
came down to superintend the proceedings. The owner 
of the ground and his child, a mere boy, then appeared on 
the scene, and objected to the arrangement which had 
been made ; the boy, by some remark, angered the Sheikh's 
son, and got his ears boxed ; whereupon the outraged 
father knocked the Sheikh's son down, and made his nose 
bleed. There was an immediate mel^ ; swords were 
drawn, the whole village ran together — the men with their 
weapons, and the women screaming : but the culprit very 
discreetly put an end to the disturbance by running away, 
and leaving the Sheikh to swear revenge at his leisure. 

The people of Eliubab call themselves Christians, but 
they are dirtier* and less well-to-do than their Druse 
neighbours. The women, who go about unveiled, are 
peculiarly hideous. 

March 26th. — When we awoke in ther morning, we found 
ourselves v?rapt in a dense fog, but the mist soon cleared 
off, and the day became brilliantly fine. Our encampment 
was surrounded by most peculiar-looking hillocks of lava, 
which, together with house-walls of huge stones, formed a 
characteristic specimen of Lejah scenery. A few minutes' 
ride brought us out on the level plain. On one side the snowy 
mass of Hermon rose grandly over nearer green ranges ; 
on the other was the rugged coast of the ^ black country,' 
which here juts out in a promontory, and there recedes, 
leaving room for a grassy bay. At the cross-roads oppo- 
site Shaarah, we met a man riding furiously from the 
plain. He shouted to us, in passing, that his mule had 
just been stolen by a party of Arabs, and galloped on into 



66 BASHAN. 

the village. We halted on a rocky projecting brow, and 
then waited to lunch, and see what would happen next. 
While Tucker demolished the sardines, Williams, who 
even in ordinary life was a martial personage, and Elias, 
who was anxious to acquire the reputation of a fire-eater, 
exchanged the shot in their guns for bullets^ with a mili- 
tary air which must have struck terror into the heart of 
the boldest Bedouin. No opportunity, however, occurred 
for the display of valour, and we had to content ourselves 
with the amusement of watching the shepherds driving in 
their flocks hurriedly &om the plain, and the villagers 
issuing forth in twos and threes — some mounted, some on 
foot — in quest of the marauders. Of course nothing was 
seen of them, and we continued, our march in peace. 

The track to Mismiyeh, which is well within the borders 
of the Lejah, leads over very rugged ground. Our horses 
scrambled over great solidified waves of the lava-flood, 
divided by little grass-grown hollows, in one of which Elias 
surprised and slew a partridge. We determined to pitch 
our tents just outside the Roman temple, which is the 
most striking ruin of Mismiyeh. There was not sufficient 
depth of soil to drive in the pegs, but we tied the ropes to 
big stones, which, answered all the purpose. Our ride 
had not been long, and we had plenty of daylight left to 
explore the place. The little temple was the most perfect 
we had yet seen ; part of the portico was destroyed, and 
the central dome had lallen in, otherwise it was in good 
preservation. On either side of the doorway were niches 
for statues, under which were carved the words * Pax ' and 
* Eisis * (sic). The building was square externally, but a sort 
of chancel was formed in the interior by shutting off a 
small vestry for the priests, and a staircase which leads 
on to the roof. The dome was supported on four columns, 
which are all standing, and the walls were decorated with 



MISMIYEH. 67 

statues. The most striking feature of the interior was, 
however, a beautiful fanshell apse, in very good preserva- 
tion. From the roof there is a wonderful panorama, more 
extensive, but resembling the view already described : on 
one side the green plain and hills, backed by snowy 
Hermon ; on the other, the black Lejah, the most deso- 
late portion of which is here visible, with the summits of 
Jebel BLauran rising in the distance behind TeU-Ahmar, 
which was easily distinguished by its white * wely.' 

A further ramble was rewarded by several discoveries, the 
most important being a large house in the Bashan style of 
architecture, but evidently of Koman date. An arched 
gateway led into a courtyard, from which staircases gave 
access to the first-floor, which contained one noble room — 
the ceiling decorated with a fine cornice, and supported 
by an arch eighteen feet in height, from, the floor to the 
keystone. The fact of all the roofs being constructed of 
stone renders some such Bupport necessary in every room 
of too large size, to admit of the heavy blocks stretching 
from wall to wall. We noticed curious recesses in the 
walls, which may perhaps have been intended for the Pe- 
nates. This fine building may have been the residence of 
the Boman governors of Trachonitis, as Mismiyeh was, we 
know, the capital town of that province. We saw some 
well-executed stone-carving, such as twisted snakes, and 
a double Greek pattern, and encountered numerous stone 
doors. We found one pair eight feet high, and saw six in 
situ in one courtyard. All that we observed confirmed our 
opinion that the stone houses — which, from their peculiar 
construction, and especially from the rude massiveness of 
their stone doors, window-shutters, and rafters, have been 
represented as of extreme antiquity — are of comparatively 
modem date. Surely no one without a preconceived 
theory to support, will maintain that where every public 



58 BASHAN. 

building — whether temple, theatre, triumphal arch, tomb, 
or church — is of Roman or later date, the private dwellings 
are, as a rule, 1,800 years older. 

In the larger buildings, the frequent use of the arch, and 
the introduction of classical ornamentation, are of them- 
selves proofs of a late origin, and our wish to recognise in 
the smaller and ruder houses the dwelling-places of a pre- 
historic race, was frequently frustrated by the discovery of 
friezes and classical inscriptions built into their interior 
walls. The stone doors and shutters, which attract the 
attention of all travellers, are characteristic of the country, 
not of any period in its history, and we found them alike 
in the Boman temple, the Christian church, and the Sara^ 
cenic mosque. The finest specimens, notably that of which 
a picture is given in Mr. Porter's book, are covered vrith 
Soman ornaments. 

The Pentateuch tells us that Bashan was once inhabited 
by giants, and it has been argued that the size of the stone 
houses shows that they were built by a race of abnormal 
stature, and proves the date of their construction. In 
reality, however, the private dwellings are the reverse of 
gigantic, and the rooms they contain are to modem ideas 
smalL K gates are sometimes found eight feet in height, 
they are (as far as we saw) always in positions where ani- 
mals as well as men had occasion to pass under them, and 
those found at the present day in similar situations are 
of the same dimensions. The stone doors guarding the en- 
trances to the vineyards around Tabreez are larger and 
more massive than any we saw in Bashan. 

The extent and number of the ruined towns are used as 
an argument that they are the remains of the sixty fenced 
cities conquered and destroyed by Moses. Travellers are 
too apt to forget that Syria formed a portion of the Chris- 
tian Empire of Constantinople, and that in the fifth century 



THE WRATH OP THE BEYS. 59 

there were thirty-three Christian bishops in the Hauran 
alone. The population which built the churches and the 
theatreswas quite numerous enough to have filled the ruined 
houses which now remain. If any buildings older than our 
era still exist in the Hauran, they are, I believe, exceptions, 
and do not disprove our conclusion that a false impression 
is given by describing the ruins of Bozrah, Eunawat, 
Suweideh, and Shuhba — in fact, those of Roman provin- 
cial towns — as ^ Giant Cities.' It is not of Og but of the 
Antonines, not of the Israelitish but of the Saracenic 
conquest, that most modem travellers in the Hauran will 
be reminded. 

Mismiyeh is inhabited, at present, by a few families of 
beggarly Sulut Arabs, who have so far abandoned the tra- 
ditions of their race as to condescend to live within walls. 
They are great rascals, and much addicted to petty thieving. 
Our muleteers got into a dispute with some of them during 
the afternoon, whereupon Elias, on his ovni responsibility, 
ordered the arrest of tbe leading villager, and proclaimed 
that ^ the Beys willed he should be carried to Damascus.' 
The elders came down to represent the youth of the 
culprit, and to beg Elias to deprecate the vnrath of the 
Beys. No reference was in reality made to us, but the 
prisoner was released, with an admonition to the natives 
in general, that they had better be careful for the future, 
as a word from us to the Pasha would ensure their ruin. 

Ma/rch 27th. — We now finally turned our backs on the 
Lejah, and prepared to cross the strip of ^debateable 
ground ' which lay between us and Deir Ali, the fix)ntier 
village of the Damascus district. The plain across which 
we rode was for some miles covered with scrub, bright 
yellow flowers, and green herbage, on which immense 
flocks of sheep and camels were feeding. We passed close 
to the tents, seventeen in number, of their owners. A tail 



60 BASHAN. 

spear stuck into the ground before the door marked the 
abode of the Sheikh. He came out and entreated us to 
alight and partake of coffee, and when we excused ourselves, 
brought out a huge bowl of milk. It was rather a relief 
to meet with so pleasant a reception, as the Sulut tribe, to 
which these Arabs belonged, bears anything but a good 
character. 

The ground grew more stony and barren as we ap- 
proached the foot of Jebel Mania ; we noticed curious rows 
of artificial pools, made to catch and retain the waters 
of the rainy season, but now dry and fallen into decay. 
The first building we came to was an isolated farmhouse, 
built like a fortress, with strong iron gates to resist the 
marauders of the neighbouring desert. Another hour's 
ride over a bleak plateau, during which Hermon, now 
comparatively close at hand, towered grandly before our 
eyes, brought us to Deir AJi, a large and prosperous Druse 
village. The neighbourhood is rendered fertile by abun- 
dant springs, and for the first time since leaving Bethlehem, 
we saw the fig, the vine, the olive, and the poplar growing 
luxuriantly. 

We lunched under the shade of some gnarled old olives, 
finer specimens of the tree than are usually seen in Syria. 
The further ride to Kesweh was round the bare flanks of 
Jebel Mania, and had nothing but the distant view of 
Hermon to make it interesting. We saw, away to our lefb, 
the great caravanserai called the Elian Denun, where the 
Mecca caravan rests on the first night after its departure 
from Damascus. As we neared the Nahr-el-Awaj (the 
ancient Pharpar), the white clean-looking houses and 
minarets of Kesweh appeared on its farther bank ; the 
stream itself was hidden in the thicket of fiiiit-trees which 
lines its course. The river was crossed by a stone bridge; 
but so swoUen were the waters, owing to the recent rains. 



KESWEH. 61 

and the melting of tlie snows on Hermon, that they 
touched the keystones of the arches, and looked as if they 
would soon carry away the whole fabric. Stalls for the 
sale of provisions and saddlery showed that we had 
entered a district where there was some security for pro- 
perty and attempt at trade ; a paved piece of road bore 
witness to the fact of our being on an old highway of com- 
merce ; while the recently-erected telegraph-vme between 
Damascus and El-Mezarib, the capital of the Hauran, 
proved that the Turks are not altogether blind to the 
advantages to be reaped from the adoption of the dis- 
coveries of Western science. Kesweh is a neat but unre- 
markable Syrian village; our tents were pitched on a 
grassy brow before the place, near some turban-capped 
tombstones. Tucker and Williams went in pursuit of 
birds down the banks of the Pharpar, but came back 
empty-handed. One of Eliasim's pistols was stolen in the 
night, but he got it back next morning by paying a small 
' backsheesh ' to the thief, or (as he preferred to call him- 
self) finder, of the missing weapon. 

MojTch 28th. — A broad beaten track runs over the hilla 
which separate the basins of the Pharpar and Abana. 
Winding through a gap in the range, we came in sight of 
Dareiya, a tovTn some miles west of Damascus, surrounded 
by orchards. After tumiug to the right we crossed a low 
spur of Jebel-el-Aswad, and caught our first view of the 
city, spread out across the plain, backed by a mass of 
verdure, and the tawny slopes of Anti-Lebanon. The 
scene, though very striking, did not impress us so much 
as similar views of Cairo. Damascus is singularly poor 
in the minarets which lend such a charm to its Egyptian 
rival. While cantering carelessly over the flat expanse 
between us and the gates, the sudden failure of a stirrup- 
leather gave me a tumble upon the hard groimd. Luckily 



62 BASHAN. 

I did not hurt myself seriotislj, but neuralgia, a stiff 
back, and barked knuckles served to moderate any feelings 
of triumph at the successfdl conclusion of our novel journey 
from Jerusalem, and the opening of what may prove a new 
route for Eastern travellers, and I needed Fran9ois' prompt 
consolation, *Ah, monsieur, vous fiiites bien de suivre 
Pexemple de St. Paul,* to reconcile me to the complication 
of bodily ills. A review of Turkish troops was going on 
outside the city; the cavalry were remarkably well- 
mounted. 

After passing the gates we rode along the shabby bou- 
levard which traverses the suburbs, and forms an entrance 
to Damascus. Leaving the bazaars on our right, we at 
last reached Demetrius Hotel, a pleasant house built, in the 
usual Damascene style, round a courtyard full of lemon- 
trees. 

We remained a week in these comfortable quarters. 
Here our connection vrith Khasim ended as satisfactorily 
as it had begun, for he was more than contented vriith the 
' backsheesh ' we gave him. Our Trans- Jordanic trip added 
only 5?. a-head to the usual dragomanic expenses, which, 
considering where we had been, and what we had seen, 
was a veiy small sum. 



DAMASCUS. 63 



CHAPTEE ni. 

LEBAKON AKD THE LEVANT. 

Damascus — ^Bazaars and Gfardens — An Enthusiastic Freemason — Snow- 
storm on Anti-Lebanon — Baalbec — An Alpine Walk — ^The Cedars — 
Return to Beyrout — Cyprus and Khodes — Smyrna — The Valley of the 
Maeander — ^Ezcarations at Ephesus — Constantinople — The Persian Ehan 
— May-Day at the Sweet Waters — ^Preparations for the Caucasus. 

These are very few sights in Damascus, unless one con- 
siders as such the window from which St. Paul was let 
down, and the tomb of the legendary porter who aided 
his escape. The Great Mosque is fine, but not so interest- 
ing as that at Jerusalem. The commercial aspect of the 
place is the most striking ; the bazaars, the rough wooden 
roofs of which rather spoil their otherwise rich effect, are 
very extensive ; and though Manchester goods meet you at 
every turn, the ways and manners of the people are purely 
Eastern. It is a very seductive place to go shopping in ; 
Williams once spent a whole day in a silk-mercer's den in 
the Great Khan, and came home in the evening followed 
by a man laden with gorgeous scarves. Our fnend, despite 
the time and bargaining his purchases had cost him, was 
troubled with an uneasy suspicion that, to use his own 
expression, *the old fellow had regidarly waggled him.' 
The gardens round the town are rather orchards than 
gardens in our sense of the word ; but at this season, with 
the finiit-trees in full blossom, they were very beautiful, 



64 LEBANON AND THE LEVANT. 

and it was amusing on Sunday to stroll amongst the 
numerous companies of citizens, sitting in circles, chatting 
and telling stories under the shade. The fashionable 
ladies' dress is a white sheet, and a coloured handkerchief 
over the head ; but the infantine population swell about in 
scarlet and gold tunics, and all manner of * pomps and 
vanities.' 

At thft table-d'hSte there was much discussion about the 
expedition which the Pasha was said to be about to make 
to Palmyra ; he proposed to spend a month in the trip, 
and to take with him a small army, including artillery. 
Some of the travellers at our hotel were staying on in order 
to avail themselves of the opportunity of going in his 
suite ; among them was an elderly American, a professor 
at one of the universities in the Western States, who in 
his quality of a Freemason had already called on the Pasha 
and Abd-el-Kiider, both of whom are brothers of the craft, 
and now announced his purpose of ^ planting the banner 
of Freemasonry on the ruins of Paltnyra.' He was unfor- 
tunately prevented from fulfilling his mission by the Pasha 
abandoning his design. Before leaving Damascus we had 
the pleasure of seeing Mr. Rogers, the English Consul- 
General, to whom we handed over our letter to the Pasha, 
which we had not found an opportunity of presenting, 
with a request that he would use it in securing for Khasim 
promotion to a higher grade, in which we felt sure he 
would not dishonour our recommendation. Mr. Rogers 
kindly showed me some of the most valuable trays of his 
fine collection of Eastern coins, and also a coat-of-mail 
taken by the Pasha from an Adwan Sheikh in the previous 
year, and a noble sword, which, as was recorded by an 
inscription in gold letters on its blade, had belonged to a 
son of the famous Saladin. 

The last days of our stay at Damascus were so cold that 



A WALK IN THE SNOW. 

' we'liad fires in our room. We left on April 3 
. travelled in tliree days along the ordinary track to ] 
The general character of the Anti-Lebanon scenerj 
but there is one charming spot, Ashrafiyeh, perl 
most picturesque in Syria, and the glen of the A 
pretty for some way above it. The weather was c 
misty; the night we slept at Surghaya, it first blew j 
snowed, and when we woke in the morning we fo 
ground frozen hard outside the tent. In such wet 
were glad to take, shelter in a clean room at '. 
instead of tenting, as is the custom, in the temple ei 
About midday the snowstorm, through which 
ridden all the morning, passed over, and we ha 
afbemoon to visit the ruins. Magnificent as is the e 
superb as are the architectural details of the great 
,we agreed in thinking the general effect less in: 
than that of £!amac. 

The morning of April 6th was bright and fro 
.the chain of .the Lebanon shone out clear on the 
side of the Plain of Coele-Syria. Its summits are 
•and lack character, but the effect of the long stiom 
against the blue sky was very grand. Tucker and 
would never do to let a little snow prevent our : 
the Cedars, and we therefore arranged to divide c 
into three sections. Williams and Cross started, 
boy who owned their horses, to ride down the ^ 
Shetaw^ra (pronounced * Stora '), the halfway st 
the DamsLSCus-Beyrout road; our baggage-tr 
ordered to Shelfa, a village at the foot of Lebano] 
Tucker and I, with Elias and Pran9ois, set out for . 
the highest hamlet (5,317 feet) on the eastern sic 
Cedars' Pass. After crossing the plain we rode u] 
ascent, clothed with dwarf oaks. Even below Ain 
flnow lay deeply in the hollows, and gave our hor 



66 LEBANON AND THE LEVANT. 

trouble. We slept in a cottage, inhabited by a family of 
about a dozen peasants, and an unknown but very appre- 
ciable quantity of insects. 

Ain-Aat is situated on a shelf immediately under the 
backbone of the Lebanon. We started for the Cedars at 
6 A.M., with Pran9ois and a villager, leaving Elias behind. It 
took one hour and forty minutes' sharp climbing, up a steep 
but perfectly e^^y snow-guUy, to reach the ridge (7,624 
feet), whence we looked down on the Mediterranean. So far 
the snow had been in excellent order, but on the western 
side of the pass, the horseshoe of mountains, within the 
hollow of which the grove of Cedars stands, had shut out the 
sun, and prevented the surface from ever melting sufficiently 
to form a hard crust by regelation. Gretting down to and up 
again from the grove was one of the heaviest three hours' 
work I ever did. We sank at every step up to our knees. 
The trees are in very flourishing condition, and well repay 
a visit, especially when seen, as we saw them, with the snow 
resting on their broad-spreading branches, the only green 
things visible on the great white slopes. The little chapel 
was almost buried in snow^ and it was only just possible to 
get in at the door. On our return we met several parties of 
villagers, who seemed equally surprised and pleased to see 
travellers capable of walking over a mountain-pass. We 
were back again at Ain-Aat at 12.15 p.m., and in the after- 
noon rode down to Shelfa, a prettily-situated hamlet at the 
foot of the mountains. There we found our tents pitched, 
and a good dinner cooking. I have described our visit to the 
Cedars, in order to show that there is often no difficulty, to 
men of active habits, in making the excursion when the 
dragomanic world of Damascus pronounces it quite impos- 
sible. 

A day's ride through Ccele-Syria brought us to Mual- 
lakah, in the neighbourhood of Zahleh, the most flourishing 



A dragoman's history. 67 

Maronite town in the Lebanon; there we slept, and on 
the following day cantered along a fine road, constructed 
bj a French company, which crosses Lebanon at a height 
of 5,176 feet. The scenery reminded me, at times, of the 
lower parts of the Italian Tyrol. Beyrout was hot and 
hazy ; we never saw the summits of Lebanon dear till the 
last day of our stay, but then the bay was really beautifuL 
Elisis during the last three days, when Tucker and 
I were alone with him, grew more confidential than was 
his wont, and treated us to the story of his early life. A 
native of a village in the Lebanon, he had been lefb an orphan 
at an early age. His father had been a man of some 
property, and the riches Elias inherited enabled him to 
indulge to the full his boyish taste for smart dress. To 
this he soon added a passion for donkeys, and gave laxge' 
sums for animals of the best breed and most showy ap- 
pearance. A fall, caused by the stumbling of one of his 
favourites, disgusted him with donkeys, and he took to 
horseflesh. The pursuit of this last &i,ncy had brought 
him almost to the end of his inheritance, when he was 
aroused to a sense of his position by the sneers of his 
former friends. EUas sold his stud, and started afresh, 
until, having amassed sufficient capital to set up as a 
dragoman, his love of horses and out-of-door life led h\m 
into that profession. He had now, he told us, succeeded 
in buying back most of the property he had sold in his 
youth, and was a well-to-do man. 

Having paid off Elias, and arranged for the despatch of 
our Damascus purchases, to which we added some speci- 
mens of the work of the Lebanon, we embarked on board 
an Austrian steamer, and finally bade adieu to Syria, on 
the afternoon of Easter Sunday, April 12th. 

Next morning we landed at Lamaca, the chief port of 

Cyprus — a dull ugly town, where we failed in our search 

p2 



68 LEBANON AND THE LEVANT, 

for good wine or pretty faces. Many of these classical 
places have nothing left but their associations. The west 
end of the island and the Bay of Baffa (the ancient Paphos) 
are well seen from the sea. On Wednesday morning we 
had two hours in which to run over Rhodes, a most interest- 
ing old town, full of monuments of the Knights Templars. 
Sailing on all day under the lee of the Isles of Greece, we 
found ourselves at sunrise on Thursday steaming up the 
Gulf of Smyrna ; the shores looked fresh and beautiful, but 
the water was sadly discoloured by the recent floods of the 
Hermus. 

Smyrna, like Alexandria, brings into vivid contrast the 
East and West ; Paris fashions and bearded camels come 
into constant collision in its narrow streets. At the theatre 
a French company was performing * La Belle Hfl^ne.' 
Homer's ghost can scarcely view with pleasure his heroine 
in the hands of Offenbach. Our stay at Smyrna — where, 
owing to the kindness of friends, we enjoyed most agree* 
able society, and the comforts of an .English home — ^was a 
very pleasant interlude between the mild roughing of 
Syria, and the real hardships of travel in the Caucasian 
provinces of Russia. 

Ionia, into the interior of which we made two short 
excursions, is as far superior to Syria in scenery as Kent is 
to the Pays-de-Calais. Our first expedition was to Aidin, 
a large and flourishing town, charmingly situated under the 
hills on the north side of the vaUey of the Mseander, over 
which there is a lovely view from the neighbouring heights. 

Next day we returned by rail to Balachik, and rode 
thence to the site of Magnesia ad Meeandrum: the broken 
columns of a temple are the principal remains, and there 
was nothing to compare with what we had recently seen in 
Bashan ; but the ride was delightful, amongst tall olives 
and fig gardens. Our classical recollections were aroused 



EXCAVATIONS AT EPHESUS. 69 

by meeting a boy playing the primitive Pan-pipe, and by 
seeing a pretty fountain at which a bevy of nymphs were 
bathing. We got back to Aiasalook (the station nearest 
Ephesus) in the evening, and were kindly housed and 
entertained by Mr. Wood, who has spent some time in ex- 
cavating the ruins, with a view to the discovery of the site 
of the famous Temple of Diana. Before his excavations, 
the ruins of Ephesus lefb above-ground had suffered too 
severely, from time and violence, to be of great interest to 
anyone but an antiquarian ; much, however, has now been 
brought to light. The theatre, the scene of the goldsmiths' 
riot, is the most striking sight ; the stage has been laid 
bare, and many inscriptions have been found. Some of the 
recently excavated marbles are as white as on the day they 
were cut. The city was built mostly of brick, encased in 
various marbles, of which fragments strew the ground in 
every direction. Mr. Wood has also discovered a small 
building, which, on the strength of some Christian symbols, 
he rather boldly calls the Tomb of St. Luke ; a marble basin 
of noble dimensions, and a sort of ' Yia Sacra ' outside the 
walls, lined with sarcophagi and funeral inscriptions. When 
we were there he believed himself to have settled, vrithin 
a square mile, the position of the Temple of Diana^ and 
seemed quite confident of turning it up sooner or later. 

Our second excursion was to Manissa (Magnesia ad Sipy- 
lum), a fine Turkish town built on a steep slope at the base 
of the splendid crags of Mount Sipylus. We drove on several 
miles, in a Turkish cart, to see the statue called Niobe, a 
rude figure, probably of Egyptian origin, carved on the face 
of a cliff. On the way we had a distant view of a fine snowy 
mountain, Boz-Dagh, far away in the interior, beyond 
Sardis. We returned to Smyrna the same evening. 

On Saturday, April 25th, we left Smyrna on board an 
Austrian steamer for Constantinople. The boat was 



 I >IM I 



70 LEBANON AND THE LEVANT. 

crowded with. Bussian pilgrims returning from Jerusalem, 
who occupied themselves alternately by eating salt-fish 
and fighting"; hideous females, perpetually smoking cigar- 
ettes, were strewn all over the deck, and from time to 
time neglected infants raised dismal howls. Happily the 
sea was calm; what the state of things must have been 
during the run from Alexandria to Bhodes, when the vessel 
encountered a severe gale, it was easy but not pleasant to 
imagine. The poor pilgrims had been terribly frightened 
during the storm, but were now rather elated, as they 
attributed their safeiy to the prompt piety of a man who 
threw into the waves a taper lit from a candle kindled in 
its turn from the sacred fire in the Church of the Holy 
Sepulchre on Easter Sunday. 

We entered Constantinople at sunrise on Monday, and 
admired, as everyone must, the enchanting aspect of the 
city from the water. We spent six days at the Hotel de 
Byzance, during which we were fully occupied in sight- 
seeing, and making the necessary arrangements for our 
journey in the Caucasus. Of course we did the * lions' ; were 
first hurried round the mosques, perhaps the most tiring 
day's sightseeing in the world ; and afterwards paid a quiet 
visit, by means of * backsheesh,' to Santa Sophia, which 
more than realised our expectations. While admiring 
the effect of the vast unbroken area under the dome, even 
when merely dotted with the bright dresses of Turkish 
worshippers, we could form some faint idea of what must 
have been the splendour of a state ceremonial of the By- 
zantine Court in this noble basilica. The old walls, the 
seven towers, the burial-ground at Scutari, all had to be 
visited. 

One evening we were recommended by a gentleman, 
staying at our hotel, to visit the Persian Khan, to hear 
the wailing for Hassan. We found a long room deco- 



.A «• ^ ^^— I 



MAY-DAY AT THB SWEET WATERS. 71 

rated with buffets covered with ornamental glass and 
candlesticks. On the floor squatted at least 700 high- 
capped Persians; in the centre of the room was a low 
pulpit, from which a MoUah recited the piteous tale of 
Hassan's death. When he came to an exciting point in 
the story, the audience wept and beat their breasts, or 'oh- 
oh'd ' their indignation against the murderers, like an elec- 
tion mob hooting an unpopular candidate. Excellent 
coff^ and sherbet was handed round to everyone, in- 
cluding our own party^ who had been given seats in a 
recess commanding a full view of all the proceedings, and 
were treated in every way with great civility. 

Our row in a caique to the Sweet Waters was well- 
timed* May-day, the date when the picnics at the Sweet 
Waters usually begin, fell on Friday, the Mahommedan 
day of rest, so that the concourse was gi'eater than usual. 
Our caique jostled a crowd of boats filled with Turkish 
ladies, plump little dolls who make themselves &ir to 
look upon by adding artificial brightness to their eyes, and 
wearing transparent veils over the lower part of their 
faces. Their balloon-shaped dresses, mostly of the brightest 
colours, present a charming covp-cPcsU when massed in 
groups. The Sultan has a villa up at the Sweet Waters, 
which consist of a stream (about the size of the Cherwell 
at Oxford) with a drive on one side, and gardens on the 
other. The place is just pretty enough to make it an ex- 
cuse for a promenade, whether by road or water. There 
were many European carriages and Parisian costumes on 
the drive, the latter far more extravagant than anything 
the East can produce. 

We were lucky in meeting at Constantinople Mr. Gifford 
Palgrave, H.B.M.'s Consul at Trebizonde, who was on his 
way home. When consul at Soukhoum-Kal^ Mr. Palgrave 
made several journeys into the interior, and had been 



72 • LEBANON AND THE LEVANT. 

twice to the foot of Elbruz; he was consequently able to 
give us much valuable information as to the character of 
the country. But the most important aid we received 
was the recommendation of a Mingrelian servant, who 
would act as our interpreter. The need of some such 
attendant, and the difficulty of finding one who would fall 
in with our plans, had long been a weight on our minds. 
The man Mr. Palgrave suggested to us was a native of 
Sugdidi, between Kutais and Soukhoum-Kal^, and had 
been employed as cook in the consular household at 
Trebizonde. He spoke French, Eussian, Turkish, and 
Georgian, 

I presented, at the Eussian Embassy, the letters of in- 
troduction which had been forwarded to me from England, 
and received from Greneral Ignatiefif much politeness. He 
gave me letters to Count Leverschoff, the Governor of 
Mingrelia^ and to a gentleman attached to. the Grand 
Ducal court at Tiflis. We were warned that the country 
was still in an undeveloped state, and that we should find 
rough roads and meagre fare, but were also told that the 
worst danger to which we should be exposed from the 
mountaineers was having a horse stolen. 

On- May 1st we parted from our friends Cross and 
Williams, who sailed for Italy ; • and on the following 
afternoon embarked, with all our traps, on board a 
Eussian screw-steamer, which looked very small in con- 
trast to the large boats in which we had voyaged of late. 
She was named the * Gounib,' after the scene of Schamyl's 
last resistance and capture in Daghestan. The boat was 
built more for freight than passengers, and the accommo- 
dation was very scanty. Tucker and I were lucky, however, 
in getting a comfortable cabin to ourselves, owing to the 
courtesy of a Eussian officer, who exchanged his berth 
with one of us. The deck was littered with all sorts of odd 



EASZWAKD HOl 73 

passengers, bound for the ports of Asia Minor. The way 
in which an Eastern, immediately he gets on board-ship, 
spreads his rug, wraps himself round in his cloak, and re- 
signs himself to destiny and seasickness, is worthy of all 
praise. The vessel was delayed so long before the mails 
came on board, that it was dark before we got under 
weigh, and we saw but little of the beauties of the 
Bosphorus. Passing the lighthouse which marks the 
entrance to the Black Sea, we watched the steamer's head 
swing sharply round to the eastward, and felt that we had 
abandoned the ordinary track of travellers, and that a 
new stage in our wanderings had indeed been entered upon, 



TRAKSCAUOASIA. 



CHAPTER IV. 

TEAKSOAtrOASIA.* 

On the Black Sea — Trebizonde — Kival Interpreters — Paul — Bunning a 
Muck — Eatoum — The Caucasus in Sight — Landing at Poti — The Bion 
Steamer — ^A DriTe in the Dark — ^Kutais — Count Leverschoff— Splendid . 
Costumes — Mingrelian Princesses — Azaleas — The Valley of the Quirili — 
A Post Station — ^The Georgian Plains — Underground Villages — Gk)ri — 
First View of Kazbek— Tiflis— The Hotel d'Europe— The Streets- 
Silver and Fur Bazaars — Maps — German Savants — The Botanical 
Garden — The Opera — Officialism Bampant — ^A False Frenchwoman — 
A Paradodnaia — ^The Postal System in Bussia. 

The weather on the Black Sea was cold «nd rainy, but 
the water was never really rough. Half our fellow-pas- 
sengers were lEnglish — an engineer with his wife, and two 
young men going out to aid in the construction of the 
Poti-Tiflis railroad. Our other companions were a young 
Russian colonel, a little man who talked familiarly and 
affectionately of * votre John Stuart Jffill,^ on the strength 
of his having read his ^ Utilitarianism,' and some Armenian 
merchants, more or less uninteresting. 

On Monday we called at Samsoun, and on Tuesday 
afbemoon arrived at Trebizonde, where the boat remains 
twenty-six hours to take in cargo. The weather was vile, 
the rain falling like a waterspout, and we were glad to 
escape from the rather rough and monotonous Russian 
fare, and the uneasy roll of the steamer, to a nice little hotel 
on shore, kept by an Italian, who had served in the Sardinian 

* The political division of the Bussian empire ruled hj the Viceroy of the 
Caucasus, extends from the Manytch, on the north, to the Araxes on the south. 
The provinces on the north of the great Caucasian chain are called Ois-Caucasia, 
those on the south Trans-Caucasia. Bussians and natiyes of the country never 
restrict the name Caucasus to the mountain-range. 



RIVAL INTERPRETERS. 75 

army during the campaign in the Crimea. No sooner 
had we acquainted the landlord with our plan of travel, 
than a candidate for the post of interpreter appeared in a 
good-looking man, showily dressed in Caucasian costume. 
His acquirements, by his own account, were marvellous ; 
he spoke perfectly at least seven languages, including 
English. We thought he was too much of a dandy to 
appreciate such rough work as we meant to undertake, 
and were moreover unpleasantly reminded of dragomanic 
tyranny by his way of saying, * I am sure you cannot get 
on without me ; you will be very sorry if you do not take 
me.' We fortunately had an easy answer to his impor- 
tunities in our previous understanding with Mr. Palgrave, 
and we started off through the rain to find the dragoman 
of the English Consulate, for whom we had letters. He at 
once sent for the Mingi*elian whom Mr. Palgrave had re- 
commended to us. He was a handy-looking fellow, young 
and active, dressed in ordinary European clothes, and he 
was quite ready to accept such an engagement as we 
offered him ; so a bargain was at once struck with him, 
and he promised to be ready to start on the following day. 
On Wednesday we had a pleasant walk to an old Byzan- 
tine church, mutilated and whitewashed by liie Turks, 
outside the town. Trebizonde itself is a picturesque 
place. Its houses rise in terraces above the water, on the 
lower slope of a bold green hill, backed by finely-shaped, 
well-wooded mountains. The modem town has spread 
along the coast on either side of the old fortress, the walls 
of which are still perfect ; two ravines, which cut it off from 
the adjacent slopes, make it a very fine and strong position. 
The great article of manufacture seems to be wooden 
cradles, very gorgeously decorated ; we saw store after 
store full of them. The bazaars are well stocked with 
game, among which we noticed some woodcocks, from the 
neighbouring hills. When we were there the place was 



76 TRANSCAUCASIA. 

very quiet, but shortly afterwards its peace was disturbed 
by a tragic incident. A Mussulman fanatic, either mad 
or drunk, took it into his head to run-a-muck through the 
bazaar, and so far succeeded in his horrid purpose, as to 
stab no less than seventeen people before he was himself 
waylaid and despatched with a poleaxe by a discreet 
butcher. Eleven of his victims died of their wounds. 
These outbursts of fanaticism sometimes occur among a 
Mahommedan population, but they are quite exceptional 
phenomena, and as a rule your person and pocket are far 
safer in an Eastern city than they are in London. 

In the afternoon we climbed by a steep path to the Flag- 
staflf Hill, behind the town, which commands a very good 
view of the coast and the mountains of the interior. The 
brow was covered with the most wonderfully smooth turf, 
like an English lawn. On the way down we turned aside 
to visit a very curious rock-hewn church, decorated with 
frescoes, some apparently of great antiquity. We left at 
6 P.M., and at daybreak next morning were in the harbour 
of Batoum. The weather had cleared during the night, 
and, to our great surprise and delight, we found ourselves 
for the first time in the presence of the * mystic mountain 
range ^ of which we had talked and thought so much, but 
of which we as yet practically knew so little. 

As we looked from the deck of the steamer, our eyes 
foUowed a long line of snowy peaks, the most western of 
which rose directly above the waters, like a ship at sea 
when only its white sails are visible. Next to these came 
a cluster of fine rocky peaks, which reminded me of the 
Dolomites as seen from Venice ; in the centre the outlines 
were tamer, but on the east was a very massive group, pro- 
bably Eoschtantau and its neighbours, which stand midway 
between Elbruz and Xazbek. The harbour of Batoum is 
the only safe one at this end of the Black Sea; it is 



BATOUM. 77 

formed by a long spit of sand, which runs out in a northerly 
direction, and the bay faces the north-west. The town stands 
on low ground, and is poorly built ; it is only some twelve 
miles distant from the frontier fort of St. Nicholas, 
and it seems curious that, in some of their accessions of 
territory on this side, the Eussians have not managed to 
obtain possession of the harbour, which would be of great 
value to them. Poti, at present the port of Trans-Caucasia, 
is a most miserable place, and the bar of the Bion is so 
shallow that no vessel of any size can cross it. All the 
Black Sea steamers, consequently, either stop at Batoum 
or SoukhoTmi-£al6, and transfer their cargoes into smal- 
ler boats. The steamer which ought to have met us 
had not arrived, and we were compelled to spend the 
whole day at Batoum. At a brook in the outskirts of the 
town we found several men engaged in capturing frogs : 
no sooner were the victims secured, than they were be- 
headed and skinned; a revolting spectacle from which 
we quickly fled. Crossing, by a ruinous wooden causeway, 
the swamp which intervenes between Batoum and the 
lulls, we climbed up a projecting knoll covered with 
rhododendrons in blossom, and crowned with beech-trees. 
The vistas of sea and coast through the trees^were exqui- 
site. A hamlet built on the hillside reminded me of the 
pictures of South Sea island habitations; it consisted 
of huts built of rough interlaced wood plastered with mud, 
surrounded by quaint little square boxes raised upon poles, 
and looking like young chdiets starting for a stilt-race. I 
believe they are used for storing com. We made pro- 
visional arrangements with the Russian consul at Batoum 
to remedy our Mingrelian servant's want of a passport, 
and were much ai9used by His name, which proved to be 
Bakoua Pipia. Pipia was the family title — Bakoua a term of 
endearment which he had acquired as a boy. We preferred 



76 TRANSCAUCASIA. 

to call liim by the more familiar appellation of * Paul/ by 
which he had gone when in European service. In the 
afternoon time hung heavy on our hands, and, having 
exhausted our last * Saturday Review,* we had recourse 
to a oaf 6^ kept by a Frenchman, which offered some bad 
beer and an atrocious billiard-table. 

Towards evening the little steamer arrived from Poti. 
It had been detained to aid a vesseL laden with the iron- 
work for the railroad bridges, which had stuck on the bar. 
No certain intelligence could be obtained as to when we 
should start, and we were finally allowed to turn in with 
the impression that we were not to be disturbed till the 
morning. The captain, however, changed his mind, and at 
midnight we were awoke, and told to go on board the small 
boat. Meantime, Franfois and Paul, in preference to 
sleeping on the deck, had gone ashore to seek quarters in 
the town, and no one knew where they were to be found. 
We ^ent off men to go the round of the lodging-houses, 
and promenaded the quay ourselves, shouting their names 
and * jodelling ' at the top of our voices. All was in vain — no 
trace or sign of the truants was to be had. The little 
vessel got its steam up, and we were obliged to go on 
board. Of course we complained loudly to the officers of 
their mismanagement in first giving notice that we should 
not leave till morning, and then routing everybody out of 
bed at midnight. While we were venting our indignation, 
the ropes were cast loose, and the paddlewheels began to 
revolve; we had actually gone a hundred yards when 
a movement took place on the shore, and the burly 
outline of Fran9ois was seen standing like Lord Ullen, 
when left lamenting on the waterside by his heartless 
daughter. I made a last energetic appeal; the engines 
were stopped, and the lost ones were brought off rapidly 
in a boat. Pran9ois nearly tumbled into the water in his 



THE CAUCASUS IN SIGHT. 79 

hurry to get on deck, and both men looked, as they well 
might, very sheepish and ashamed of themselves. 

It was aboat 2 a.m. when we got off from Batoum. The 
cold soon drove us below, but we came on deck again at 
sunrise, so as to lose nothing of our approach to the Cau- 
casian shores. The steamer was running quickly across the 
fine bay which forms the eastern end of the Black Sea ; 
behind us lay the ranges on the Turkish frontier, grand 
masses rising to 8,000 or 10,000 feet in height, carrying at 
this early season, and after an unusually inclement winter, 
a great quantity of snow, but still clearly mountains of 
the second class ; before us rose ridge behind ridge, until 
behind and above them all towered the peaks of the central 
chain of the Caucasus, scarcely telling their height to the 
eye uninitiated in mountain mysteries, but showing us 
plainly enough that we were in the presence of an array 
of giants, armed in like panoply of cliff and ice to those 
we had so often encountered in the Alps. One great dome 
of snow, which conspicuously overtopped all its neighbours, 
we hailed at the time as Elbruz, and I do not doubt we 
were right in our recognition of the monarch. On our 
right lay a low wooded coast, the basin of the Bion ; a 
group of twelve vessels anchored about a mile off shore, 
and a tall lighthouse marked the mouth of the river and 
the position of PotL The meeting of the fresh water and 
the salt was most curious; the Bion is at all times a 
muddy stream, and the line between the brown and blue 
water was marked sharply enough to be visible frrom a 
considerable distance. The town lies about half a mile up 
the Bion, on the southern bank ; we ran up alongside a 
wharf, close to the custom-house — a long log-building, 
where our luggage was very leniently examined, and our 
passports were taken away; we were told they should be sent 
after us to Tiflis. There is no restriction against bringiog 



80 TRANSCAUCASIA. 

arms into the country. We had expected, on landing in 
Eussia, to be struck, after the universal untidiness of the 
East, by the appearance of a well-dressed European sol- 
diery, but, to our surprise, the men we saw were clad in 
worn-out grey suits, and were physically of the most 
wretched appearance. Partly owing to the exertions of 
our companion the Colonel, the departure of the river-boat 
np the Rion was delayed until passengers from the 
Black Sea steamer could get on board, and after a stay 
of only an honr and a half, we left Poti behind us ; I shall 
therefore i)Ostpone its description till our return, and at 
once carry my readers up the country* ^ 

The voyage up the Rion from Poti to Orpiri occupies 
eight hours, and on a clear day, such as we were favoured 
with, is most beautiful. The stream, a short distance above 
its mouth, makes several bends, each of which discloses a 
charming vista. Thick forests clothe the banks ; and over 
the trees glitter the peaks of * the frosty Caucasus.' One 
summit, exactly at the end of a long reach of the river, 
strikingly resembled in form the snowy side of the Grivola. 
On the right we had always the Turkish ranges, which 
sink in beautifrilly-shaped lulls into the basin of the Rion. 
Eor the first four hours of our voyage, both shores were 
covered with primeval forests, and the country was low 
and swampy, the only signs of life being a few log-hnts, 
or a Mingrelian horseman riding past. One man raced 
the boat for some way, and we had time to remark his 
costume. The most striking part was the long frock*coat, 
the breast of which was decorated with a row of cartridge- 
pouches ; and the ^ baschlik,' or Caucasian hood, with two 
long tails, used to wind round the neck in case of wet ; 
this, with the big sheepskin cloak common to the country, 
forms a most efficient protection even against an Eastern 
deluge. The stream, averaging from 200. to 800 yards in 



THE RION. 81 

width, now bent to the south ; the forest became thinner, 
and the country more inhabited, while orchards, fields of 
Indian-corn, and clusters of cottages, appeared on either 
shore. The lowest outposts of the southern hills here ad- 
vance dose to the Rion, above which they rise in steep banks 
covered with fine timber. Our Utile steamer contained a 
good saloon, where an excellent dinner was served to a 
very mixed company. The most marked characters at table 
were a French baron, absent from home for political 
reasons, who had been down to Poti to fetch two of Ban- 
some's ploughs- for his farm near Kutais, a fat roaring 
Mynheer- van-Dunk of an official, connected with the post- 
service, and the captain of the steamboat, a little scrap of 
a man, who did his best to be polite to a very rough 
English engineer, incapable of speaking any language but 
his ovra, and labouring under the suspicion, for which he 
probably had sufficient grounds in Russia, that everyone 
was taking advantage of him in consequence. The 
amiable captain paid severely for his politeness to our 
countryman, in being compelled to swallow a tumbler of 
porter, as a proof of the sincerity of his sentiments. 

Before reaching Orpiri, we noticed, on the hillsides, the 
road which runs to Port St. Nicholas through the district 
of the Guriel, celebrated for the personal beauty and 
picturesque costumes of its inhabitants. The stream was 
exceedingly rapid, and the steamer had some difficulty in 
cutting her way past the mouth of the Zenes Squali or 
Horse River, the largest affluent of the Rion. The villages 
of Orpiri and Meran stand on either bank. The former — a 
cluster of wooden cottages, at one of which food and even 
beds may be obtained — is on the right or northern banks 
At Nakolakevi, in this neighbourhood, some antiquaries 
believe that they have discovered the site of the ancient 
Aea, whence Jason carried off the golden fleece. Those 

G 



82 TRANSCAUCASIA. 

who wish to read a rationalised view of the early legends 
of Colchis, and whose feelings can support the intelligence 
that Jason was, in fact, only the first man who made a rush 
to the diggings, and that Circe was Medea's niece, a very 
discreet young lady, who put Ulysses' companions into the 
police-station because they got tipsy and riotous, but let 
them out on the entreaty of their insinuating and polished 
commander — ^will find all this, and much really valuable in- 
formation besides, in Dubois de Montpereux's * Caucase.' 
Meran is the place of banishment of the Scoptsi, a religious 
sect whose tenets enjoin self-mutilation. There is no 
mistaking the appearance of one of these men, who have 
all the look of loutish old boys ; their faces resemble one 
another, and change little with years. They are said to 
make honest and intelligent servants, a rare article in Min- 
grelia, if one may believe the universal report of European 
residents. 

Our voyage ended at Orpiri, whence a diligence starts in 
correspondence with the steamer to carry on the passen- 
gers ; but all the places had been secured by telegraph, and 
not being provided with a *podorojno,' or order for post- 
horses, we were obliged to seek some other mode of getting 
on to Kutais. A peasant's waggon was the only resource ; 
in this we packed ourselves and luggage, and at 6.30 p.m. 
started to gain our first experience of road-travelling in 
Caucasia. Our vehicle was a long and narrow trough 
covered with a tilt, and had no springs or seat. It was 
drawn by three horses, which however did not drag it at any 
great pace. The road was level and straight, and as we 
jolted slowly along, bumping over every stone, we all in 
turn felt aweary, and wished we were in bed. Sometimes 
we passed a village where the lights showed that the people 
were still awake, and we often met waggons, similar to our 
own, journeying in the opposite direction ; between times 



KUTAIS. 83 

there wad nothing to divert onr minds from the perpetual 
croaking of the frogs, till, like Dionysus in the play, we 
wished they and their * quack ' might perish together, by a 
fate similar to that we had seen inflicted on their brethren 
at Batoum. 

Halfway, one of our horses had to be shod ; this caused 
further delay, and we only reached Kutais at 1.80 a.m. 
A slight descent leads into the town. Passing a barrier, 
and crossing the Bion by a fine bridge, beneath which its 
waters gleamed in the moonlight, we drove up to the Hdtel 
de Prance, where, after our week^s confinement on board 
steamers, we were glad to install ourselves in a large and 
comfortable bedroom. 

We spent the next two days at Kutais in roaming 
about, and making arrangements for the drive to Tiflis, 
where we were anxious to arrive as soon as possible, in 
order to catch some of the officials and residents to whom 
we had letters, before they all dispersed for the summer 
to the numerous retreats in the hiOs, whither they fly 
from the heat of the Caucasian capital. 

The situation of Kutais, which stands at the point where 
the Bion emerges from the hills into the plain, is extremely 
pretty, although the low wooded eminences which surround 
the place shut out entirely the snowy chain. The view look- 
ing southwards, across the Bion basin to the ranges on the 
Turkish frontier is, in a favourable light, very beautiftil. 
The main part of the town, including the bazaar and the 
public gardens, is on a level space on the left bank of 
the river. The houses are all new within the last twenty, 
and most of them within the last ten, years ; the streets 
are straight, and the shops, fitted up with glass windows 
in the European style, are under arcades. The principal 
native articles of manufacture seemed to be silver-work 
(of which, however, the display is inferior to that at 

o2 



84 TRANSCAUCASIA. 

Tiflis), jet, and quaint-coloured chests. A hatter's shop at 
Xutais is wonderfully brilliant, owing to the variety and 
gorgeous character of the headpieces worn by the inhabi- 
tants. The shops seemed well stored with European 
goods, from saddles and flasks, to opera-glasses, goloshes, 
and cosmetics. We failed, however, to discover any of 
the famous Circassian cream, of which Western ladies have 
been known to request Mends starting for the Caucasus 
to bring back a store, in the belief (I need scarcely say 
unfounded) that it is really a product of this country. 

We walked out to a botanical garden which has been 
established on the opposite bank of the river : here there 
are shady walks and a greenhouse; and although its 
present attractions are limited, it will no doubt develope 
into a very intieresting collection of the trees and plants of 
the country. In the afternoon I called on Coxm^t Lever- 
schoff, the Governor of Mingrelia, who was living in a 
prettily-situated villa outside the town, on the Tiflis 
road. He was most polite, promised a * crown-podorojno,* 
and advised us to send to the postmaster and order a car- 
riage. The postmaster kept Paul for two hours, and then 
sent him away with a message that he had no carriages at 
home, and that we must wait for the next diligence, which 
did not leave for four days. Unaccustomed as yet to the 
difficulties attendant on all negotiations with post-officials, 
and deluding ourselves with the belief that a * crown-podo- 
rojno ' was treated with some respect in Kussia, we were 
both surprised and indignant at the reply, and I returned 
to the Governor, to inform him of the result of my inquiries. 
I was shown into a room most gorgeously decorated in 
Eastern style ; the vdndows, still unfinished, were draped 
with Persian carpets, hung as tapestry ; others were spread 
over divans, and one of the walls was decorated with a 
trophy of Caucasian arms, from amongst which a chamois- 



'**'*—' ' I   — *- -■  .~» ; ^-->.-. —...-■ 



■I — '^ 



THE CAUCASIAN PASSES. 85 

head looked down on us. I was promised that the hitch at 
the post should, if possible, be got over, and received some 
usefiil information as to the mountain districts. The 
Ck)unt told me that we should find the Ossetes (a tribe 
living on the north side of the chain, in the valleys round 
Kazbek) the ' gentlemen ' of the Caucasus ; and that 
Suanetia, the name given to the upper valley of the Ingur, 
was the most primitive and, in some ways, most interesting 
district in his government. He spoke in the most glowing 
terms of the scenery of those parts of the coxmtry which 
he had visited, and of the defile of the Dariel, the beauties 
and horrors of which the Russians are all fond of descant- 
ing on. From a postal map, which he kindly got but, I 
discovered that seven passes were laid down over the main 
chain between Kazbek and Elbruz. One of these, the Ma- 
misson — running up the valley of the Bion to its eastern 
source, and thence descending along the Ardon to Ardonsk, 
near Yladikaf kaz — ^is a well-known route, and a caniage- 
road has been traced, though never completed, over it. Of 
the other six, some at least, as we found afterwards, are mere 
glacier-passes, used only by the people of the country. All 
this information was quite new to us, for, during the short 
time at our disposal before leaving England, we had not 
succeeded in finding any account of the country between 
Kazbek and Elbruz, and our programme of ascending those 
two mountains, and following out the main chain between 
.them, was based only on the German maps of the Caucasus 
which we could obtain in London. 

On Sunday morning the postmaster came to call on us, 
to say that he had one carriage at home, which should be 
prepared if we liked it. We went to inspect the proposed 
vehicle — along-bodied trap, something like a Swiss * berg- 
Y^agen,' which had been disused for some time, and left out 
in the rain ; consequently a small hay-crop was growing 



86 TRANSCAUCASU. 

inside. The framework, however, seemed solid, and the 
necessary repairs being promised, we settled to start next 
morning. This was the first illustration we had of the 
extraordinary mismanagement of the post-yards in the 
Caucasian provinces. Every carriage, as soon as it gets 
out of order or often before, instead of being repaired or 
kept under a shed, is left to rot and to fall pieces in the 
open air. 

We amused ourselves during the day by strolling 
about the outskirts of the place, which consist of detached 
dwellings surrounded by little gardens, and entered a 
Bussian church, where the singing was remarkably good. 
On the hill on the western bank of the Bion, behind 
the great hospital which overlooks the town, are the ruins 
of a very fine Byzantine cathedral. Pour lofby pillars, 
still remaining, once supported a central dome. The 
porch, now fitted up as a chapel, is very curious, and we 
remarked the ram's head introduced into its sculpture, 
as though the legend of the Crolden Fleece had been 
known and appreciated by its builders. In the graveyard 
near is a very pretty monument, a small bronze angel 
raised on a pedestal. 

On our return we found Count Simonivitch, the police- 
master of the district, looking out for us : he proposed to 
make arrangements for horses for our use on the morrow, 
if we wished to visit the old monastery of Gelathi, some 
five miles distant ; but we were anxious to arrive at Tiflis, 
and declined his kind offer. The Count proved an ex- 
ceedingly pleasant acquaintance, and amused us much 
by his account of journeys in which he had accompanied 
Sir Henry Bawlinson, for whose knowledge of languages 
he seemed to entertain a great respect. Amongst other 
anecdotes, he told us of a curious superstition stdll preva- 
lent in Armenia. In that country (I have forgotten the 



MINGRELIAN HEADPIECES. 87 

locality) is a well named after St. John, which is venerated 
even by the Kurds. When the locusts eat up the land, a 
child — too young to have committed any deadly sin — is 
let down into the well, and brings up a cup of water. The 
holy water thus procured is scattered over the fields, and 
in a few hours a miraculous flight of birds arrives, and 
eats up the locusts. 

The public garden at Kutais is a plot of ground the 
size of a large London square, with walks down the 
middle, and a few trees, but no flowers; it is, in fact, 
like an unkempt piece of the Regent's Park. On Sun- 
day afternoons, when a military band plays, it becomes 
a most amusing promenade, owing to the immense variety 
of costumes which meet the eye. In this part of the 
world fashion runs wUd in head-dresses. There is first 
the hideous Russian military cap, white, bulging at the 
top, and much like a baker's, which some of the in- 
habitants have the bad taste to adopt: then there is 
the tall sheepskin hat, like a lady's muff ,set on end, 
with a round cloth cap, generally scarlet, to crown the 
edifice ; this has a smaller and humbler I'elative of the 
pork-pie order, of the same £a«mily is the Tartar cap, 
conical in form, like a sugarloaf. Besides these the poorer 
peasants are to be seen in every variety of felt wideawake, 
from a bell-shaped fancy article, with gilt braid and a 
button on the top, which looks as if it had been stolen 
from the great Panjandrum himself, to an almost shapeless 
piece of battered material. But the two most characteristic 
headpieces have yet to be mentioned — ^the * baschlik,' and 
Mingrelian cap. The first is a cloth hood with long 
flappers attached, and is used by both sexes. The men 
wear them plain, but for the ladies they can be made as 
gorgeous, with gold embroidery, as the fair owner pleases. 
When worn with the hood over the head, and the flappers 



88 TRANSCAUCASIA* 

allowed to fall loosely down the back, they give a man the 
appearance of Touchstone in the play, but the native oftener 
binds the ends up into a happy combination of a fool's-cap 
and turban. The Mingrelian cap is a small oval-shaped 
piece of cloth, or with the higher classes of embroidered 
velvet, stuck on the back of the head, and fastened by strings 
under the chin. It is about the size of a fashionable lady's 
bonnet, and I am disposed to think that some Parisian 
milliner must have been thus £ajr, and carried home the 
idea for Aiture use. 

A curious legend, illustrating the thievish character of 
the race, even in the first century, is recounted at Kutais, 
as an explanation of the origin of this peculiar headpiece. 
The story runs thus : — St. Peter, who is said to have visited 
the Black Sea shores, and first preached the Gospel there, 
was one day travelling through the Mingrelian forest. 
The saint was on foot, the heat was great, and the road 
long; he threw off his hat and shoes, and, lying down 
under the sljade of a spreading beech-tree, fell fast asleep. 
Before long two natives, a Mingrelian and an Imeritian, 
rode by. They observed the sleeping saint, and the first 
idea which suggested itself to their profane minds, was to 
see what they could get out of him. He had no silver 
belt, not even a dagger, but the discarded hat and shoes 
offered an obvious booty. The Mingrelian secured the 
hat, the Imeritian the shoes, and the pair hurried off. 
Some time afterwards St. Peter awoke, and discovered the 
robbery of which he had been the victim. Finding his 
property irretrievably lost, he had recourse to the natural 
consolation of cursing the thieves, which he did in the 
following form : * May the posterity of him who has taken 
my shoes go for ever barefoot ! May no son of the man 
who has got my hat ever wear one on his head ! * Prom 
that time no Imeritian peasant has ever had a pair of 



MINGRELIAN COSTUMES. 89 

shoes on .his feet, no Mingrelian a sufficient coyering for 
his head. 

All the townspeople, except the Russian officials, wear 
the long cloth frock-coats, reaching considerably below the 
knees, and confined at the waist by handsomely-worked 
silver belts, to which are suspended silver-sheathed 
daggers. The row of cartridge-pouches on the breast, 
which is de riguefwr even for small children, is made a 
vehicle for much tasty ornament, and the binding of the 
coat and silk undershirt is often of silver or gold braid. 
This costume gives an air of immense height to the really 
tall and fine men, whom we often met promenading in twos 
and threes. The poorer folk cover their shabby garments 
in great sheepskin cloaks, and struck us as a sleepy 
inoffensive-looking people. 

The women show their half-civilisation by the harsh 
mixture of colours in their dress. They are distinctly a 
handsome race, with fine eyes and good complexions ; but 
after the bloom of youth has passed, their features sharpen, 
and assume a shrewish air, which bodes ill for the peace 
of their husbands* We saw many faces which might 
have served as models for Medea, who, as some of my 
readers may recollect, is described by Propertius as a 
native of Kutais. The hideous fashion of wearing a great 
plait of hair, or two corkscrew ringlets, over the cheeks, de- 
tracts much from the chamjis of the modem Mingrelian 
belles, and the unfortunate spread of civilisation has led 
them into imitations of Parisian costumes which, as they 
are out of date by at least three years, are likely to find but 
little favour in a Western eye. Large crinolines, of the 
stiffest make, were in fuU vogue, and a devoted husband — 
surely in his honeymoon ! — ^was seen on one occasion riding 
home, with his dagger and sword at his side, brandishing 
proudly in his hand an iron fiumework, destined to support 



90 TRANSCAUCASIA. 

the heavy skirts of his spoiise. The only trace of local 
costume worn by the ladies, besides the * baschlik,' is a 
Greek cap fastened on the back of the head by a lace veil 
or handkerchief. 

Count Leyerschoff has the reputation of being a man of 
progress, and, with the assistance of his wife, has done 
much to promote the welfare and gaiety of Kutais, by 
encouraging balls and theatricals, making all officials 
wear their uniforms in the streets, and instituting a mili- 
tary band in the gardens. It was curious enough, among 
such a company, and after an impromptu burst of wild 
harmony, or (to speak the truth) discord, from a party of 
country-folk, to hear the band strike up the fa.mi1iar 
Mabel waltzes. 

The hotel at Kutais is fla^irly comfortable, and English 
tastes are well understood, owing to the number of en- 
gineers who have been out here for the last few years, to 
direct the works of the railroad now in course of construc- 
tion between Poti and Tiflis, which it is proposed to con- 
tinue, at some future date, as far as Baku, on the Caspian. 
The mistress is an untidy voluble Frenchwoman, and, as we 
afterwards learnt to our cost, her promises are in no way 
to be depended upon. 

On Monday morning our trap arrived at the door, soon 
after the appointed hour. For the first time in our wan- 
derings, we assisted in making our own seats, by twisting 
a piece of rope in and out of holes left for the purpose in 
the framework of the carriage, and spreading our plaids 
on the top. Fran9ois and Paul had a wooden bench slung 
forward, and the driver perched where he could. It was 
soon evident, despite Fran9ois' determined endeavours, 
that all our luggage could not be carried with us ; and we 
reluctantly confided our tent, with one of the portmanteaus, 
to the charge of the mistress of the hotel, who promised 



AZALEAS. 91 

faithfully to forward them that evening, by a German 
carrier. The weather was most lovely, and we set out in 
high spirits, for our vehicle had springs enough to save 
us from any painful jolting, and the road, for the first two 
stages, is excellent. Passing the Governor's house, we 
emerged on to a common, golden with wild azaleas in full 
blossom, the perfume of which was delicious. Sharp zigzags 
led down the opposite side of the hill to a nanx)w stream, 
over which a new bridge was being constructed. The 
road now ran over low wooded hills, the last spurs of the 
Caucasus, and offered a succession of charming views 
towards the Turkish or (to use a convenient name sug^ 
gested by Mr. PaJgrave) Anti-Caucasian chain* — ^large 
rounded moxmtains, not unlike the Tuscan Apennines. 
The whole scenery was delightful, and the country vividly 
green and spring-like — a striking contrast to the bare 
brown regions, too common in the East. The azaleas, 
however, formed the distinguishing feature of the day's 
drive ; the commons were bright with them, the oak-woods 
sheltered a dense undergrowth of them, and higher in the 
hills their golden blossoms mingled with the purple 
masses of the rhododendron, the white flower of the 
laurel and the hawthorn, pale yellow brooms, and beds 
of the bluest forget-me-nots. We dipped into a pretty 
wooded glen, and then came suddenly on the first station — 
a low white building, which overlooks the basin of the 
Quirili, a great tributaiy of the Eion, believed by geo- 
graphers to be the ancient Phasis. The postmaster was 
a surly and impudent little monkey, and refused to give 
us horses, on the ground that our *podorojno* was 
made out for two, instead of four, persons. We declined 

* German geographers seem to have adopted the epithets Great and Little 
Caucasus, to distinguish the ranges south and north of the basins of the Kion 
and the Kur. — See Feterman's ' Geographische Mittheilunger. 



92 TEANSCAUCASLA. 

to bribe him, and eyentuallj, by the threat of returning to 
Xutais, to lay a complaint before the Governor, brought 
him to his senses. His object was to make ns take an 
extra cart with three horses for the servants, by which 
manceavre he wonld have been paid for six horses instead 
of three. 

The second sjtsLge was along the right bank of the Qoirili, 
which now flows through undulating country. Snowy 
peaks, .bold in form but of no great height (perhaps 11,000 
feet), rose in the distance on our lefb. Near Simonethi, 
the second station, we saw numerous clusters of the clean 
white tents of the Bussian soldiery. Up to this point the 
line from Poti will probably soon be opened ; but unless the 
.works are pushed with greater vigour than is now shown, 
it will be long before the iron road pierces the Suram chain, 
and reaches Tiflis. The earthworks are being constructed 
by the soldiers, who, besides being, as a rule, weak physi- 
cally, are sufficiently enlightened to appreciate the prin- 
ciple of a fair day's work for a fair day's pay, and naturally 
hold that two copecks a day is amply repaid by a very 
little work and a great deal of shuffling. 

The road now enters the Suram chain of hills, which 
separate the basins of the Eion and the Kur, and form 
the watershed between the . Black Sea and the Caspian, 
and the connecting link between the Caucasus and the 
mountains of Armenia. The Georgian highway, which is 
very rough and bad for several stages, follows to its head 
one of the main sources of the Quirili, which has found 
itself a way through a long and tortuous valley. The 
scenery consequently changes every minute, and is addi- 
tionally varied by frequent glimpses up lateral glens. An 
old castle guards the entrance of the valley ; higher up 
the vegetation becomes richer ; box, laurel, and bays clothe 
the banks, ajid the beech grows to a great size. A stee]> 



VALLEY ON THE QUIRILI. 98 

hill leads np to a pictnresque ivied tower, and a solitary 
house stands on the opposite bank of the stream, which is 
suddenly confined between bold precipices of limestone 
crag, beneath which the road passes. The defile soon opens 
out, and the third station comes in sight. Here there were 
no horses to be had, and after an inspection of the stable, to 
ascertain that we had been told the truth. Tucker and I set 
off up the nearest and steepest hillside, to while away the 
two hours we were obliged to wait. A climb of nearly 1,000 
feet up a sledge-track brought us to meadows where the 
hay had just been cut; we now. overlooked the lower hills, 
and had a good view of the finely-shaped peaks which 
stand in a semicircle round the head-waters of the Ardon, 
and of an icy mass to the west which we could not then 
recognise. We returned to the station, to find the expected 
horses arrived and resting. At last we got them put to, 
and started. The valley, was much narrower; castles 
peered at one another, like the cat and the mouse on the 
Bhine, from wooded knolls ; and the road was driven into 
close companionship with the foaming torrent by steep 
banks clothed in deciduous forest trees. We gained fre- 
quent glimpses up lateral glens to the higher snow-streaked 
ranges on the south. 

Our horses were tired, and it was dark before we reached 
the fourth station, fifty miles from Kutais. It was a 
wretched place, but there v^s no alternative ; so we 
stopped, and were oishered into a small room, clean, bnt 
furnished only with a long bench. Ham was the only 
food we could procure; the posthouse itself supplied 
neither tea, coffee, nor wine, but we got some very 
strange effervescing drink, said to be made from grapes, 
at the village store. Although Caucasian posthouses 
differ too much in their size and internal fittings to 
admit of any very accurate general description, they 



94 TRANSCAUCASIA. 

have all one feature in common — an absence of comfort 
paralleled in England only in second-class railway refresh- 
ment-rooms. 

May 12<A. — In the morning our rug-straps were 
missing, a warning that honesty was not a common virtue 
here, and at 5 a.m. we were obliged to depart without 
them. The road, which from this place to Suram is very 
good, continues to follow the narrow valley, although, 
leaving the stream, it winds along the northern slopes, 
making from time to time a long circuit to cross the 
ravine of a lateral torrent. The hills were covered with 
timber, resembling that of an English copse, and the 
azaleas perfumed the morning air. Clusters of untidily- 
built wooden cottages crowned the knolls on the opposite 
side of the valley. We met long files of camels carrying 
merchandise down to the seacoast ; many of the young 
animals were frisking about by the side of their dams, 
others, too young to walk, travelled strapped on to their 
mothers' backs, where they seemed more comfortable than 
might have been expected. 

After changing horses at a village close to the top of 
the pass, we drove over the green ridge, and looked for 
the first time into Georgia. The day was misty, but I 
doubt if the view is ever very fine, as higher hills must 
shut out the great chain on the north. The road, which 
had been well engineered for the last stage, made itself 
supremely ridiculous in the descent to Suram, by wan- 
dering aimlessly backwards and forwards on the hillside, 
in enormous and ill-constructed zigzags, by means of 
which the bottom, with great waste of time and trouble, 
is reached at last. Suram was in view from the top — 
a small town, gathering round a castle perched on a 
bold rock, which stands in the middle of the valley. The 
station is beyond the town, at the junction of the branch- 



THE GEORGIAN PLAINS. 05 

road from Borjoin and Achaltzich, wliich, in company 
with the Kur, here emerges from the southern hills 
through a narrow glen. The aspect of the country had 
now entirely changed for the worse. Instead of the varied 
landscape and rich vegetation of Mingrelia, we had before 
na a rolling plain bounded by distant ranges, so brown 
and bare as almost to make us fancy ourselves back in 
Syria again. The ' chaass^,* aa the Russians invariably 



A. Goorgiaii Cbnrch. 

call a regularly-made road, had come to an end, and we 
wandered over the fields at our driver's will, selecting the 
least rough and muddy line of country there might be 
within a quarter of a mile of the telegraph-posts, which 
marked our general direction. The novel sight of village 
churches was, however, a source of interest. In Turkey 
they are of course unknown, and, except at Kntais, we 
had hitherto seen little external evidence of Christian 



96 TRANSCAUCASU. 

worship in Mingrelia. We also noticed villages of odd 
underground houses, or rather burrows, marked only by a 
brown dome of earth, and approached by steps descend- 
ing to a sunken doorway, somewhat like that of an ice- 
house ; a hole, lined with basket-work, serves as the 
chimney to these dreary abodes, and, as Fran5oi8 remarked, 
one of the little pigs which swarm hereabouts might 
easUy tumble down and be boiling in the pot before he 
weU knew where he was. Gargarepi is a large viUage 
buried in fruit-trees, with a handsome church. The 
drive into Gori was hot and dusty ; the road crosses the 
Kur, halfway, by a long wooden bridge. 

The station at Gori is on the right bank of the river, but 
the town lies about half a mile distant, on the opposite side ; 
it is picturesque, at a distance, owing to the bold outline 
of the castle-hill, and the contrast of colours between the 
cool grey of the houses, the bright-green church-towers, 
and some red-roofed buildings in the foreground. We 
walked into the bazaar in search of novelties, but dis- 
• covered nothing specially worthy of notice, except a glass 
paper-weight with the word * BalaMava,' and a picture of 
our Light Brigade * sabring the gunners there,' which one 
would scarcely have expected to find in this part of the 
world. We visited a small chapel, built of ruddy stone, 
the front decorated with a large carved cross. In the in- 
terior we were shown a finely-iBuminated missal, and a 
silver reliquary with figures of the Four Evangelists. 

At Achalchalaki we forded a stream, which now covered 
only a portion of its wide stony bed, and the track then 
took for a time to the hills on the southern side of the Kur. 
The sky was clear, and, to our great delight, our constant 
search of the northern horizon was rewarded at last by 
the first appearance of Kazbek. The mountain towers 
far above all its neighbours, and, seen from the south. 



MSCIIETI. 97 

shows two summits, of which the eastern is evidently the 
^higher. We fancied it looked loftier than any Alpine 
peak from a similar point of view, and matle ourselves 
happy with the belief that it was too large to be in- 
accessible on all sides. We descended to a pretty village, 
surrounded by vines trailed in the Italian fashion, and 
enlivened by a large encampment of railway workmen, a 
motley and picturesque crowd of Persians, Georgians, 
Kurds, and Russians — each nationality easily distinguish- 
able by its peculiar dress. 

We now entered a fine defile ; the Kur, a smooth swift 
stream, flowed beneath us in a deep bed, with cliffs on 
either side, perforated by numerous rock-tombs, for which 
the most inaccessible positions had been chosen. Where 
the Dariel road comes in from the north, over a lofty 
bridge, stands the posthouse of Mscheti, the first out of 
Tiflis. The large building, with its extensive stabling, 
looked so imposing in the dusk, that Fran9ois fancied he 
must be at home again, and wanted Paul to ascertain the 
hour of the table-d'hote. We had already driven eighty- 
eight miles, and, wishing to make our entry into Tiflis by 
daylight, determined to sleep here, as we found we could 
get some dinner, and hire mattrasses. 

May lAsth. — ^We had a drive of twenty versts (or nearly 
fourteen miles) between us and Tiflis ; the first part was 
exceedingly rough, as the new road and the railway were 
both in course of construction, and the space between the 
river and the hiU being limited, carriages had for the time 
some difficulty to get along anyivhere. Mscheti, surround- 
ed, after the fashion of the country, by battlemented walls, 
stands on the left bank of the Kur, in a fine situation 
. above the junction of the stream which comes down from 
the Krestowaja Gora. Once a large and flourishing town, 
it is now decayed, but contains a curious church, in which 

H 



«» •* ^kM^iA«»«M 



98 TRANSCAUCASIA. 

many of the kings of Georgia are buried. A castle on an 
opposite height commands the pass. When the hills retire, 
and the Kur bends southwards, Tiflis comes into sight for 
the first time. A bare dull-coloured basin opened out 
before us, at the end of which, about eight miles off, we 
could see the buildings of the city, apparently crowded 
into a narrow space beneath the steep ridges which bounded 
the view. A more unlovely spot at first sight it is impos- 
sible to imagine. The road was nearly finished, but, with 
the usual Bussian habit of leaving difficulties till the last, 
several steep-sided gullies remained unbridged. Just 
at the entrance to the town we passed a monument 
which records the upset of a Czar, caused by one of these 
perilous descents. Bain began to fall heavily as we drove 
down the long wide German-looking boulevard. A sharp 
turn to the left brought us up to the door of the H6tel 
d'Europe, which stands in an open square at the back of 
the opera-house, nearly in the centre of the town. 

We had always looked on Tiflis as our dep6t and base 
of operations during the summer months, and we were 
naturally anxious to ascertain what sort of quarters we 
should meet with, as the hotels in Bussian towns are not 
always pleasant resting-places for those unaccustomed to 
the ways of the country. We were therefore delighted to 
find that our host and his wife were French, and that the 
house was fitted up in European style. The bedrooms 
were large and amply famished, and the beds had good 
spring mattrasses, instead of being (as usual in Bussia) 
mere sofas with hard leathern cushions, and a sheet 
spread over them. Moreover, the master of the hotel was 
also the head-cook, and many of our dinners would have 
done credit to a restaurateur of the Palais Boyal ; while 
^ Madame,' besides constantly attending to our comforts, 
was always ready to help us in our final struggle with 



TIPLIS. 99 

some greedy Georgian or Armenian, whose wares had 
previously taken our fancy in the bazaars. 

On this our first visit we spent a week at Tiflis ; but after 
our return from Persia, and again ere setting out on our 
homeward journey, we made short halts in the same com- 
fortable quarters. I must now endeavour to throw together 
the impressions which were the result of our several visits. 
Our first feeling was, undoubtedly, one of disappointment. 
We had heard one way and another, while in the East, a 
good deal ofthe attractions of Tiflis, and now we found a 
town, which consists of a Bussian quarter roughly hand- 
some, and ostentatiously European, and two strangely in- 
congruous suburbs, Persian and German. The covered 
bazaars of the one are small and, afber Damascus and Con- 
stantinople, comparatively commonplace ; the other is neat 
and snug, with its *biergarten ' and band, where the German 
mechanic and ^ madchen ' promenade together, fondly and 
dully, as if in their native archduchy. The environs of 
the town are certainly not commonplace, but no one 
can call them beautiful. Bare green downs lie on the 
left bank of the Kur, and over the town on the right rise 
steep cliffs of clay, dried and parched up by the suns of 
many summers. 

A better acquaintance, gained by many drives and 
rambles through the town, greatly modified these first 
impressions. We found that the Eussian quarter contained 
many well-built private houses and excellent shops, and if 
the bazaars did not make the outward show of Damascus 
or Cairo, there was no lack of temptation to spend money 
within. 

The first thing which struck us in the business quarter of 
the town was the eagerness to sell shown by the occupants 
of the various stalls. In the East you may generally stop, 
and turn over one piece of goods after another, and their 

H 2 



^fci^ M* mm»m^»^-^ 



100 TRANSCAUCASIA. 

owner will not deign to interrupt the enjoyment of his 
pipe until you take the first step by enquiring the price of 
some article. No such notions of etiquette restrain the 
hungry-faced Georgian or Armenian artificers. After our 
first visit to the Silver Eow, our appearance was hailed by 
a crowd of eager merchants, and we were exhorted, and 
beckoned to on all sides, by rivals for our custom. The 
shop-fronts are about the size of a small cupboard, and in 
dark recesses behind, the workmen, may be seen hammer- 
ing out objects similar to those which the master offers 
you for sale. These are of a varied and attractive charac- 
ter: there are sUver-belts — some for men, consisting of 
handsome links of solid silver — others for women, of lighter 
and more delicate workmanship. A common conceit is to 
hang from them a model of a Caucasian dagger, the size 
of a penknife, neatly cased in its sheath. The GTeorgian 
family drinking-cups are both quaint and handsome : 
some consist of a cocoanut, mounted in silver-work, and 
furnished with a long straight spout ; others have a bowl 
entirely of silver, and a curiously-twisted mouthpiece, with 
three funnels, which must, one would fancy, be very awk- 
ward to drink out of. They are used chiefly as loving- 
cups at the family picnic parties, to which the (Georgians 
are much addicted. The big ladles and bowls, hammered 
out into quaint designs of birds, beasts, and flowers, are 
also exceedingly handsome. The stalls belonging to one 
trade are mostly in the same row ; close to the silversmiths, 
the armourers and furriers display their respective wares. 
Here we saw tiger-skins from Lenkoran, on the Caspian, 
hung side by side with lamb-skins from Bokhara, and 
bear-skins from the neighbouring mountains; and had 
offered for our inspection a choice of every size and quality 
of dagger and sword, and every variety of flint and steel 
pistol and gim. One of the traders boasted a medal 



THE STREET CROWD. 101 

obtained the previous year, at Paris, for the excellence of his 
workmanship. The number of wine-skins exposed for sale 
is another curious feature of the bazaars. The skins are of 
all sorts and sizes, from that of an ox to that of a sucking- 
pig. The wine kept in them is generally Kakhetie, the 
produce of the grapes of the Telaw district, which is very 
cheap, and is said to have the peculiar properties of 
curing gout and never causing headaches. Despite these 
recommendations, the flavour imparted by the skins will 
prevent most travellers from partaking largely of the 
commoner sorts. The best quality, after being kept some 
time in bottles, is a full-flavoured wine much resembling 
Burgundy. 

We were struck with the entire absence of any Turkish 
element in the crowd, and the consequent want of the 
bright fezzes which give such colour to the streets of 
many Eastern cities. Their place is poorly supplied by the 
tall cloth-caps of the Persians, or the conical sheepskins 
of the Georgian and Armenian merchants. On the whole, 
we did not see such variety of costumes here as at Kutais. 
In a town full of government offices the Russian uniform 
of course predominates, and the number of unhappy 
creatures doomed to walk the streets with a sword always 
dangling between their legs is very great. An occasional 
turbaned mountaineer from Daghestan, or a handsomely- 
accoutred Ossete, may of course be met, but here, as at 
home, the domestic servants are pre-eminent for gorgeouiS 
appareL A Tiflis major-domo is got up regardless of 
expense ; his belt and dagger-sheath are massively wrought 
in silver, and his cartridge-pouches and far hat are of the 
most elegant and expensive kind. Such a costume costs 
from 251. to 40Z. Winter is the Tiflis season, and tlien, I 
am told, the variety of dresses is really marvellous. As it 
was, Georgian, Armenian, Persian, Russian, and German 



102 TRANSCAUCASIA. 

make up a fair list of nationalities, and a member of each 
would probably be met with in a five-minutes' stroll. 

One of our first business visits was to the Topographical 
Department, which was in the same square as our hotel. 
From the officials there we met with unvarying courtesy, 
and no difficulty was made in allowing us to purchase any 
sheets we liked of the Ordnance or (as it is generally 
called, from being on the scale of five versts to the inch) 
the Five Verst Map. We inspected with great interest a 
beautiful relief model of the whole Caucasus, constructed 
on a large scale, a copy of which has lately been presented, 
by the Czar, to the Geographical Society of St. Petersburg ; 
and we were also glad to add to our collection a pano- 
ramic outline of the chain, giving the heights of the prin- 
cipal summits. These works are most creditable to the 
officers engaged in them, especially when the scanty time 
and means at their disposal are taken into consideration. 

We had brought with us several letters of introduction, 
explaining the object of our journey, to the officials 
attached to the Court at Tiflis, and we were disappointed 
to find that the Grand Duke had already left for Borjom, his 
summer residence, taking of course half Tiflis society with 
him. We were fortunate, however, in meeting Monsieur 
Barthelemi, Attache for special missions to the Grand 
Ducal Court, who was living at the time in our hotel ; and 
through his kindness, we were introduced to the Hussian 
and German gentiemen then resident in Tiflis, who were 
best acquainted with the natural features of the country. 
We had the good fortune to catch Herr Abich, on the 
eve of his departure for Germany, fix)m whom, in the course 
of a half-hour's conversation, I obtained two hints, which 
were both afterwards of the greatest service to us — ^namely, 
that there was a very lofty n6v6- plateau, at the northern 
base of the summit of Kazbek, and that Elbruz might be 



GKRMAN SAVANTS. 103 

attacked, with good prospect of success, from tlie gliiciers 
at the head of the Baksan valley. Herr Radde, chiefly 
known in England by his Siberian travels, although now 
settled in Tiflis, as curator of the Museum of Natural 
History, which has been lately founded, has not given up 
his roaming habits. He kindly presented us each with a 
copy of his work, * Die drei Langhochthaler Imeritiens, 
Eion, Ingur, and Tskenis-Squali,' the fruit of his wander- 
ings in the southern Caucasian valleys. It is the first 
German book which has been printed at Tiflis. The 
museum has not been long formed, but the collection is 
already most interesting. Specimens of the geology, 
natural history^ the costumes, and household articles of 
the inhabitants of the neighbouring regions, are grouped 
together as effectively as the limited space will aUow. The 
most striking object is a magnificent ^ auruch ' from the 
mountains west of Elbruz, a region which, now it has 
been depopulated by the expulsion of the Tcherkessian 
tribes, will perhaps offer a safe asylum for some years to 
come to this rare and noble beast. Two very well-stuffed 
tigers from Lenkoran occupy the middle of a room, 
round which are grouped bears, chamois, and bouquetins 
from the Caucasus. 

One of the pleasantest of our Bussian acquaintances at 
Tiflis was Greneral Chodzko, under whose superintendence 
the Government Survey and the * Five Verst Map ' of Trans- 
Caucasia have been executed. During the progress of the 
survey he ascended Ararat, and remained camped for nearly 
a week a short distance below the summit, engaged in 
scientific observations. The General had also made at- 
tempts on Kazbek and Elbruz, but he laughingly admitted 
that mountaineering had been with him rather a necessity 
than a pleasure; and he strongly dissuaded us from wasting 
our time in attempting the higher summits, which, from 



104 TBA-VSCAUCASIA. 

lii« experience, he thought would certainlj each take us a 
month to vanquish, fvi anxious was Iw to put us in the 
ri?tit waj, that h': dr.;w for us an itin.-r.iry, (lie fatal ob- 
yudion to which -Ka-x that no one hut a Russian could 
expect to Borrive sixty miles a day, for fire weeks, of post- 
trarellmg over the st«ppe3, swamps, and boulders which 
axe called roads in the Caucaeus, The General's kindness 
did not end here, for he constitnted himself our ' cicerone,' 



Tlie aeorglin Caatlo, TlOis, 

and took us a round of all the sights in Tiflis. From the 
Persian quarter we climbed, by a vei-y steep road, to the 
Botanical Garden, which is ' sown in a wrinkle of the 
monstrous hill ' overhanging the town. The southward- 
facing slope of a narrow glen has been cut and built up 
into terraces, planted with rare trees and shrubs, and con- 
nected by vine-trellised paths and flights of steps. Over- 



TUE BOTANICAL GARDEN. 105 

head are the rained towers of the old Georgian castle ; be- 
low, a stream, scanty in summer, has worn a deep ravine, 
the bare hillsido on the further bank of which lends a charm, 
by contrast, to the fresh vegetation and shade of the 
garden. There are several shallow caves in the rocks 
which support the castle ruins, where the townspeople used 
frequently to resort for family picnics, a kind of entertain- 
ment beginning with a light meal and frequent passage of 
the loving-cup, and carried on by story-telling, music, and 
dancing, until late in the evening.^ The return home was 
a service of some danger, since the road is exceedingly 
steep, and the drivers were apt to refresh themselves at a 
wine-shop near the gates of the garden. Upsets and acci- 
dents used to be of frequent occurrence, and perhaps this, 
in conjunction with the inaking of the new gardens near 
the Grand Ducal palace, has served to render this pleasant 
retreat no longer fashionable. A zigzag path leads up to 
the ridge, on the outmost crags pf which the castle stands. 
A wall runs along the top, and when the door in it was un- 
locked, a grand general view of the city burst upon us. 
Directly below were the straight streets and gaily-coloured 
houses of the Sussian quarter,* the bright roofs of which 
formed a pleasant contrast to the cool grey of unbaked 
bricks in the Persian town. In the distance we looked 
straight up the valley of the Kur, to the wooded hills be- 
hind Mscheti, and (had it been clear) to the snows of the 
great chain. Whenever this is fi^e from clouds the double 
head of Kazbek is a conspicuous object from Tiflis. It is 
seen, together with several lower snow-peaks on its left, 
from the boulevard, and from many of the houses in the 
town. General Chodzko pointed out the watercourses, 
made partially for irrigation, but also to check the floods, to 

* The Czar has a very pretty watercolour drawing of one of tlieso parties in 
his study at Livadia, the Empress's Crimean villa. 



106 TRANSCAUCASIA. 

which Tiflis is subject from the hills above. After any 
heavy rain, torrents pour down every street, and we were 
told it was no unusual thing for children to be drowned in 
the middle of the city. We were next taken to the prin- 
cipal covered bazaar (an arcade about the size of the 
Burlington), where the goods exposed for sale are mostly 
European. Below the castle, and between it and a com- 
manding spur of the opposite hills, also fortified, the Kur 
is so closely confined between high banks as to be crossed 
by two bridges of a single span. Tall houses, with 
balconies over the water, are built on either shore, and the 
river, beaten back and turned at a sharp angle by the 
right-hand bank, rushes away with a fine swirl of water, 
which must put a stop to all navigation. Wood is brought 
down as far as Tiflis in large timber rafts like those of the 
Ehine. We often admired the adroitness of the steerers, 
but the Kur is not easy to navigate, and accidents some- 
times happen. Near Gori we had seen a crowd on the 
river-bajik, and been told that a raft had capsized, and two 
men were drowned. On the left bank of the river we 
visited an interesting old church inside the fort I have 
mentioned, and a large building — partly used as a ware- 
house, partly as offices by Persian traders. We returned 
by the new bridge, a handsome stone structure of several 
arches, at one end of which stands a statue of the Prince 
Woronzoff, who did so much for Tiflis, Odessa, and the 
Crimea. 

We went twice to the Opera, a pretty house in Moresque 
style, and heard * La Traviata ' and * Faust ' very fairly 
performed by an Italian company, but what amused us 
most was a farce, in which an English tourist played the 
principal part. He was drawn, not after real life, but 
after the caricatures of the boulevards, immensely tall, 
enveloped in a plaid, and with long sandy whiskers. 



OFFICIALISM. 107 

When he refused to fight a duel, because the pistols 
provided for him had not been made at Birmmgham, the 
mirth of the audience reached its climax. The rest of 
the time, not occupied in making arrangements for our 
further journey, we spent in some tempting shops of the 
European style near our hotel, where a greater choice was 
to be found than in the bazaars, though the prices were 
somewhat higher. Our window Punished an amusing 
lounge at spare moments, for the wood- market was held 
in the square below, and from an early hour in the morning 
it was filled with carts, drawn by scraggy buffaloes, and a 

constant jabber of bargain and sale went on all day, wet 

<■ 

or dry. Once we saw a funeral pass : the coffin-Ud was 
carried first, then the open coffin; the body was gaily 
dressed, and covered with flowers, and the priests who 
accompanied it raised a fine chant as the procession 
moved onwards. 

We arrived at Tiflis on May 13th; but as Mr. Moore 
was not to join us till June 20th, we had five weeks at 
our disposal, and determined to employ them in a run 
into Persia, combined with a visit to and, if possible, an 
ascent of Ararat. 

Before we could feel ourselves in order for this journey, 
much had to be done. Only those who have been in 
Russia can understand how officialism may be brought to 
bear on every detail of travel, and a man must go to the 
Caucasus to 9;ppreciate how a great system like the 
Eussian post, which would be admirable if carried out 
properly, can become, by imperfect organisation, and gross 
incapacity and dishonesty on the part of those employed, 
a positive hindrance to travellers. 

Our most important needs were to have our passpoi-ts 
properly signed for leaving and re-entering the Russian 
dominions, and to obtain an order for horses, without 



108 TRANSCAUCASIA. 

which it was useless to make enquiries at the post. Mens. 
Barthelemi kindly came to our aid, and offered to intro- 
duce us to the Governor of Tiflis, who received us most 
cordially, and promised that all necessary documents 
should be prepared forthwith. In due time, we received 
special passports for leaving and re-entering Russia, a 
* crown-podorojno,' good for all Trans-Caucasia, and an 
order for a Cossack escort wherever it might be needful. 

On Monday morning I sent Paul to the post, to order 
horses for the next day, and to ask some questions about 
the different kinds of carriages and their cost. He 
returned with a message, that we might perhaps have 
horses in two days, and no answer to my enquiries about 
carriages. I immediately drove to the post; the post- 
master was for once at home, but was excessively off- 
hand in his manner, and tried to walk away while I was 
talking to him, a manoeuvre only prevented by my placing 
myself between him and the door. Fortunately, I had 
occasion to see the Governor that evening, and I took the 
opportunity of calling his attention to the way in which a 
crown-order was treated by minor officials. My remon- 
strance at head-quarters had its effect, and no further 
difficulty was made in providing us with horses ; but as to 
a carriage, our Russian acquaintances agreed in advising 
us to reconcile ourselves to the carts of the country, and 
their reason afterwards appeared in the fact, that the 
road, halfway to Erivan, was for the present impassable 
for spring-vehicles, and that we should, therefore, accord- 
ing to the rules of the post, have paid for our carriage 
without having the use of it. Meantime day after day 
had passed, and still our luggage did not arrive from 
Kutais. We were consequently obliged to make up our 
minds to start without our tent or our mountaineering 
boots, which we Inul hoped to make use of on Ararat. 



A 'PARACLODNAIA.' 109 

Our ice-axes, however, of which we had brought out only 
the heads and spikes from England, had, under Francois' 
supervision, been mounted by a French workman, and 
were now ready for use. The weather was not brilliant, 
we were annoyed at the non-arrival of our luggage, and 
the appearance of the trap provided for us by the post- 
master of the Transcaucasian capital was admirably 
adapted to render still more surly the * winter of our 
discontent/ 

A ^ paradodnaia ' (so great a name does the country 
cart bear in the Caucasus ; in Bussia proper it is oftener 
called a * telega') is the ordinary conveyance of the Rus- 
sian posts, and the only one to be obtained at any but 
the lai'gest towns; even at so considerable a place as 
Erivan, nothing else was procurable. This hatefcd vehicle 
is so bad as to be almost beyond description. The body 
of the cart is sometimes flat-bottomed, like a punt— some- 
times rounded, like a tub boat ; the boards of which it is 
composed are ordinarily rotten, and nails stick out wher- 
ever they have a chance of injuring the clothes or flesh 
of the occupant. The driver sits on a plank in front, while 
the travellers, if they have any experience, carefully draw 
and tighten a piece of rope, through holes left for the 
purpose, until a sort of cat's-cradle is contrived at the 
back of the cart, on which they spread their rugs and 
seat themselves. None but a native could bear to lie on 
a quantity of hay at the bottom, and allow himself to be 
jolted like a pea in a rattle. The body of the cart rests 
on two blocks of wood, which are in their turn directly 
supported, without any intervening springs, by four 
wheels of the rudest construction. There are, however, 
degrees of badness even in the framework of a *para- 
clodnaia ' ; if the framework and the road are ordinarily 
bad, the jolting is painful; if either is very bad, it is 



no TRANSCAUCASIA. 

maddening. The Inggage, which is generally stuffed 
under the rope-seat, has, as well as the seat, to be re- 
arranged six or eight times a day, as the conveyance is 
changed at every station. Nothing of glass can be carried 
without breakage, and if the road be muddy, clothes 
and face are covered in five minutes with a thick layer of 
dirt. Three horses draw these traps; the two trace- 
horses are quickly fastened on either side ; the centre 
B.nima1 goes between the shafbs, and over its neck is 
fastened the *duga,* or wooden arch, to which one or 
more bells are attached — ^probably intended, by their inces- 
sant clang, to drown the groans of the suffering travellers. 
Scarcely a stage passed without our having to stop in 
the middle of it, to rearrange this clumsy structure, in 
the beauty and fitness of which the native drivers seem 
to have implicit belief, and to which they attach a sort of 
mystic importance. 

Such are the carts which the Imperial Government pro- 
vides for its couriers ! Its traditional policy seems to have 
been to develope towns, and supply every luxury and amuse- 
ment for a swarm of official drones ; while commerce and 
industry were discouraged by the neglect of the communica- 
tions of the country, for which the Government, by keeping 
in its own hands the entire management of the roads and 
postal system, had made itself responsible. What provision 
it does make I have endeavoured partially to show ; but it 
would fill a volume to narrate all our own experiences, 
and the stories we heard from other, and partly Russian 
sources, both of the badness of the roads, and of the 
insolence, ignorance of truth, and rapacity of the postal 
officials. Imagine a place like Tifiis, the residence of a 
brother of the Czar, a town of 80,000 inhabitants, with a 
large European society, and an opera-house, unconnected 
by any pretence of road with the Black Sea coast, the 



THE POSTAL SYSTEM. Ill 

Caspian, or the Persian frontier ! A more enlightened 
spirit now happily prevails in high quarters, and the 
Lieutenant of the Caucasus has ordered the construction 
of roads to Kutais, and to Erivan, while the highway of 
the Dariel is almost completed ; but the dawn of intelli- 
gence is late, and light spreads but slowly through the 
dense mists of jobbery and peculation which impede, if 
they cannot stifle, the coming of a better day for this as 
yet xmdeveloped region. 

In no country has the transition from utter want of the 
means of transport to the facilities of a lai^e railway 
system been so sadden as in Sussia, and the extent of 
the change likely to be produced there during the next 
few years can scarcely be exaggerated. Amongst its 
smaller results will doubtless be the sweeping away of 
those petty but troublesome safeguards with which police 
and post officials combine to hinder and render disagree- 
able all travel in the interior of the country. 



112 THE PERSIAN POST-ROAD. 



CHAPTER V. 

THE PERSIAN POST-EOAD. 

The BankB of the Kur — Troops on the March — A Romantic Valley — 
Delidschan — A Desolate Pass — ^The Gokcha Lake — ^Ararat— Erivan — ^The 
Kurds — The Valley of the Araxes — ^A Steppe Storm — A Dangerous Ford • 
NakhitchevauT-A Money Queston — ^Djulfa — Charon's Ferry and a Modem 
Cerberus — A Friend in Need — A Persian Khan — ^Marand — Entrance to 
Tabreez — Chez Lazarus. 

We left TiBis on May 20th. The road, once clear of the 
rough pavement of the capital, follows the valley of the Kur. 
The suburbs of Tiflis stretch far in this direction, and the 
views of the town and castle from this side are often striking. 
At the first station we got a better ^paraclodnaia,* which, by 
bribery and argument alternately, we contrived to keep for 
several stations, and we further improved our condition by 
taking a second cart for the men, which was a great boon, 
both to them and to us, as we had been sitting previously 
in a terribly cramped position. The new high-road from 
Tiflis to Erivan, which will run along the Kur valley, is 
yet unfinished, and we had to make a detour of four 
stages, over low hills and high plains, before we rejoined 
the river. The steppe was fortunately, for once, in fair 
driving order, and we made good progress. A curious 
circiilar hollow, containing a lake at its lower end, is 
crossed before reaching Kody, the second station, distant 
twenty-seven versts* from Tiflis by the road, but only 
twelve by the short cut over the hills, which we made a 

* Three Russian rersts equal two miles. 



THE BANKS OF THE KUR. 113 

great zigzag to avoid. At the third posthouse we crossed 
a small stream, the Algeth, and stopped half an hour to 
lunch on cold turkey ; for we had profited by experience, 
and started well supplied with provisions. We now fol- 
lowed, for some twenty-six versts, the valley of the Khram, 
a large tributary of the Kur, which is principally fed by 
the streams from the Mokraja Gora, and other chains 
which lie between Tiflis and Alexandrapol ; their wooded 
summits, broken here and there by castellated crags, formed 
the southern horizon. At the Red Bridge we were de- 
layed for want of horses. This brick structure, the centre 
arch of which is of considerable span, is a relic of Persian 
rule, and is probably the oldest in the country. It was 
repaired by Bostom, king of Georgia, in 1647, and still 
remains perfect, although it is being slightly widened for 
the new road. The Eussian engineers must have been 
relieved to find so substantial a structure ready-made, as 
bridge-building is not one of i their strong points, and they 
too often neglect either to make proper approaches, or to 
direct the course of the stream with dykes. In conse- 
quence, their arches are often left high-and-dry, with the 
water sweeping over the road a hundred yards on one side 
of them. We had now returned to the Kur, which has 
here entirely quitted the mountains, and entered on the 
dull green steppes, through which it winds a weary way 
to the Caspian. Its bed, a belt of swamp and forest, 
is considerably below the general level of the plain, 
which breaks suddenly into it. This part of Georgia is 
exceedingly wild and thinly populated, and forms the 
borderland of the steppe country, inhabited only by 
wandering tribes of Turcomans and Kurds. We passed 
several underground villages, the existence of which is 
indicated, at a dii^tance, only by a brown blotch on the 
surface of the plain ; on nearer approach a low mound of 

I 



114 THE PERSIAN POST-ROAD. 

earth, with perhaps a thin column of smoke issuing from 
it, shows the position of each house. 

The men wear the ^eat sheepskin coat and the conical 
fur hat, the women dresses of crimson-lake hue, which lit 
up wonderfully the dull green landscape. Every half-hour 
we came to a weird group of ruddy tombstones, averaging 
six feet high, and often delicately carved ; they resemble 
upright sarcopaghi in shape. These strange graveyards 
make much more show than the villages. Companies of 
camels, their day^s work done, and their heavy cotton- 
bales ranged in a circle, sauntered lazily about in search 
of herbage. G^ily-feathered birds perched on the tele- 
graph-wires, which were our constant companions and 
guides, scarcely cared to fly away as we passed. It was 
hard to realise that it was scarcely twelve hours since we 
had left a town supplied with every European luxury. 

The seventh station was a mere Tartar hut with a large 
underground stable. The post-horses had first to be 
driven in from the steppe, and then harnessed ; a party of 
very merry-looking natives did both in less time than an 
ordinary postmaster would have taken in examining a 
^ podorojno,' and reflecting what he should write on the back 
of it. Night was now coming on, and we quickened our 
pace. Lighted by a rising moon we cantered over the 
plain, passed a large stream, flowing towards the Kur, by 
a crazy bridge, and five minutes afterwards alighted, stiff 
and weary, at the door of the large posthouse of Aksta- 
finsk, situated at the junction of the Erivan and Elizavet- 
pol roads, and 110 versts from the capital. Unluckily for 
ns, a large detachment of troops, on a roadmaking expedi- 
tion, had halted here for the night, and the resources of 
the house were employed in providing for the comfort of 
the officers, who occupied all the accommodation. Under 
such circumstances we, who wore neither official caps nor 



TROOPS ON THE MABCH. 115 

decorations, could not expect, and did not meet with, even 
the commonest civility and thought ourselves lucky when 
the surly postmaster, with a very bad grace, accox-ded us 
permission to roll ourselves up in our rugs on the floor of 
his room — quarters which we shared with a huge dog con- 
scious of fleas, and consequently provokingly restless during 
the dark hours. 

May 2l8t. — ^We were awoke from sleep, if the uneasy 
rest we obtained deserved the name, by a most horrible 
discord, some idea of which might be obtained by hiring 
itinerant performers on the bagpipe and barrel-organ to 
play different tunes simultaneously. The soldiery were 
starting, and their drum-and-fife band was cheering them 
on the road. I imagine that the dregs of the Eussian 
army are kept in Trans-Caucasia ; anything more wretched 
and sl6venly than the uniforms, marching, and general 
appearance of these men we had never seen even in Turkey, 
but the work in which they had been employed might 
account partially for their unsoldierly aspect, as some of 
the Bussian troops we saw afterwards were very different. 

We changed our direction to-day from east-south-east to 
nearly due south, and entered a valley among the hills 
which separate Greorgia from Armenia, the basin of the 
Eur from that of the Araxes. Half an hour was spent in 
passing the troops and their long trains of baggage-wag- 
gons. The road was narrow and bad, and our driver timid, 
but at last we left even the vanguard behind. Our course 
lay along the banks of the stream we had crossed over- 
night, which were ornamented by magnificent forest-trees. 
The morning was lovely, soft clouds were clearing off the 
hills on the south, while the snowy crest of the Eastern 
Caucasus ran along the northern horizon, rising beyond 
the Earaja steppes. The next time we saw it was from 
the slopes of Ararat. The depression in which the river 

Z 2 



116 THE PERSIAN POST-ROAD. 

flowed gradually narrowed and deepened, and after leaving 
the station where we first changed horses, we fairly 
entered the hills. The track was rough, the pace slow, 
and the jolting incessant. The second station was in a 
considerable village; the houses, one-storied and flat- 
roofed, were built up the hillside in an angle of the 
beautiful valley, the vdndings of which we were now 
following, XJp to this point the scenery had reminded us 
of some of the more richly- wooded parts of Wales on a 
larger scale — henceforth it grew bolder, castellated crags 
alternated vnth forest-clad slopes, snow-streaked summits 
appeared in the background, the stream danced and 
sparkled at our side ; every prospect was pleasant, and the 
road alone veas vile. The mouiitain-sides were abrupt and 
picturesque, and the richness of the vegetation suggested 
a comparison vrith the neighbourhood of the Italian lakes. 
We were struck by a very curious rock-formation, which 
at a distance gave the face of the clifiPs and the porphyry 
fragments strewed at their base the appearance of masonry. 
At our third halting-place, a solitary house, no horses 
were to be had for two hours. During oar compulsory halt 
here we were amused by a struggle between a horse and its 
master. The animal bolted into the stream to escape 
capture, and was carried down for some distance by the 
force of the current ; on regaining its feet it came wisely 
to the conclusion that captivity was better than a watery 
grave, and quietly surrendered to its owner. We walked 
on for five versts, leaving the men to look after our traps. 
This stage vms very heavy and hilly, and even after our 
conveyances caught us up, we often preferred to walk, ex- 
cept when for a few versts we had this advantage of a 
finished piece of the new road. The valley now opened 
out, and everything showed we were approaching a more 
elevated region. We passed a hamlet on the side of a 



 - » » -. - 



DELIDSCHAN. 117 

pretty wooded basin, out of which we climbed by a long 
ascent, and then wound along, or rather up and down, 
the slopes into Delidschan, a large village situated at 
the foot of the pass into Armenia, looking up a wide 
and somewhat bare upland valley, along which runs the 
road to Alexandrapol. We had only travelled sixty- 
eight versts during the day, but it was too late to cross 
the pass. The horrible jolting of our carts had given us 
all headaches, and made us feel generally out of sorts, and 
we had made up our minds to give them up and take to 
riding, which now indeed became a necessity, as the stage 
over the mountain was impassable for carriages, owing to 
the destruction of the old track by the works for the new 
road. Delidschan turned out to be the destination of the 
troops we had seen in the morning, and there was already 
a considerable force collected in the white tents pic- 
turesquely grouped in the valley below. The evening 
was cold, for we were at a height of. 4,230 feet, and we 
were glad to solace ourselves after our fatigues with a 
brew of mulled wine. 

May 22nd, — Heavy rain was falling when first we looked 
out of vnndow, and we set about our preparations in a 
gloomy frame of mind. Our luggage was soon packed 
on horseback, and, mounted on animals more used to 
draw than to carry, we formed a very queer cavalcade 
when we started for the ascent of the pass. Paul, like 
most of his race, was a good but rough rider, and 
bullied his beast, until the animal plunging, and the 
saddle turning, gave our friend a tumble and a lesson in 
moderation which was not unneeded. The road led up a 
lateral glen of the valley we had left, through forests 
carpeted with cowslips, and past several villages, untidily 
built of wood. On the bare slopes, near the top, we found 
the soldiers at work ; they were blasting a terrace for the 



118 THE PEBSIAN POST-ROAD. 

new road, above the line of the old, which was almost 
covered with the fragments sent down, amongst which 
we had to pick our way under a desultory fire of small 
stones from above. The watershed between the Kur and 
the Araxes is here a broad grassy ridge, on which the 
snow still lay in patches ; the rich herbage has given the 
name of the * Echak Meidan,' or * donkey's pasturage,' to the 
pass, from the custom of wayfarers to reward their beasts, 
after the labour of the ascent, by turning them out to graze. 
It does not seem to command much view. For some distance 
we bore to the right, with but little descent, nntil presently 
as much of the big Gokcha Lake as the mists did not en- 
shroud came into sight. Size seemed to be its chief merit ; 
there was not a tree to be seen, the ground had a dull 
and sodden appearance afber the heavy rains, and the 
suri'ounding mountains, though many of them are 10,000 
feet in height, produced but little effect from being seen 
over the broad surface of a lake, itself 6,000 feet above 
the sea-level. The day was very unfevourable, and the low 
clouds, which swept rapidly across the landscape, added 
to its grim and desolate character. Here, as elsewhere, 
we noticed the great difference between the northern and 
southern slopes of the Anti-Caucasian chain. All the valleys 
facing northwards, towards the Kur, are full of luxuriant 
vegetation ; while the southern slopes, falling to the Araxes, 
are always bare, burnt, and arid in summer, and swamps in 
the rainy season. Tucker's horse evidently had a dissipated 
owner ; it made a dead halt at every drinking-shop on the 
road, and its misdemeanours culminated at a village just 
below the pass, where no persuasion could get the brute past 
a well-known halting- place. It was not a pleasant spot to 
dismount, for the mud was deep ; and finally, I had to 
return, to withdraw ignominiously my friend and his mis- 
guided beast from the scene of temptation. Unavailing 
as the hunting-whip he always carried had just proved, it 



THE GOKCHA LAKE. 119 

eflFectually took the bark out of two dogs that ventured to 
set up derisive howls at the discomfited horseman. 

Having reached a better piece of road, we trotted 
briskly on in pursuit of Paul, who had been sent ahead 
to procure horses at the next station, leaving Fran- 
9ois, a safe but not brilliant rider, to keep an eye on 
the baggage. The post-people refused to give us riding- 
horses, on the ground of having no saddles or bridles. 
We had learnt by this time to be too glad to get on any- 
how to argue the question, and thankfully took posses- 
sion of the miserable ^ paraclodnaia ' provided us. The 
posthouse was close to the lake, along which our course 
lay for the next stage. The shores are steep, and the 
road consequently climbs up, down, and round the pro- 
montories, occasionally venturing on a pitch about the 
steepness of an ordinary house-roof. A rocky island, about 
a quarter of a mile from the shore, and a village built on 
a bold peninsula, are the only objects which seem worthy 
of notice. Elenovka, situated at the west end of the 
lake, where the shore is low, and the waters find an out- 
let, stands in a wide sea of mud, with hovels, arranged 
more or less in the form of a street, scattered amongst it. 
A strong odour of dried fish revealed at once the staple of 
industry ; the salmon-trout of the Gokcha Lake are famous, 
and are sent both to Tiflis and Erivan. The postmaster was 
a Jew, and talked a little German ; but he had neither 
horses nor * telegas,' and did not seem to know when he was 
likely to have them. After a delay of three hours we got 
two horses, and, with Paul as my companion, I pushed 
forward, to make, if possible, all ready at the next station ; 
as we were unwilling to give up the hope, faint though 
it was, of reaching Erivan that night. Fancy the wildest, 
ugliest part of Wales in bad weather, with mountains, 
swamps, and rainstorms all on an enlarged scale, and some 
feeble idea may be formed of this part of Armenia, as we 



1*20 THE PERSIAN POST-ROAD. 

saw it. The track — a broad belt of mud streching across 
the swampy downs — was not difficult to find, despite the 
driving mists ; the carcase of a camel, or a dying horse, 
by the wayside, and the telegraph-wires singing a quiet 
tune of their own overhead, sufficiently revealed the 
whereabouts of what the Bussians naively call a road, 
and illustrated the happy definition we afterwards heard, 
* TJne route de poste en Caucase, c'est ou il y a ni route ni 
chevaui/ 

A short descent brought us to Achta, after a ride of six- 
teen versts, during which my steed and I, to my great 
surprise, did not once part company; as trotting with 
a saddle about the size of a lady's bonnet, and stirrups 
which exalt your knees to the level of your face, is an 
exercise more sensational than safe. Tucker, Fran9oi8, 
and the baggage arrived in due time, and we continued our 
journey in carts. The stream from the lake, reinforced 
by contributions fi^m the western range, flowed in a 
deep depression on our right, while we continued to 
traverse the swampy downs which spread round the base 
of Ak-Dagh. So deep was the mire that we could 
seldom get beyond a foot's pace, and it was dark ere 
we reached the next station, a lone house standing in a 
hollow, near the base of a conical hill of apparently 
volcanic origin. Soon after our arrival a * tarantasse' (a 
carriage with a hood and rough springs) drove up. Its 
occupants were a gentleman, a member of a Greek firm 
at Teheran and Tabreez, who spoke a little English, his 
wife, and a lady's-maid. He told us that Mr. Abbott, 
the English Consul-General, was at present at Urmia, but 
that we should find a hospitable welcome at Tabreez 
from Dr. Cormick, the English physician in charge of the 
heir-apparent of Persia, who holds his court at Tabreez. 
He also gave us a note to an old servant of his firm 



VIEW OF AKARAT. 121 

residing at Djulfa, on the Russo-Persian frontier, which 
proved invaluable. In return he asked for information 
as to the road we had travelled. We were sorry not to 
be able to give a better report, as he was considerably 
perplexed how he should get his wife and heavy baggage 
over the pass. He started, however, next morning, to try 
his luck, and we afterwards heard of his safe arrival at 
Tiflis. 

May 23rc2. — The station supplied a comfortless room, 
where I was privileged to enjoy repose on a sofa which 
had once been stuffed ; but as the middle had, by some 
incomprehensible means, risen two feet higher than either 
end, my position waa somewhat constrained, and I envied 
Tucker his level, if hard, boards. The morning was 
tolerably fine, and on starting we traversed uplands of the 
same description as yesterday's, only that we could now 
distinguish the snowy summits of Ak-Dagh on the left, 
and Alagoz, with two summits about the size of the cone 
of Fiz Languard, perched on an enormously bulky base, on 
the right. In front a rise of the ground shut out all beyond. 
As we overtopped the brow, Ararat burst suddenly into 
view — a huge but graceftdly-shaped mass, rising to a height 
of 16,916 feet, from a base of about 3,000 feet. It stands 
perfectly isolated from all the other ranges, with the still 
more perfect cone of Little Ararat (12,840 feet) at its side. 
Seen thus early in the season, with at least 9,000 feet of 
snow on its slopes,from a distance and heightwell calculated 
to permit the eye to take in its true proportions, we 
agreed that no single mountain we knew presented such 
a magnificent and impressive appearance as the Armenian 
giant. I can only compare it to the popular idea of Atlas — 
a huge head and shoulders supporting the sky. One is 
ready immediately to admit that the Ark must have 
grounded there, if it grounded anywhere in these parts. 



122 THE PERSIAN POST-KOAD. 

Francois went off at once into somewhat Colenso-like 
speculations as to the mode of the elephant's descent, and 
how many years the tortoise must have taken to reach the 
bottom ; and he was scarcely satisfied with the suggestion 
that the tortoise turned on his back and made one Ion or 
glissade of it, while a ^ special ' avalanche was engaged to 
transport the more unwieldy animals. As we thus ex- 
amined and talked over the mountain, we were glad to 
observe that, though steep, it did not appear to offer any 
serious difficulties ; still the quantity of snow was so great 
that we decided to postpone our attack on it till after 
our return firom Persia, when we might hope to find the 
weather more settled, and the slopes in better order for 
an ascent. Ah-eady we fancied we discovered a ^ Grand 
Mulcts * in a rocky tooth which projected from the eastern 
side of the greater peak, and anathematised anew the 
faithless Frenchwoman at Eutais, by whose carelessness 
in failing to forward our mountain-tent we were likely 
to be prevented from sleeping at so great a height. After 
we had gazed our fill at Ararat, we noticed that away to 
the west spread the broad upper basin of the Araxes, 
bounded by the snowy mountains of Armenia and Kurdi- 
stan. The last station before Erivan, perhaps an old 
caravanserai, stands in a most picturesque gap, the rocky 
sides of which serve as a frame to the stupendous snowy 
mass of the two Ararats. We were required to write our 
names and nationality, by an officer of unusually courteous 
manner. A few versts more, over bare downs, where herds 
of camels were picking up the scanty herbage, or kneeling 
with lugubrious grunts to receive their loads, brought 
us to a large village on the verge of the last steep descent 
into the valley. Thence we got our first view of Erivan ; 
a grey flat-roofed town, nestling under the shelter of the 
hill we were about to descend, and embowered in groves of 



ERIVAN. 123 

lime and acacia — a pleasing contrast to the bare plain 
around. Wc were driven through its wide streets, which 
have the unkempt air of most provincial Eussian towns, 
to the post-station -, but not liking the quarters there, we 
insisted on returning to the ^ Gostenitza Ararat,' where we 
found a tolerable room, clean beds, and excellent food, 
including even such luxuries as coffee-ices. Erivan is a 
place which belongs to no one nationality, but shows 
in its buildings, and still more in the crowd in its 
streets, the traces of several. Two-storied stone houses, 
wide streets, an abundance of tow^-carriage8, and an 
untidy public garden, where a military band performs 
every evening, mark the presence of Russian rulers. The 
bazaars are thoroughly Eastern, and a stroU through them 
will be sure to afford some amusement. The large open 
space between the public garden and the fortress was 
always crowded with camels and bales of merchandise. 
The principal mosque, standing on one side of a quad- 
rangle, is covered externally with blue tiles, which give its 
minaret a very bright appearance. There is a certain 
Persian element about the place, which manifests itself 
most prominently in the paintings with which any blank 
space of wall was decorated: here of a company of high- 
capped horsemen, there of strange wild beasts, amongst 
which the Persian lion — a near relation of our red lions at 
home, with a sword in his paw, and the sun rising out of 
his back — took the first place. Bussian, Persian, Ar- 
menian, Kurd, and Tartar jostle one another between the 
stalls, and it is strange to reflect on the different pasts, 
and probable futures, of the races they represent. Now 
you pass an Armenian priest or merchant, distinct in type 
from the Russian — like the Greek clever and successful as 
a man of business, and renowned throughout the East for 
his sharp practice, and yet, also like the Greek, incapable of 



1-24 THE PERSIAN POST-ROAD. 

combining to form a wise polity, and insensibly yielding to 
his destiny, soon to be merged with the slower but more 
steadfast fiussian. By his side may be seen the Kurd 
chieftain, from the slopes of Alagoz, or Bingol Dagh, 
armed with a round leather shield and dagger, Turk or 
Russian, as suits his convenience — in reality paying 
neither allegiance nor dues to any man, and looting what 
he is, the free Arab of the mountains. The strong 
pressure from without is producing some sort of union 
amongst the Kurdish tribes; they are constantly rein- 
forced by emigrants from the Russian side of the 
Araxes, and, if we may believe one who has had long ex- 
perience of Oriental races, it is to them we m^'lt look for 
the continuation of the struggle against the northern 
flood, which has now finally swept over the Caucasus, and 
is breaking round the slopes of Ararat. 

In the afternoon we called on the governor of the 
province, who spoke excellent French, and showed a 
desire to render us all the assistance in his power. We 
learned that the Araxes was impassable, which of course 
confirmed our intention of postponing our visit to Ararat. 
The governor gave us letters to the commander of the 
district of Nakhitchevan, and the Colonel of Cossacks 
stationed at Aralykh, the frontier-post on the further side 
of the Araxes, at the foot of Ararat. This letter we hoped 
to use on our return from Tabreez. We sent Paul to 
endeavour to procure some kind of springs vehicle, but no 
such thing was to be had in Erivan. 

May 2ith, — ^We were off at 4.30 A-M., in the usual 
* paraclodnaia ^ ; both the carts and the road were horrible 
for the first four stages. The ruts in this part of the 
world run across, instead of parallel with, the track, and 
in consequence inflict a series of short sharp jolts on the 
unlucky traveller. During the second stage we passed 



A STEPPE STORM. 125 

between a successioD of orchards and vineyards, nourished 
by a careful system of irrigation, which has made this 
part of the Araxes valley like a great garden. These 
vines are locally reputed to be descendants of those 
planted by K"oah after the Deluge, and some support is 
given to this tradition by the fact that the juice is still 
famed among the Russian officers for retaining the pecu- 
liarly intoxicating quality it possessed in the days of the 
Patriarch, From Kainirlu, a large village where the 
track to Aralykh turns . ofiF, the view of the two Ararats, 
now close at hand, is superb. The Little Ararat, on the 
left, is a perfect cone, looking a volcano all over; the' 
^Ighet mountain rises from the gap between the two 
summits, in a long slope, broken, about 8,500 feet "below 
the top, by a huge rock-tooth. The snow-dome falls away 
gently towards the north for some distance, and supports- 
a large ' n6v^-plateau, below which the mountaia breaks 
down steeply for several thousand feet. 

We now left cultivation behind, and drove at will over 
the grassy steppe, passing every now and then a group of 
Turcoman tentsj large, and comfortable erections. A sheet 
of dingy canvas forms the roof, while the sides are con- 
structed of wicker-firatiiework, hiing with gay-coloured 
Qarpets, woven by the women. During the fifth stage, we 
passed through a curious gap in a range of hills, which ran 
0ut from the barren 'Chain on our left, and came in view of 
a broad lagoon formed by the flooded Araxes. Clouds had 
been for some time gathering round Ararat, and now 
slow;ly detached themselves, in black, masses, from its 
sides.: We noticed, first, apparent pufis of smoke on the 
ftirther side of the valley ; then a pUlar, as of cloud, rose 
into the air, and swept towards us ucross the Araxes ; with 
it came the howling wind, lashing up the waters of the 
lake ; and a minute afterwards, we were overtaken by a 



\ 



\ 



/ 



/ 



/ 
/ 



126 THE PERSIAN POST-EOAD. 

storm of rain, which laid the dust-cloud which had been 
its forerunner. The storm did not last long, but it made 
a great impression on us at the time, though it was a 
trifle to one we afterwards encountered. In the worst 
of the wind and rain, our driver pulled up short, and 
jumped down to secure two bales of serge which had 
fallen from the back of some overburdened camel, and lay 
on the steppe the prize of the fortunate first-comer. The 
driver of the second cart claimed his share of the booty, 
and we were obliged to insist on their postponing the 
argument of the case until our arrival at the next station. 
There we received the unwelcome intelligence that it was 
140 instead of 80 versts, as we had previously believed, 
fix)m Erivan to Nakhitchevan, and that immediately before 
us lay a large river, now dangerously swollen, which it was 
doubtful whether we should be able to cross. 

Eeflecting that, in the present state of the weather, the 
stream was more likely to be larger than less next morn- 
ing,* we determined to take our chance, and declined to 
follow the rustic policy of waiting till the river should 
sink, recommended by Pran9ois, among whose strong 
points fording of rivers was not included. We very soon 
came to the brink of a formidable-looking stream, but our 
driver was plucky, our horses faced the water bravely, and, 
piloted by a native horseman, we emerged safely on the 
further bank. In the same way we crossed a second 
branch of the river, and were just congratulating ourselves 
on the ease ynih which we had vanquished the enemy, 
when the third and last branch came into sight, as big as 
the other two put together. Before venturing on the 
passage we confided the saddlebags, now our only luggage, 
to a horseman who was to precede us, and took off our 
boots and socks, in case the water should come into the 
cart. The stream before us was 100 vards wide, and was 



A DANGEROUS FORD, 127 

coming down from tlie hills in lumps of brown water. 
Fortunately, we had plenty of assistance in our difficulties, 
from a band of natives who were on the look-out to earn 
some honest copecks. One rode alongside, to direct and 
cheer the horses ; two others, half-naked, hung on to the 
side of the * paraclodnaia,' which met the force of the 
stream, and helped to prevent our being borne away. 

When all was ready we plunged in. The stream, four 
feet deep, poured through the cart, but the horses fought 
gamely, and we soon found ourselves in shallow water, in 
the centre of the flood; another plunge, another sharp 
but short struggle, and we were landed in safety on the 
further hank. As we looked back on the cart containing 
Paul and Fran9ois, still surrounded by the water, the burly 
form of the latter, standing erect, to escape wetting, re- 
minded us ludicrously of Pharaoh in the Ked Sea, as re- 
presented in children's Bible-pictures. After distributing 
a well-earned ' backsheesh ' among the men who had aided 
us, we pursued our journey over the wide dull plain. Our 
driver was, in more ways than one, a cool hand ; and having 
done his business so well in the passage of the river, seemied 
to consider he was now entitled to take his pleasure, which 
he did by deliberately pulling up at a halfway house, and 
keeping us waiting while he took a glass of * vodka * and 
smoked a pipe. As rain was again beginning to fall heavily, 
our patience did not endure long, and having captured our 
sybarite, we induced him to hurry on to the next station, 
which was in sight, on a low hill at the further end of the 
plain. On arrival we were met with the dismal intelli- 
gence that there was nothing to eat, but, like most official 
assertions, this turned out not to be strictly true; and 
Paul succeeded in unearthing new milk, tea, and eggs — so 
that, with the chickens and cheese we had brought from 
Erivan, we made no bad supper. If the sleeping accom- 



128 THE PERSIAX POST-ROAD. 

modation had been better, we should have had no reason 
to complain. In this, however, lies the cardinal defect of 
the Russian post-stations ; in no single one of those 
between Tifiis and Djulfa, a distance of 300 miles, can a 
mattrass or a blanket be procured for love or money. 
The eye, in its despairing search for creature-comforts, is 
met by a wooden framework with a sloping board at its 
head, representing the pillow of civilised life. This is the 
couch awaiting the traveller, weary v^ith 100 versts of 
road, which have given him a horrible headache and a 
pain across the chest, and made every joint in his body 
stiff and sore. Stretched on one of these barbarous con- 
trivances, he shifts himself restlessly from side to side ; 
and if he is so lucky as to snatch a short slumber, still 
urges in his dreams the inevitable * paraclodnaia ' over the 
interminable steppe. Unwieldy as such an article is to 
carry, a mattrass of some sort is a necessity in travelling 
in the Caucasian provinces. 

May 2hth. — The morning was clear, and the two peaks 
of Ararat, now well behind us, and brought almost in 
a line with one another, looked very imposing. Two stages 
separated us from Nakhitchevan ; the first of fourteen 
versts, we accomplished in fifty minutes. The ground was 
soft, and the disagreeables of jolting were exchanged for 
the doubtful pleasure of being plastered with mud. The 
track led up and down over bare hiUs ; every few miles 
we came to a Cossack station, one of a chain extending 
all along the Persian frontier. Nakhitchevan is a small 
and decayed town, built on a high brow which overlooks 
the basin of the Araxes ; it boasts of a large but now 
ruined mosque, a governor, a passport-bureau, and a 
custom-house. We first sought the untidy but not ill- 
supplied military restaurant, where we got a good break- 
fast, and a bottle of Allsopp's beer. Wherever there are 



A MONEY QUESTION. I09 

Bussian. officers quartered, there is at least a semblance of 
European cookery, and European cookery is an excellent 
thing after a course of post-station fare. We next presented 
our letter to the governor, a stout man, whose final cause, 
as far as we could make out, was to serve as a receptacle 
for Russian decorations, the rage for which, in this country, 
reminded us constantly of the South Sea Islander's passion 
for a coat with brass buttons and a cocked hat ; the same 
instinct prompts both. He told off two Cossacks to aid 
us in crossing the streams which still intervened between 
us and Djulfa. 

Officialism, is very rampant at Nakhitchevan. Our pass- 
ports were long retained and anxiously studied by clerks 
of every deg^e. After being led from custom-house to 
police-office, from police-office to custom-house, for nearly 
two hours^ till our patience was wellnigh exhausted, we 
were curtly asked by an official, * how much money we had 
got P ' Being by this time fairly irritated, I answered, as 
curtly, that he might find out. Our inquisitor persisted, 
and it was not till the officials found we could be as 
obstinate as they were, that they condescended to explain 
that a conyention existed between Kussia and Persia, by 
which all money that had been registered before leaving 
the Eussian territory could, if lost by robbery on Persian 
soil, be recovered from the Shah's Government. As the 
custom-house is twenty-five miles distant from the actual 
frontier, the money has to be registered at Nakhitchevan, 
where it is tied up (in the present instance in my pocket- 
handkerchief) and sealed with the double eagle, not to be 
broken until the moment before the ferry-boat leaves the 
Kussian soil. This is the official story ; the real object I 
believe to be, to prevent the exportation of Russian silver, 
which is scarce enough already. When treated with 
civility, we made no further difficulty, and handed over our 



130 THE PERSIAN POST-ROAD. 

cash. Our Napoleons puzzled the officials greatly, their 
value being utterly unknown to them ; indeed, I believe they 
had never seen gold before, and the discovery of some 'Victor 
Emmanuels' in the roll added greatly to their perplexity. 
At last the formalities were completed, the Cossack escort 
arrived, and we started for a forty versts ' drive to the 
frontier-post. At the foot of the hill on which Nakhit- 
chevan stands we encountered a stream, which, though 
troublesome, was nothing after our sensational feat of the 
day before. It had been more than enough, however, for 
some Armenians, whom we met just before we reached it, 
and who by exhibiting their soaked state tried to dissuade 
us jfrom attempting the passage. One of our Cossacks was 
conducting a prisoner, whom he drove at the trot — probably 
some Persian who had committed a theft, or come across 
without a passport, and was being relegated to his own coun- 
try. The poor wretch was allowed to mount in one of our 
* paraclodnaias,' for which he was very grateful. We waded 
for fifteen versts across a plain more than half under water, 
and then passed over a low chain of hills, beyond which we 
came to the second river, comparatively a small one, on 
the further bank of which stood the solitary posthouse. 
The whole scenery of the Araxes valley is wild, not to say 
dreary ; but it is so utterly unlike anything we are ac- 
customed to in Europe, that it has at least the charm of 
novelty. The landscape now grew more and more savage. 
Ararat, which had long served as a kind of familiar land- 
mark in this, to us, unknown region, was lost to view 
behind lower hills. In front a wild confusion of moun- 
tains gathered round us, amongst which towered one huge 
and, as one would have said before the fall of the Matterhom, 
inaccessible rocky mass, tower-like in form, and rising at 
least 3,000 feet above its base. The Araxes is here 
obliged to force its way through a gorge in the hills, and 



OUE COSSACK ESCORT. 131 

the tributary we had just crossed has a similar task. The 
track follows its channel, between two walls of sandstone 
rock, and it is necessary twice to ford the stream. We 
had barely eflfected the first passage when the off-fore- 
wheel of our crazy vehicle fell to pieces. Had it done so 
a minute earlier, both we and our luggage would have 
been drenched, and, as the current was deep and strong, 
probably seriously injured by the accident. Fortunately, 
we were only some six miles from our destination, and 
the road was smooth ; so we crowded into the remaining 
cart, the harness of which instantly gave way under the 
extra strain, but was promptly repaired. 

As we trotted quickly down the long slope which leads 
to Djulfa, we amused ourselves by contrasting our wretched 
trap and magnificent escort. Had our carriage been a 
little better, we might have &jicied ourselves royal per- 
sonages, with an outrider cantering in front, and two 
Cossacks trotting on either side. The Cossacks here have no 
fixed uniform; their dress is a conical Tartar hat, a 
cloth coat, generally blue or brown, a silk shirt coming 
down to the knee, and long leather boots with turn-up 
toes. They carry a more or less extensive armouiy, but 
none have less than a sword, gun, and pistoL On the 
road they amused themselves and us by feats of horseman- 
ship. One of them was particularly clever in picking up 
his gun from the ground without dismounting, and with 
apparent ease. These men neither rise in their stirrups 
EngUsh-fSeLshion, nor sit dose like the Arabs, but trot for 
hours, alongside the * telega,' in a standing position. We 
afterwards made trial of this mode of riding, and Tucker 
asserts that he found it a grateful change from the ordi- 
nary style, to which a Tartar saddle, short, narrow, and 
hard, is certainly very ill-adapted. 

Djulfa, the most southern outpost of the Bussian Empire 

k2 



u« - • - 



132 THE PERSIAN POST-ROAD. 

(at least on^this side of Bokhara or Samarcand), is situated 
at tlie climax of the wild scenery of the Araxes ; it might be 
the frontier-post of the habitable world, and the entrance 
to some other region, snch as the ancients imagined Hades. 
A treeless plain, of a dreary brownish-grey, slopes down 
to the Araxes, which flows out from behind rugged hills, 
through which it has forced a way by some hidden cleft. 
Behind us were the low red hills, and the gap through which 
we had come ; before us a bold mass projected from the 
higher chain on the Persian side of the river, which was 
reft by a. gap exactly opposite, and corresponding to, that 
by which we had entered. To the north-east, where one 
anight have expected to look down the lower valley, the 
view was suddenly barred by a grand snowclad range, the 
jsummits of which towered 10,000 feet above our heads ; 
their lower slopes were as arid and desolate as those above 
the Dead Sea. The only signs of life were the two custom- 
houses on the opposite banks, and a few miserable buildings 
clustered round each. When we reached the river's edge, 
and gazed on the ferry-boat, now rendered useless by the 
flood, and the frayed and worn-out rope, which scarcely 
saved it from being borne away towards the Caspian, the 
^militude of Hades, the Stygian flood, and Charon's tub, 
was yet more forcibly recalled to our minds. On our 
explaining our thoughts to Franyois, he . carried out the 
idea with his usual readiness, and replied *Oui, mon- 
sieur, et je pense que le voyage en enfer se fait en para^ 
clodnaia ' — an allusion to our late sufferings which gave us 
a hearty laugh. 

Our vehicle pulled up before the door of the one good 
house, where travellers are generally received by the officer 
in charge of the station. We were about to enter, and ask 
for a room and beds, when we were met in a most chilling 
manner by a man in uniform, who informed us that this 



A MODERN CERBERUS. 13S 

was not the place for us, and in answer to our enquiries, 
ordered a soldier to point out where we might sleep. We 
were accordingly conducted to a newly-built and as yet 
unfinished mud hovel, scarcely approachable for mire, 
without door, window, or any vestige of furniture, except 
a chimney. There was a big puddle outside the door, and 
the mud floor was so damp that we could stick our heels 
into it for some inches. Naturally imagining there must 
be some mistake, we returned to the big house, where I 
succeeded in speaking to the head-officer, who informed us 
we must put up with what was oflfered, or shift for our- 
selves. Paul simply expressed it, * Pardon, monsieur, mais 
il Yous dit en Eusse, que si vous n'Stes pas content^ vous 
pouvez aller an diable.' We began to think this really was 
Hades, and felt at a loss with what sop to appease the 
modem Cerberus. 

The Russian ferry-boat being disabled, and the Persian 
not crossing till morning, we were compelled to remain 
where we were, and make the best of a bad job. We were 
indebted to the good-nature of some soldiers (the Russian 
private is almost invariably a kindly fellow, ready to lend 
a hand to anyone in difficulty), for a table, some boards 
with which we closed the door, firewood, rough rugs to 
lie on, and some new milk. The sound of merriment and 
popping of corks, which greeted our ears when we VTalked 
up to the terrace of the chiefs house, did not lessen our 
disgust. He was entertaining a superior member of the 
official confraternity, and thus keeping up the character 
for hospitality, called for by his possession of a Persian 
decoration, nominally acquired by the exercise of that 
virtue, but really by purchase, if Tabreez talk was true. 

May 26th. — We did not pass a very comfortable night* 
I left before breakfast, to try and get our passports back 
from the officials who had them to examine. Betuming 



134 THE PERSIAN POST-ROAD. 

unsuccessful, I was just detailing my experiences to 
Tucker, when lie was suddenly seized with a fainting-fit, 
which lasted for some time. When he showed signs of 
recovering, I sent up Paul to the large house to say that 
my friend was ill, and to ask for the loan of a saucepan to 
make some soup in. He returned shortly, having seen the 
head-officer, with the message that they did not keep 
things to lend. Disgusted at our treatment the previous 
evening, I had already written a complaint, which I pur- 
posed addressing to one of our friends at Tiflis. I now 
added this detail to the catalogue of offences, and, on going 
up a second time to receive our passports, handed over a 
copy of it to the officer, whose guest I had learnt spoke 
French, and would therefore be able to read it for him. 
He did not then, or on our return, offer any excuse for his 
conduct towards us ; and we therefore, carried out our 
purpose of presenting the complaint, which, we were sub- 
sequently assured, met with attention at head-quarters. 

When the Persian ferry-boat came over, about 8 o'clock. 
Tucker was fortunately well enough to walk dovni to it. 
We embarked with a miscellaneous company of six don- 
keys, two horses, some ragged peasants, and an Armenian 
merchant, who rode with us up to Tabreez. There was no 
rope to the boat, which was only propelled by two wretched 
apologies for oars, and the current was so strong that we 
seemed to run a chance of seeing the Caspian shortly. 
The men in charge knew, however, how to take advantage 
of the eddies and backwaters of the stream, and finally 
landed us in safety on Persian soil, about three-quarters 
of a mile below the custom-house. The banks had been 
quite lately under water, and were now an almost impass- 
able swamp ; we picked our way along them some little 
distance to a sandspit, on which a number of camels were 
reposing, until the boat shotdd be ready to return^ In 



A FRIEND IN NEED. 135 

the interval we hired some of them to convey ns to the 

station, to which we rode in an imposing caravan, Fran- 

9ois leading the way with great solemnity. We found the 

head of the custom-house was the man to whom Monsieur 

Ealli had told us to apply for help. As he spoke a few 

words of French, we were able personally to explain our 

needs to him ; and we were at once taken to his room, 

where he made a sofa for Tucker with his carpets, and 

shared with us his dinner, a most excellent mutton-broth. 

We found that our Eussian paper-money would- be useless 

beyond the frontier, and consequently had to change into 

' tomans (a rude silver coin about the size and value of a 

fi'anc) a sum sufficient for the next two days' journey. 

From Djulfa to Tabreez is adistance of about ninety miles, 
which is divided into four stages. In Persia, as through- 
out the East where Eussian influence has not yet intro- 
duced that doubtful luxury of civilisation, the 'telega,* 
wheeled carriages are the exception, and all the traffic and 
commerce of the country is carried on horse and camel 
back. The post-stations vary from sixteen to twenty-five 
miles apart, and the ordinary plan is to ride one stage in 
the morning, rest in the heat of the day, and start again 
with fresh horses towards evening. In this way from forty 
to sixty miles a day may be ridden without too much 
fatigue. We found no difficulty in obtaining animals to 
carry us the first stage, which Tucker now felt himself 
equal to undertaking. There was not, however, a spare 
horse for the postboy, who had in consequence to run 
along by our side, until we met some return-horses, one of 
which he mounted. Our saddles were in various stages of 
decay, and of most remarkable construction, with narrow 
seats and high peaks in front; the stirrups were ludi- 
crously short, and incapable of being lengthened, so that 
our knees suffered no slight torture after we had been a 



136 THE PEKSIAX POST-ROAD. 

short time on the road. The horse-traxjk leads up into the 
elevated tableland of North-western Persia, by a gentle but 
continuous ascent of at least 3,000 feet. Leaving on our 
left the isolated cone we had remarked from the Russian 
bank, we rode along bare slopes in the direction of the 
only gap in the chain before us. The backward view was 
very wonderful ; a shelf at the base of the hills on our left 
was dotted with the bright-green or chards of several 
villages, while below us lay the trough of the Araxes, bare, 
brown, and hideous, from which the eye sought relief in the 
pure snows and noble forms of the summits of Kanudschuch, 
which looked from here their ftill height of 12,854 feet. 
The narrow glen through which our road now lay was 
sufficiently picturesque. The mountains on either side 
were covered with grass ; a little stream, with a line of 
trees along its banks, turned several watermills. Farther 
on the crags became bolder, and we noticed an extraordi- 
nary distortion of the strata. The narrowest point of the 
pass was defended by two old towers, now in ruins. We 
emerged at length on an upland plain surrounded by bare 
hills, a description applicable to the greater part of Persian 
scenery. The village of Datarzian soon came into sight 
tmder the hillside on the left, and the jGbrst house in it 
proved to be the post-station. The three we saw on the 
way to Tabreez were almost alike, and a description of 
one will serve for all. A square building of unbaked mud 
surrounds the courtyard, into which you ride ; on three sides 
are the stables, on the fourth the rooms for the reception of 
travellers. There are generally two — one on the ground- 
floor beside the gateway, and the other (which is cool and 
airy in hot weather) built over it. These rooms we found 
quite bare of furniture, but had no difficulty in obtaining 
mattrasses and pillows to lie on, which both looked and 
proved clean and free from insects. Datarzian is a small 



MARAND. 137 

and poor village, but we succeeded in getting milk and 
eggs, and Paul sacrificed a fowl. 

May 27th, — The morning was lovely, and the snowy- 
chain north of the Lake of CTrmia, towards which we were 
riding, was a fine object in the distance. Near at hand 
there was little to diversify the road, until we came to a 
large ruined khan, the doorway of which was handsomely 
decorated with tesselated tiles. Having traversed a water- 
shed, we descended slightly, and crossed two streams, along 
Ivhich a few trees and watermills were scattered. Before us 
was a broad cultivated plain, like that of Coele-Syria. A 
grove of trees on its opposite side was pointed out to us as 
Maraud, the town at which the road from the Bussian fron- 
tier joins the caravan route from Tabreez to Trebizonde. 

A Persian town is a very curious sight when seen for 
the first time. A green grove appears in the distance ; 
* that is Maraud,' says the postboy. As you approach the 
trees become distinct; you pass a few detached orchards 
surrounded by high mud walls, but it is not till you have 
fairly entered the place that any houses are visible. The 
main street of Maraud is shaded by trees, and watered by 
a stream in which the juvenile population, mostly in a 
state of nature, were engaged in making mud-pies. The 
houses stand on either side, all but the poorest surrounded 
by gardens, vineyards, and orchards. They are of one 
story, and flat-roofed. The walls are buUt of grey mud, 
well smoothed and finished off (reminding Tucker of 
Devonshire cob), and often slope inwards towards the top. 
The windows are filled with very neat wooden lattice-work 
frames, the small interstices between which are plastered 
over with oiled paper, instead of glass. The women whom 
we saw struck us as exceptionally hideous ; the men are an 
active-looking race, more akin to- one's idea of Hindoos 
tiian to the more apathetic Turk. The common people 



13S THE PKBSIAN POST-EOAD. 

and cliildren wear a kind of elongated nightcap — the upper 
cla.sses carry the tall Persian hat. We lunched off 
*kabol/8 ' (scraps of meat stuck on a stick and toasted), 
and * kaimak ' (a kind of Deyonshire cream) ; our greatest 
success was the discovery of a bottle of wine, pure juice of 
the grape, which owed little to any skill in its manufac- 
ture. When we were on the point of starting an unex- 
pected question arose. At first we were told the next 
stage over the hills was dangerous, on account of brigands, 
and that we must take an escort; on our refusing to ac- 
cede to this proposal, it was suggested we might go by a 
longer and perfectly safe route, only we should have to pay 
more for the horses. This we also declined, and finally, 
after much talk and waste of time, were allowed to set 
out. Our postboy led us, by a track running due south 
into the mountains, up a valley terminating in fine rocky 
clifib. We now found out why the brigands had been 
created ; it was for the benefit of two foot- soldiers on the 
march to Tabreez, who were naturally anxious to do a job 
on the way by protecting us. They were fine raw mate- 
rial — active fellows and splendid walkers, unencumbered 
by any uniform, save an old blue coat and a white belt, to 
which was hung a fiint-and-steel gun. Presently our path 
turned east, and crossed a broad watershed, dividing the 
stream which flows into the Araxes and the Caspian, from 
one of the feeders of the Lake of Urmia. A bold summit 
rose on our right in rocky slopes intersected by snow-filled 
gullies ; on the other side a village in a bleak situation, 
and a serrated ridge of rocks, attracted our attention. A 
long ride down a dull winding valley, between barren and 
ruddy-coloured hills, brought us to Sofian, a village at the 
foot of the mountains, overlooking the salt-plain which 
extends to the Lake of Urmia. The people at the post- 
house were very civil, and made us fairly comfortable for 
the night. 



ENTttANCB TO TABREEZ. 139 

May 2Sth. — We set out early for our twenty-four miles' 
ride across the plain to Tabreez, which was already visible, 
a dark green spot, in the distance. There was nothing 
of interest on the road, except in the parties we either 
overtook or met. Now a gentleman on his travels, dressed 
in a cool dove-colour or grey coat, bright silk shirt, and 
tall hat, his horse covered with a gaudy saddle-cloth, 
caracoled past us, followed by his servant with the saddle- 
bags ; now we met a train of donkeys gaily decorated with 
many-coloured tassels, and bustling along as if they were 
all hurrying to a f§te. To them succeeded a solemn train 
of camels, swinging, with every sway of the neck, enor- 
mous bells. As we drew closer to the city, we met more 
and more people on the roads, and crowds of donkeys 
carrying brushwood for the use of the brick-kilns we 
afterwards passed. A brick bridge of many arches crosses 
the considerable stream of the Aji Chaa, which, rising at 
the foot of Sawalan Bagh, waters the environs of Tabreez, 
and finally loses itself in the Lake of Urmia. We now 
entered the gardens of the suburbs ; on either hand rose 
grey earth-walls, fifteen feet in height, with finit-trees 
raising their heads over them, and vines pushing green 
tendrils through their upper and less solidly-built por- 
tions. The doors of the vineyards were of stone, exactly 
of the pattern of those in Bashan, and some of them nine 
feet high. We were amused to see the primitive mode of 
knocking for admittance, by picking up a stone from the 
ground and hammering it against the door. We rode at 
once to the English Consulate, which is the handsomest 
house in Tabreez, with a pleasant balcony and garden, 
and large cool-looking rooms. We found, as we feared 
would be the case, that Mr. Abbott had already left for 
Urmia. The dragoman of the Consulate (who, however, 
only spoke Turkish) soon appeared, and requested us to 



140 THE PERSIAN POST-ROAD. 

make ourselves at home antil a lodging was found for us. 
I need hardly say that there is no hotel at Tabreez, and it 
is difficult for a European traveller to acquire sufficient 
familiarity with the manners and customs of the people to 
be able to put up with any comfort at a native khan. Dr. 
Cormick, the English physician, who is in charge of the 
Shah's son, was unluckily out for the day ; but a German 
merchant came to our aid, and we consulted with him where 
we should lodge. After a good deal of doubt and delay 
on the subject, it was finally settled, towards evening, that 
we should take up our abode with a Nestorian Christian, 
who had been employed as dragoman by several embassies 
going to Teheran, and was said to speak English. We 
were greatly amused by our future host's manner of 
introducing himself : ' You come with me, all right ; you 
know me? I Lazarus; find me 11th John in middle 
chapter ; aU missionary gentleman know me, all right.' 
* Old AU Eight,' as we irreverently renamed this Scriptural 
character, led us off to his house, which was approached 
by a narrow lane between two high waUs, and a downward 
flight of steps. The interior, however, was a pleasant 
surprise ; we found a snug little room, ftimished with 
European chairs and a table, ready for us. The walls 
were decorated, in the Persian style, with paintings of 
flowers. The windows, fiJled in with paper — the universal 
substitute for glass at Tabreez — opened out into a little 
garden, on the other side of which were some more apart- 
ments, in which glimpses of our host's wife and daughters 
might occasionally be obtained. At night beds were made 
up for us on the floor, and Lazarus turned out to be a good 
cook, with a special gift for rice-puddings ; so that Paul for 
a time rested from his laboiu's, while we * fared sumptuously 
every day.' 



TABREEZ. 141 



CHAPTEE VI. 

TABEEEZ, ARARAT, AND THE GEORGIAN HILL-COUNTRT. 

The City — Brick Architecture — The Shah's Birthday — The European 
Colony — ^A Market Committee — Return to rjulfa — A Dust Storm — Ford of 
the Araxes — Aralykh — Start for Ararat — Refractory Kurds— A Moonlight 
Climb — Failure — A Lonely Perch — ^Vast Panorama — ^Tucker's Story — A 
Gloomy Descent — ^Return to Eri^an — ^Etchmiadzin — The Armenian Patri- 
arch — A Dull Ride — Hammamly — The Georgian Hills — Djelaloghlu — 
A Moist Climate — Schulaweri — ^Tiflis again — ^Moore joins us. 

Tabreez, May 28th to Jwne 2nd, — ^We had come thus 
far to see a Persian citj, which we might hope to find 
more heyond the reach of European influences than the 
towns of the Levant^ or even Damascus, the romance of 
which is fast yielding to the frequent invasions of Cook's 
tourists. .Tabreez far exceeded our expectations. In 
roaming about its bazaars, we felt the same sensation of 
unreality as on our first arrival at Cairo, which, con- 
sidering what we had seen in the interval, is saying a 
great deal. I will begin by describing the view gained 
firom one of the house-roofs, which form the favourite 
lounging-places of the inhabitants. Thus viewed, the city 
seems to divide itself into three portions. In the centre 
are the domed roofs of the bazaars ; round these is a broad 
zone of dwelling-houses, the grey of their flat roofs and 
walls enlivened by the bright-green of the courtyards, and 
in the nearer ones by the woodwork of the window-blinds ; 
outside stretches a ring of walled gardens, beyond which 
is the bare country, characteristic of this part of Persia. 
There are no minarets, and the only conspicuous building. 



142 TABKEEZ. 

whicli rises above the level of the low one- storied houses, 
is the massive tower of an old castle, in shape not unlike 
an Egyptian propylon. The horizon is mountainous on 
aU sides. A range of red sandstone rises above the town on 
the north and east; in the south are seen the snowy 
summits of the Sultan-Dagh, which reach 13,000 feet; 
and to the^west the eye sweeps over the plain, often 
beautified by mirage, extending to the shores of the Lake 
of Urmia, the mountains beyond which, fronted by those 
of the peninsula of Shahi, close the view in this 
direction. Owing to the height of Tabreez (4,000 feet 
above the sea-level), and the neighbourhood of snowy 
ranges, the heat of the sunshine is frequently tempered by 
cool breezes, and during our stay the temperature was 
delicious. 

The bazaars were our favourite haunt, and where we 
spent the largest portion of our time. The principal ones, 
where the most expensive goods are sold — the Bond Street 
and Regent Street of Tabreez — are brick arcades, the roof 
composed of a series of small domes, through an aperture 
in the crown of which a column of sunlight falls on the 
goods exposed for sale below. In the same stall you see 
the fabrics of Lyons and Manchester, lying side by side 
vrith those of Shiraz and Ispahan. Here you may buy a 
gaudy French silk, or a cotton, in which the Eastiem 
colours and designs are more or less faithfully reproduced 
by a Lancashire firm. We cast but a passing glance on 
such fabrics, but a gorgeously-embroidered tablecloth 
from Bescht, or a beautiful piece of Persian shawl from 
Shiraz, often made us linger to chaffer with its owner — 
generally, happily for our purses, without result, as the 
Persians are shrewder men of business, and harder to 
drive a bargain with, than even the merchants of Cairo or 
Damascus* Out of these arcades open halls or khans. 



BRICK AKCHITECTURE. 143 

covered by large and very flat brick domes, in tbe buildiiij? 
of whicb the Persian architects greatly excel. The 
patterns introduced into the brickwork, and the viirioty 
and shape of the arches which support these halls, add 
much to their effect. They are the principal places where 
the wholesale trade of the city goes on ; round the sides 
are the shops ; over them a^ain are offices, or rather dens, 
where 

* AboT6 their merchaiidiM 
The merchants of the market sit, 
Lying to foolish men and vise,* 

Each of these shops, vdth the den over it, is encased by a 
brickwork arch, the space inside the arch intervening 
between the lower and upper rooms being filled in with 
neat woodwork. The walls are often hung with very 
effective black-and-white cotton drapery, on which tlie 
favourite device of the Persian lion, with the sun rising 
out of his back, is displayed. The centre of the hall 
is generally occupied by a pile of carpets, on the top 
of which their owner is often to be seen performing 
his prostrations. There are other halls, entirely built of 
wood, and supported by roughly-finished poles; which 
are as gaily decorated and as quaint^ if not so handsome, 
as the brick buildings. There are besides, in the business 
quarter of the town, numerous open squares, some of 
them very large ; a row of shops extends all round them, 
and at the centre of each of the four sides is usually a brick 
apse, in the form of a gigantic alcove. In the middle is 
a fountain, and the court is planted with flowering shrubs, 
such as guelder-roses and lilacs. 

The outer circle of bazaars, for rough retail goods, 
is mostly covered by picturesque wooden roofs. Here the 
grocers' stalls, tastefully decorated with devices in tinfoil, 
and the provision-shops, set out with nosegays of butter- 



144 TABREEZ. 

cups, poppies, and clover, are a perfect blaze of colour. 
In one of the brightest and liveliest alleys in the whole 
bazaar, you watch the shoemakers, all stitching as if the 
pair of shoes in hand must be sent home in five .minutes ; 
close by are the forges, where eight men, standing in a 
circle, hammer out, with alternate strokes, a mass of iron, 
how each hammer ke'Cps clear of the next being a mystery 
to the uninitiated. Then there is the carpenters' roT^, 
the bookbindera' row, the old clothes row, the knicknack 
row, where you may buy anything, from revolvers to 
Persian ink- trays, and last, but not least worthy of notice, 
the saddlers' row. The Persians are decidedly a horsey 
people, and have studied all the requisites for a long ride. 
The roof is bright with saddle-cloths, some covered with 
the most beautiful Bescht embroidery ; while in the stores 
you find gay girths, and tasselled bridles, carpet saddler 
bags, and leather salt-pouches, heaped together in pic- 
turesque confusion. It was not the season to see the 
fruit bazaar in its glory, but. the quantity even of nuts 
and dried fruits was extraordinary ; they were piled up in 
ten rows of baskets, one behind another, on an inclined 
plane. 

The crowd which fills the streets of Tabreez is purely 
Eastern; you do not meet two men in European dress 
during the day, nor do you see the red fez which lends 
such life to the cities of the Levant. The ordinary 
head-dress is the tall Persian hat; this is now gene- 
rally made of cloth, and of moderate dimensions, as 
the Shah has published an edict against the steeple-like 
edifices of Bokhara lambswool which were formerly the 
fashion. Turbans, dark-blue or white, are however fre- 
quent ; they are of tremendous dimensions, and resemble 
those in the Museum of the Janissaries at Constan- 
tinople, fiax more than any to be seen in the streets of 



THE BLUE MOSQUE. 145 

the Sultan's capital. The colour of the dresses is quiet 
compared to the bright hues worn by the Turks. The 
women are clothed in dark-blue sacks, and have a sort 
of open crochet-work window in their veils for the eyes 
to peep through. There are said to be many Georgian and 
Circassian beauties in the harems of the wealthier 
merchants, but the chance traveller has, of course, no 
opportunity of admiring their charms. We were im- 
pressed with the busy air of the street crowds. Every- 
body walked £a.8t ; there were comparatively few fat men ; 
friends met and told one another a good story, and passed 
on, and occasionally some of the younger sort indulged in 
the innocent amusement known at the imiversities as 
* bear-fighting/ 

We took several strolls through the outer quarters of 
the town, where long winding lanes, with a watercourse 
running down the middle, and shaded by trees, lead between 
high earthen walls ; at the crossings is often found a coffee 
or rather tea-house, for the Chinese drink supplants the 
Arabian in Persia. We noticed many carved blocks of 
black basalt strewn about, which must formerly have 
belonged to handsome buildings. There is only one interest- 
ing edifice of any antiquity now left in Tabreez — the ruin 
known by the name of the Blue Mosque ; the walls were 
coated inside and out with encaustic tiles, the prevailing 
hues being Oxford and Cambridge blue. The effect is 
stiU very beautiful, and before the destruction of the central 
dome — caused, as we were told, by an earthquake — must 
have been superb. The largest modem building is the 
custom-house, which covers a great extent of ground, and 
consists of large storehouses supported on columns, and 
roofed with small domes. 

On Sunday we took tea in one of the gardens of the 
suburbs. They are, in fact, vineyards with walks round 

L 



146 TABBEEZ. 

them shaded by trees, and planted with rose-bnshes. The 
owner charges a small sum for admission, and your own 
servant brings the materials for your picnic. Though 
there is no attempt at the refinements of European gar- 
dening, they are pleasant places enough to while away an 
afternoon in, and are much resorted to for this purpose 
by the townspeople. The Persians are great lovers of 
flowers : while we were at Tabreez the single roses, red and 
yellow, came into bloom, and were hawked about in large 
nosegays; the pipe-stemsat the eating-houseswere wreathed 
with them, and they were made use of in the most tasteful 
way by the common people. We met a boy carrying 
round a dish of small trout for sale ; the fish were laid out 
in a pattern on green leaves, with lumps of ice and roses 
placed between. 

The day after our arrival was the Shah's birthday, and 
we were much interested in witnessing the departure of 
the high ofiicials from a lev^ held by the Crown Prince 
in honour of the occasion. They were mounted on gor- 
geously-equipped steeds, but were themselves dressed in 
quiet although richly-coloured robes. We also saw a turn- 
out of troops in the courtyard of the palace — scarecrows of 
soldiers, scarcely worthy of a minor theatre. We were 
told that the men are personally brave when well led, and 
are capable of enduring great fatigue on very little food. 
They have only a pretence of uniform, are little drilled, 
and in consequence do not present a very imposing appear- 
ance. There are now, it is said, 600 percussion muskets 
in the whole force, and the conversion of flint and steel 
pieces is regarded with the same interest as that of muzzle- 
loaders among ourselves. 

The little European colony at Tabreez soon found us 
out, and showed us the greatest hospitality ; indeed, we 
dined out every night but one of our stay. The mixture 



THE EUROPEAN KESIDENTS. 147 

of nationalities was most curious. There were only two 
English, subjects — one. Dr. Cormick, the physician in 
charge of the Shah's son, the other a Maltese. There 
were, besides, some pleasant Swiss gentlemen, a French- 
man, and a young Italian, an ez-6aribaldian ; the latter 
two kept up a constant fire of good-natured chaff on 
.European politics in general, and the relations between the 
Pope and the French Emperor in particular. We gathered a 
great deal of information, which was new to us, about the 
internal condition of Persia and its Goyemment. Crime 
seems to be repressed with a strong hand, and mth the 
indifference to human life common in the East ; 1,200 
executions have taken place at Tabreez in the last nine 
years.* We were told that death is inflicted in the 
quietest way^ and that both the headsman and his victim 
behalve like perfect gentlemen. The one lights his long 
' kalian,' smokes a little, and passes it to the other, who 
has his whiff; and. after hobnobbing thus for a while, the 
agent of the law remarks, by some Oriental periphrasis, 
^ Time's up,'! and chops off his companion's head with neat- 
ness and despatch* Detected coiners still suffer the 
penalty of having their ears nailed to a post, and an 
instance of this pimishment occurred during our stay, but 
we missed seeing it. Of public amusements Tabreez has 
few ; we were just too late to see a kind of Oriental mira- 
cle-play, which had been performed in one of the squares, 
in which Jacob, Joseph, and Solomon, who are equally 
revered by Mahommedans and Christians, had been brought 
on the stage. One day we stopped to look at a tame 
lioness in the street; the poor animal had been partially 
blinded, and her performance was not of a very lively 
character — to us at least, who could not understand the 
jokes of her showman. We should like to have visited 
the Sultan-Dagh Mountains, where the European resi- 



148 TABHEEZ. 

dents are in the habit of camping-ont during the hot 
weather ; to have explored the peninsala of Shahi, said to 
afford the best sport in this part of Persia ; and to have 
ridden round the southern shores of the lake to Urmia, 
which was described to us as a very pretty place. A 
colony of American missionaries — who make it their special 
aim to encourage and assist the Nestorian Christians 
found in this part of Persia — has settled there, and estab- 
lished schools and a church. Time, however, was against 
qis, and we made up our minds to return by the same 
road to- Erivan, and not to risk delay or stoppage at one 
of the less-freqiiented fords of the Araxes. 
' Before we left, we were anxious to obtain some me- 
mentoes of our visit to Persia, and, afraid of coping 
Tmaided vrith the native merchants, gave a list of things 
we had remarked in the bazaars, and wished to purchase, 
to one of the European residents, who promised to put us 
in the way of getting them at fair prices. We went by 
appointment to his office, where we met a sort of market- 
committee, each of whom had brought something to show 
us. One man dealt in Shiraz shawls, another in Bescht 
tablecloths, a third in Bokhara lambskins. There were 
some half-dozen in all. They sat in a semicircle before 
us,' and when one brought out any * choice article,' all the 
rest nodded their heads, and uttered a deep * wa-ah ' of 
admiration. One toothless old fellow, a dealer in swords 
and antiques, who might have sat for a picture of Avarice, 
was most demonstrative in praise of his neighbours' wares, 
and altogether upset our gravity by his pantomimic ex- 
pressions of delight. Our bargains were at last con- 
cluded, and a box was packed and directed to London, 
not without some fears (unfounded as it turned out), as to 
whether we should ever see it again.. 

June^ 2nd. — ^We ordered post-horses to be ready at 
7 A.M., and succeeded in getting off an hour later, amidst 



PEBSIAN SCEKERY. 14Sf 

a hubbub of claims for 'backsheesh ' from various employes, 
who had, or pretended to have, done something for us. 
We lunched and rested at Sofian, and then pushed on for 
Maraud ; but having discovered that there was a second 
road between the two places, shorter but steeper than 
that by which we had come, we insisted on taking it. 
We soon turned off, with the telegraph-wires, up a glen 
to the right of our old track. Near its head we reached 
a village, surrounded by verdant pastures, and guarded 
by huge and very handsome dogs, which barked furiously 
at us as we passed. Openings in the hills on our right 
were closed by ridges of splintered crags. Our pass was 
already in view — a notch in the range before us, to which 
the road mounted by short steep zigzags ; on our left was 
a wide pasturage, covered with sheep, and backed by the 
snowy peak which we had seen £rom the other road. The 
view from the top burst on us with unexpected beauty. 
Looking back, the foreground consisted of fine rocks and 
ruddy hills ; beyond them lay Tabreez, now thirty miles 
off, and appearing as a dark-green spot on the plain, 
frt)m which a long and uniform slope led up to the base 
of the mountains of Sultan-Dagh; on the other side 
we looked down on Maraud, and towards the broken 
ranges which separated us from the Araxes vaJley^ the 
gap through which, leading down to Djulfa, was plainly 
visible. At a wayside spring, just below the watershed, 
we met a native of artistic tastes, who, with an apprecia- 
tion of landscape beauiy very rare in the East, asked us 
which view we preferred, the Tabreez or the Maraud side? 
The posthouse at Maraud was fall, but we were taken in 
by a hospitable native, whose house stood in a pretty garden, 
from which he brought us some red and yellow roses* 
There were some well-trained standard guelder-rose trees 
in front of the house. We had a comfortable room, and 
plenty of coverlets for the night. Our host enquired of 



150 ABASAT. 

Paul if we had come to arrange for the constaraction of a 
railroad to Tabreez, and hoped we should make it pass 
through Maraud, and that it would soon be begun* One 
was scarcely prepared for so keen an appreciation of the 
advantages of quick communication in this remote Persian 
town. 

June Srd. — ^We rode down to Djulfa, and as we passed 
the defile in the range, that shuts in on the south the 
Araxes yallej, the rock-tower on the Bussian side looked 
very imposing. We were already descending towards the 
Araxes, when we noticed a black cloud gathering on the 
mountains behind us, similar to, but more dense and 
inky than, that which had pursued us on the Erivan and 
Nakhitchevan road ten days previously. Feeling that 
Djulfa, the scene of our inhospitable treatment .and of 
Tucker's iUness, was not a place to arrive at drenched to 
the skin, we increased our pace, and reached a village 
about three miles from our destination, still uncaught. 
The storm was gaining fast, and looked so bad that we set 
off at a gallop. The race that followed could only be 
described by a mixture of the styles of Mayne Beid and 
De Quincey, to which I am wholly unequaL The ground 
was tolerably fiat, the storm coming up rather on our 
fiank. On making a sudden dip over the bank that 
bounds the actual trench of the Araxes, we saw that we 
were too late. The dust-cloud, which rides on the front 
of these steppe-storms, had crept round and cut us off 
from Djulfa. In a moment it was upon us, borne along 
by a wind which swept twigs and tufts of grass along the 
ground, and nearly blew me out of the saddle. The air 
was so thick that I could only see the two horses nearest 
me — one a riderless animal the postboy was taking back 
with him. Our beasts seemed to dread the storm as much 
as we did, and galloped at the top of their speed. In a 



A DUST-STORM. 151 

minute our eyes were choked, and every particle of clothing 
covered with dust. Then came a second blast, and the 
darkness grew deeper, so that we could barely see the 
ground under our horses' feet. I remembered that a 
watercourse cut the plain close to the station, and managed 
to hit the plank-bridge over it, passing my companions, 
whose voices I could hear, on the right. In another minute 
the first heavy drops fell, but at the same moment the 
Persian custom-house loomed through the darkness, and 
we were in shelter. Paul was the only one of the party 
who got thrown ; he aJmost rode against the building with- 
out seeing it, and, his horse suddenly swerving, he fell o£F, 
but fortunately without hurting himself. Pran9ois, as 
usual, turned up among the first, serene and unruffled. 
At the posthouse the accommodation was wretched, and 
the people most inhospitable ; but we had a resource in our 
former friend, who entertained us with kabobs, and a 
bottle of excellent Persian wine. 

Jwne 4ith. — The only acknowledgment of his hospitality 
our host would accept was a scrap of paper, on which we 
YH'ote our names, aud recommended all English passers-by 
to his care. We had to wait some time while the ferry- 
boat was towed up, by bufialoes, to the proper starting- 
point. The river had fallen considerably, and there was 
no difficulty in the passage. Our reappearance was evi- 
dently more of a surprise than a pleasure to the Bussian 
officials, who had probably sohiced themselves with the 
idea that they would never hear or see anything more 
of us. Believing that the jolts of the * telegas' were 
mainly responsible for my companion's previous illness, we 
made a successful effort to obtain saddle-horses. We were, 
however, able to retain them only for the first stage, and 
no entreaties or threats would induce the stubborn and 
dirty postmaster of the halfway station to furnish us with 



102 ABABAT« 

any other means of conveyance tlian the hateftil carts. We 
arrived at Nakhitchevan in the middle of the day, and I 
wasted the afternoon in an ineffectual struggle to hire 
some kind of spring-carriage. Having called on the 
governor, who expressed his readiness to do anything for 
Tis,I told him that my friend had been knocked up by telega- 
travelling, and that we were most anxious to hire a carriage ; 
but in this particular he could afford us no aid. There were 
only two carriages in the town— one his own, the other an 
old * tarantasse,' which we at first thought might serve our 
purpose, but which proved to have suffered so much from 
exposure and neglect that it was practically useless. Its 
owner was a curious character. He had been at one time 
in business in London, spoke French, and a little English ; 
but having fEiiled, as he gave us to understand, through his 
own extravagances, he had returned to Bussia, and was now 
fixed as a sub-official of the custom-house in this remote 
comer of the Empire. The poor man complained bitterly of 
the dulness of his situation and the barbarism of his com- 
panions, and sighed after the theatres and diversions to 
which he had been once accustomed. There was a heavy 
thunderstorm in the afternoon, and the continued uncer- 
tainty of the weather made us rather despondent about 
Ararat. 

June oth. — ^We started late, in the usual * telegas.' The 
big river, which had been so formidable ten days before, 
was now much lower; but we were nearly upset in it, owing 
to the stupidity of our driver, who let one of his horses 
flounder into a hole and break the harness in the middle of 
the stream. At the next station there were no post-horses, 
so we hired some peasants' animals, and sent on our men, 
with instructions to procure and cook some supper for us 
at the next station. We followed two hours later, and 
before we had finished the long stage of twenty-two versts 



THE FORD OP THE ARAXES. 153 

tte moon had risen, and the steppe looked wonderfully 
weird in its light, mth Ararat and Alagoz looming like 
ghosts in the background. We slept at Sadarak, where 
Paul and Pran9ois had got some supper ready for us. 

June 6th, — ^We drove two stations to Kamirlu, where we 
were to turn off for Aralykh, the village and Cossack 
station nearest Ararat, separated from us by ten versts 
and the Araxes. I had a note for the postmaster, and he 
made no difficulty about giving us carts, although Aralykh 
is not on a regular post-road. We soon saw we were 
approaching the river, by the swampiness of the ground, 
from which the water had but just retreated. The Araxes 
is here divided into three branches : the main stream is 
crossed by a ferry-boat; the two smaller branches are 
generally easily fordable, but now offered considerable 
difficulty. At the first our baggage was carried on men's 
heads, who waded across whilst we plunged in, cart and 
alL Though our small ark was nearly floated away in the 
struggle, we came out in safety on the other side. A 
hundred yards further we reached the second branch, the 
only means of crossing which was a leaky old boat, and 
the delay in the traffic caused a most picturesque scene of 
nproar and confusion. This ferry, though on no great 
caravan route, is much frequented by the nomad Kurds, 
who are constantly changing their pasture-grounds. These 
people are the Arabs of the mountains, and are nearly as 
striking as their better-known relations. Hundreds of 
them now lined the bank, in their bright and picturesque 
costumes, with their tents rolled up ready for crossing, 
theii* wives and daughters seated on the heaps of baggage, 
and their camels and flocks lying down or straying 
around. The men, who were fine-looking fellows, wore 
gaj-coloured di^sses, aad ca^ed queer old weapons in 
their broad belts. The girls were almost all pretty nut- 



154 ARARAT. 

brown maids, with bright eyes and plaits of beautiful 
brown hair, which streamed out from under a handker- 
chief, and reached down to the waist. They wore bright- 
coloured jackets and short petticoats. The men are said 
to be dangerous customers, but we always found them very 
civil and friendly, like most Mahommedan country-people, 
and they seemed pleased to discover that we were English. 
In the present instance they helped our baggage into the 
boat, and after some delay we got across. Meantime the 
passage of the flocks was amusing. Hundreds of sheep and 
goats were forced to face the stream by shouts and pistol- 
shots, while boys and girls dashed into the water to meet 
and land them safely. Camels lined the bank, waiting 
their turn with an air of patient resignation, and two 
huge sheep-dogs, off duty for a time, beguiled their leisure 
hour with a fight ; three hundred yards off the ferry-boat 
moved backwards and forwards over the main river. All 
this made a lively foreground; and in the distance stood 
Ararat, as usual wrapped in his afternoon cloud, and the 
two peaks of Alagoz relieved against a bright-blue sky. 
It was a picture one longed to see transferred to canvas, 
by some painter equal to the occasion, and we lamented 
once more our own incapacity to use brush or pencil to 
any purpose. The ferry-boat, which is large enough to 
take on board a carriage, and works on a stout rope, 
floated us easily over the main stream. 

The question now arose, how we should get on to Aralykh, 
still three miles off, as of course our carts had been lefb 
behind. There were some Cossacks in charge of the ferry, 
and on showing our letter, addressed to the Colonel at 
Aralykh, their chief found us a horse to carry the baggage. 
As no more animals were to be had, we were compelled to 
walk, in the full heat of the afternoon sun, over the bare 
sandy waste between us and the village, which is situated at 



AKALTEH. 155 

the very foot of the mountain, at the commencement of the 
long uniform slope, which serves as a pedestal to the upper 
and more precipitous cone. On our arrival, despite our hot 
and dusty appearance, we were most cordially received by 
the officer in command of this out-of-the-way post, who 
has a comfortable house and the company of a wife to 
console him for his banishment from civilisation. He 
insisted on giving up his study to our use, and at once set 
about making the arrangements for our intended expedi- 
tion, which were somewhat complicated, as the natives are 
as yet little accustomed to travellers visiting the mountain. 
The Colonel entertained us most hospitably, and insisted 
on our allowing him to procure the provisions we should 
require for the ascent. Unfortunately, neither he nor his 
wife could speak any language but Bussian, which made 
our communications rather laborious, especially for Paul, 
who was in constant request as interpreter. 

On the morning of June 7th, we set oS from Aralykh 
on our expedition against Ararat. We were accompanied 
by a Kurd chief, in the Russian service — ^in whose charge 
the Colonel had placed us — and his servant ; four Persians, 
the owners of the horses, and three Kurds, who were 
supposed to be mountaineers, and capable of acting as 
porters. 

Starting on horseback for a * grand course ' is not quite 
in accordance with Alpine ideas; but when it is remembered 
that Aralykh is only 2,600 feet above the sea, and that the 
lower slopes of Ararat are perfectly uniform, bare and 
stony, we shall be excused for avoiding the dreary grind 
up them, under an Araxes-valley sun. At first we kept a 
course parallel to the river, but soon turned towards the 
great mountain, and began to ascend sensibly. We next 
skirted the base of a green bastion commanding the lower 
slopes, in the hollows and shelves of which several groups 



156 ARARAT. 

of Kurd tents were pitched. A somewliat steep ascent 
led up to the green plain which fills the space between the 
bases of the two Ararats. The Little Ararat rose imme- 
diately before us in an unbroken slope of about 4,000 feet ; 
it is a typical volcano, uniform on all sides, but least steep 
on the Turkish, from which a Eussian General is said to 
have ridden up on horseback. 

On our right the base and upper portion of the cone of 
the Great Ararat were visible ; the lower part being 
masked by buttresses, and the whole mass most deceitfully 
foreshortened. On a knoll about 300 feet above the plain 
we found the group of huts which have been used as a 
resting-place by most of the explorers of Ararat* These 
queer dwellings are undergrpund burrows, constructed like 
the villages on the Georgian steppes. A door of twisted 
twigs, on being opened, reveals a hole in the hillside, 
which forms the mouth of a long, winding, dark passage 
leading into two or more chambers lighted by holes in the 
roof. The floor of these horrid caverns is the natural 
soil, and their atmosphere is earthy and tomb-like, while 
the darkness that pervades them adds to their depressing 
effect. The roofs are formed of branches covered with 
turf, and as there is nothing outside to distinguish them 
from the solid ground, it is easy to walk over them unawares. 
One of our horses, while grazing, suddenly sank into one 
of these dangerous traps, and was left, with only its fore- 
quarters emerging from the ground, in a position from 
which it was extricated with great difficulty* 

On the way up we halted, and discussed our arrange- 
ments with the Kurd chief. We had been told below that 
we should find all we wanted at the huts ; but they now 
proved to be uninhabited, and it was therefore necessary 
to get a further supply of bread at one of the encamp- 
ments lower down. The porters wished also to borrow a 



REFRACTORY KURDS, 157 

tent. We remonstrated at the delay this would occasion. 
It was quite early in the day, for we had reached the huts at 
11.15 A.M., and, being anxious to sleep as high as possible, 
we proposed to the men that they should go on with us at 
once, carrying our rugs, in which we were prepared to pass 
the night. We had provisions enough for ourselves, and 
we pointed out to them, that if they were afraid of sleeping 
out at such a height, or had not sufficient food to last till 
morning, they would have time before nightfall to return 
to the huts, where they might sleep, and remount next day 
to fetch down our rugs and other baggage. The men, not 
unnaturally, were averse to the double toil and trouble in- 
volved in this plan, and utterly declined to carry it out, or 
to join us in sleeping out without shelter and a further 
supply of food. We were therefore obliged to remain at 
the huts, and await the arrival of the tent and provisions. 

Our position was curiously like and unlike many old 
Alpine bivouacs. The surrounding pastures might have 
been on the Biffelberg, and it was delightful to see again 
many well-known Alpine flowers. The rhododendron in- 
deed was sought for in vain, and we were too low for 
gentians * ; but their lack was partially compensated by a 
new friend, a dwarf wild hyacinth, white delicately streaked 
with blue, which grew in great profusion. Little Ararat, 
however, was sufficiently unlike a Swiss mountain to dispel 
any illusion, and if that had not sufficed, one glance down 
his side into the brown, bare, bumt-up trough of the Araxes 
would have been enough to recall to our minds the fact 
that we were in Asia, far indeed from the old haunts. 

After midday, clouds gathered, and Ararat indulged in 
his usual thunderstorm. Some hours passed, but the men 
did not reappear, and we were getting more and more 
impatient, when about 8.80 p.m. they came into sight, 
followed by a cow, carrying one of the regular Kurd tents, 

* We afterwards foTind a solitary plant higher on the mountain. 



15S ARARAT. 

too large to be useful for mountaineering, and too heavy to 
be carried by our men over rough ground. The three 
porters now professed themselves ready to go without a 
tent, but a second thunderstorm delayed our start till 4.30. 
With fael we had load enough for four men ; but as the 
owners of the horses declined to be of any service, Fran9ois 
and Paul had to carry one of the bags between them. 

Striking up the spur behind the huts, we made our way 
as directly as possible towards the mountain, traversing a 
good deal of rough groimd, and crossing several hollows, 
by which we lost time, and partially deceived ourselves as 
to the progress made. . ^e porters halfiCd constantly, and 
our pace was slow ; in about an hour and a half afber 
leaving the huts, we found ourselves in a hollow between 
two spurs, and nearly at the snow-level. Here the porters 
stopped, and declined venturing upon the snow. It was a 
good place for a bivouac, and, although probably 500 feet 
lower, we thought we were at a height of at least 9,000 feet. 
We knew that the moon would allow us to start at mid- 
night, and anxious moreover to save our men the fatigue 
of acting as porters, we agreed to halt. The weather 
looked promising, so we supped on * Liebig ' cheerily 
over a bright fire, and then rolled ourselves up in our rugs, 
with little misgiving for the morrow, despite the hindrances 
of the day. 

Alter a sound sleep (at least I speak for myself) we 
were awake and stirring at 11.30 p.m. We had a glass 
of hot wine all round, aud started at 12.10 a.m. The 
first contretemps was the discovery that Pran9ois had, 
despite my warning, allowed Paul to leave Tiflis without 
proper boots, and that it was impossible he could come 
on with us. He had set his heart upon ascending Ararat, 
and therefore very reluctantly turned back. 

After climbing two snow-slopes, we gained a ridge com- 



A MOONLIGHT WALK. 159 

manding a view of the ground between us and our moun- 
tain. In front lay a deep hollow, such as in the Alps 
would be filled by a glacier; the ridge along which we 
were proceeding appeared to be connected with, or rather 
to form a continuation of others, by which it was pos- 
sible to make the circuit of the hollow, and reach the 
foot of the great rocks, which we had, for convenience and 
old acquaintance' sake, named ^ les Grands Mulets.' 

In the first hour and a half we had cleared a good deal 
of ground, and I remarked to Tucker how well we were* 
getting on, and how ^ fit ' I felt. Nemesis was at hand. 
In another half-hour, though the ground was easy and 
the inclination trifling, I began to feel unwell, and ex- 
perienced all the sensations of mountain-sickness, generally 
ascribed to the rarity of the air. In the present case, 
too much telega-fauvelling and want of training supplied 
a sufficient .cause. Meantime the moon was shining 
gloriously in a cloudless sky, lighting up the huge white 
cone above us, and the distant ranges beyond the Araxes. 
Unluckily, I got worse instead of better, and was obliged 
to delay our progress by frequent halts. We were now 
beginning to climb the actual cone, and the rock-ridge, 
though still easy, became steeper. When fairly on the 
fiaxje of the * Grands Mulcts,' after three hours of feeble 
and intermittent progress, * the force of nature could no 
farther go,' and I sadly succumbed, leaving Fran9ois and 
Tucker to go on and, as I hoped, to prosper. This was 
about 6 A.M. The sun was already high, and the air was 
pleasantly warm. 

I was left on a shelf of the rock with a cup of wine and 
some food. For the latter I felt no inclination; as for 
the wine, it was soon disposed of by my dozing off and 
upsetting it with my arm, leaving barely a wineglass- 
fill of liquid as my provision for the morning. 



160 ARAB AT. 

After tlie first doze I made an attempt to follow mj 
companions, but soon found it useless; so I resigned 
myself to fate, and lay down, now in one nook of the 
rocks, now in another, sometimes dreaming oddly, as one 
does in odd places, sometimes gazing drowsily over the 
top of Little Ararat (12,800. feet) into Persia, or over the 
E^ara Dagh ranges to the white line of the Eastern 
Caucasus. The sun got very hot, and my head ached 
horribly ; so I scrambled round the rocks to a shaded shelf, 
whence I could see far into Kurdistan, a region of snowy 
mountains and bare valleys. A streak below me was the 
infant Euphrates, but I did not feel much the better 
for seeing it. Of the Garden of Eden no tradition seems 
to linger even in this land of old stories, and if these 
barren hills were ever clothed by the groves of the earthly 
Paradise, the change has been complete indeed. My state 
of mind at the time scarcely made me a fair judge of the 
view, but I will try to give the impression it produced upon 
me, as compared with European mountain panoramas. 
Most people have seen in a sculptor's studio a block of 
marble hewn down to the rough outline of the group 
which he has it in his mind to produce. From a dis- 
tance the eye catches a certain grandeur of effect which 
closer inspection destroys, by revealing that the parts are 
in themselves but rough and shapeless masses. So it is 
with these mountains of Kurdistan. On them the great 
sculptor, Nature, seems to have * tried her prentice hand ' 
before she had learnt how to chisel out with her graving- 
tools, frost and heat, the torrent and the glacier, those 
exquisite outlines of peak and valley which are a dis- 
tinguishing feature of the Alps and the Caucasus. The 
first impression I received was, — what a wilderness of 
mountains ! — ^in every direction nothing met the eye but 
snowy masses, lying in heaps instead of ranges. The 



TUCKER'S STORY. Idi 

general effect was exceedingly grand and impressive ; but 
when the details were examined in search of some beau- 
tiful peak, the search was in vain. The slopes were cha- 
racterised by dreary monotony, and the summits were 
without form or beauty. One distant mass (Bingol Dagh ?) 
alone deserved to escape the general condemnation. 

Time wore on, and at length, about 1.30 p.m., a shout 
above me announced Tucker's return. I augured ill from 
it, for it was not a cheerful * jodel,' but I retained a hope 
that he might, for my sake, be subduing his feelings. To 
my surprise, the next shout came from below, and I knew 
that my companion must have descended by another route. 
Through the light cloud that was hanging on the moun- 
tain, I soon saw the two figures, and before long had joined 
them and heard their storv. 

The rocks above my halting-place turned into an arSte, 
cut into towers, separated by deep gaps. The climbing 
here was exceedingly difficult, and the passage of some of 
the gaps required both care and steadiness. Fortunately, 
the ridge was not very long, and in an hour and a half 
from the place where I had stopped, a snovn^ saddle con- 
necting the rocks with the upper mass of the cone was 
gained. Here they rested for half an hour, at a height 
probably of 13,800 feet. Above them stretched inter- 
minable snow-slopes, seamed here and there by rocks, but, 
unluckily, rocks of an utterly useless description to the 
climber. They were not ridges, but disconnected crags 
of lava, suggesting by their fantastic shapes the idea that 
half the animals, after leaving the Ark, had been petrified 
as they came down the mountain. Here was an elephant, 
glissading elegantly, using his trunk for an alpenstock ; 
there a tapir, or some antediluvian-lookingbeast, by whose 
untimely fate, now for the first time discovered, naturalists 
have lost a species. 



162 ARARAT. 

Before long the snow took the form of hard nev^, and it 
was necessary to cut steps. Fran9ois was by this time so ex- 
hausted that he could do no more; Tucker, however, pushed 
on alone, and by^ cutting about 1,000 steps, succeeded in 
reaching a point a little under 16,000 feet.* Such work, at 
a height equal to that of Mont Blanc, cannot be continued 
for ever, without long training ; his breath began to fail, 
and his head to throb painftdly, so that he was obliged 
to rest every twenty or thirty steps. The tremendous stau'- 
case required to reach the summit was not to be accom- 
plished single-handed, and at 12.10 p.m. — after nearly four 
hours' solitary work, the top looking as far off as ever, and 
clouds collecting rapidly round the mountain — ^Tucker 
turned to descend. Having rejoined Fran9ois, they returned 
quickly together down the tracks made in the ascent, 
avoiding the rocky arfete, by slithering down the snow- 
slope on its left, which had been hard-frozen in the 
morning. 

We plunged gloomily through soft snow, and over the 
tiresome rough lava-crags, and, despite the mists, found 
it easy to follow our old track to the spot where we had 
left the Kurds. They now shouldered with ease the 
burdens under which they had groaned and staggered the 
evening before, and led off at a quick pace for the huts, 
where we arrived about 6 p.m., having halted often on the 
way. The last part of the walk was in rain, Ararat 
having succeeded in his daily task of collecting a shower in 
otherwise fine weather. We regained the huts at'6.30 p.m., 
having been 18^ hours out. 

We slept in the Kurd tent — I badly, but Tucker, as he 
deserved, soundly enough. These tents have black roofs, 
like those of the Arabs, from which they are otherwise 

very different. Stakes three feet high are driven into the 

• « 

* We estimated it afterwards, carefully, as between 1,000 and 800 feet below 
the top. 



hA »m»m^^ 



PREVIOUS ASCENTS. I(i3 

ground in a circle, and to the ends of these the top of the 
tent is loosely fastened. It is afterwards forced up and 
made taut by poles inserted underneath. The sides are then 
filled in with a roll of matting or reeds, through which 
the winds penetrate far too easily. The next morning 
was fine, and the Kurd porters, to gain several more days' 
pay (their object throughout), were willing to carry the 
baggage anywhere. Our provisions, however, were ex- 
hausted, and we must have waited a day for a fresh supply. 
I did not feel able to try the mountain again with any 
chance of success, without rest and' good food, and Tucker 
had done nearly enough. After an hour's debate, we 
decided that we had no ehoice but to descend to Aralykh. 
On the way down, we had a good deal of talk (through 
Paul) with the Kurd chief, who was a good fellow in his 
way. Though otherwise an intelligent and well-informed 
man, he shared the superstition prevalent among the 
natives at the foot of the mountain, that its top never 
has been, and never can be, trodden by mortal foot. 
This belief is maintained, despite the two recorded and 
undoubted ascents of Herr Parrot in 1829, and Gene- 
ral Chodzko in 1850. Neither of them are open to the 
slightest doubt. Parrot positively asserts that, on his 
third attempt, he gained the actual summit, of which, 
moreover, he gives an intelligible description. Greneral 
Chodzko led a regular military expedition against the 
mountain, advancing slowly, but surely, until he pitched 
his camp a few hundred feet below the top. There he re- 
mained for a week, engaged in scientific observation. Both 
these ascents took place in the early autumn, when, owing 
to the diminution of the snow, the summit is most accessi- 
ble. Our Kurd also knew Alagoz well, having been in the 
habit of feeding his flocks on the great upland pasturage, 

which lies to the south of the peaks ; and he confirmed 

u2 



^ ^ ■«. - 



164 ARARAT. 

General Chodzko's account of the existence of a small 
glacier near the top, by telling us that there was a river 
there which stood still on account of the cold. General 
Chodzko ascended the highest peak of Alagoz, when 
employed on the military map of the Caucasian provinces, 
in 1847, . He. describes the top as exceedingly small^ and 
the final. scramble as more fatiguing than difficult. The 
second summit he pronounces altogether inaccessible. 
. The dolonel welcomed us back most cordially, and 
invited us to stay and rest; but we were anxious to get to 
Erivan, and so, after paying off our Kurds, wished him 
good-bye, and rode on to the ferry. The Persian owners 
of the horses had demurred to being taken on to Kamarlu 
as part of the day's work, and we had compromised the 
question, by promising them a * backsheesh ' on our arrival 
there,'. At the ferry they refused to go any further .5 we 
surprised them by paying no heed to their noise, and 
taking the horses over with us. At the second branch we 
foimd the leaky boat replaced by a rude log-raft, buoyed 
on inflated skins, on which we crossed, some Kurds swim- 
ming our horses over. The scene was otherwise unchanged, 
except that the Kurd girls were even prettier specimens of 
their race than those we had seen before. The sun was 
scorchingiy hot as we rode into Kamarlu^ and we were 
glad to throw ourselves down for half an hour on the 
wooden' benches, in a cool room, while our ^ telegas ' were 
prepiired. The Persians having persisted in their resolve 
not to cross the river, we left their horses in the charge of 
the postmaster, and set out to drive the two terribly rough 
stages into Erivan, where we arrived, sore and sorry, about 
sunset^ 

June IQth to 12^A, Erivan, — ^We sent out Paul to make 
enquiries, and endeavour to conclude a bargain for horses, 
to. enable us to ride back to Tiflis, by country-roads, for we 



A RUSSIAN DOCTOR. 165 

were quite determined to have nothing more to do, for the 
present, with the post-carriages of the Caucasus. Our 
plan was to visit Etchmiadzin, and take from thence a 
track leading along the flanks of Alagoz (which we enter- 
tained thoughts of attacking), and then passing through 
the hill-country of Georgia, and across three ridges, varying 
between 6,000 and 8,000 feet in height, before it finally 
rejoins the post-road, three stations. out of Tiflis. Paul 
was successful in finding a man in the bazaar, who agreed 
to fiimish us, at a reasonable price, with horses and men 
who knew the roads we wished to follow* In the evening 
of our first day's rest, I was attacked .with a violent pain 
at the. back of the head, got no sleep, and sent next morn- 
ing for the Russian doctor. He. said there was nothing 
the matter. with me, and prescribed a mild solution of 

m 

peppermint, which was neither nice nor useful; in the 
evening he came again, and ordered leeches and a mus- 
tard-plaister. , This vigorous, treatment was effectual; I 
slept fairly, and got better next day, so that by the morn- 
ing of the 18 th, I was ready to make a short stage of three 
hours, on horseback, to Etchmiadzin. . Tucker, meantime, 
had been busy in the bazaar, in getting a light mattrass 
stuffed and made.up, and in making other small provisions 
for our week's. ride across the hills to Tiflis. 

June \Zih. — The ride to Etchmiadzin, despite the 
distant view of Ararat, is on the whole a dull one. The 
road passes under- the fortress .of. Erivan, which might 
perhaps be formidable to Asiatic troops, and crosses the 
stream from, the Gotchka lake, which here . flows in a 
picturesque ravine. There is an untidy botanical garden 
on its further bank. For some little distance out of the 
town the country is cultivated, but the greater part of the 
twelve miles is over a bare and stony plain, broken half- 
^sj by a village <a]td further on by a Druidic-looking 



166 ARABAT. 

ruin on the left of the road. The village of Etchmiadzin 
is conspicuous, from a distance, by the number of its 
churches ; they are of the usual Armenian style of archi- 
tecture, lofty for their size, with circular towers capped 
by stumpy steeples. The village and bazaar are poor, and 
the place is in a very uninteresting situation, on a broad 
plain, watered by the stream, which has its sources on the 
eastern flanks of AJagoz. The convent and cathedral 
are within a large fortified enclosure, which has in its 
time resisted many attacks from the infidels. We were 
assigned a room in the convent, and the monks did what 
they could to make us comfortable. They all wear the 
Circassian hood, or ^ baschlik,' which is far more graceful 
than the square cap of the Russian priest, or the cowls of 
European Orders. The cathedral is a quaint old building, 
covered with elaborate but somewhat barbaric sculpture, 
and decorated internally with fine wood-carving and 
numerous pictures of saints. The greatest sign of pro- 
gress about the place is a large reservoir, which has been 
lately constructed. 

We were invited in the evening to take tea with the 
Patriarch. He is a fine but not intellectual-looking 
man, with a splendid beard ; he was dressed in robes 
of purple silk, and wore magnificent Orders, some of 
which had been presented to him on his recent visit to 
St. Petersburg. We were introduced by an Armenian 
merchant, whose acquaintance we had made on the Black 
Sea, and whom we now again most opportunely met. 
' His Holiness,' who quite plays the Pope amongst his 
countrymen, was very affable, and, could he have spoken 
any Christian language except Russian, would doubtless 
have given us a good deal of interesting information. As it 
was, he spent the best part of an hour in proving to his own 
satisfaction how much' more charitable and tolerant the 



ETCHMIADZIN. 107 

Armenians were than the Greeks, and how much they 
sympathised with the English in ecclesiastical matters. 
Toleration is a virtue often found in the weaker party, and. 
the poor Armenians need at present all the sympathy they 
can get, as their Church is divided against itself — one party, 
headed by the Patriarch, acquiescing in Biissian supremacy 
and interference ; while the other resents it, and urges the 
removal of the seat of the patriarchate to some spot 
outside the Czar's dominions. The room in which we 
were received was hung with a long series of portraits of 
(to us) imknown Kings of Armenia, headed by the present 
Czar of All the Bussias. On our departure the Patriarch 
presented each of us with his * carte-de-visite.' After we 
had returned to our room, a secretary appeared with an 
English document, which he wanted me to copy ; it was the 
receipt of a Calcutta firm for some money paid in to the 
Patriarch's account by an Armenian missionary in 1814. 
The man was very anxious to know if he could get the 
money now by sending to London, but we thought it best 
to decline giving an opinion on that delicate point. 

June \4ith. — ^In the morning we were shown the convent 
library, which is small, but contains some magnificently- 
illuminated manuscripts. A Bible, with numerous and 
quaint pictures of Old Testament history, was I think the 
handsomest I ever saw. Our day's ride lay up the valley 
on the eastern side of Alagoz ; the country in general is 
distressingly bare, and the track led us over stony downs, 
until it came suddenly to the brow of a cliff, under which 
flowed a stream in a verdant trough, with the village of 
Oschagan on the opposite side. An old bridge formed 
the foreground to a picture which perhaps struck us more 
than it would have done in a country less generally mono 
tonous. The long gentle slope from here up to Aschtarak 
was a perfect Eden contrasted with the bare wastes 



IGS THE GEORGIAN HILL-COUNTRY. 

beyond. Careful irrigation had clothed the soil with a 
rich mantle of vegetation, vineyards and orchards lined 
both sides of the path, and even the dividing hedgerows 
seemed to share in the general luxuriance. The village 
stands on a brow above the sunny slope which supplies it 
with com and wine, and its inhabitants have a more 
prosperous air than most of the Armenian peasantry. 
We made bur midday halt here, and I was glad to rest for 
two hours in a clean room, for my Erivan attack had lefl>. 
me somewhat weak and lazy. 

The only interesting features in the latter part of the 
day's ride were the river-beds — ^picturesque troughs, almost 
gorges, sunk from 100 to 200 feet below the general surface, 
with rugged volcanic rocks cropping out from their sides. 
We ascended all day, and towards evening reached a high 
plain partially cultivated, and dotted with dismal villages. 
The first we halted at oflfered such bad accommodation that 
we rode on three miles further to Alekujak, which stands on 
the left bank of the torrent descending from the Alagoz 
glacier.. Our quarters here were about the nastiest we met 
with during oiur whole joumey^ To avoid the winter-cold at 
this height (about 6,000 feet), the houses are all constructed 
on the principle of a molehole — one passage leading into the 
family apartments, which no stranger can enter on account 
of the presence of the womankind, another into the stable. 
In the latter we had to lodge on a sort of dais, provided 
with a fireplace and two sleeping-mats, slightly railed off 
from the horses and cows that occupied the rest of the apart- 
ment. The only fuel obtainable was cowdung, so that the 
fire did not add much to the cheerfulness of the situation. 
What with the stiflingly pungent smell of the stalls, the 
noise of the animals, and the determined inroads of fleas 
and other insects, we never passed a more miserable night. 
. June 15th. — The hills were covered with a wet blanket 



ARMENIAN SCENERY. 1C9 

of misVand our last hope of Alagoz— the summit of which 
(13,436 feet), a rock-peak of the Piz Langnard type, had 
shown for a moment the previous evening — was ex- 
tinguished. We rode on over intensely green upland 
pastures, surrounded by, if possible, greener hills. Mists 
swept over all their tops, and rain fell pretty steadily. 
We forded the stream three times before reaching Kon- 
daksaz, a small village inhabited by Mahommedan Kurds, 
whereiwe halted for lunch in a stable, a shade better than 
our sleeping-quarters.. Alagoz now lay well in the rear, 
and the track leading over to Alexandrapol tiimed off on 
the left. A plain, on which large herds of horses were 
pasturing, . was soon crossed, and we entered a long and 
narrow glen; the scenery and the weather were both bad 
Scotch, and we could not look forward with any pleasure 
to the passage of the watershed between the Kur and 
Araxes, which we were now approaching. After passing 
two villages, one on either hand, the glen narrowed, and 
the track finally made a sudden dash up the hillside on 
the right, bringing us very quickly to a grassy ridge 
7,828 feet above the sea. We were surprised to see a rapid 
and long descent before us on the northern side. 

The valleys of the tributaries of the Kur are everywhere 
much deeper cut than those of the Araxes, and the Georgian 
highlands are consequently more picturesque than those of 
Armenia. Snow lay heavily on the pass, and we had 
some little trouble with our animals. The wild flowers 
were lovely, many of them old English friends — such as 
cowsUps, primroses, and violets. We also found a gentian, 
and saw again the dwarf hyacinths of Ararat. Two hours 
below the pass we came to Hammamly, situated on the 
banks of a torrent, at the junction of three valleys. It is 
on the road from Delidschan to Alexandrapol, and there is 
^ post-station in the village, to which we of course went. 



170 THE GEORGIAN HILL-COUNTRY. 

It was pleasant to find a clean room and a good fire, over 
which some mulled wiije was quickly brewed, and proved 
most acceptable after our wet and cold ride. 

June 16th. — The mists clinging to the bare hillsides 
around reminded me irresistibly of Scotland, and the 
first part of our ride was through scenery very like that 
of the Grampians. We followed the post-road for some 
distance down the valley ; occasionally, near a village, a 
clump of trees broke the hillsides, but the general cha- 
raLcter of the country was unchanged. Several versts before 
reaching Kischlak, the next station, we turned over a 
brow on the left, and entered a side-valley, which runs tip 
into the hills in a direction at right-angles to our previous 
course. We soon came to a village, tidier and more 
habitable-looking than the wretched places we had seen 
since leaving Etchmiadzin. Above this the hillsides were 
thickly wooded, a fact we appreciated the more from having 
seen no natural timber either in Armenia or Persia. 

A rough cart-road led us over a grassy ridge, the summit 
of which was covered in mists, and it was not until we had 
descended some distance that we gained our first view of 
Gergeri, a large village situated in a secluded basin, and 
surrounded by finely-timbered hillsides. Our horses waded 
with difficulty, through horrible mud, into the military can- 
tonment, which is a short distance from the village. We 
found shelter from the incessant rain in a small cottage, 
built after the Russian style, and bearing evidence, in its 
fittings, of inhabitants more civilised than the Georgian 
peasantry. Pictures, mostly of a religious type, were pasted 
on the walls, and there was an old family Bible on the table. 
Having learnt with satisfaction that Djelaloghlu, our 
sleeping-place, was only ten versts distant, we, after a short 
rest, proceeded on our journey. ' The road ascended a 
small valley, with bold lulls on the left, for some distance. 



A MOIST CLIMATE. 171 

and then crossed a low steep ridge, from the top of which 
we overlooked a green tableland filling up the space 
between the Bezobdal and Lelwar ranges, both of them 
ofifshoots of the Anti-Caucasian chain. The rain was falling 
in torrents, but, happily, Djelaloghlu was at hand. It is a 
place of some size, laid out in the straggling style common 
in the Caucasian provinces. Detached cottages are set 
down in rows on either side of a broad street of mud. The 
houses, individually, are quite as good as an ordinary 
English cottage. Here there are, besides, large government 

* 

stores, and ofBicers' quarters, with some pretence of a garden 
in front of them. We were directed to the village shop, and 
found shelter in a sort of back-kitchen, opening out of it, 
which would have been comfortable enough, but for the 
chilly look given by a damp earth-floor. We shared our 

in a row along one side of the room. The presence of the 
military ensured us fair food, and we spent the evening in 
writing letters, and working ourselves up into an unusual 
state of patriotism, by drawing comparisons between a 
Georgian and an English June — all in favour of the latter. 
Calculations showed that rain had fallen on twelve out of 
the fifteen days since we left Tabreez, and it fell on each of 
the three foUowing days up to our arrival at Tiflis. 

June 17 th. — We meant to have started early, knowing 
we had a long day's journey before us ; but in the morning 
Paul complained of being ill, and would do nothing but 
groan. It turned out that he had neglected our injimction 
to change his wet clothes the previous afternoon, and had 
consequently caught a chill. A strong * pick-me-up ' cured 
him for the time, and at 8 o'clock we set out once more, 
to face the rain and mists. Djelaloghlu stands on the 
brink of a curious cleft, the bottom of which is at least 
100 feet below the level of the plain, and the sides almost 



172 THE GEORGIAN HILL-COUXTRY. 

perpendicular. The road dips down, by a steep zigzag, to 
a bridge over the Debeda. At the top of the ascent on 
the other side stands a fine old stone cross. For several 
miles we rode over a plain covered with the most luxuriant 
herbage, and then entered a long valley between bare 
green hills, one of them crowned by a tall wooden cross. 
At a point were two streams meet was a large village, 
where our men wanted to halt; but we, wishing to 
reach Schulaweri before nightfall, refused to let them. 
We forded one branch of the stream without much diffi- 
culty, and followed the other up to its sources among the 
hills. The height assigned, in Kiepert's Map of the 
Caucasus, to the pass we now crossed, is 5,805 feet. 
It is probably picturesque, but we saw, nothing but fog 
and mist, till we had descended several hundred feet on the 
northern side, when we found ourselves on a wooded slope, 
high above the recesses of a deep valley. The neighbouring 
mountains were clothed in the most beautiful park-like 
timber. The glades and grassy knolls were enlivened by 
Kurd encampments, sheep and horses were grazing on the 
fresh herbage, and the bright costumes of their owners 
gave colour to the scene. At this height the trees were 
still in their spring tints, and the white-thorn was coming 
into full blossom. We noticed a great many wild finit 
trees, especially pears and apples. After many wind- 
ings, the cart-track succeeded in descending to the side 
of the stream, which we followed for some distance down an 
exquisitely wooded valley. It was our firdt introduction to 
Caucasian forest scenery, and we were constantly halting 
and calling each other's attention to some wall of verdure, 
built up of gigantic beech-trees, or a glade where gnarled 
old trunks and luxuriant underwood afforded a subject for 
the artist or photographer. The brown torrent, encou- 
raged by the recent rains, ventured on some remarkable 



SCHULAWERI. 173 

« 

falls ; at one spot a tributary leapt suddenly out of the 
foliage, and tumbled in a sheet of foam into the larger 
stream, forming one of the most eftective ^ water-meets ' 
imaginable. At last the valley opened out a little, and we 
came upon cornfields, showing that habitations were not 
very far off. We halted at the village-store, a roadside hut 
soaked with rain, where we had difficulty in finding a dry 
comer to eat our lunch in. Here, nevertheless, our horse- 
men wanted us to stop for the night, and told the usual 
lies to induce us to accede to their wishes. It was said 
that we had only ridden halfway, and therefore could not 
arrive at Schulaweri till long after dark, and that there were 
wicked people on the road, which was moreover barred by 
an impassable torrent. We were by this time pretty well 
used to these bogies, and persisted in starting again as smn 
as possible. The track at once crossed, by a bridge, the 
stream we had been following, and then a short but steep 
climb led to the summit of a low watershed, the valley on 
the other side of which was broader and more open than 
that we had just left. 

An utterly-deserted village contrasted strangely with 
the smiling landscape and jfrequent cornfields, and the 
hedgerows, gay with flowering shrubs, often reminded us 
of England, to the hillier parts of which the features of 
the country bear some resemblance. Where the valley 
bent round to the north, and contracted into a defile, we 
encountered the terrible torrent. The old man in charge 
of the horses was much alarmed, and declared the water 
ivas rolling down big stones, and that the passage w«s too 
perilous to be attempted; but we rode through with 
perfect ease, scarcely finding it necessary to lift our feet in 
the stirrups. We had to cross the stream three times, but 
familiarity, as usual, bred contempt, and even the leading 
old man did not hesitate twice. The hills gradually 



174 THE GEORGUy HILIKJOUNTKT. 

opened as we drew near Schnlaweri, the situation of wMch 
is very beautiful ; the town stands in the centre of a richly- 
wooded basin, and is surrounded by walled vineyards and 
groves of £ruit- trees. The ground on the north falls in a 
long slope to the Khi-am, and the eye sweeps over the plain- 
country to the chain of hills that surrounds Tiflis. A 
curious natural arch, in some castle-like crags on the top of 
one of the hills that overlook the town, is a conspicuous 
feature of the view. We were first shown into a gloomy 
den, but in a short time got possession of a clean though 
bare room in a two-storied house, which was but just 
finished , and still unoccupied. We were not sorry, after our 
forty miles* ride on tired horses, to spread our mattrass on 
the floor, and lie down to sleep. 

The next morning (June 18th) we rode out through a 
fairly-furnished. bazaar, and crossing, for the fourth and 
last time, the stream of the day before, left the vineyards 
behind, and found ourselves on comland, where teams of 
sixteen oxen were ploughing furrows, six inches deep, to 
the monotonous chaunts of their drivers. Under ordinary 
circumstances it is an easy day's ride from Schulaweri to 
Tifiis, but a flooded stream now barred the direct road, 
and we were obliged to make a long circuit to the west to • 
find a bridge. The way was enlivened by the frolics of 
two half-tipsy Georgians, both riding on the same horse — a 
form of cruelty to animals to which the people of this 
coimtry are much addicted. They narrowly escaped 
drowning, in an attempt to ford the stream, half a mile 
below the bridge. On the bank stood a comfortable farm- 
house, surrounded by some fine trees, which might have 
been made into a very pretty place. After crossing a 
second stream, by a new bridge, we at last passed, some 
way off on the right, a large building, apparently an old 
caravanserai. We halted at a village, meaning to lunch ; 
but, though there were many vineyards in the neighbour- 



HETUEN TO TIFLIS. 175 

hood, no wine was to be had. The puzzle was explained 
when we found that the people here were Mahommedans, 
and those of the next hamlet Christians. We rode on, and 
in half an hour found ourselves again on our old track, at 
the third station from Tiflis on the Erivan post-road. It 
was ten versts on to Kody, where we were obliged to sleep, 
for our horses, 

'Hollow pampered jades of Asia, 
Which could not go but thirty miles a day,' 

were completely played out by their previous performances, 
and plodded on at a pace which was painful to everyone 
concerned. 

There was scarcely anything eatable to be found at the 
station — indeed, the postmaster's only object seemed to be 
to get rid of us. We consoled ourselves with the thoughts 
of. Tiflis, and hotel luxuries on the morrow. Our sleep 
was soon broken by the howling of some miserable dogs. 
The concert was so prolonged that my Mend finally lost 
patience, and broke it up by firing a revolver into the 
middle of the performers, imluckily without fatal effect. 

Jime 19th. — Prom this point we intended to strike 
straight for Tiflis across the hills — a route which had been 
described to us as both shorter and more picturesque than 
the tedious approach by the valley of the Kur. Daring 
the first part of our ride we were still following the post- 
road; the mud was something indescribable, and the 
ground ordinarily driven over so heavy that the carts had 
been taking lines of their own through the fields. The 
postmaster at Kody told us, with apparent satisfaction, 
that if we had wanted * telegas ' he should have given us 
five horses to each, as a less number could not pull even 
that light weight through the slough of the highroad to 
Persia and the Caspian. Presently turning off at 
right-angles, we struck up the hUlside on our left, by a 
steep horse-path moimting beside a gully, in which a 



nre the Georgian hill-country. 

quaint little village sheltered itself. On reaching the brow 
of the hill, the whole of the great city of Tiflis and the 
course of the Kur for many miles burst upon us with 
startling suddenness, at least 2,000 feet below. The view is 
very striking, and when the snowy chain of the Caucasus 
is clear, it must be still more so. The descent was long 
and steep, down a hillside covered with brushwood and 
broken by crags. We met strings of donkeys carrying 
out goods from the city, and passed others, laden with fire- 
.wood, going in the opposite direction, as we rode down 
through a suburb of gardens into the Persian quarter. 
After Erivan and Tabreez, the streets seemed wonderfully 
European, with their tall houses, shops with plate-glass 
windows, and smartly-dressed ladies in Parisian costumes. 
The [Russians have spent a great deal of money to establish 
a handsome European city south of the Caucasus, and they 
have effected their object. Tiflis is undoubtedly a success. 
,It is polyglot, but not Asiatic ; and the Persians, like the 
foreigners in Leicester Square, keep their own quarter, and 
even there look shady and dull compared with their coun- 
trymen at home. 

Tiflis^ June 20th to 2&th. — ^We were delighted to rejoin 
all our luggage at the comfortable H6tel d^Europe, and to 
find, the . missing tent and portmanteau arrived from 
.Kutais. My time during the next few days was spent 
principally in visits to the governor and postal officials, 
which did not produce any very great results. I took 
pains to explain our plan, which was in itself sufficiently 
simple — namely, to go to the foot of Kazbek by the post- 
road, ascend if possible that moimtain, and then cross, by 
two passes laid down in the Russian maps, into the valley 
of the Kion. To the official mind, however, the unknown 
and the impossible are coextensive terms ; and while I was 
piet with the greatest personal civility and desire to aid 



MOORE JOINS US. 177 

US, I could get no definite information, or promise of 
assistance, beyond the j)osthouse of Kazbek, "vvliere the 
Governor of Tiflis told me he hoped to meet us in a week's 
time. There seemed even to be a question whether we 
should get thus far, for at the post our ' crown-podoroj no ' 
was laughed at, and we were told no carriage could be 
promised us for an indefinite period. 

The Grand Duke Alexis (the son of the Emperor) was 
expected from St. Petersburg on a visit to the Caucasus, 
and consequentlj all the official world were in motion to 
meet him, and no one without epaulettes and a band round 
his cap had a chance of meeting with the slightest atten- 
tion. After several eflforts I gave up the post in despair, and 
sought out a German carriage-master, who agreed to let us a 
* tarantasse ' with four horses, to travel voiturier- fashion. 
We had also to make several visits to the police to enquire 
about Fran9ois ' passport, which the officials at Poti had 
promised to forward. The authorities would hold out no 
certain prospect of its restoration, and seemed to wish him 
to buy of them a Russian document, costing two roubles, in 
its place ; so we commissioned the master of the hotel, who 
was going back to Europe, to stir up the Poti police, and 
he succeeded in recovering the missing passport. Travel- 
lers anxious to avoid that fever-stricken swamp, Poti, often 
go straight through, trusting to the promise of the police 
to send their passports after them — a promise which, in the 
cases which came under our personal knowledge, was in- 
variably broken. 

On the 20th, the day fixed on for a rendezvous with my 
friend Moore, who was to come out straight from England 
by the Danube and Constantinople, a telegram from 
Kutais announced to us the welcome news of his arrival 
in the country, and on the 21st he appeared in person, 
having been most fortunate in getting brought on from 

N 



178 THE GEORGIAN HILL-COUKTRY. 

Poti by a Russian lady, who was coming to live with her 
daughter at Tiflis. He described the state of the road as 
something awful : for half the distance they had found no 
post-horses, and had been obliged to pay high prices for 
peasants' animals, brought in from the fields to meet the 
demand. The mud was very bad, but not so deep as it 
had been a few days before, when a Russian family, whom 
he met at the third station from Kntais, had been obliged 
to have their carriage dragged for one stage by bullocks, 
and had taken twelve hours to accomplish sixteen versts. 
These unlucky people, who did not care to pay for extra 
horses, had taken five days to get over the hundred 
miles between Tiflis and the station where Moore found 
them. With our previous experience, we were rather dis- 
mayed to hear that our friend had leffc one of his port- 
manteaus at Eutais in charge of an official, to be for- 
warded, and our fears were justified by its non-arrival for 
three days after it was due. On its appearance our 
preparations were quickly made, and our * tarantasse ' was 
ordered to come to the hotel at 1 o'clock on the after- 
noon of the 26th June. 

Two days after we reached Tiflis Paul had declared 
himself ill, and, to our great embarrassment, had taken to 
his bed ; he had never entirely recovered his wetting at 
Djelaloghlu, and was now suffering from a kind of inter- 
mittent fever. We felt sure that if we could get him well 
enough to go up with us to the Kazbek posthouse, a week's 
rest in mountain air would restore his strength ; but his 
illness was a great discouragement, just at the moment 
when we were starting for the portion of the journey in 
which his services were most indispensable. The doctor, 
whom we sent for, had recourse to the Russian panacea, 
leeches, which in this case did not do much good, and it 
was by frequent doses of our own quinine that the patient 
was finally brought into a condition to travel. 



START FOE THE MOUNTAINS. 179 



CHAPTER Vn. 

THE ERESTOWAJA GORA AND ASCENT OF KAZBEK. 

Start for the Mountains — ^The Pass of theCSancasos — ^Kazbek Post-station 
— The G-overnors — A Reconnaissance in force — ^Legends — Avalanches — The 
Old Men's Ohorus — Men in Armoor — Our Bivouac — ^A Critical Moment 
— Scaling an leewall — The Summit — The Descent — A Savage Glen — A 
Night with the Shepherds — ^Return to the Village — Caucasian Congratu- 
lations. 

When our yehicle drove into the courtjrard, we, ignorant 
still of the utter uncouthness of all Bussian conveyances, 
were surprised to find a mere shell of a carriage without 
any fitments inside. However, by making use of our own 
luggage and rugs, we soon succeeded in heaping together 
seats, which, if they had a tendency to collapse, were 
luxurious in comparison to those of our late 'telegas/ 
Amidst the good wishes of the hangers-on of the hotel, 
we started on the journey which was to carry out the 
object long and anxiously planned, and throughout aU our 
wanderings steadily kept in view, as the centre and chief 
aim of our travels — ^the exploration of the terra incognita 
of the Caucasian range. 

We slowly jolted over the badly-paved streets of Tiflis, 
now about to be strewn with earth to spare the bones 
of the expected Archduke — a proceeding which, if the 
weather held fine for a few days, would be certain to throw 
dust even in imperial eyes. Our coachman, a regular 
Bussian peasant, stupid, obstinate, and good-humoured, 
crossed the Woronzoff Bridge and took a road along the 
left bank of the Kur, which passed through several 
villages, and, though hilly, was more direct than the 

n2 



180 THE KRESTOWAJA GORA. 

line taken by the post-road. Before reaching Mscheti 
we had to cross the Aragiii, a large tributary of the Kur, 
one of the branches of which the Kreuzberg road follows 
almost to its source. On our return, two months later, the 
long wooden bridge had met with the usual fate of bridges 
in this country, and was so much damaged by floods as 
to be rendered impassable. 

Mscheti, if we may believe Georgian chronicles, is one of 
the oldest towns in the world. It is asserted to have been 
founded by Mtskethos, son of Karthlos, who lived in the 
fifth generation after Noah^ and who chose this site on ac- 
count of its beauty and natural strength. A little below it, 
on the top of a green hill, are the remains of an extensive 
church and convent, from which it is said that a mystic 
chain used once to extend in mid-air to the cathedral tower 
of Mscheti, and serve as a means of mutual communica- 
tion for the saints of either church. We drove close under 
the walls of the old fortified cathedral, where we joined 
the post-road which crosses the Kur a mile higher up, 
and has to return some distance to the town. The Aragui 
here flows at the base of high blufiEs, along the sides of 
which the road is carried. For this stage and half the 
next workmen were employed on the construction of the 
new and still-unfinished macadamised roadway, which, as 
soon as the river allows it, descends to the level ground. 
Sukan, the second station, is situated in the centre of a 
fertile basin, encircled by well- wooded hills, purple as we 
saw them in the fading sunset. Although not travelling 
with post-horses, our *podorojno' gave us the right to lodge 
in the stations. Our reception, however, was at first any- 
thing but hospitable ; we were even told to turn out, until 
the master found we were willing to pay for rooms and to 
order supper, when he became less bearish in his manners. 

The stations on the Dariel road are very diflferent to the 



A CAUCASIAN POSTHOUSE. 181 

ordinary type of Caucasian posthouses. They are sub- 
stantial stone buildings, with verandahs, bow-windows, and 
sometimes a billiard-room. Their internal fittings by no 
means correspond with their pretensions. Downstairs the 
rooms are furnished only with square stools, and the usual 
wooden bedstead. The salle-a-manger is usually large, 
with, in one comer, a cupboard containing a motley 
collection of delicacies, mostly liquid — a sort of museum of 
various shaped bottles labelled with the names of the 
choicest brands. I have seen in a row * VeuvQ Clicquot,' 
* Ch&teau Lafitte,' * Allsopp's Pale Ale,* * Guinness' Stout,' 
and * Old Mad^re' («ic) ; there is very seldom more than 
one bottle of each. The champagne is generally five 
roubles, and the English beer one rouble fifteen copecks, a 
bottle. A few boxes of sardines and a plate of stale cakes 
form a set-off to this tempting array. The samovar and 
tea are always forthcoming; * borsch,' or cabbage-soup, a 
national dish in Bussia, is usually to be had very quickly, 
and sometimes a beefsteak will be cooked if ordered ; but, 
as often as not, there is nothing more solid th^Jl eggs in 
the house. Upstairs are a set of rooms provided with 
mattrasses, which are charged for extra, such arrange- 
ments being considered quite unnecessary luxuries. It 
was our readiness to pay for these reserved apartments 
which smoothed away the difiGiculties at first made to our 
reception. 

Jwne 27th. — We got off at 6 a.m., and enjoyed the 
beauty of a fresh clear morning. After a straight stretch 
of several versts, the road left the valley of the Aragui, 
and turned up a narrow glen ; a long and gradual ascent 
brought us to a green tableland, where a little tarn ap- 
peared amongst the meadows. The posthouse of Duschet 
stands by the side of a hollow, but the town lies on a 
sloping hillside, at some distance to the right ; a good many 



]32 THE KRESTOWAJA GORA. 

Russians live here, and we had a letter for the com- 
mandant of the district, who, we were informed, would 
probably be able to aid us in our preparations for attacking 
Kazbek. We found, on enquiry at the station, that he, 
like everyone else, had gone off to meet the Grand 
Duke, so we pursued our journey without delay. 

The next stage was across a ridge, wooded to the summit 
with fine park-like timber, and down a long and narrow 
glen on the other side to Ananour. On the tongue of rock 
projecting .at the mouth of the glen stands a most pic- 
turesque group of buildings, consisting of two old churches 
and a belfry, enclosed by battlemented walls and towers. 
The larger and more modem church is decorated externally 
with large and elaborately-carved crosses, and sculptures of 
trees with animals feeding on their branches. The village 
clusters round the foot of the fortified mound, in a very 
pretty position at the junction of two torrents. The road now 
led up a narrow valley, the wooded slopes were frequently 
dotted with castles and towers, and the vegetation vras 
richer than that of a Swiss, but the rocks not so bold as 
those of an Italian, Alpine valley. At Pasanaur, remark- 
able only for a church in the most gingerbread style of 
Russian architecture, the river forks, and the road, follow- 
ing the western branch, enters a defile, above which the 
upper valley, lying at the foot of, and running for some 
way parallel to, the main chain, opened before us. Scattered 
hamlets and noble trees studded the slopes; the lower 
wooded buttresses of the mountains were beautifully 
shaped ; the higher ridges (9,000 to 10,000 feet), *up to their 
summits clothed in green,' often ended in peaks of bold 
outline, and picturesque glimpses of the snowy chain 
opened from time to time up side-glens. The horses, which 
had done seventy-five uphill versts in the day, required a 
great deal of persuasion to trot the last half-hour into 



THE TASS OF THE CAUCASUS. 183 

Mleti, and we were amused at the difference between the 
long guttural grunts of the Russian driver, and the sharp 
tones used by an Italian voiturier in like circumstances. 
The station at Mleti is one of the most frequented and 
best provided on the road. 

June 29>th, — The ascent from Mleti, up a slope broken by 
cliffs, is steeper than any Alpine carriage-pass I remember, 
except the wonderful zigzags beside the Madesino Fall, on 
the south of the Splugen. At one picturesque corner the 
road is seen on the top of a cliff overhead, and anyone 
unused to mountain engineering might well wonder how 
it got there. A little fountain, spurting up a jet by the 
wayside, is an incongruous bit of civilisation in the wilder- 
ness. In mercy to the horses we walked, and haying 
scaled the rocky mass, which, during the latter part of our 
drive the evening before, had seemed to block the valley, we 
found ourselves on grass slopes covered with azalea-bushes 
and smaller flowering plants. From this part of the road the 
view of the head of the valley beneath is very striking. A 
thin water£aill leaps down the opposite cliffs ; a village, close 
beside a curious isolated rock, occupies the last habitable 
spot in the valley, and higher up a mere ravine runs under 
the base of a pointed peak, which rises above it in grand 
precipices. A group of houses — consisting of barracks, a 
station, and a wayside inn — stands on the mountain-side 
about 1,000 feet below the pass, filling the place of the 
* hospice ' on an Alpine road. I had slightly rubbed my 
foot during the ascent, and therefore waited for the 
carriage, but the rest of the party walked on as far as 
Kobi. We now traversed, at a level, a steep hillside cut 
into terraces, and staked up to prevent avalauches from 
gathering impetus enough to sweep over and carry away 
the road. The old horse-path crossed the ridge at a point 
slightly to the east of the course now followed. The grass 



184 THE KRESTOWAJA GORA. 

and flowers were most luxuriant, owing to the quantity of 
springs which burst out of the ground on all sides. There 
is little distant view from the summit, on which is a stone 
refuge. The Krestowaja Goi*a (or Kreuzberg, as translated 
on German maps) is the real name of the pass over the chain 
of the Caucasus leading from Asia into Europe;* the 
ordinary name of * Dariel ' road is only so far appropriate 
that the defile of Dariel is the most striking natural 
feature between Vladikafkaz and Tiflis. If the pass of the 
Splugen from Chur to Chiavenna was ordinarily termed 
the ^ Via Mala road/ it would be an exactly parallel case. 
The descent on the north side into the valley of the 
Terek is one of only 1,500 feet, but it must be very dan- 
gerous in spring, as the way lies down a deep glen choked 
at the bottom with the remains of enormous avalanches, 
which in more than one place still buried the track, oblig- 
ing a passage to be cut through them. The slopes are ter- 
raced, to protect the road; the idea of building covered 
galleries has either not occurred to the Russian engineers, 
or was considered too expensive by the Government. It 
must be adopted if the pass is ever to be kept open at all 
seasons. Kobi, the first village on the northern side, is 
strikingly situated, at the point where the glen joins the 
valley of the Terek. A high cliff shelters the posthouse, 
from whence the summit of Kazbek is not in view, being 
hidden by massive buttresses. The postmaster here was 
tipsy. As an English traveller mentions the same fact in 
1837, and as he was in a similar happy condition upon 

# I follow the most emioent modem geographers in considering the 
Caucasian watershed as part of the boundary between Europe and Asia. 
Though this conclusion has been for many years generally adopted, the public 
and their instructors are, as yet, scarcely awake to the necessary corollary 
that Mont Blanc and Monte Rosa must be regarded as usurpers, and that 
Elbniz and Kazbek, Koschtantau and Dychtau, are entitled to precedence on 
the roll of European mountains. 



THE TEREK VaLLEY. 185 

our two subsequent visits, a week and two months later, it is 
fair to suppose that the complaint is chronic. The scenery 
of the valley of the Terek is entirely different from that on 
the south side of the pass: treeless valleys, bold rocks, slopes 
of forbidding steepness (even to eyes accustomed to those 
of the Alps), and stone-built villages. scarcely distinguish- 
able from the neighbouring crags, but for the one or two 
towers of defence which rise above the clustering hovels, 
are the main features of the sixteen versts' drive from 
Kobi to Kazbek. A bold pinnacle of rock on our right 
reminded me of a Tyrolese dolomite, while the trough-like 
character of the valley, and the stem barrenness of the 
scenery, carried Moore's thoughts back to Dauphin^. 

We passed, halfway, a hamlet bearing the familiar 
name of Sion, behind which a few trees had been planted, 
the only ones in the vicinity. Clouds as yet prevented 
our catching any glimpse of the snows of Kazbek, but did 
not hide the lower mountains. The village is in a fine 
position, backed on the east by very stfeep grass and rock- 
slopes, the supports of a massive rock-peak of at least 
12,000 feet in height. • Soon after our arrival, the clouds, 
which up to this time had filled the glen opening opposite 
the posthouse, rolled away, and revealed at its head Mount 
Kazbek, a magnificent mass of rock and snow, towering 
thousands of feet above all the neighbouring summits. 
The form of the mountain-top is that of a steep-sided 
dome ; the uppermost crags, which break through the ice, 
are of a horseshoe form, and are curiously prominent in 
all views of the mountain from the east, and even from 
Vladikafkaz. We were glad to find the posthouse in the 
charge of a civil couple, a man and his wife, the latter of 
whom spoke a little German. The charges were high, 
but we had no otlier ground of complaint, and enjoyed 
during our stay plentiful food, fair wine (selected from the 



186 THE KRESTOWAJA GORA. 

the usual medley in the cupboard) and much civility. 
Although a very cursory inspection of the mountain 
suggested several routes, offering a fair chance of reaching 
the summit, yet it was felt that to make the assault 
without a previous reconnaissance would be unadvisable, 
bearing in mind especially our utter want of training. 
Paul was therefore told to find a native who would 
accompany us, in the morning, to some point of sufficient 
elevation to command an uninterrupted view of the moun- 
tain, and at the same time to accustom our muscles to the 
work before them. In due course he reappeared, with a 
good-looking man known as Alexis, who, he said, was a 
mighty hunter, and knew more about the mountains than 
anyone else. This worthy seemed to our eyes a feeble 
creature, but as no one else was forthcoming, and it was not 
probable that we should put his ability to a very severe 
trial, he was engaged to be our pioneer on the morrow. 

Jwfie 29<A. — We were up betimes, and starting before 
6 A.M., on as fine a morning as ever rejoiced the heart of a 
mountaineer, climbed to an old church perched on a lofty 
brow 1,500 feet above the village. This building is re- 
garded with great reverence by the inhabitants, and is 
made an object of pilgrimage ; but their religious feelings 
do not prompt them to keep it in repair, and the interior 
is in a very desolate and ruinous state. In Klaproth's 
time it was the practice to open it only once a year, but 
the attendant, who had joined us on our way up, made no 
difficulty about admitting us, although to open the door 
he had first to gain admission by getting in himself through 
one of the windows — no easy task. From the enclosure 
round the church we could see the ground between us 
and the base of the great mountain. Just opposite, and 
easily accessible from where we stood, a snow-clad peak, 
evidently commanding a view of Kazbek, offered itself 



A RECONXAISSANCE IN FORCE. 187 

as a suitable goal for our morning walk. The way 
to it lay up a broad grassy ridge adorned by rhodo- 
dendrons with large white flowers, several kinds of gen- 
tians, and many other plants which lack of botanical 
knowledge prevents my naming. We had not undeiTated 
Alexis' capacity : so long as the way lay over grass he went 
well enough, but on reaching the snow he stopped 
abruptly, and declined to go any further, so we left him 
with Paul at the foot of the final ascent. A climb up 
steep snow-slopes succeeded by easy rocks led to the 
summit, which was more of a ridge than a peak, and over 
10,000 feet in height. Kazbek was now directly opposite 
us, a long glacier streaming round its south flank, and 
ending at our feet. Prom this point of view we saw the 
second or western summit, which (totally invisible from the 
station) here appears equal in height to the eastern. 
This was a source of perplexity. Opinions were divided 
as to the relative claims to superiority of the two peaks ; 
and although the majority were inclined to award the 
palm to the eastern summit, there was sufficient doubt 
about the matter to leave us all well pleased at the dis- 
covery, that from the glacier on the southern flank of the 
mountain^ the gap between the two peaks appeared to be 
accessible by a series of crevasse-broken but easily sur- 
mountable slopes, merging in a steep wall of snow or ice, 
only partially visible, and as to the exact character of which 
it was difficult to judge accurately. As any mistake with 
regard to the real culminating-point would be very annoy- 
ing, and it was clear that, once on the ridge, we should 
have only to turn right or left, as might seem advisable, it 
was unanimously agreed that this route should be tried — 
an additional argument in its favour being supplied by 
the evident existence, high up on the left bank of the 
glacier, of several excellent sites for a bivouac. 



IbS ASCEXT OF KAZBEK. 

With the great mountain full in view, I may now briefly 
advert to the position it holds amongst Caucasian summits, 
and to the legends with which it has been connected. From 
the earliest times Kazbek has taken a place in history, and 
has somewhat unfairly robbed its true sovereign, Elbruz, of 
public attention. Situated beside, and almost overhang- 
ing, the glen through which for centuries the great high- 
road from Europe into Asia has passed, it forces itself on 
the notice of every passer-by. The traveller — who, even if 
blessed with a clear day, sees Elbruz only as a huge white 
cloud on the southern horizon, as he jolts over the weary 
steppe — is forced to pass almost within reach of the ava- 
lanches that fall from his more obtrusive rival. It is not 
difficult, therefore, to see why Kazbek has become thus 
famous, why the mass of crag on the face of the moun- 
tain, so conspicuous from the post-station, is made the 
scene of Prometheus' torment, or why a later superstition 
declares that amongst these rocks, a rope, visible only 
to the Elect, gives access to a holy grot, in which are pre- 
served the Tent of Abraham, the Cradle of Christ, and 
other sacred relics. 

We were told by Mons. Eliatissian, an Armenian gentle- 
man, who has spent many months in examining the vici- 
nity of the mountain, and in making scientific observa- 
tions on its glaciers, that the Ossetes occasionally call 
Kazbek, Beitlam and Tseristi Tsoub (* Christ's Mountain ') 
— names which seem connected with these traditions. 
On the top of Elazbek is said to stand a splendid crystal 
castle, and near it a temple, in the middle of which hovers 
a golden dove. The mountain has undoubtedly been 
held in reverence for many centuries by the neigh- 
bouring population, and it is not only the native in- 
habitants who have associated it with superstitious 
legends. A traveller in 1811 breaks forth, on reaching the 



A MONASTIC LEGEND. 189 

station of Kazbek, into the following rhapsody : ' Alternate 
sensations of awe and rapture quickly succeed each other 
in this ancient land of enchantment : it was assuredly in 
these abodes that Medea compounded her love-potions and 
her poisons ; here it was that Prometheus received the 
reward of his bold impiety ; this is the very birthplace 
of magic; and it is from these lofty peaks that the im- 
mense roc used to take its flight, intercepting the rays of 
the sun/ 

Mons. Khatissian also informed us of the existence of 
human habitations, now deserted, at a height of 11,000 
feet, on the eastern flanks of the mountain. These consist 
of cells, half hewn from the solid rock, half built up of the 
rough boulders which abound in the neighbourhood, 
amongst which a cross of white porphyry still remains. 
Here, according to tradition, once lived a band of monks. 
The superior was renowned for his austere life and stem 
piety, and a daily miracle proved his claim to the title of 
saint. At daybreak a ray of light penetrated through an 
aperture in the waU, and illumined the darkness of his cell. 
In the centre of this ray the holy man was accustomed to 
lay the volume he was studying, which remained suspended 
in the air without any apparent support. The high claims 
of their superior to their reverence could not, however, re- 
concile some of the younger monks to the severe discipline 
he imposed upon them. By the machinations of these 
wicked men, the saint was exposed to a temptation similar 
to that of St. Anthony, but unhappily with a different result. 
The suspension of the miracle followed ; the heavy volume, 
when laid in its accustomed place on the sunbeam, fell 
with a crash to the ground. The Abbot, overcome by 
the malice of his enemies, retired to a cave still higher on 
the mountain, to pass the remainder of his life amidst 
perpetual snows. The monks, freed from all restraint, gave 



190 ASCEXT OF KAZBEK. 

themselyes up to tlie license for which they had' schemed, 
until at last the anger of Heayen was aroused bj their 
misdeeds. A fearfdl storm fell on the mountain, the cells 
were destroyed, and nothing more was ever seen or heard 
of their inmates. So firmly is this story still believed, and 
so great is the reyerence felt by the peasants for the once 
holy place, that Mons. Ehatissian had the greatest diffi- 
cully in persuading anyone to conduct him to the mined 
cells ; and his guide, when induced to yenture, fell on his 
knees at eyery other step, imploring Heayen to oyerlook 
their presumption. A heayy rain-storm the following 
eyening, which threatened destruction to the hay-haryest, 
was attributed by the villagers to the Diyine wrath at 
Mons. Ehatissian's explorations, and he was recommended 
by the late Prince S^azbek to leaye at night, if he wished 
to escape personal yiolence. 

The accuracy of the aboye legend is, I fear, rather 
impugned by the fact that a lady, who published her 
' Letters from the Caucasus ' in 1811, actually saw one 
of the last of these recluses, of whom she does not seem 
to have formed a yery favourable opinion. I quote her 
own words : ' I had often heard of hermits, but had never 
seen one. Learning, while at Kazbek, that I could 
satisf/ my curiosity, I went to visit, in a cell not far 
from that place, one of these sloths, who are such vast 
pretenders to piety. I was surprised to find a healthy 
young man : his hermitage is hollowed out of the rock, 
where, thanks to the superstition of the people, who look 
upon him as a saint, he lives in abundance. Should he 
ever be canonised, I shall not indulge much hope from his 
mediation ; for I saw nothing in this recluse but a cunning 
rogue, and that sort of address by which the lazy feed on 
the simplicity of others.* 

The name by which the mountain is now known, and 



IXUNDATIONS. 19 

which has been apparently accepted by geographers, to 
the exclusion of several more or less unpronounceable 
native titles,* is, like Elbruz, of Russian origin. A 
certain Prince Kazbek, or Kasibeg, who lived in the 
village of St. Stephen (the present Kazbek), was one of 
the first of the mountaineers to perceive that his best 
policy was to recognise a foM accompli, to embrace Chris- 
tianity, and to acquiesce in Bussian supremacy. He 
received his reward ; the conquerors have given him im- 
inortality, by conferring his name upon the village in which 
he lived, and upon the great mountain by which it is 
overhung. 

Even with the Russians — who, as a race, have no feeling 
for mountains, and regard them more as barely tolerable 
eccentricities than as admirable beauties of nature — Kaz- 
bek has, during the last twenty years, excited a good deal 
of attention. The creation of an ice-barrier across the 
torrent issuing from the great glacier of Devdorak, on the 
north-eastern flank of the mountain, has from time to 
tune caused calamities wrongly attributed by the Russians 
to avalanches. On our arrival in the Caucasian provinces, 
the first thing we were told was, * Oh, you are just in 
time to see the great avalanche from Kazbek.' Some 
years ago the Dariel road was swept away, and a similar 
catastrophe was considered probable during the coming 
summer. Everyone in Tiflis was talking of it, but 
happily it never came off, and we learnt from Mons. 
Khatissian that some, at least, of the historical ava- 
lanches are apocryphal. The record of one (in 1842) is 
preserved in the official archives at Tiflis, where the 
reports of the officers stationed at the Dariel fortress, and 
commissioned by the then Viceroy to ascertain the immi- 

* Mquinvsri is the best known. 



192 ASCENT OF KAZBEK. 

nence of the impending danger, still exist. Mons. Kliatis- 
sian, with some trouble, discovered the officer whose reports 
were fullest and most intelligible. He asked for further 
details as to the nature of the catastrophe. The Colonel 
was at first confused and ambiguous, but soon, with an 
air of frankness, exclaimed, ' I will tell you the real statue 
of the case — I was never near the mountain at all.' * But 
here I have an elaborate description of the state of the 
glaciers, with your signature ? ' * That is very possible. 
You see, I received orders from Tiflis to go and report 
on the state of the mountain. Why should I peril my 
life to no purpose? I could not avert the danger, so I 
wrote, and said the mountain was much as usual. Then 
I got second instructions; I was to go in person and 
send a full detailed report of the exabt nature of the 
danger to be apprehended. I started; I climbed into 
that horrible glen ; I saw precipices overhanging my 
head — torrents roaring at my feet. Suddenly I came in 
view of a whole mountain of ice, already torn into ftag- 
ments by the steepness of the slope to which it clung. 
To advance was certain death. I reflected on my wife 
and children, fled back to the road as quickly as possible, 
and reported that the expected avalanche had fallen, and 
that, happily, no one was the worse for it.' ^Then,' 
asked Mons. K., * the celebrated avalanche of 1842 never 
existed but on paper — in fact, is your creation ? ' ^ Ex- 
actly, Monsieur,' was the reply. 

Preserved in the same office is a scheme for preventing 
the recurrence of the danger, which, for its happy audacity, 
deserves mention. An engineer proposed to build a wall 
in front of the glacier, to prevent its further advance. 
That inundations issuing from the glen of Devdorak have 
from time to time seriously injured the Dariel road, is 
undoubted; but the notion of their recurrence at fixed 



PREVIOUS ATTEMPTS. 193 

intervals, and the supposition that the injury was caused 
by avalanches, are equally ridiculous.* 

Attempts to ascend Kazbek have not been numerous. 
Klaproth claims to liave got halfway up, but, as he admits 
that he did not reach the snow-level, the halfway did not 
amount to much. In 1811, the well-known German tra- 
veller Parrot made a series of most determined attempts 
to reach the summit, by the same route we adopted ; but he 
was compelled to retreat from the foot of the icewall by 
bad weather, and the fears of his companions. About 
1844, Herr Moritz Wagner ascended * to the lower limits 
of eternal snow,' to use his own words — a very moderate 
measure of success, upon which some German and English 
newspapers lately claimed for him the honours, such as 
they are, of the first ascent. Several half-hearted attempts 
to climb the mountain have been made of late years by 
Russian officers, but with very little success, owing to the 

* Mons. E. Favre, of Geneva/a weU-known geologist who visited theDevdorak 
glacier a few weeks after ourselves, came to the following conclusion as to the 
nature'of the catastrophe. No avalanche, he says, could without the aid of 
water traverse the space between the end of the glacier and the Terek, and 
he accounts for the disasters which have taken place in the following way. 
He believes the Devdorak glacier, to which he finds a parallel in the Itofen 
Veniagt glacier in the (Etzthal Alps, to be subject to periods of sudden 
advance. During these the ice finds no sufficient space to spread iteelf out in 
the narrow gorge into which it is driven, and is consequently forced by the 
pressure from behind into so compact a mass that the ordinary water-channels 
are stopped, and the whole drainage of the glacier is pent-up beneath its surface. 
Sooner or later the accumulated waters burst open their prison, carrying away 
with them the lower portion of the glacier. A mingled fiood of snow and ice, 
increased by earth and rocks torn from the hillsides in its passage, sweeps down 
the glen of Devdorak. Issuing into the main valley it spreads from side to 
side, and dams the Terek. A lake is formed, and increases in size until it breaks 
through its barrier, and inundates the Dariel gorge and the lower valley. 

Mons. Favre has also printed a paper, entitled ' Les Causes des Avalanches du 
Glacier du Kasbek, par le Colonel Statkowski, extrait du Journal du Ministere 
des Voies et Communications, 1866,* which contains an explicit statement as to 
the most recent catastrophe. The Colonel says : * The last avalanche of the 
Glacier of Devdorak fell in 1832. In 1842 and in 1855 similar disasters were 
expected, but did not take place.' 

O 



i 



194 ASCENT OF KAZBEK. 

exaggerated fears of their native guides, and their own lack 
of proper mountaineering gear — such as rope, ice-axes, and 
spectacles. Hence we found in the Caucasus a wide- 
spread belief in the inaccessibility of the peak, and we 
were regarded at Tiflis with a mixture of amusement and 
pity, as ^ the Englishmen who were going to try and get 
up B[azbek,' and had the audacity to expect to succeed, 
where Captains, Colonels, and even Generals of the Im- 
perial Bussian Service had failed. 

We spent a pleasant hour on our lofty perch, and then, 
by a * rapid act ' of what may be called * snowmanship,' 
rejoined Paul and Alexis. The snow being in excellent 
order, we sat down, one behind the other, at the foot of 
the rocks, and letting go, slid with great velocity to the 
base of the peak, where our companions were waiting 
for us. They, never having seen such a performance 
before, were horror-struck at our apparently headlong 
descent, and could scarcely believe their eyes, when the 
confused heap, in which we landed, resolved itself into 
its component parts, apparently none the worse. By 
2 P.M. we were back at the posthouse, and were de- 
lighted to find that the Governor of Tiflis had arrived, 
accompanied by Colonel Soubaloff, the Commandant of 
Duschet. They had come thus far to welcome the two 
Grand Dukes, who were about to pass on their way to 
Tiflis. The acquaintance of the Governor of Tiflis we had 
already had the pleasure of making, and both he and the 
Commandant entered heartily into our plans, and ren- 
dered us all the aid in their power in making our arrange- 
ments. 

The most experienced mountaineers of the village were 
at once summoned — to wit, three aged men, all more or 
less lame or blind, who in the way they nodded their heads 
together, and by their occasional outbursts of eloquence, 



A SWORD-DANCE. I9J 

reminded iis forcibly of the old men's clioms in 'Faust.' We 
at last settled with them to take four men as porters, at 
two-and-a-half roubles (seven shillings each) a day. They 
were to follow where we led, and to pitch our little tent 
where we directed. I must do them the justice to say that 
they carried out their part of the bargain with an honesty 



and good-humour which led us to form an unluckily pre- 
mature estimate of the general character of the people 
with whom we should afterwards have to deal. 

In the evening, through the kindness of the Command- 
ant of Duschet, we had an opportunity of witnessing a 
sword-dance, performed by some mountaineers, habited in 



196 ASCENT OP KAZBEK. 

complete suits of chain-armour, who had come down from 
a neighbouring village to greet the Grand Dukes. They 
carried small round shields, like those of the Kurds, which 
they used very cleverly to parry the blows of their assail- 
ants; the principal feat seemed to be for one man to 
defend himself against the assault of two enemies. 

m 

June SOth. — Having marshalled our porters, who had a 
horse to help in carrying the luggage as far as possible, 
we started on our ascent of Kazbek, receiving a parting 
benediction from the two officials, who came out into the 
balcony to see us off. Instead of climbing to the old 
church, we took a path to the right, which led us into the 
glen opposite the* station, and we then passed, over rough 
ground beside the torrent, to the point where the streams, 
coming respectively from the Ortzviri glacier, and from the 
smaller ice-stream which descends from the east face of the 
mountain, unite. A narrow track mounted, by zigzags, the 
bluff which projects between the two branches of the glen. 
A long and steep ascent, which was beguiled by the variety 
and beauty of the flowers, led up to a gently-sloping mea- 
dow, such as in the Alps would have been occupied by a 
group of chalets, a little beyond which the horse was left, 
although he might have gone farther without difficulty. 
We were now close to the spout of the Ortzviri glacier, 
which, as before mentioned, sweeps round the southern flank 
of Kazbek, and, despite many remonstrances from the 
porters, already getting beyond their beat, we climbed on, 
up the steep slopes on its left bank, until at 2.30 p.m. — at a 
height of 11,000 feet — we found a most suitable spot for a 
bivouac. It was a mossy plot, in a hollow protected on 
one side by the moraine, on the other by the great southern 
spur of Kazbek. Here we pitched our tent, and under 
Fran9ois' superintendence established our cuisine, which 
turned out some excellent soup, broiled ham, and a brew 



AN EARLY START. 197 

of mulled wine. We shoiild have been happy enough, but 
for the very doubtftd appearance of the weather. Soon 
after our arrival there was a sharp shower of rain, followed 
by hail, succeeded in its turn by a violent wind, which, when 
we retired for the night, about 7 o'clock, was roaring in a 
way suggestive of anything rather than an ascent of 
Kazbek next morning. 

July lit. — The cold in the night was not excessive, and 
we slept in a broken sort of way till 1 a.m., when we 
rose, and began to prepare for a start ; but it was not until 
2.45, after more than the usual petty delays, that we — ^that 
is Moore, Tucker, and I, vrith Pran9ois — were fisiirly oflf on 
our adventure. Before leaving the tent we had by pre- 
arrangement fired off a pistol, to give notice to the 
porters, who had retired to lairs at some little distance, 
and out of sight; but no one answered, and we heard 
nothing of them until we were just starting, when there 
was a distant howl,' to which we in our turn made no 
response, the fact'being that we were not anxious for the 
company of bur friends, who in any serious difficulty 
would probably have been more of an hindrance than help. 
We therefore started alone, carrying only our rope, and 
sufficient provisions for the day. 

Our camp must have been very close to the deserted 
cells, afterwards described to us by Mons. Elhatissian, and 
it ia qtiite possible that the porters, who, we remarked 
at the time, went off with the air of knowing what they 
were about, and did not waste time in looking for .holes 
among the rocks close at hand^. may have sought shelter 
in them. Such conduct would not agree with the super- 
stitious fears the natives are said to feel of the spot, but 
our men may have thought that," having gone so far 
already, it did not much matter what they did further. 
The morning was calm and lovely, and we fully enjoyed 



198 ASCENT OF KAZBEK. 

the moonliglit view of the great glacier and ice-iuaiied 
peaks around, and the glorious sunrise-flush which soon 
succeeded it. We mounted along gentle siiow-slopos 
between the glacier and the mass of Kazbek, and gradually 
rounded the base of the eastern peak of the mountain. 
Arrived at some rocks, beyond which the tributary glacier 
from between the two summits joined the main stream, 
we halted to put on the rope, and Moore left his new 
Cardigan waistcoat imder a rock, intending to pick it up 
on our return. As will be seen we never did return. 

We nowbegan to climb the face of the moxmtain — at first 
by rocks, afterwards by broken slopes of neve — ^and gained 
height rapidly, bearing somewhat towards the base of the 
western summit. At 6.30 a.m. we were at an altitude of 
14,800 feet, only 1,800 feet below the top. At this time 
the view was magnificent and perfectly clear ; some fine 
snowy peaks, which we afterwards knew better as the Adai 
Khokh group, were conspicuous to the west ; to the south 
the eye already ranged over the main chain of the Caucasus, 
and across the valley of the Kur, to the hills beyond ; while 
behind the rugged ridges which rise on the east of 
the Terek valley, the peaks of Daghestan raised their 
snowy heads. From this point our difficulties began ; 
the crevasses became lai^e, and had to be dodged. 
Fran9ois resigned the lead to Tucker for forty minutes, 
during which the favouring snow-slope was exchanged for 
blue ice, covered with a treacherous four inches of loose 
snow. The work of cutting steps became laborious, and 
Fran9ois presently resumed the lead. An incident soon 
occurred which might have been serious. A bergschrund, 
a huge icicle-fringed crack in the ice, three to four feet 
wide, of which the upper lip was about five feet above 
the under, barred our progress. Fran9ois was first, I 
followed. Tucker was behind me, and Moore last. We 



A CRITICAL MOMENT. 199 

had all passed the obstacle without serious difficulty, when 
the rope, which in the passage had got somewhat slack, 
was discovered to have hitched itself round one of the big 
icicles in the crack. Tucker, having, from the position in 
which he was standing, in vain tried to unhitch it, began 
to cut steps downwards to the upper lip of the crevasse. 
At no time is it an easy thing to cut steps in ice beneath 
you ; try to do it in a hurry, and what happened in this 
ca«e is almost sure to occur. The step-cutter overbalanced 
himself, his feet slipped out of the shallow footholds, and 
he shot at once over the chasm ; of course the rope im- 
mediately tightened with a severe jerk on Moore and my- 
self, who, though very insecurely placed, fortunately were 
able to resist the strain. Tucker had fallen, spreadeagle- 
fashion, with his head down the slope, and we had to hold 
for many seconds before he could work himself round and 
regain his footing. 

The escape was a very narrow one, and we had reason 
to be thankful that neither the rope nor our axes 
had failed us at so critical a moment. So startling 
an occurrence naturally shook our nerves somewhat, 
but little was said, and our order being re-established, 
we attacked the exceedingly steep ice-slope, which sepa- 
luted us from the gap between the two summits. For 
the next four hours there was scarcely one easy step. 
The ice, when not bare, was thinly coated with snow. A 
long steep ice-slope is bad enough in the first state, as 
mountain-climbers know, but it is infinitely worse in the 
second. In bare ice a secure step may be cut ; through 
loose incoherent snow it cannot. Fran9ois went through 
the form of cutting, but it was of little use to the two 
front men, and none at all to those in the rear. In many 
places we found the safest plan was to crawl up on our 
hands and knees, clinging with feet and ice-axes to the 



200 ASCENT OF KAZBEK. 

slippery staircase. It has always remained a mystery 
to us how we got from step to st^p without a slip. The 
difficulties of the feat were increased by a bitter wind, 
which swept across the slope in fitful blasts of intense 
fury, driving the snow in blinding showers into our faces 
as we crouched down for shelter, and numbing our 
hands to such a degree that we could scarcely retain hold 
of our axes. 

Time passes rapidly in such circumstances, and it was 
not until 11 A.H., when Fran9ois was again exhausted 
by the labour of leading, that we gained the saddle 
between the two summits. There was no doubt now that 
the eastern peak was the highest ; at this we were well 
pleased, as, in such a wind as was raging, the passage of the 
exceedingly narrow ridge leading to the western summit 
would have been no pleasant task. Snatching a morsel 
of food, we left Pran9ois to recover himself, and started 
by ourselves, Tucker leading. The final climb was not 
difficult ; a broad bank of hard snow led to some rocks ; 
above lay more snow, succeeded by a second and larger 
patch of rocks (where Pran9ois rejoined us), which in their 
turn merged in the final snow-cupola of the mountain. A 
few steps brought us to the edge of the southern cUffe, along 
which we mounted. The snow-ridge ceased to ascend, 
and then fell away before us. It was just midday when we 
saw bwieath us the valley of the Terek, and knew that the 
highest point of Kazbek was under our feet. The cold, 
owing to the high wind, would not allow us to stop on the 
actual crest ; but we sat down half a dozen feet below it, 
and tried to take in as much as possible of the vast pano- 
rama before us. 

Clouds had by this time risen in the valleys, and covered 
the great northern plain, but the mountain-peaks were for 
the most part clear. The apparent grandeur of the ranges 



A COUNCIL OP WAR. 201 

to the east was a surprise. Group beyond group of snowy 
peaks stretched away to the far-off Basardjusi (14,722 
feet), the monarch of the Eastern Caucasus. Nearer, and 
therefore more conspicuous, was the fine head of Schebulos 
(14,781 feet). On the western horizon we eagerly sought 
Elbruz, but it was not to be found ; whether veiled by 
clouds, or hidden behind the Koschtantau group, we could 
not say. We fiincied afterwards that we recognised 
Kazbek from Elbruz : of course in this case the converse 
is possible. Except in the immediate vicinity of Eazbek, 
there seemed to be but few and small glaciers nearer than 
the Adai Khokh group, on the further side of the Ardon 
valley. 

After a stay of about ten minutes, we quitted the sum- 
mit, where it was impossible to leave any trace of our visit. 
We could not spare an ice-axe, to fix upon the snow-dome, 
and the rocks were too big to use for building a stone 
man. In a quarter of an hour we regained the gap, and 
then held a council. From the commencement of our 
difficulties our minds had been troubled about how we 
should get down, though, fortunately for our success, they 
had been more pressingly occupied with the business of 
the ascent. Now, however, the question had to be fairly 
faced — how were we to descend the ice-slope we had 
climbed with so much difficulty ? With a strong party — 
that is, a party with a due proportion of guides, and -sVhen 
good steps can be cut — ^there is no more delicate mountain- 
eering operation than the descent of a really steep ice- 
slope. Our party was not a strong one, and on this pai-ti- 
cular slope it was practically impossible to cut steps at all. 
A bad slip would result in the roll of the whole party for 
at least 2,000 feet, unless cut short by one of the numerous 
crevasses on the lower part of the mountain. The exact 
manner of its termination would, however, probably be a 
matter of indifference when that termination came. 



202 ASCENT OF KAZBEK. 

We were unanimously of opinion that an attempt to 
return by our morning's route would end in disaster, and 
that a way must be sought in another direction. This 
could only be on the northern flank of the mountain, and it 
was satisfactory to see that, for a long distance on that 
side, there was no serious difficulty. A steep slope of snow 
(not ice) fell away from our feet to a great n^ve-plateau, 
which we knew must pour down glaciers into the glens 
which open into the Terek valley below the Kazbek station. 
A very few minutes' consideration determined us to follow 
this line, abandoning for the time our camp and the 
porters on the south side of the mountain. The first hun- 
dred feet of descent down the hard snow-bank were steep 
enough ; I was ahead, and neglected to cut good steps, an 
error which resulted in Moore's barometer getting a jolt 
which upset it for several hours. Happily, the little thing 
recovered during the night, and told us our approximate 
heights for many a day afterwards. Very soon the slope 
became gentle enough to allow us to dispense with axe- 
work, and we trudged straight and steadily downwards, 
until we were almost on the level of the extensive snow- 
fields upon which we had looked from above. Here we 
again halted, to consider our further course. We were on 
an unknown snow-plain, at a height of 14,000 feet above 
the sea, and it was most undesirable to hazard our chance 
of reaching terra cognita ere nightfall by any rash or 
hasty move. One plan suggested was to turn to the left, 
and cross a pass we had good reason to believe connected 
the plateau we were on with the neve of the glacier by which 
we had ascended. This course, if successfully carried 
out, would have brought us back to our tent and baggage, 
but its probable length was a fatal objection. Eventually 
we determined to keep nearly due north, across the snow- 
field, towards a ridge which divides two glaciers flowing 
into different branches of the glen. of Devdoi-ak. We des- 



THE DESCEiVT. 203 

ceudcd, for some distance under the rocks, along the left 
bank of the most southerly of the two glaciers, until the ice 
became so steep and broken that further prcjgress promised 
to be difficult ; we therefore halted, while Fran9ois climbed 
up again to the ridge, and made a reconnaissance on its 
northern side. 

After some delay, a shout from above called on us to 
follow, and we rejoined Pran9ois, after a sharp scramble, 
at the base of a very remarkable tower of rock which 
crowns the ridge, and is visible even from the Dariel road. 
It will be useful as a finger-post to future climbers. 

The view of Kazbek from here is superb; its whole 
north-eastern side is a sheet of snow and ice, broken by the 
steepness of the slope into magnificent towers, and seamed 
by deep-blue chasms. We were glad to find that there 
was a reasonable prospect of descending from our eyrie to 
the lower world without too much difficulty. The crest 
of the ridge between the two glaciers fell rapidly before 
us, and offered for some way an easy route. We followed 
it — sometimes crossing a snowy plain, sometimes hurrying 
down rocky banks — until we saw beneath us, on our left, a 
series of long snow-slopes leading directly to the foot of 
the northern glacier. Down these we glissaded merrily, 
and at 5.30 halted on the rocks below the end of the glacier, 
which was of considerable size, and backed by two lofty 
summits. The view of the lower part of the glen was shut 
out by a rocky barrier, and before we reached its brow, 
mists, which we had previously observed collecting in the 
hollow, swept round us, and for the next two hours we 
were enveloped in a dense fog. A long snow-filled gully 
brought us to the bottom of the gorge, of which we could 
see but little, owing to the unfortunate state of the 
atmosphere. It must be of the most savage description. 
The torrent was buried under the avalanclics of many 



204 ASCEXT OF KAZBEK. 

^vinters ; huge walls of crag loomed through the mist, and 
pressed us so closely on either side, that, but for the path 
aflforded by the avalanche snows, we should have been 
puzzled to find a means of exit. This aid at last failed 
us, the stream burst itself free, and tumbled into a gorge. 
After a laborious scramble for some distance over huge 
boulders, we found it impossible to follow it any farther, 
and therefore made a sharp but short ascent to the right, 
when Fran9ois happily hit on a &int track, which led us 
by steep zigzags into the same glen again, at a lower 
point. After more than once missing and re-finding the 
path, we rounded an angle of the valley, and, the mists 
having lifted somewhat, saw that we were close to the 
junction of our torrent with that from the main Devdorak 
glacier. On the grassy brow between the two streams 
cows and goats were grazing, and as it was now 7.46 p.m., 
we debated on the propriety of stopping here for the 
night. The question was decided by the information we 
got from the herdsmen, an old man and two boys, who 
proved to be very decent fellows. All communication, 
except by pantomime, was of course impossible; but 
necessity sharpens the vrits, and we gathered fi^m them, 
without much difficulty, that the Devdorak torrent was 
bridgeless and big, and that they had fresh milk, and 
would allow us to share their shelter. It was only a 
hollow under a partially overhanging cliff surrounded by 
a low wall, which was but a jwor protection against the 
attacks of inquisitive sheep and goats, who invaded us 
several times during the night, and succeeded in carrying 
off and eating some gloves and gaiters. Despite these 
inroads, and a Scotch mist, which fell pretty heavily from 
time to time, we managed, vrith stones for pillows and our 
mackintoshes spread over us, to snatch a good deal of 
sleep. 



RETURN TO THE STATION. 205 

July 2nd. — As we had not even taken off our boots, the 
preparations for our start in the morning did not occupy 
long. Our aged host accompanied us to the Devdorak tor- 
rent, which at this time of day, before the heat of the sun 
had melted the upper snows, could be waded without serious 
dijfficulty; and one of the boys volunteered to accompany us 
to the post-station, and relieve Fran9ois of some of our 
traps. A well-marked path led us over grassy knolls con- 
siderably above and to the right of the united torrents. On 
a brow near stands, we were afterwards told, a pile of stones 
resembling in shape an altar, and covered with the horns 
of chamois and bouquetin. This is a spot held sacred by 
the pagan inhabitants of the neighbouring village of 
Goslet, and once a year they all repair hither, sing strange 
chants, and make their offerings to the genius lod. His 
name, according to our informant, is Daba, and that of the 
tribe who worship him is Kists. Before very long the defile 
of the Dariel opened beneath us, and a short descent 
brought us to the Terek. We kept for half-a-mile on the 
lefb bank, along a meadow covered vdth old tombstones, 
and then crossed by the bridge close to the stone hovels of 
Goslet, situated in a most savage nook at the mouth of a 
ravine. We had still a long uphill pull of eight versts (5^ 
miles) to the village of Kazbek ; but towards the end we 
were able to cut short the zigzags of the road, and about 
9 A.M. aroused, vrith our best * jodels,' the people of the post- 
station. Our arrivul did not at first create much excite- 
ment ; everyone seemed to take it as a matter of course that 
we had not been to the top of the mountain, but equally as a 
matter of course that we should say we had. The first thing 
to be done was to rout up Paul, who, still unable to shake off 
his fever, was in a very stupid and gloomy mood, expecting 
death hourly. Through him^we sent up a messenger to 
look for our porters, whom we had left encamped, at 



•206 ASCENT OP KAZBEK. 

a height of 11,000 feet, the previous morning. The com- 
mission was promptly executed, and in the course of tlie 
evening the porters returned, bringing in safety all our 
belongings. Even a pair of spectacles, mislaid in the hurry 
of a start in the dark, had been picked up, and were now 
restored to their owner. The men, who naturally had sup- 
posed us lost, and felt uneasy as to what the authorities 
would say to their having allowed us to go on alone, were 
overjoyed to see us again, and now simultaneously talked, 
kissed, and hugged us all, including Franfois. The excite- 
ment among the villagers grew intense ; the porters told 
them that we had disappeared up the mountain, and that 
our tracks were visible to a great height on the southern 
face ; the shepherd-boy, who had arrived with us, was a 
witness to our mysterious appearance on the other side the 
same evening. The two facts showed that we must have 
crossed the mountain very near the top, and been, at any 
rate, thousands of feet liigher than those before us, and 
we suddenly found ourselves installed as heroes, instead of 
humbugs, in the public opinion of Kazbek village. Two of 
the porters even thought it worth while to allege that, 
searching for us on the second day, they had followed in our 
footsteps to the top; but this bold fiction was only intended 
to raise their reputation at home, and they did not press it 
on our acceptance, or make it the ground of any money- 
claim. 

The old men's chorus, by whose help our first arrange- 
ments were made, came in during our supper, when 
more kissing and hugging had to be endured. The chief of 
the party was very excited and enthusiastic in his con- 
gratulations, and dilated at length on the Generals and 
Colonels, who, with companies of Cossacks to aid them, had 
desired to do what we had done, and had failed. We tried 
to explain to him the use of the rope and the ice-axe, and to 



PUBLIC OPINIOX. 207 

show that such aids were much more useful ou a snow- 
mountain than any number of Cossacks. The Grand Dukes 
had passed during our absence, and had carried away 
the ofl&cials with them ; we had promised to let them 
know how we fared, and accordingly wrote a short account 
of the * happy despatch ' of Kazbek, which we sent to the 
Commandant of Duschet, leaving it to his discretion to 
publish it in the KafhaZy the official journal of Tiflis. 

In that publication it finally appeared, and contributed 
in no slight degree to the reputation of modern Mun- 
chausens, which before leaving the country we had suc- 
ceeded in establishing. 



208 THE TEREK VALLEY. 



CHAPTER VIIL 

THE VALLEYS OF THE TEEEK, AEDON, AND EION. 

A Geographical DisqniBition — ^The Upper Terek— Savage Scenery — Fero- 
cioufl Dogs — Abano — A Dull Walk— Hard Bargaining — An Unruly Train 
— A Pass — Zacca, on the Ardon — A Warm Skirmish and a Barren Victory 
— ^An Unexpected Climb — ^The Lower Valley-^A Russian Road — Teeb — 
The Ossetes — ^The Mamisson Pass — Adai Khokh — A Shift in the Scenery — 
— G-urschari — The Boy-Prince — An Idle Day — View from the Rhododen- 
dron Slope — Glola — ^The Pine-Forests of the Rion — Chiora. 

July 3rd. — It was less than a week since we had left 
Tiflis, and already the first piece in oar programme was 
accomplished, and the most formidable of the two great 
peaks we had pledged ourselves to attack successfully 
disposed of. We had now to turn our thoughts to the less 
imposing, but really far more difficult, task of making our 
way along the foot of the main chain of the Caucasus, 
from Kazbek to Elbruz, a distance, as the crow flies, of 
120 miles. Before leaving England we had studied 
German maps, which, although shown, by better acquain- 
tance with the country, to be often inaccurate, yet gave a 
sufficiently correct idea of the disposition of the upper 
valleys, on either side of the watershed, to enable us to 
form a plan for our proposed * high-level route.' Since 
landing at Poti, we had learnt that the Mamisson, one of 
the passes we intended to cross, was well known to, and 
occasionally used by, the Russians, as a route between 
Vladikafkas and Kutais. Beyond this we could gain from 
the officials little information, and the plan of the journey 



PLAN OP OPERATIONS. 209 

we had worked out was scouted by them as impracticable. 
A volume given me by Herr Eadde, containing the account 
of his explorations in the higher valle3'S of Mingrelia, 
showed us that he had traversed, at different times, all the 
country west of the Mamisson, to a point south of Elbruz, 
with the exception of one short link, between the valleys 
of the Rion and Zenes-Squali. It is one thing to 
make excursions from a base to which you can return for 
supplies, and where you can leave much of your baggage, 
and another to push on firom point to point, carrying 
everything with you, and harassed by the constant 
difficulty of engaging fresh porters. We saw no reason, 
however, to give up our original plan, despite the small 
encouragement it had received from others, and accord- 
ingly were ready on the morning after our return, from 
the ascent of Kazbek, to drive back to Kobi, where we pur- 
posed to bid farewell to post-roads and such civilization 
as they carry with them, and to adventure ourselves 
among the primitive paths, and native inhabitants of the 
mountains. 

Before I enter upon the account of our journey, and its 
various adventures, I must ask my readers to open the 
map, and to look at the disposition of the ridges and 
valleys amongst which we are about to wander together. 
It will be seen that the watershed of the Western Cauca- 
sus, from a point south of Elbruz to the Adai Khokh 
group, on the west of the Ardon vaUey, is an uninterrupted 
and tolerably straight ridge, which nowhere sinks below 
10,000 feet, and is traversed only by glacier-passes, some of 
them practicable indeed to Caucasian horses, but even 
those equal to the well-known Theodule in the extent of 
snow and ice to be crossed. This central mass, according 
to the testimony of recent geologists, confirmed in most 
parts by our own unskilled observation is mainly composed 

p 



2;o THE TERCK VALLEY. 

of ^du\U% On either side, but more especially on the south, 
the up[jer valleys are troughs running parallel to the 
central chain, and thereby aiding the traveller who wishes 
to explore it. These upper basins are enclosed between 
the main chain and the lower but very considerable lime- 
stone ridges, which guard both its flanks. The rivers 
rising in the glaciers of the central mass are consequently 
compelled to make their way to the low coimtry by deep 
gorges cut through the lateral ranges. In this part of the 
chain, that is from Suanetia on the west, to the eastern 
source of the Bion, the relations of the watershed and 
the two lateral ridges, though, sometimes interrupted or 
rendered indistinct (as by the sources of the Zenes-Squali, 
on the south, or by the great promontory of Dych-Tau on the 
north), are on' the whole easily traceable. The next section 
eastwards presents at first sight, on the map, a curiously 
changed aspect ; the watershed having for so large a space 
run from north-west to south-east, bends suddenly due 
south, and sinks to the comparatively low gap of the 
Mamisson Pass. After a few miles it resumes its former 
direction, but entirely fails to recover its former grandeur, 
and although the peaks rise frequently to heights of 11,000 
and 12,000 feet, they support but few and small glaciers, 
while the passes between them vary from 7,500 feet, the 
height of the Krestowaja Gora, to 9,000 feet. North of this 
insignificant watershed, we find a line of summits averag- 
ing at least 14,000 feet, and terminating in the noble 
outwork of Kazbek, 16,540 feet. A second glance at the 
map shows that these grand peaks are in an exact line 
with the glacier-crowned chain which forms the watershed 
further west, and that the ridge which now divides the 
basins of the Kur and the Terek is, in fact, the con- 
tinuation of the southern lateral range. I have only 
further to point out that the head- waters of the Terek and 



A FRESH START, 211 

the Ardon are divided by a low ridge, which couuects the 
Kazbek group with the watershed. If thus much of the 
geography of the Western Caucasus has been made clear, 
my readers will be as well able to see, as we were when 
we left Kobi, the obvious line of march for a party who 
wished to follow as closely as possible the foot of the 
main chain, where the finest scenery might be expected to 
be found. Our plan was to ascend the Terek to its source, 
cross to the Ardon, descend the eastern, and mount the 
western branch of that river, traverse the main chain by 
the Mamisson Pass, and then work across the upper basins 
of the Rion and the Ingur, between which several ridges 
separating the sources of the 2^nes-Squali barred the way, 
and enclosed glens seemingly without inhabitants. 

I have here attempted to give some idea of the physical 
configuration of that part only of the Caucasus which we 
visited, and have not entered into details of the com- 
plicated system of mountains and river-basins of Daghe- 
stan, famous as the last refuge of Schamyl and the scene 
of his final capture. 

We started from Kazbek station, on July 3rd, in grand 
style. Our turn-out consisted of the best pair of telegas 
we met with in Russia, with good horses, which had 
drawn the Grand Dukes two days previously, and had, in 
consequence, their harness still intertwined with gay rib- 
bons. The day was gloomy, and before long the rain, of 
which during the month we were destined to have more 
than our share, began to fall in torrents, so that, despite 
mackintoshes, we arrived at Kobi wet through. The 
postmaster was in his usual state of intoxication, but we 
succeeded in getting a fire lighted, and then sent for the 
head of the Cossacks stationed there, who had been 
ordered by the Conunandant of Duschet to have horses 
ready to carry our baggage. We found that two animals 

P 2 



212 TIJE TEEEK VALLEY. 

« 

had been procured, but that they could not go with us 
beyond Ees, the highest village in the Terek valley, 
the pass from which into Dwaleth, as the Upper Ardon 
valley is called, was said to be impracticable for laden 
animals. The rain-storm having passed over, we set out 
on foot, with our baggage packed on the two horses, 
which were accompanied by their owners. 

The portion of the valley immediately above Kobi is bare 
and uninteresting ; long and steep grass-slopes shut in the 
view, and no snowy peaks are visible. We walked along 
swampy meadows as far as a spot where the valley forks, 
and the main torrent comes out of a narrow opening on 
the left. Our path then followed the left bank of the 
Terek, through a long and savage but scarcely picturesque 
defile. Huge -avalanches had fallen in spring down the 
gullies, and in many places still covered the path ; fromi 
the traces we saw here and elsewhere of their ravages, 
far exceeding the devastations caused by similar agency 
in the Alps, we were led to suppose that the winter snow- 
fall is heavier in the Caucasus than in Switzerland. 
Mineral dprin'gs abounded, some of which were impregnated 
with iron, and coloured the ground for many yards round 
their source. An abominable stench which pervaded one 
part of the defile probably arose from a sulphur spring, 
although Paul tried to persuade us it was caused by the decay 
of thevegetation lying amongst the debris of the avalanches. 
We emerged, after a time, into the upper valley — an open 
basin perfectly bare, and surrounded by uniform slopes 
capped. by rock-peaks of a very commonplace character. 
The nearer beauties of nature were more conspicuous, and 
the carpet of flowers, which almost hid the grass under our 
feet, consoled us for the rather disappointing tameness of the 
general scenery. As we suddenly turned a comer, we 
came upon a group of natives sitting on a bank of turf. 



OSSETB VILLAGES. 313 

and amusing themselves with music and singing. They — 
were a handsome set of men, tall and military-looking, 
dressed in the usual long frock-coat and high fiir hat of 
the Ossetes, and carrying about their persons the indis- 
pensable variety of swords, daggers, guns, and pistols. 
They rose to meet us, and, ailer a few minutes' friendly 



conversation, we passed on our way. After a walk of 
three hours from Xohi, we came in eight of Kektris and 
Abano, two villages about half a mile apart, and both 
on the left side of the valley. There being no wood in 
this district, the houses are entirely built of stone : they 
are generally gloomy-looldng masses of roiigh masonry, 
in which small holes are left for the windows ; but the 
peculiar character of the villages is given by the number 
of towers, which are often found in the proportion of two 
towers to three houses. There is nothing picturesque 



214 THE TEREK VALLEY. 

in these primitive fortresses, which, from their walls 
sloping inwards towards the top, closely resemble, from 
a distance, a collection of exaggerated brick-kilns ; many 
of them are in ruins. In passing through Kektris we 
were put in bodily fear by the dogs — a magnificent 
race, as big as the St. Bernard, and of the same colour, 
but with shaggier coats and even more sagacious faces. 
The narrow lane wound along between the houses, on 
the roofs of which our enemies took their stand, greeting 
us with savage barking and every demonstration of a 
desire to rush down and eat us. I believe, however, that 
this ferocity is more apparent than real. At Abano our 
horsemen selected a lodging for us at the house of the 
wealthiest man in the village, where we found a clean 
upper Toom with two bedsteads. Supper was promised, 
and we had nothing to complain of in our reception, .as 
a samovar was quickly brought and a fowl slaughtered for 
our benefit. 

July Asth. — In the morning a dispute arose with our host 
as to the payment we should make, and we were obliged to 
resist his excessive demands. The Yalley did not increase 
in interest as we mounted it. There are few duller walks 
in a mountain country than that from Abano to Gumara ; 
the trough of the Terek is bare, and destitute of any natu- 
ral attractions, and a glimpse of the fine snowy head of 
Gumaran Khokh, up a side glen, forms but a momentary 
relief to the general dulness. This part of the Kazbek 
group deserves exploration; its glaciers and ridges are 
laid down in the vaguest way on the Five Verst Map, and 
the only fact I can state concerning it is, that it sends out 
a large ice-stream, known as.the Gumaran glacier, the head 
of which probably abuts on. that of Orzviri. iVom hence 
to Hes the distance was not great, and the change in the 
scenery showed that we were drawing close to the head of 



A LONG ARGUMENT. 215 

the valley. The slopes became less uniform, while bolder 
and loftier summits rose around us. The hamlet of Ees, 
where our baggage-horses were to be left, is a cluster of 
stone hovels, perched one above the other on a steep hill- 
side. We unladed our packs in the middle of it, and 
sitting down on some stones began our lunch, while the 
question of porterage was discussed with the inhabitants, 
who of course soon gathered round us. They were a 
handsome but ruffianly-looking lot, but we had become 
too much accustomed during the last six months to find 
ourselves among queer company to think much of their 
appearance. The first demand made was that we should 
hire ten men to carry our luggage to Zacca, the highest 
village in the Ardon valley, and that we should pay 
them two roubles apiece, which would have made the 
whole sum twenty roubles, or 21. 15s. We offered them 
half, which they at first contemptuously refused, but finally 
accepted, when we, as a stratagem, ordered the horses to be 
reladen, and pretended to be about to return the way we 
had come. The packs, which were ludicrously light (not 
above one-third of the weight ordinarily carried by Swiss 
peasants), naving been with much difficulty and loss of 
time adjusted, we started for the pass, which was now 
visible in front of us. A strong stream, flowing out of a 
snowy hollow in the northern chain, had to be crossed, and 
gave some trouble to those who attempted to perform the 
feat dryshod. The men made the passage an excuse for 
a long delay while they rean'anged their shoes. 

The sandals of the mountaineers of the Caucasus are 
too peculiar to be passed over without a description. A 
tangle of leather bands is stuffed with dry grass and 
bound round the foot, so that the sole is renewable at 
pleasure ; these remarkable boots seem to be everlasting, 
and at the same time to afford the feet sufficient protection 



216 THE TEREK VALLEY. 

fi'om rocks and cold. For a long time we thought they 
would fail when brought into contact with snow and ice, 
but the way in which the men of Pari crossed the steep 
snow-slopes between the valleys of the Nakra and the 
Baksan in them, quite disabused our minds of this pre- 
judice. Such being the ordinary style of shoe of the 
country, it may be imagined what surprise our double- 
soled and heavily- nailed English boots created, and we 
used often to hold np our feet, as a show, in the villages, 
while some arithmetical genius endeavoured to count the 
nails in the soles. The last sandal having been satisfac- 
torily strapped and re-arranged, our train moved on. 

The path, a fairly-marked one, steadily rose above the 
Terek, the highest source of which was now in sight, issuing 
from a small glacier at the base of Zilga Khokh, a fine peak 
at the point where the ridge over which our pass lay 
joins the watershed. Numerous springs burst out of the 
hillside, and their channels were bright with masses of the 
yellow blossoms of the ranunculus. The final climb to the 
pass was up a steep slope of shale, on which a good deal of 
snow was still lying. Our native companions were silly 
enough to prefer a straight course to the well-made 
zigzags of the path, the pains expended on the construction 
of which caused us some surprise; the rest of the party, how- 
ever, stuck to the zigzags, except Moore, who kept with the 
porters, in order to have an eye on their dealings with our 
goods. As they soon lost breath, and wanted every 
minute to sit down, he had enough to do to drive them 
before him, and his difficulties suggested to our minds a 
comparison between his present position and that of Enid 
when driving the unruly steeds before her through the 
vmste. By our several routes we all arrived at nearly the 
same point on the ridge, which is over 10,000 feet in 
height. The actual crest was bare, but plenty of snow lay 



ZACCA. 217 

around ; there was nothing, however, to prevent horses, so 
accustomed to snow-work as those of the Caucasus, fi-om 
crossing the pass. The view looking back towards 
Kazbek, and forwards to what must, I suppose in deference 
to the Five Verst Map, be called the Adai Khokh 'group, 
ought to have been fine ; but unluckily clouds hid all the 
more distant summits, and we saw little more than the 
bold mass of Zilga E[hokh close at hand on the south. 
This summit (12,645 feet) was ascended, in 1852, by General 
Chodzko, who spent several days near the top for the 
purpose of the government survey. He describes the 
expedition as a difficult one, and seems to have encountered 
considerable glacier obstacles. The path, on the western 
side of the pass, first bore away to the right, and then 
descended rapidly into a green basin, such as is familiar 
to aJl Alpine travellers ; a pass lower than that we had 
just crossed led out of it on the south, across the water- 
shed, immediately to the west of Zilga Eliokh. 

We looked forward with mingled pleasure and dread to 
the necessity of making fresh arrangements for the trans- 
port of our baggage.: on the one hand we were only too 
delighted to be rid of the Bes men, who had been most pro- 
' vokingly insolent during the descent; on the other, we 
dreaded a prolonged wrangle before a fr^sh bargain could 
be concluded. On reaching Zacca we succeeded in finding a 
house, the owner of which was willing to get us something 
to eat, and on a raised terrace outside, we sat down and col- 
lected together our luggage. A crowd immediately sur- 
rounded us, and soon, not content with staring, pushed in 
and jostled us so roughly, that we asked the man who had 
promised to secure us. some bread whether he could not 
also find us a room to rest in. He pointed out one close 
by, and by stationing Fran9ois at the door, we managed 
to free ourselves from the inquisitiveness of the mob, and 



218 THE ARDON VALLEY. 

to confine our visitors to a select few of the eldera, whom 
we entertained by displaying some of our European knick- 
knacks^ such as knives, telescopes, and portable drinking - 
cups. As soon as we had got all our goods into our own 
hands, Paul was given the 10 roubles to pay to the porters. 
This was handed over, and at first quietly accepted, but 
they soon began to clamour for an extra rouble as 
backsheesh, or trinkgeld, or whatever is the Ossete synonym 
for those well-known terms. We having just sought 
refuge from the jabber and jostling of the outside crowd, 
were not drawn out again by the every-day sound of angry 
voices, and it was not till the row became serious that we 
sallied forth, Moore and Tucker going first. They found 
the Ees men hustling Paul, who was sputtering with rage, 
while the villagers looked on and laughed. When my 
friends appeared, one of the scoundrels snatched at Paul's 
sheepskin cloak, and then they all hastily retired, carrying 
it v^ith them* This was the state of the matter when I 
came upon the scene, and saw Paul fiuntically excited, and 
our late porters standing in a knot on the path, fifty yards 
ofiF, with our cloak in their possession. Knowing nothing 
of what had gone before, and remembering the effect any 
decided course. of action generally has with Easterns, I 
fancied a prompt move would settle the question, and ac- 
cordingly ran up to the men of Res, and, taking hold of the 
cloak, motioned to them to drop it. They had no such 
intention, and began instead to pommel me in their own 
way, which fortunately was a very harmless one, consisting 
of roundabout pats on the top of the head. This, no 
doubt, is an effectual mode of bonneting an adversaary 
who wears a tall sheepskin, but it is singularly harmless 
to a man with a hard wideawake. In self-defence I 
was obliged to let go the cloak, and in a few seconds 
my friends came to the rescue. Tucker hitting straight 



A BARREN VICTORY. 219 

into the eyes of the thieves, while Moore charged down 
the hill with the point of his ice-axe directed full at their 
stomachs, and Fran9ois lent the weight of his elephan- 
tine bulk to the united onset. After Tucker had been 
rolled down the embankment on which the skirmish took 
place, and some dozen blows had been planted fairly in the 
thieves* faces, the foe suddenly fled, and did not stop till 
they had put the river between themselves and us. We 
thus remained masters of the field, but the enemy had all 
the fruits of victory, as they got clear off with their booty ; 
we consoled ourselves, however^ in the smallness of our loss, 
and in the fact of our retaining a very fine staff which Paul 
had borrowed, and which afterwards served him as an 
alpenstock during our whole journey. 

Our next move was to turn to the chief of the village 
and ask how it was that he stood by and allowed strangers 
to be robbed, whilst his own people aided and abetted 
the thieves P The only reply of this specimen of nature's 
nobility was, that if we would give him something for his 
trouble he would get us back the cloak, an offer which I 
need hardly say we declined to accept. The looks of the 
population were not friendly, and we came to the conclusion 
that it was better to submit to extortion in engaging horses, 
than by delay to run any risk of further robbery. We 
consequently agreed with two handsome smartly-dressed 
fellows to start down the valley at once, with two horses. 
We were heartily glad to shake the dust of Zacca off our 
feet, and to feel ourselves once more on the road with 
only two, instead of ten, of these impracticable mountaineers 
to deal with. The valley is treeless, but the scenery is far 
superior to that of the Upper Terek. The slopes are 
varied and broken, jagged peaks show at the head of 
lateral glens on the south, and clusters of houses, each 
dominated by one or more towers, are perched on every 



220 THE ARDON VALLEV. 

defensible rock-knoll. We climbed on to a level-topped 
green brow at some height on the left bank of the stream, 
then made a dip into a lateral ravine, on the opposite 
bank of which we passed another hamlet. The map showed 
that this was the last of the upper cluster of villages, and 
after some discussion we halted a few minutes further on 
at a solitary house by the wayside. A large empty bam 
was our quarters for the night, and as we were able 
to add eggs and milk to the provisions we carried with 
us, we did not fare badly for supper. The position of 
affairs during the evening was not pleasant, as the manner 
of our horsemen was insolent and suspicious, and led us 
to apprehend an attack in the night. In order, therefore, 
to let them see that we were prepared to meet it, we 
had a grand review of our forces before retiring — ^that 
is to say, we ostentatiously fired and reloaded our 
three revolvers, a performance which excited considerable 
astonishment. The baggage was all collected at one 'end 
of the bam, and we slept lightly; but the night passed 
without disturbance, and I hope our suspicions of the men 
may have been unfounded. 

Jvly 5th. — ^We had only engaged our horsemen for the 
previous evening, but being unable to find others, we wtre 
obliged to retain their services at their own valuation; 
which was of course an extravagant one. We expected to 
have an easy stroll down one branch of the Ardon and up the 
other to the foot of the Mamisson Pass, and meant to sleep 
at one of the villages on its eastern side. Our first inten- 
tion had been to leave Paul and the heavy baggage at 
Dalla-Kav, at the fork of the torrents, and ourselves to 
descend the main valley for some distance, and then turn 
up a lateral glen, which appears from the Five Verst Map 
to be well wooded, and to contain at its head the largest 
glacier of the Adai-Khokh group, over which we might 



AN UNEXPECTED CLIMB. 221 

have found a way back across the mountains to our luggage. 
After the specimen the Ossetes had just given us of their 
gentlemanlike behaviour, it seemed imprudent to separate 
our party, and to leave our goods for an uncertain length 
of time at their mercy ; so this idea was given up, and we 
determined to push on, in the hope that the inhabitants 
of the Rion valley would prove more friendly than their 
neighbours, and that from it Adai Khokh might be acces- 
sible. We crossed the stream by a narrow footbridge 
immediately below our night-quarters. The sheep and 
goats were at the same time starting for the pasturage, 
and it was amusing to watch the way in which they, 
hustled one another in their eagerness to pass. The 
sheep would follow peaceably enough for a minute, until 
an old goat made a dash into the crowd, upset a lamb or 
two into the water, and not unfrequently overbalanced 
himself and got a ducking. The stream was strong 
enough to give the poor lambs a good tossing before they 
got on their legs again, and came out dripping and 
bleating from their morning bath. 

Nothing is more annoying than a mountain in your 
way when you have no reason to expect it, and it was. 
not without careful enquiry into the necessity of the 
exertion that we consented to leave the valley, which 
our horsemen assured us contracted below into an 
impassable gorge, and set our faces against a mountain- 
side of 2,500 feet. A good horsepath, mounted at first 
by very steep zigzags, and then gradually crept along the 
top of a grassy ridge, and round the head of a hollow, to 
the summit of a spur about 9,800 feet in height, whence 
we looked down into another side-glen of the Ardon. This 
point commanded an admirable panorama of the extra- 
ordinary chaos of mountains and network of ravines 
which form the upper eastern basin of the Ardon. This 



22-2 THE AEDOX VALLEY. 

river, like the Eion, is formed by two torrents running 
parallel to the main chain as far as their junction, whence 
their united streams turn suddenly at right-angles to 
their former course, and force a way through the deep 
cleft which divides the Adai Eliokh and Kizbek groups. 
The range between the Mamisson and Zilga Khokh was 
clear, and presented a line of bold rocky summits separated 
by deep gaps, offering passes of fix)m 8,000 to 10,000 feet 
in height into the southern valleys. The mountain-range 
on the north is on a far grander scale, but clouds unluckily 
hid all the tops of the Adai Ehokh group, and we could 
see only the tail of one glacier. 

At the base of the projecting mass on which we stood, 
was a deep valley terminated by a rocky cirque, above 
which a remarkably-pointed peak, called Tau Teply, showed 
itself through the mists. When the clouds blew off, 
we saw that the sharp rock-cone was supported by a long 
icy ridge, depriving the mountain of some of its ap- 
parent boldness of outline. We were, not unnaturally, in 
the constant habit of comparing Caucasian with Swiss 
scenery, as the best means whereby to confirm or correct 
our first impressions. Thus far we were agreed that in 
form the Caucasian peaks were at least as bold as the 
summits in the most serrated portion of the Alpine range. 
The features missing in the valleys of the Terek and 
Ardon are large glaciers and forests. The earth's surface 
must be wonderfully broken to render a district absolutely 
bare of trees anything but monotonously savage ; despite 
therefore some striking views, at points where lofty peaks 
close either end of the valley, the sceneiy of the Upper 
Ardon must be characterised as on the whole dull. 

There was a good deal of snow on the path, but it was 
tolerably hard, and did not cause any difficulty to the 
horses. After a last glance at the mountain-encii-cled den 



A QUAINT INTERIOB. 223 

from which we had just made our escape — ^probably one 
of the most out-of-the-way corners of the Caucasus — wc 
commenced the long but pleasant descent which led down 
into the lower valley. The hillsides were gay with flowers ; 
near the snow we found gentians of two sorts, the common 
Alpine variety, and one of a duller blue ; further on masses 
of the white Caucasian rhododendron, interspersed with 
pink ox-eyed daisies and orange-coloured poppies, made 
us remark the curious difference in hue of the same flowers 
at home and in the Caucasus. 

The village at which we determined to make our mid- 
day halt is built on a narrow bog's-back, projecting be- 
tween two streams. The people seemed a shade more 
civilised than those we had left, and we were soon received 
in the house of one of the villagers. A large and dark 
entrance, in which all sorts of implements were stored, 
led to a more cheerful room, one side of which opened 
on a balcony overlooking the torrent. The articles of 
furniture in the Ossete houses are few but quaint; the 
greatest amount of pains is bestowed on the cradles and 
armchairs. The former are elaborately ornamented ; the 
latter are broad and shallow, with a low carved back 
suited for Darby and Joan to sit in together, but quite 
incapable of being used as places of rest. The tables are 
in shape something between three-legged stools and the 
low velvet-covered pieces of furniture now in fashion in 
London. In an inner room there were two raised couches, 
over which the arms of the master of the house were hung 
up against the wall. A large herd of horses was feeding 
in the meadows on the opposite side of the river, where 
we also noticed a cluster of men whose number gradually 
increased during our stay. We met with nothing but 
civility from our hosts, and our horsemen were treated most 
liberally; when one of them had tossed off his fourth tumbler 



{224 THE ARDON VALLET. 

of * vodka ' as though it had been water, without being 
apparently in the least the worse for it, we thought it about 
time to be off. We descended to the stream, and crossed 
by a bridge to the meadow on its opposite bank. The 
group which we had before noticed now advanced towards 
us, and a grizzled old gentleman asked to see our permit 
to travel. Thinking that a British Foreign-office passport 
might be beyond his comprehension, and at the same time 
not wishing to raise p* needless difficulty, I offered for 
inspection an old * crown-podorojno.* We were surrounded 
for some minutes by a curious crowd, but in due time the 
paper was restored, the chief professed himself perfectly 
satisfied, and we went on our way unmolested. 

After crossing a tributary stream, and passing another 
gloomy-looking village, we had a dull but easy walk along 
level meadows to the fork of the valley. The numerous 
villages, alike in their rude stone houses and frequent 
towers, are invariably perched on the hillsides, and often 
on the isolated promontories of rock which form one of 
the peculiar features of this district. The defile through 
which the Ardon flows out to the north seemed to be 
wooded in its lower portion, but the western arm of the 
upper valley was as bare as that we had just traversed ; 
we crossed its torrent by a bridge, and mounted the further 
bank to reach the track of the projected carriage-road 
from Yladikafkaz to E!utais over the Mamisson Pass. 
The road has been traced, and partly cut along the hill- 
sides, but as wherever a mass of rock required blasting, 
nothing has been done, it is of course impassable for 
vehicles : moreover, in many places torrents and earthslips 
had already half destroyed the track, which appeared to have 
been abandoned to its fate. I^admaking is not a Russian 
virtue, and the authorities are so little accustomed even 
at home to see anything which would be called a road in 



THE MAMISSON ROAD. 225 

Western Europe, that they are naturally slow in the 
appreciation of the necessity of good highways in the 
Caucasus. If military purposes demand a means of com- 
munication, soldiers are set to work, and one sufficient for 
the momentary need is constructed; had all the roads 
which have been traced and cut, at immense cost both of 
money and laboTir, been finished and kept in repair, tiie 
Western Caucasus would now be very fairly provided with 
routes practicable for light carriages, and much more 
would have been done towards the civilisation of the 
country. The road now in question has some chance of 
completion, owing to its obvious importance a^ the shortest 
line fix)m Yladikafkaz to the Black Sea coast. The Viceroy 
of the Caucasus passed this way in September last, and 
liis visit may perhaps have the effect of giving the needed 
impulse to the local authorities. There was absolutely 
nothing to look at during the walk up the western arm of 
the Ardon to Teeb. The track mounted gradually along 
the northern side of the valley, passing above several 
villages surrounded by fields of barley enclosed by untidy 
fences. We met a drove of colts being taken southwards 
for sale ; the Eiabarda, a district of which I shall presently 
have more to say, is celebrated for its breed of horses, and 
exports large numbers annually to the markets of Tiflis and 
Eutais. 

Teeb consists of several hamlets scattered on the 
hillside above and below the road ; we sent Paul to recon- 
noitre, and waited to learn the result of his enquiries, 
which proved satisfactory, and we were installed in a clean 
little room on the housetop. The people, living on a 
frequented path, and having had troops quartered near them 
for many months, were more accustomed to see passers- 
by, and less churlish than those of the other branch of the 
valley. There was even a priest in the village, who talked 

Q 



220 THE ARDON VALLEY. 

Russian, and assisted Paul in his search for fowls and 
eggs, and his enquiries after fresh horses. The men who 
had come with us from Zacca had evidently got beyond 
their home- circle, and did not find anyone to treat them 
to * vodka'; they consequently wanted to take 'up their 
quarters with us, but we told them plainly that we thought 
them no better than thieves, and wished to see no more of 
them. Having received their pay, they loitered about the 
place for some time, casting longing glances at our 
numerous belongings ; but finding we were on the watch, 
and that there was no chance of carrying off a field-glass 
or revolver, the objects which they looked at most cove- 
tously, they took their departure before nightfall. 

July 6th. — Paul had found two honest-looking men, 
who were willing to come with us for three roubles (eight 
shillings) a day, for man and horse. This was much 
above the price of the country, but was only half of what 
we had given the Zacca men, and we gladly concluded the 
bargain; our new attendants turned out pleasant and 
obliging, and we kept them with us for several days. 
Teeb was one of the few places we had halted in since 
leaving the Dariel road, where we had no reason to com- 
plain of churlishness or extortion of. some sort; and the 
friendliness of the villagers caused us to modify the other- 
wise universal condenmation we felt disposed to pronounce 
against the Ossetes, of whom we now took leave for the 
present. This tribe, one of the most famous of the 
Caucasus, was converted at a very early period to Chris- 
tianity, which they continue to profess, although they 
trouble themselves little about either its letter or spirit. 
Their worship is mixed up with sacrificial feasts, appa- 
rently of pagan origin, and the doctrines they hold are 
compatible with a severe law of vengeance, resulting in 
long and bloody feuds between families and villages. 



OSSETE COSTUMES. 227 

There seems to bo no poor claas among tliem ; sill the men 
we saw were well and even handsomely dressed. The tall 
sheepskin hat isnniversal, and yreat attention is bestowed 
on the numerous ornamental details of their costume. 
The cartridge -boxes on the breast are often inlaid with 
silver, and when they go abroad they invariably wear a belt 
(generally silver), to which is attached a double-edged 



da^er like the Roman short-sword, enclosed in an orna- 
mental sheath ; on the other side hangs a heavy flint and 
steel pistol, in addition to a variety of smaller necessaries, 
such as a leather case for tinder and flints, a knife, and a 
little box of oxidised silver prettily worked, in which they 
keep the grease to anoint their bullets. Their dresses are 



228 THE ARDON VALLEY. 

usually in good condition, and a shabby or poor -looking 
man is hardly to be met with. Altogether it is impos- 
sible not to admit that their external appearance is some 
excuse for the title of * Gentlemen of the Mountains,' 
which Count Leverschoff gave them. 

We were still at some distance from the head of the 
valley, the scenery of which continued to be of the same 
monotonous description. About half an hour above Teeb 
there was a fine view, looking back towards a great snow- 
crowned mass, a western outpost of the Eazbek group. 
The track, gradually ascending by a uniform gradient 
above the torrent, made long and frequent circuits round 
lateral ravines, until, after passing several villages, the 
head-waters of the Ardon opened before us, and the long 
straight valley broke up into several glens, running up 
into a semicircle of peaks, several of which were re- 
markable for their bold pyramidal forms. Our road 
turned up the northern of these glens, and wound along 
its side for some distance, almost at a level, until a huge 
snow-drift, which rose in a wall across the track, capped 
with an overhanging cornice, forced the horses to descend 
into the bottom of the glen, while we kept along the 
line of the intended carriage-road. The snow was just 
melting oflf the turf, and the flowers were exceedingly 
beautiful. We were pleased to find the homely cowslips 
and primroses, mixing with gentians and other alpine 
plants ; but the newest sight to us was the mass of snow- 
drops which whitened the ground, in many places proving 
their claim to their Friench name of perce-neigey by pushing 
their green leaves and clustered blossoms through the still 
unmelted snowdrifts. 

We saw beneath us a large troop of natives, who had 
crossed the pass in an opposite direction, and were making 
their midday halt. The ridge was now in view, and over 



A SHIFT IN THE SCENERY. 229 

it a bold peak, evidently belonging to the mass designated 
Adai Khokh in the Tive Verst Map, shot up in the most 
alarming way through the clouds. Before beginning the 
final zigzags the road makes a wide sweep to the right, to 
cross the stream flowing from a small glacier which fills 
up the angle between the ridges at the head of the glen. 
The snow had entirely covered all the excavated track near 
the top, and had not a path been by this time trodden out 
of the steep drift which had accumulated under the actual 
ridge, our horses might hare had difBcnlty in getting np. 
Owing to the position of the pass, there is little distant 
view to the west, and the Eion valley is still hidden ; but 
the head of a glen, containing one of the sources of the 
Glola-Squali (one of the feeders of the Rion) was at our feet, 
and above it rose the stupendous eastern peak of Adai 
Khokh, towering above several neighbouring summits. A 
very steep and much-crevassed glacier, the largest we had 
seen since leaving Kazbek, poured down into the valley, 
and we agreed that there was little prospect of any 
successful climbing in this direction. A heavy shower 
soon blotted out the view. The road descended in a 
series of very long and gentle zigzags, now obliterated by 
snow; the winter-fall had been heavier this year than 
usual, but it is probable that, should the carriage-road 
ever be established, this part of it will have to be roofed 
over with galleries, which there would be no difficulty in 
making with so much wood close at hand. We jumped 
a<)ross the small stream, and on its opposite bank passed a 
well-built house, erected for the accommodation of the 
officers in charge of the soldiers who traced the road. I 
met one of these officers afterwards, and he descanted 
eloquently on the hardships he had endured while living 
for three months (as he phrased it) on a glacier. The 
stream tumbled quickly down into a deep ravine ; the road 



230 THE RION VALLEY. 

followed it more leisurely, sweeping over fine pasturages. 
Suddenly we came to the comer, where the hillsides 
trended away to the west, and looked down for the first 
time on a large portion of the upper Rion basin, in which 
term I include the valley of its first considerable tributary, 
the Glola-Squali. Few people who have not seen an 
absolutely treeless district can appreciate the magical 
effect of coming out of one, suddenly, into a densely-forested 
region. Below us was the head of a deep valley, the 
slopes covered with birch and ash, mingled lower down 
with noble pines, the dark green of which came out in 
strong contrast to the lighter foliage. Spur behind spur, 
ridge behind ridge, carried the eyes up to a cluster of 
finely-shaped peaks on the southern side of the river, 
which, like the Ardon, is enclpsed by mountain-ranges, and 
finds an outlet through a narrow gorge. We stood for 
some time in delight'Cd surprise, and agreed that we had 
never seen a landscape more beautiful, lit up as it was by 
the afternoon sun, which had burst through the clouds, 
and was shining with that special brilliancy so common in 
the interval between heavy storms. We soon found our- 
selves among the trees. Scattered birches first hung their 
graceful branches over the path ; the mountain-ash next 
appeared, accompanied by many varieties of flowering 
shrubs, and by flowers (such as campanulas and wild roses) 
the presence of which betokened a more genial soil and 
climate. 

From its position on the map we had counted on 
Gurschavi as a desirable resting-place, and when the 
hamlet came in sight, its lovely position determined us at 
once to make it, if possible, our headquarters for a day or 
two. A dozen wooden cottages, more resembling an untidy 
Swiss village than the stone fortresses of the Ossetes,were 
perched on the edge of a triangular meadow projecting 



^'M Ut'-J 



GURSCHAVI. 231 

from tlie base of the mountain. No less than three glens 
opened up behind it, all more or less tempting to an 
explorer, and in front the position commanded a wide view 
of the basin of the Rion and the peaks on its southern 
side. The main chain was hidden by the intervening 
buttresses. The road makes an immense zigzag down the 
valley to reach the bottom of the ravine under the village ; 
but after running down a short cut, and climbing some 200 
feet on the other side, we found ourselves close to the 
houses, which are surrounded by a remarkably fine planta- 
tion of stinging-nettles. There was no one loitering out- 
side, so we put our heads into the nearest cottage, and 
found a large low room with a few benches and stools, 
which opened into another with a fireplace in the centre, 
occupied by two old women, to whom Paul addressed 
himself. At first there seemed likely to be some difficulty, 
as Caucasian etiquette prevented our lodging in the same 
house as the beauties before us ; but we had spied out a 
very unexpected luxury, in some joints of beef hanging up 
to one of the rafters, and were quite determined not to be 
put off. Opposite the cottage was a well-built barn; on this 
we set our eyes as a likely resting-place, and miade our 
way into it. A heap of hay filled one comer, and the 
place looked quite habitable, although somewhat glooomy 
from the want of a window. More natives soon turned up, 
and, finding we should be contented with the accommoda- 
tion of the bam, they set to work with a will to make the 
place as comfortable as possible. One swept it out, 
another fetched a bench, and Paul found everybody 
willing to aid him in his culinary operations. While he 
prepared a steak, we sent Francois to cut some young 
nettles, which, when chopped up and boiled, make an 
excellent vegetable, scarcely distinguishable from spinach. 
The hamlet was a small one, and during all the time of 



232 TUB RION VALLEY. 

our stay there we saw scarcely more than twenty people. 
They were not dressed in the showy style of the Ossetes ; 
their clothes were old and sometimes ragged, and their 
cartridge-pouches made of horn and wood, while their belts 
were of plain leather, and the daggers hung from them in 
sheaths equally unomamented. The * swell ' of the place 
seemed to be a lad of 14, a round-faced fellow, just like an 
English schoolboy, who wore a wonderful wideawake hat, 
with a broad brim swelling out into a circular crown, 
divided by braid, and shaped like an orange. He took • a 
great interest in us and our doings, and * fagged * several 
* lower boys,' whom he kept in great subjection, to fetch 
us anything he thought we should want. In return we 
amused him by displaying our knives, field-glasses, and 
other knick-knacks, so that I believe our visit was a great 
source of enjoyment and enlightenment to him. To us it 
was a great relief to get among a colony of simple peasants, 
and to be freed from the numerous restraints of travelling 
among the * gentlemen ' of Ossetia. We passed a very 
comfortable night, though my mind was a good deal dis- 
turbed by discovering the loss of my revolver, which I now 
remembered I had unfastened, and must have left behind, 
near the house at the foot of the Mamisson Pass. We 
determined that, if the weather was fine, Moore and 
rran9ois should go the next day on an exploring expedi- 
tion up to the foot of the chain, while Tucker and I (both 
having rubbed heels) should stop at home, and see to the 
preparation of an extraordinary banquet. 

July 7th. — The morning was not very promising, but 
Moore and rran9ois set out, in the hope that the weather 
would clear up. However, it came on to rain heavily, 
and we stay-at-homes, rather congratulating ourselves on 
our superior position, settled down very contentedly to 
write up letters and read Shakspeare, a Globe edition 



A RECONNAISSANCE. 233 

of whose works formed the bulk of our travelling library. 
Our companions did not return till late in the afternoon, 
bringing with them my revolver, but without having 
gained much additional information about the mountains. 
They had taken shelter, during the worst of the storm, 
in the house before mentioned, and then climbed the 
ridge, between two of the sources of the Glola-Squali, to 
a height of about 11,000 feet. The ground was covered 
with snow of the most extraordinary pink or rather brick- 
red hue, a phenomenon we noticed frequently. It is of 
very rare occurrence in the Alps, and when seen there, 
the pink tinge is not generally so vivid. Clouds had 
hidden everything except the tail of a glacier on, their 
left, so that we could form no definite plans, and had 
nothing to do but to wait till the weather cleared. 

July 8^A. — The rain was over when we awoke, and the 
bright morning sunshine poured down upon the rich 
basin below us, and brought out fresh beauties of colour 
and distance in its wooded slopes. The peaks overhead 
stood out boldly against the blue sky, and everything 
looked fresh and inviting. It was manifestly a day for 
la, view. Our chief object was to inspect the southern 
face of the Adai Khokh group, and to ascertain if there 
was a reasonable prospect of effecting any high passes 
or ascents in it. The best way to go seemed to be up 
the hillside behind Gurschavi, as we knew that we must 
soon gain a sufficiejit height to see the great chain over 
the grassy buttresses which now hid it from us. At the 
back of the cottages is a burial-ground, marked by some 
tall tombstones, where the * rude forefathers of the hamlet 
sleep' under the shade of fine trees. We kept along 
the edge of the little plateau on which Gurschavi stands, 
until we came to a bridge over a stream flowing out of 
a recess in the south-eastern angle of the ranges which 



234 THE RION VALLEY. 

enclose this end of the Rion basin. The scale of the 
scenery, the richness of the vegetation, but, above all, 
the ruddy colouring of a set of rock-teeth which sprang 
suddenly out of the slopes on the eastern bank, reminded 
me strongly of several similar scenes amongst the Dolo- 
mites of the Italian Tyrol. A woodman's path ran along 
beside the torrent, but, as it did not gain height rapidly 
enough for us, we turned straight up the slopes. For 
about 1,000 feet we scrambled up amongst the beautiful 
forest-trees, growing with a luxuriance and variety un- 
equalled in the Alps. The imderwood was so dense that 
we had often difficulty in pushing our way up through 
it, and were glad to help ourselves up by the tough 
branches of the white rhododendrons, which grew in great 
quantities, and were now in full blossom. Through the 
tree-tops snowy peaks were seen from time to time, and 
when we found a bank where no branches intercepted the 
panorama of the main chain, now full in view opposite 
to us, we thought it better to halt and make our observa- 
tions, rather than to push further up the hiUside. The 
chain was not cloudless, but thanks to a strong wind, 
which was blowing in the upper region, we got a view, 
at one moment or another, of every section of it, although 
the whole was never quite clear at the same time. The 
first and most striking of all the summits before us 
occupied the position assigned on the Five Verst Map 
to the peak of Adai Khokh.* Three long ribs of rock 

* Tnilsas Mta of Herr Badde. Caucasian nomenclature is at present in a 
state of hopeless confusion. It has seemed to me best to follow in most case^ 
the authority of the Fiye Verst Map, which the traveller will probably have in 
his hand. Herr Radde, who frequently differs from it, has not as yet published 
the result of his researches in the form of a corrected map of the Central 
Caucasus. I have avoided, as far as possible, encumbering my pages with such 
unpronounceable names as Sagebigora, Chrowlioto, Sarziwisdsiris Mta, 
Sopchltigoiam Mta. All of these peaks look down on the sources of the 
Bion. 



A GRAND PANORA^IA. 235 

and ice rau up into a sharp point, and created one of the 
most striking mountain-forms I ever saw. The rocks on 
the left-hand or north-west rib, seen though a telescope, 
were of the most formidable character, some of them 
appearing actually to orerhang; and the other sides of 
the mountain were so sheeted with ice as to be, if not 
absolutely inaccessible (a word which had, perhaps, best 
be banished nowadays from a mountaineer^s dictionary), 
practically so for our party. Separated by a deep gap 
from its slenderer neighbour rose a double-headed mass, 
supported by huge and fiiuitastically-broken buttresses of 
rock. Huge s6racs hung in a curtain under its crest, and 
raked the lower snow-slopes. These two summits are pro- 
bably nearer 16,000 than 15,000 feet; to the west of them 
the chain sinks considerably, and a succession of snowy 
eminences, none of them sufficiently marked to arrest the 
attention, are connected by icy ridges, steep and high 
enough to present a serious obstacle to anyone wishing 
to make a pass, and discover what lies beyond and behind 
them. Masses of rock abutting on the main ridge divided 
the basins of sundry small glaciers which filled the hollows 
at its foot. On the left, the isolated snowy tower of 
Tau Burdisula formed a striking termination to the 
group. 

We were completely puzzled to know what use to 
make of the knowledge we had now gained of the neigh- 
bouring mountains. The first point settled was, that 
the two big peaks must be let alone, and we inclined 
to a suggestion made by Moore, that we should crosd 
over to the northern side, and back, by two glacier-passes. 
The Five Verst Map showed, on the west side of Tau 
Burdisula, a pass called Per Gurdzieveesk, leading from 
Chioi'a to the valley of the Uruch. We thought we 
detected a weak point in the mountain- wall before men- 



236 TUE EION VALLEY. 

tioned east of Tau Burdisula, from which, if it should 
prove accessible from the northern side, we could be sure of 
effecting a descent into the Eion valley. It was finally 
decided that we should return quickly to Gurschavi, 
collect our baggage, and go down to Glola to sleep. 
Prom there to Chiora must, we knew, be an easy day, 
and from that village, if the weather continued fine, 
we could cross the known pass to the XJruch. Its track 
on the north side was shown by the map as running along 
the side of a large glacier, the head of which must be 
behind the gap in the ridge we had already observed, 
as likely to give a passage to the south side. This scheme 
had the advantage of leaving us the alternative, in case 
of bad weather, or any other hindrance to its execution, 
of returning over the same pass we had crossed by, and 
regaining our base. The decision once made was promptly 
acted on, and we raced down through the wood to the 
village. Our Teeb horsemen, whom we still had with 
us, soon got the animals ready, and our goods packed on 
their backs. Before we left, a sickly-looking man, who 
was suffering, as far as we could judge, from consumption, 
was brought to us to be cured. Of course we could do 
nothing really for the poor fellow, but, willing to give him 
satisfaction, as well as to keep up our own credit, we un- 
locked our little medicine-case, and poured him out a dose 
of chlorodyne. The dram was carefully drained, and as 
soon as the patient felt its warmth, he gratefully rubbed his 
stomach, and, pouring a few drops of water into the cup, he 
drank them off, in the hopes of catching any lingering 
flavour. Our fai'ewell to the boy-prince and the rest of the 
village was most cordial, and the payment we offered was 
this time accepted, with real demonstrations of surprise and 
pleasure at its amount. Amidst universal hand-shaking-, 
and expressions of hopes that we should come again 



TElItOURH THE FX)REST. 237 

another year, we mode our way out of the Tillage, our 
regret at leaving which was only tempered by Paul's 
an noun cement that we had eaten up all tlie beef. The prinoe 
and a friend accompanied na down to the road, where they 
took a final leave, and we saw no more of the joliiest boy 
in the Caucasus. The road down the valley keeps on the 
left bank of the river, and has to make long circuits round 



the ravines which fmrow the lower slopes, above which 
sharp 8now-Btreaked summits • peered from time to time 
between the trees. The torrent falls very rapidly ; the road 
descends more gently through the moat magnificent pine- ' 
forest, varied with birch, poplar, and elm , and carpeted with 
moss and a variety of subalpine Bowel's. Before reaching 

* The Wallalsch ibis Mia of Hrrr Badde; the niunes Dekmis-Zweri nnd 
Oeske appear on tlie Five VorsI Map. 



238 THE RION VALLEY. 

the point where the largest tributary of the Glola-Sqnali 
flows out of a glen running deep into the heart of the main 
chain, road and river are again on a level. The afternoon 
was beautiful, and we enjoyed a superb view of the two 
peaks of Adai Klokh, which exactly fill the opening. The 
right-hand ridge of the eastern peak, seen from here, is a 
most exquisitely sharp and thin snow arete, and its sides 
are of a steepness appalling to anyone who has ever 
allowed the idea of climbing them to enter his head. 

An artist might sit down at this spot within ten yards of 
thfe road, and paint a perfect picture, without putting in a 
foreground, or in any way improving on nature. The foam- 
ing torrent, and the rich foliage near at hand, the wooded 
slopes in the middle distance, and the gigantic mountain- 
forms which close and crown the view, are worthy of a 
master-hand, and the rough outline sketch, which was all 
we could carry away with us, can give but a faint idea of 
the scene. Every bend in the road opened some fresh vista 
of wood, water, and snow. The floor of the valley had now 
widened, and the forest soon gave way to hayfields, in 
which parties of women and girls were at work. Having 
brought on the scene the far-famed beauties of the Cauca- 
sus, this would, I feel, be the place for romance. Unluck- 
ily, like one of our American friends, who, being called on 
to admire an Egyptian sunset, declared ^ skyscapes were 
not in his line,' descriptions of female beauty are not in 
mine, and I have the further plea that in this instance 
I should have, not to describe, but to invent. The forms 
and faces of the women who left their work to stare at the 
unprecedented sight of three English mountaineers, had 
lost, by exposure to weather and field labour, any traces of 
comeliness, and the group, but for certain details of dress, 
was just such as might be met with in any Swiss valley. 

Before long Glola came into sight on the opposite side 



GLOLA. 239 

of the river, built at the mouth of a tributary stream,* 
which had its source in a glacier of the main chain, a por- 
tion of which was for a few minutes visible, and with which 
we were destined in a few days to become better ac- 
quainted. The bridge above the village, which existed 
at the time of Herr Radde's visit, had gone the way of 
all Caucasian bridges; and we had to make a circuit, 
which cost an extra ten minutes, to reach its successor, 
built half a mile lower down the stream, there flowing in 
a wide stony bed, and then to return up the opposite 
bank. Glola is more like a Swiss village than any we saw 
before or afterwards ; the houses are all built of wood, and 
have overhanging eaves, balconies, and roofs laid with 
stones, in the fashion of those of the Canton Berne, although 
without any of their elaborate carving and general air of 
finish. The place is sheltered behind a projecting cliff, and 
on a brow above it are the ruins of an old castle, which add 
considerably to its general effect. We were first led to a 
cottage, which had such an indescribable air of griminess 
and dirt about it, that we altogether declined to take up 
our quarters there. We soon settled on an apparently 
uninhabited outbuilding, attached to one of the larger ' 
houses, where we found a small room with some hay for 
our beds, and a broad balcony with a table and benches, 
which served us as a sitting-room. Paul had to do his 
cooking in the adjoining house, and I believe the presence 
and interruptionfl of certain well-meaning old women put 
him out ; whatever was the cause, we had to wait till long 
after dark before we got our dinner. Such incidents seem 
almost too trifling to record, but they serve to remind one 
of what is often lost sight of afterwards-^the difference 
between travel in a country organised for pleasure-visitors, 
and one entirely, so to speak, in a state of nature. We got 

* The Schunilu Squali of Raddo. • 



240 THE RlOX VALLEY. 

our food at last, accompanied by a rare luxury, a bottle of 
wine. We had not seen such a thing since leaving Kazbek, 
and what was now brought us under the name of wine was 
a muddy liquor which owed little to the skill of its maker, 
but was, at any rate, unadulterated juice of the grape, a 
recommendation quite sufficient to Tucker and myself. The 
people of Glola were of the same type as those of Gur- 
schavi — homely peasants, who wore the usual style of dress, 
crowned by felfc hats of various .and sometimes intensely 
comical shapes. We were regaled with new bread, one of 
the few delicacies of the country, which we found almost 
everywhere. The bread of the Caucasus is peculiar, and 
would be considered detestable by many people, but I must 
own to giving it a decided preference over the sour black 
loaves of the German Alps. The peasants never think of 
baking until they actually want food ; sufficient for the day, 
or rather for the meal, is provided, and when more is 
wanted it has to be made afresh. The general shape of 
the loaves is round and flat, and a hungry man can eat two 
or three of the ordinary size at a meal. Some, however, 
are of a more substantial nature, and have a layer of 
melted cheese inside them, and these, when hot, are by no 
means despicable. Most of the varieties of cakes are made 
of barley, aod are brown in colour, very close, and more or 
less heavy ; they vary, of course, according to the quality of 
the flour used, and the skill of the maker. Here we found 
another kind, made of indian-com, pleasant to the eye and 
palate, but very difficult of digestion. 

July 9th, — ^The night destroyed an illusion which for a 
full week we had cherished most fondly. Hitherto we 
had been entirely exempt from the pest of insects, and we 
laid ourselves down to rest absolutely without suspicion of 
the misery in store for us. Tucker, famed for his suffer- 
ings in Swiss ch&lets, was the first to be attacked ; the noise 



FOREST SCENERY. 241 

consequent on the pursuit in which he was engaged 
aroused nie ; once awake, to sleep again was impossible, 
and we all lay tossing and growling until moraing put an 
end to our tortures. 

The day was again fine. The view from Glola, down the 
valley towards the Schoda chain, was very striking, and in 
the opposite direction rose the two peaks of Adai Khokh, 
grandly defiant as ever. We had no unpleasantness at 
parting, and flattered ourselves — alas ! how vainly — that 
our difficulties with uncivil and extortionate villagers were 
over, and that henceforth we should be free jfrom those 
petty vexations which destroy half the pleasure of travel. 
Having recrossed the same bridge, and rejoined the new 
road, which does not pass through Glola, we soon again 
entered the heart of the primeval forest, where the 
overhanging arch of foliage entirely shaded us from the 
sunshine ; the woodcutter's axe seldom thins these glades, 
for the needs of the scanty population of the upper valley 
are small, and the lower district of the Badscha, between 
here and Kutais, is so richly wooded that no one has 
occasion to come here for timber. The passer-by may 
see illustrated the whole life of a tree, from it-s first stage 
to the last: the cone just dropped on the ground, the 
tender sapling, the forest giant spreading its branches in 
every direction, and the trunk, broken and rotten, pros- 
trate on the ground and gradually mouldering away into 
the soil, from which a fresh generation wiU soon spring. 

A sharp hour's walk below Glola brought us to the 
mouth of the narrow defile through which the collected 
waters of the Rion basin make their escape. Three 
streams join to form the river just above the gorge : the 
largest, the true source of the Rion, comes dovni the 
western arm of the valley, from the mountains behind 
Gebi ; the Glola-Squali, known also by the less euphon- 



242 THE RION VALLEY. 

ious name of the Dschandschaclii-Squali, flows to meet 
it from the east, and between them a smaller stream 
cuts its way directly down from a glacier in the main 
chain, through a narrow opening in the lower hills. A 
bridge crosses the Rion, a short way below the double 
confluence, and on a plot of level ground close to the river- 
bank stands a house, evidently of Russian construction, 
but now falling rapidly into decay. Having made a con- 
siderable bend into the mouth of the defile, and crossed the 
united streams, we turned up a path which led along the 
right ba4k of the true Rion, through woods as dense as 
before, although the single trees were not so fine as those 
which grow on the opposite slopes. The path was level 
for some distance, until it mounted a spur of the Schoda 
chain, which nearly barred the valley. 

The sunny slopes were converted into meadows and corn- 
fields, and dotted with dark-brown hay chMets, scarcely a 
quarter of the size of those in the Alps. A solitary pine, of 
great size and perfect shape, marked the top of the ascent, 
beyond which we came in sight of Chiora and a stretch 
of the upper valley, in which the river, to judge by the 
width of its stony bed, is accustomed to commit great 
ravages, and to change its course very frequently. Arrived 
opposite the village, which is prettily situated on a gentle 
southward-facing slope of cornfields, we found that there 
was no bridge where one-half of the stream now flowed, 
and we had consequently to wait while our Norsemen sought 
the best ford, and then to ride, one by one, through the 
water. It was a long time before we got the baggage fairly 
to the other side, and the heat of the sun, reflected from the 
stones of the river-bed, made the delay anything but 
pleasant. 

Chiora is built in a totally different style to Glola and 
Gurschavi. The houses are all of stone, two-storied, 
with sloping roofs, scarcely any eaves, and very small 



CHIORA. 243 

holes for windows. On our arrival, we were conducted 
to a shed, open on one side to the air, where we were 
requested to wait till quarters were prepared for us. In 
the meanwhile the whole village gathered round to stare 
at, and no doubt criticise, the extraordinary beings who had 
come to visit them. Paul went off to survey our intended 
lodging, and came back very disconsolate, for first appear- 
ances certainly were not cheerful. The interior of all the 
houses seemed the same — a couple of ill-lighted rooms with 
rough stone walls, with wooden pegs stuck into their cre- 
vices, from which hung clothes, sheepskin cloaks, and 
various household and field implements. It was too dark 
inside either to write or read, so we removed our mattrass 
to a rough wooden balcony projecting from the front of the 
house, whence there was a beautiful view down the valley, 
closed by the dark forests opposite Glola, and the serrated 
summits of the Wallatschibis Mta. A very sharp rock- 
peak, rising over the southern slopes immediately opposite 
the village, is in shape an almost exact model of the 
Eothhom from Zermatt ; we saw afterwards that it is an 
impostor, being in fact only the end of a long and narrow 
ridge running towards the vaUey fix)m one of the chief 
summits of the range between Grebi and Oni. 

In order to put into execution, as soon as possible, the 
plan formed on the rhododendron slope above Gurschavi, of 
effecting two passes across the main chain, we made en- 
quiries among the villagers as to the Gurdzieveesk Pass, 
which proved well known to them : at first they asserted it 
took two days to reach the other side of the mountain, but 
on being pressed, they admitted that a good walker might 
do it in one. Our only diflSculty was in settling the terms on 
which a peasant would accompany us to the snow-level on 
the southern side, and in making up our minds what instruc- 
tions to give Paul, whom we meant to leave in charge of our 

r2 



244 THE EION VALLEY. 

baggage. Both questions were settled before nightfall ; a 
native agreed to be ready to start with us at half-past 1 a.m., 
and we determined that Paul should hire a horse and go 
on to Gebi, which was only an hour's walk farther up the 
valley, there to await our return. 

The people of Chiora were less simple and kindly than 
those of Gurschavi and Glola ; but we had no reason to 
complain of any inhospitable conduct, beyond the usual 
desire to make a good bargain, and get as much as they 
could out of us. Their impression of our position was 
shown by a request, made to us in the course of the 
evening, that on our return to Kutais, we would repre- 
sent to the Governor of Mingrelia the unfair distribution 
of the mountain pasturages, by which the neighbouring 
villages got more than their share, and Chiora had not 
enough for its flocks and herds. According to Paul, we 
were generally believed to be officials employed on some 
survey, or such-like mystery of civilisation, the existence 
of which was known to, though its benefit was beyond 
the comprehension of, the common Caucasian intellect. 



CAUCASIAN SHEPHERDS. 245 



CHAPTER IX. 

THE GLACIEES AND FOBESTS OP THE CENTEAL CAUCASUS. 

Caucasian Shepherds — A Lovely Alp — Sheep on the Glacier — A New Pass 
— A Snow Wall — A Bough Glen — ^The Karagam Glacier — Bivouac in the 
Forestr— An Icefall— A Struggle and a Victory-— The Upper Snowfields 
—The Watershed at lastr-Check— A Useful Gully— An Uneasy Night 
— Glola again — ^Pantomime — Gebi — Curious Villagers — A Baigain for 
Porters — ^Azalea Thickets— The Source of the Bion— Bank Herbage 
— Camp on the Zenes-Squali — A Low Pass — Swamps and Jungles 
—Path-finding— The Glen of the Scena— Wide Pasturages— The Naksagar 
Pass. 

July lOf A. — ^We made a late supper, or early breakfast, 
soon after midniglit, and having insisted on the peasant 
who was to accompany us sleeping in the same house, 
found no difKculty in starting at the hour appointed. 
Before separating from Paul, we told him to explain fully 
to our guide the part we expected him to perform, and 
the pay we should give him if he fulfilled it to our satis- 
faction. This was a necessary precaution, as we had no 
means, except signs, of communicating with our companion, 
who only knew the Georgian dialect commonly spoken on 
the south side of the chain. We climbed the hillside 
immediately behind Chiora, soon leaving below us the 
cultivated fields, and finding ourselves on grass-covered 
slopes, adorned with clusters of trees in the manner of an 
English park. Shepherds' fires shone here and there 
through the darkness, and our guide took us round in 
order to pass near some of his Mends, who were camping- 
out with their flocks. The peasants of the Caucasus do 
not take nearly so much pains as those of the Alps to 



246 CAUCASIAN GLACIERS AND FORESTS. 

provide themselves with a substantial shelter while spend- 
ing the summer on the mountains. It is onlj rarely, and 
in certain districts, that huts at all resembling the Swiss 
chalets are met with. I only recall three instances — two 
in the Uruch . valley, and one close to the source of the 
Bion. In general the herdsmen are contented with a 
slight shelter, constructed of a few boughs and a sheep- 
skin, which can afford very little protection in bad weather. 
Close at hand a forked stake is driven into the ground, on 
which, if the owner is at home, he hangs his gun. This 
and a milking-pail constitute nearly all the furniture of a 
Caucasian shepherd, who, as the flock under his charge con- 
sists mostly of sheep, oxen, and horses, is spared the deli- 
cate and complicated cares of a large dairy establishment. 

Having passed the last of the shepherds' bivouacs, 
we steadily followed the somewhat steep zigzags of the 
sledge-path, imtil it surmounted a brow which had pre- 
viously cut short our view. Dawn had not yet broken, and 
the graceful forms of scattered copses of birch and fir 
fonned a fairylike foreground to a long moonlight vista 
up the Tchosura to the glaciers and snowcapped summits 
of the main chain. Deep below, in the dark shadow of 
the valley, the white towers of Gebi were distinguishable, 
and behind us the bold peaks of the Schoda chain stood 
out against a sky paling with the first approach of day- 
break. A herd of horses, disturbed by our early move- 
ments, trotted off across the hillside, which now became 
more open. 

The path still mounted, and soon even the birch, the 
tree always found nearest the snow in these regions, 
was left behind. A host of alpine flowers, amongst 
which the white rhododendron was again conspicuous, 
covered the ground, only just free from snow, which 
still lay in deep drifts in the hollows. The path for a 



A LO^^:LY ALP. 247 

long time followed a ridge, narrow at first, but gradu- 
ally broadening into grassy undulations ; on one side the 
ground broke away suddenly towards the Rion, on the 
other it sank more gradually into a barren recess, a branch 
of the Tchosura valley, above which rose a steep-sided 
range covered with small glaciers. The height of 8,500 
feet we had already gained was sufi&cient to give us a good 
panorama of the Upper Bion basin, which served to con- 
firm our previous estimate of its beauty. The ridge we 
were walking along now bent round to the northward, 
and separated the water flowing down into the lUon at 
Gebi from the upper basin of the stream, which joins the 
river close to its meeting with the Glola-Squali. Far 
below us, on our right, we looked down into a deep wooded 
defile, the outlet through which this stream escapes. Here 
the track began to descend, but first made a long sweep 
round the hillside, before finally plunging into the beauti- 
fully-timbered little plain, at the mouth of the narrow glen 
which leads up, due north, to the Gurdzieveesk Pass. 

Knowing that this, the chief part of the daj^'s walk, 
was still before us, w6 grudged bitterly the 2,000 feet of 
height thus lost, and, having now been five hours on the 
march, determined to stop, and open our provision- wallet. 
The beauty of the spot, and a spring bubbling up under 
a clump of alders, formed additional inducements to a 
halt. The level meadow in which we were sitting was 
partially covered with trees ; the glades were filled with 
lush herbage, and bright with many flowering plants. 
Grassy ridges, rising above the level of the forest, but 
not reaching that of perpetual snow, shut off this se- 
questered nook from the lower valley, and immediately 
overhead, on the east of the narrow trench, which offered 
a way up to the crest of the mountains, the steep snowy 
sides and tower-like summit of Tau Burdisula caught 



•248 CAUCASIAN GLACIERS AND FORESTS. 

the eye. The glen up which our path lay was soon 
terminated, by a steep glacier falling over in a long 
icefall from the unseen snowfields above. The rich 
pasturages of this beautiful plain, and the surrounding 
slopes, are not allowed altogether to run to waste ; we 
passed herds both of horses and oxen, and saw smoke 
rising from the bivouacs of the peasants in charge of 
them. Steep walls of rock hem in the upper portion of 
the glen, and the glacier-torrent has covered the space 
between them with granitic boulders, amongst which we 
picked our way. 

A long and gradual ascent to the foot of the glacier 
was followed by a very steep but easy climb up the slopes 
of snow and rock on its right. Halfway up we stopped, 
and while resting saw to our surprise a large flock of 
sheep, accompanied by their dogs and shepherds, descend- 
ing towards us. The animals hurried and slid down 
the snow at a great pace, apparently anxious to jBnish 
their march, and reach the tempting herbage, already in 
sight below them. The dogs were fine animals, but some- 
what savage, and not at all disposed to acquiesce quietly 
in our presence; they were called off by their masters, 
with whom we were, of course, unable to hold any com- 
munication. Our Chiora peasant now expressed by signs 
his wish to return, so, having given him a good day's walk, 
we paid him aU he asked for, and let him go. 

For some distance further the ascent was very rapid, still 
over alternate beds of shale and snow. At last we were 
on a level with the top of the icefall, and looked into the 
deep n6v6-filled basin which feeds it. We had not carefully 
followed the sheep-track, and on looking back saw that it 
had turned sharp up the slopes to the left, some distance 
behind. Although it would have been perfectly easy to 
regain it, the course up the glacier to its head was so far 



A ^'E^r pass. 249 

the most obvious that we adopted it without much 
thought. The upper snowfield was more extensive than 
it looked from below, and rose in a succession of gentle 
steps, each more or less broken by large crevasses. These, 
with the safeguard of the rope, we found no difficulty in 
turning, and came at last in sight of the point at which 
we should hit the ridge — a well-marked and striking gap 
between two rocks at the extreme head of the snowy 
basin. The glacier scenery was wild, but not particularly 
grand ; the summits around us, which cut off all distant 
view, were, with the exception of Tau Burdisula, of no 
great height, and even that did not look very imposing 
from this side. The trudge over the last snowfield was 
heavy, and we began to count the number of steps, and to 
wonder how many more would be necessary to get over 
what seemed to the eye a very small distance. When (at 
12.30) we reached the gap, and found shelter under some 
rocks from the cold blast which was blowing through it, 
we congratulated ourselves on having perpetrated that 
delight of Alpine climbers, a new col, though whether 
our notch would prove one was still a question. A snow 
couloir fell away rapidly for some hundred feet between 
splintered towers of rock, and then, the angle becoming 
still steeper, was lost to sight, and the eye descended to a 
tolerably level and smooth glacier backed by an icy ridge, 
equal in height to that on which we were sitting. Up 
the glacier a long procession of sheep was slowly wending 
its way towards the regular pass, in the track of those 
we had encountered in the morning. The northern side, 
although easy to a mountaineer, seemed to be defended by 
a crevasse large enough to form a serious obstacle to 
sheep and dogs. The bold rock-shapes in the foreground, 
and the wildness of the whole view, entirely confined to the 
snow-region, and devoid of any touch of softness, reminded 



250 CAUCASIAN GLACIERS AND FORESTS. 

US of those Alpine subjects with which all who are 
acquainted with Mr. Walton's drawings must be familiar. 
Before attempting the doubtful descent we *jodeled' 
and fired off our revolvers, to attract the attention of the 
shepherds, who halted for some minutes to watch us. Even 
a common snow-slope — and this was by no means a common 
one — ^looks remarkably like a wall when seen from any point 
nearly opposite it ; I fancy, therefore, that our performance 
during the next half-hour must have been fully as exciting 
and gratifying to the spectators as those of Blondin and 
Leotard are to a London crowd. Fortunately, the snow 
was in perfect order, firm enough to hold without being too 
hard to dig steps into with the foot, and with ordinary 
care there was little risk in the descent on to the glacier, 
notwithstanding the really formidable angle of the slope, 
which was equal to that of the last piece of the Wetter- 
horn, but about 2,000, instead of 700, feet in height. 
rran9ois took exactly the right course, and by swerving 
to the left, about halfway down, avoided an overhanging 
mass of s6rac, which would have brought us to a sudden 
check. Once on the level of the glacier, we had nothing to 
do but to follow its course, which led us in a north-easterly 
direction. The ice being covered with a tolerably thick 
layer of dirty snow, and almost free from crevasses, our 
progress was rapid, and we were enabled to make use 
of the smooth surface to the point where the glacier 
terminated, and the stream issuing from it struggled, with 
only partial success, to free itself from the snow-beds 
which still strove to bury it from the light of day. When 
we had once got below the snow-limit, which is compara- 
tively low in this rock-encircled and sunless glen, the 
walking became very rough. Huge boulders, fallen 
from the cliffs above, strewed the ground, and offered 
under their sides lairs, evidently often made use of by 



THE KARAGAM GLACIER. 251 

shepherds or travellers desirous to cross the glacier while 
the snow was hard, a precaution almost essential for 
people to whom the use of a rope is unknown. We were 
too eager to gain a view of the ice-stream, which we 
knew from the map must fill the hollow in which the glen 
at last merges, to take advantage of any of these bivouacs. 
Scattered firs made their appearance, relieving the other- 
wise desolate character of the scenery, and the Caucasian 
rhododendron covered the ground, filling up the crannies 
between the rocks with its thick branches. 

There were now some slight traces of a path, and we came 
suddenly upon two peasants (probably natives of Zenaga, 
the highest village in this branch of the Uruch valley) and 
a donkey, the object of whose mountain excursion we were 
unable to ascertain, owing to our ignorance of the Caucasian 
dialects. The two parties having satisfied each other, by 
a close mutual inspection, that no harm was intended on 
either side, separated ; the peasants taking a track leading 
towards the valley, while we went forward in search of a 
point which might overlook the great glacier, and afford 
some insight into the chances of our proposed vejitiire on 
the morrow. An isolated grassy knoll, just in the mouth 
of the glen, seemed the spot most likely to offer the view 
we wanted, and the scene which burst upon us on reaching 
it so far exceeded and differed from our expectations that, 
at first, we could hardly realise its magnificence. The 
whole bed of the valley into which the glen falls is filled 
by an immense glacier only surpassed in the Alps by the 
Aletsch.* Its head was hidden behind nearer buttresses, 

* Herr Abich aUudes to this glacier in the following tenns : — * A superb 
glacier of the first class descends on the north from the Adai-Khokh group 
between the ridges of Bordjoula and of Saourdaour. It is the Khaltschi- 
Don gbicier. It is at least 1,600 feet broad, and traverses the forest region for a 
great distance. Approaching the village of Zenaga, it descends to a level of 
5,700 feet, the lowest point known to be reached by any Caucasian glacier.' 



252 CAUCASIAN GLACIERS AND FORESTS. 

but we had a good view of the ranges on its right bank.* 
Opposite rose a high and steep mountain-wall ; higher up, 
looking in a south-easterly direction, an odd tower-shaped 
rock appeared in front of a long curtain of ice, surmounted, 
on the right, by a taU gracefully-shaped peak, and on the 
left by a serrated ridge, in which tooth succeeded tooth in 
the most formidable array. Following with the eye the 
course of the ice-stream, to the point where it made a 
pudden plunge into a branch of the valley of the Uruch, 
we looked over the great waves which marked the com- 
mencement of the fall, and saw, beyond and far below 
them, a tolerably wide valley. Its slopes were wooded 
with firs, and we could distinguish some cultivated 
land ; the northern horizon was formed by rugged peaks, 
too low to carry perpetual snow. The summit of one ©f 
them bears a striking resemblance to a castle with a taU 
turret at one of the angles. 

Our position was much the same with regard to our 
proposed pass as that of a traveller at the Montanvert 
intending to cross the Col du G6ant. We had ascer- 
tained that the great glacier marked in the map existed, 
and was in reality far larger than it was represented ; 
but we could see nothing of its upper portion, and could 
only be certain that it poured out of a gap just visible 
on the right of the great snow-peaks. These oflfered 
us a puzzle, which our united endeavours failed to 
solve, as it was impossible to identify them with any of 
the summits we had studied from the south, while we 
found it hard to believe that such lofty peaks did not 
form part of the watershed. This problem was left to 
time to solve, and we came to the conclusion that, 
though we had gained no positive information as to the 
possibility of crossing the chain by the great glacier, 

* The torrent issuing from it is called the Xaragam, a name which seems the 
most appropriate for the glacier. 



A NIGHT IN THE FOREST. 253 

yet appearances were sufficiently encouraging to justify our 
resolving to make the attempt. We accordingly set to 
work to search for a suitable spot for a bivouac. There were 
plenty of boulders strewn about, capable of affording more 
or less shelter, but there was no water; therefore we 
reluctantly decided that we must descend the steep fir-clad 
bank below us to the side of the stream flowing from the 
Gurdzieveesk Pass, which here runs in a narrow channel 
between the hillside and the huge lateral moraine of the 
Karagam glacier. We had not gone far when Fran9oi8, 
fortunately, hit upon a spring, and as there was a tolerably 
level and sheltered spot of ground not far off, we at once 
settled to remain there for the night. The first thing to 
do was to cut a quantity of young fir-branches, to serve for 
beds, and to eject sundry small boulders, which inconveni- 
ently contracted our not over-large sleeping-phtce. We 
next proceeded to unpack our provisions, to count over 
and apportion our store of bread, and to hunt out certain 
rare delicacies, which had been specially reserved for some 
such occasion as the present. Our dinner was of the 
most recherche description : a first course of sardines was 
followed by chicken, and a box of pdte de foie gras, one of 
two purchased at Tiflis, which, spread not too thickly over 
slices of Caucasian loaves, proved a ' lingering sweetness 
long drawn out ' to all of us. 

It was very difficult to realise, as we sat and chatted 
round the log -fire which Fran9ois had prepared, how far we 
really were from home, and that our resting-place was not 
some old Alpine haunt from which we should cross on the 
morrow to Zermatt or Grindelwald. In reality our posi- 
tion was sufficiently strange, unable as we were to hold any 
conversation vrith the people of the country, and separated 
from our interpreter and luggage by a long day's journey 
and a great range of mountains. Its discomforts and un- 



254 CAUCASIAN GLACIERS AND FORESTS. 

certainties were not, however, sufficient to counterbalance 
the pleasure derived from the sense of novelty and adven- 
ture, and the only real subject of anxiety which disquieted 
us was the state of Tucker's heels, both of which he had 
rubbed raw during the day's walk. Moore was fortunately 
provided with plaister, and the failure of the natural was 
supplied by an artificial coating. When daylight faded 
away we arranged our side-bags, the only luggage we 
carried, as pillows, and soon fell off to sleep. 

July Wth. — Our sheltered position, combined with the 
fineness of the weather and a good fire, which was kept 
up nearly all night, prevented our suffering from cold, 
and I have, seldom enjoyed sounder sleep than I did in 
this bivouac in .the fir-forest. We were, in fact, almost 
too comfortable, for no one stirred before daybreak, and it 
was not till half-past three that our preparations were 
concluded, and we were ready to start for the unknown 
region in which the great ice-stream flowing under our 
feet had its origin. We had previously discussed the 
question, whether it would be better to descend on to the 
glacier or to keep along its left bank, and had decided in 
favour of the latter course, notwithstanding the necessity 
it involved of partially retracing our steps, in order to 
cross the stream flowing from the Gurdzieveesk glen. 
The circuit necessary to effect this passage cost us an 
hour's most toilsome walking. The place at which we 
jumped the stream was one not to be generally recom- 
mended, as it was necessary to advance to the point of a 
smooth and slippery rock, and jump from thence on to 
the farther side. The jump itself was easy, but the ^ take- 
off ' was so bad, and the consequences of a slip into the 
rapid torrent would have been so serious, that no small 
care was necessary. After a tiresome scramble, amidst 
rhododendron bushes and over large and frequently 



THE GREAT ICEPALL. 255 

loose boulders, we were heartily glad to meet with a 
distinct though narrow path leading in the direction we 
wished to follow. Aft^r mounting for some distance, b}' 
steep zigzags, up a bank broken by crags and covered 
with underwood, we found ourselves on a sloping pas- 
turage by the side of the Karagam glacier, the fall of 
which towards the valley was here very considerable. In 
about two hours from our bivouac we had gained a pro- 
jecting brow, which had hitherto cut oflf the view of the 
upper glacier. To our surprise, we found here a small 
stone-buUt hut and enclosure, used by the shepherds 
during the summer months, but not yet inhabited. 

We now saw how the gap on the right of the great 
snowy peaks was filled, and in what manner the glacier 
descended from the upper snowfields. A second and 
previously invisible peak appeared further to the west, and 
through the deep hollow between it and the summits we 
had admired on the previous afternoon poured the main 
body of the ice-stream, in a frozen cataract of the greatest 
and (I speak for myself) most repulsive beauty. So great 
was the impression made on my mind by the tangled 
web of crevasse and s^rac, that I expressed seme hesitation 
as to the prudence of our attempting to force a passage ; 
my doubts, however, were promptly suppressed by Fran9ois, 
who gave a very decided opinion in favour of the practica- 
bility of the icefall. The shepherd's path still remained 
faithfril, and conducted us easily along the slopes above 
the glacier, which are deeply seamed by numerous water- 
courses. Before reaching the foot of the icefall, a level 
space is found between the moraine and the hillside, 
where the ground is covered with soft turf, and a little 
stream has space to dance along between grassy banks, 
and to expand itself in places into crystal pools. The 
saucy water-nymph played us a sorry practical joke, by 



256 CAUCASIAN GLACIERS AND FORESTS. 

tearing Tucker's drinking-cup out of his hand, and hurry- 
ing off with it. The cup was of no value in itself, but we 
could ill spare it at the time. Two lateral glaciers coming 
from either side join the Kara gam immediately below 
the icefall, but neither of them is of considerable size. 
The path, which had hitherto served so well, now came to 
an end, where low stone walls built under an overhanging 
boulder showed its object, and indicated the occasional 
visits of shepherds and their flocks to the grassy slopes 
which rose above the glacier on our right. We here took 
leave of vegetation and terra firma^ which we were not 
again to tread until we reached the valley of the Rion. 
In crossing the moraine we did not take the best possible 
course, and had, in consequence, to walk along the narrow 
ridge of a pile of rubbish, which formed quite a typical 
arfite, and would, if provided with proper precipices, have 
been most sensational. 

The foot of the icefall was soon reached, and the way in 
which it could best be attacked became obvious. The 
lower portion promised to be tolerably plain sailing ; but 
it was evident that, after a time, it would be necessary to 
bear to the left, on which side alone the upper maze of 
crevasses appeared at all assailable. The ice, which was 
almost level where we first entered on it, soon began to 
rise before .us, and the surface, although not as yet 
seamed by any deep chasms, became uneven and slippery. 
Having reached the beginning of the real work, where it 
was necessary to put on the rope, we took the opportunity 
of halting to eat a second breakfast, to which a rivulet, 
just unloosed by the returning warmth from its night's im- 
prisonment, contributed most usefully. A teetotaller would 
have a decided advantage over his winebibbing com- 
panions in Caucasian mountaineering ; the general impossi- 
bility of obtaining drinkable wine or spirit in any of the 



AN ICY LABYRINTH. 267 

upper valleys is a rather serious matter to men taking liard 
exercise, and accustomed to some such support. 

The real work of the day now began. At first it did not 
seem likely to prove very serious, for we found little snow- 
valleys which led past and round the towers of broken ice, 
and enabled us to turn the huge chasms which ran across the 
slope to left and right of us. Our prospects of success began, 
however, to look very questionable when these chasms 
became more continuous, and cutting in half the snowy 
dells forced us to plunge into the intricate labyrinth of 
ice-towers and crevasses, in our endeavour to force a way 
through the tortuous mazes of the feill. The difficulties 
of a broken glacier have been often and well described 
by Alpine travellers, and those which we now encountered 
presented no particular feature of novelty. They were, 
however, the most numerous and complicated of their 
kind any of us had ever battled with. Once, after 
straggling through trenches, up walls, and under towers 
of blue crystal, fair to the eye, but liable at any minute 
to topple over, and therefore to be avoided or hastily 
passed by, we came to a great chasm, which at first sight 
seemed impassable. Behind us was ' clean starvation,' for 
our stock of provisions would not hold out over another 
day. The only alternative course was to descend to the 
village of Zenaga, and try by signs to procure food there, 
at the risk of being arrested as suspicious characters, and 
sent down to give what account of ourselves we could at 
the nearest Cossack outpost. Our situation, therefore, gave 
us every inducement to persevere, if not at all hazards, at 
least as far as prudence would permit. 

A snow-bridge, which elsewhere might not have been 
approved of as fitted for public use, was, under the cir- 
cumstances, voted worth trying, and Fran9ois went ahead, 
to make such improvement in the footway >^£( the axe 

s 






258 CAUCASIAN GLACIEBS AXD FORESTS. 

could effect. This was not much, and the deficiencies 
of the frail structure were too serious to be supplied bj 
any ingenious contrivances. We had to descend a bank 
of ice, six feet high, to reach the level of the snowy crest, 
fully twenty feet in length, which, like an arch of Al Sirat, 
was flung over the icicle-fringed chasms yawning to un- 
known depths on either hand. The top of this crest was 
uneven, and about the middle of the bridge an accurately- 
measured and delicately-managed jump was requisite to 
Teach two pigeon-holes, cut by Francois for ike feet, on 
the further side of an awkward gap. Then each walked 
careftdly for several yards, like a cat along the top of an 
old and rotten wall, to the point where, instead of abutting 
against the steep snow-bank on the opposite side of the 
crevasse, the bridge broke down altogether, making a 
second and still more awkward jump necessary. The 
man in front, having made the leap and anchored himself 
in the snow-bank, turned round and grabbed tight hold 
of the arm of the next — a desirable precaution, as a little 
too much impetus m%ht have thrown the jumper backwards 
into the chasm. Steps were then cut on to a promontory 
of ice separating the big crevasse from a smaller relation, 
which was not beyond a straight-forward jump, more 
formidable in appearance than reality, as the landing-place 
was good. We were now in a position to take advantage 
of a series of connected ridges, by which we made our 
way back into one of the snow-filled depressions we had 
found usefiil earlier in the day. For half an hour good 
progress was made ; then again for half an hour we did 
little but wander up and down, seeking some exit from a 
fresh labyrinth, and almost despairing of final success. The 
s^rac scenery throughout was of the grandest description, 
and we were constantly forced to admire the beauty of our 
stubborn foes, the icicle-fringed and blue-eaved crevasses. 



THE TOP OF THE FALL. 259 

and to wonder at the curious forms and grouping of the 
frozen towers and pinnacles. 

As time went on we could see, by the diminished pro- 
portions of the ridges behind us, and the change from 
the clear crystal substance of the lower glacier to the 
half-formed ice, or rather * n^v6,' of the upper regions, 
that we were slowly, but surely, drawing near the top 
of the feU. We were rashly congratulating ourselves on 
having achieved the victory, when a fresh obstacle ap- 
peared — a great split in the surface, with an upper 
lip ten feet higher than the lower. Pran9oi8 made 
some foothold on the further side with his axe, jumped 
across, and attempted to work himself up the face of 
the perpendicular upper lip, while we watched his pro- 
ceedings with some anxiety from an insecure situation on 
the lower bank. After several vain endeavours to wriggle 
or work himself up, he gave in. It was no easy matter to 
get back again, but he managed it by a skilfril tumble ; 
then with gloomy forebodings were traced our steps, until, 
several hundred yards to the left, where the crevasse was 
lost in a big hoUow, we found a part of the wall of loose 
floury snow, up which there was no serious difficulty in 
forcing a passage. The steepest part of the icefall was 
now fairly below us, but we were still unable to see far 
ahead, as a line of broken waves of n^v^ separated 
us from the unknown land above. Though our course 
was still necessarily zigzag, and occasionally subject 
to an annoying check, the first chapter of difficulties 
was overcome. The soft state of the snow, intf> which 
we sank at every step, now seemed likely to prove a less 
exciting but scarcely less serious hindrance to our pro- 
gress. Fran9oi8 having of late had more than lus share 
of work, Moore relieved him by taking the lead, and soon 
enforced his request that we would keep the rope taut, 

8 2 



2G0 CAUCASIAN GLACIERS AND FOEESTS. 

by sinking up to his shoulders in a concealed crevasse. 
Not long after this incident, the slope before us lessened, 
and the view of the upper region, to which we had been 
anxiously looking forward for so many hours, burst upon 
us. It was now 1.30 p.m., and we had therefore spent six 
hours in fighting our way up the icefall, the height of 
which, from the rough measurements possible with our 
aneroid, we estimated at but little under 4,000 feet. The 
famous ^seracs' of the Gol du Geant are child's-play 
-when put in comparison with these Caucasian rivals, and I 
think it very possible that a party endeavouring to force 
this passage at a later period of the summer might meet 
with a signal repulse. 

Our feelings, on viewing the new scene revealed to us, 
were those of mingled admiration, astonishment, and per- 
plexity. Like Jack wheii he had climbed his beanstalk, 
we were a good deal taken aback by the strange region 
in which we found ourselves, and not a little ' puzzled 
what to do next. Before us stretched a vast reservoir 
of snow, which soon split into two bays, running respec- 
tively east and south. The eastern branch broke down 
upon the other in a grand fall of s^racs ; its head was 
surrounded by a number of magnificent rock-peaks, in- 
cluding amongst them the mass which had presented so im- 
posing an appearance from our bivouac, not at all dwarfed 
by nearer approach. The surface of the* southern bay was 
almost a dead flat, hemmed in by icy ridges, the summits 
of which scarcely attained the dignity of separate moun- 
tains. The extent of these snowfields was, to us who had 
to make our way to the other side of them, almost 
appalling ; hoW much of the effect they produced on our 
minds was owing to the exciting struggle we had gone 
through to attain them, it is of course impossible to say. 
I suppose, if the first men who saw the upper regions of 



THE WATERSHED AT LAST. ^61 

the Aletsch glacier had come upon them by the Jungfrau 
Joch, they would have been likely to exaggerate their 
effect. A similar allowance must be made for us. The 
principal cause of perplexity was our inability to recognise, 

m 

in any of the peaks now in sight, the two summits of 
Adai E!hokh, so conspicuous from the eastern branch of 
the Bion basin, and which we had hitherto confidently 
reckoned on as landmarks. Each had a different theory, 
but there was no time to stop and argue it out ; so we 
agreed, by a majority of voices, to put our trust in the 
compass, and push up the southern bay, as that direction 
must, we believed, ultimately bring us to a point overlook- 
ing the Rion valley. 

There are no incidents to relate in a three-hours' tramp 
across a soft snov^eld, but such an operation is not to be 
lightly estimated, because it occupies but a brief space in 
the narration. Each in turn took the arduous task of lead- 
ing — no slight exertion, when the leader sank at every step 
nearly up to his knees. The mountain we had seen from 
the bivouac now towered grandly in our rear, its western 
summit offering a striking resemblance to the Matterhom 
from Breuil. In front the monotonous snow-plain seemed 
more endless the further we advanced; on the left hummock 
after hummock was passed, while on the opposite side some 
projecting rocks were for long our goal. They were reached 
and left behind, and still there was no change in the same- 
ness of the view, except the more prominent appearance of 
a considerable mountain on the right, which now revealed 
itself as our old acquaintance. Tan Burdisula, under a new 
aspect. At last, about 4 p.m., we reached an almost 
imperceptible watershed, first indicated by the appearance 
of the blue ridges of the far-off Achaltzich mountains over 
the neighbouring snows. 

For some distance the fall was as slight as the rise had 



ummmmmah^ 



'262 CAUCASIAN GLACIEKS AKD FORESTS. 

been on the other side ; then the slope suddenly steepened, 
and we recognised for the first time our exact position. From 
our feet a glacier, a small portion of the outflow of the 
* shining tablelands ' we had been traversing, poured down 
into the glen, the torrent of which joins the eastern Bion 
at Glola. We were, in fact, standing on the very snows of 
which we had caught a glimpse when entering that village 
a few days before. The natural course was to find a way 
down this glacier ; but after a few hundred feet of easy 
descent, it toppled over in a tremendous icefall, apparently 
as long as, and a good deal steeper than, the one we had 
ascended with so much difficulty. Once entangled in this 
complicated labyrinth, there seemed little prospect of 
getting free of it before dark, even if the passage proved 
practicable at all. We took therefore what, although its 
adoption disgusted me at the time, was, I believe, the 
only sensible course, and deliberately returning to the Col 
mounted the slopes to the east, and crossed a snowy head 
which projected above the top of the icefall. 

There was still a moot point to be decided — ^whether we 
should endeavour to get down the mingled rocks and snow- 
slopes on the left of the icefall into the glen leading directly 
to Glola, or whether we should bear still more to the east, 
and descend into one of the branches of the wide valley 
which leads up to the base of Adai Eliokh. Whichever 
course we decided on, it was necessary first to traverse 
diagonally a series of steep slopes, overhanging ground 
above tlie glacier, which might for all practical pur- 
poses be considered as a precipice. The sur&ce was 
soft, and we had no trouble in step-cutting ; but the snow 
more than once showed a disposition to crack and slide 
downwards in masses, leaving bare a substratum of ice, 
which, to anyone versed in mountaineering craft, was 
unpleasantly suggestive. We instinctively held our axes 



THE DESCENT. . 263 

with a firmer grasp, and congratulated ourselves that 
there was no weak brother, or lumbering porter, likely to 
test the power of a slip in carrying down with a run the 
whole upper layer of snow. We were well pleased to reach 
a rib of rocks, and to clamber down them for some little 
distance ; and having by this time decided at any rate to 
examine the descent into the eastern valley, we made our 
way over some safer slopes to the crest of the ridge in that 
direction. 

The fall of the ground on the eastern side was undeni- 
ably steep, and an extremely ugly-looking * couloir,' 
opening immediately at our feet, did not offer a tempting 
exit. Francois promptly pronounced against this side of 
the ridge; I was not satisfied vrith the grounds of his 
verdict, and untying the rope scrambled down a few feet 
to gain a better view. My investigation was rewarded by 
the discovery of a second snow-gully, which ran up and 
terminated against a buttress a hundred feet below, and, 
after falling for some distance in a direction parallel to 
the ridge we were on, turned sharply at right-angles and 
was lost to sight. As far as could be seen, it offered not only 
a practicable but an easy line of descent, which I pointed 
out to Fran9ois, who suggested the possibility of the 
lower portion being precipitous. We agreed, however, 
that all the indications went to show this to be exti^emely 
unlikely, and that no more promising way out of our 
difiGiculties offered itself. 

The view before us had been, during the last hour, 
one of surpassing beauty ; while we slowly descended a 
projecting buttress, our position gave us a raking view 
of the peaks of the main chain, and we were at the 
same time at a sufficient elevation to overlook the 
whole of the southern' sub-Caucasian district. The Ead- 
scha lay at our feet, a labyrinth of green ridges and 



264 . CAUCASIAN GLACIEBS AND FORESTS. 

dark forest-clad ravines, through the oenire of which the 
Rion finds a devious waj to Kutais and the Mingrelian 
lowlands. The waters of the river flashed in the sunshine, 
and pointed out the deep cleft through which it passes 
before reaching Oni. On the one side rose the imposing 
mass of the Schoda ; on the other was a cluster of snowy 
peaks, remarkable for their elegant pyramidal outlines, 
situated to the south-east of Gurschavi, and separating 
some of the headwaters of the Ardon and the Bion. Far 
away in the west a high glacier-crowned chain arrested 
the attention ; reference to the map showed that it must be 
the Leila mountains, which form the southern boundary 
of Suanetia. The mists, which some hours earlier had 
been sufficiently numerous to cause anxiety, had now 
melted away, and left the blue sky unclouded. It was a 
perfect summer's evening, and the sloping rays of the sun, 
already sinking rapidly towards his rest, flooded and 
transfigured the wide landscape with a golden glory, which 
overcame the indifference to the charms of nature too 
often brought on by fatigue, and roused us to make 
constant appeals to one another to admire some freshly- 
discovered beauty. 

A very short scramble down the crags brought us to 
the head of the gully, where we were delayed by an 
incident we regarded only as ludicrous at the time, but 
which caused us a provoking loss. In stepping off the 
rocks on to the snow, Tucker suddenly subsided into a 
deep hole, the existence of which was concealed by a thin 
and treacherous crust. He went down at least ten feet 
below the surface, and the chasm was so narrow that 
considerable exertion was required to haul him out 
again. It was not discovered till some time afterwards 
that an excellent telescope had been wrenched off his 
shoulders in the struggle. It was an illustration of 



RETURN TO EARTH. 265 

the proverb, * Misfortunes never come single/ and we could 
only console ourselves with the obvious reflection that it 
was impossible for us to go on losing a drinking-cup and 
telescope every day. The snow in the upper part of the 
gully was rather hard ; but by keeping close to the side, 
and digging steps with our heels, we got along capitally, 
and soon reached the comer, whence we saw a straight 
unbroken trough leading down to the base of the cliffs, and 
on to a snowfield which stretched down to green pastur- 
ages. We felt, for the first time, that the fight was over, 
and the victory won, in so far that we were secure of 
sleeping below the forest level on the southern side of the 
chain, of which there had been, up to this moment, con- 
siderable doubt. We were as pleased at the prospect 
of a bivouac on the turf, in the place of a night spent 
in kicking our heels against frozen rocks, or, worse still, 
in the bosom of a crevasse, as an Alpine traveller is at 
unexpectedly discovering a good hotel where he only 
looked for a poor chfilet. We slid merrily down the 
snow-gully, in the track of a gigantic snowball which 
was now reposing at the bottom. Having observed from 
above, that by traversing the slopes to the right, we 
should, without the need of any further ascent, cross a 
low ridge dividing two hollows, and enter the one most 
likely to lead directly towards the valley, we heroically 
withstood our disposition to go straight down to the 
grass, and kept for some time at a level, at the cost of 
half-an-hour's rather tiresome walking. 

At last the head of the hollow, still covered vrith fast- 
melting snow, was reached ; here, as in many other places, 
the red colour of the surface attracted our notice. Where 
the snow no longer lay, its meltings made the turf a 
perfect playground for watercourses, through which we 
splashed on, anxious to gain the forest before nightfall. 



2«^ CAUCASIAN GLACIERS AXD FOEESTS. 

Tlie first Hign of life was a tr^Kip of horses; a little lower 
a diHtinct path api/'Jin^l, which we gladly uccej»ted as 
our f^irle until it lirouji^ht us to a brow some heij^ht 
above the stream, and then turned away down a sIoj>e to the 
left. It was already growing dusk, and we had just 
entered the highest copse of birches ; water was, of 
course, a necessary adjunct to our halting-place, and 
hesitating to leave the stream, still close at hand, we 
determined to go down through the copse and sleep at 
its foot, beside the water. The chief objection to oar 
camping-ground proved to be the absence of even a 
square foot of level soiL After treading down the long 
grass, it was necessary to break off branches and lay 
them on the lower side of the spot selected by each for 
his bed, to prevent the sleeper rolling away down the 
slope. Having lighted a fire, we ransacked our bags, laid 
together what little provision there was left, and set 
aside one roll for the morning ; the next thing was to 
divide the rest into portions; each man got a slice of 
bread about two inches square, and half the limb of a 
chicken. After this frugal supper had been disposed of, 
we covered ourselves as far as possible with our mac- 
kintoshes, and lay down to court sleep, but we had not 
long dozed off, when several big drops of rain effectually 
I'oused us. A thunder-shower had blown up, and the 
dark clouds which obscured the moon held out very un- 
pleasant threats of a ducking. Luckily, they passed off 
without any serious fall of rain, and having exchanged 
mutual grumbles, we again drew up our mackintoshes 
over our faces, and relapsed into uneasy slumbers, or reflec- 
tions on the work done and the sights seen during the 
past two days. 

The object of our double passage of the mountains had 
been to discover what lay behind the great snowy wall 



RESULTS OF THE EXPEDITION. 267 

which bounds every northward view from the Upper 
Rion, and to learn something of the breadth and character 
of this portion of the Caucasian wat/Crshed. The result of 
our expedition was satisfactory, for it enabled us to form 
a tolerably correct idea of the general character of the 
chain westwards from the Mamisson Pass to the sources 
of the Rion. Tau Burdisula may be taken as a point of 
division ; from it to the Koschtantau group, the central 
ridge is too narrow to support any vast snowfields or first- 
class glaciers, while to the east of it the chain branches into 
a network of ridges, the spaces between which are filled 
by vast n^v^-reservoirs, of which the Karagam glacier is 
only one of the outlets. No attempt to distinguish these 
ridges, or to name the numerous peaks which rise out 
of them, has been made by the authors of the Five Verst 
Map ; but the portion of the chain between Tau Burdisula 
and the Mamisson Pass, from the number and height of its 
summits and the size of its glaciers, forms undoubtedly one 
of the most remarkable mountain-groups of the Caucasus. 
July 12th, — Our quarters were not so luxurious that we 
cared to remain in them longer than necessary, and we 
rose at daybreak. Our breakfast was workhouse fare, 
stale bread and water, and very little of the former. It 
did not take long to dispose of, and we were glad to set 
out and shake oflT, by a brisk walk down to the valley, the 
chill and stifiness produced by our night's lodging and 
previous hard work. We soon lost sight of the track of 
the previous evening, and ran down the steep and, at 
first, only partially-wooded slopes in search of another. 
Before very long we lighted on a broad path, which, after 
skirting the hillside for some little distance, descended by 
a succession of steep zigzags to the stream, which, rising 
in the glaciers of Adai Khokh, joins the Glola-Squali 
between Gurschavi and Glola. When we got fairly into 



268 CAUCASIAN GLACIERS AND FORESTS. 

the forest, the variety of the foliage and the beauty of 
the wild flowers gave us a constant interest. Dwarf 
honeysuckles, campanulas, and wistarias were abundant, 
and the tiger-lilies shot up in clusters, each spike bearing 
from two to seven blossoms. Near the stream the sombre 
foliage of the pines added, by contrast, to the eflfect of the 
deciduous forest. Shortly before crossing the Glola-Squali 
to the Mamisson road, we met a party of peasants appa- 
rently going to look after their flocks, and armed, as usual, 
with daggers. 

We arrived at Glola in four hours from our bivouac, 
and going at once to the house where we had before found 
lodging, attempted, by the aid of a few Russian words and 
a great deal of pantomime, to explain our wants to the 
people. Necessity is a wonderful sharpener of the wits, and 
we all got on famously by the language of signs ; but there 
was no question as to who was the leading pantomimist of 
the company, and we thought Moore perfect in his grand 
performances of milking the cow and mimicking a hen's 
cackle, in order to procure us milk and eggs, until our friend 
surpassed himself by ^riding a cockhorse ' on an ice-axe, and 
prancing about, in order to intimate our wish for horses to 
carry us to Gebi. Pantomime, on the part of the villagers, 
explained that the horses were all on the mountain, but 
should be fetched. We waited for them so long that after 
we had finished our meal, Moore and I lost patience and 
walked ofi\, leaving Fran9ois with Tucker, whose heels, 
although they had carried him pretiy well across the pass, 
were still in a tender condition. When the horses came at 
last, the mistress of the house presented Tucker with two 
loaves, made of a better quality of flour than the common 
bread, and sent her son in charge of the animals. 

The day was fine, and the heat in the valley was great. 
.We retraced our footsteps of the previous Thursday until 



ARR'VAL AT GEBI. 209 

opposite Chiora, where, instead of fording the river, we kept 
along the path which continues to follow its right bank. 
The valley, although of considerable width, is almost 
entirely filled by the stony bed of the Rion, and the path,, 
forced to wind over the spurs of the southern range, is in 
consequence very uneven. After turning the base of a pro- 
jecting and densely-wooded ridge, about halfway between 
Chiora and Gebi, the valley ceases to be entirely devastated 
by the torrent, and the path becomes level. It is shaded by 
thickets of alders and hazel, the stems of which were girt 
round by wild hops. Before reaching Gebi, four streams, 
issuing from as many lateral glens of the Schoda chain, had 
to be crossed — a matter of some difficulty,as the popular idea 
of a bridge in the £ion valley seems to be a thin and rough 
branch laid from bank to bank, to traverse which success- 
fully requires some training in the customs of the country. 
The glimpses of luxuriant foliage and snowy peaks up these 
side-glens more than repaid us for the trouble we ex- 
perienced vTith their torrents. The last and largest, the 
Latkischora, which falls in nearly opposite Gebi, has a 
wide and stony bed, and a considerable volume of water. 
The Bion itself is crossed by a wooden bridge before 
entering the village, which stands most picturesquely on a 
steep-sided promontory on the left bank of the river, and 
just above its junction with the Tchosura, the stream 
flowing out of the valley we had looked down into from 
the slopes above Chiora. 

G^bi, unlike the other villages of the Bion valley, is pro- 
vided with towers of defence similar to those which are uni- 
versal in Suanetia. These towers are built of large unevenly- 
shaped blocks of stone, and the walls cx)ntract towards the 
top, which is covered with a sloping roof of wood or slate, 
like that often put on an unfinished church-tower at home. 
They add much to the picturesque effect of the place, which. 



270 CAUCASIAN GLACIERS AND FORESTS. 

from a distance, looks like a large feudal castle. Some 
of the houses are built in a knot, as closely as possible 
together ; others are scattered round an open space like a 
village-green. In the centre of this we observed a small 
wooden building, round which was gathered a crowd of 
idlers ; we rightly surmised that Paul had taken up his 
quarters there, and was now the centre of attraction. He 
was of course delighted to see us, having spent three 
rather melancholy days, surrounded by the inquisitive and 
troublesome villagers ; no difficulties however had arisen, 
and the lodge which had been assigned to him was far 
more comfortable than we had any right to expect. It 
consisted of two rooms and a balcony ; in the outer apart- 
ment there was a bench and a fireplace ; the inner we 
constituted our bedroom. We never entirely satisfied 
ourselves as to the use to which the building was com- 
monly put, but, as far as we could understand the explana- 
tion given through Paul by the villagers, it was designed as 
a kind of court-house, where the elders might meet, and 
any public business be transacted. 

A tall fine-looking peasant, the headman of the place, 
came formally to bid us welcome, and to assure us that all 
our wants should be supplied. A high sheepskin hat dis- 
tinguished him from the general crowd, numbering at least 
150 men and boys, who, attracted by our arrival, had 
formed a circle outside the door to watch our proceedings- 
There was even a greater variety of head-gear amongst 
the peasants of Grebi than in the bazaar of Kutais. Some 
carried the * baschlik 'with the hood over the head, and the 
point turned upwards like a fool's-cap 5 a few wore the small 
Mingrelian bonnet, almost invisible in the middle of their 
heavy shocks of hair ; the greater number had soft felt wide- 
awakes — a bell-shape was perhaps the most fashionable, but 
no two could be found exactly alike. Even the boys were 



A CURIOUS CROWD. 271 

armed with daggers, and many of the men carried their 
guns in sheepskin cases across their backs ; their clothes 
were for the most part soiled and ragged. Though not, on the 
whole, a fine-looking race, like the Ossetes, they did not 
bear in their faces any peculiai'ly vicious expression, beyond 
an air of lazy stupidity. One or two of the men wore 
Eussian medals, showing their complete and voluntary 
acknowledgment of the Government. We found, invaria- 
bly, that in proportion as the natives are brought into 
contact with their rulers, they improve in manners and 
civilisation, and that the districts which the Eussians 
have left to take care of themselves are those in which 
the old customs of petty warfare, robbery, and murder still 
prevail. 

Our dress, our accoutrements, and our luggage proved 
inexhaustible sources of amusement to the large circle of 
which we were constantly the centre. What caused the 
greatest excitement was the sight of our pocket-handker- 
chiefs, and our manner of using them. Upon «the first 
occasion of blowing our noses, a roar of admiration burst 
forth, and afterwards the slightest sign of a repetition of 
the performance sufficed to raise a murmur of excitement 
amongst the expectant crowd. 

We had always intended to halt at least a day at 
Gebi, and if possible to make it our headquarters for 
some excursions amongst the mountains round the sources 
of the Bion, where in most maps the name of Pass-Mta 
(said to be derived from Phasis-Mta?) is prmted across 
the main chain, in a way to indicate the existence of a 
noteworthy peak. Tucker and I agreed that a day's dolce 
far niente would be very pleasant, but Moore, whose 
energy was still unspent, hankered after a mountain, and 
settled, if the night was fine, to start at 2 a.m. with 
Fran9ois, and climb the Schoda (11,128 feet), the bold 



272 CAUCASIAN GLACIERS AND FORESTS. 

« 

summit of which rises above the lower ridges on the south 
of Gebi, and must, from its isolated position, command a 
perfect panorama of the main chain. Our plans for the 
morrow being thus fixed, we postponed the settlement of 
our further arrangements, and retook possession of our 
mattrass with great satisfaction. 

July ISth, — The weather changed during the night, and 
Moore was prevented from starting for his proposed expe- 
dition. In the morning it rained heavily, and our day- 
was spent chiefly in cooking a sheep we had purchased, 
and discussing the means of getting across the wild 
country at the sources of the Zenes-Squali to Jibiani, the 
highest hamlet in Suanetia, close to the glaciers of the In- 
gur. The height of this place (7,064 feet) suggested to us 
the idea of a sort of Pontresina, whence we should be 
able to make a series of excursions into the great mass 
of mountains marked on its north in the Five Verst 
Map. Elated by the successful accomplishment of the 
two glacier-passes, we planned, about this time, various 
magnificent expeditions, which weather and other hin- 
drances ultimately defeated. We were desirous of coming 
to such an arranj^ement with our porters as might enable us 
to camp for a day or two at the sources of the Eion, 
and see what excursions could be made there. It was, 
however, so difficult to make the peasants understand our 
intentions, and to prove to them that if they sat and 
smoked all day, while we climbed a hill, they were not 
entitled to the same pay as if they were carrying our 
luggage over a stiff pass, that we gave up the attempt in 
despair; and finally arranged to engage seven men as 
porters, at 1 rouble and 20 copecks a day apiece, as far as 
Jibiani, a journey which they assured us was generally made 
by hunters in three days. We enquired about a pass 
named in the Five Verst Map, and laid down as leading 



A BRIDGE IN DANGER. 273 

up the glen of the Tchosura, and over the main chain, 
into the valley of the Uruch ; it was described as very 
much of the same character as the Gurdzieveesk Pass.^' 

The heavy rain, which continued to fall all day, caused 
the Rion to rise very rapidly, and to threaten with de- 
struction the bridge below the village, the centre pile of 
which, a clumsily-constructed wooden breakwater, was 
exposed to the full force of the current. The danger of 
the whole structure roused the people from their usual 
laziness, and delivered us for a time from the constant 
crowd of lookers-on. The whole population trooped down 
to the bank, and carried stones, to fill up the interior of 
the framework which supported the centre of the bridge, 
in order to give it weight to resist the violent attacks of 
the stream. Their efforts were successful for the moment, 
and the weather clearing up late in the afternoon, the 
river gradually subsided. 

Having cooked the necessary supply of meat, purchased 
some luxuries — su:ch as sugar, and muddy grape-juice, 
here called wine — and, as we thought, concluded our 

* These two passes are laid down by Klaproth, in the map appended to his 
* Voyage au Mont Caucase/ published in 1823, and he describes at some length 
his journcT' across them in the year 1809. Starting from Mozdok, on the north 
side of the chain, he ascended the Umch yalley, and crossed the Qebi-Ga Pass, 
1x> which he givos the name of Tziti-Klong, but which is no doubt the pass of the 
Five Verst Map, above referred to. He descended the Rion valley as far as Oni, 
but was deterred from going further by the disturbed state of the country, and 
therefore retraced his steps, regaining the Uruch valley by a pass which can 
be no other than the Gurdzieveesk. In both cases the details of the actual 
passage of the chain are very meagre and unsatisfactory, but many particulars 
are given of the valleys on either side which could scarcely have been acquired 
by hearsay. The part of the story most hard to believe is that horses were 
got over both passes ; so far as the Gurdzieveesk is concerned, we should certainly 
have declared it impracticable even for the steeds of the Caucasus. 

Dubois de Montpereuz denies the truth of Klaproth's statement on the 
authority of the inhabitants of Mozdok ; but they. were little likely to know 
anything about the matter, and I do not think their opinion is of much value. 

T 



274 CAUCASIAN GLACIERS AND FORESTS. 

arrangements for porters, we announced our intention 
of setting out next morning, and dismissed our visitors. 

Jvly 14th. — The weather was still showery and un- 
settled. Our first question with the villagers was on a 
claim for higher payment for our food and lodging, which 
was at first laid at nearly double the sum we offered, 
but was very soon brought down, by firm resistance on 
our part, to a petition for an extra rouble. The next 
difficulty raised was one less easy to settle satisfactorily. 
The seven porters for whom we had agreed struck, on the 
ground that our luggage was the load of ten men. 
Anxious to smooth matters, we conceded this point, and 
allowed them to fetch three of their friends, whereon the 
whole team struck again for higher pay. This we abso- 
lutely refused, declaring that, if farther difficulties were 
made, we would ride down to Oni, and report their 
behaviour to the Commandant. The ten, finding that 
we could be as obstinate as themselves, gave in, after 
a long and irritating wrangle, and agreed to come at the 
pay previously promised. At last all the packs were 
separated, and each man's burden tied up into a form 
convenient for transport. After watching the ten defile 
before us, and seeing that nothing was left behind, we 
followed. Having crossed the bridge, all the men sat 
down, and held a protracted council with some friends 
who joined them, as to which path they should take, 
while we fumed with useless impatience. 

The ordinary path up the valley follows the left side of 
the Biion, on which there is a good deal of cultivation for 
some distance above Gebi ; but news having been brought 
in of the destruction of the upper bridge, our porters had at 
once crossed to the right bank, and were now discussing 
how they might best make their way along it. When the 
council was at last over, we were led by a narrow footpath, 



THE WESTERN RION. 275 

which mounted steeply through the forest. After climb- 
ing several hundred feet, we left it, and plunged into 
a dense underwood of azalea-bushes, now nearly out of 
blossom, through which we gradually fought our way back 
to the level of the Rion. The boulders of the river-bed 
afforded a less fatiguing path, and did not hinder our ad- 
vance so much as the tangled thickets into which we were 
often forced to enter. Torrents, emerging from lateral 
glens on the south, barred our way, and at first we 
expended much ingenuity in attempts to cross them dry- 
shod, by extemporising 'bridges with a fallen tree, or 
attempting impossible jumps. As each of us in turn 
failed and got wet, we gave up the struggle against our 
too numerous foes, and quietly waded through. After 
3^ hours of very slow and tiring progress, aggravated 
by the sight of meadows and a fair path on the opposite 
bank of the river, we came to the broken bridge, and 
joined the usual track up the valley. There was now a 
pause of some duration in our struggle with untamed 
nature. It was, however, quite impossible to make up 
for lost time by a spurt, as our train of porters absolutely 
refused to be hurried, and treated our remonstrances with 
utter, although good-humoured^ contempt. 

The scenery of this portion of the valley does not equal in 
grandeur that of the eastern branch, but the woodland 
effects are very beautiful, and quite unlike anything in the 
Alps. Dense forests of deciduous trees, amongst which the 
beech and the maple are conspicuous, clothe the lower 
mountain-sides, which conceal all view of the snowy chain. 
Pines gradually disappear, and none are found near the head 
of the valley. On a high bank on the right of the Rion, op- 
posite its junction with the Zopkhetura, a tributary which 
nearly doubles its volume, are some fields, the highest culti- 

T 2 



276 CAUCASIAN GLACIEBS AND FORESTS. 

vated land of the inhabitaiits of Gebi. Bude wooden bnts 
have been constructed by the peasants, as shelters for the 
night when they come up either to sow, or to gather in their 
crops. The valley now makes a sudden bend to the north, 
and several small streams fall into it from the surrounding 
mountains. The path becomes very uneven, winding up 
and down on the steep broken slopes on the right side of 
the river, which flovra rapidly in a broad stony channel. 
Before long the track was altogether lost, and we followed 
out the ideas of the leading porter as to the best line 
of march — ^now forcing our way through the forest, now 
scrambling over the boulders of the river-bed. Several 
strong torrents had to be waded, and the heavy rain 
which began to fall completed our wetting, and made us 
look forward vdth some dread to camping-out. 

The valley contracted almost to a gorge before it opened 
out slightly, and left space on the right bank for a meadow 
and two log-huts, which mark a summer station of the 
herds, known to the natives, according to Herr Badde, by 
the name of Sassagonelli. The huts were in a very dirty 
and dilapidated condition, and we decided at once, despite 
the wet, to pitch our tent, and leave such accommodation 
as they offered to the men. It is not a pleasant thing to 
put up even so small and easily-managed a tent as ours 
was in pouring rain. We had brought away v^ith us from 
Gebi a winebagful of the liquid called vmie in these parts, 
and we now had some of it mulled, in which form it was by 
no means nasty, notwithstanding a strong flavour of gutta- 
percha. We had taken over eight hours to reach Sassa- 
gonelli from Gebi, and it grew dusk soon after our arrival ; 
so soon therefore as we had supped, we tied up the tent- 
door, wrapped ourselves round in our rugs, and made 
things as snug as possible for the night. Our men foxmd 
at least shelter inside the hut, which some of the porters 



TllK SOURCES OF THE lUOK. 277 

4 

shared with them. As a rule, the inhabitants of this 
country care little for any fui-ther protection from the 
elements than their big sheepskin * bourcas/ which can 
be arranged so as entirely to envelope the figure, and 
may very likely have given rise to the fable that the 
Caucasians are in the habit, when on the march, of carry- 
ing vdth them small tents, and taking shelter in them 
from the rainstorms, for which these mountains are justly 
celebrated. 

July lAstk. — The morning was fair, and the clouds were 
blowing off the surrounding summits when we emerged 
from our tent. The view up the valley was closed by the 
snov^y mass of the Edenis-Mta, and a small glacier which 
descends from its flanks. The meaning of this name is 
the Mountain of Paradise, and a tradition, similar to that 
told of the ^ Grand Paradis ^ in the Graian Alps, is related 
by the inhabitants concerning it. The track we now 
followed abandoned the deep-cut channel of the Bion, and 
climbed the very steep grass slopes of the range on the 
west. Even the birch was soon left below, and we found 
ourselves, after a long ascent, on a wide sloping pasturage 
enamelled vdth alpine flowers, except in the hollows 
where the snow still lay unmelted. The roots of the Eion 
valley were now at our feet ; above them the main chain 
rose in a steep vrall of rock, over which the two glaciers in 
which the river has its source poured in narrow and 
not very imposing icefalls. To the west the view was 
limited by the ridge we had to cross, but behind us, over a 
gap in the lower hills, rose a serrated icy crest, the sum- 
mits of which, although not on a scale of grandeur com- 
parable to Adai Khokh and its neighbours, would be 
considered fine mountains aoiywhere in the Alps. 

Moore had been altogether upset by the hot brew of gutta- 
percha-flavoured grape-juice in which we had indulged on 



278 CAUCASIAN GLACIERS AND FORESTS. 

the previous night, and had great difficulty in making any 
progress ; so Tucker and I pushed on by ourselves, leaving 
Fran9ois to help our friend, and Paul to keep an eye on 
the team of porters. We walked briskly over the wide 
Alp, anxious if possible to reach the ridge (called by 
Badde the Goribolo Hohe) before the clouds had again 
shrouded the mountain-tops. In this we were unsuccessful. 
The pasturages were of great extent, and were linked to 
the chain separating the Bion and Zenes-Squali by 
a long flat-topped ridge, the ascent from which to the 
actual pass was very considerable. One of the porters had 
pointed out to us the spot we were to make for, a rocky 
eminence considerably to the right of the lowest point in 
the ridge. On reaching it we found that the mists had 
already enveloped all the western chain, and that our hopes 
of learning something of Koschtantau and its neighbours 
were disappointed. We had, however, a good view of the 
western end of the Bion basin, and of the picturesquely- 
shaped summits of the Schoda chain. At our feet on the 
west was a short glen, running down to the wooded 
ravine of the Zenes-Squali ; a spur parallel to that on 
which we stood separates the two sources of that river. 
A faintly-marked zigzag, by which the peasants of the Rion 
valley reach the upper snowfields, and pass over them 
to the pasturages round the headwaters of the Tcherek, 
on the north side of the mountains, could be traced 
climbing the steep slopes of the main chain on the west of 
the Rion sources. The pass is probably free from serious 
difficulty, as cattle are sometimes * lifted ' over it, but it 
must lead across a wide expanse of snow and ice. 

It will be seen, on any of the modem maps of the Cau- 
casian provinces, that it is at this point of the chain that 
the name Pass-Mta is printed, in characters which seem to 
indicate the position of a peak only inferior in height and 



THE PASS-MTA. 279 

importance to Elbruz and Kazbek. We could see nothing 
of the kind, and Radde, who climbed as far as the pastur- 
age, and was lucky in a clear day, asserts that the Pass- 
Mta of the inhabitants of Gebi is nothing more than a 
rocky buttress projecting from the main chain. Oar pre- 
decessor states this clearly in the following passage : — ^ One 
is very much surprised, after having looked out so long on 
the journey for the Pass-Mta, to find in it nothing impos- 
ing or out of the common. It is far inferior in height 
not only to the Edenis-Mta, but also to the Lapuri (a 
summit lying &rther to the north-west), and the flattened 
dome to which it rises scarcely attains the height of the 
snow-line. Its distinguishing characteristic is that it 
pushes forward from the main chain, here represented by 
the Lapuri and Edenis-Mta, and thus encloses the source 
of the Bion on one side, while the ridge called Goribolo 
shuts it in on the other.' 

The solution of the apparent inconsistency between the 
wide reputation of the mountain and its real insignificance 
is not, I think, difiicult to discover; to us, at least, the follow- 
ing e^lanation seems sufSicient and satisfactory. The name 
of Pass-Mta has been applied, by the people on the south 
side of the chain, to the mountain they cross in going over to 
the Tcherek. The traveller on the hills which gird the 
lowlands of Mingrelia on the south, sees, when looking at 
the opposite chain of the Caucasus, a great snowy mass mid- 
way between Kazbek and Elbruz. He does not know its 
name, and can find no one to tell him, but by the map he 
makes out that it must be somewhere near the soiurce of the 
Bion : the only mountain well known there is, he is told, 
the Pass-Mta, so, putting two and two together, he settles 
that the great wall of ice which has attracted his atten- 
tion, and which is in reality the southern face of the 
Koschtaniau group, must be the Pass-Mta of the people 



2S0 CAUCASIAN GLACIERS AND FORESTS. 

of Gebi.* This portion of the chain is the one which 
seems most completely to have puzzled geographers, and 
many books and maps &11 into the serious error of repre- 
senting the Zenes-Squali as rising entirely on the southern 
side of a spur of the main chain. They thus deceive a 
traveller, by giving the idea that only one ridge separates 
the sources of the Bion and Ingur, whereas it is in reality 
necessary to cross no less than three in going from one to 
the other. 

We had been full half an hour on the top before the 
porters came up, escorted by Paul ; Moore and Fran9ois 
were not far behind, and we all made our midday meal 
together. When it was time to think of pursuing our 
journey, we enquired what course was usually taken in 
descending to the Zenes-Squali : the porters pointed out a 
long and manifestly absurd circuit, involving a considerable 
further ascent along the ridge on our right. There was 
no difficulty in going down the steep shaly rocks and snow- 
filled gullies immediately below us, into the head of the 
valley ; but when we intimated our intention of doing so, 
the men gave us to understand that if we liked to risk our 
lives, they did not mean to peril their ovm, and that 
nothing should induce them to follow us. 

Having fixed as our meeting-point the junction of the 
stream in the glen below us with the eastern Zenes-Squali, 
we abandoned our train to the consequences of their folly, 
and set off down the rocks, which were perfectly easy to 
anyone of -mountaineering habits. A short scramble 
enabled us to get into a snow-filled trough, down which 
we slid rapidly, until the foot of the declivity was reached, 
and the gully came to an end amongst stones and uneven 

* X have been confirmed in this iheoiy, since I wrote the abbvei by seeing, in 
the Atlas to Dubois de Montpereux* * Caucase/ a profile of the Caucasian chain, in 
which the outline of Tau Totonal and the Jibiani peaks is clearly given, and the 
name Paes-Mta is applied to them. 



DENSE VEGETATION. 281 

ground, cut into deep furrows by the melting of the winter 
snows. At first the vegetation, amongst which we again 
found ourselves, took the form of stunted bushes, the 
tangled branches of which might occasionally trip us 
up, but offered no material impediment to our progress. 
As the trees grew thicker, and no trace of path appeared, 
we wete glad to take advantage of the partially dry bed of 
a torrent, which was narrow enough to permit of our 
jumping from side to side as occasion required* When it 
joined the main stream, and no space was left between 
the foaming waters and the steep bank, we were obliged 
to enter the wood. First, we forced our way through a 
dense thicket, where we had to push aside the upper 
branches with our arms, whilst we scrambled as best we 
could in and out of deep rivulet-beds, and over or under 
the trunks of partially-fallen or prostrate trees. On 
emerging into a glade, we did not find our condition much 
bettered by the change. Although at a distance, and 
when seen from above, the smooth and flowery surface had 
suggested no dij£culties, we now found that it was com- 
posed of a dense growth of umbelliferous plants, growing 
to an average height of six feet above the ground.* We 
were at first at a loss whether to admire the extraordinary 
luxuriance of the cloak which nature has spread over 'the 
soil in this mountain region, or to grumble at the toil it 
cost us to make each step in advance ; but the latter senti- 
ment soon gained the mastery. 

Moore, unwell as he was, could not maintain the exertion 

* According to Horr Radde (who is an eminent botanist), this phenomenon of 
the vegetable world is thus produced : — ' The frosts of autumn kill down the 
summer's growth, and leave it rotting on the ground ; the rich soil formed by 
its decay is covered by the winter snows, often to a depth of thirty feet. As spring 
advances, the water of the melting snow percolates the groimd, and when it is 
at last laid bare to the warm rays of a Caucasian sun, the herbs spring from 
the saturated soil, as from a hotbed.' Whatever may be the cause, it is certain 
that the 2^ne8-Squari would gain a prize for weeds anywhere. 



982 CAUCASIAN GLACIEHS A.\D >X)RKSTS. 

without repose, and we left him to follow at hia leisure in our 
trail, which once made was far too broad to be missed. 
TreiiJiiig down ruthieasly under our feet alike the dense 
masses of hemlock and the tall spikes of goi^eous tiger- 
lilies, we slowly drew near to the junction of the two glens. 
In the thickest of the wood we came upon a track which 
seemed somewhat too broad for that of a man; it led us to a 
hollow trunk, the home of a bear ; but the brown gentleman 



was out for his afternoon's stroll, and we had not the plea- 
sure of making his acquaintance, although we raliontly 
took the covers off our ice-axes, and got ready our revolyers, 
in case of a chance encounter with a cub. We were never 
lucky enough to see a bear, except in captivity, while in 
the Caucasus : indeed, we scarcely saw any wild animals, 
much to our surprise, as we hod been told that bears. 



CA.MP OX THE ZENES-SQUAH. 283 

bouquetin, and chamois abounded on the higher moun- 
tains. It must be remembered that we never went out of 
our way to look for game ; of its existence there can be 
no doubt, and this very glen is a favourite hunting-ground 
with the inhabitants of Laschketi, the highest village in 
the valley, who come here in winter on snow-shoes. They 
form a party, consisting of as many as forty or fifty hunters, 
surround a large tract of country, and drive the game to- 
gether. In this way thirty-one bouquetin were killed in 
one day in the winter of 1863  64. 

We halted where the valleys met on a large level 
meadow, of course covered with a crop of tall-stemmed, 
broad-leaved herbage, on the banks of the eastern branch 
of the Zenesr-Squali. The valley is closed by a rocky 
cirque, the centre of which is occupied by the Lapuri 
glacier, terminating abruptly on the edge of a cliff, down 
which the stream makes its way in a bold leap. After 
waiting for more than two hours without seeing or hearing 
anything of the porters, whose figures had been visible on 
the skyline long after we had reached the bottom of the 
glen, we reflected that we should be unable to push any 
further that evening, and that it would be as well to make 
*what preparations we could for our bivouac. A spring of 
clear water, which burst out of the stony channel of the 
Zenes-Squali, served to fix the position of our camp, and 
we proceeded to cut down the herbage, dig up stones 
with our ice-axes, and level the inequalities of the soil. 
We finished our work, and still no porters arrived; 
at last, after we had waited for them four hours, our 
shouts were answered, and we distinguished the train 
rambling leisurely along on the opposite bank of the river. 
We called to them to recross the stream, to do which they 
were obliged to extemporise a bridge by throwing a fallen 
log across it. No rain had fallen during the day, and our 



284 CAUCASIAN GLACIERS AND FORESTS. 

camp was consequently more enjoyable. Paul, with the 
aid of our little kitchen, prepared us a capital dinner of 
soup, cold mutton, broiled ham, and tea, which even 
Moore — who had by this time risjoined us, and recovered 
from his sickness — was able to enjoy. During the night 
we were pestered by swarms of mosquitoes, and small but 
very venomous black flies, which, despite all pur endeavours, 
found their way into the tent, and most effectually mur- 
dered sleep. 

July 15th. — The valley was filled with clouds, which 
threatened rain before the day was much older. We 
packed up our tent, and, afber the usual delays, got off 
about 7.15 A.M. At once crossing the river, we struck 
the bed of a smaU stream descending from a hoUow in 
the range on the west side of the valley. The stones in 
the channel were of no great size, and we made compara- 
tively rapid progress, ascending gradually until the woods 
on either side thinned, and we found ourselves in a recess 
surrounded by steep but not lofty ridges of a loose 
shaly rock. The deeply-indented gap, through which 
we must pass to reach the valley of the western Zenes- 
Squali, was now clearly visible in front ; the ascent to it was 
at first up an exceedingly steep grass-slope utterly path-' 
less, and for the last 150 feet by a narrow trough. How 
Herr Radde's guides can by any possibility have succeeded 
in getting horses over this pass we could never understand, 
although the feats performed by Caucasian steeds are 
truly marvellous, whether on snow or rock. 

When, in two hours from our camp, we reached the 
summit of the Noschka Pass (8,460 feet), we found that 
there was a snow-filled trough on the farther side exactly 
similar to that by which we had ascended. The view 
must at all times be limited by the higher ranges close at 
hand, and now even the summits of these were concealed 



SWAMPS AND RAIN. 285 

by clouds. The porters again pretended to think the 
direct descent too steep, but, with the results of the day 
before as an argument in our favour, we were not disposed 
to let them have their own way, and insisted on their 
taking advantage of the route nature had provided in the 
snow-gully at our feet. Having started the whole troop — 
who descended with an air of the greatest trepidation, and 
screamed with fiight when one of us above dislodged a 
small stone which fell amongst them — ^we followed our- 
selves by a rapid glissade, but, warned by previous ex- 
perience not to leave the porters, we accommodated our pace 
to theirs, which was in consequence somewhat improved. 

A long wooded slope led down to the western Zenes- 
Squali. The herbage was as rank and the woods as 
thick as on the day before, but we avoided some of 
the fatigue by allowing the whole train of twelve men 
to march before us, and taking advantage of the trail 
thus formed. We got on at a very fair pace down to 
the left bank of the stream, into which a pretty water- 
fall tumbled from the opposite hillside. The skirt of the 
Maschquar glacier, from which it takes its rise, was visible 
under the clouds at the head of the valley. The whole 
afternoon, from 12 till 6.15 p.k., was spent in forcing our 
way down the wildest valley we met with in the whole 
course of our wanderings. There was no trace of path, 
so, following the custom of the country, we clambered 
for some distance over the boulders in the channel of the 
river, and when this was impossible, forced our way 
through the virgin forest which lines its banks. Dense 
thickets, prostrate logs^ and swamps into which we sank 
deep at every step, were the leading features of the walk, 
while the same luxuriant vegetation which we had before 
encountered was everywhere remarkable. 

Heavy rain now began, and continued to fall for the rest 



286 CAUCASIAN GLACIEBS AND FORESTS. 

of the day. Our guides seemed confident in their knowledge 
of the right direction through this wilderness, and tramped 
on with praiseworthy perseverance, diverting the tedium of 
the march, sometimes by raising awild monotonous chaunt,* 
led by one man, with a refrain taken up in succession by 
his companions — sometimes by excursions in quest of 
the stalks of a huge umbelliferous plant, for which their 
appetite seemed insatiable. Each man must have cut and 
peeled for himself seyeral poimds of this juicy but tasteless 
vegetable food in the course of the day. When it became 
necessary to cross the river, the water was too deep and 
violent to be forded, but a young tree was soon felled, and 
laid across to enable us to pass. The valley, the configura- 
tion of which is most incorrectly represented in the Five 
Verst Map, now broadened out, and a cirque crowned by 
snowy peaks and some small glaciers opened on the right. 
A densely-wooded spur projected from the main chain, 
turning the course of the valley we were following more 
directly south, and separating it from the glen of the 
Scena. The scenery here is probably very striking in fine 
weather. We .passed a hunter's lair sheltered under a 
bank, and soon afberwards noticed the ruins of a tower 
rising out of the dense forest, and affording a proof that 
these solitudes have not always been so deserted as they are 
now. On our right, deep channels were cut through the 
friable soil by the glacier-streams, the passage of which 
cost us a good deal of time and trouble. We had now 
attained a height of from 500 to 800 feet above the river, 
and a bend in its course enabled us to look down to its 
junction with the' Scena, the point fixed on as the probable 
limit of our day's walk. The slopes we were traversing 

* ITcrr Kadde has been at the pains to collect and translate many of these 
songs, which seem to possess more meaning and merit than would be imagined 
by a person hearing, for the first time, the succession of gutturals and unc3uth 
exclamations of which they consist. 



A SAVAGE SCENE. 287 

were exceedingly steep, and it was an immense relief when 
our porters happily hit on a faint hunter's trail, which, 
though frequently lost, was always recovered after a slight 
delay. The channel of the river beneath us was narrowed 
into a gorge, and the opposite mountain-side was even 
steeper than that we were laboriously traversing. As we 
drew near to the angle of the mountain^ which projects 
over the confluence of the Scena and the western Zenes- 
Squali, pines mingled with the deciduous trees, and lower 
down their gigantic cones of sombre foliage clothed, from 
top to bottom, the sides of the tremendous ravine into 
which the vaUey contracted. 

The scene, which revealed itself, bit by bit, through 
the breaks in a dense veil of mist,, was one of the most 
savage of its kind imaginable, and totally unlike anything 
I had ever seen, except in some of the mountain landscapes 
of Gustave Dor6. Meantime the rain fell in merciless 
torrents, which even the thickest pine-branches could only 
partially keep out. It seemed as though we should never 
reach the entrance of the Scena valley, but at last the 
comer of the mountain was turned, and we began to de- 
scend 5 the forest grew thicker, and a few hundred feet 
above the stream, we found a group of pines so dense that 
a patch of ground beneath them was still fairly dry, and 
promised to afford our men a better resting-place than 
they could have hoped for. The first thing to do was to 
set up the tent as quickly as possible, no pleasant or easy 
task, when the ropes and strings were all in a soppy 
condition. Once inside, we tried to put on dry clothes, 
the waterproof saddlebags having gallantly withstood the 
rain, and preserved their contents from wet. Our tent 
was always small, and the sloping sides, which in fine 
weather could be stretched taut, were apt when wet to flop 
heavily against our faces whenever we attempted to sit up. 



218 CAUCASIAN' GLACIERS A.VD FOEESTS. 

in a way calculated to test the temper of eren a Mark 
Tapley, This inconTenience much hampered the pro- 
ceediD)^ of the two outsider, one of whom expressed in 
no measured terms bis disgust at the situation, and his 
wish that he was enjoying the creatore-comforts of Pati- 
gorslc. The man in the middle saw things in a more cheer- 
ful light, and the spirits of all were a little raised by the 



Oiu Cunp-On Id tbe Fomt. 

arriTal of Paul with some broiled ham and tea. The porters 
had made a roaring fire in the centre of the dry plot, and 
the glimpse of the group of picturesque peasants clustered 
round the blaze, and the dark background of pines, 
revealed te us as our tent^door was thrown open, was 



s^ 



THE GLEN OF TUB SCENA. 289 

enough to repay us for all the disagreeables of the day. 
Wrapping ourselves round in the driest folds of our rugs, 
which shared in the general humidity, we composed our- 
selves for the night, in hopes that the rainstorm of the day 
had been too heavy to last. 

July 17th. — The morning was cloudy, but not actuallj' 
wet. Our porters assured us that we should arrive early 
in the afternoon at Jibiani, and, in the still unsettled state 
of the weather, we looked forward with pleasure to the 
prospect of again sleeping under a roof. We had now to 
mount the valley of the Scena, the most western of the 
three principal sources of the Zenes-Squali. Our course 
lay at first almost due west, but after a time the valley 
bent round to the north, and we began to ascend rapidly 
"" by the side of the stream, which foams at the bottom of a 
deep and narrow cleft. For the first half-hour we were in 
the forest, which was composed of noble pines, though the 
trees were not equal in size to those on the farther side 
of the river. A narrow path, always ill-defined and in 
places scarcely traceable, led across meadows of the 
rankest herbage, gay with subalpiue flowers, lilies, lupins, 
and vetches, which showered down heavy drops on us as we 
passed. The ruins of a village, or some huts, could be 
distinguished amongst the trees on the opposite side of 
the valley. To our surprise the path grew more distinct 
the further we went, and gradually assumed the character 
of a sledge-track. It led through thickets of underwood, 
and over much marshy ground, the source of numerous 
springs, which hurry to reinforce the torrent, here leaping 
noisily over the granite boulders it has brought down with 
it fix)m the central chain. 

When we reached the level ground at the actual head of 
the valley, we found that the bridge over the Scena, which 
the peasant who acted as guide assured us had existed when 

u 



290 CAUCASIAN GLACIERS AND FORESTS. 

he last maxie this journey, was now no more, and that we 
must make the best of our wfiy through the water. The 
stream proved fordable, but the streng-th and speed of the 
current were so considerable, that some care was needful 
to avoid missing one's footing {imongst the boulders. The 
scenery at the source of the Scena must be very imposing in 
clear weather. The usual clouds cut off all view of the sum- 
mits, but did not conceal the twin icefalls of the Koriildii 
glacier, which, unlike the other glaciers of the Zenes-Squali, 
survives its fall, and re-makes itself at the bottom of the 
glen. It is surrounded by abrupt snow-streaked cliffe of 
great height. The track, now broad and distinct, turned 
sharply up the steep western hillside, and raised us to the 
verge of a wide upland pasturage, surrounded by compara- 
tively low ridges. The slopes were bare of trees, but 
covered with rhododendron-bushes, and with a beautiful 
herbage, short in comparison to that found lower down in 
the valley, but capable of feeding immense herds of cows 
and goats. It was the sort of scene which in the Alps 
would have been enlivened by numerous chSlets, but here 
there was nothing of the sort, and Pran9ois, who longed 
to tmnsport the whole hiUside within reach of Chamonix, 
was loud in his lamentations over the shortcomings of a 
population who could allow such natural riches to run to 
waste. 

The stream which waters these pasturages bears the 
name of Lastilagel. It has three sources, and there 
is more than one way of crossing from its basin to the 
headwaters of the Ingur. We descended somewhat, in 
order to cross the main stream, which flows in a deeply- 
cut channel, and having made our midday halt on its 
banks, climbed a long and steep zigzag, firom the top of 
which the path bore away at a level, on the left of 
the most southern source of the Lastilagel. The snow 



THE NAKSAGAR PASS. 291 

had apparently melted very recently, and the ground 
wa-s saturated with moisture. The stream we had followed 
is nourished by the springs of an upper level of pasturages, 
rising to a broad saddle which forms the Naksagar Pass 
(8,818 feet) — the watershed between the Ingur and the 
Zenes-Squali. The pass itself is so broad and flat at the top, 
that it is difficult to tell the exact moment when the summit 
is reached. Boimd grass-covered hills shut in the view on all 
sides ; the sledge-track goes downhill, at first very gently, 
afterwards more rapidly, but there is no point where the 
descent can be called steep. The stream, which rises on the 
west side of the pass, and joins the Ingur at Jibiani, is 
called the Quirischi. The path, becoming broader and 
more beaten as it draws nearer the village, clings to the 
BlopeB OB the right bank of the torrent, which is joined bj 
another flowing tlm)ugh a short glen froxa the steep and 
jagged flanks of the Ugua. 

Signs of an inhabited coimtry now followed one another 
in rapid succession. Large herds of heifers were feeding 
on the slopes, the projecting knolls were crowned with 
stonemen,_and we passed presently a hut near which was 
a cluster of women and boys, wilder and more unkempt- 
looking specimens than any we had yet seen. A tall tower, 
a portion of a now ruined castle (said to have been built 
by Queen Thamara), appeared perched on a commanding 
knoll on fh.e left bank of the stream, and gave us the first 
warning of our approach to Jibiani. Our Gtebi porters, 
instead of seeming anxious to finish their job, took every 
possible occasion to loiter on the road, and we vainly endea- 
voured to incite the slow unwilling train to a final spurt. 
Our entrance to Jibiani, and the commencement of our 
Suanetian experiences, will be best placed at the beginning 
of a new chapter.r 



u 2 



292 SUANETIA. 



CHAPTEE X. 

SUANETIA. 

* Free Suane.tia, Past and Present — Herr Radde's Experiences — ^Physical 

• Features — Fortified Villages— Jibiani^Pious Savages — A Surprise — 
, Glaciers of the Ingur — ^Petty Theft — Threats of Robbery — ^ Alarms and Ex- 

. cursions — A Stormy Parting — ^The Horseman's Home — ^The Ruined Tower 
-^A Glorious Icefall — Adisch — Sylvan Scenery-^The Mushalaliz — Suni — 
Tips and Downs — ^Midday Halt — ^Latal — ^A Suanetian Farmhouse — ^Murder 
no Crime — ^Tau Totonal — A Sensation Scene — The Caucasian Matter- 
horn — ^Pari at last — Hospitable Cossacks. 

SuANETiA is the geneitil name bestowed by geographers on 
the upper valley of the Ingur, and is derived from the in- 
'habitants, who from very ancient times have been called 
the Suani, or Suanetians. This people is not, however, 
entirely confined to the valley of the Ingur, as many of 
the higher villages on the Zenes-Squali are occupied by 
the same race. Their inhabitants are now distinguished 
from their neighbours round the sources of the Ingur, as 
the Dadian's Suanetians, from having been subject to a 
native prince who bore the title of Dadian. His authority, 
or that of other members of the same family, extends over 
the western portion of the Ingur basin ; but the groups of 
hamlets, which cluster thickly in the network of glens 
containing the sources of the stream, are at the present 
time independent, and are known as Free Suanetia. 

Since Itussia has succeeded in converting her long nomi- 
nal suzerainty over the Caucasus into real dominion, the 
native princes have naturally been treated by her simply 
as landed proprietors with certain manorial rights. Con- 



SUANETIAN HISTORY. 293 

stantin Dadisch-Kilian, the Suanetian prince, resident at 
Pari, was about eight years ago suspected of some intrigue, 
and was in consequence summoned, by the Governor of 
Mingrelia, to meet him at Kutais. He obeyed the sum- 
mons, and was told that he must leave his home and live for 
the future in Eussia. High words ensued ; the Russian 
officer was firm, the Prince grew violent, and finally, draw- 
ing his dagger, stabbed and killed the Grovemor. He 
escaped for the moment, but was ultimately taken and shot 
at Kutais. His former residence. Pari, was selected as the 
Bussian military post in Suanetia, and for a short time the 
whole district was kept under control by a considerable 
force. The expense and difficulty experienced in carrying 
out the improfitable task of preserving order in this moun- 
tain fastness appear to have disgusted the Government, 
which probably thought that if the free Suanetians were 
left to fight out their quarrels, the race would, like Kil- 
kenny cats, soon be self-exterminated. Whatever the 
motive, the troops were withdrawn, and ten Oossacks, 
stationed at Pari, are the entire executive force at the 
disposal of the chief of the district, and the upper or 
western valleys are, for all practical purposes, independent, 
and at full liberty to follow their own wicked ways of theft 
and murder, to their hearts' content. 

This is, I believe, a correct description of the present 
state of the country. Its past history is obscure and com- 
plicated, and I cannot pretend to have made any very deep 
researches concerning it. Suanetia seems usually to have 
been united with Mingrelia, but at times to have been 
treated as a province of the Imeritian kingdom. The interr 
nal disorder to which Imeritia was the prey, and the 
weakness of its rulers, aided the Suanetians in establishing 
their independence. 

At the end of the fom'teenth century, they made a sue- 



29* SUANETU- 

cessful foray into the Eadscha, and burned Kutais ; worsted 
in the field, they were again compelled to submit to 
Imeritia, and a prince was imposed on them, whose usual 
residence was on the Zenes-Squali. During the fifteenth 
century, we again find the Suanetians at war with their 
southern neighbours. After ten years' hard fighting, they 
were forced to surrender the Upper Bion district, as the 
penalty for the murder of an Imeritian prince. Traces of 
their former connection with Suanetia may still be re- 
cognised in the style of building and the towers of Chiora 
and Gebi, and their inhabitants are still looked upon by 
the population of the Sadscha as a foreign race. By 
degrees the people about the Ingur sources established 
their independence, but members of the princely family, 
Iniown by the title of Dadisch-Eolian, were, at the time of 
the establishment of the Russian dominion^ still regarded 
as the feudal chiefs of the lower villages on the Ingur, 
and, as such, took the oath of allegiance to the Czar. 

Ethnologists seem to have come to the conclusion that the 
Suanetians are a branch of the Georgian family, and a study 
of their language has convinced Herr Eadde that it has 
much in common with the Imeritian and Mingrelian dia- 
lects. When it is remembered that in the eleven, upper 
communities on the Ingur, after the successful assertion of 
their independence, a fugitive from the lower country could 
obtain not only immunity from punishment for past offences, 
but also personal liberty, and freedom from princely exac- 
tions, it will not be thought wonderful that the population 
of this district at the present day bears marks of a mixed 
origin. 

Thus much for the history of Suanetia. As to the character 
of the people, I shall quote Herr Eadde, the latest traveller 
in this country, and the only one, 1 believe, who, aided by 
all the facilities the Bussian authorities could give him. 



HERE RADDE'S EXPERIENCES. 295 

and by his knowledge of the native dialects, has set him- 
self seriously to work to study the customs and manners of 
this sequestered mountain-tribe. This gentleman arrived 
at Jibiani in company with a native priest, who served as 
his introducer to the villagers. He found them engaged 
in hostilities vrith the neighbouring hamlet of Murkmur, 
and men wounded in. the skirmishes, which were of con- 
stant occurrence, were brought in from time to time during 
his stay. The Herr was here robbed of a horse, which was 
only recovered after much trouble. To avoid the scene of 
battle, instead of descending the valley, he made his way 
across the mountains, and slept in the open air, in order 
to pass through the village of Adisch by night, on account 
of the ill-name borne by its inhabitants. At Pari, the former 
residence of the native princes, and present post of Eussian 
Cossacks, he stayed for some days, collecting information 
as to the language, ballads, and customs of the country. 
The result of his experiences and researches he sums up 
in the following words : — * Amongst the Suanetians intelli- 
gent faces are seldom found. In their countenances 
insolence and rudeness are prominent, and hoary-headed 
obstinacy is often united to the stupidity of savage animal 
life. Amongst these people, individuals are frequently 
met with who have committed ten or more murders, which 
their standard of morality not only permits, but in many 
cases commands. They are of a taciturn disposition, and 
their manner when endeavouring to impose upon strangera 
is most disagreeable.' 

I may add to this the opinion of Malte Brun, who says 
of the Suanetians : — * Nothing can equal their want of 
cleanliness, their rapacity, and their skill in making 
weapons. We may consider the Pthirophagi, or eaters of 
vermin, who according to Strabo inhabited this country, 
as the progenitors of the Suanes.' No character can be 



*■ • ' »•. 



296 SUANKtiA. 

more accurate, only that at the present day the relations 
of the vermin and the population have been reversed. 

The nature of the country has no doubt had a great 
share in forming the savage and wild character of its 
inhabitants. A large basin, forty miles long by about 
fifteen broad, is shut in on all sides by glacier-crowned 
ridges, and the only access to it from the outer world is by 
means of a narrow, and at times impassable, ravine, or over 
lofby mountain-passes. The main chain of the Caucasus 
forms its boundary on the north, and this reaches its 
greatest elevation and true central point in the huge 
glacier-seamed, peak-surmounted wall which towers over 
the sources of the Ingur. Tau Totonal (or Tetnuld) must 
be over 16,000 feet, and the summits of the serrated range, 
which stretches from it to the east for several miles, do 
not average less than 15,000 feet in height. Three glaciers, 
the Nuamquam, the Goroscho, and the Adisch, pour down 
from this wall into three separate glens. They descend 
to a level of about 7,000 feet, which may be taken as the 
lowest point reached by glaciers on the southern side of 
the Caucasus. The chain between Tau Totonal and TJschba 
(called also Besotch-Mta by Badde) makes a semicircular 
sweep to the north, and at least two considerable glaciers, 
the G^tun Tau and the Thuber, descend from it into the 
Mushalaliz branch of the main valley. TJschba itself is a 
gigantic promontory, standing out between the glens of two 
of the northern tributaries of the Ingur; like so many others 
of the great peaks, it does not seem to be on the water- 
shed, but it is the only one I know that is on the southern 
side. 

A long lateral ridge, forming the western boundary of 
the Nakra vaUey, through which one of the best-known 
passes leads to the northern side of the mountains, runs 
out at right-angles to the central chain, and forms the 



NATURAL FEATURES. 297 

limit of Suanetia on the west. Its spurs are separated 
from those of the Leila mountains, which intervene on the 
south between Suanetia and the lower country, only by 
the deeply-cut and densely-wooded gorge through which 
the Ingur makes its escape. The Leila chain is of con- 
siderable height; several of its peaks exceed 12,000 feet, 
and the glaciers on its northern flanks are by no means 
despicable. Its formidable barrier runs in an unbroken 
line along the south bank of the Ingur, and is con- 
nected at the source of that river with the main ridge 
of the Caucasus, by a grass-covered range (crossed 
by us in passing from the Zenes-Squali to Jibiani), 
which thus completes the circle of mountain barriers 
with which nature has fortified this region. The topo- 
graphy of the interior of the Tipper Ingur basin is 
exceedingly complicated, and can only be understood by 
carefiil study of a map. The stream of the Ingur flows 
generally along the foot of the Leila range ; the country to 
the north, between it and the main chain, is divided by 
spurs, none of which attain the snow-level, into rayines 
and meadow-basins, through which flow tributary streams 
coming from the glaciers above. These are of a greater 
size, and descend lower into the valleys, than anywhere 
else on the southern side of the Caucasus. 

The foregoing description vdll have prepared my readers 
for the character of the people whom we are about to 
encounter, and, if read vrith a map, may assist those who 
care to follow our wanderings through the intricacies of 
the Ingur sources. We had not had time to study 
attentively Herr Eadde's volume before leaving Tiflis, and 
had no reason to anticipate a worse reception or greater 
difficulties than we had previously met with; so that, 
wearied out with the dawdling ways' and monotonous 
chants of our Gebi men, we had looked fonvard with 



•293 SUANETIA. 

some pleasure to dismissing them, and making a fi'esli 
start. We hoped to spend several days at Jibiani, and to 
make it our headquarters for the exploration of the 
surrounding mountains. The Five Verst Map showed us 
that behind the watershed of the main chain, situated on a 
northern spur, stood two great peaks, Koschtantau and 
Dychtau, respectively 17,096 and 16,926 feet in height — 
both therefore higher than Kazbek ; and our object was 
to gain the watershed, at some point whence we might 
enjoy a view of these giants, and of the glaciers surround- 
ing them. It was therefore with feelings of pleasiu*e, 
unmixed with any apprehension, that we hailed our first 
glimpse of Jibiani, Tschubiani, and Mnrkmur, a community 
known collectively by the name of Uschkul. 

Most of the villages in Suanetia are in clusters of two to 
four, and go by a collective name, distinct fix)m the indivi- 
dual appellation of each knot of houses. Adisch is, I think, 
a solitary exception to this rule. Jibiani and Tschubiani 
are built on the projecting brow above the junction of the 
Quirischi with the infant Ingur, which has here run but afew 
miles from its cradle in the glaciers of Schkari and Nuam- 
quam, at the base of the great chain. Murkmur is a little 
lower down, and on the opposite or right bank of the 
united torrents. The appearance presented by these 
hamlets was most strange and picturesque. The meadows 
at our feet were dotted by an array of stone-built towers, 
irregularly grouped — some of them white, but the majority 
of various shades of dinginess. In the three villages, 
all of which were in sight at the same time, there 
cannot have been less than sixty towers. The only com- 
parison which win give an idea of the appearance from 
a distance of these fortified Suanetian villages (for they 
are all alike), is to picture a group of square-sided armless 
-windmills, closely crowded together, and surrounded by 



JIBIANI. 299 

low stone-built bams with sloping roofs. The situation 
of Jibiani is not striking, when the peaks of the Nuam- 
quam are veiled in clouds. The slopes above the village 
are rounded and bare, or only partially clothed with low 
brushwood, and the traveller fancies himself carried back 
to the valley of the Ardon or Terek. 

Our porters volunteered to introduce us to the inhabi- 
ta^te,andtoaidu8mobtamiiig8omekmdoflodging. On 
first entering the place we did not find many of the house- 
owners at home. The first bam that was offered us 
we declined, on account of its gloomy and dirty appearance; 
a second was then shown, which was a shade cleaner, 
although scarcely less gloomy, owing to the extraordinary 
smallness of the loopholes which served as windows. It had, 
however, the advantage of a smooth plot of grass outside the 
door, where we could sit in the sunshine, when there was 
any. Our parting with the Gebi porters was of a very 
friendly character. They were in a hurry to start on their 
return, so we paid them at once, giving each man a trifle 
over the contract price, which, after the numerous dif- 
ferences we had had. on the road, was more than they 
expected. Though lazy and stupid, they were free from 
more active vices, and were, in fact, far more of fools 
than knaves. Having purchased some provision for their 
return march, of the high price of which they loudly 
complained, the ten set off the same evening, unwilling 
apparently to trust themselves a minute longer than they 
.could help to the friendly disposition of the Jibiani 
populace. 

A crowd of villagers had by this time collected on the 
green outside our quarters, and formed a circle round 
us. We were struck at once with the wholly savage 
aspect of the assemblage, especially of the children, 
who pressed to the front to stare at us. The men, and 



300 8UANETIA. 

even boys, were all anned with daggers j many also had 
pistols attached to their belts, or guns, in sheepskin covers 
slung across their shoulders. Their clothes were far 
shabbier and more tattered thaji those of the peaaants of 
the Bion valley ; the ordinary Caucafiian type of costume 
was still distinguishable, but the coats were often sleeve- 
less, and the headpiece waa nothing more than a bit of 
rag tied into the form of a turban. Some of the men wore 
sheepskin caps turned inside out, a peculiar arrangement. 



which at the same time shaded their eyes, and added to 
the uncouth ferocity of their appearance. The women 
were uniformly ugly, and their dress presented no peculiar 
character to attract attention ; it was simply a shapeless 
bundle of rags. The children were wild-looking raga- 
muffins, with matted locks, and ran about half-naked, clad 
in one tattered garment of old cloth or sacking ; some of 



PIOUS SAVAGES. 801 

the girls had the most savage faces, more like bnite 
animals than human beings. 

We told Paul he must set to work to get us some dinner, 
and for this purpose it was necessary to purchase food of the 
villagers, as we had eaten up the sheep killed at Gebi. 
We were dismayed at being refused milk or cheese — 
butter is unknown in this part of the country — on the 
very unexpected ground of its being a fast-day of the 
Church. Jibiani was scarcely the place where one would 
have looked to find the outward forms of religion scrupulous- 
ly observed, and the rule of fasting seemed to be peculiar, as 
we were allowed to purchase fowls and eggs. There was 
no fireplace or chimney in our bam, so, to avoid filling the 
place with smoke, Paul endeavoured to do his cooking in 
an open shed close by. Each little purchase, such as eggs 
and firewood, had to be paid for separately, and at once ; no 
change could be obtained, and although we were, fortu- 
nately, fairly supplied with small ten and twenty-copeck 
pieces, it was ofben difficult to make up the exact sums 
called for. As a rule, in the Central Causasus, all the 
natives, though preferring silver, will take the Bussian 
paper-money, only the notes must be new; if in the 
slightest degree torn, they are, in nine cases out of ten, 
absolutely refused. 

Paul was much hampered in his movements by the crowd ^ 
of stupidly curious men and inquisitive children, and we 
agreed that in future cooking must be done inside the 
barn, even at the expense of a little discomfort from 
smoke. The furniture of our quarters consisted of a long 
wooden bench, and a layer of hay in one comer, the thick- 
ness of which was, at our request, doubled by a fresh im- 
portation. There was no bolt to our door, and as long 
as daylight lasted we were more or less troubled by visi- 
tors, who dawdled in and out, and stood by the half-hour. 



902 SUAyETIA. 

gazing at our proceedings with an air of absolute stupidity 
which was provoking to witness. When we got rid of 
them for the night, we drew the bench across the door, 
piled our baggage in the comer close to us, and with our 
revolvers under our heads dropped off to sleep. 

July 18th. — Pran9oi8, who was the first to go out in the 
morning, came back with the intelligence that there was 
' quelque chose a voir.' On our following him out of the 
bam, and looking towards the head of the valley, where 
on the previous afternoon nothing but clouds had been 
visible, our eyes were greeted by an enormously high 
mass of rock seamed with snow and ice. Over break- 
fast we held a consultation as to our arrangements, 
and agreed that, at all events, the day must be spent at 
Jibiani, and that we might walk up towards the sources 
of the Ingur, and gain a view of the glaciers from which 
it rises, while Paul and Pran9ois were employed in clean- 
ing and mending the parts of our equipment which had 
been injured in our journey from Gebi, and in bargaining 
for and cooking a sheep. On a knoll above the village 
stands the church of Jibiani, which, like all those in 
Suanetia, is a low square building without tower or belfry. 
Badde met with some opposition when he proposed to 
enter it, and we did not attempt to do so. According to 
him, the interior contains a collection of the horns of 
chamois and bouquetin, two crosses on either side of the 
altar, and some remains of rude frescoes on the walls. 

The path, after mounting for some little distance on the 
left bank of the stream, crossed it by a bridge, from which 
there was a picturesque view down the cleft through which 
the water finds a channel. On the way we passed herds of 
cattle, all bullocks, and families of lean pigs, wandering 
about the hillside. The head of the valley is occupied 
by a wide bare pasturage, above which the central chain 



THE GLACIERS OF THE INCUR. 303 

rises in a gigantic wall, supporting two glaciers, the 
Sclikari and the Nuamquam. An hour's walk above the 
village was sufficient to give us a perfect view of this great 
mountain ' cirque.' The prospect from a scenic point of 
view was superb, but offered very little encouragement to 
a sober-minded mountaineer. Opposite us the range was 
crowned by a massive rock-peak, and the lines of icefall 
and prepicice on both sides of it seemed equally inacces- 
sible. If anyone ever gets over to the north side of the 
chain from this point, it will be by a route as unpromising 
at first sight as, and probably more difiiciilt in the passage 
than, the face of Monte Bosa above Macugnaga ; indeed, 
the Italian side of Monte Bosa is the only mountain-wall 
in the Alps on a scale to vie with this part of the Cau- 
casian chain. Finding the clouds were already covering 
the summits, and that we should gain nothing by pushing 
our researches further, we lay down on the turf for some 
time, and gave oiu^elves up to the enjoyment of the 
double luxury of fine scenery, and freedom from persecution 
by inquisitive natives. 

The reflection that we had all our arrangements to 
make for our journey to Pari, at the further end of the 
valley, and that our men had better not be left alone 
with the villagers longer than necessary, somewhat 
hastened our return. We found Francois, as usual on a 
rest-day, immersed in the cares of the laundry ; Paul was 
in a state of just irritation at the proceedings of the people, 
but had made considerable advances towards an arrange- 
ment which seemed likely to render our further journey 
easy. A man had come to him, and offered to provide, by 
the next morning, two horses to carry our luggage. This 
worthy's name sounded like Islam, and he recommended 
himself as the inhabitant of a lower and less barbarous 
village, as having been for some time in the service of a 



304 SUANETIA. 

native prince, and as being now in receipt of a pension 
for services rendered to the Russian Government. We 
were only too glad to secure his assistance, and willingly 
ratified the bargain entered into by Paul. 

During our absence, the tent, our mattrass, and other 
articles, which were still damp after the rainstorms of the 
Zenes-Squali, had been put out to dry in the sunshine. 
The villagers took advantage of the numerous objects 
which divided the attention of our men to commit sundry 
petty thefbs : some English string, a couple of spoons, 
a stray volume of Tennyson, and a tent-pole, made up the 
list of our losses; the latter was the most important, 
as, from its peculiar construction, it would have been im- 
possible to replace it. 

During the afternoon, the behaviour of the crowd on 
the grassplot round our barn became more and more 
unpleasant; familiarity was evidently producing its pro- 
verbial result, and we began to wonder what would be 
the upshot, and whether the success of petty theft 
would encourage attempts at open robbery. For some 
time we were amused in watching the athletic sports 
of the juvenile portion of the population, who were en- 
joying themselves on a piece of level ground on the 
opposite side of the sunken lane which led up to our bam. 
The popular game seemed to be for one boy to seize 
another's head-gear, and retain possession of it, by flight 
or struggles, as long as possible. Girls as well as boys 
took part in the amusement, which was of a very violent 
and noisy description, and was at times enlivened by a 
general scrimmage, which reminded me of a * rouge ' in 
an Eton football match. Unfortunately, the game was too 
exhausting to be long continued, and when the players 
joined the group, already sufficiently rude and troublesome, 
which surrounded us, we found it necessary to carry in all 



ALARMS AND EXCURSIONS. 305 

our possessions, and to retire ourselves into the shelter of our 
barn, unless we wished to incur further loss, and to submit 
to a close overhauling of our own persons, and such things 
as we carried about them. When the populace understood 
that there was nothing more to be seen outside, they came 
to the natural conclusion that they had better follow us 
in, and we soon found ourselves sitting in a knot in front 
of our possessions, and closely pressed upon by a growing 
crowd — some of the people simply sucking their thumbs 
and staring in stupid astonishment, while others, more 
lively, pointed in our faces the finger of covetousness, or of 
scorn, as the case might ba. These persecutions grew too 
troublesome to be borne without a protest, so, wanting to 
eat our supper, we called the owner of the bam, and told 
him that we desired to be left alone, and that the crowd 
must and should turn out. Finding that we might repeat 
this sentiment as often as we liked without result, we 
took active measures, walked the people out before us, 
and shut the doors. After some talking and jeering 
outside they were violently kicked open. We again shut 
them, but, expecting the offence would be repeated, I 
waited close by, and sallying out unexpectedly, caught 
a boy in the act ; the culprit was summarily collared and 
shaken, whereupon he made feeble demonstrations with 
his pistol, but took care for the future to keep in the 
background. Two or three men, from time to time, took 
opportunities of intruding themselves, but at last, having 
ordered the horseman to be ready for an early start, we 
succeeded in shutting ourselves up for the night. Before 
doing so, however, Moore went outside, fired off the five 
barrels of his revolver in rapid succession, and then 
ostentatiously reloaded it — a demonstration which produced 
for the time all its intended effect, for, although sounds of 



S06 SUANETIA. 

talking and wrangling were audible, we were free from 
further annoyance. 

July 19th. — ^After the turn things had taken on tlie 
previous evening, we made up our minds that we could 
scarcely expect to get away without a dispute, and we held 
ourselves in readiness for what might occur. We were 
up early, and found, to our disgust, that it was raining 
heavily. Presently the horseman appeared, and announced 
that he could not get a second horse, and that we must 
hire porters to carry part of our baggage. Unwilling to 
place our power of effecting a start at the mercy of Jibiani 
men, as we must have done had we consented to this pro- 
position, we determined to carry the extra saddlebags on 
our own shoulders. It was now suggested that we might 
get back the tent-pole by a small payment ; the old story 
of the London dog-stealer was reproduced, and we were 
asked to believe that it had been found by a native of the 
next hamlet, Tschubiani, who would be happy to restore 
it, for a consideration. We consented to place the sum 
demanded in the hands of the horseman, the only one of 
the crowd over whom we had any hold, and, after some 
parley and delay, the missing stick was returned. Mean- 
while we were assailed on all sides by clamours for money : 
one man wanted a ridiculous sum for some loaves he had 
brought us, another asked their weight in Russian paper 
for his eggs, a third had a large bill for firewood, and the 
master of the bam required an extortionate price for our 
lodging. Some of these demands we resisted, others we 
partly conceded — at the same time finishing as quickly as 
possible the packing of our saddlebags, and taking care 
to keep them under our eyes. 

The conduct of our horseman caused us much uneasiness, 
as he refused to put our luggage on the horse, pretending 
that the villagers would not allow him to do so until we 



A STORMY PARTING. 307 

had yielded to their claims. At last, chiefly by our own 
exertions, the horse was loaded, and then, having paid 
everyone who had any fair claim, we agreed to make a 
decided effort to start. One of us was to lead the horse, 
for it was evident its master could not be relied on ; the 
others were to carry saddlebags, and keep together as 
much as possible. Lifting our luggage on our shoulders, 
we prepared to leave the bam in a body, but our two men 
foolishly loitered, to make sure that nothing was left 
behind. The natives took advantage of the blunder, and 
immediately shut them in : looking round, we saw the 
state of the case, and ran a tilt, with our ice-axes, at the 
wooden doors, which were rudely constructed, divided in 
the middle, and opened inwards; the blow sent them 
flying back at once. Fran9ois, who was close by inside, 
endeavoured to come out, when a peasant put himself in 
the way ; but I suddenly brought the cold barrel of my 
revolver into contact with the scoundrel's cheek, on which 
he retreated hastily. Fran9ois escaped, and Paul was 
allowed to follow him. Once more united, and forming a 
kind of square, with the horse in the centre, our saddlebags 
on our shoulders, and our revolvers in our hands, we des- 
cended into the hollow lane which, led out of the village. 
Some of the inhabitants, yelling and jabbering, jumped 
down in front to bar the way ; others brandished swords, 
daggers, and pistols on either wall ; a few ran off, making 
signs that they would fetch their guns; while the women, 
screaming and endeavouring to restrain the fiiry of their 
relations, added by their wild cries and gestures to the con- 
fusion of the scene. 

Whether their interference was due to any kindly feeling 
towards us, or to a fear lest our revolvers should make 
victims of their friends, we never knew. The crisis was 
really serious, and a peaceful solution seemed abnost 

X a 



308 SUAKETIA. 

hopeless, when a trifling demand, screamed out by a man 
on the right-hand wall, suggested to us an imitation of 
our predecessor Jason's policy in the same country. We 
scattered our dragon's-teeth, in the shape of two or three 
small copect-pieces, among the group, and our foes began to 
scramble and squabble ; their attention being for a moment 
diverted, we pushed on as rapidly as possible, and before 
they had recovered their surprise at our sudden move, 
were clear of the village. A portion of the crowd came 
in pursuit, but two of us faced round in the narrow path, 
and brought them to a halt until the horse had gained a 
slight start, when we followed it. We passed hurriedly 
through Tschubiani, where most of the inhabitants seemed 
to be out, or amongst the Jibiani crowd. The owner of 
the horse had rendered us no assistance, and was now 
loitering somewhere out of sight ; the villagers, who fol- 
lowed us, motioned us to halt, but we kept straight on, 
and having crossed the bridge, passed underneath the 
houses of Murkmer, and along the bank of the stream. 
We were row in open country, and might consider our- 
selves fairly out of the clutches of the men of Jibiani. 
Paul told us, that when he was released from the bam, the 
villagers said to him, * If it was not for those wonderful 
pistols of yours, we would have tied you all up, and taken 
everything you had,' and there is no doubt that our 
revolvers alone saved us from open robbery. The know- 
ledge that you have fifteen barrels at your disposal has 
a moral effect even on the most barbarous race. The 
difficulty lies in enforcing the impression while keeping 
clear of actual fighting. Had a shot been fired, we must 
inevitably have lost our luggage, and, considering the odds 
against us, might have had great difiiculty in effecting our 

own escape. 

The horseman now came up, of course professing entire 



h« « -^ ^»^m . AJk«- 



THE HORSEMANS HOME. 309 

ignorance and innocence as to the whole proceedings. 
With him were two natives of Davkar, a lower village, 
who had volunteered to carry our saddlebags ; but tlie 
sum they asked was so ridiculous, that we had declined 
their services. Now they would have been very glad to 
relieve us of our loads for a quarter of the payment 
previously demanded. 

Near Murkmer there is a good deal of cultivated ground, 
but the valley soon narrows into a defile, and the well- 
beaten path attains a great height on its northern side. 
The loose soil of the mountain-slopes has been worn by 
the spring-torrents into deep gullies, out of, or round, 
which we were frequently forced to make long ascents or 
circuits. The scenery gradually improved, and, although 
no snowy ranges were in sight, the clumps of fir and other 
trees which dotted the sides of the gorge, and the frequent 
bends in the deep bed of the stream, combined to form a 
varied and interesting series of landscapes. The rain of 
the early morning had ceased, and the sun now shone 
out hotly between the clouds, lighting up the long reaches 
of the Ingur, which wound along the bottom of the green 
gorge. The second group of villages, known collectively 
as Kal, now appeared before ns, built on opposite hillsides, 
above the junction of a northern tributary with the glen of 
the Ingur. The towers were not quite so numerous as at 
U8chkul,but were still sufficiently so to give each knot of ha- 
bitations the appearance of a castle rather than of a village. 

On the further side of the valley we noticed a solitary 
building, which is called on the Five Verst Map a 
monastery, but we could obtain no certain informa- 
tion about it through Paul, and it was too far out of 
the way to visit. The nearest hamlet, Davkar, was situated 
at the foot of the hill on the banks of the river, and we 
had to make a long descent to reach it. Here our horse- 



310 SUAXETIA. 

man lived, and we hoped bj his aid to obtain a second 
horse to carry on our goods. Having eaten our lunch in 
a bam similar to our late lodging, we commenced nego- 
tiations for our further journey ; but though there are plenty 
of horses in the country, they had all been sent to the 
upper pastures, and there was not one to be found. Two men, 
however, were ready to carry the load between them, and 
we should have had little difficulty in settling terms but 
for the interference of the horseman. He caused a hitch 
in the arrangement, and, when we told him to stand aside, 
snatched his old flint-and-steel pistol from his belt^ and 
brandished it in our faces. Finding that his conduct 
provoked more laughter than fear, and not exactly know- 
ing what to do with his weapon, he walked off in a huff. 
There were only about a dozen people in the hamlet, so 
there was no risk of a row; but we were in considerable 
difficulty as to how to get forward, and were obliged to 
condescend to cajole Islam back into a good humour. This 
Moore successfully effected, and we concluded an agree- 
ment that we should be taken in three days to Pari, and 
should employ two porters untila second horse was met with. 
We were surprised to hear that the direct path 
down the glen of the Ingur was impassable for horses, 
and that we must mount the valley of the Kalde-Tshalai, 
opening behind the village, to its head, and then cross a pass 
to Adisch; but as this route promised to fulfil our purpose 
of seeing as much as possible of the country, we made no 
objection to its adoption. The natives proposed to start at 
once, and spend the night near the head of the valley, where 
they knew of a shelter. We willingly agreed, and, about 
3.30 P.M., again set out, to reclimb the steep path we had 
descended to reach Davkar, until a grassy brow was gained, 
high above the junction of the valleys. Here the paths 
forked, and we followed the one which mounted beside the 



THE GOROSCHO GLACIER. 311 

KlaJde-Tshalai. The scenery of the lateral glen, which 
runs due north towards the base of the snowy chain, is 
very grand, the torrent flowing in a deep channel between 
precipitous walls of rock. At one spot a bridge leaps 
boldly from side to side ; at another, two streams fall in 
showers of spray into the bottom of the cleft. 

Our men did not take us across the bridge to Agran, a 
village on the opposite slope, probably to avoid any chance 
of a disagreeable encounter ; for they asked Paul not to 
mention where they came from if we met any villagers, as 
the relations of Davkar and Agran were not friendly. We 
kept up along an ill-marked track until, above the gorge, 
the remains of a winter avalanche bridged the torrent, 
and enabled us to join the more beaten path on the 
opposite side of the valley. The glen widens out near its 
head, and the pasturages are strewn with granite boulders, 
transported by ice or water from the central chain. A 
small ruined tower appeared before us, and was pointed 
out as our resting-place for the night, and a recess in the 
hillside on the east marked the course by which a pass 
practicable for horses leads directly to Jibiani. The large 
Goroscho glacier pushed its terminal moraine far down into 
the head of the valley, and we could see through the clouds 
that the mountain-wall rose precipitously above it. The 
tower housed our men ; we preferred to pitch our tent under 
the shelter of a low stone wall by which it was surrounded. 

July 2Qlh. — The morning was fine, and only a few fleecy 
vapours hung upon the range at the head of the valley. 
The cliffs above the Groroscho glacier are very similar in 
character to those which overhang its next neighbour on 
the east, the Nuamquam, but the shapes of the peaks 
which crown them are even more varied and picturesque. 
The lower portion of the glacier is level, but its upper 
snows descend in torn and tangled networks of towers and 



312 SUANETIA. 

crevasses, which offer little temptation to an assault. 
Nowhere in the Alps have I seen any barrier which 
approaches the apparent impracticability of this portion of 
the central ridge of the Caucasus ; between Tau To tonal 
and the sources of the Ingur its magnificence can 
scarcely be overrated. The ease of our start, and the 
absence of any crowd of greedy peasants, was a pleasant 
change from the annoyances of the previous day. Our 
course was clear enough ; a double track, which showed 
that the Suanetians drag sledges over the pass, ascended, 
in well-turned zigzags, the flowery slopes of the ridge, 
known by the unpronounceable name of Dschkjiimer, 
which separates the Ealde and Adisch valleys. Like 
most mountain walks, the ascent is divided into three 
stages — a steep climb, then a gentle rise over shelving 
pasturages, followed by a short pull up to the final ridge. 
It took us two hours to reach the top of the pass from 
the tower. During the last few minutes of the ascent, an 
apparently lofty snow-peak showed just enough of its head, 
over the bank we were climbing, to stimulate our curiosity, 
but in no way prepared us for the magnificent scene which 
burst into view from the summit. The first thing which 
fixed our attention was the icefall of the Adisch glacier. "'^ 
Unlike the glaciers supplying the two eastern sources of 
the Ingur, which are fed only by the snow lodged on 
shelves of the cliffs that surround them, the Adisch 
glacier is the outflow of large reservoirs of frozen snow, 
invisible from below, and lying at the back of the line of 
precipitous peaks we had been gazing up at with so much 
awe and admiration for the last two days. 

* Kadde mentions a second name, Gatuntan glacier. Is not Gatnntan a 
corruption of Koschtantau, and do not the snovflelds which feed the icefall 
surround the base of Koschtantau ? These are questions for an explorer. The 
Kussian engineers gave up this part of the chain as a bad job, and the Five Verst 
Hap is quite umntelligible. 



A GLORIOUS ICEFALL. .313 

Over a break in the battlements of tliis mountain-wall, 
the ice pours down into the bottom of the Aclisch valley, 
in a fall which, for its height, breadth, and purity, exceeded 
anything we had seen elsewhere, either in the Alps or the 
Caucasus. We estimated the height of the frozen cascade 
at 4,000 feet, or little more than that of the Karagam 
glacier, up which we had forced our way ; but the fall now 
before us was far more broken, and, in our judgment, abso- 
lutely impracticable. From side to side stretched deep-blue 
chasms, the space between them filled up by a very maze 
of tottering pinnacles and moated towers. The whole 
surface was of dazzling whiteness, similar to that of the 
Bosenlaui glacier, before, disgusted by being treated as a 
grotto by troops of tourists, it withdrew to the upper world. 
At the foot of the fall the glacier re-makes itself, and 
spreads out, with a crimpled but otherwise unbroken sur- 
face, into a fanlike tail, the symmetry of which is slightly 
marred by a projecting hillside. By some strange mistake, 
the Five Yerst Map marks a known pass straight up the 
centre of the icefall ! 

Two mountains, worthy of their post, stand like giant 
sentinels to guard either side of this crystal staircase, 
let down to common earth from the ^shining table- 
lands,' untrodden as yet by human foot, which lie in 
the heart of the Koschtantau group. On the west is 
Tau Totonal, an elegant snow pyramid, resting on a 
broad rocky base ; on the east is a rock-peak of some- 
what inferior height, but of bolder form. Behind us the 
Goroscho glacier, at the foot of which we had slept, and 
the battlemented wall, which stretches away to the eastern 
source of the Ingur, were still visible. In the glen at our feet, 
which, ran nearly south-west, we could see the towers of 
Adisch, and we were high enough to command a wide 
view over the densely-forested ridges of Western Suanetia, 



3J4 SUANETIA. 

to the mountain ranges that encompass it. Had it not 
been for the clouds, which persisted in haunting us, we 
must have seen TJschba, and it would be worth the wliile 
of any future traveller to examine carefully the horizon 
in this direction, and make sure whether the dome of 
Elbruz does not appear above the main chain. 

We had followed in the ascent, and now overtook two 
peasants, a man and woman, who were on their way to 
Adisch. The man was inclined to be sociable, and was 
greatly delighted by being allowed to look at the view 
through our field-glasses. In return we examined his gun, 
the barrel of which was very long and elaborately orna- 
mented. It was arranged that the woman should descend 
to Adisch by a short cut, and tell the people there to begin 
baking some bread for us, in order that we might not 
have so long to wait for our midday meal. A capital 
path bearing towards, and consequently afltording a constant 
view of, the glacier, led down into the valley. We followed 
it across a mountain-side, spotted with the large cream- 
coloured blossoms of Caucasian rhododendron, which gave 
place lower down to birch- bushes. We found the torrent 
too strong to be easily forded, but the friendly native, 
to whom we had talked on the top, had hurried down before 
us, and caught one of the horses grazing near at hand, on 
which each of us in turn rode across behind him. The 
fall of the glen was very gradual, but a bend to the west 
soon hid the glacier, and there was for some distance little 
to remark in the features of the surrounding scenery. The 
first habitation we came upon was a solitary tower, from 
which a similar one was visible on the crest of the ridge we 
had crossed ; and it struck us as extremely probable that 
the ruined building we had camped beside was one of a 
chain of towers, which had served in olden times as beacons, 
or fire-telegraphs, from valley to valley. On the opposite 



ADISCH. 315 

side of the stream scattered trees made their appearance, 
and our attention was attracted to a deep hollow, or cut, 
in the gi'ound, such as is called a ^ graben ' in the German 
Alps, where, owing to the friable nature of the soil, the 
rains have washed away the surface and laid bare the skele- 
ton of the mountain. Large herds of horses and oxen were 
feeding on the grass-slopes on the right bank of the torrent. 
Adisch, which had been hidden for some time, came 
suddenly into view round a comer, finely situated on the 
sloping hillside, at some height above the bottom of the 
valley, beside a torrent descending from the snowy spurs of 
Tau Totonal, a glimpse of which is the only hint of the 
nearness of a mighty mountain-chain. 

We had outwalked our men and the luggage, and sat down 
to wait for them on a knoU opposite the village, which con- 
sisted, as usual, of a cluster of square stone houses, inter- 
spersed and surrounded by towers, many of which were in 
ruins. By the time Paul came up we were surrounded by an 
excited circle of juveniles, to whom our equipments were 
as marvellous and entertaining as a conjuror's box. Our 
boots were perhaps the greatest source of amusement, and 
the children were never tired of attempting to count the 
number of nails in them. Entering the village, we were 
led through it to a house at the farther end, where we 
were invited to sit down on some logs of wood, under 
the shelter of a projecting balcony, which was very con- 
venient, as a heavy shower had just commenced. Paul 
went into the house to see how the baking was getting 
on, whilst we did our best to entertain and cultivate friendly 
relations with the crowd which, as a matter of course, 
gathered round us. 

We thought the Adischers, as a race, more intelligent in 
their looks than our late hosts of Jibiani, and ^ their 
manner in dealing with strangers ' was certaialy less dis- 



316 SUANETIA. 

agreeable. Tliey did not, however, inspire us with the 
amount of confidence requisite to induce us to use their 
villaore as a base for the attack of Tau To tonal, and to leave 
our luggage at their mercy during our absence. . From the 
character we afterwards found them to deserve, our caution 
was fortunate. We were obliged occasionally to ask the 
crowd to leave us a little breathing room, but they quite took 
the point of the suggestion, that the wider the circle the 
more would be able to see, and both parties were perfectly 
good-humoured. Paul's appearance with the first batch of 
l3av3s was greeted with enthusiasm, for the rations served 
out at breakfast had been scanty, and we were all ravenous. 
The flat unleavened cakes of the Caucasus are very 
palatable when hot, and have the advantage of being 
seldom sour, like the detestable black bread common in 
Russia. On the present occasion we made short work 
of the first baking, and were perfectly ready for a second 
supply of a superior character, with a layer of warm 
cheese in the centre, very nice and indigestible. 

When the time for payment came there was of course 
a difficulty, or would have been one, had we not preferred 
to pay three times their value for the loaves we had 
consumed, rather than engage in another dispute. It did 
not seem to us a case where, in the interest of future travel- 
lers, we were bound to resist extortion ; and we preferred 
laying ourselves open to the ordinary charge against 
Englishmen of raising prices wherever they go, to 
running the risk of being stuck by the dagger of an 
indignant Adischer for the sum of sixpence. Despite, 
however, our peace-at-any-price policy, we were followed 
out of the village by one man, with an absurd demand, to 
which we refused to listen. 

The valley of the Adisch-Tshalai below the village 
is contracted to a mere gorge, the sides of which are 



THE MUSIIALALTZ. 317 

rugged, broken, and picturesquely woof^ed with firs, pines, 
birch, and ash. The track which leads from the upper glen 
to the lowervalleys makes a very long and sleep ascent, in 
order to avoid the circuits that would otherwise be necessary 
to cross lateral ravines. A characteristic of the paths run- 
ning parallel to the course of the Ingur, from the upper 
to the lower end of Suanetia, is that they are always up- 
hill ; at least, the ascents are so numerous and long, that at 
the end of the day, the impression left on the mind of 
the traveller by the intervening descents is almost effaced. 
The track, passable for sledges, along which we were now 
strolling, in the wake of our baggage-horse, rises steadily 
towards a solitary tree which stands up as a beacon on 
a projecting brow, marking the limit of the forest, and 
the point at which a sudden sweep must be made to the 
right, to avoid a series of deeply-cut water-channels, which 
fall into the gorge of the Adisch-Tshalai. From hence 
we could see, in the distance, the hamlet of Suni, one of 
the community of Tzurim, the resting-place for the 
night chosen by our horseman and porters. It was 
perched on a meadow-terrace, high above the junction of 
the Adisch-Tshalai and the Ingur, both of which flow 
through deep wooded gorges. In this direction the dis- 
tant view was closed by the snowy heads of the Leila range. 
Still maintaining our height, we wound above the heads 
of the ravines, until we found ourselves on the watershed 
between the northern district of Mushalaliz, the largest 
and most thickly-populated of all the Suanetian valleys, 
and the glens of the Adisch-Tshalai and Ingur, on the 
south. The ridge separating the two basins sank at our 
feet into a densely-wooded brow, broken awaj- into pre- 
cipitous ravines on the south, but falling more gently 
towards Mushalaliz on the opposite side. Several miles 
further west the ridge again rose into gracefully-shaped 



SI 4 SUAXETIA. 

ernincTic^jH, ^yf-Sorc it finally sank down to the h(A of the 
Inipir at Latal, vrh^fre the Mushjilaliz torrent joins the 
m^in j-tnarn. Tlie diH^int Kuminit.s of the Leila, with 
their for^-'Tonnd of worried i^ortrt's and villaire-dotted 
Hloj>eH, formed a landscaj^e which anj-where else would 
have abrjorljed our attention; but we were now more 
anxiouH minut^ily U) examine the details of the main chain^ 
which swept round the northern side of the Mushalaliz 
valley, a broad green expanse relieved by the white towers 
of many villages. Two large ice-streams filled deep 
trenches in the mountains, and terminated amongst the 
lofty cliffs, which close abruptly the head of the valley. 
The lower portion of the western glacier presents a flat 
dirty surface, and is fed by two large icefalls, the origin 
of which was lost in cloud ; the second slides out a long 
twisting tongue of ice, which descends below the level 
of the forest. 

We now followed the top of the wooded brow. The 
combination of an exquisite woodland foreground with 
varied and magnificent distant views rendered this 
portion of our day's journey the most lovely walk we 
/had ever taken. It is quite impossible to convey in 
' words any idea of the beauty of the landscape, or the 
grandeur of scale which placed the scenery beyond com- 
parison with any of the show-sights of Switzerland. 
Wofxls of ash, hazel, and fir alternated with coppices of 
laurel, white rhododendron, and yellow azaleas, the scent 
of which perfumed the air. Tall tiger-lilies, one of the 
characteristic flowers of the Caucasus, shot up their 
tawny spikes through the rich herbage, while dark-blue 
lupins and hollyhocks challenged their supremacy over the 
humbler flowers — campanulas, bluebells, and cowslips — 
which carpeted the ground. Every break in the wood 
afforded a glimpse, now over the pine-fringed gorges to 



SUNI. 811) 

the white-crested Leila mountains, now down upon the 
green Mushalaliz, with its sparkling stream and castellated 
hamlets, and across it to the peaks, precipices, and glaciers 
of the central chain. We wandered on, feeling as if we 
had broken in on enchanted ground, and that it was all 
too beautiful to be real. The nature of the path did not 
disturb the even tenor of our thoughts ; its makers, with 
remarkable ingenuity, had carried it first on one, then on 
the other, side of the brow, and it was for a long time 
almost level and free from stones. At length it turned 
down the northern side of the ridge, as if to descend to 
Mushalaliz ; but, desirous of gaining Suni,* in the other 
valley, we plunged, under the guidance of our porters, 
into the thickets, and soon hit another track remounting 
to the left). 

Just below the watershed a clear little tarn nestled 
among the trees. We crossed several wooded spurs 
before we reached the verge of the meadows on which 
Suni is built. The views, looking back towards Tau 
Totonal and up the valley of the Adisch-Tshalai, were 
wonderfully fine, their effect being heightened by the 
rapid sweep of afternoon rain-clouds across the sky, and 
the bright gleams of sunshine which shone out between 
them. Just before emerging from the wood the horse 
slipped on a miry bank, where the rains had carried away 
the path, and fell several feet into a sort of slime-pit. 
Happily, he neither damaged himself nor the saddlebags, 
beyond covering both with mud. The fields around Suni 
are more like Alpine meadows than is usual in this 
country; they are carefully irrigated by a system of 
water-channels, and are fenced off from the surrounding 
pasturages. There are fewer towers here than in the 
upper villages, and the population is in appearance more 

* .Spelt thus on the map» but generally pronounced Snr^ni. 



320 8UANETIA. 

like that of tlie Bion valley. The character they bear is 
not quite so bad as that of their neighbours of the upper 
glens, but they seem to lead the same violent quarrelsome 
life, full of petty squabbles, in which it is perhaps difiELcult 
to draw the line between war and murder. 

We had eagerly caught at the proposal that we should 
seek lodgings with a priest, but his house was shut up and 
deserted, and we were taken on to a neighbouring cottage. 
The first room offered to us was large, gloomy, and stable- 
like; when our eyes grew accustomed to the darkness, we 
found that the furniture consisted of two or three curiously- 
carved armchairs, of the broad and shallow shape com- 
mon in the Caucasus, and a hay-bed covered with some 
cloths of very decided uncleanliness. Mysterious sounds 
issued from one comer of the apartment, occupied by a 
row of wooden hutches, also a good deal carved. They 
proved to be occupied by an old sow, whose dwelling we 
were to have the honour of sharing. Thinking we might 
go further and fare better, we asked what was above the 
pigstye, and found a hay-bam, clean, and, if draughty, at 
least free from the stifling atmosphere which had driven 
us from below. Here we took up our quarters and spent 
the night, sleeping on the hay. 

J'oly 21«i. — The first matter which required our atten- 
tion was the reorganisation of our baggage-train. The 
two Davkar porters, who had carried heavy loads, and 
walked fairly well, did not care to go further from home 
without an increase in the rate of pay, and the master of 
the house seemed desirous to supply a second horse and 
come with us. As a matter of course, when the arrange- 
ment was, as we thought, concluded, the fellow struck to 
see if he could not get more ; but we finally succeeded in 
settling the business, paid off the porters, and started 
afresh with our new companion. The weather was still 



UPS AND DOWNS. 321 

the same— hot gleams of sunshine alternating with ^harp 
showers — ^but to-day the sunshine predominated. The 
distance in a straight line from Suni to the next group of 
villages is not great, but we were two hours traversing 
it, partly owing to the immense circuits made by the path 
round lateral ravines ; it is compelled to keep at a high 
level on the rugged hillside, as the bottom of the glen is 
only wide enough for the Ingur, which flows for miles 
through a gorge clothed by thick pine-forests. The chief 
cause, however, of our slow progress during this and the 
succeeding day waa the absurd behaviour of our two horse- 
men, who dawdled along at their horses' heads at a pace 
of scarcely two miles an hour, and resented the remon- 
strances made by Paul to the extent of drawing their pis- 
tols on him. 

The position of the hamlets constituting El is pictu- 
resque ; they stand at diflferent heights on a sunny slope, 
which falls into the gorge of the Ingur from the wooded 
crest of the ridge dividing it from the Mushalaliz valley- 
They are surrounded by fields, and the products of the 
soil— hemp, Indian com, and various kinds of grain- 
showed that we were gradually approaching a milder 
climate. We descended (I believe unnecessarily) in order 
to pass through a lower hamlet, at which one of our horse- 
men had a message to leave, and then faced a steep and 
apparently interminable climb, through a beautiful forest, 
thick enough to shut out all but occasional glimpses into 
the bed of the Ingur. The only new feature in the foliage 
was the prevalence of pines,* which are seldom found near 
the heads of the Caucasian valleys. Numerous sledge-tracks 
branched off up the hill, and fear of missing the way obliged 
us to keep close company with our sluggish horsemen. 

* Pinus sylvestris, Abies Nordmanniana, and Abies oiientalis are, according 
to Radde, found in the Suanetian forests. 



322 SUANETIA. 

At last, when we had all begun to grumble at the toil and 
trouble of descending a Suanetian valley by a succession of 
climbs of 2,000 feet each, we came upon a glade in the wood, 
evidently a favourite halting-ground with the peasants of 
the neighbouring villages. A fringe of pines and birches 
surrounded the level plot of smooth greensward and 
screened off the hot sun, the perfume of azaleas filled the 
air, and the eyes rested on the noble picture made by the 
deep pine-clad gorge beneath, and the central mass of 
the Leila chain directly opposite us. ^ Three silent pinnacles 
of aged snow ' sent down long snake-like glaciers towards 
the Ingur, one of them being a remarkable specimen of 
what is technically known as a ^ glacier remani^/ A wall 
of rock lying across its path scotches but cannot kill the 
glacier-snake ; as the ice slides steadily downwards, masses 
fall over the cliff in the form of avalanches, and form a 
fresh glacier below, which creeps down some distance 
further towards the forests. A thick girdle of pines clothed 
the lower slopes, which are broken by rocky spurs dividing 
the beds of the several glacier-fed torrents. Eor once we 
w^re glad to see the horsemen halt and unload their 
anipials, A fire was soon lighted with moss and pine- 
chips, and Paul and Fran9ois busied themselves cooking 
^kabobs,' while we reclined on the turf, regarding the 
jnountain-tops, more, I fear, in the spirit of lotos-eaters 
than i^i that befitting members of the Alpine Club. Un- 
doubtedly the difiicultie? of everyday travel in the Cauca- 
sus exhaust much of that energy which finds vent in 
Switzerland in scaling the highest peaks, but even in 
the Alps there are moments when it is pleasant 

' To watx;h tho long bright river drawing slowly 
His waters from the purple hill,' 

without any thoughts of scaling the silent pinnacles in 
the distance. 

When the time came to pursue our journey, we bade a 



A LOVELY GLADE. 823 

lingering farewell to the lovely glade, and surrendered 
ourselves again to the annoyances of everyday life, and 
the penance of accommodating our movements to the 
pace of our horsemen. After winding now up, now down, 
through the forest, we came suddenly on open hay fields, 
in the midst of which rose a group of towers, most of them 
in ruins. Several of the houses were still inhabited, and 
a group of peasants — all, as a matter of course, wearing 
daggers — were at work haymaking. They soon gathered 
round us, and inspected with interest our revolvers and 
field-glasses ; so far as pantomime could carry it, our 
intercourse was of the most friendly chara<5ter. Our tail, 
which as usual we had left behind, came up, and the 
horsemen seemed rather to look dov^n upon our new 
acquaintances, who, I suppose, had not committed murders 
or robberies enough to entitle them to rank among the 
upper classes of Suanetia. 

Thus far we had been all day climbing round the 
irregularities of the steep slope which forms the north 
side of the valley of the Ingur ; now the path turned over 
its summit, and began slowly to descend towards the 
torrent issuing from the basin of Mushalaliz, which we 
had looked down upon the previous afternoon. The last 
yiew of the Leila summits, before we lost them behind 
the ridge, was exceedingly beautiful. We soon found 
ourselves in a fold of the hills, surrounded by grassy 
eminences, which cut oflF the view of the valley, but were 
not high enough to shut out the snowy buttresses of 
XJschba and the summits near it. Clouds hid the actual 
peaks, and prevented us from distinguishing their forms 
or making any estimate of their height. We traversed a 
succession of meadows alive with haymakers, and set in 
frames of hazel and birch copses, through which we had 
occasionally to force our way, keeping close company with 

Y 2 



324 Sl'ANETIA. 

a purling Kireairi, the imago- of an English brook. This 
d^;lightful HCMnHvy huiUnl ior a considerable space, as far 
aM the verge of the d<.-;-''^'nt to the Mushalaliz torrent. 
Here we rest^jd for som*; minutes under the shade of a 
Uj^^eh-grove, before running down the steep path, which 
bore obliquely along the hillside, covered as usual with a 
thick mantle of greenery ; the bay, the labnmnm, and 
the wild honeysuckle, now mingled with the shrubs of 
the higher regions — the rhododendron and azalea — ^form- 
ing a dense underwood on either side of the way, which 
was overshadowed by beeches and hazels. 

A crazy but most picturesque bridge spans the narrow 
clefb in which flows the stream issuing from the Mushalaliz. 
The Caucasian cattle have stronger nerves than those of 
the Zillcrthal, in the Tyrol, where a boarding is put up on 
one side of any lofty bridge, lest a cow should be alarmed, 
or take a suicidal fancy to leap into the foaming torrent. 
Here not only is there no railing, but numerous holes are 
I(»ft in the wooden framework of the floor, and it is won- 
derful that the animals do not often break their legs. A 
slight rise on the further side brought us to the level of 
tlie fertile strip of ground lying between the Ingur and 
the northern slopes, on which are situated the hamlets of 
tlio Latal community. The houses are scattered among 
the fields, and look less like fortresses or dungeons than 
those of the upper valley; while the fields are surrounded 
with neatly-woven fences and tall trees, amongst which 
wo saw, for the first time, walnuts groXving in clumps by 
the side of the path. The height is only 4,500 feet, and 
the produce of the fields and the abundance of fruit-trees 
boar witness to a milder climate. Tobacco, Indian com, 
millet, peas, and beans are extensively cultivated, and the 
grass crops, which the peasants were now busy mowing, 
fioemod very rich. 



A SUANETIAN FARMHOUSE. 3S55 

The people in the fields were a wild-looking race, 
and the women had the rough inquisitiveness of savages. 
Fran9ois' personal appearance seemed to take their fancy, 
but though flattered at their admiration, he was not 
disposed to return it. We none of us lost our hearts 
to the female portion of the population on the south 
of the Caucasus; the vaunted and undoubted beauty 
of the Greorgian race cannot withstand the exposure to 
weather, and the field-work at an early age, which is the 
lot of the women of the mountain tribes, and the traveller 
who wants to see the houris with whom popular fancy 
peoples the country had better stay at Kutais or Tiflis. 
We passed through several clusters of houses, and, having 
left behind us a knoll crowned by one of the small square 
chapels characteristic of this region, were led by our 
horsemen to an isolated farmhouse.. The <>wner was out 
haymaking, and his wife, a hideous old shrew, would not 
open the door to so large a party of strangers without 
leave from her lord. After a long delay, during which 
we had nothing to do but to watch the clumsy, heavily- 
laden carts, drawn by oxen, bringing in the hay, an old 
peasant arrived, and we were admitted within the gates. 

We found a regular farmyard, stocked with pigs and 
poultry, and guarded by a dog. The building consisted 
of two or three rooms on the ground-floor, and a large 
bam, full of new hay, which we appropriated to our use. 
A projecting balcony afforded us a sunny spot on which 
to spread our mattrass, while waiting the result of the 
always lengthy preparations for dinner. So peaceful and 
pastoral was the scene before our eyes, that it was difficult 
to realise how many deeds of warfare and bloodshed had 
taken place here, even within the last few years. The 
inhabitants of Latal were formerly engaged in constant 
struggles against the Dadisch-Kilians, whose authority 



326 SUANETIA. 

extended over tlie neighbouring communities of Gegeri 
and Betscho on the west and north. Five years ago they 
were at strife with the nearest village of the Lendjer 
group, in the Mushalaliz valley. Herr Radde thus de- 
scribes his reception at Latal, and the character he heard 
of its inhabitants : — 

* We found shelter in the courtyard of an old Suanetian 
castle, with a friendly priest who came from Imeritia, and 
had spent a year and a half as a missionary amongst 
the Suanetians. He had brought his wife with him, and 
built himself a small cottage in the inner court, which 
was surrounded by a high wall of defence. The account 
he gave of the progress of Gk)d's word among the Suane- 
tians was very disheartening. They are deaf, he said, to 
all instruction ; only by kindness can they in some degree 
be drawn towards it.- They dread being subjected to a 
conscription, and distrust all opportunities offered of 
bettering themselves. Despite the frequent church-ser- 
vices, generally held here on Saturdays and Sundays, they 
remain strangers to church principles. They show no 
desire to allow their children to learn the Georgian lan- 
guage, although the Government, partly by the appointed 
priest, partly by a school lately established at Pari, has 
provided them the means of doing so. In Latal, as in 
most of the villages of upper independent Suanetia, it is 
difficult to find a man who has not committed one or 
more murders; for instance, two brothers, who lived 
near the priest, were well known to have killed seven 
or eight Suanetians. They were two hearty old men, 
with fearfully savage countenances. At night every man 
drives his cattle into the courtyard, and carefully secures 
the great wooden doors of the outside wall.* 

We witnessed an illustration of the practice last alluded 
to, in the return of the cows shortly before sunset, and 



A MYSTERY S0UT5D. 327 

took care to secure draughts of fresh milk as soon as pos- 
sible. The arrival of strangers did not seem *to surprise 
the peasants here so much as in the upper villages, and 
we enjoyed comparative priva<;y ; although we heard 
afterwards, from Paul, that our real character was a 
subject of deep discussion between our horsemen and 
our host^s family. We were not exactly like Bussiaus, 
and bore no resemblance to the only other class of visitors 
with whom they were acquainted — the inhabitants of the 
north side of the chain, who are said to cross here by the 
Thuber glacier, either on business to dispose of their mer- 
chandise — iron, salt, and sheepskin cloaks — or attracted by 
the apples and pears which abound in this neighbourhood. 
Altogether they were fairly puzzled, until our Davkar 
horseman hit on a happy solution of the mystery, and 
pronounced us to be, beyond doubt, wandering Jews, on 
the ground of our not observing church-fasts. 

As the evening closed in, the clouds melted away from 
the summits, and, to our surprise, at the head of the 
Mushalaliz, Tau Totonal shone out, a silvery spear, poised 
at an amazing height in the air, the point of which flushed 
rosy as the sun sank in the west. Immediately opposite 
us stood the glacier-crowned, forest-girt Leila mountains, 
one of their summits curiously resembling in shape Monte 
Bosa from the Gomergrat. It was one of those heavenly 
evenings which come once or twice in a summer, when 
the whole atmosphere seems steeped in roses and purples. 
An hour after we had been lost in admiration of the 
sunset scene we were all writhing in slow torments in the 
hayloft, devoured by hungry insects', and half suffocated 
by smoke, which rose through the floor from the room 
underneath. 

July 22nd. — The morning was cloudless, and the great 
white peak of Tau Totonal looked superb against the blue 



fikj. When the time came for starting, the old farmer, 
who had been our host, claimed an exorbitant recompense. 
We offered him half jia much ai>ain as was du.?, but he 
thrt-w down fhe rouble-notes on the floor with contempt. 
Taking no notice, we continued to load the horses, and, 
after a good deal of bluster, he came to his senses. We 
amused ourseives at parting by drawing out a British 
paBsport, a. docament certainly seen for the first time in 




Suanetia, and bidding Paul tell him that he little thought 
whom he had entertained unawares. The lion and the 
unicorn worked the effect intended, and our host forgot 
hia threats of not allowing us to leave till his demands 
were satisfied to the full, and bade us farewell with an air 
of mingled fear and relief. 

The path down the Ingur has to cross another steep ridge 
to reach the next basin, that of Betscho, watered by a tor- 
rent flowing due south from the central chain. The climb 



THE CAUCASIAN MATTERHORN". :)29 

Up the hillside was hot and severe, past another hamlet of 
the Latal group, clinging to a slope so steep that it looked 
as if the houses rniist soon slip down and join their neigh- 
bours on the flat gi-ound below. Above it the path winds 
along the slopes, through young woods of beech, oak, hazel, 
and aspen, until the summit of the spur separating Latal 
from Betscho is attained. Just before reaching it we sat 



down to admire the outline of Tan Totonal and the 
southern face of the mountains above Jibiani, which had 
come into sight over the lower ranges,  Nearer, and 
scarcely less beautiful, the range of the Leila formed a 
second picture, which elsewhere would have riveted the 
attention. A shout from Moore, however, hurried me 
on to where he was sitting with Francois, 100 yards 



330 SUAXETIA. 

in advance, apparently gazing in a state of astonish- 
ment, that for the moment rendered them unable to ex- 
press their feelings, at some castle in the air. 

On reaching my companions I was at no loss to discover 
the cause of their emotion. Due north, above the low wood 
of the adjoining hillside, shot up two towers of rock, one 
slightly in advance of the other, forming, as regards height, 
steepness, and outline, beyond all comparison the most 
wonderful mountain mass we had ever beheld. Tier above 
tier of precipices rose straight up from the valley, cul- 
minating in two tremendous towers, separated by a deep 
depression. The twin summits resembled one another in 
form, and appeared to be long roof-like ridges, falling away 
in slopes of mingled rock and ice of terrific steepness. 
The idea of climbing either of them seemed too insane to 
be so much as suggested, and even the lower spurs of the 
mountain above the meadows of Betscho are so tremendous 
that it looked as if a stone dropped from the top of either 
of the peaks would scarcely stop rolling before it reached 
the valley. There waa no mistake about it, the Caucasian 
Matterhom was found at last, only here we had one Mat- 
terhom piled on another, and then multiplied by two. It 
was a sensation scene of Nature's own devising. The 
name of the mountain was unknovni to us at the time ; 
it was unmarked on the map, and our horsemen were 

• 

sulky and uncommunicative. We learnt afterwards that 
it is generally called XJschba — ^ usch,' in Georgian, means 
rain or storm, so that this seems to be a parallel instance to 
the Swiss Wetterhom. The two peaks also resemble one 
another in being great promontories projecting from the 
main chain and immediately overhanging the valleys at 
their feet, so that they are likely to be the heights round 
which clouds first gather. 

Our natural course was to descend as soon as possible to 



THE BETSCHO VALLEY. 331 

the Betscho-Tshalai, and follow the main valley of the 
Ingur. Our horsemen, who were more insuflferably in- 
dolent and impudent than ever, refused to take a track 
leading apparently in the right direction, and conducted 
us instead by a path up the Betscho glen. The way was 
through a wood of copper-beech and aspen, where the 
branches formed a frame to the majestic TJschba, whose 
base we were approaching. The men had told us we 
should be in Pari by the middle of the day, and trusting 
to their account we had not, as usual, brought provisions 
with us. Having already been out three hours, and ap- 
pearing by the map to be little nearer our destination than 
at starting, we sent Paul into the nearest village to see if 
he could get any bread ; he succeeded in purchasing one 
loaf, which had a medicinal taste, as if flavoured with 
castor-oil, and was only made eatable by extreme hunger. 
The villages of Betscho are castellated ; one of them, the 
Mazer of the Five Yerst Map, is of large size, and looks very 
picturesque from a distance. Turning at length down the 
glen, we retraced our steps at a lower level along the grassy 
banks of the Betscho-Tshalai,^ until nearly opposite a ham- 
let named Doli, on the right bank of the stream, to which we 
crossed by a good bridge. As long as we were in the Betscho 
glen, the forest was still dense, and the foliage varied ; 
but when, after a tedious ascent, we rounded the brow 
that overlooks the junction of the streams, and turned 
along the hillsides above the Ingur, the character of the 
scenery underwent a sudden change. At the western ex- 
tremity of Suanetia the Ingur flows in a deep defile, be- 
tween the projecting bases of the main chain and the Leila 
mountains. All the villages are built at a height of 
from 2,000 to 3,000 feet above the stream, on the northern 

* Called Bodra by the people of Pari. 



332 SUANETIA. 

ftlopcs, which arc composed of a verj friable slaty rock, 
in which every torrent has cnt itself a deep channel. The 
coiiHtantly-recurring necessity of making the circuits of 
these ravines renders the walk from Doli to Pari extremely 
laborious. 

The afternoon was hot, and the succession of hay and 
cornfields, dotted with poor-looking stone houses, through 
which our road lay, was a bad exchange for the timber to 
which we had become accustomed. The path climbed 
higher and higher, till at last it crossed a bare slate-bank, 
which broke the uniformity of the hillside, and gained a 
knoll, whence we looked across a wide and tolerably level 
terrace, watered by a torrent and supporting several vil- 
lages. Pari, however, was not amongst them, and the 
meadows had to be crossed and a second brow gained 
before the resting-place to which we had been looking for- 
ward for the last few days came into sight. Between us 
and it was another deep ravine. Two of the party tried a 
short cut, with the usual result, and reached the torrent 
only after a stiff scramble through thickets which were 
very nearly impassable. There was no bridge, and some 
waded through the water, while others rode over on one 
of the horses. Close to the torrent a ferruginous mineral 
spring, slightly effervescent and very palatable, bursts 
from the ground. 

A last ascent brought us up again to the level of 
Pari, and we reached the hamlet — for it is nothing 
more — tired and hungry, about 4.30 p.m. Its position 
is surpassed in beauty by many of the villages we had 
lately rested in. The Ingur flows out of sight at the 
bottom of a deep gorge, and the hillside on which Pari 
stands is capped by rocky summits little exceeding the 
snow-level. The horizon is formed on the west by a long 
spur of the main chain, which runs out at right-angles 



ARRIVAL AT PARI. 333 

from it, and forms on this side the boundary of Suanetia ; 
between its lower slopes and the final spurs of the Leila, 
the Ingur finds its way out to the low country through a 
deep and densely-wooded gorge. The first building in the 
hamlet was a whitewashed house, built in the manner of 
ordinary civilised dwellings, with a little garden at the 
back. A hundred yards farther we came to an open space 
surrounded on three sides by buildings, and on the fourth 
by the ruinous and blackened walls of the late residence of 
Constantin Dadisch-Kilian, the native prince who, as has 
been before related, some eight years ago murdered the 
Governor of Mingrelia at Kutais. The village is composed 
chiefly of mean-looking cottages, without the tall towers 
of defence characteristic of Free Suanetia. We told our 
horseman to take us to the quarters of the Eussian Cos- 
sacks who, since the crime of Constantin and the confis- 
cation of his property, have been stationed here to keep a 
watch over the district. The full force consists only of 
ten men, and is of course too small to preserve order 
except in the immediate neighbourhood, where the power 
which they merely represent has been once felt, and is 
now better appreciated. 

Herr Eadde's account of the policy adopted by the 
Russian Government towards the wild mountaineers of 
Suanetia is very curious. ^ It is remarkable,' writes 
the Herr, * how here too the Government deals on a 
policy of mildness with tlie wildest mountain-tribes. 
When it is borne in mind that Free Suanetia contains a 
thousand armed men, there can be no doubt to what issue 
energetic measures would lead. It is only by patient per- 
suasion, and an avoidance of aU misunderstandings, 
that the government can be carried on in outlying dis- 
tricts. With such obstacles to contend with, the results 
must necessarily be slow, but they are more certain than 



334 SUANETIA. 

those an energetic military discipline would produce. 
The upper valley of the Ingur is incapable of maintaining 
a great military force, and the natural difficulties which 
here oppose the transport of food and ammunition would 
render its maintenance exceedingly costly. For what 
good end would a military force keep in subjection the 
neglected but conquered Suanetians ? Murder would not 
be prevented, agriculture or cattle-breeding encouraged. 
The perseverance and tenacity with which the Grovemment 
adheres to its principles must in time tame these wild 
Suanetians. They will by degrees adopt the Georgian 
faith and language, and accustom themselves to a more 
peaceable existence.' 

How much of the mildness of their rulers the people 
owe to the military difficulties mentioned above, and how 
much to the real belief of Russian officials in a conciliatory 
policy, it would perhaps be unkind to enquire. Paul told 
us that at one time the Government had collected a small 
house-tax from, the Suanetians, but for the last year or 
two they have been relieved from even this slight mark of 
subjection. Arrived at the Cossacks' quarters, we rejected 
the officiousness of our Davkar horseman, who now strove 
to render himself important, and sent Paul to represent 
who we were and what we wanted. The chief of the out- 
post was away, but his place was filled by a very civil 
fellow, who at once found us lodging in the now confis- 
cated dwelling-house of one of the native princes. 

Our rooms were on the first-floor, which was approached 
by an outside staircase. The skill in wood-carving common 
to so many mountain populations was conspicuous here, in 
the elaborate ornamentation of the roof of the principal 
apartment, and of the spacious balcony which was our 
favourite lounge. Our lodgings were quite bare, but a fire- 
place gave our men the necessary facilities for cooking. 



HOSPITABLE COSSACKS. 335 

Nothing could exceed the kindness and readiness to meet 
our wants shown by the Cossacks, and we rejoiced in our 
deliverance for a time from the constant struggle with the 
barbarous natives. When our Davkar horseman came to 
be paid, he had the impudence to ask for a present, a 
demand which we promptly crushed by threatening to 
inform the Cossacks that he had drawn a pistol on us. 
No more was heard of one of the greatest scoundrels we 
ever had to deal with, and he left the village soon after- 
wards. We slept as usual on our mattrass, but with a 
pleasant sense of security which had been wanting since 
our arrival at Jibiani. 

July 23rd. — The day was spent in idleness, while col- 
lecting information and preparing provisions for our 
further journey. We had now reached a point due south 
of Elbruz; it was therefore necessary to turn north, and 
cross the main chain, in order to reach the foot of the 
great mountain. We had been unable, either at Tiflis or 
Kutais, to obtain any information as to the passes leading 
from Suanetia to the northern valleys, and were naturally 
anxious to learn the character of the difficulties we might 
expect in completing the only link now wanting in our 
mountain route from Elazbek to Elbruz. The Cossacks 
told us that there were two passes used by the people, and 
practicable for cattle, though too rough for horses. The 
one they recommended us to take leads fix)m the head of 
a glen called Nakra, which joins the Ingur valley below 
Pari, and we were told that by* this pass Uruspieh, the 
chief village of the Upper Baksan, could be reached in 
three days. The usual need of porters arose, but the 
chief Cossack undertook to find some for us, and shortly 
introduced two pleasant-looking men, with whom we made 
an agreement that they, with five friends, should carry 
our baggage to Uruspieh for six roubles (seventeen shU- 



Zyc, .SIANKTIA. 

lings; apiec/:;. A man wa« sent up to the pasturages to 
buy us a sbeep, for tho price of which our provider the 
CoftftO^rk apolo^'-i.s'.'d, alU^irha: as its cau.se tliL* rapacity of 
the villagers, which made living at Pari exceedingly dear. 
There was no shop in the Suanetian capital, where wine, 
sugar, and butter are unknown luxuries, but we laid in a 
store of what provisions we could set hands on. Our 
hopes of honey, a dainty for which the district is cele- 
brated, and which it exports to the neighbouring pro- 
yinces, though long deferred, were finally fulfilled* During 
the day we devoted much thought to the subject of dinner. 
Moore's hungry eye having observed an old pig with a 
large young £a.mily, he prevailed on Faal to procure the 
slaughter of two of the innocents, and we looked forward 
to them as a welcome relief to a long course of tough 
mutton and tougher fowls. Notwithstanding the unusual 
appliances at Paul's disposal, the dish was not a success. 

My friends varied their amusements by taking a Russian 
steam-bath, in a little building, specially coi^tructed. for 
the purpose, opposite our house. What tortures they 
underwent I never clearly learnt, but they came out 
looking half-boUed and as red as lobsters. A considerable 
fire is necessary to heat the building, and as large logs 
are scarce and dear at Pari, owing to the imperfect means 
of transport, although the forests are barely three hours 
distant, all the CJossacks got a steam afterwards, and were 
glad thus to enjoy their sole luxury at our expense. 



PARI TO PATIGORSK. 337 



CHAPTER XL 

PEOM PAEI TO PATIGOBSK, AND ASCENT OP ELBRUZ. 

A Captive Bear — Moore Harangaes the Porters — Camp in the Forest — 
A Plague of Flies — Lazy Porters — A Nook in the Mountains — Cattle 
Lifting — Across the Chain in a Snowstorm — A Stormy Debate— A Log 
Hut— Baksan Valley — Uruspieh — ^The Ghiest Hoose^Villany Rewarded — 
Minghi-Tau— An Idle Day — An Enlightened Prince — Passes to the Karat- 
chai — ^Tartar Mountaineers — A Night with the Shepherds — ^A Steep Climb 
— Camp on the Rocks — Great Cold — On the Snowfield — In a Crevasse — 
Frigid Despair — ^A Crisis — Perseverance Rewarded — ^The Summit — Pano- 
rama — The Return — Enthusiastic Reception — The Lower Baksan — A Long 
Bide — A Tcherkess Villsge — Orassy Downs — Zonitzki — Patigorsk. 

Jvly 2AtK — It is not such an easy matter in the Caucasus 
as in Switzerland to start in the morning at the hour fixed 
overnight. Our new troop of porters had to be gathered 
together £rom their respective abodes^ and each article of 
the luggage lifbed, in order to test its weight, before the 
business of arranging the burdens could proceed. More 
than half was placed on the back of a ridiculously small 
donkey, a meek-looking specimen of his race, with long 
ears given to flap uncertainly backwards and forwards. 
This aniTna.] was to accompany us for some hours, to re- 
lieve our porters of a portion of their burden. 

On parting we presented the chief Cossack with an 
English knife, with which he was very much pleased, and 
we had consequently to submit to a repetition of the 
hugging and kissing business so popular abroad, and 
particularly in Russia, but which is not appreciated by 
the reserved and unsympathetic Anglo-Saxon. Bidding 
farewell to the kindly Cossacks, we took a path which 
connects Pari with the few villages to the west — the 

z 



33« FROM PARI TO PATIG0R8K. 

laHt in Snanr^tia, above the defile of the Ingur. Tliese, 
like the capital, are built on terraces, high above the river, 
an^l K/rj;arat/fd from one another by deep and broad ravines- 
A dencription of the details of our morning's walk would be 
nearly an wearisome as was the reality; there was little 
change in the character of the views, and our time was 
chiefly spent in going down and up steep zigzags. So 
great were the circuits we were obliged to make, and so 
dawdling were our porters, that it was time for a midday 
halt before we reached the last hamlet built on the southern 
slope of the spur that projects on the eastern side of the 
entrance to the Nakra valley. We sat down under the shade 
of a large tree, above the houses, from which the villagers 
soon crowded round us ; with them came a small bear, led 
by a troop of boys, who cuffed and dragged about poor Bruin 
very mercilessly. A short and gentle ascent over rich 
meadows brought us to the top of the spur, whence there 
was a fine view. At a great depth beneath us lay the 
glen of the Kakra, backed by snow-streaked ranges, and 
clothed with the finest pine-forests we had yet seen. The 
single trees were magnificent, and, standing some distance 
apart, rose above the other foliage in distinct dark-green 
cones. The scene strongly resembled some represented in 
photographs of the Himalayas, and was exceedingly strik- 
ing. Turning southward, we had before us the deep cleft 
in the hills which forms the gate of Suanetia, and affords 
an outlet to the river and the road to Sugdidi, a smaU Ab- 
kasian town, halfway between Kutais and Soukhoum-Kal6. 
Our Pari porters showed so strong a disposition to 
walk in the ways of the men of Davkar — that is, to 
dawdle on for ten minutes, and then sit down and chat 
for fifteen — that we took the opportunity of their suggest- 
ing that the sum fixed on as their pay was insufficient, to 
read them a lecture. Sitting in a row, we summoned them 



THE TEA-PLANT. 339 

before us, and told them, through Paul, that we wished to 
know, once for all, whether they meant to carry out the 
a^jreement they had made with us. If the}' were dissatis- 
fied, and wished to be off it, we were willing to return to 
Pari, but, in that case, we should pay them nothing. The 
porters one and all declared that they wished to come on, 
and were quite satisfied with the terms. Having been then 
treated to a spirited harangue from Moore, on the * whole 
duty of man ' in connection with mountain-walking, and the 
advantages they would reap from behaving well, the troop 
resumed their OGiarch. For some distance the path, which, 
though broken in places, was very distinct, skirted the. hill- 
side ; but at last, by a steep and sudden descent through a 
grand forest of pines and beeches, the bottom of the Nakra 
valley was gained. Beneath the close branches of these 
trees underwood seldom flourishes, and the ground was 
carpeted with a soft moss, like that of an English glade. 
. On reaching the banks of the torrent, we turned 
up the valley by a beaten track, which, but for the 
occasional obstruction of a fallen tree, would have been 
practicable for horses — now through the thick wood, now 
across glades where the rich herbage recalled to our 
recollection the weeds of the Zenes-Squali. One of the 
porters brought us the branch of a small shrub, with the 
explanatory remark ^tchai,' and we recognised the tea- 
plant. We had already been informed at Pari of its exis- 
tence in the neighbourhood, and the Cossacks there told us 
thatsome of their predecessors had turned the leaves to prac- 
tical account, and acquired sufficient skill to manufacture 
out of them a very tolerable beverage. We caught occa- 
sional vistas of the foaming torrent of the Nakra, which 
falls in a prolonged rapid, dashed into sheets of white foam, 
over the granite boulders it has brought down with it from 
the central chain. The blue sky was bright overhead, and 

z2 



340 FROM PARI TO PATIGORSK. 

the sun's rays very powerftil ; we longed for a photographic 
camera to turn them to account, and fix some of the 
pictures of wood and water that constantly met our eyes. 

At an earlv hour in the afternoon, our porters surprised us, 
hy sitting down on the banks of the torrent, at a spot where 
the roar of the water was so loud that it was difficult to 
carry on any conversation, and proposing we should remain 
there for the night. We refused to listen to the proposi- 
tion, and prevented its renewal by walking on, at a pace 
which the men were xmable or unwilling to keep up vrith. 
About 5 P.M. we found a position suitable for a camp, 
on the further side of some clear springs, which were sur- 
rounded by dense herbage, rich in flowering plants. Here 
our tent was soon set up. and Paul had a roaring fire of 
logs to cook by. After a good dinner we flattered ourselves 
we should spend a quiet night ; but at sunset the odious 
hum of the mosquito commenced, and we were attacked by 
the venomous little insects, as well as by swarms of a 
small black flj , no bigger than a pin's head, but armed with 
a sharp sting. Our Pari men now told Paul that the people 
of the last village we had halted at purposed following us 
and stealing our goods during the night, and that we had 
better divide our baggage amongst them to guard. Peel- 
ing sure that, if any robbery was attempted, it would be 
with the connivance of our attendants, we ordered all the 
baggage to be piled against the opening of the tent, and 
told them that our fifteen barrels would be fired without 
warning if we heard anyone stirring near it. Although no 
robbers appeared, the night did not pass wholly without 
alarm. The silence of the forest was broken by a loud 
crash, like a rattle of musketry, which we found, in the 
morning, had been caused by the fall of a large tree within 
fifty yards of our camp. 

July 2bth. — Our rest was disturbed, and before the early 



LAZY PORTERS. 341 

sunshine lit np the pine-forests on the opposite slopes, we 
were up, and woefully detailing to one another the suffer- 
ings of the night. Fran9ois' eyes were almost closed by 
the bites of the small flies, and all the party were more or 
less disfigured. As soon as the porters had finished tying 
up their loads, and could be persuaded to put them on 
their backs, we started. On leaving Pari we had under- 
stood that we should cross the pass on the second day ; but 
our men now declared it would be impossible to do more 
than reach the southern foot of the last ascent before night- 
fall. Having passed through a belt of pines, we entered a 
region of scantier and less lofty vegetation, and saw, for 
the first time, the range of cliffs which, to all appearance, 
closes the head of the glen. The hillsides were now steep, 
and slopes of debris, brought down by avalanches fi:om the 
hollows in the mountains overhead, extended down to the 
torrent. Numerous and clear fountains sprang out of the 
ground, and, dammed by the surrounding blocks, formed 
crystal pools, the banks of which were adorned by clusters 
of lilies of the valley. Two pretty cascades dashed down 
the rocks on either side of us, but lacked body of water to 
rank as firstrate waterfalls. The lasfc birches grew in the 
hollow at the foot of the cliffs which had barred our view 
all the morning. 

We now saw that the Five Verst Map was entirely wrong 
in its representation of this part of the chain. The offi- 
cers employed on the survey evidently contented them- 
selves with a distant view of the Nakra valley, and, de- 
ceived by appearances, have in consequence represented its 
head as a symmetrical horseshoe basin. In reality the 
sources of the stream lie in a recess of the mountains un- 
seen from below, and therefore ignored on the map. The 
way to it lay up a steep slope on the left bank of the tor- 
rent, which is joiued by a good-sized tributary, pouring 



342 FROM PAEI TO PATIGOESK. 

over the cliffs on the opposite side, from a glacier only a 
portion of which was visible. In this direction our porters 
asserted a pass to exist, leading to the villages on the 
headwaters of the Kuban, in the Karatchai district. 

It was only midday, but our lazy troop wanted to halt 
for the afternoon, alleging that it was impossible to cross 
the pass before evening, and that if they went any further 
they should be frozen during the night. With much per- 
suasion we prevailed on them to follow us for two-and-a-half 
hours more. A sharp ascent, marked with the last traces of 
a path on this side of the pass, brought us to the level of an 
upper valley, for some distance bare of herbage, and covered 
with the snow and rocks of spring-avalanches. The direc- 
tion of this trough is for about two miles due east, when it 
splits into two glens, running respectively north and 
south, of which the former is the most considerable. 
Having crossed the stream by a snow-bridge, we came to a 
grass-slope, broken by projecting boulders, just at the 
junction of the glens. It was difficult to find a plot 
of turf for the tent, and we were obliged to dislodge the 
porters from a noble bivouac they had appropriated to 
themselves under a huge boulder, where alone the ground 
was level. When the tent was put up the space proved 
ample for aU. 

The view from our ' gite,' which was entirely surrounded 
by snowy mountains, was very grand. Deep beneath lis 
lay the lower 2^akra valley^ the range on its western flank 
crowned by a fine ice-coated peak, occupying the position 
of the Tau Borkushel of the map. The stream we had 
lately crossed had run but a short course since leaving its 
cradle — a glacier flowing round the base of a very remark- 
able mountain, the perpendicular cliffs of which were over- 
hung by an ice-cornice of enormous thickness. The head 
of the glen, on the north, was also closed by a glacier ; 



CATTLE-LIFTIKG. 343 

the route, however, does not lead over it, but mates for a 
gap between two rocky eminences in the chain on its east. 
The afternoon sun beat full against the face of the rock 
under which our tent was pitched, and the heat inside the 
canvas was great. I rashly sought coolness in a shady 
nook in the rocks, and thereby caught a chill, which, on the 
top of a previous slight indisposition, made me for a time 
very unwell. Wrapping myself up as warmly as possible 
in my plaid, I took at intervals small doses of chlorodyne, 
a medicine which throughout our journey we found of the 
greatest service. 

Towards evening we observed four men, armed with 
guns and swords, and driving eleven cows, descending from 
the direction of the pass at a hurried pace. Paul enquired 
of our men where they came from, and was told that they 
were natives of Lashnush, who, according to custom, had 
been on a cattle-lifting expedition over the pass, and were 
now returning with their unlawfully-gotten booty, stolen 
from one of the herds belonging to the Tartars of the 
Upper Baksan. Our porters naturally felt uneasy ss to 
the reception they, as the countrymen of the thieves, 
would meet with on the north side, and we had great 
difficulty in persuading them to proceed any further. We 
succeeded, however, in convincing all but one hoary-headed 
old rascal that the fact of their being with us would be a 
conclusive proof of their innocence. The man in question 
knew, apparently, that his character would not bear exa- 
mination, and, conscious probably of some recent mis- 
demeanour, begged to be allowed to return — adding that 
his two sons, who were also with us, would share his load 
between them. To this family arrangement we of course 
made no objection. The sunset hues were gorgeous, but 
too vivid to promise a continuance of the fine weather of 
the last two days. 



344 PEOM PARI TO PATIGOSSK. 

July 26ih. — The weather had changed during the night, 
clouds were creeping up from the south, and the morning 
promised U> grow worse rather than better. Pain and 
constant sickness had driven away sleep, and I felt much 
more fit to lie in bed than to cross a pass ; but it was ab> 
solutely impossible to remain where we were, and the idea 
of returning to Pari, now a long day's walk in the rear, 
was insupportable, besides offering few advantages over 
the only alternative course — ^that of reaching the watershed 
before bad weather came on. We therefore started, and 
although at first I could scarcely crawl along, even with 
the help of Tucker and Fran9ois, necessity proved a won- 
derful spur ; my strength gradually returned, and each step 
gained towards the top of the pass was an encouragement 
to further progress. 

Above our bivouac the head of the valley was paved 
with snow ; the surface had not frozen in the night, and 
its softness added considerably to my troubles. In an 
hour's time we reached the point where the glen is 
quitted, and the traveller desirous to cross the chain must 
climb the steep banks of grass on his right. These lead 
him to the edge of a considerable snowfield, which fills a 
recess in the rocky ridges on the southern side of the pass. 
The gap in the crest before us was marked by two stone- 
men, and we had a further guide in the deep trail of the 
cattle that had passed the previous afternoon. The clouds 
now swept up round us, the wind howled dismally, and, as 
we drew near the top, heavy snow began to fall. The 
change in the weather was a great disappointment, for we 
had been looking forward, ever since leaving Pari, to the 
view of Elbruz during the descent, and all hopes of seeing 
it were now at an end. 

When we reached the top, there was nothing for it but 
to sit down with our backs to the snowstorm, and munch 



THE BAKSAN VALLEY. 345 

a crust of bread before descending. A few flowering 
plants were growing on the rocks, at a height of over 
10,500 feet. On the north side is a small glacier, steep 
enough in places to admit of glissades, but so thickly 
covered with snow that few crevasses were visible. The 
falling sleet soon turned into heavy rain, which followed 
us for the rest of the day. The stream which flows from 
this glacier is very soon lost to sight under another and 
very extraordinary ice-stream, which seems to be fed entirely 
by the avalanches falling from the cliffs of a great moun- 
tain, now partially hidden by clouds, but afterwards well 
known to us by the name of Tungzorun. Like Uschba, 
unmarked in the Five Yerst Map, it is probably the second 
in height of the mountains of the main chain west of the 
Koschtantau group. 

The glen on this side of the pass runs directly north, 
and the path, marked out at first by occasional stonemen, 
soon becomes very distinct. We kept along the western 
slopes at some height above the glacier, which is covered 
by debris, and has a dirty appearance ; its tongue curls 
over a steep brow, and at its lower end meets the highest 
firs. Beneath us, under the clouds, we could see the green 
Baksan valley; but opposite, where Elbruz should have 
displayed his fall height, nothing met the view but a sea 
of mist, from which two glacier-tongues protruded only at 
intervals. A descent, rapid at the last, brought us to the 
banks of the Baksan. Its upper valley is a trough, with a 
level floor about a quarter of a mile in width, through 
which the three streams flowing respectively from the 
glaciers of Elbruz and Tungzorun, and from the larger 
ice-stream which fills the head of the valley, run parallel 
for some distance before joining. It is covered with a 
thick forest of firs, which in this district entirely take 
the place of pines. Our men turned several hundred 



346 FROM PARI TO PATIGORSK. 

yards out of the way, to visit a very rudely-constructed 
and now deserted log-hut, where, in partial shelter from 
the incessant rainstorm, we ate some food. 

Not altogether to our surprise, the porters refused to 
re-shoulder their packs, and demanded immediate payment, 
declaring that they had fulfilled their contract to take us 
over to Baksan, and persistently ignoring the express 
stipulation we had made with them, that Baksan was to 
be taken as meaning the chief village in the upper valley. 
One of the men, who had been disagreeable in his manner 
throughout, now became very violent, and made pretence 
of drawing his dagger. Moore took the leading part in 
the diplomacy on our side. His policy was to ignore the 
ruffian, and refuse to have dealings with any but the two 
men with whom we had first made the agreement at Pari, 
who were far the best of the party, and little disposed to 
join in the violence of some of their companions. The 
rage of the chief ruffian at being ignored was ludicrous, 
but, after a long and wearisome wrangle, the malcontents 
gave in, and the train again got into motion — the virtue of 
the well-disposed men being confirmed by the promise of 
an extra rouble on our arrival at Uruspieh, if no further 
questions occurred. 

Although we had no more rows, the delays to which we 
were subjected were frequent and vexatious. It is a trial of 
temper to sit on a log, wet through, out of sorts, and in a 
pouring rain, while half your attendants hurry off without 
apparent purpose, and the remainder reftise to stir until 
their companions return. We learnt, afterwards, that the 
men were looking for the shepherds, whom they knew 
to be somewhere in the neighbourhood with their flocks. 
Having been living for the last three days on the pro- 
visions they carried with them from home — which consisted 
only of coarse flour, baked every evening on hot stones by 



A LOG-HUT. 847 

a wood-fire — they naturally wished to have a good meal, 
and were now anxious to purchase a lamb for their supper. 
We could not at the time understand their motive, which for 
some unknown reason they were unwilling to explain, and we 
naturally grew very wroth at the constantly-recurring halts. 
After a long walk, in a deluge of rain, through dripping 
fir-forests, we reached a log-hut, well-built, and fortunately 
quite watertight. We were glad enough to find a resting- 
plOfCe where we could get off our wet clothes, and warm 
9urselves round a roaring fire. Our rugs we generally 
managed to keep dry, by rolling them up inside the mat- 
trass, so we had something besides the ground to lie on. 
Milk and cheese were procured from the shepherds, and 
after an attempt to make a brew of arrowroot, the results 
of which were not wholly satisfactiory, we rolled ourselves 
up in one corner of the hut, and enjoyed a tolerable night's 
rest. 

Brnmg the evening we liad some amusing conreraation 
with our men. We found that the names ^ England ' and 
* English * conveyed no idea to their minds, and that the 
only peoples of which they had any knowledge were Rus- 
sians, Turks, ajid * Franghi ' (foreigners). After this it 
was rather startling to be suddenly asked, what we con- 
sidered the best form of government? Moore shirked 
the question by replying that certainly that form of go- 
vernment could not be considered good under which the 
people of one vaUey could carry off cattle belonging to the 
inhabitants of another — ^an answer which, when interpreted 
by Paul, seemed to tickle our friends amazingly, and to 
be considered fully adequate. 

July 27th. — The morning was fine, and we started hope- 
fully. We were led by a circuitous track along the north- 
ern hillside, owing to our men's ignorance of the direct 
path down the valley. The forest comes to an end sud- 



348 FHOM PABI TO PATI60BSK. 

dcnlj, and is succeeded by green meadows, amongst which 
stand several groups of buildings, answering to Alpine 
chalets. Tliey were long, low, and irregular-shaped huts, 
built of very massive unsmoothed fir Jogs, with flat grass- 
grown roofs. The first we came to were uninhabited^ 
The Baksan valley, after running for some distance north- 
east, bends northwards, and then a^in resumes its former 
direction. At the elbow it is joined by two tributary 
glens— one on the right, running up towards the main 
chain ; another a mile lower on the left, which leads to^ 
wards the foot of Elbruz. Opposite the first opening 
there was an exceedingly striking view of a cluster of 
snowy peaks, remarkable for their fantastic forms and 
close grouping. 

A farmhouse, apparently the highest permanent habi- 
tation in the valley, is situated opposite the mouth of this 
glen ; in a small enclosure at the back, potatoes and other 
kinds of vegetables seemed to flourish. We kept along 
the left bank of the Baksan, and presently crossed the 
powerful torrent which flows from the eastern icefields of 
Elbruz, but the gap out of which it fiows is not wide 
enough to admit of any view of the great mountain. We 
succeeded in finding an old man at one of the huts built 
beside the torrent, and in obtaining a bowl of fresh milk 
— a rare luxury in the Caucasus, where it is generally 
turned sour directly, and is then very unpalatable. The 
lower portion of the walk from this point to Uruspieh is 
undeniably dull, the principal feature being a bold rock- 
wall on the right-hand side of the valley, which rises just 
above the snow-level. The mountain-sides are no longer 
wooded, and have an arid burnt-up appearance. An 
enormous barrier, abutting on the northern chain, very 
similar in form to the Kirchet above Meyringen, blocks 
the valley, and the path has to climb over it. From the 



ARRIVAL AT URUSPIEII. 349 

brow, XTnispieli is seen for the first time, still separated 
from the traveller by a long streteh of level ground. The 
rotul, now passable for narrow carts, crosses the Baksan 
at the base of the mound, and traverses a succession of 
meadows on the right bank, recrossing only just before it 
enters the village of Uruspieh. The character of the houses 
is entirely diflFerent from the Suanetian fortresses^ and far 
less picturesque; built on a gentle slope, the low fiat- 
roofed buildings are scarcely distinguishable at a distance, 
and offer no external attractions on nearer approach. A 
strong torrent, flowing out of a ravine in the northern 
hillside, cuts the village in half; to the south another 
lateral valley opens towards the main chain, and some 
snowy summits are visible at its head. 

The view of the Baksan valley is closed by the icy mass 
of Tungzorun, which from here rather resembles in form 
the Zermatt Breithom. These distant vistas rescue 
Uruspieh from the charge of positive ugliness, which will 
certainly be brought against it by those visitors from 
whom clouds veil everything but the brown barren slopes 
immediately surrounding the village. A large building, 
just beyond the bridge, was the abode of the princes of 
the Uruspieh family, who have given their name to the 
place. A group V7as gathered round the door ; the men 
were dressed in the tall sheepskin hats and long coats of 
the country, and our porters' equipments seemed shabby 
when brought into contrast with their silver-mounted 
daggers and handsome cartridge-pouches. 

We were naturally most anxious as to what the charac- 
ter of the people would turn out, as upon it depended 
whether we should be able to attack Elbruz at once, or 
whether we must descend to Patigorsk, and make the 
mountain the object of a separate expedition from thence. 
Happily our hopes, founded on the favourable report 



nr/) FROM PARI TO PATIGOBSK. 

^iv^jM by ihfi Cohhuc^ch at Pari of the people of Baksan 
iihd iha Karai/^baiy wf5re not dfxnncA to be disappointed. 
Hhuic, villa^cTH r;airie forward, and at once conducted us 
Ut a clean -looking cottage, which proved to be a regular 
^ucHiy-liouMc. It a^ntained two rooms, the inner one pro- 
vided with a wrx)den divan in one comer. The walls and 
roof were ^x^nstmctc^d of the most massive fir-trunks^ and 
tlie ruddy hue of the timber, combined with the scrupulous 
cleanliness of the floor, gave a snug appearance to our 
quart^srs. The princes, it was intimated, would soon pay 
UM a visit, and in the meantime we hastened to settle 
with the Pari men, who seemed anything but at ease, and 
anxious to set off home again as soon as possible. 

As paymastr*r of the forces, I had told out. the neces- 
sary quantity of notes, separating them into the proper 
sharcH for each man, and, with Paul's aid, was in the act 
of distributing the money, when there was a stir at the 
further end of the room, and the princes entered. In the 
consequent confusion, Paul allowed one. porter to secure 
two shares, and of course, when the turn of the last man. 
came, there was nothing left for him. I felt certain I had 
liauded over the proper amount of notes, but the porters 
all protesttnl that each had only his own share. The 
matl-or was suddenly settled by a villager stepping forward, 
und, to our great amusement and delight, pointing out the 
noisy ruflian, who had given us so much trouble on the 
rojul, as the recipient of the double portion. The money 
wiw at once taken from him, and he seemed too doubtful 
UH to his position to venture on any resistance, although 
he indulged in a display of indignation, and pretended to 
be rtMidy to be searched. Finding, however, that he wa« 
an obj(H»t of universal laughter, even to his companions, 
ho speedily n^treatod, and we heard no more of him. 
Villiuiy having tlius mot with its deserts, we rewai'ded 



AN ENLIGHTENED PRINCE. 351 

the comparative virtue of the two men who had held aloof 
in the dispute at the head of the valley with an extra 
rouble, and the whole troop departed, after much hand- 
shaking. 

All our attention was now due to the princes, to whom 
we apologised for the disturbed state in which they had 
found us. Our hosts were three brothers, tall fine- 
looking men, with open and kindly countenances, and 
dressed in the full Caucasian costume. The younger 
brother, Hamzet, had been for some time in the Bussian 
service, and spoke Bussian fluently. The interview com- 
menced with the usual enquiry as to our nationality: 
instead of the stolid ignorance exhibited by the Mingre- 
lians at the mention of the English name, Hamzet's face 
at once brightened up, and he exclaimed, * Anglicany, 
karasho (good), Williams Pasha, Kars, karasho/ It was 
quite like coming back into the world again, from some 
region where everyone had been asleep for 600 years, to 
find men acquainted with the events of the Crimean War. 

We recoimted our ascent of Kazbek, and our journey 
across the country (at both of which great surprise was 
expressed), and then explained our wish to attempt Elbruz. 
The princes, while admitting Kazbek to be the more pre- 
cipitous mountain, expressed great doubts of our reaching 
the top of Elbruz, adducing the very good argument that 
no one had ever done so. They promised to send for the 
peasants who had accompanied former Bussian travellers 
bent on exploring the mountain, and said we should be 
taken at least as far as anyone had been before us. 

Ararat was not unknown to the princes, and they were 
aware of the legend by which the Caucasian mountain is 
connected with the Armenian. According to local tra- 
dition, the Ark grazed on the top of Elbruz before finally 
resting on Ararat. The correct appreciation of the rela- 



352 PROM PARI TO PATIGORSK. 

tive heights of the two monntains might fairly be used 
as an argument for the truth of the story. K it meets 
with general acceptance, we are ready cheerfully to waive 
any claims to the honour of the first ascent of Elbruz in 
favour of the crew of the Ark, or, as Fran9oi8 happily 
phrased it, * la fitmille Noah.' 

Our hosts were acquainted with the name of Elbruz, but 
it had to be translated to the circle of villagers, who only 
knew the mountain as Minghi-Tau. The introduction 
having been thus happily effected, our new friendship 
was cemented by the timely arrival of a trayfiil of tea and 
cakes, which were placed on a low three-legged stool, which 
served as a table. 

The princes requested us to ask for whatever we wanted, 
and offered to supply us with food as well as lodging. Un- 
willing to put them to unnecessary trouble on the one 
hand, and also preferring Paul's cookery to the hunches 
of boiled mutton which form the staple dish of a Caucasian 
cuisine, we asked only that our servant might be aided to 
procure what was wanted. In this way we were able to 
pay for the large stock of provisions necessary for a cam- 
paign of at least four days against Elbruz. Paul found 
aJl sorts of luxuries, including butter, potatoes, and sugar— 
the latter coming from the princes' household — to all of 
which we had long been strangers. Having drunk nothing 
but tea and water since leaving Kazbek, with the exception 
of the muddy wine of Glola, we welcomed enthusiastially 
a villager who brought us some very fair native beer. 
This is probably the liquid referred to by old Klaproth, 
who mentions that the beer made by the Karatchai and 
Baksan people * is nearly equal to London porter,' although, 
in that case, either the London brewers must have im- 
proved since his time, or the native manufacture deterio- 
rated. We were supplied at night with the unwonted 



A SUANETiAN PRINCE. 353 

luxury of pillows and sheets, and were thus able to sleep 
out of our clothes for the first time since leaving Kazbek. 
It is a curious fact, the reason of which we failed to com- 
l^rehend, that while in the Mahommedan districts cushions 
in abundance are generally found, they seem utterly un- 
known in the nominally Christian parts of the country. 
The reason is obscure, but the fact remains that, whether 
at Christian villages or Russian post-stations, the traveller 
must carry his own mattrass, or be content to lie on 
boards, 

July 28th. — The day was given up to eating and doing 
nothing, which we succeeded in enjoying thoroughly. Re- 
lays of tea and cakes filled up the intervals between heavier 
meals, and the spare time left at our disposal was spent in 
sunning ourselves at the door of the cottage, or in conver- 
sation with our hosts, who introduced us to a visitor, a 
Suanetian prince of the Dadisch-KHian family, allied to 
them by marriage. He was probably one of the rulers of 
Betscho, the branch of the Ingur valley lying at the base 
of Uschba, as Radde mentions their connection and fre- 
quent intercourse with the tribes on the north side of 
the chain. The Suanetian was haughtily aristocratic in 
his personal appearance and manners, and his presence 
seemed rather a restraint on everybody else. He was tall, 
with regular features, but a very unintellectual expression 
of countenance, and a supercilious dandified air, which 
would have done credit to a man more accustomed to 
civUised life. 

The native princes were far better-informed men than 
any we had yet met in the mountains. Only two days' 
journey from Patigorsk and Kislovodsk, Uruspieh is fre- 
quently visited by Russian travellers or officials, and even 
the rambling photographer has carried his camera thus far. 
The last visitors had been two Frenchmen in search of rare 

A A 



8.54 FROM PARI TO PATIGORSK. 

woods, who had come here to see what they could find. We 
heard of them elsewhere, and idtimately saw their pur- 
chases on the quay at Poti, on the point of being shipped. 
The people are thus brought into contact with the Euro- 
pean world, but its rumours echo faintly in this remote 
corner of the continent. The princes themselves are men 
of taste : one is a good musician ; the other, whose mind 
seemed to be of a practical turn, has gained some informa- 
tion during his Russian service beyond that of a purely 
military character. Accustomed at home to nothing but 
the perishable cream-cheeses which are alone made in the 
Caucasus, he had been struct by the * Gruyfere * eaten in 
Russia, and had set to wort to imitate it vdth very toler- 
able success. Before our departure we saw also a number 
of improved carts, which had been constructed under his 
directions, to replace the clumsy machines formerly in use 
The facts connected with our country most deeply im- 
pressed on his mind were, that it had produced a great 
dramatic author named Shatespeare, and that Englishmen 
lived entirely on beefsteats and porter; he was profuse in his 
apologies at being unable to supply us with our national 
food, and offered to send up to the pasturage and have 
a buUoct slaughtered, a proposal the execution of which 
was only prevented by our declaring ourselves quite con- 
tented with the sheep we had just bought. 

We endeavoured to extract as much information as pos- 
sible as to the customs and mode of life of the people, but 
it is very difficult to talt on any but the simplest subjects 
through an uneducated interpreter. The sum of what we 
gathered was, that the natives of this and the upper val- 
leys next to the east consider themselves a distinct race 
from the Tchertesses, who dwell on the verge of the 
steppes and in the mountains to the westward. The 
people here claim to be the old inhabitants, and to have 



THE PRINCES OP URUSPIEH. 855 

been dispossessed of their ancient supremacy when the 
hordes of Tcherkesses from the Crimea inundated the 
country. Their language is Tartar, and their religion, as 
far as they have any, is Mahommedan ; the princes seemed, 
however, to be very broad and tolerant in their views. The 
imperial sway of Russia does not press hardly on these 
mountaineers, who pay only a light house-tax, are exempt 
from conscription, and are too remote to be exposed to 
those petty restraints which a once-free people often find 
the hardest to bear. Their local government has been 
generally described as feudal ; it seemed to us that patri- 
archal would be the more fitting word. The princes are 
the recognised heads of the community ; they live in a 
house four times the size of any other in the village, they 
are richest in flocks and herds, and on them falls the duty 
of entertaining strangers ; but their word is not law, and 
they can only persuade, not compel, their poorer neigh- 
bours to cany out their wishes. 

We acquired some geographical information as to the 
neighbouring mountains. There are two routes into Sua- 
netia — the one by which we had come, through the Nakra 
valley; and another leading up the glen, due south of 
Uruspieh, and crossing, as far as we could understand, to 
the Betscho district. This last, though higher than that 
which we had crossed, was said to be practicable for 
horses. The traveller desirous of reaching tJteohkulan,* 
the principal village in the Karatchai district, has the 
choice of skirting the northern or southern flanks of 
Elbruz. K prepared to imdertake on foot a glacier- 
pass, he will go up to the sources of the Baksan, and 
traverse the range connecting Elbruz with the watershed, 
to the Upper Kuban. If he prefers a less toilsome 

* Quite unconnected with Uschkul, the collective name of the highest group 
of hamlets in Suanotia, of which Jibiani is one. 

▲ A 2 



856 FROM PARI TO PATIGORSK. 

journey, he will ride over two northerly spurs, descending 
between them to cross the valley of the Malka. By either 
route Utschkulan can be reached on the third day. The 
Malka is the stream which rises in the northern glacier 
of Elbruz, and it is from its head that most of the Rus- 
sian explorers have viewed the mountain, and that the 
first and most famous attempt to reach its top was made, 
by the expedition under the command of General Em- 
*manuel, in 1829. There was a report in the village that 
some Russian officers had lately been seen on the Malka, 
and we felt some alarm, lest the news of our success on 
Kazbek had stirred up the officials to endeavour to antici- 
pate us by a prior assault on Elbruz. We never heard 
anything further of our supposed rivals, and if there was 
any truth in the story, it referred, I believe, only to a 
pleasure-party who had come up from Kislovodsk to look 
at the mountain.* 

The princes promised that the necessary attendants for 
our expedition should be ready early in the morning, and 
also that they would supply us with large loaves, better fit 
for carrying than the small crumbly cakes usually eaten in 
the villages. The terms asked by the men who were to 
act as porters were two roubles apiece for each day, to 
which we made no objection. In the evening we were 
amused by the athletic sports of the youngsters who were 
gathered outside our door. Two boys began wrestling, 
and were incited to the most valorous struggles by the 
promise of a twenty-copeck piece to the winner. The 

* Any monntaincers who risit the Caucasus are Iik<^ly to go to Unispieh, and 
I may therefore, while on the subject of the routes leading to it, suggest an ex- 
pedition which, in point of interest and fine scenery, would, I am sure, repay a 
mountaineer, and is very unlikely to prove impracticable, or even difficult. 
It is to ascend thevalley opening due south of the village, and, turning to the 
right from its head, effect a pass over the glaciers into the glen, the torrent of 
which joins the Baksan halfway between Uruspieh and its source. 



CEDSPIEII BEAfTT. 357 

villagers were constantly passing and repassing in front of 
oor door, and we had ample opportunities of studying 
their characteristics. Tlie men were a fine race, with a 
very high type of countenance. The women we saw were 
prematurely old and wrinkled, with the exception of the 
quite young girls, who were many of them pretty little 
things, with close-fitting caps hung round with coins, and 
lonEf elf-locks streaming out from heneath. The men can- 



not posBesB all the beauty of the race; but as this is a 
Mahommedan country, the young wives and marriageable 
maidens are probably kept more or less in seclusion. 

July 2Qth. — As usual in the morning, although we got 
tip and breakfasted early, the porters did not appear till 
two hours later, and then only dropped in one by one. The 
bread too had not been baked, and it was not till 8.30 a.m. 



358 FROM TABl TO PATIGOBSK. 

that all our preparations were completed. We had with 
ns five natives, who put the greater part of their loads, 
for the present, on the backs of two horses, which were 
to go with us as far as the highest pasturage. Our 
companions were equipped with poles, armed with tre- 
mendous iron spikes about two feet long, gradually taper- 
ing to a point, and a species of ' crampon,' to attach to 
the heel in climbing ice or slippery turf. They soon 
proved themselves tax better walkers than any we had yet 
had to do with, and we retraced our steps up the valley 
at a very tolerable pace. Our plan had been to turn up 
the glen leading to the eastern glacier of Elbruz, 
which, by the map, is manifestly the most direct route to 
the mountain, and, ovring to our difficulty in conversing 
with the porters, it was not till the point where we pro- 
posed turning off was reached that we found their inten- 
tions differed. They declared that we must go up the 
main Baksan valley to its head, and then turn to the right, 
in order to reach the south-eastern Elbruz glacier. The 
objections to the route we proposed were diverse ; there 
were no shepherds in that direction, there was no path up 
the glen, and it made such a circuit that it would take 
three days to reach the foot of the mountain. The first 
two reasons were plausible ; the third was ridiculous, and 
entirely contradicted by the views we subsequently had in 
the course of the ascent. 

As soon as we imderstood the points of the case, we 
acquiesced in our men's wishes, and continued in oar old 
tracks up the valley, occasionally profiting by their local 
knowledge to make short cuts through the wood. Close 
to the hut where we had spent the night after crossing the 
range, wild strawberries grew in great profusion, but, gene- 
rally speaking, they do not abound in this country. A bend 
in the direction of the . valley hides its head from the 



^Jm 



FIBST SIGHT OF ELBRUZ. 359 

traveller until he has rounded a projection of the northern 
mountain-side, the base of which the stream hugs so 
closely, that the path is obliged to wind along the slopes 
overlooking the thick fir-wood beneath. Here we met 
some hunters driving two donkeys, each laden with a fine 
bouquetin, recently killed on the edge of the glacier. The 
head of one carried a noble pair of horns, but the second 
was a comparatively young animal. Having at length 
turned the comer, we saw before us the source of the 
Baksan, a large glacier filling the head of the valley. At 
a deserted hut we halted for a consultation, and our men 
gave us the choice of turning up a glen opening on our 
right, or going still farther up the valley. We decided on 
taking the former, as being the most direct course. 

The climb into the glen was rather rapid ; above us, on 
the left, rose a striking mass of columnar basalt strangely 
contorted, and of a deep ruddy hue. The long grass was 
full of snakes, which, as a rule, are rarely found in the 
Caucasus. One of the porters beckoned me to follow him 
a few feet up the slope above the path,, and pointed out 
a flattened snow-dome, just visible over the top of the fine 
icefall that closed the glen, as ^ Minghi-Tau.' This was 
our first sight of Elbruz since we landed in the Caucasus, 
our only previous glimpse of the mountain having been 
from the Black Sea steamer, when approaching Poti. 
B[alf-an-hour's walk below the end of the glacier, we found 
the shepherds, who had fixed their quarters in a level 
meadow, which we reached in nine hours from XJruspieh. 
In order that we might be within easy reach of capital milk, 
cheese, and ^kaimak* (a species of Devonshire cream) — 
delicacies of mountain life which had been long wanting 
on the south side of the chain— our tent was pitched close 
to the herdsmen's bivouac. The sheep, apparently dis- 
turbed by the novel erection which disfigured their restincr- 



360 FBOM PARI TO PATIGORSK. 

place, determined to get rid of it, and spent the greater 
part of the night in charging down on the sides of our 
«helter. Fortunat<;ly, an Alpine tent is not easily upset, 
but our slumbers were constantly broken by the uneasy 
consciousness of an angry animal butting within a foot 
of our heads. 

July 30th. — ^The morning was fine, and the cold wind 
seemed likely to be the harbinger of a spell of settled 
weather. We did not expect a long day's work, as we 
were already at a height of about 8,000 feet, and were not 
likely to find an eligible spot for our tent above 12,000 
feet. Wq started, however, in fair time, in order, in case 
of need, to be able to push on, and reconnoitre the work 
before us. The horses came on, for half an hour, to the 
foot of the glacier, which has retired considerably of late 
years ; there are distinct ancient moraines, now overgrown 
with herbage, a quarter of a mile in advance of the present 
termination of the ice. Crossing the torrent, which was 
divided into several branches, we began to ascend the 
steep hillside on the right of the icefall, which is tolerably 
clean, and finely broken into towers and pinnacles. After 
some time a line of crags appeared to bar the way ; they 
are, however, easily turned in one place, near a little fall 
which tumbles in a pretty shower of water-rockets over 
the almost perpendicular strata of basaltic rock. Above 
this, gentian-studded slopes of short turf were soon suc- 
ceeded by alternate beds of snow and boulders, extending 
to the foot of a steep bant, from the top of which we 
gained a clearer insight into the configuration of the 
mountain-side. 

We were on a rocky ridge, the summit of which, still 
some six hundred feet above our heads, confines the upper 
snowfield, which overflows towards the Baksan by two 
channels — one, the icefall beside which we had ascended ; 



  A -J 



A LOFTy BIVOUAC. 3GI 

and a second, farther west, and neurer the head of the 
valley. The porters had made a long circuit in order to 
avoid the steep bank we had just climbed, and were now 
out of sight. Moore was unwell, and had walked thus fai- 
with much difficulty ; Tucker, Fraii9ois, and I therefore set 
oflF to climb the ridge before us, in the hopes of finding a 
suitable spot for a bivouac near its summit. The boulders 
were very big, and, although there was no difficulty in 
scrambling over them, it was long before we could find a 
plot of ground six feet square which, by any stretch of 
language, could be called level. When we at last succeeded, 
we announced the fact by a shout to our Mend below, and 
hastened on to see what was above. The highest, rocks 
were soon passed, and a further climb of about fifty feet 
brought us to the level of a great snowfield, surrounding 
the final cone of Elbruz, which rose immediately before us, 
resembling' in shape an inverted tea-cup. The mountain 
appeared to have two summits, of nearly equal height, 
and both easy of access to anyone accustomed to Alpine 
climbing. 

Thoroughly satisfied with our inspection, we returned 
to the spot we had chosen for our tent, and set vigor- 
ously to work to make the surface level. To effect 
this we dug out, vrith our ice-axes, nearly a foot of 
stony earth at the upper side, and spread it below — 
increasing the breadth, which was insufficient, by breaking 
off masses of rock on one side, and throwing them dovni on 
the other. We then completed and filled up the interstices 
of the natural wall of rock to windward, and, having finished 
our labours, sat down very contentedly to admire our handi- 
work, and await the long-delayed arrival of the rest of the 
party. At last our porters came up, und the tent was 
pitched. The evening view from our eyrie — the height 
of which was about 12,000 feet — was superb. Looking 



S62 ASCENT OP ELBRUZ. 

nearly south, across the trough of the Baksan to the cen- 
tral chain opposite, the square-headed Tungzorun rose 
grandly, its cliffs capped with a huge cornice of ice, and a 
broad stainless glacier streaming down one of its flanks. 
Further east, in a double-toothed giant, we recognised our 
startling Suanetian acquaintance Uschba, bearing, it is 
true, more ice on his northern side, but quite as inac- 
cessible in appearance as from the south. 

Our enjoyment of the scene was interrupted by a perfectly 
unforeseen disturbance. Our porters presented a demand for 
their first two days' pay ; we reminded them that they had 
distinctly agreed that the settlement was to be delayed 
until our return to Uruspieh, but at the same time offered 
the money in two notes. They refused it, and required 
that each man should be given his exact portion ; we told 
them we had not sufficient small notes with us, on which 
they announced their intention of returning home, and 
leaving us to get our luggage back as best we could. Such 
unreasonable conduct could only be met with contempt, 
and we answered that they might do as they pleased ; that 
we should start soon after midnight, and should return in 
the afternoon, and, unless our goods were carried safely 
down to the shepherds' bivouac before nightfall, should 
pay them nothing ; we added, that if any of them were 
willing to attempt the ascent it would give us great 
pleasure, and that they should have every assistance fix)m 
our rope and ice-axes. On receiving this message from Paul 
the five all departed, as they would have had us believe, 
never to return ; but in less than half an hour they came 
back, like boys who had had their sulk out, and made a 
half apology for their behaviour. This difficulty being 
satisfactorily smoothed over, the men retreated to lairs 
somewhat lower down the hillside, while we prepared for 
the night. Paul had, contrary to our advice, insisted on 



INTENSE COLD. 3GS 

coming with ns ; he was so anxious to ascend the famous 
mountain, which he had lived near and heard talked of 
all his life, that we did not like to check his enthusiasm, 
especially as there seemed no reason why he should not 
accomplish his desire. The night promised to be cold, 
and we invited Fran9oi8 to come inside the tent — which, as 
we had proved on Elazbek, would at a pinch accommodate 
four — ^while Paul found a sheltered couch in a trench we 
had dug at the head of the tent. 

Jvly .31«^.— The cold during the night was so intense, 
that the water in a gutta-percha bag, which we had filled 
overnight and hung within the canvas, was frozen before 
morning into a solid sausage of ice, and in consequence, 
having no firewood with us, we could procure nothing to 
drink. At 2.10 A.M., having attached ourselves with the 
rope, in the knowledge that terra firma would soon be left 
behind, we set out alone, the natives not answering to our 
shouts. In climbing the steep snow-banks which lead to 
the ' grand plateau,' Paul slipped about helplessly, and 
Tucker had almost to drag him for some distance. 
When, in a quarter of an hoar, we reached the edge of 
the great snow-plain, Elbruz loomed before us, huge and 
pale, but, to our surprise and disgust, partially shrouded by 
a black cloud. The walking was now easy, and we 
tramped on in solemn, not to say surly silence, our ice- 
axes under our arms, and our hands in our pockets. We 
were well protected firom the severe cold by Wekh wigs, 
scarves, cardigans, and muffetees, though, owing to our men 
having mislaid my gaiters, I offered one weak point to the 
enemy's attack. 

A few benighted people still reiterate the assertion 
that the true beauty of nature ceases at the snow-level, 
and that those who go beyond it get no reward for their 
pains except the satisfaction of having treated a great 



364 ASCENT '0:P ELBKUZ. 

mountain as a greased pole. As we tramped over the 
snowfields of Elbruz, I could not help wishing we had some 
of these unbelievers with us, because, while they would 
have been compelled to admit the startling grandeur of 
the situation, the intense cold would have inflicted on 
them a just punishment for their past ofltences. The 
last rays of the setting moon lit up the summits of the 
main chain, over the gaps in which we already saw 
portions of the southern spurs. The icy sides of XJschba 
and Tungzorun reflected the pale gleam of the sky ; a 
dark rock-peak further west stood in deep shadow. We 
were high enough to overlook the ridges that run out 
from Elbruz towards the north-east, in which direction a 
dark band of vapour, illuminated by fitful flashes of sheets 
lightning, overhung the distant steppe- The thick black 
cloud was still on the mountain before us ; otherwise the 
sky overhead was clear, and the stars shone out with pre- 
tematural brilliancy. 

Near the point where the snow began to slope towards 
the base of the mountain, the crisp surface broke under 
my feet, and I disappeared, as suddenly as through a trap- 
door, into a concealed crevasse. Paul, who was next 
behind me on the rope, was horror-struck, and his first 
impulse was to rush to the brink to see what had become 
of me, a course of proceeding which had to be summarily 
checked by my companions. The crevasse was one of 
those which gradually enlarge as they descend, but the 
check given by the rope enabled me at once to plant my 
feet on a ledge on one side, and my back against the other. 
The position was more ludicrous than uncomfortable. I 
had both hands in my pockets, and my ice-axe under my 
arm ; and owing to the tightness of the rope, and the 
cramped space, it was not easy to make the axe serviceable 
without fear of dropping it into the unknown depths below. 



FRIGID DESPAIR. 865 

The snow-crust on the side of the hole I had made broke 
away beneath my arms when I first tried to raise myself 
on it, and it cost us all a long struggle before I was 
hauled out and landed safely. 

The slopes now steepened, the cold grew more intense, 
and the wind almost unbearable, so that altogether the 
prospect was far from cheering. The morning star aroused 
us to a temporary enthusiasm by the strange accompani- 
ments and brightness of its rising. Heralded by a glow 
of light, which made one of the party exclaim, * There 
comes the sun! * it leapt forth with a sudden splendour 
from amidst the flashes of lightning playing in the dark 
cloud that lay below, shrouding the distant steppe. The 
shock was but momentary, and we soon relapsed into a 
state of icy despair, which was not diminished by the 
sudden desertion of Paul, who, fairly beaten by the intense 
cold^ turned and fled down our traces. For hour after 
hour we went on without a halt, hoping that the sun 
would bring with it an increase of warmth. 

A sunrise viewed from a height equal to that of the top of 
Mont Blanc is a scene of imearthly splendour, of which words 
can convey but a feeble impression. A sudden kindling of 
the eastern ranges first warned us to be on the watch ; in 
a moment the snow upon which we were standing, the 
crags above us, indeed the whole atmosphere, were suffused 
with rose-pink. The cloud on the summit^ which had 
changed from black to grey as daylight dawned, now caught 
the pervading flush, and suddenly melted away, like a 
ghost who had outstayed his time. As the hues faded, 
the sun's orb rose in the east, and flooded us with a stream 
of golden rays, which were soon merged in the clear 
light of day. There was no increase of warmth as yet, 
and, despite the improved look of the weather, it became 
a serious question whether we could go on. By 7.30 a.m. 



366 ASCENT OF ELBRUZ. 

we were at a height of over 16,000 feet, and had now 
reached the rocks which form the upper portion of the 
cone. Finding what shelter we could among them, we 
stood shivering, kicking our feet against the rock, and 
beating our fingers, to preserve them if possible from 
frostbite, while the debate, as to whether we should turn 
back or not, was carried on in voices almost inaudible from 
the chattering of our teeth. On the one hand, the wind 
did not abate, and the risk of frostbites was growing 
serious; Tucker and Pran9ois had no sensation in their 
fingers, and my toes were similarly affected. On the 
other hand, the rocks were less cold to the feet, and gave 
some shelter from the weather. Looking back^ we saw, 
to our surprise, two of the porters advancing rapidly in 
our footsteps. We had almost decided to turn whcA they 
came up to us, looking fairly comfortable in their big 
sheepskin cloaks, and quite unaffected by the cold. A 
third, however, who had started with them, had, like Paul, 
given in. I said, * If a porter goes on, I will go with him.' 
*K one goes, all go,' added Moore. The decision was 
accepted, and we again set our faeces to the mountain. 

Prom this time the cold, though severe, ceased to be 
painful. A long climb up easy rocks, mostly broken 
small, with here and there a large knob projecting from the 
surface, brought us to the foot of a low cliff, to surmount 
which a few steps were cut in an ice-couloir, the only 
approach to a difiiculty on the mountain. Arrived on the 
top of what had for long been our skyline, we saw as 
much more rock above us. Doubts were even now felt, 
and expressed, as to our success. We persevered, however, 
making but few and short halts, until the base of some 
bold crags, we had taken long to reach, was passed. 
Almost suddenly, at the last, we found ourselves on a level 
with their tops, and stepped on to a broad crest, running 



PANORAMA FROM THE SUMMIT. 367 

east and west. We turned to the left, and faced the 
wind, for a final struggle. The ridge was easy, and, led 
by the porters, we marched along it in procession, with 
our hands in our pockets, and our ice-axes under our 
arms, until it culminated in a bare patch of rock sur- 
rounded by snow. This summit was at one end of 
a horseshoe ridge, crowned by three distinct eminences, 
and enclosing a snowy plateau, which, even to our unlearned 
eyes, irresistibly suggested an old crater. The rocks which 
we picked up, and carried down with us, are of a volcanic 
character. We walked, or rather ran, round the ridge 
to its extremity, crossing two considerable depressions, 
and visiting all three tops ; under the farthest, a tower 
of rock, we found shelter and a quite endurable tem- 
perature. There we sat down, to examine, as far as 
possible, into the details of the vast panorama. The two 
natives pointed out the various valleys, while we en- 
deavoured to recognise the mountains. Light clouds were 
driving against the western face of the peak, and a sea of 
mist hid the northern steppe — otherwise the view was 
clear. Beginning in the east, the feature of the panorama 
was the central chain between ourselves and Kazbek. I 
never saw any group of mountains which bore so well being 
looked down upon as the great peaks that stand over the 
sources of the Tcherek and Tchegem. The Pennines 
from Mont Blanc look puny in comparison with Kosch- 
tantau and his neighbours from Elbruz. The Caucasian 
groups are finer, and the peaks sharper, and there was a 
suggestion of unseen depth in the trenches separating 
them, that I never noticed so forcibly in any Alpine view. 
Turning southwards, the double-toothed XJschba still 
asserted himself, although at last distinctly beneath us ; 
the greater part of the summits and snowfields of the 
chain between us and Suanetia lay, as on a relieved map. 



368 ASCENT OF ELBRL'Z. 

at OUT feet, and we could see beyond them the snowy- 
crested Leila, and in the far distance the blue ranges of 
the Turkish frontier, between Batoiiin and Achaltzich. 
Shifting again our position, we looked over the shoulders 
of a bold rock-peak, the loftiest to the west of Elbruz, and 
endeavoured to make out the Black Sea. Whether the level 
grey surface which met our eyes was water, or a filmy mist 
hanging over its surface, it was impossible to distinguish. 
The mists, beating below on the slope of the mountain^ 
hid the sources of the Kuban, but we looked immediately 
down upon those of the Malka. On this side the slope 
of the mountain seemed to be uniform for nearly 10,000 
feet; and although there is nothing in its steepness to 
render an ascent impossible, the climb would be very long 
and toilsome. 

We were not hungry, and, if we had wished to drink 
anyone's health, we had nothing to drink it in ; so we gave 
vent to our feelings, and surprised the porters, vrith * Three 
times three, and one more ! ' in honour of the old mountain, 
which, by the help of vrind and cold, had made so good a 
fight against us. We then hurried back to the first 
summit, on which, as it seemed somewhat the highest, 
Pran9ois had already set himself to work, to erect a small 
stone-man. 

At this period, some one remembered that we had for- 
gotten aU about the rarity of the air ; we tried to observe 
it, but failed, and I think the fact that, at a height of 
18,500 feet, no single man, out of a party of six, was in 
any way affected, helps to prove that mountain-sickness is 
not a necessary evil, and that it only affects those who are 
in bad training, or out of sorts, at the time. Such is my 
experience, so far as it goes, having only twice suffered 
from it — once in an attempt on the Dent Blanche, on 
the first day of a Swiss tour, and again on Ararat, 



RAPID DESCENT. 369 

when quite out of condition. We reached the top of 
Elbruz at 10.40, and left a few minutes after 11 a.m. We 
had some difficulty in reconciling the appearance of the 
top of the mountain, when seen from a distance, either on 
the north or south, with its actual shape. Prom Poti, or 
Patigorsk, Elbruz appears to culminate in two peaks of 
apparently equal height, separated by a considerable 
hollow. The gaps between the summits we visited are 
not more than 150 feet deep, and we were surprised at 
their being so conspicuous fix)m a distance. In walking 
round the horseshoe ridge, we naturally looked out to see 
if there was not some other summit, but none was visible ; 
and on the west (where, if anywhere, it should have been 
found), the slopes appeared to break down abruptly towards 
the Karatchai, and there were no clouds dense enough to 
have concealed any eminence nearly equalling in height 
that upon which we stood. 

The ascent from our bivouac— one of 6,500 feet, or 
800 feet more than Mont Blanc troia the Grands Mulcts — 
had occupied 7^ hours, with very few halts ; the return 
was accomplished in four hours, and might have been done 
much faster. The rocks were so easy, that bat for the 
trouble of coiling up, and then again getting out the rope, 
we should have hurried down without it. Some little 
care was necessary, on the part of those in the rear, to 
avoid dislodging loose stones, and Moore got a nasty blow 
on his finger from one, the effects of which lasted for 
many weeks. At about one o'clock we sat down on the 
spot where we had held our debate in the morning, and 
made the first regular meal of the day. We now, too, 
broke the icicles off our beards, which had been thus 
fringed since 3 a.m. We observed from hence that 
the eastern glacier of Elbruz flows from the same n^v6 
as the ice-streams that descend to the sources of the 

B B 



870 ASCECT OP ELBRUZ. 

Baksan, and that there was no apparent difficulty in 
following it into the head of the glen from which we had 
originally proposed to attack the mountain. The snow 
was still in good order, owing to the extreme cold, and we 
slid quickly down — the two natives, though declining to 
be attached to our rope, gladly accepting the suggestion 
that they should hold it in their hands. When ascending 
in our tracks, they had seen the hole made by my dis- 
appearance in the crevasse, and the lesson was not lost 
upon them. . 

A cloud which had formed in the valley now swept 
up, and enveloped us for half-an-hour, but we found 
no difficulty in steering our way through the layer of mist 
into bright sunshine. We arrived at the bivouac to find 
that Paul had already left with the baggage, and 
we soon followed, leisurely descending the steep slopes 
beside the icefall. The stream, which yesterday burst 
from the foot of the glacier, had changed its source, and 
to-day spurted in a jet from the top of a bank of ice. 
The heat of the afternoon had swollen its waters, and we 
found some difficulty in crossing them. The two natives 
had arrived before us, and told their story to their com- 
panions and the shepherds, who, having made up their 
minds that we should never be seen again, were surprised 
and seemingly pleased to welcome us, not only safe but 
successful On our appearance in camp we had to submit 
to the congratulations of the country, offered in their 
usual form of hugging and kissing. 

August let. — ^We were too stiff, after our long exposure 
to cold, to rest very easily, and were ready to start on our 
return to Uruspieh at an early hour. Our men, however, had 
other plans, and we found that they meant to kill and eat a 
sheep before leaving. Wishing to take our time on the 
road, we left them to follow; but I no sooner attempted to 



RECEPTION AT URUSPIEH. 371 

walk than one of my ankles became painful, as if it had 
been badly sprained, and I was therefore obliged to stop, 
and mount one of the horses we had brought up from the 
village. The pain and stiffness, no doubt resulting from 
the cold, gradually wore oflf, and I was glad to dismount 
halfway. The train of porters overtook us about an 
hour out of XJruspieh, and we walked in together. I 
never saw better walkers than these Tartars, not only on 
a hillside, but — what is even more remarkable amongst 
mountaineers — ^upon fiat ground. They gave us a start, 
and caught us up easily in the ascent of Elbruz, and now, 
when Tucker, wishing to try their mettle, put on a spurt 
across the meadow, they walked with apparent ease at a 
pace of five miles an hour, and soon caused our friend to 
repent the trial of speed he had rashly provoked. These 
men are the raw material out of which Caucasian guides 
will have to be made, and, if the great language difficulty 
could be overcome, there is no reason why they should 
not, with a little practice in ice-craft, become firstrate 
companions for a traveller wanting to explore the glaciers 
of this part of the chain. 

We entered XJruspieh, and reached the guest-house 
almost unobserved; but we had not been there niany 
minutes before our native companions spread the news of 
our return, and a crowd of excited villagers flocked into the 
room. Several minutes passed before the story was fiilly 
understood: our burnt faces, and the partially-blinded 
eyes of the two men who had accompanied us, were 
visible signs that we had in truth spent many hours on the 
snowfields, and the circumstantial account and description 
of the summit given by the porters seemed to create 
a general belief in the reality of the ascent. The scene 
was most entertaining. The whole male population of 
the place crowded round us to shake hands, each of our 

B b2 



^L-i»*»^- 



372 ASCZ^T OF ELBRUZ. 

companions found himself a centre of attraction, and the 
air rang with ^ Allah '-seasoned phrases of exclamation and 
astonishment, mingled, as each newcomer entered, and 
required to hear the tale afresh, with constant reiterations 
of * Minghi'Tau ! ' — a Cimiliar name, which sounds far more 
grateful to mj ear than the heavj-syllabled Elbruz. 

We underwent a crossfire of questionings as to what we 
had found on the top, and had sorrowfully to confess that we 
had seen nothing of the gigantic cock who lives up aloft, and 
is said to salute the sunrise by crowing and flapping his 
wings, and to prevent the approach of men to the treasiure 
he is set to guard, by attacking intruders with his beak 
and talons* We could not even pretend to have had an 
interview with the g^nts and genii believed to dwell in the 
clefts and caverns of Elbruz, concerning one of whom 
Haxthausen relates the following legend : — * An Abkhasian 
once went down into the deepest cavern of the mountain, 
where he found a powerful giant, who said to him, " Child 
of man of the upper world, who hast dared to come down 
here, tell me how the race of man lives in the world above ? 
Is woman still true to man 9 Is the daughter still obedient 
to the mother ? " The Abkhasian answered in the affirma- 
tive, whereat the giant gnashed his teeth, groaned, and 
said, " Then must I still live on here with sighs and lamen- 
tation!'*' The giant lost an opportunity when I was in the 
crevasse ; for had he then put the same questions to me, an 
old * Saturday Review * might have been found in my 
pocket, the perusal of a famous article in which would 
have clearly justified him in considering his period of 
punishment at an end. 

The princes, of course, came to talk the expedition over 
with us, and seemed much struck by what they heard of 
the use we had made of our mountaineering gear, of which 
they had before scarcely comprehended the purpose. 



■.J3 



AN IDLE DAY. 373 

Hamzet^s enthusiasm was boundless ; he strolled in and 
out perpetually, repeating each time the magic word 
^ Minghi-Tau ! ' — till at last he achieved an astonishing 
linguistic feat, and showed at the same time a surprising 
acquaintance with the manners of Western Europe, by con- 
fidentially suggesting, * Minghi-Tau, — London* champagne 
fruhstuck, karasho.' He had evidently not been in the 
Russian service for nothing. 

We went to bed with a weight off our minds, feeling 
that, come now what might, the three great objects of our 
journey — the ascents of Eazbek and Elbruz, and the 
establishment of a high-level route between them — were 
fully accomplished. Conscious virtue now proposed to 
reward itself, and after a month of hard work, poor living, 
and no accommodation, attended at times by considerable 
anxiety as to the successful issue of our projects, we looked 
forward with pleasure to a period of enjoyment of the 
luxuries of civilisation at Patigorsk, the watering-place of 
the Northern Caucasus. 

Aiyvst 2nd. — ^We had naturally imagined that, with the 
friendly aid of the princes at our back, we should have no 
difficuliy in procuring horses to ride down the two days* 
journey to Patigorsk. Such, however, was not the case ; 
the old leaven of covetousness, which seems inherent in the 
Caucasian mountaineer, again came to the . surface ; the 
price asked was absurd, and the arrangements were further 
complicated by the necessiiy of making a bargain with 
two or three men, owing to no single peasant having suffi- 
cient horses for our whole party. The princes possessed 
influence, though no authority, and by their aid an arrange- 
ment was finally concluded. We were asked by several 
of the wealthier villagers, and received a formal application 
from one of the princes' servants, to know if we had any gold 
or silver pieces with us, that we would exchange for Russian 



374 FROM PAKI TO PATIGOBSK. 

paper. In tliis cotmtry eyery man is his own banker, and 
either carries his balance on his person, melted into the 
form of gold ornaments for his belt or dagger-sheath, or 
else hangs it in a row of gold coins on his wife's forehead. 
The day was superb, but we were too lazy to go up a hill, 
even for the sake of seeing Elbruz. 

August 3rd. — Our start was to hare been early, but, as 
usual, delay arose fix)m various causes. We were anxious 
to acknowledge the hospitality shown to us, but the means 
at onr disposal were limited ; at last we determined to 
quiet our consciences, when our hosts came to see ns off, 
by presenting a compressible drinking-cup to Ismail, the 
eldest brother. We were on the point of departure, when 
the princess, his sister, sent down a servant with a special 
request (translated to ns apologetically by Paul), that we 
would leave behind for her use an article of toilet, one of 
the very few we possessed, which she had seen and 
admired. The princess's wish was of course gratified, and 
the object on which she had set her affections — a large 
bath-sponge — was yielded up to her. 

Two of the princes presented us with their cartes-de- 
visite, taken at Fatigorsk, and accepted ours in return ; 
then, after exchanging hearty farewells, we left Uruspieh 
behind us, and took the road leading down the valley. 
Our course lay along the banks of the Baksan for the whole 
day, during which (between 8.30 a.m. and 9.30 p.m.) we 
accomplished a distance of fifty miles — a good ride, on 
native saddles, for men who had not been on horseback 
for weeks ; but the excellence of the road aided us much 
in getting through the day's work. The valley of the 
Baksan, as yet the most visited in the Caucasus, is also 
the dullest, and its scenery cannot, by any stretch of cour- 
tesy, be called either grand or beautiful. For some dis- 
tance below Uruspieh, the valley preserves the same 



THE BAKSAN VALLEY. 375 

general character and direction ; the riversides are culti- 
vated, and farmhonses are seen every half-hour ; the 
lower slopes of the mountains are scantilj' wooded with 
firs. A narrow gorge, from the upper end of which the 
traveller obtains his last and finest view of Tungzorun, 
leads into a wide green basin, hemmed in on the north by 
clifPs, the tawny hue and bold outlines of which reminded 
us of pictures of Sinaitic scenery. The landscape was for a 
time perfectly bare. On the right, in recesses of the hills, 
we passed two villages, from one of which a low pass leads 
over into the valley of the Tchegem, the next tributary 
of the Terek on the east. The path then enters a second 
defile, longer and more picturesque than the first, and 
rendered pleasing to the eye by abundant vegetation, 
which suddenly succeeda to the utter bareness of the glen' 
above. We thought a hamlet at its lower extremity 
would be our journey's end, but found there was stiU a 
ride of some hours before us. 

After crossing the river twice, by new and solidly-built 
bridges, the track leads across a wide grassy plain, sur- 
rounded by ridges which no longer deserve the name of 
mountains. Copious springs of the clearest water burst out 
of the ground, and nourished a tall and rank herbage, the 
home of myriads of insects, which persecuted most cruelly 
both our horses and ourselves. A perfect plague of horse- 
flies swarmed around us, and the backs of our coats were so 
thickly covered with the insects that the cloth was scarcely 
visible. At the lower end of this plain a considerable tribu- 
tary joins the Baksan, on the left, and close to the junction 
stands a group of old tombs, concerning which the natives 
tell numerous legends. After wading the tributary, we had 
still a long stretch of comland to traverse, before reaching 
Ataschkutan. As night came on, and the moon rose, the 
coolness, and relief from our insect tormentors, were very 



376 FROM PARI TO PATIGORSK, 

pleasant. At last lights appeared, and we rode along 
the outskirts of a large and scattered village, composed of 
low houses, each standing apart from its neighbour, and 
surrounded by its own garden. 

We had now entered the country of the Tcherkesses, the 
most famous tribe of the Caucasus, from whom the whole 
mountainous region between the Black and Caspian Seas is 
often yaguely, and very incorrectly, called Circassia. We 
were to lodge at the prince's house, situated at the farther 
end of the village, within an enclosure surrounded by bams 
and outbuildings. ,The interior bore witness to Russian 
influence. For the first time dince leaving Kobi, we found 
chairs and tables, knives and forks, and other luxuries of 
Western life ; indeed, the room we slept in would have 
been perfectly European in its appearance, but for the 
illuminated texts of the Koran hung up against the walls. 
The prince was a good-looking youth, of apparently less 
than average intelligence ; in our case, at least, he meddled 
only to muddle. Our horsemen,' dissatisfied with the bar- 
gain the TJruspieh princes had led them into, struck for 
higher pay, which we refused to give, trusting,. somewhat 
rashly, to find others without difficulty. In the morning 
the prince seemed unable to give us any help, and declared 
there were no horses unemployed, an assertion which was 
hardly uttered when we saw a drove of at least two 
hundred on the opposite bank of the river. 

A peasant having offered to provide a bullock-cart and 
one horse to take us to Zonitzki, the nearest post-station, 
forty versts off, we accepted his offer as the simplest means 
of escape fix>m our difficulty, and set out in this novel 
style. The road led for many miles over rolling hills, 
which, but for the luxuriant herbage with which they were 
covered, might have been taken for part of the South 
Downs of Sussex, the level steppe in front looking from a 



FRANfOIS IN DIFFICULTY. 377 

distance not unlike the sea. To the south we had occasional 
glimpses, through the clouds, of the snowy chain we were 
leaving. Our progress was delayed by the breakdown of 
the cart, which its owner happily succeeded in exchanging 
for another we found on the road. Now up and now down, 
we traversed for hours the same description of country, 
passing between meadows of gigantic weeds, amongst 
which the wild sunflower had the pre-eminence. Lunch 
took place, under the shadow of the cart, beside a muddy 
brook, the only water we saw for miles. Our progress 
throughout the day was of the slowest description ; one of 
us rode the horse in turn ; the others either walked or took 
lifts in the bullock-cart, which creaked slowly along at 
about two miles an hour. We had one good laugh to 
relieve the dulness of the ride. Fran9ois, whose notions 
of horsemanship are practical but not scientific, was about 
to mount the horse, when he felt that the stirrup was 
weak. He met the difficulty without hesitating for a 
moment, by going round to the other side and mounting 
with the left leg foremost, consequently with his face 
to the tail. This result, however, had been foreseen, and, 
with a dexterity for which we were imprepa^d, the rider 
wriggled himself round in the saddle, quite unconscious of 
the amusement his proceedings had afforded to the party in 
the cart. 

As we drew near the river Malka the hills sank, and the 
country became well cultivated, the grain principally 
grown beiag a kind of spelt. The view was very striking 
from the brow above the slight descent to the ford. 
On the river-bank was a large Tcherkess village, and 
before us a vast plain — golden in parts with uncut corn, 
dotted in others vnth the small ricks into which the 
peasants first heap it — ^stretched to the horizon. A group of 
bold hiUs rose like islands in the distance, in the loftiest 



378 FHOM PARI TO PATIGOKSK. 

of which we at once recognised Beschtau (4,694 feet), 
an isolated summit rendered famous by several of the 
early travellers in this country, and not far distant from 
our goal — Patigorsk. Only ten versts now intervened 
between us and Zonitzki, the green-cupola'd church of 
which marked its position long before we reached it. There 
was no difficulty in obtaining ^ troikas/ though there was 
no regular posthouse, and the fdnctions of head of the post 
were exercised by the village schoolmaster. Excited at our 
gradual return to civilisation, and at the discovery of a shop, 
we rashly ordered a bottle of wine, but failed in the attempt 
to swallow the vinegar which bore the name. While our 
carts (the too well-remembered * paraclodnaia ') were being 
prepared, we sat in a farmyard, where we were entertained 
with tea and bread by a funny old Bussian woman, whose 
life seemed troubled by her pigs — lean and hungry beasts, 
that gathered round us in a circle, waiting to pick up the 
crumbs of our repast. 

The red and purple tints of a gorgeous sunset were 
slowly fading away, and the symmetrical form] of Besch- 
tau stood out, as a dark mass against the lustrous sky, as 
we left Zonitzki. Before the light was too far gone, we 
caught sight of Elbruz looming indistinctly, like a huge 
pale shadow, on the southern horizon. As the twilight 
grew deeper the moon rose, and lighted us on our way 
across the grassy steppe. In spite of the jolting, we dozed for 
three hours at the bottom of the cart, and were only aroused 
by finding ourselves in the broad street of a village we at 
first thought to be Patigorsk; it was, however, only its 
suburb, the Cossack 'stanitza' of Groriatchevodsk. No 
bridge crosses the stony bed of the Podkumok, a tributary 
of the Kuma, one of those streams which contradict the 
poet's assertion, that 

Even the weariest river 
Winds somewhere safe to sea, 



 f I... . ~»^- 



7 ;i 



THE CAUCASIAN CAPUA. 379 

by perishing miserably in the vast steppe which stretches 
inland from the north-western shores of the Caspian. We 
drove slowly through the ford, gazing with wondering 
eyes at what looked to us, unused to any building larger 
than a Tartar * aoul,' the temples and palaces covering the 
opposite hillside. Our driver, lashing his horses into a 
final spurt, galloped up a street lined with two-storied 
European houses, past dozens of shop-signs, and then round 
a sharp comer, where the blue domes of the cathedral, 
surmounted by chain-hung crosses of gold, glistened in 
the moonlight. To our astonishment the horses turned 
into the courtyard of a massive building with an Ionic 
portico, and we found that this palatial pile was the hotel. 
Never probably before this night had such a queer-looking 
crew demanded admission of Mademoiselle Caruta, the 
daughter of the worthy Italian who owns the establishment. 
With a discrimination which did her great credit, she recog- 
nised at once our true character, showed us rooms, and sug- 
gested, in Circean tones, that we should probably like some 
supper. It was 11 p.m., and we had thought that our travel- 
worn garments would not be exposed to public gaze till the 
next morning, when we might in some degree have furbished 
them up. To our surprise the restaurant was crowded with 
Bussian officers in full uniform (when are they not? ) and, 
worse still, ladies in evening costumes. Dazzled by the 
blaze of candles and looking-glasses, and puzzled by the 
profusion of good things suddenly placed at our disposal, 
we retired hastily to the nearest table, and having ordered 
our food, tried to look as if we were not conscious of being 
dusty, travel-stained, and about the colour of Bed Indians. 
The contrast, characteristic of Russia, between an excess 
of luxury and a lack of the commonest articles of civilisation, 
is seen in its most exaggerated form in the Caucasian pro- 
vinces. As we sat surrounded by all the luxuries of civilisa- 



380 FBOM PARI TO PATIGORSK. 

tion, and supplied, by assiduous waiters, with delicately- 
cooked dishes and brimming glasses, from which the cham- 
pagne flowed gratefully down our throats, the adventures of 
the past four weeks seemed to us as a tale that is told, 
and we could scarcely believe how short a time before high 
sheep's brains had been regarded as a delicacy, and a pair of 
shooting-boots and a revolver as a luxurious pillow. 



EEiT-r 



HISTORY OF FATIGORSK. 38l 



CHAPTER Xn. 

PATiaOBSK AND THE TOHEEBK VALLEY. 

The Cancasisn Spas — Their History and Development — View from 
Machoacha — ^The Patients — ^Essentaky — ^Kislovodsk — The Narzan — 
Hospitable Keception — A Fresh Start— A Bussian Farmhouse — By the 
Waters of Baksan — ^Naltschik — ^The Tcherek — Oamp in the Forest — ^A 
Tremendous Goige— Balkar — ^A Hospitable Sheikh — ^The Mollah — Gloomy 
Weather — A Solemn Parting — Granitic Cliffs — Karaoul — A Mountain 
Panorama — Sources of the Tcherek — The Stuleveesk Pass — Koschtantau 
and Dychtau — A Noble Peak — Our Last Camp. 

August Mh to 9th. — We spent five days very pleasantly 
in resting fix>ni our fatigues, and enjoying the good things 
brought within our reach in the Caucasian Capua, of 
which I must now give some account. The history of the 
mineral waters to which Patigorsk owes its existence is 
curious, as illustrating the state of the country during the 
last century, and the gradual steps by which the Bussian 
conquests have been extended and consolidated. In 1717 
the court-physician of Peter the Great reported on the 
rumoured existence of mineral springs in the country of 
the Tcherkesses, but no Eussian could then visit them. In 
1780 the fortress of Constantinogorsk was established, 
four versts from the present site of Patigorsk, to check 
the constant raids of the Tcherkesses. 

Klaproth visited the sulphur-springs in 1807, and gives 
a vivid and amusing description of the troubled lives led by 
the poor patients at that time. During the day the bathers 
sojourned in huts built round the source, which was 



382 PATIGOBSK. 

conducted into a clumsily-hewn basin, capable of containing 
six persons at a time. At night thej returned to the 
adjacent fortress, under the escort of a strong armed force ; 
for the country was still kept in alarm by continual raids 
of the Tcherkesses, who found the trade of catching and 
obtaining ransoms for prisoners as lucratiye as the Nea- 
politan brigands do at the present day. As the historian 
of the waters naively remarks, it is easy to imagine that, 
perfect repose of mind being an essential part of the cure, 
the patients did not benefit by it as much as they might 
have done under more favourable circumstances. Still, 
despite all hindrances, the popularity of the springs in- 
creased, and so early as 1811, two hundred Bussian 
families were drawn together to the spot. 

In 1812, an employ^ at Constantinogorsk built the two 
first houses on the site where Patigorsk now stands. In 
1«29 the transfer of the official portion of the population 
of Georgievsk to Stavropol gave a new impulse to the 
growth of Patigorsk, which received many of the former 
inhabitants of Georgievsk, a town in an unhealthy situar 
tion, only occupied on account of its supposed strategic im- 
portance. In 1819 the first regular bath-house was erected. 
Between this date and 1830, the town as it now stands 
was created — partly by imperial ukases and grants, partly 
by the favour and influence of successive governors of 
the province. It was during this period that the hotel, 
the public gardens, the bath-buildings, and the roads in 
the neighbourhood, were for the most part constructed. 
In 1837 the Emperor Nicholas visited the Caucasus, 
and made an annual grant of 8,000 roubles for the main- 
tenance and improvement of the bathing establishment. 

Patigorsk is the centre of the group of mineral springs, 
and the point on which the Government has concen- 
trated its efforts to create a national bathing-place, 



THE CAUCASIAN SPAS. 383 

worthy to rank with those of Western Europe. It is not, 
however, the only spot where mineral springs have been 
brought within the reach of the invalids ; the ' Eaux mine- 
rales du Caucase ' comprehend three other gi-oups of sources 
— ^Gteleznovodsk, ferruginous springs ; Essentuky, alkaline ; 
and Kislovodsk, acidulated carbonic. Our visit to the 
two latter I shall presently have occasion to describe. 
Geleznovodsk we did not see ; it lies at some distance 
north of the others, and nearer the base of Beschtau ; on 
the road to it, the colony of Karras, once inhabited by 
Scotch missionaries, is passed. The threatened extinction 
of the original stock led to the introduction of some 
German Lutherans, between whom and the Scotch such 
internal feuds arose, that the Government withdrew their 
support from the mission. In 1858 there was only one 
living representative of the original colonists, named 
Galloway. 

Fatigorsk itself is one of the most curious phenomena 
of the Caucasus, and its incongruities were perhaps more 
apparent to us, coming upon it, as we did, fresh from 
the mountains. The first feature about the place that 
strikes one with surprise is, that, though standing far 
away from the last swells of the great range, in the centre 
of a bare and featureless plain, it yet contrives to be 
pretty. Its attractions are due to its position on 
the side of a lofty isolated hill, Machoucha by name, 
which has been planted of late years with wood. The 
Fodkumok flows round the southern base of the hill, on 
the lower slopes of which the town is built ; the hotel 
and best quarter are su£Sciently high to command from 
their windows a noble panorama of the snowy chain — 
from Elbruz, standing out like a sentinel on the west, to the 
more distant summits of Dychtau and Koschtantau, on tbe 
east. The distance to Elbruz is about the same as that of 



384 PATIGORSK, 

Mont Blanc from Geneva ; the other mountains are from 
twenty to forty miles further away. The principal bath- 
houses, and the gardens which surround them, are situated 
in a sheltered hollow on the side of Machoucha. A long 
boulevard, shaded by a double avenue of trees, which have 
already reached a very tolerable size, leads up to the bath- 
buildings : the gardens are well laid-out, provided with 
numerous seats, and adorned with summer-houses, and 
some curious statues with Greek inscriptions found in the 
country. Nothing can exceed the cleanliness and comfort 
of the baths, those appropriated to the ladies being, with 
a thoughtful consideration for the weakness of the sex, 
even provided with large looking-glasses. On one side of 
a grotto, just behind the public library and reading-room, 
stands a brazen tablet, on which is recorded the expedition 
of General Emmanuel to the foot of Elbruz in 1829, the 
attempt and failure of the German savants to reach the 
top, and the supposed success of Killar in doing so. The 
story is, of course, written in Russian characters ; we asked 
our companion. Dr. Smirnov, the head-physician, what it 
meant, and his reply was, ^ Bah ! c'est une bfitise.' Our 
own reasons for doubting Elbruz having found its Jacques 
Balmat in Killar, I have entered into elsewhere.* 

The ridge which forms the southern boundary of the 
hollow in which the baths are situated is of a very extraor- 
dinary character. According to Dr. Smirnov, whose theory 
was certainly confirmed by the appearance of the surface, it 
has been entirely formed by the deposit of the sulphur- 
springs during past ages. The handsomest building connect- 
ed with the waters is the Elizabeth Gallery, a long arcade, 
from beneath the arches of which a fine view of the town 
and the plain below is obtained. A zigzag path, shaded by 
thick oak copses, has been made to the top of Machoucha 

* See Appendix I. — ♦The Elbruz Expedition in 1829.' 



VIEW FROM MACHOUCHA. 385 

(3,258 feet), whither we climbed one cloudless morning, 
and enjoyed a perfect view of the great chain, from 
Kazbek, the crest of which was just distinguishable among 
the slanting rays of the newly-risen sun, to the double- 
headed Elbruz. The ugly little molehill, called the 
Yutskaia Gora, which from the town cuts off some of the 
lower portion of the mountain, is completely sunk, and 
the whole 8,000 feet of ud broken snowslope, falling towards 
the valley of the Malka, exposed to view. The monarch of 
Caucasian and European mountains brooks no rivalry; 
clothed in his wide-spreading ermine mantle, he stands 
forth a burly but not undignified sovereign, taller by the 
head and shoulders than any of his neighbours. The 
sharper peaks of Dychtau and Koschtantau are so distant 
that none but a trained eye is likely to appreciate their 
real height and beauty, and few who had not known them 
before would have noticed the twin summits of Uschba 
shooting up, keen as ever, over the intervening ranges. On 
the north, Beschtau was of course conspicuous ; elsewhere 
the prospect extended over a boundless steppe, dotted by 
isolated mounds like the ' tells ' of the Syrian desert. 

A carriagerroad has been lately completed round the 
base of Machoucha, forming a pleasant afternoon's drive 
for Patigorsk society. We followed it as far as the 
sulphur-spring, called by Eussians *The Proval.' It is a 
natural grotto of the form of an inveiied funnel, at the 
bottom of which is a deep well of sulphur-water. A 
Moscow merchant, who had benefited by the Patigorsk 
springs, rendered the grotto accessible, bj'^ having a passage 
cut to it through the hillside at his own expense. Owing 
to its distance from the town, and the similarity of the 
water to others nearer at hand, it is now little used. 

The hours kept by the patients are very remarkable. 
They dine from 12 to 4 p. m., and sup from 8 p. m. to 1 a.m. • 

c c 



386 PATIGORSIL 

but despite, or rather perhaps lecause of, their dissipated 
hours tWlook as sick and miserable a collection of n en 
L I; oft^n sees. Their days are spent in drmkxng the 
"aters a^d taking baths, or dawdling about the g^dens 

Iltag cigarettes, and listening te the strains of mdxtexy 
smoking cig ^^ ^ ^^^j ^^j^^ , ^ tij^ 

music. At the time ui «»" „^™-^ +/» he 

latest musical novelty in the Caucasus, aoid seemed to be 
very popnlar. The attrax^tions of the town axe not great ; 
7LIL, besides the boulevard aad the tUIbb on the 
;kide above it, of one long^^g ^^^,^Z 

rTel Llintl Z: r :- - the un.dy 

fashion common in Russia. , . .r,^ Ka^oar 

We occupied our time in roaming about the b^, 

and laying in stores for another week in the mountains 
^d o^onally went into the fruit-maxket to buy one of 
Z: huge water-melons which form ihe staple article of 
food of the people of ihe countey. The discovery of a 
photographer afforded us sbme amusement, a* ^^^ e^^r- 
SSr^iBt ha^ been as fax as Uruspieh, aad had teien 
Sroscopic views on the road, many of which we were 
;td to purchase. On the whole, the attxa,^oi« of 
latigorsk! to a parsing ixaveller, are quickly exha^st^ 
but our stay wa« rendered exceptionally plea«uit by the 
kindness of Dr. Smimov, the resident physician m chaxge 
^the bathing establishmente, who beaxs Ihe^to En^sh 
ears, odd-soux^ding title of civil-general. On our eaOling 
This house. Dr. Smimov told us that he had a^a^ 
heard ftom St. Petersburg of our probable visit, and had 
emected us for some weeks. 

To the bathers Patigorsk is, I fear, sometimes slow, aaid 
the Government will scarcely succeed in their desire to at- 
tra^t hither any large portion of the crowd of Russians who 
annuaUy Visit the German Spaa, until it possesses not only 



ESSBl^TUKY. 387 

railway communication with Central Russia, but also the 
gambling-tables, which are apparently necessary, as a men- 
tal fillip, to the complete success of all water-cures. The 
weather during our stay was continuously cloudless ; night 
and morning the serrated array of the Caucasus invited us 
to return into its recesses. Patigorsk, owing to its position 
on a southern slope, is decidedly a. hot place ; and the 
constant sunshine drove many of the invalids and all the 
visitors to Kislovodsk, where a short course of the waters 
is generally prescribed after the sulphur-springs have had 
their effect. Dr. Smirnov proposed that we should make a 
day's excursion to Kislovodsk, a suggestion we were glad 
to adopt, more especially as all trouble was taken off our 
hands by the kind loan of the doctor's open carriage. 
Moore was, unfortunately, too unwell to accompany us ; 
but Tucker and I set out, at 5 a.m. on the morning of 
the 7th, with four horses harnessed abreast, in the usual 
Russian Cushion* 

The road (I speak as a Russian] is simply a portion of 
the steppe where carriages ordinarily pass. It leads 
through a military cantonment, a row of tidy cottages 
surrounded by huge sunflowers, and then strikes across 
the plain in a south-westerly direction towards a green 
oasis already visible in the distance. On the north the 
symmetrical form of Beschtau is more than usually con- 
spicuous ; its loftiest summit is surrounded by four minor 
ones, so that, from every point of view, the mountain bears 
the same appearance^ and may be compared to a Russian 
church with its four small cupolas clustering round the 
central dome. In the opposite direction, the snowy heads 
of Elbruz are constantly in sight, over the lower ridges 
that bound the plain on the south. It is seventeen versts 
from Patigorsk to Essentuky, formerly a frontier-post, 
then a Cossack ' stanitza,' and now a bathing-place. The 

o c S 



d*a PATIGOESK. 

most has been made of an onpictnresqae situation, bj 
planting the ground round the springs, and laving out 
winding walks under the tre€^ The morning band was 
plajing at the time of our ariiTal, and we met numerous 
patients ramUing about the park, through which we our- 
selTes strolled. The character of the landscape changes, 
and the road enters a shallow yallej, where the Podkomok 
flows between low rounded hills, broken here and there bj 
projecting masses of white rock. The country is ooTered 
with green pasturage, but entirelj bare of trees. The 
ruins of old fortifications, still visible here and there on 
the flat hilltops, are records of the long period during 
which this was debateable ground between the Cossack and 
Tcherkess. We met on the waj the omnibus which, for 
the couTenience of patients, performs a daily joumej be- 
tween EisIoTodsk and Patigorsk, and vice versa. The 
^ stanitza ' of Kislovodsk, with its green-domed church, is 
left behind on the right, and the road, quitting the valle j 
of the Podkumok, crosses a low hill, and soon descends to 
the baths, which have grown up round the most &inous 
spring of the Caucasus. Kislovodsk is thirteen versts 
beyond Essentuky, and is situated in a narrow glen sur^ 
rounded by low hills, which deprive it of any extended 
view ; it owes its only claims to beauty to the rich vegeta- 
tion with which the care of successive governors, aided 
by the natural fertility of the soil, has endowed it. A 
fine avenue of poplars leads up to the baths ; the wood 
beyond consists chiefly of acacias. 

We were driven to the ' Hotel de la Couronne,' kept by 
the same manager as the hotel at Patigorsk, where we 
found Dr. Smimov, who proposed that we should at once 
visit the baths. The building which now covers the 
famous Narzan is in a style very far in advance of what 
one would expect to find in so remote a position. It 



KISLOVODSK. 389 

owes much to the care of the late Prince WoronzoflF, the 
general benefactor of Southern Russia, whose works and 
name are equally remembered at Tiflis, Odessa, and in the 
Crimea. The centre of the entrance-hall is occupied by an 
hexagonal basin ten feet in diameter, in approaching which 
a slight fizzing sound reaches the ear. This proceeds from 
the great spring, which bursts out of the ground with 
astonishing force, and is dignified by the Tcherkess name 
of the Karzan, or * Giant's draught.* The whole surface 
of the basin is in a constant state of effervescence, owing 
to the escape of the carbonic acid gas, and its appearance 
resembles nothing so much as a gigantic goblet of very 
effervescent seltzer-water. A long arcade, open on the 
south to the sunshine, offers a promenade to the patients ; 
the baths occupy portions of the same building, and there 
is a small swimming-bath, with numerous separate ones, in 
all of which the arrangements are of the best description. 
We took advantage of Dr. Smimov's proposal that we 
should test the effects of the waters ; he warned us to keep 
our heads Y^ell above the surface, a precaution necessary, 
from the quantity of carbonic acid evolved. We found our 
dip both invigorating and appetising, and returned quite 
prepared to do justice to the sumptuous lunch provided by 
the doctor, who, however, annexed one condition to the 
entertainment — ^that in the matter of drinks we should 
obey implicitly his prescription. This proved to be a 
mixture of champagne and the water of the Narzan, a 
preparation requiring skUl, principaUy, in maintaining the 
just proportions. 

The park — which, ovring to its shade and coolness, makes 
Kislovodsk a favourite summer resort with all the officials 
of Cis-Caucasia, and even with those of Tiflis — had next to 
be visited. The first person we met was an old acquaint- 
ance. General Orlovski, the Governor of Tiflis, from whom 



890 • PATIGORSK. 

we had parted at Kazbek posthouse ; we were still more 
surprised to see with him Prince Ismail of Uruspieh, whose 
talents as a musician make his assistance valuable in the 
concerts which often take place here. We failed to dis- 
cover precisely on what footing he stood with the Sussian 
oflEicers, but the impression left on our minds was, that 
the invitation he received amounted to a command, and 
that the Prince met vrith little superfluous courtesy from 
the habitues of the baths, to whose amusement he was 
invited to contribute. 

The little stream which flows through the bottom of the 
glen is liable to sudden floods, and, despite the enbankments 
by which it is restrained, had lately broken loose, and 
done considerable damage. We were shown over a botani- 
cal garden, where the gardener cut and presented to us a 
beautiful bouquet of flowers. The walks through the 
woods extend, on either bank of the stream, for at least a 
mile above the hotel ; they are nicely kept, and deliciously 
cool in hot weather. For those who do not require sulphur- 
baths, I have no doubt that Kislovodsk is a far more 
enjoyable summer retreat than Patigorsk. 

We had heard at Patigorsk that General Loris-Melikov, 
the military governor of Cis-Caucasia, was staying at 
Kislovodsk, and we were anxious to call on him, to obtain 
such aid and advice as he could give in carrying out our 
plans for the next fortnight. In one of the detached 
cottage villas, built for the accommodation of visitors (as 
the * H8tel de la Couronne,* in fact nothing more than a 
handsome restaurant, contains no bedrooms) we found the 
General. An Armenian by birth, he is one of the numer- 
ous instances of the success attained in foreign service by 
that clever nation, which, like the Greek, seems capable of 
doing well everywhere except at home. We were received 
very courteously, my maps were soon spread out, and we 



PLANS FOR THE FUTURE. 391 

pointed out the route we wished to take. Our plans were 
afterwards so fully carried out that I may here repeat, for 
the benefit of my readers, what was then explained to the 
General. 

We had selected Naltschik, a small town and military 
post at the foot of the mountains, distant some eighty 
versts from Patigorsk, as our new base of operations; 
thence we desired to push up the eastern arm of the 
Tcherek (to be distinguished from the better-known 
Terek, of which it is a tributary), and cross from its head, 
by a pass, called * Per Stuleveesk * in the map, to the head- 
waters of the Uruch, the valley into which we had already 
looked down from the icefall of the Karagam glacier. 
After following this river for some distance, we proposed to 
turn, by a track crossing low spurs, to Ardonsk, the second 
station on the post-road on this side of Yladikafkaz. 
Our object in adding this supplementary piece to the pro- 
gramme with which we left England, was to gain some 
knowledge of the scenery and geography of the great 
mountain-group under the southern face of which we had 
rambled in Eastern Suanetia. Viewed on the map, this 
group appeared to resemble in shape the letter T, the top 
bar being represented by the watershed, from a point 
above Jibiani to Tau Totonal, and the downstroke by a 
gigantic spur, in which are situated the second and third 
summits of the Caucasus— Koschtantau and Dychtau. 

Had not what we had already accomplished been known, 
our wish to penetrate the recesses of the mountains would 
not have been so easily believed, and greater difficulties 
might probably have been suggested. The most useful 
piece of information we obtained was that the Stuleveesk 
Pass was practicable for horses — a very important fact, 
as it obviated the necessity of again encumbering our- 
selves with a troop of porters, and suggested the pleasing 



3>2 PATIGOKSK. 

possibilitr of hiring horses at Xaltschit for the whole jonr- 
nej to Ardonsk. The General kindly promised to write to 
Naltschik, and tell the Commandant there to expect us, and 
to take care that hors«:*s were forthcoming on our arrival. 
He ako wrote to his subordinate at Patigorsk to help us in 
hiring a carriage for the drive to Naltschik, the direct road 
between the two places not being famished with post- 
horses* We took leave well satisfied with the result of our 
interview, though our minds were slightly troubled by a 
spectre raised by something the General had said about 
providing us with a ^ specialist/ who would tell us where to 
go and where not to go, a kind of Mentor who would have 
found himself sadly out of place in our party. The threat- 
ened companion, however, perhaps fortunately for himself 
was never assigned us. 

Our carriage, which was awaiting our return to the hotel, 
took us quickly back to Patigorsk. The hurry of our 
driver caused the only mischance of the day. Dr. SmimoT 
had told us that General Chodzko (who, it will be remem- 
bered, is the head of the Russian Survey which executed 
the Five Verst Map, and who had shown us much civility 
at Tiflis) was staying at Essentuky. Our coachman had 
been, as we believed, instructed to take us to the General's 
lodgings, and as he drove on, we assumed that the house 
must be at the Patigorsk end of the scattered village ; it was 
not till we were fairly beyond the place that we discovered 
he had no intention of stopping at all. Our ignorance of 
Bussian made the mistake irreparable, and we much 
regretted thus to have lost the opportunity of talking over 
our experiences with one of the few Russians who have any 
real knowledge of the interior of the Caucasian chain. 

On the following morning, the military commandant of 
Pa,tigorsk called, and proffered his assistance in any 
arrangements we might wish to make. Paul and the 



A FRESH START. 393 

officer's servant set ofiF together to find a carriage-master 
and make an agreement with him ; bat we did not gain 
much from the aid of the military, as the price asked 
was exorbitant, and we could obtain no abatement. The 
8th was spent in replenishing our exhausted stores with 
such articles as the bazaar could supply ; but, beyond the 
most commonplace necessaries, we found little in the shops 
except sweetmeate, which existed in every variety, from the 
wooden box of ' rahat-lakoum' to the gilded case of Moscow 
candied finits. If the supply for sale is any index to the 
amount consumed, the baths must have a wonderful effect, 
not only in sharpening the appetites of the inhabitants of 
Patigorsk for sweet things, but also in strengthening their 
digestions. 

Augtist 9th, — In order to avoid the heat of a drive across 
the steppe in the burning sunshiae, we did not set out 
till four o'clock in the afbemoon. During the day the 
aspect of the weather had changed, and the sky, hitherto 
unclouded during our stay, was hidden by dark masses of 
vapour, which, shortly before the time fixed for our start, 
discharged themselves in pouring rain. The turn of affairs 
was not pleasant, but we found consolation in the thought 
that we might have been worse off, and that, in such 
weather, a watertight ^ tarantasse ' was luxury compared to 
an open ' telega.' Bidding farewell once more to civilisation, 
we drove out into the desolate and now muddy steppe. In 
no other European country but Bussia is the transition from 
the comforts and even luxuries of the towns to the bar- 
baric lack of roads, bridges, and. every necessary of inter- 
course, in the country, so marked. No Bussian poet could 
have written, * God made the country, but man made the 
town,' for such a sentiment would have seemed to his 
countrymen to savour of the grossest impiety. The country, 
at any rate in the steppe districts of Russia, is a wide 



»4 THE TCEEREt VALLET. 

featureless plain ; the road — a mere track, convert*^ into a 
sea of mud in winter, enreloped in a dust -cloud in summer 

— is often rendered wholly impassable bj unbridg^^ij and 
flooded liTers. Some such reflections passed tbrou:^h cur 
minds as, having left behind us fire minutes before the 
handsome rooms of the ' Hotel de la Couronne,' we found 
onrselTeSy after fording the Podlnunok, plunging into the 
mud on its farther bank. As far as Zonitzki, we drove 
along the same track as that bj which we had arrired ; 
thence we strack more to the east, and at last, after being 
refused admission into one farmhoose, on the very reason- 
able gronnd that the owner had that day buried his wife, 
we came to a halt, shortly before midnight, at another on 
the banks of the Malka, It was inhabited by a family of 
colonists, kind homely people, like most Sussian peasants 
not connected with the postal senrice. The 'tarantasse' 
was put np in a shed in the yard, while we were introduced 
into the best room of the farmhouse, which was clean and 
tidy, but terribly dose and hot, where we passed the short 
portion of the night still remaining. 

Augud lOlh. — ^At 5 a^k. we were again on the road. 
The sky was overcast, and we saw nothing of the moun- 

, tains all day ; but the absence of oppressive heat was a 
great comfort, and almost reconciled ns to the loss of 
view. Crossing the Malka by a bridge, the track led us over 
low bare hills, until the banks of the Baksan were reached, 
where at a walled Cossack station, a remnant of past and 
more turbulent times, we learnt, to our dismay, that the 
bridge had just been carried away, by the floods caused 
by the previons night's rain ; it was, however, sugorested 
that if we could wait a couple of hours, it would probably be 
made passable. In a shop opposite the station, we found 
a room in which we sat down, while the ' samovar ' was 
heated, and some eggs boiled. More than the appointed 



A DIFFICULT FORD. 805 

time elapsed, and yet no satisfactoiy intelligence came 
from the bridge ; we settled, therefore, to drive down and 
ascertain the real state of the case, and whether it was not 
possible to ford the stream. We found that the central pile 
of the bridge, with the roadway, had been swept clean away; 
and as there seemed no prospect of a speedy repair of the 
damage, there was nothing to be done but to encounter 
the muddy flood. After our June experiences in the 
Araxes valley, this seemed to us, though a formidable, by 
no means a terrific task, and we encouraged our driver, by 
every means in our power, to dare the deed. He, however, 
did not view the matter in the same light, and entirely, 
refused to adventure his precious life, except under the 
guidance of three Tcherkesses, who had just ridden up 
and offered their assistance, — for a consideration. After 
some delay, a bargain was struck, and driving some little 
distance up the stony river-bed, we forded successfully, 
though not without serious difficulty, the first branch ; the 
second was easier, but the third was too much for our 
driver's pluck, and he flatly refused to go a yard further. 
We were, therefore, obliged to unpack all our baggage, and 
to ride across, carrying it on the horses of the Tcherkesses. 
The force of water was really formidable, and the vriry 
little steeds had some difficulty to maintain their footing. 
Safely landed on the further side, we had still to wait 
until sufficient horses could be found, in the adjacent 
village, to mount us and our men. For two weary hours, 
unable to leave our baggage, we sat fretting and fuming 
by the waters of Baksan, until Paul at last appeared with 
a bullock-cart for the traps, and saddle-horses for us. 

A fresh delay now arose. The man of whom we hired the 
horses had prepared a meal for us, and we found it would 
be a gross breach of good manners to refuse to partake 
of it. We therefore entered his cottage, and, sitting down 



3S6 THE TCHEREK VALLEY. 

on a bench, were served with a dish of spelt-bread and 
toasted cheese, which was not unpalatable to hungry men. 
Tboutjh the Tcherkesses are Mahommedans, the women 
of the village took small pains to cover their faces, or 
avoid the eyes of strangers and infidels. They are a well- 
grown race, but there was nothing in any of their faces, 
except those of the very young girls, to attract a second 
look, and our host's wife, who attended on us, was a 
marvel of ugline&s. 

Having disposed of the food as quickly as propriety 
would permit, we jumped into the saddle, and set off 
at a canter across the grassy steppe, leaving the bullock- 
cart to follow more leisurely, under the charge of Fran9oifl. 
Once on the road, we lost no time, as our horseman 
was anxious to return the same night to his home, and 
urged us to push on. To gallop on a Tcherkess saddle 
is not a very easy or agreeable feat, but we were all 
tolerably successful, though I suffered shipwreck on one 
occasion, from rashly opening a map— a proceeding my 
horse resented vrith such an unexpected flourish of his 
heels, as to land me safely on the grass over his head, 
there to continue my researches at leisure. There was 
still another large river, flowing from the glaciers of the 
central chain, between us and ISTaltschik. This was the 
Tchegem, the upper valley of which is inhabited by a 
branch of the same Tartar race as is found at Uruspieh 
and Balkar. The stream was coming down with ^eat 
violence, but the frail-looking bridge had, fortunately, not 
as yet been carried away, although the catastrophe seemed 
imminent, and the structure was watched by a guard,, 
who would only allow us to pass one by one, and at a foot- 
pace. 

A low range of wooded hills now bounded the steppe 
we had been traversing all day, and we could see, at 



NALTSCHIK, 397 

tlieir feet, the buildings of Naltschik. As we drew nearer 
our goal, the hitherto barren soil was covered with 
scrub, and thickets of large dog-roses. The entrance to 
the town was a record of the old days, when it was 
exposed to the constant danger of attack from the moun- 
taineers. The buildings had once been surrounded by a 
stockade, and the gateway at the entrance to the main 
street was guarded by a sentry. He enquired at once if 
we were the English who were expected, and despatched 
one of his comrades to guide us to the quarters prepared 
for us. We were taken to a well-built one-storied house, 
standing on one side of the open space, in the centre of 
the town; our hostess proved to be the widow of a 
Bussian officer, who was glad to let us her front-parlour 
during our stay. It was a clean and cheerful room, with 
fairy-roses in the windows, and pictures on the walls ; but 
there was the common Bussian want of creature-comforts, 
and we could obtain nothing but our own mattrass to 
lie upon. 

August Wth. — We went ofiF after breakfast to call on 
the Commiandant, who had heard &om General Loris- 
Melikov of our intended visit, and had detained some 
natives of the Upper Tcherek, with their horses, to accom- 
pany us on our excursion into the mountains. Our ex- 
pressions of pleasure and thanks were suddenly cut short 
by the announcement of the price, five roubles a day 
(nearly fifteen shillings), we were expected to pay for each 
horse. As we were to take eight, it was of course out of 
the question that we should ratify any such arrangement ; 
but at the moment we were too completely taken by surprise 
to say much ; and the Commandant turned the subject, by 
proposing a walk in his garden, and showing us a seat, 
constructed to command a view of the distant mountains, 
the snowy summits of which are in clear weather visible 



398 THE TCHEREK VALLEY. 

over the lower wooded hills. He related to us a legend, 
current among the Tcherkesses, of an extraordinary 
treasure secreted on the top of one of these peaks, but 
it did not seem different from the tales of the same 
description common to most mountain countries. 

It was evident that we should not be able to make a start 
early the next day, and we were forced to acquiesce in the 
suggestion, that an officer should call on us in the morning 
with the horsemen, and that the conclusion of any definite 
arrangement should be postponed for the present. Nalt- 
schik in itself is a neat little place, showing marks of its 
origin as a military cantonment, and gradually sinking, 
under the influence of more peaceful times, into a quiet 
country town, with broad streets shaded by trees, bordered 
by cozy-looking, green-roofed, one-storied cottages, each 
surrounded by its patch of garden-ground. There are 
several fairly-supplied shops, and in one Paul secured a 
ham, an article we had looked for in vain at Patigorsk ; 
while at another, we found, to our surprise, a bottle of very 
fair eau-de-cologne — a great boon to Moore and myself, 
who were out of sorts, and with neuralgic tendencies. 

Aibgust 12th. — ^In the morning an officer called, accom- 
panied by the two natives who, it was proposed, should 
provide us with horses. They were bluff hearty-looking 
fellows, one of whom emitted, from time to time, a most 
ferocious grunt, which prepossessed us, perhaps somewhat 
unfairly, against him. The debate was opened by an 
explicit refusal, on our part, to have anything to do with 
any previous understanding. The horsemen stuck to the 
terms originally suggested, and thus things seemed to 
have come to a deadlock. An adjournment was shortly 
agreed upon, and my friends accompanied the officer to 
the Commandant's house, where they spent two hours in 
protracted negotiations. It is very doubtful whether their 



BYEWAYS. 399 

labours would have had any result, without the assistance 
of a lady, the wife of one of the officers, and apparently 
the only person in Naltschik who spoke any European 
language but Russian. By her suggestion, a round sum 
was offered the men for the whole journey, and at last 
they agreed to take us through the mountains to Ardonsk, 
with liberty to be ten days on the road, for 180 roubles. 
At the rate originally suggested, we should have paid 400 
roubles for exactly the same advantages. The mention of 
these figures will suffice to warn future travellers, that in 
availing themselves of assistance from Russian officials, 
they must not leave any money arrangements in their 
hands, unless they are willing to risk paying three times 
the fSair value for the services rendered. It was past 
midday ere we shook hand^ over the bargain, and con- 
sequently our start was deferred until the next morning, 
when our new attendants promised to have the horses 
ready. 

August ISth. — ^Wo set out for our ride at 6.80, after the 
usual difficulty in collecting together all the animals, and 
we finally left with one short of the promised number, 
which the men undertook to make up on our arrival at 
Balkar, the collective name of the highest group of 
villages in the eastern branch of the Tcherek valley. We 
were told it would take two days to reach Balkar, and 
that, owing to the absence of shelter on the road, the first 
night must be spent in the forest. The weather looked 
unpromising ; a duU grey pall clung to the hillsides, and 
blotted out half the beauties of the landscape. Naltschik 
is situated on a small stream issuing from the neighbouring 
hills some miles west of the Tcherek, to reach the banks 
of which the road crosses the shoulder of a low chain. 
The ground was covered with tail coarse herbage and 
thickets of small timber, mingled with wild fixiit- trees, 



400 THE TCHEEEK VALLEY. 

among which we noticed the pear, the apple, the plum, and 
the medlar, their gnarled boughs hung with long creepers. 

We came in sight of the Tcherek, where, issuing from 
the hills a broad rapid river, it strikes out into the steppe, 
and runs through marshy ground, fairly timbered in 
comparison to the barren tracts beyond. It was a deso- 
late view, the surrounding country being absolutely in 
a state of nature, and showing no traces of the neigh- 
bourhood or care of man. Once fairly free from the 
hills, the river divides into a dozen branches, and, until it 
joins the Terek, flows through a dreary swamp, unin- 
habited except by wild boars. From the brow of a steep 
though short descent, we looked down on the hamlet of 
Dogiijokova, which, like most of the Tcherkess villages of 
the plain, consists of a long double row of one-storied 
cottages, surrounded by sheds and fenced-in gardens, 
calling to mind pictures of a South- African kraal. 

We halted for lunch on the bank of a stream flowing out 
of the range that overlooks Naltschik. The direction of our 
course had now changed, and we were riding south-west 
in place of south-e^t. A few hundred yards of level land 
generally stretched between the Tcherek and the base of 
the hills, but once or twice the path was forced to climb a 
bold bluflF, breaking down abruptly in chalk cUifs to the 
river. The meadows were clothed in luxuriant herbage, 
which, novr uncut and ungrazed, was rapidly running to 
seed ; the * glossy purples ' of the gigantic thistleheads 
specially attracted our admiration, and quite justified the 
Laureate in declaring that they can at times * outredden 
all voluptuous garden-roses.* Occasionally a group of tall 
tombstones, each seven or eight feet high, capped by a 
carved turban, and chiseled with a long inscription in the 
language of the country, stood out above the long grass. We 
tried hard through Paul to get at their history, but could 



WOODLAND SCENERY. 401 

learn little definite, except that they were of considerable 
antiquity. A roadside tomb, recording the name and 
familj^ of the departed, must have been an object of 
ambition with the former inhabitants of the country. The 
lower portion of the northern valleys of the Caucasus lying 
beyond the mountain gorges, easily accessible from the 
plain, and subject to sudden raids from the mountaineers, 
seems, despite its pastoral riches, to have been left as a 
debateable ground alike by Bussian and Tartar. Beyond 
the hamlet I have mentioned, there is no dwelling-place 
on the Tcherek for a full day's journey, until the lowest 
village of Balkar is reached. 

The hills on both sides of the river are rounded and 
monotonous, and the persistent fog robbed us of any glimpse 
there may be, under more favourable circumstances, of the 
snov^y chain ; so we had to be content with admiring the 
fine beechwoods on the opposite bank, trusting that, as we 
penetrated deeper into the mountaias, the landscapes 
would become more striking. The scenery assumes a 
different character at the point where the western Tcherek, 
flovring out from amongst loftier hills, brings the tribute 
of the glaciers on the western flanks of Dychtau and Kosch- 
tantau to swell the main stream. The hillsides grow steeper 
and higher, and the range separating the Balkar and 
Bezeenghe valleys breaks down in a succession of most 
picturesquely-shaped and thickly-wooded bluffs. The 
western Tcherek, a strong body of glacier-water flovdng 
in a narrow but deep channel, is spanned by a good 
bridge, beyond which the road, after traversing marshy 
meadows, is forced to climb over a projecting spur. The 
forest now began to change character, and there was 
greater variety among the trees ; the sombre foliage of 
pines varied the lighter shades of green, and tall alders 
shot up amongst the beeches. 

D D 



402 THE TCHEREK VALLEY. 

After crossing for the first time the eastern Tcherek, at a 
most striking point, where it flows in a cleft so narrow that 
a man might almost have leapt across, we rode for half-an- 
hour through a wood, beautiful enough to demand a special 
word of admiration, even in this country of woodland 
scenery. The tall trunks between which the path wound 
were festooned with long streamers of creeping plants, 
and the lofty boughs that overarched our heads sheltered 
beneath them shrubs of rhododendron and azalea, growing 
to greater size than any we had yet seen. Crags jutted 
out from the green banks, affording a home for delicate 
ferns, and moss-cradled springs trickled down shady hollows. 
In an opening of the wood, we came suddenly on a round 
tarn fringed with grass, reflecting on its surface the sur- 
rounding cliffs and overhanging branches. The spot was 
so charming that we wanted to camp there, but our horse- 
men were obstinate, and the leader, with very decisive 
grunts, which there was no gainsaying, told us that we 
should find a much better place further on. About half- 
an-hour later we halted, after a ten hours' ride, under 
shelter of an overhanging rock, the black streaks on which 
showed that our camping-ground was not now used as such 
for the first time. Our tent was quickly pitched, and 
Paul set about his cookery ; the horsemen unluckily dis- 
covered he was broiling some ham, and not only shunned 
him for the rest of the evening, but warned him not to 
pollute any of their saddles, bridles, or other equipments 
with his touch. 

August \Uh. — ^The same dull pall of cloud veiled the 
sky, although it hung higher on the mountain-sides than 
on the day before. The valley above our camping- ground 
was completely closed by precipitous cliffs, which seemed 
to form a barrier against all further progress. The path — 
already at some height above the Tcherek, glimpses of 



A TREJfENDOUS GORGE. 403 

which could only be seen from time to time at the bottom 
of a deep ravine — turned abruptly upwards, and climbed 
rapidly through the forest. Having reached a height of 
at least 1,500 feet above the bed of the river, it struck 
boldly- into the heart of the gorge, circling round ravines, 
and winding over the top of the perpendicular cliflFs, where a 
fall from one's horse on the ofiF-side would have led to a 
short roll, followed by a sensational header of many 
hundred feet. The vegetation, wherever it could find 
room to ding on the shelves and crannies between the 
precipices, was magnificent ; pine and beech still predomi- 
nated, though there was a sprinkling of other foliage. 
The way in which a single tree often crowned some pro- 
jecting crag, where, destitute of any apparent source of 
sustenance, it yet contrived to maintain a vigorous exis- 
tence, added much to the beauty of the defile. Alpine 
flowers now for the first time showed themselves in com- 
pany with the most delicate ferns, and even the grandeur 
of the surrounding scenery could not altogether blind us 
to the presence of such old friends. 

We could only appreciate the magpiitude of the precipices 
immediately below us, when a bend in the hillside enabled 
us to look back on some portion of the road already 
traversed; those on the opposite side were even more 
tremendous. Halft^ay through the defile, its course is 
bent by a spur on the eastern side of the river, which 
juts out straight across the gap, and in fact does at one 
spot actually touch the opposite cliffs, leaving the water 
to burrow underground a« best it may. The path descends 
on to the saddle connecting the rocky crown of this spur 
with the hillside from which it springs. This point, from 
its position, commands a view both up and down the 
defile, to which there is nothing similar, or in the least 
comparable, in the Alps. The gorge of the Tcherek is no 

D D 2 



404 THE TCHEREK VALLEY. 

mere crack in the lower gloj^es of the mountains, like 
thoiie of Pfeffers and the Via ^lala ; it is rather a huge 
trench, dug down from th«nr very summits to a depth of 
5,000 feet or more. Behind us forest trees clung to every 
available inch of ground ; looking upwards, the character 
of the defile was more savage. The foaming waters of 
the Tcherek, crossed three times by bridges, filled the 
bottom of the trench, the sides of which were perpendicu- 
lar walls, succeeded by shelves, capped in their turn by a 
loftier tier of precipices. The path, a mere ladder of broken 
stones, brought ns, by a rapid series of zigzags, to a most 
estraordinary spot, where the overhanging cliffs meet, and 
form a natural bridge over the river, which can barely 
be seen at the bottom of its deep bed. As we looked fix)m 
this spot, the torrent to all appearance plunged directly 
into the bowels of the mountains, and it was impossible 
to discover how it found a way out of them. The savage 
grandeur of the scenery here attains its height, and no 
words will convey to others the impression it made on us. 
Henceforth the cleverly-contrived rock-staircase which 
connects Balkar with the outside world finds room — 
now on one side, now on the other — to creep along 
the base of the cliffs at the river's edge ; at last, when 
the careless observer would think it was hopelessly de- 
feated, it crawls along the face of an overhanging bluff, 
by a gallery, partly cut into the rock, partly built out from 
it. This difficult passage surmounted, it leads an easier 
life ; the mountains draw back from the river in two g^nd 
curtains of precipice, and the basin in which the hamlets 
of Balkar are situate gradually opens to the view. We 
now wound over barren and disintegrated slopes, broken 
occasionally by stone-capped earth-pillars, similar to those 
we had seen before in the Caucasus, on the Ardon, and to 
the well-known examples in the Val d'Herens in Switzer- 
land. 



BALKAR. 4G5 

Before reaching the first village, which is on the left 
side of the valley, we descended to and crossed the river. 
On an isolated crag above the houses — here, as at UruE- 
pieh, flat-roofed stone cabins built against the hillside — 
stands a fortress, or place of refuge, which, properly 
defended, must have been impregnable, except to cannon 
or famine. The wide upland basin, now fairly entered on, 
is by nature bare and savage in its character, but has 
been rendered less so by the careful system of cultivation, 
which has converted every available patch of ground, not 
only in the valley but to a great height on the mountain- 
sides, into a fruitful cornfield. After the neglect of 
natural bounties shown among the lazy tribes on the south 
of the chain, and also in the lower portions of the very 
valley we were now following up, it was strange to see 
how the industrious and well-to-do Moslems who dwell 
in these mountain fastnesses contrive to make the waste 
and desolate places ' laugh with com,' thus putting to 
shame the slothfulnees and consequent poverty of their 
Christian neighbours. We passed several hamlets on 
our left, and met numerous parties of men at work in the 
fields, before we recrossed the stream, and, mounting a 
gentle cultivated slope, entered Muchol, the village at 
which our horsemen wished us to stop. 

We were, I believe, the first Western Europeans who 
had been seen in Balkar, and our sudden appearance gave 
rise to no small excitement. The male population sur- 
rounded us in the street ; the womankind, being the pro- 
perty of Moslem lords, were obliged to content themselves 
with what they could see from the house-roofe. Their 
dress consists of a loose crimson robe, with a cap, from 
which a row of coins hangs down over the forehead. 
There was certainly one pretty face amongst them, and 
there may have been more, but no second opportunity of 
seeing any of the beauties occurred during our stay. 



406 THE TCHEREK VALLEY. 

The Sheikh * himself^ a tall venerable-looking old man, 
came forward to invite us to his house, which, like all the 
rest, was a low one-storied building, with a portico, sup- 
ported on massive trunks, running along the whole of the 
front. At one end was a small room reserved for the recep- 
tion of strangers, which we were invited to enter. It was, 
at first sight, a dark and comfortless-looking hole, but the 
lighting of a fire and the appearance of some bright- 
coloured mattiasses, which were brought for our use from 
the Sheikh's apartments, made us very contented — espe- 
ciall J as our men were to be quartered in a separate house, 
where Paul would have abundant facilities for cooking. 
The ' samovar ' soon appeared, accompanied bj a dish of 
cakes, made, as the Sheikh took care to inforjn us, by the 
hands of his wives. The weather still looked so unsettled 
that we did not endeavour to hurry our arrangements, and 
were quite content with the prospect of spending a day in 
a place where we had met with so hospitable a reception. 
Shortly after our arrival, aMollah came in to call on us. 
He had given up the tunic and sheepskin of the Caucasus, 
and wore the turban and loose robe of an ordinary Turk. 
This was explained when we learnt that he had made the 
Mecca pilgrimage, and of course had acquired foreign man- 
ners on the journey. He seemed an intelligent man, had 
gleaned some confused knowledge of European politics, and 
knew at anyrate the fact that England vTas reputeda staunch 
friend of Turkey, which made him very civil towards us. 
We were surprised to leam that the natives have so strong 
a dread of being made the subjects of religious proselytism, 
and being compelled to worship the relics and pictures 

* At Uruspieh I have spoken of Prince — here of Sheikh— maintaining a 
distinction which, though more nominal than real, was observed by all the 
people of the country, and even by Russians, with whom we talked on the 
subject. 



THE SHEIKH OP MUCHOL. 407 

of the thousand-and-one saints of the Russian Calendar, 
instead of the ^ One God and Mohammed his Prophet,' that 
they would willingly, if they saw an opportunity, emigrate 
to some district still under the control of the Commander 
of the Faithful. Meantime they cling tenaciously to their 
old faithy carry its precepts into daily life, and observe its 
ceremonies. Muchol was the only place in the Caucasus 
where we heard the call to prayer resound night and 
morning through the village. 

August Ihth. — ^The weather was again gloomy, and the 
sun never appeared all day. The mountain-tops being 
hidden, it was useless to undertake any long expedition, 
and we contented ourselves with a short stroll up ijie 
hillside. Muchol, seen from above, has a most curious 
appearance ; the flat grass-grown roofs of the houses, and 
the rough stone walls, give them more the look of a 
collection of burrows than of the comfortable homes of an 
industrious population. If the house in which our men 
were lodged was a fair specimen, the interiors are tolerably 
snug. Passing through a courtyard, we entered a large 
room, the walls of which were fitted with shelves, on 
which were ranged the brightly-painted trays in which 
Easterns delight, and pegs, on which hung sheepskins, 
swords and guns, with the other necessary equipments 
of a Caucasian when away from home. 

All day long the Sheikh loaded us with a succession of 
civilities, in the very tangible form of relays of tea- 
cakes, and a kind of beer, peculiar apparently to these 
Mussulman valleys. Having finished our preparations for 
a sojourn of some days in the mountains, we determined, 
if the weather promised well, to start early next morning. 

August IQth. — The clouds were more broken, and, 
for the first time for many days, patches of blue sky 
shone through them. With daybreak came the Sheikh, 



403 THE TCHEREK VALLEY. 

bringing in his wake a large supply of meat * rissoles * 
smeared with honey, a finishing touch we could willingly 
have dispensed with. Not only were we well-feasted 
at the time, but, by the Sheikh's order, a nimiber of 
these dainties were put into our provision-bag. On 
starting, when we had all mounted, a beer-jug was brought 
out, and astimip-cup presented to each of us, after which the 
Sheikh solemnly invoked ^ Allah ! ' to prosper our journey. 
Having made what requital we could for the hospitality 
which had been shown us, we left Muchol, carrying away 
with us pleasanter recollections of its inhabitants than of 
those of any other village we had halted at. At Uruspieh we 
had, it is true, received almost equal kindness ; but there 
the princes were imbued with a tinge of Russian manners, 
in contrast to which the patriarchal simplicity of Balkar 
was the more striking. 

We left the village by the same road we had entered it, 
and recrossed the river to its right bank. We were some 
hundred yards beyond the bridge, when we saw a horse- 
man, conspicuous by a green turban and streaming purple 
robe, riding after us. It was the MoUah, who, unpre- 
pared for our early start, had not been present to wish us 
* Gk)odbye,' and now, arrayed in his best, came to repair the 
omission. After an exchange of Oriental salutations 
and farewells, including the hearty hand-shakings which 
are common alike to Tartars and Englishmen, oiu- reverend 
friend wheeled round his steed, and followed by his servant, 
whom we made happy by a small present, returned home, 
while we pursued our journey. The path led us through a 
succession of cornfields, and passed two considerable villages 
beyond which a slight westerly bend in the direction of the 
valley hid what lay before us. When we had turned the 
comer, the character of the scenery underwent a rapid 
change; the cornfields and villages of the Balkar basin 



KARAOUL. 409 

were left behind, and we followed the Tcherek for many 
miles, through a deep and trough-shaped valley, which 
almost deserved the name of a gorge. Tall granitic cliffs 
rose on either side of us too steeply to admit of any 
glimpse being caught of the gigantic peaks to which we 
knew them to serve only as foundations. The shelves and 
slopes were covered with dwarf firs, but the general 
aspect of the scenery was stem and savage. Barriers, 
formed of debris brought down by torrents pouring out of 
lateral ravines, stretched across from side to side, and 
made as it were steps in the valley, the level of which 
rises very rapidly, as it penetrates deeper into the moun- 
tains. The landscape was more Swiss in its character 
than anything we had lately seen, but, owing to the absence 
of villages or chdlets, it was more savage than the 
generality of similar Alpine scenes. A slight turn in the 
course of the valley brought into view a graceful snow- 
peak, rising above the fork of the two glens which contain 
the sources of the Tcherek. We crossed a strong tribu- 
tary flowing out of a cleft in the western hillside, which 
has its birth in a glacier (invisible from below), clinging 
to the cliffs of Dychtau. 

Skirting the steep shelving bank of the river, we 
drew near the meeting of the two torrents, immediately 
under the spur projecting between the glens ; on the right 
bank of the united streams, the mountains leave space for 
a broad and flat meadow, where herds of horses and oxen 
were grazing. The word * Karaoul,* meaning (Paul said) 
* guards' printed at this spot on the Five Verst Map, 
had hitherto puzzled us, but we now learnt its purport. 
The pasturages at the head of the valley feed, in summer, 
numerous flocks, and it is worth the while of the com- 
munity of Balkar to maintain a guard at this point, to 
prevent any predatory expeditions, on the part of their 



410 THE TCHEREK VALLEY. 

southern neiglibours, such as we had witnessed in crossing 
the Nakra Pass. How the Mingrelians manage to find a 
way practicable for cattle across the chain it is difficult to 
imagine, as the easiest pass must lead over fields of snow 
and ice, far larger than those traversed in crossing the St. 
Theodule. We convinced ourselves that the ridge between 
this branch of the Tcherek and Suanetia is practically 
impassable ; the robbers therefore must come either from 
the Bion or Zenes-Squali, which both rise on the southern 
side of this portion of the chain. We did not cross 

• 

over to the meadow, but, after a seven hours' ride, 
halted under an oyerhanging clifiF just below the junction 
of the streams — a spot evidently frequented by the 
shepherds, as low walls had been built against the rock 
to make the shelter more complete. Here we employed 
ourselves in pitching our tent, while one of the horsemen 
rode off to find the herdsmen, and obtain firewood and 
milk. The weather again looked unpromising, and we 
began to fear we had penetrated into the heart of the 
mountains to no purpose. 

August 17th* — We had given orders that we should be 
called early, and the first sound that greeted our ears was 
that well-known and disheartening phrase of Swiss guides, 
' Mais il y a du brouillard.' The curtain of mist, that 
hung only a few hundred feet over our heads, did not 
appear dense, so we determined to go up the nearest hill, 
and trust to Providence to show us something when we 
got to the top. The pass to the Uruch, which we followed 
the next day, crosses the two streams above their junction, 
and it is at the bridge over the first that the guardians of 
the flocks reside during the summer months, in a tiny 
stone hut. Our first Lotention was to ascend the gorge of 
the Dychsu, as the western branch is called on the 
map ; but we were overcome by the pantomimic demonstra- 



A GKEAT GLACIER. 411 

tions made by the guardians, to show the impossibility of 
this course, and were induced to climb the great hiUside 
which rose steeply on our right. We soon reached the 
level of the miste, and in half-an-hour had left them far 
below US, and were enjoying unclouded sunshine. 



PHk Id the Tcbcnk Tallcj. 



After a long and severe climb of 3,000 feet, up grassy 
slopes broken by crags and ravines, and covered in places 
with Caucasian rhododendrons, we gained the brow of a 
spur, whence we had a panorama of the ranges surroimding 



412 THE TCHEREK VALLEY. 

US wortliy to be compared with the views from such Alpine 
summits as the Gomergrat or -Jjggischhom. Immediately 
at our feet, looking south, lay an immense glacier, the 
source of the Dychsu, fed by an accumulation of neve, 
filling two great basins, separated by a rocky ridge which 
projected from a noble ice-crowned mountain opposite. 
Far away to the right, above the western bay of the 
glacier, rose a tall peak culminating in a slender point of 
snow, which, though not corresponding exactly in posi- 
tion with the Koschtantau of the map, we assumed must 
be that great mountain, 17,095 feet in height. Looking 
eastwards, the snout of a glacier pushed round the comer 
of a cliff that concealed the whole of its body, and formed 
part of a great snowy buttress of the main chain, dividing 
the two heads of the Tcherek valley. The ridge over 
which our pass to the TTruch was to lead us closed the 
eastern glen, above which a noble rock-peak shot boldly 
into the air, sending down from its flanks a small highly- 
crevassed glacier. 

The extraordinary feature of the view was the steepness 
of the chain; the peaks and the gaps between them 
seemed equally difficult of access, and cut off from the 
lower snowfields by long slopes of glistening ice and 
unscaleable walls of crag. The only object we had expected 
to see, and could not discover, was Dychtau, the com- 
panion of Koschtantau in all distant views. After a dis- 
cussion whether it would be better to descend on to the 
glacier, or to climb higher, it was determined that I should 
remain and endeavour to make some outlines of the 
surrounding peaks, while Fran9ois and my two companions 
went off to try and get a view of Dychtau. They so far 
succeeded as to catch a glimpse of his peak, the rest of the 
fountain being cut off by lower ridges. We loitered 
away some hours on the flowery pasturage, supplied with 



DYCHTAU AND KOSCHTANTAIT. 413 

water by the meltings of the beds of snow which still lay- 
in the hollows. Part of our time was occupied by a grand 
council on our future plans, and especially on the expediency 
of attempting the ascent of either of the great peaks. 
Dychtau looked on this side absolutely inaccessible, and the 
chances of success in any attack on the still loftier Koschtan- 
tau appeared so slight that we determined to leave him 
aJone also. The base of the mountain was a day's march 
distant over the glacier, and the difficulties offered by the 
final peak were such as would require a strong party of step- 
cutters to overcome, if they were not altogether insuper- 
able. No help could be expected from any of our native 
companions, and we .did not vdsh to mar the success of our 
journey by undertaking an expedition leading to almost 
certain failure. The second and third summits in the 
Caucasus and Europe are, therefore, still not only unsealed 
but unattempted peaks. We strongly advise any moun- 
taineer who may think of assaulting them, to go first to 
the Bezeenghe valley and inspect their western flanks, 
which may possibly prove less formidable than the defences 
on this side. Having decided that our best plan was to 
cross the Stuleveesk Pass while the fine weather lasted, 
we returned rapidly to our camp, where we found Paul 
and the horsemen getting on very well together. During 
our absence a hunter had brought a bouquetin, of which 
Paul had bought a portion, which he was busily preparing 
for our dinner. His companions had got a lamb from the 
shepherds, and were also making ready a feast after their 
ovm fashion. Paul's exertions produced a capital meal, 
and, cheered by the fineness of the evening, we looked 
forward with pleasure to the pass to be accomplished next 
day. 

August 18^A. — ^When the time came for arranging the 
baggage for a start, a very unexpected difficulty arose with 



414 THE TCHEBEK VALLEY. 

our men, who declared that the horses were overloaded, and 
<v>iild not p^issibly carry the baggage over the monntain 
unless their masters received higher pa v. While declining 
to accede to their demand, we pointed out that we should 
all walk the greater part of the way, and that the baggage 
might be subdivided, as our two men would be perfectly 
content to have one horse between them* By this means, 
after a vexations amount of palaver and delay, the question 
was settled, and we set out up the eastern branch of the 
Tcherek. AJter passing over the level meadows, and the 
Btony bed of a stream flowing fix,m the glaxjier of an un- 
pronounceable peak which rises g^randly on the left, the 
path climbs a gentle ascent, whence the tops of both Dych- 
tau and Eoschtantan are for a moment visible together, 
and then finds itself in another plain, apparently an old 
lake-bed. A strong iron-spring bursts out under the hill- 
side, and colours half the plain with a bright-red deposit. 

On the opposite side of the lightly-wooded glen, a large 
glacier ponrs over the cliffs, descending from the same 
snowfields which feed the infant Bion on the southern 
side. The termination of the glacier is most peculiar and 
picturesque. The frozen flood descends in one great 
sheet, until it reaches the edge of the line of cliffs im- 
mediately over the valley, and then separates into two por- 
tions ; the larger pours down in an icefall, broken into 
the usual minarets and towers ; the other keeps a course 
parallel to the river, along the top of the cliffs, until it 
finds a curious cleft, into which it plunges, and shoots 
forth a long tongue of ice. Mineral waters, fine air, and 
mountain excursions are aU ready prepared, and some day 
perhaps a comfortable bathing establishment may make this 
spot a centre for mountain explorers. 

The main stream finds its way, both in and out of this 
basin, through deep clefts, and the path makes a rough 



THE GUARDIANS OP THE FLOCKS. 415 

climb along the hillside. Tucker's horse here stumbled over 
some rocks, and, but for the rider's quickness in getting 
clear of the animal, he might have had his leg crushed and 
been seriously hurt. Happily, he escaped with a cut knee 
and a severe shaking. The course of the upper glen was 
now nearly due east and west; the birch-wood gradually 
ceased altogether, and the ridge of the Stuleveesk Pass 
closed the view in the distance. On the hillside numerous 
flocks and herds were feeding, and we passed the quarters of 
the shepherds, who, as usual in this country, content'them- 
selves with a temporary shelter built up of a few branches 
covered with sheepskins. On our right a steep broken 
slope supported the glaciers of the main chain, far less 
precipitous in this portion than further west or east; it is 
here that the known pass to the Bion valley crosses the 
mountains. We met two of the guardians of the district : 
one, an old gentleman, who looked as if he ought to have 
retired from active service, irritated us by descanting to 
our horsemen on the difficulties before them, and the im- 
possibility of getting horses over the snow, except in the 
early morning while the surface was still frozen. 

In the teeth of such remonstrances, we had some diffi- 
culty in persuading our men, always on the look-out for an 
excuse for halting, to go on, and when we finally suc- 
ceeded, the old guardian and his companion came with us, 
to give their aid in the perils they declared we must 
inevitably enconnter. The head of the eastern Tcherek 
is a wide pasturage, into which pour streams both 
from the central chain and from the recesses of the 
northern range, the summits of which are exceedingly 
bold rock-peaks, lofty enough to support a considerable 
amount of snow and ice. The highest source issues 
from a mass of old avalanche debris, covering the end 
of a small glacier fSalling from the upper snowfields. 



416 THE TCHEBEK VALLET. 

The final climb to the pass is very steep for horses ; it ha« 
been rendered easier in places by the construction of a 
zigzag pathy but near ttie top the snow entirely covers the 
surface. It was satisfactory to find that the old native's 
alarm was unfounded, and that, as we expected, the snow 
had only melted sufficiently to give the horses firm 
foothold. 

We had hurried on, to secure a clear view from the 
pass before midday clouds blew up and obscured any of 
the summits. The actual ridge is a thin and steep comb 
of rock, probably about 10,000 feet in height. The views 
firom it are superb, and we were exceptionally fortunate in 
seeing them almost unclouded. Looking back from our pre- 
sent position, we commanded the whole eastern face of the 
group of the Central Caucasus, as I have before designated 
the great cluster of granite peaks, of which Eoschtantau 
appears to be the highest. On the left, the steep peak we 
had previously identified as the Nuamquam, which looks 
down on Jibiani on the southern side of the chain, was seen 
above the snowy head of another eminence, rising out of 
the snowfields of the ^eat glacier we had noticed in the 
morning. Connected with the Nuamquam by a long snowy 
curtain was the massive, but yet graceful, pile of crag and 
ice constituting Koschtantau. The day before we had only 
seen one end of the magnificent mass ; the fuller view we 
now obtained of its rocky buttresses, fretted icefalls, and 
high-pitched slopes, fully confirmed us in the wisdom of 
our decision, to leave this triumph of mountain architecture 
alone in its glory. 

At the northern foot of the mountain, at the head 
of the Dychsu glacier, a comparatively low gap leads 
somewhere — ^it would be most interesting to discover 
whither. An explorer would probably be able to de- 
scend from it into the Bezeenghe valley. On the right 



r^^BB^^^^"5- 



THE STULEVEESK PASS. 417 

of this break in the chain stand two rocky giants, the 
northern unquestionably the Dychtau of the map, a 
terrifically steep-sided peak, with a glacier flowing in a deep 
trench at its foot ; the other a nameless summit, certainly 
exceeding 16,000 feet in height, and too precipitous to 
bear much snow or ice. While admiring, and endeavour- 
ing to carry away a recollection of, the noble outline of 
the group I have attempted to describe, we could not help 
regretting that sach grand mountains • should have been 
deprived of their legitimate honours by a mere volcanic 
accident like Elbruz. In Eoschtantau and Dychtau the 
Caucasus would have had a worthy king and queen. 
Elbruz is at best a bloated monarch, and has little beyond 
size to recommend him. 

Immediately to the north wa« the serrated chain which 
separates the upper valleys of the Tcherek and Uruch 
from the minor glens, the streams of which flow inde- 
pendently to the plain, between the two rivers. Looking 
east, the conspicuous feature of the near view was a pro- 
jecting summit of the main chain, which reached a greater 
vertical elevation in less lateral space than most mountains. 
It rose immediately out of the valley in a series of precipices, 
separated by most disproportionately small ledges, and I 
believe, if the icy cap of the mountain had toppled over, 
there would have been nothing to stop its fragments until 
they reached the bed of the Uruch. The greater portion 
of the Adai Khokh group was hidden by the nearer ranges ; 
beyond some of its northern spurs, two or three distant 
snow-peaks were visible, in one of which we easily recog- 
nised Kazbek. 

The train of horses followed us quickly up the pass, and 
when they rejoined us on the summit, we found the men 
in high good-humour at the unexpected easiness of their 
day's work. The first descent on the eastern side was 

E £ 



418 THE TCIIEBEK VALLET. 

down steep frozen banks, where the horses, owing to the 
perfect condition of the snow, and their own experience in 
snch work, found no difficulty, and the assistance of the 
timorous old gentleman was scarcely needed. On reaching 
the first grass, we satisfied his claims, and bade him and 
his companion farewell. There was very little track to 
guide us on this side of the mountain, and the horsemen did 
not seem well acquainted with the way; so that when, 
after following a little stream amongst rich pasturages, we 
emerged from its glen, on the verge of a steep descent leadr 
ing into the trough of the Uruch, we found ourselves too 
much to the left, and the horses had to make a slight cir- 
cuit to reach the valley. The source of the Uruch is in a 
moderate-sized glacier, chiefly noteworthy for the streak? 
of red 'snow that lay on its central portion ; a pass may 
probably be found over it to the Rion valley. 

We now ran down a rocky slope, with the precipitous 
peak we had seen from the pa«i immediately opposite. In 
this case nearer approach did not diminish the grand 
effect of its cliffs, and we agreed that it deserved to rank 
among the sensational features of the Caucasus. With such 
an object in view, the scenery could not be dull, but, putting 
aside the surrounding mountains, there was little to attract 
notice in the long flat glen through which the Uruch runs 
quietly for a while before it plunges downward through the 
ravines we were to traverse on the morrow. The torrent 
had made the level ground a museum for specimens of the 
rocks of the main chain, brought dowii by its parent glacier. 
Further on we came to a stretch of herbage, where numer* 
ous springs burst out of the ground at every step, frequently 
converting the path into a watercourse. At a point marked 
' Kut ' in the map, a stream from the northern range, the 
peaks of which are almost dolomitic in the fantastic bold- 
ness of their forms, makes a graceful leap over a wall of 



Ksmft 



A QUEER HOST. 410 

crag before joining the Uruch. Here we saw traces of 
human habitations, and a group of peasants, in quaint-; 
shaped wideawakes, employed in haymaking. 

Having been on the road for ten hours, we thought it was 
time to stop, and instructed Paul to make enquiries of the 
natives, and find out if they were disposed to allow us to 
take up quarters for the night in the half-underground hut 
we noticed close by. The chief man among the peasants, 
who talked a dialect Paul had the greatest difficulty in 
comprehending, did not at first sight impress us favourably. 
His expression of countenance strongly resembled the 
masks worn by country bumpkins in a burlesque, and his 
comical, not to say idiotic, appearance was heightened by 
a quaint bell-shaped wideawake considerably the worse 
for wear. At first there seemed some question whether a 
welcome would be oflFered us, but any difficulty was soon 
removed, and we proceeded together through the hayfield, 
by the wall of which the parley had been held, to the door 
of the hut. Being built against a steep slope, part of it 
was underground, while the front projected from the hill- 
side. The back was occupied by an extensive but gloomy 
stable, which was entered through a perfectly clean cham- 
ber, where our men passed the night ; as the weather was 
fine, we preferred to pitch our tent outside. The pig-faced 
peasant, against whom we had at first sight conceived such 
an unjust prejudice, turned out a capital fellow. He brought 
us not only firesh milk, but a peculiar species of liquor, 
something between publichouse beer and sour cider, for 
which we expressed the greatest admiration, taking care 
at the same time privately to empty out the vessel con- 
taining it, on the first opportunity. 

This was the fifteenth and last occasion that we slept 
under canvas in the Caucasus, and as Eastern travellers 
commonly base their ideas of tents on the spacious pavi- 

S K 2 



450 THE TCHEREK VALLEY. 

lions i*aised for their accommodation by Syrian dragomen, 
I may take this opportunity of describing the little struc- 
ture for which, owing to the satisfactory manner in which it 
had protected us from cold, wind, and rain, we had by this 
time acquired quite an affection. The framework consisted 
of two pairs of poles, jointed for convenience like a fishing- 
rod, and stoutly shod with iron spikes. A single rope, form- 
ing the ridge of the tent, was passed over the fork of either 
pair, and attached at both ends as tightly as possible to the 
ground, by pegs or boulders. By this means, and by 
forcing apart the spikes of the poles, the canvas which was 
attached to them was stretched taut in every direction. 
I may add that the flap serving as a door could be securely 
tied across the entrance, and that the floor formed one 
piece with the sides, so that the weight of our bodies 
served as an additional safeguard against the risk of being 
blown over during the night. The internal arrangements 
were of a simple character. Having first fastened in a 
second waterproof floor, we spread out our light mattrass, 
bought at Erivan, laying it across the tent. The founda- 
tion of our pillows consisted of our thick boots ; upon these 
we laid our revolvers and cartridge-pouch, crowning the 
edifice with a coat or mackintosh. All being then ready, 
we took up our respective positions ; the dimensions of our 
snuggery were six feet square, so that no one could be 
restless at night without rousing his neighbours, but we 
found practically that each had sufficient room to sleep 
comfortably. 

When the hour of our evening meal arrived, we ate our 
food seated tailor-fashion in a row on the mattrass, Paul 
pushing in to us, from the entrance at the other end, the 
various viands, tempting or the reverse, which he had pre- 
pared. The cooking was accomplished by means of a 
portable apparatus brought from England, combining, in a 



. OUE DAILY LIFE. 4'>1 

comparatively small compass, two saucepans, a fryingpan, a 
tripod, a Russian furnace, and a drinking-cup. Our standing 
dish as far as Uruspieh, at which point our store became 
exhausted, was soup made from the essence of beef- tea 
procurable in London, and Liebig's ^ Extractum Camis,' 
which, combined in nearly equal proportions, and with the 
addition of a tablet of Chollet's * Compressed Vegetables,' 
produce a very palatable and supporting beverage. Dinner 
finished, we pushed out the plates and cups that had served 
our turn, cleared, our pockets of heavy articles, such as 
aneroid barometers, compasses, and pocket-knives, that 
might otherwise have disturbed our rest, and, wrapped in 
our respective rugs, resigned ourselves to such slumber 
as the state of our consciences^ or of our digestions, would 
allow. 



422 THE URUCH VALLEY. 



CHAPTER Xm. 

THE UBUCH VALLET AND BETUBK TO TIFLI8. 

' Wooded Defiled— Styr Digor— A Halt— We Meet a Cossack-— A Rain- 
storm — Zadelesk — The Gate of the Moiutains — Across the Hills and 
Through the . Forest — I'ugano^a — lloTO-Christianskj — A Christian 
Welcome — A Wet Ride — ArdoDsk— A Breakdown on the Steppe — Vladi- 

- kafkaz — A Diligence DriTe— The Dariel Gorge- Return to Tiflis — 
Reflections on the Caucasian Chain — Its Scenery and Lihabitants — 
Comparison with-the Alps — Hints for Travellers. 

August 19th. — The morning was cloudless^ and we were 
fully prepared to enjoy our day's journey down the valley 
of the TJruch, the scenery of which, running parallel, as it 
does, to the central chain for many miles, must, we believed, 
prove in the highest degree interesting. We had to ex- 
perience a fresh illustration of the perversity of the Cau- 
casian nature before starting, and the result of the trifling 
concession we had made on the previous day showed the 
inexpedience of yielding any point in dispute with these 
unmanageable mountaineers* Paul and Fran9ois having 
walked by turns over the pass, the horsemen now required 
that they should be content with one horse between them, 
while the men themselves rode. Wishing to push on as 
far as possible during the day, and knowing well that the 
fi.Tn'Tnfi.lH were not overladen, we refused to start until the 
ridiculous proposal was withdrawn. The promise of our 
entertainer that, in case of need, he would find horses, 
enabled us to take rather a high line. After a warm 
debate — in which the feelings of one of our horsemen 



WOODED DEFILES. 423 

became bo intense that, unable to express them by words, 
or even by the remarkable grunt in the emission of which 
he was so proficient, he gave point to his remarks by 
demonstrations with his dagger — they wisely succumbed, 
and we became as good friends as ever. 

On parting, the chief of the hay-cutters requested us to 
take the side of his village in a disputed claim as to 
pasturages, which the local chiefs had been xmable to 
settle, and was likely to come under Bussian arbitration. 
Following the custom of the country, we promised to do 
anything in our power, and, after an affectionate hand^ 
shaking, set off for our day's ride with our no longer 
refractory though somewhat sulky attendants. For some 
distance below the hut^ the Uruch continues to flow 
through level and marshy meadows. The frequent water- 
channels were serious impediments to our progress, as the 
mud in them was often deep, and leaping is not a part of 
the education of a Caucasian horse. Our baggage-mule, 
a plucky little animal, whose performance on the pass had 
Won our admiration, now stuck hopelessly in the mud, and 
had to be unloaded, an incident which recalled, to Tucker 
and myself, some of our Syrian misadventures. When 
the river does begin to descend, it does so with a will^ and 
the path is obliged to have recourse to very steep zigzags, 
in order to keep pace with it. 

A description in detail of the constantly-shifbing fea- 
tures of the landscape for the next few miles would be 
wearisome, and give little idea of the beauty of the 
scenery. The path, always at a considerable height, on 
the left side of the valley, carried us by an alternation of 
terraces and rapid descents through a succession of defiles, 
adorned by fine fir-forests, enlivened by pretiy water&Jls, 
and overhung on the right by noble snowy ranges. On 
two grassy knoUs, high on either side of the stream^ 



424 THE URUCH VALLEY. 

were groups of the lialf-Tindergroiind huts, that here fill 
tlie place of ch&lets, and numbers of their occupants were 
haymaking in the adjoining meadows. 

The dwellers on the Upper XJruch, known to the old 
writers on the country as * Digors,' are, as far as we saw, 
the best specimens of Eastern Christianity in the country. 
We understood, at the time, that they were a branch of the 
Ossete tribe, whose territory they border on the east, but 
the latest authors seem to class them, with the people of 
Balkar and Uruspieh, as a Tartar race. . A conical-shaped 
wooded eminence closed the view of one of the bends in 
the defile, and formed an admirable foreground to. the 
peaks of the main chain. On reaching its foot, where the 
path abandoned the hUlsides, and returned to the bank of 
the torrent, we found ourselves in a region of richer and 
more varied foliage, and constantly admired the contrast 
between the bright green of the lower slopes and the white 
shimmer of the peaks that overlooked them. 

Leaving behind us the conical hill, we emerged into an. 
open valley, and a basin surrounded by a semicircular 
range of precipices opened on the right. Several glaciers 
spread their icy skirts to the edge of the cliffs,. over which 
streams tumbled in picturesque cascades ; ^hile, crowning 
all, snow-peaks, of the inaccessible order of mountain 
architecture which might fairly be called Caucasian, lifted 
their bold heads against the sky. It was a scene similar 
to the cirque of the Diablerets, but on a far grander scale. 
We rode across the rich and well-watered meadows on 
the left bank of the TTruch, until, under the shade of a 
picturesque group of chesnut and lime-trees, we halted, 
to wait for our horsemen. When they rejoined us, we 
continued our journey, and, leaving the first hamlet of 
the valley on our left, passed through cornfields, almost 
rjpe for the sickle^ either carefully fenced in, or only 






A POOR HAMLET. 425 

guarded by a few stakes, according to the character of the 
owner. 

Styr Digor, where we intended to make our midday 
halt, is the principal place in the valley ; but our horsemen, 
for some reason we were unable to comprehend, had made 
up their minds to go on to a comparatively small hamlet, 
an hour's ride further down. The backward view of the 
semicircle of ice-clad peaks and the rich pastoral fore^ 
ground was very fine. At the hamlet of Moska, we found 
only an old woman, who had nothing to offer us but eggs, 
and even these she had some difficulty in collecting, as her 
hens had apparently mislaid them. After a shorter halt 
than usual, and having exchanged salutations with a priest 
in the orthodox clerical attire of a long sack-shaped coat 
and soft felt wideawake, we rode down the valley, anxious 
to get as far as possible on the road before nightfalL 
During our halt the beauty of the day had departed, and 
the clouds had rapidly swept up over the range, threaten^ 
ing rain, which began to faU slowly later in the afternoon. 
The path again descended to the banks of the IJruch, and 
the glen of its first considerable tributary, the Karagam, 
opened on the right. We looked out eagerly towards its 
head for the great glacier by the side of which we had 
bivouacked a month ago, when we had crossed the main 
chain from the valley of the Eion. The glen was longer 
than we anticipated, and nothing could be seen except the 
snout of the ice-stream on the upper portion of which we 
had spent so many hours. 

The valley of the IJruch, having run thus far east and 
west, or nearly parallel to the chain, turns sharply to the 
north, and the scenery becomes less interesting, though the 
rich woods and broken crags of the continuous defile 
through which the river flows would attract the admira- 
tion of travellers in any region less richly gifted with 



426 THE URUCII VALLEY. 

mountain beauties than that we were now traversing. 
The road, still keeping the same course on the left bank, 
and now wide enough for the passage of carts, is shaded by 
dense thickets of hazels. 

We were jogging along quietly, when we encountered a 
man in the ordinary Caucasian costume, but with a mili- 
tary air, which distinguished him from the common native. 
He stopped to speak to us, and, Paul being summoned to 
our aid, we learned that he was a Cossack in the Russian 
service, sent by the Commandant of Ardonsk, who had 
received his instructions from General Loris-Melikov to 
aid us in our journey. He was now on his second trip to 
Digor ; having been previously unsuccessful in finding us, 
he had returned to headquarters only to be sent back 
again, with instructions to wait till our arrival — a piece of 
unlooked-for attention on the part of the Russian authori- 
ties, for which we felt the more grateful, as our horsemen 
had lately shown signs of renewed insubordination. The 
readiness to assist us, and appreciation of the real object 
of our journey, shown by the officials on the northern 
side of the Caucasus^ was very gratifying, and our best 
thanks are due to General Loris-Melikov and his subordi- 
nates for the aid they so kindly gave us. 

We soon passed a considerable village, and following for 
many miles a terrace-path, along steep hillsides, always 
green and picturesquely broken, approached the point 
where the Uruch turns due north, to fight its way through 
the limestone range which fianks the central chain. 
Having first passed the main stream by a lofty bridge, we 
crossed an extremely narrow cleft, from which a large 
eastern affluent issues. The heavy clouds and drizzling 
rain, combined with the bare character of the scenery, the 
frequent apparitions of tall tombstones by the wayside, 
and the tumbledown, and in many cases ruinous, state of 



ZADELESK. 427 

the towers and groups of farmhouses which dotted the 
slopes, were in dismal contrast to the visions of beauty 
and unclouded sky which had made the earlier hours of 
the day so enjoyable. The path first mounted steeply, and 
then wound at a level round the ravines and promontories 
into which the hillside was worn by the action of time 
and weather. Occasionally, we passed a patch of corn- 
land, but the ground was generally stony and unculti- 
vated, and there was no shelter of any kind from the fury 
of a tremendous storm of wind and rain which attacked 
us at this moment. 

For the last hour of our journey we were exposed to a 
perfect waterspout; the growing darkness added to the 
difficulty of guiding our horses against the storm, and we 
were glad when the stone-houses of Zadelesk, which the 
Ck)ssack had pointed out to us, some time before, as the 
best halting-place for the night, were safely reached. 
The Cossack was now of the greatest use ; he took the 
arrangement of our sleeping-quaxters into his own hands, 
and we were soon invited to remove from the comfortless 
hovel, in which we had taken refuge, to a snug little 
room, where mattrasses were found for us, and we passed 
a very comfortable night. The day's ride had been long ; 
with only short halts, we had been on the road for fully 
eleven hours. 

August 20th. — ^To our surprise, after the storm of the 
previous night, the morning was calm and clear. The 
position of Zadelesk is very curious ; perched on a high 
brow at least 1,000 feet above the Uruch, it is separated 
from the villages on the opposite side, which are compa- 
ratively close as the crow fiies, by a tedious climb of 
several hours. The trough through which the river flows 
is too narrow to be inhabited^ and the hamlets are perched, 
like swallows' nests, halfway up the steep mountain-walls. 



428 THE UKUCH VALLKY. 

Having paid for our accommodation, we started for the 
last day's journey over the Caucasian by-roads. The 
whole valley of the TJruch, from Moska downwards, is so 
narrow as to merit the title of a gorge ; but the principal 
defile, where the river and the mountains meet for a final 
struggle, commences a little more than a mile below 
Zadelesk. A meadow shaded by some fine walnut-trees, 
and enlivened, when we passed, by a large herd of cattle, 
iiffords a pleasant resting-place for those who have won a 
way from the plains through the long gorge, and thence 
a glimpse may be caught of the shining tablelands and 
snowy summits at the head of the Karagam glacier. 
Immediately behind the meadow towered a splintered 
comb of rock, with a deep fissure cut down into it, the 
subject of a legend, in which the Devil, as usual, plays the 
chief part. The path winds round the side of this spur, 
and though kept in careful repair, and nowhere difficult for 
horses, the precipices below us, on our left, were so startling 
that we preferred walking, to running any risk from a 
chance slip of one of the animals. 

Fairly within the jaws of the mountain, we sometimes 
had to descend into a lateral cleft, at others to climb over 
rocky teeth, until we came to a spot where, the roadmakers 
having apparently given up as hopeless the task of pene- 
trating deeper into the gorge, the path began to zigzag 
steadily upwards. The Uruch could be seen only from 
time to time, fretting and foaming between the narrow 
walls of its prison. On its opposite side the range rose in 
stupendous limestone cliflFs fringed with firs, mingled with 
a variety of deciduous trees. As we mounted higher, more 
summits of the snowy chain behind us came into sight, 
but the converging clififs of the defile still cut oflF all view 
towards the north. A long and hot ascent brought us to 



THE GATE OF THE MOUNTAINS. 429 

a brow crowned by one of the usual tall Mahommedan 
tombstones, capped by a stone-wrought turban. 

Although expecting to see from this point something 
of our onward com^se, we were quite unprepared for the 
unique beauty of the landscape which was suddenly spread 
before our eyes. Standing, as it were, in the gate of the 
mountains, at a height of probably not less than 3,000 
feet above the level of the Uruch, we looked out over the 
low country which lies to the north. A broad hilly district, 
clothed in the densest primeval forest, here separates the 
mountains and the steppe. In the clearings, few and far 
between, a thin wreath of smoke revealed the existence of 
human dwellings ; but the country seemed very little re- 
moved from a state of nature, to the continuation of which 
the insecuriiy and lawlessness, consequent on its position 
as a border-ground between the Bussian postfi on the 
steppe and the inhabitants of the mountain recesses 
has chiefly contributed. The immense extent of undulating 
woodland stretching to the horizon, and the rivers — which, 
unbridged and unconfined, converting their immediate 
banks into swampy jungles, wander like bright flashes of 
light across the green landscape — convey to the traveUer's 
mind the impression of a rich virgin country, such as 
he would rather expect to meet with in the New World 
than in the Caucasus, the supposed cradle of his race. 
We remained for some minutes riveted in admiration of 
the scene, and unable to think of anything within our 
experience of more civilised countries with which to com- 
pare its rich yet melancholy effect. In this extraordinary 
spot we bade farewell to the mountain fastnesses of the 
Central Caucasus, and it would have been di£5cult to quit 
that no longer mysterious region by an exit more calculated 
to leave on our minds imperishable recollections of its 
sublimity. 



430 RETURN TO TIFLIS. 

Our C!os8ack told us that in the old days a native ^ard 
was stationed on the knoll where we were seated, to protect 
passers-by from the assaults of robbers, who were wont at 
times to leap out from behind the rocks on their victims, 
and hurl them over the adjoining precipices. The frequent 
tombstones we had passed are, in many instances, monu- 
ments to these unlucky wayfarers. The path now turned 
sharply to the east, and crossed a brow where the limestone 
rock cropped out on the surface, and was strangely split 
into clefts and crannies, which caused some embarrass- 
ment to the horses. Having now fairly emerged from the 
gorgCj we for a time turned our backs on the TJrach, and 
rode across a steep hillside, until we reached the top of the 
low ridge forming the watershed between that river and a 
number of streams which flow down through densely- 
wooded glens to join the Terek further east. The track 
somewhat suddenly entered a thick forest of entirely sub- 
alpine character; the beech was the principal tree, but 
there was a great variety of foliage, and the usual dense 
underwood of rhododendron and azalea, some of the 
plants of the latter being on a level with our heads as 
we rode between thom. 

We could not, however, give our undivided attention to 
the sylvan attractions of the scenery, as our progress was 
rendered more or less difficult by the swampy nature of 
the ground, aggravated by the late rains, and by the low 
branches which, had we not been ruthlessly cropped by a 
Patigorsk barber, would have threatened us with the &te 
of Absalom. The weather most unluckily again turned 
bad; rain threatened, but held off till afber luncheon, 
which we enjoyed on a freshly-mown meadow. The path 
continued to follow the watershed, and, afber riding along 
the bare crest, we turned sharply down a spur separating 
two deep but narrow glens, and again entered the forest. 



NOVO-CHRISTIANSKY. 431 

At the same time the rain began to fall in torrents. How 
we all safely accomplished the next two lionrs' ride is still 
a mystery to me. The rain was blinding, the track was so 
deep in mire as to be in places almost impassable, the 
trunks and branches put us in constant fear of concussion 
of the brain ; yet, holding our horses in hand as best we 
could, we pushed on at a brisk pace headed by the Cos- 
sack, who occasionally looked round with an air of surprise 
at seeing his convoy still keeping up. At last we emerged 
above the village of Tuganova, built at the foot of the 
hills on the lefb bank of a stream which, issuing from a 
wooded valley, here finds its way to the plain. 

A well-built whitewashed house, with verandahs, was 
conspicuous at the entrance of the village ; it is the 
residence of a native chief, who has been gratified with a 
military rank by the Bussians, and is now known by the 
imposing title of General Taganova. He is a Mahom- 
medan, and therefore the owner of several wives, some of 
whom we admired in passing. It was suggested by the 
Cossack that we might claim the General's hospitality, but 
as he also warned us that, should the rain continue, the 
stream would probably be impassable next morning, we 
determined to prolong our day's journey to Novo-Christi- 
ansky, said to be ten miles distant. The questionable 
stream, a very rapid one, was barely fordable now ; but we 
managed to get through it safely, though the Cossack's 
horse went into a hole, and wetted him up to the middle. 
The wood gradually thinned, until it ceased altogether, 
and we found ourselves on a dismal steppe, only relieved 
by occasional mounds resembling artificial tumuli. The 
ride, on a pouring afternoon, was gloomy enough, and 
twilight was deepening apace, when we caught sight of 
the distant church of Novo-Christiansky, a name derived 
from the late simultaneous conversion of the whole village 



432 BETURN TO TIPLIS. 

to the Christian creed — a, change, I believe, not nncon- 
nected with a remission of taxes. The low houses did not 
couie in sight for some time, and it was quite dark when 
we rode in through the lanes of mud which serve as 
streets. 

Our Cossack was himself a native of this village, and 
directed us to a detached building, where we sat in an 
open verandah, in damp and dismal suspense, while he 
searched for the key. When this was found we gained 
admission to a village-shop, behind which were two rooms 
barely, though for the country pretentiously, furnished. 
Having been on the road all day, we were now wet, tired, 
and hungry, and tried to get a fire, a mattrass of some 
sort to lie on, and something to eat. The two first were 
not forthcoming at all, and the last did not appear for 
nearly three hours, so that I had gone fast asleep on the 
boards long before food arrived, and did not care to rouse 
myself to partake of it. The wetness of the night was 
some excuse for the delay in supplying our wants, and the 
absence of anything to lie on was probably explained by 
the change in the faith of the villagers; carpets and 
cushions being apparently creature-comforts so associated 
with Mussulman faifch and rule, and opposed to all Russian 
ideas, that the first act of a civilised and converted popula- 
tion is to get rid of all such property, or, at any rate, to 
abstain from producing it for the benefit of strangers. 

August 21«i. — In the morning, the rain was still falling 
as heavily as ever, and our horsemen showed a strong dis- 
inclination to face the weather, and the perils by water, 
which they believed must be encountered before reaching 
Ardonsk. We, knowing that Vladikafkaz was distant 
only a short day's journey, were anxious to gain it, and 
felt no inducement to loiter any longer than was necessary 
amongst our sluggish entertainers the * New Christians.' 



ARDONSK. 433 

Little can be written about the miserable fifteen miles' 
ride we had now to get over. The rain fell in torrents 
the whole time ; we had to ford one broad and swollen, but 
fortunately shallow, stream, and to wade through the 
heavy mire of the everywhere flat and treeless steppe. At 
last the grove which shades Ardonsk appeared in the dis- 
tance, and, crossing a second stream by a bridge, we 
entered the place, which consists of a straggling village of 
farmhouses and cottages, adjoining a military station laid 
out by mathematical rules, and still surrounded by the 
moat and ditch which were once requisite for its protec- 
tion. The impetuous Paul, rashly emulating the feat of 
Kemus, attempted to force his horse over the ruined ram- 
part ; but the animal falling backwards on the slippery 

slope, he narrowly escaped an awkward tumble as a pun- 
ishment for his temerity. 

Here we rejoined the highroad once more, and soon dis- 
covered a cottage with the double-headed eagle over the 
door, pointing it out as the post-station. Being wet 
through and plastered with mud, we made our condition 
an excuse for remaining at the station, while we despatched 
the Cossack to report our arrival, and ask the commandant 
if any carriage with a hood or spring was to be obtained 
in the place. The answer was, that no such luxury was 
obtainable at any price, so we reconciled ourselves to the 
thought of driving the twenty-five miles that still separated 
us from Yladikafkaz in the common open carts. We 
found good food and wine at the posthouse, the master 
of which was a civil Russian. The prospect of a long 
drive in the rain made us look with envy on the great 
sheepskin ^ bourcas * worn by the people of the country, 
and we finally concluded a bargain for two. A second 
diversion was afforded by the passage of a regiment of 
Cossacks, on the way to join those we had seen guarding 

p p 



/ 



434 RETURN TO TIFLIS. 

the Persian frontier on the Araxes ; both the men and 
their wiry little horses looked admirably adapted for such 
duty, but ill-armed, and too little drilled to be able to 
maintain an equal contest with European cavalry. 

Before starting for our drive, we had to settle matters 
with onr horsemen and the Cossack ; the former were put 
in high good-humour by the addition of a small gratuity 
to the sum they had bargained for, and became enthu- 
siastic in their gratitude when we granted their request for 
one of our photographs, which they had seen at Muchol. 
Despite the friendliness of our parting, we could not 
altogether forget, though we might forgive, their be- 
haviour on the road before the Cossack joined us, and we 
were not disposed to underrate his services in removing 
difficulties, and aiding ns in pushing on, through the 
weather and mud of the last two days. He, too, returned 
to his home well contented. 

The chapter of accidents, which awaited us before 
reaching our destination, began with our very start ; the 
plank-bridge, by which the road — the highway of com- 
munication bet «7een Russia and Trans-Caucasia — crosses 
a ditch in the street, had been allowed to fall to decay, 
and become impassable for wheeled vehicles. Driving 
consequently through the water, our wheels stuck in the 
mud, our shaft-horse refused to draw, and, despite the 
blows and oaths of the driver, who, up to his waist in 
water, harangued the refractory animals by turns, we 
seemed likely to remain a fixture. By the aid of some 
bystanders, who vigorously thrashed the shaft-horse, the 
principal offender, over the head, we were at last released, 
and then, despite the heaviness of the track across the 
steppe, which is nowhere metalled, made a good pace to 
Archonsk, the next station, crossing on the way several 
large streams, by means of long wooden bridges. In fine 



A BREAKDOWN ON THE STEPPE. 435 

weather the views of the snowy chain and Kazbek may 
make this drive interesting, but when these are hid, 
nothing can be duller, or more monotonous. Archonsk is 
a decayed military post, now inhabited chiefly by a tribe 
of lean and hungry pigs. 

We had travelled nearly five miles beyond it, when the 
wheel of one of our * telegas ' flew off, and shivered into 
atoms ; the * rules of the post ' prevented our extricating 
ourselves from the dilemma, by jumping into a return- 
cart, which actually passed us, on its way to Vladikafkaz ; 
and we were compelled, after sending the driver of the 
broken vehicle back on one of his horses to fetch another, 
to take Paul into our cart, and leave Pran9ois in the 
middle of the steppe, with a revolver and the luggage, to 
await the arrival of a fresh * telega.' The rain had now 
ceased, and pursuing a gentle but steady ascent, at a 
slow pace, we gradually left the verst-posts, and a num- 
ber of exceedingly tipsy Russian soldiers, behind, and at 
nightfall entered Vladikafkaz. Long rows of white- 
washed buildings, used apparently as barracks and go- 
vernment stores, lined either side of the road. We 
thought the town would never come to an end, when 
suddenly our horses' hoofs rang on macadam, and in 
another minute, we were crossing our old friend, the 
Terek, by a handsome stone-bridge, built by an English 
engineer. 

At a distance of a few himdred yards, on the opposite 
bank of the river, stands the posthouse, a large and 
imposing building, which serves both as an hotel, and as 
a club for the numerous officers stationed at Vladikafkaz, 
who, at the moment of our arrival, were giving a ball to 
the ladies of the place. Having secured good rooms, the 
best dinner they could give us, and a bottle of champagne, 
to celebrate the conclusion of our rambles in the un- 

P P 2 



4*10 KETUBX TO TIPLIS. 

frfjquented byways of the Caucasus, we waited, with a 
faith not dr*«tined to disapi>ointmeiit, the arrival of Fran- 
<;oiH and the higgage. 

Av/fusi 22nd to 24ih. — Vladikafkaz, which means, in 
KuHsian, the Key of the Caucasus — or Terek £[ala, the 
Castle on the Terek, as the Ossetes prefer to call it — is the 
c^intre of the military position which Russia has occupied, 
for many years, at the northern foot of the Caucasian 
chain. Equidistant between the Black and Caspian 
Beas, its fortress served as a check on any junction and 
combined action between the tribes of the Kabarda and the 
still more formidable mountaineers of Daghestan, When 
it is remembered that Vladikafkaz is also the key of the 
Dariel Pass — ^the great road across the chain, known from 
Itoman times, which, rather to the discredit of modem 
enterprise, still remains the only one between Anapa and 
Derbend practicable for wheeled carriages — ^its strategic 
importance is at once explained, and the visitor is at no loss 
to understand the reason of the great piles of barracks 
which form the principal feature of the place. 

The town is prettily situated, on level ground, on both 
banks of the Terek — open on the north, but sheltered on 
the south by wooded hills, behind which rise the steeper 
slopes and higher summits of the Caucasian chain. The 
I)lace has a thoroughly Russian air. Our hotel stood in an 
open square : on one side was the bazaar, a row of covered 
arcades filled with stores, in which Ossete fur-caps were 
the most tempting wares ; on the other stretched a long 
boulevard, with a shady and graveled walk down the 
middle. The houses along this are neat buildings ; the 
rest of the town consists of large government stores, oflSces, 
and barracks, dropped here and there in the mud, amongst 
whitewashed cottages, which stand back modestly from 
the road, as if they felt out of place in such company. 



A MOTLEY CROWD. 437 

There is, as usual in Russian towns, a shady but untidily- 
kept public garden on the bank of the Terek, the waters 
of which only cover a small portion of its wide stony 
channel. On the slopes of the nearer hills are some 
viUas, in the semi-English style much aflFected in Russia, 
and a fortress, important until the last few years as a 
defence to the town against any sudden inroad of the 
mountaineers, terror of whom kept the place in an almost 
perpetual state of siege. 

The crowd collected by the performance of a rope-dancer 
at one end of the boulevard gave us a good opportunity of 
observing the characteristic costumes of the country. 
Russian ladies in Parisian toilettes, smoking cigarettes, 
were mingled with tall regular-featured Ossetes, and 
comparatively puny and sallow-faced officers, wearing the 
unbecoming baker's cap so common in Russia. On the 
outskirts of the crowd hung Persian labourers, in close- 
fitting skullcaps and ragged dress, come thus far north 
in search of a livelihood by working on the roads. 
Sentinels, standing at odd comers, guarded nothing with 
a careless air, and a military band, lent life to the 
performance, which was not in itself of a very exciting 
character. 

Our first visit was to the post-office, to obtain our letters. 
The pleasure of being informed, by the head official, that 
three letters for me had been received, was soon damped 
by the discovery that an over-zealous clerk, having seen 
our names in the Patigorsk Visitors' List, had sent them 
on there. Of course we telegraphed to Patigorsk, but 
nothing more was ever heard or seen of the mis-sent 
letters. To our dismay, the first news that met us, when 
we enquired about a carriage for Tifiis, was that the 
Dariel road was broken, and that all communication had 
been interrupted for several days. We began to think we 



438 RETURN TO TIPLIS. 

should never escape from floods. The damage had been 
done in the second stage out of Vladikafkaz, and as a 
company of soldiers were said to be at work in making the 
ro«ad passable for carriages, we had nothing to do but 
wait till news came of the completion of their task, 
before which time the postmaster refused to send out any 
vehicle. 

At first it seemed as if we should be obliged to renew 
our acquaintance with * telegas/ but our perseverance was 
rewarded by the completion of an arrangement for the 
hire of one of the small * diligences,' which are a peculiarity 
of the Russian postal system. These solidly-built and 
heavy conveyances, which require four or six horses to draw 
them, according to the nature of the road, contain, notwith- 
standing their size, only five passengers, besides the driver 
and the conductor who are attached to each. The inside 
holds two, or three on a pinch, and there are seats for 
three more, on what, though slightly different, may be 
called the banquette. They are fitted up for long journeys, 
and it is possible to sleep very comfortably inside, as a 
board lets down from the front, and enables the traveller 
to lie at length during the night. The presence of the 
conductor — who, armed with a horn, blows warnings to all 
lesser traps to get out of the way, wakes up sleepy post- 
masters, and takes on himself all responsibility in pro- 
curing horses — is also a great convenience, especially to the 
foreigner not speaking ^Russian. On Sunday evening we 
saw, to our delight, a carriage drive in from Tiflis, and 
the roa-d being thus conclusively proved to be open, the 
postmaster promised us horses at an early hour on the 
following morning. 

August 24^A. — The weather, which had been cloudy 
during the two days of our stay at Vladikafkaz, cleared 
during the night, and on looking out of window, at sun- 



RUSSIAN ROADMAKING. 439 

rise, we were greeted by the double peak of Kazbek, rising 
high above the ridges on the right of the gap of the Dariel 
Pass. The view of the snowy chain was far finer than we 
were prepared for. The mountains west of Kazbek, and 
the ofl&hoots of the Adai-Khokh group, were well seen, and 
far away on the horizon, Dychtau once more showed his 
snowy head. The precipices on the eastern face of this 
tremendous peak, even from this distance, excited mingled 
feelings of admiration and respect. Our conductor amused 
us by piling the roof of the * diligence* with water-melons, a 
common article of food in Cis-Caucasia, which he meant 
to dispose of at a profit to the masters of the stations 
high in the mountains, where the fruit was not so easily 
obtainable. 

There are three stages between Yladikafkaz and Kazbek, 
and the distance is about twenty-eight miles. During the 
first stage the road was well-made, and almost level ; after 
crossing a flat meadow, where we passed a portion of the 
garrison engaged in drill and rifle-practice, it runs between 
low hills along the banks of the Terek. The vapours, 
which almost daily cover the northern plains, had already 
risen, and it was curious to see them breaking like waves 
against the steeper slopes before us, while a glimpse up 
the gap of the Dariel showed that further in the mountains 
the sky was of an unclouded blue. Shortly before reaching 
Balta, we passed two carriages, filled by the family of a 
Bussian gentleman, travelling with so numerous a party 
that they required twelve horses to draw them. The spot 
where the Terek had swept away the road was a mile or 
two beyond the station. The accident had arisen from 
the half-hearted and timid way in which the work had 
been originally carried out. On the flat, or where the 
soil is friable, no finer highway could be desired; but 
directly a hard mass of rock which requires blasting is 



440 RETUBX TO TIFLIS. 

encountered, the engineers shrink from the bold course that 
would be taken by the peasants of anj Swiss commune, 
and either climb over the top, or creep round the foot of 
the obstacle. The latter course had in the present instance 
been adopted, and it was but the natural result that the 
Terek, swollen by heavy rains, undermined and swept 
away the ill-constructed embankment on which the road 
was carried. The soldiers had done their best, under the 
circumstances, by throwing down stones and piles of fagots ; 
but the place was only just passable, and our horses had 
to be taken out, and the heavy carriage dragged across by 
the men, who left their work for the moment to aid us. 

At Lars — the second station — the scenery, hitherto 
rather tame, suddenly assumes a sterner aspect, and the 
neat whitewashed buildings of the posthouse look out of 
keeping vrith the grim crags that tower above them. 
There is an ascent of nearly 3,000 feet from this place 
to Kazbek. We required six horses, the Russian family 
twelve ; but as we had arrived a few minutes first, and the 
stables did not contain the number of animals required for 
both parties, our fellow-travellers were compelled to wait. 
The old gentleman was naturally angry, and produced a 

* crown-podorojno * ; but, finding that our conductor — by 
whose readiness we had got the start of him — was possessed 
of a similar document, he submitted, with much gain- 
saying, to fate and the law of the post, that when the 

* podorojnos ' are of a similar class, first come shall be first 
served. His family, more philosophically disposed, seemed 
to care little for the delay, the governess and her charges 
setting out on an expedition up the nearest hillside, with 
a spirit which excited our hearty admiration. 

The famous Dariel gorge differs from most of those 
traversed by Alpine carriage-roads in one essential feature. 
It is not 80 narrow but that the road finds place alongside 



THE DARIEL GORGE. 441 

the river, without making any considerable ascent above 
it. The traveller is, therefore, exempt from the terrors of 
profound abysses and yawning depths, which suggest 
themselves so often to the French tourist in the Alps. 
That curiously-constituted individual will, however, when 
he comes to describe this defile, probably apply to it his 
favourite epithet of * horribly beautiful,' and, if a classical 
scholar, will proceed to quote Tirgil's * Ssevis cautibus 
horrens Caucasus,* a passage the Eoman poet may well 
have founded on the report of some friend who had 
wandered as far as the even then famous * Portse Caucasiae.' 

The unimpressionable Anglo-Saxon, now that the once 
real danger of being picked ojff by a mountaineer in 
ambush behind some neighbouring crag no longer exists, 
will feel no other emotion, than one of vague delight in 
gazing up to the gigantic cliffs amongst which he finds 
himself. Their bold and broken forms must arrest the 
attention of even the most indifferent observer of nature. 
The mere fact of the existence of a carriage-road is some 
detraction from the impressiveness of a mountain-gorge, 
and, partly perhaps for this reason, we felt indisposed to 
rank the Dariel beside the ravines of the Tcherek and the 
Uruch we had lately traversed, yet we agreed unanimously 
that it had nothing to fear from a comparison with the finest 
defiles of the Alps. The road deserts the line of the old 
horse-track — a mere shelf cut in the rock on the left bank 
of the river — and, crossing to the opposite side, winds 
round the huge bastions of basalt-crag, which rise tier 
upon tier to a height of at least 6,000 feet above the level 
of the Terek. 

After passing the narrowest part of the ravine, the for- 
tress of Dariel comes into view — a low brick building loop- 
holed for musketry, and commanding, by means of two 
projecting towers, the narrow pass. A flat-topped table- 



442 KETURN TO TIFLIS. 

shaped mass of rock on the opposite side of the valley was, 
wc were told, formerly occupied by a more ancient fortifi- 
ciition, now entii-ely destroyed. The ascent here becomes 
very rapid, and the Terek falls in a aucceasion of cascades. 
Beyond Lara, the mountain-walls on either hand are un- 
broken by any deep cleft, until, through a sudden opening 
on the right, the upper portion of the glacier of Devdorak 



and the summit of Xazbek come into view, and, to an eye 
unaccustomed to scenery on such a scale, seem close at 
hand. The tower of rock on the ridge between the two 
glaciers is easily recognisable. Close to the spot at which, 
two months before, we had crossed the Terek on to the 
highroad, we met one of our old porters, who bailed us 
with enthusiasm. At Kaabek posthouae the German- 



MSCIIETI AGAIN. 443 

speaking woman who attends to the wants of passers-by, 
entertained us with an account of some people who, since 
our previous visit, had come from Tiflis to ascend the 
mountain, but had been content with looking at it, and 
passing on* At Kobi the postmaster was, as usual, tipsy. 
Night drew on, and rain began to fall as we drove up the 
pass, and, owing to the absence of moon, we were obliged 
to sleep at the station near the summit, which is not so 
well-fitted -up as most of those on this road. 

August 25th. — ^We started at 5 a.m., and after twelve 
hours* rapid progress, without any delays from want of 
horses, reached Mscheti, the station nearest Tiflis, where, 
as my readers may recollect, the Dariel and Xutais roads 
unite. Despite the double drain inevitably thrown on the 
resources of the establishment, the supply of horses is only 
the same as at other stations on the road, and travellers 
are constantly obliged to submit to the inconvenience 
and annoyance of stopping at an early hour, when 
only twelve miles distant from their destination. On the 
present occasion, after failing in an endeavour to hire 
peasants' horses, we were forced to make up our minds to 
the impossibility of reaching Tiflis that evening, and to 
take up our quarters on the floor of a prettily-decorated 
room intended for the use of the Grand Duke, but in which 
travellers willing to pay for the accommodation are allowed 
to spend the night. 

Av^ust 2Qth, — At an early hour in the morning we drove 
into Tiflis, and aroused the people of the * Hotel d'Europe,* 
who had almost given up expecting our return. Dm^ing 
the three following days we were fully occupied, first in 
settling our plans, and afterwards in making the arrange- 
ments necessary to their execution. Our original scheme 
had included a visit to Daghestan and the Caspian, but 
the time taken by our explorations in the central chain 



444 RETURN TO TIFLIS. 

prevented us from fully carrj'iiig it out. We can there- 
fore say nothing of Kakhetia, a broad yalley teeming with 
corn and wine, and overlooked by the snowy mountain-wall 
of the Eastern Caucasus, which was described to us by some 
of the residents at Tiflis, in the most glowing terms, as 
little short of an earthly paradise. We had also to give 
up all thoughts of attacking Basardjusi (a peak of 14,700 
feet, surrounded by others exceeding 13,000 feet, all of 
which are still unclimbed), and of exploring the district of 
-which it is the centre, which we had been assured by Herr 
Abich we should find well worthy of a visit. 

The question now before us was by what route we should 
return to the coast of the Black Sea, and our enquiries 
resulted in the determination to send some of our luggage 
with rran9ois direct to Kutais, while we, leaving the 
highroad at Suram, followed the valley of the Kur to 
Borjom and Achaltzich, and thence rode across the hills 
to Kutais. To effect the arrangements necessary for the 
execution of this plan we had to pay many visits to the 
various official bureaux, where the employes seemed to 
have acquired a skill in the art of * how not to do it,' which 
could scarcely be surpassed even at home. At last the 
various ' podorojnos,' police orders, and passports were all 
procured, and we had only to consign our heavy portman- 
teaux, and a box of purchases, to the care of the agent of 
the Black Sea Steam Navigation Company, through whom 
we subsequently received them in England. 

In the intervals when we were not engaged in the 
preparations for our homeward journey, we found time to 
call on Herr Radde, one of the few residents who happened 
to be in Tiflis at this time of year. We also visited the 
studio of a Russian painter, who has boldly taken for his 
subjects the scenery of the Dariel and the highest moun- 
tains of the Caucasus, and were glad to carry away with us 



UNBELIEVERS. 445 

some of his pictures, as reminiscences of a country with 
which European artists are as yet unacquainted. In the 
evenings we went to the gardens in the German quarter, 
known respectively as * Mon Plaisir ' and ^ Sans Souci,' 
where a crowd of townsfolk, sitting under cover, sip their 
tea, and listen to the strains of a good band ; or, if so 
disposed, wander in couples down long alleys arched over 
with trellised vines, firom which the grapes hanging in ripe 
clusters seemed, at the present season, almost ready to 
drop into one's mouth. Some of the accounts we heard of 
the effect produced by the news of our ascent of Kazbek 
were rather amusing. It had apparently caused much dis- 
cussion at Tiflis among the citizens, who had all their 
lives asserted the impossibility of reaching the summit. 
We were told that, on the first intelligence being received, 
a person high in authority had remarked, that it was 
strange that a mountain which had been declared for sixty 
years inaccessible by Russian officers, should be ascended 
by Englishmen in a few days. The answer of the insulted 
officers was prompt and ingenious : ^ We could have said 
we had been to the top as easily as the Englishmen ! ' I 
do not think there was a single Russian in Tiflis, imcon- 
nectea with the Government, who believed in the truth of 
our story. 

We amused ourselves, during our stay at Tiflis, by con- 
trasting our present ideas of the Central Caucasus with 
those with which we had left the same place two months 
previously, and in endeavouring to ascertain in what par- 
ticulars the impressions acquired by reading or hearsay 
had been reversed or modified by actual experience. We 
found the process a profitable one, and I think a summary 
of the results obtained will not be vTithout interest to the 
general reader. 

The published accounts of the Caucasus, that we had met 



446 RETURN TO TIFLIS. 

with before leaving England, had been more or less vague 
and unsatisfactory. Their authors had, as a rule, kept at 
a respectful distance from the giants of the chain, and, 
indulging chiefly in ethnological researches, confined 
themselves, when they approached mountain scenery, 
to generalities, useless to the mountaineer, anxious to form 
some idea of the character of the range, the height of its 
peaks, and the relations of its groups. Those who did 
give information on the subject contradicted one another 
in the most emphatic manner, and only increased the 
perplexiiy of the reader. We learnt from one writer : 
' The mountains of the Caucasus are not peaked, as in the 
Alps, but are either flat or cup-shaped ; the existence of 
glaciers is uncertain.^ We read in another : * Neither 
the Swiss Alps, the Taurus, Atlas, Balkan, Apennine, or 
any of the well-known mountains of Europe, have such 
ftirrowed and broken, rocky and snowy precipices, or 
such bold peaks, as the giants of the main chain of the 
Caucasus. The Orientals have rightly named these moun- 
tains the "thousand-pointed." 't 

The first-quoted opinion seemed the most popular, and 
many of our friends in England smiled at our idea of set- 
ting out to climb in a region where, as they believed, there 
were no valleys or steep-sided summits, and where nothing 
was to be seen except two large volcanoes, rising from a 
lofty plateau, and cuhninating in snowslopes, the ascent of 
which would be equally laborious and uninteresting. 

These accounts so far imposed upon us that, when we 
reached Constantinople, the chief impression in our mitids 
was, that the Central Caucasus consisted of a long water- 
shed, devoid of prominent peaks, and dominated at either 
end by a huge dome — ^tho eastern known as Kazbek, the 

* Keith Johnston's * Dictionary of Geography.' 

t Travels in Georgia, Persia, and Kurdistan (Wagner, 1856). 



DELUSIONS DISPELLED. 447 

western as Elbruz. In fact, we were led to believe that 
the architecture of the mountain region bore some resem- 
blance to that of the Exhibition Building of 18G2, and 
that for beauty of outline it could no more be compared to 
the Alps than could the Brompton shed to a Gothic 
cathedral. 

The first ray of light that dawned upon our minds was 
the information we gained from Mr. Gifford Palgrave, 
who had been twice to the base of Elbruz, and discoursed 
with enthusiasm of the granite peaks and foaming torrents 
he had seen on the way. When we reached Batoum, and 
for the first time saw the mountains with our own eyes, 
our rising hopes were converted into certainty. The 
serrated array of rocky teeth and icy cones which stretched 
along the northern horizon, convinced us, at once, that 
climbing sufficient to satisfy the gi*eediest mountaineering 
appetite would be found there, and the way in which ridge 
behind ridge rose up to the snowy chain disposed for 
ever of the plateau theory, and satisfied us that many 
landscapes of exquisite beauty must be hid within the 
folds of the mountains. 

Our journey from Kutais to Tiflis did not add much to 
this knowledge, nor did we gain any practical information 
£rom our intercourse with Kussian officials, whom we 
found, with the exception of General Chodzko and a 
few others, entirely unacquainted with the nature of 
the mountain districts west of Kazbek. The German 
savants resident at Tiflis, and in the employ of the 
Government, were far better informed. Herr Badde had 
visited the upper valleys of Mingrelia, and had him- 
self attempted to ascend Elbruz. Herr Abich had exa- 
mined both summits with the accurate eye of a man of 
science, and gave us hints which we afterwards turned to 
good account. The purchase of the Five Verst Map 



448 RETURN TO TIPLIS. 

enlightened us on some matters of detail, indicating the 
existence of large icefields, and confirming our belief in 
the practicability of our proposed route, by marking 
numerous passes across the chain, and showing groups of 
villages near the heads of most of the valleys. The map 
also first revealed to us two mountains, Koschtantan and 
Dychtau, respectively 17,000 and 16,900 feet in height, 
yet hitherto unknown to English geographers. 

The real character of the tribes, and the extent to which 
Bussian rule was a reality in the more remote districts^ 
was another topic which interested us nearly as much 
as the nature of the country. On this subject we had 
read contradictory reports. The majority of travellers des- 
cribed -the' natives of the mountains as robbers, in whose 
word no trust could be placed — barbarians by nature, and 
incapable of civilisation. On the other hand, they were 
painted, by a few enthusiasts, as noble patriots, whose 
only crime was to have been defeated in an unequal struggle 
against an invading despotism. We were unanimously 
assured at Kutais and Tiflis that the subjugation of the 
inhabitants was complete, and that there was no longer 
any risk to life or property in travelling amongst them. 
Each informant had his own view as to their character, 
but, satisfied with the fact that our journey would not be 
rendered impracticable, we were content to wait and judge 
for ourselves. 

Such was our knowledge of the Caucasus and its inhabi- 
tants on leaving Tiflis for Kazbek posthouse. I shall 
now proceed to the results of our day-by-day experiences 
during the two months we spent in the mountains. A 
definite idea of the scenery of the Caucasian chain will 
best be formed by comparing and contrasting it to that of 
the Alps. 

The first feature that strikes the traveller is the single- 



COMPARISON WITH THE ALPS. 449 

ness of the Caucasian compared to the Alpine chain. I 
do- not mean that it is one long snowy w^U, and nothing 
more. It is single contrasted with the Alps, in the same 
way that the Penuines are a single chain, although they 
possess spurs like the Weisshorn, and minor ranges like 
those that form the southern boundary of the Val Pelline. 
This characteristic is proved from the fact that, from 
elevated points north or south of it, the same summits are 
generally visible, whereas, as is well known, the observer 
at Mila.n or Lucerne, Salzburg or Venice, sees from each 
an entirely different range of snowy summits. Prom this 
cause the panoramas seen on the highest peaks of the 
Caucasus differ from those of the Alps, in the fact that 
the portion of the horizon occupied by mountains is far 
less in the former than in the latter. Whether this is to 
be considered a recommendation, or a fault, must depend 
on individual taste ; but no one can deny that if it had 
been desired to enhance by contrast the stem beauty and 
bold outlines of the central chain of the Caucasus, no 
better means of doing so could have been found than by 
putting beside them the boundless plains of the steppe, 
or the wavelike ridges of the Mingrelian hills. 

Let us now descend from the mountain-tops, whence we 
have naturally begun our survey, and take a closer view of 
the individual features of the country. As a whole, Cau- 
casian must, I think, rank above Alpine scenery. There is 
nothing in Switzerland or Tyrol that can compare with 
the magnificent grouping of the Suanetian ranges, or with 
the gorges cut by the northern rivers through the lime- 
stone ridge which bars their way down to the steppe. In 
the Caucasus the slopes are steeper, and the usual charac- 
ter of the peaks is that they shoot up from the valleys at 
their base, in unbroken walls of rock and ice, to which the 
<*lifffl of the Wetterhom afford the nearest parallel. 

•G Q \ 



450 RETURN TO TIPLIS. 

BnormoTis cornices of ice are frequent, and sometimes 
crown the highest peaks, presenting an insuperable 
.obstacle to the climber. The mountain-sides, owing to 
their precipitous character, afford precarious resting-places 
to the winter-snow, and avalanches, which choke the upper 
glens to an extent rarely seen in Switzerland, are conse- 
quently of frequent occurrence. 

Another peculiarity of the Caucasus is the constant 
appearance of red snow, which in the Alps is often heard 
of, but seldom seen. Here it is met with every day, and, 
the effect produced is as if the whole surface of the slope 
had been sprinkled with brickdust. We did not suffi- 
ciently explore the glaciers to be able to form a conclu- 
sive judgment as to their extent ; but there can be little 
or no doubt that the number of square miles covered 
by snow and ice is less than in the Alps, though there are 
many glaciers worthy of comparison with any Swiss rivals. 
Owing to the steepness of the chain, the icefaJls are loftier, 
and in every respect finer, than those of the Alps, and 
they are rendered more attractive to the eye by the general 
purity of their surface. 

So little having been known up to the last few years of 
the existing glaciers of the Caucasus, it is not surprising 
that we have as yet scanty information as to the traces of 
the glacial epoch in this region. So recently as 1858, 
Herr Abich declared that the Caucasian chain showed no 
marks of its influence; since that date, however, the 
learned traveller has seen reason to change his opinion, 
and has himself borne witness to the existence of traces of 
vast glaciers in the upper valleys of the Ardon and the 
Ingur. Mons. E. Favre of Geneva, who was in the country 
at the same time as ourselves, and to whose kindness I 
am indebted for the following details, recognised marks of 
glacial action on an extended scale on the Krestowaja 
Gora and in the Dariel gorge. In the neighbourhood of 



CAUCASIAN POEESTS AND FLORA. 451 

Vladitafkaz, and on the steppe to the north of it, he found 
nnmerous erratic blocks, generaUy of granite, and from 
fourteen to sixteen feet in thickness ; and in the valley 
of the Baksan, fifteen miles from the present glacier, 
and two miles above the viUage of Uruspieh, there is a 
moraine, 200 feet in height, principally composed of granite 
blocks. Sufficient data have abeady been collected to 
justify the assertion that the present glaciers of the Cau- 
casus, like those of the Alps, are only the shadows of their 
former selves. 

Fine as Alpine forests often are, they can bear no com- 
parison with those of the Caucasus. Lest it should be 
thought I have overstated the effect likely to be produced 
by the woodland scenery of MingreKa on an European 
mind, I shall take the Kberty of quoting the words in which 
Herr Wagner sums up his eloquent description of a ride 
near Kutais : ' Every spot that is not occupied by perennial 
plants presents one tangled growth of grasses, flowers, 
annuals, and every variety of creeper. Higher up, among 
the trees, the eye is soothed by the numerous shades of 
green, from the sombre verdure of the fir, tamarisk^ and 
cypress, to the lustrous foliage of the laurel, and to the 
silver-green of the Colchian poplar, whilst the purple 
clusters of the grapes peep out beneath every brancL 
"Why, this is like Paradise," exclaimed my companions, 
in one breath, at the sight of such glorious profusion.' 
In richness of flora the Alps must also yield to their 
rivals! the azalea and rhododendron make the *alpen- 
rosen * seem humble, and even the gentian looks bluer when ' 
brought into immediate contrast with beds of snowdrops, 
while there is nothing nearer home to compare with the 
gorgeous magnificence of the Caucasian tiger-lilies and 
hollyhocks. 

Hitherto the comparison has been in favour of the 

oa2 



452 ' BETURN TO TIFLIS. 

*• new love/ which, without wishing to persuade them to be 
* off with the old/ we desire to introduce to the notice of 
lovers of Alpine nature. I must now call attention to the 
deficiencies of the Caucasus, and the points in which it is 
manifestly inferior to its better-known rivaL A total 
absence of lakes, on both sides of the chain, is the most 
marked failing. Not only are there no great subalpine 
sheets of water, like Gomo or Geneva, but mountain-tarns 
— such as the Dauben See on the Gemmi, or the Elonthal 
See near Glarus — are equally wanting. There is no first- 
class waterfall in any of the valleys we visited, nor did we 
hear of any elsewhere. Certain districts, notably the head- 
waters of the Terek, are duller than anything in Switzer- 
land, and their treeless monotonous glens are defaced, 
rather than enlivened, by the dingy and ruinous character 
of the native dwellings. Add to this list of defects that, 
on the north side, the mountains sink abruptly into a bare 
and featureless steppe, and that the only halting-places 
within reach — Fatigorsk and Elislovodsk — cannot vie in 
attractions with the numerous tourist-haunts on the north 
side of the Alps, and we shall, I think, have fairly gone 
through the principal charges to which Caucasian scenery 
is liable. 

Readers seeking geological information in old scientific 
works on the Caucasus must beware of the hasty genera- 
lisations in which they indulge, on the strength of an 
acquaintance with perhaps only one valley of the chain. 
It is unfortunate that no member of our party was skiUed 
enough to make his observations of value ; but we have the 
authority of Herr Badde, as well as the evidence of our 
own eyes, for stating that the central chain is chiefly com- 
posed of granite, and that the rocks of both Kazbek and 
Elbruz are igneous. I do not think that anyone who 
has made close acquaintance ynUi Elbruz will doubt its 



THE MOaNTATN TRIBES. 453 

haviug once been an active volcano. The limestone ridge 
on the north of the watershed is more abrupt, and the 
gorges cut through it have bolder features than those of 
the secondary ridges of Mingrelia, where the rock is more 
friable, and steep slopes take the place of cliflfs.* 

I have hitherto spoken only of that portion of the country 
with which we became personally familiar, the 120 miles 
between Kazbek and Elbruz, and it must therefore be borne 
in mind that scant justice has been done to a chain the 
entire length of which, from Anapa to Baku, is 700 miles. 
Those who may be disposed to carry on the work of ex- 
ploration have, consequently, a large field open to them. 
West of Elbruz there is said to be much noble scenery ; the 
glaciers are few and small, but the chain bristles with 
sharp peaks, between 10,000 and 12,000 feet in height. The 
depopulation of this district after the late Abkhasian revolt 
will prove a serious difficulty, to be taken into account by 
future travellers. Eastwards, between the Dariel Pass 
and the Caspian, stretch the highlands of Daghestan, a 
region of flat pasturages, cut off from one another by 
profound gorges, and dominated by at least three snowy 
groups, rising to a height of over 13,000 feet. 

Having said thus much of the natural features of the 
Caucasus, we may now review its inhabitants. The 
diverse character of the mountain-tribes renders any 
general description of them a work of extreme difficulty .f 
Even in the small portion of the chain we visited, leaving 

* According to Herr Abich, the snow-limit in Suanetia is 9,500 feet. The 
same author fixes the limit of the forests at 7(300 feet Herr lUdde, after 
numerous observations, estimates it at 7,600 feet. The average height of the 
base of the great glaciers as yet measured is 7,200 feet. 

t Readers who desire further details as to the tribes of the Caucasus, will 
find them in Wagner's ' Travels in Persia, Georgia, and Kurdistan/ and Haxt- 
hausen's 'Transcaucasia,' works translated from the German; or (in French) in 
Dubois de Montpereux' ' Voyage autour du Caucase/ and a more recent work, 
' Lettres sur le Caucase.* 



4^ RETUE5 TO TIFLIS. 

ont AbkbaAia, all but a comer of the Tcherkess oonniry 
(the true Circassia), and Daghestan, the scene of Schamyl's 
fjual resistance and capture, we encountered three entirely 
distinct races, speaking widely different languages. These 
were the Georgian tribes of the southern yalleySy the 
Tartars of the north, and the mysterious Ossetes, who 
have long been a puzzle to ethnologists. The language of 
the latter, according to Sir Henry Bawlinson, is the most 
nearly allied to Sanscrit spoken west of the Indus. The 
other mountaineers use dialects of Tartar and Georgian so 
diverse that the people of one yalley often have difficulty 
in tmderstanding those of the next, although nominally 
speaking the same language.^ 

The religions of the Caucasus are as yarious as its 
languages. As a rule, whatever religion exists on the south 
side of the chain is called Christian, and on the north 
Mahommedan. The Ossetes, as usual, must be excepted ; 
they were converted to Christianity in the days of Queen 
Thamara, but afterwards relapsed into their former pagan- 
ism, which is at the present day again overlaid by a slight 
varnish of nominal Christianity. This re-conversion, if it 
deserves the name, took place about the time of Herr 
Wagner's visit to the country (1843-4), and he gives an 
amusing account of the means employed by the Russian 
missionaries to effect their end. ^ The Russians ' (says this 
writer) * have made many efforts to win back the Ossetes 

* The CaucAeus ha« in all ages been famed for iXa varietj of langnages. Pliny 
tells us that in Colchis there wpre more than three hundred tribes speaking 
dilTorent dialects, and that the Horoans, in order to carry on any intercourse 
with the natives, had to employ a hundred and thirty interpreters. This is 
probably an exaggeration, but there seems no reason to doubt Strabo, who 
informs us that in his day no less than seventy dialects were spoken in the 
country, which even now is tailed 'the Mountain of Languages/ We find 
archaic forms of various Georgian, Mongolian, Persian, Semitic, and Tatarian 
l&nguugos, as well as anomalous forms of speech, which bear no a£Snity to any 
known tongue of Europe or Asia. — See Max Miiller's 'Lectures on Language* 
and Rev. J. Taylor's ' Words and Places.* 



OSSETE CHRISTIANITY. 455 

to Cliristianity. This was easily accomplished with a 
people indiflFerent about religious matters, especially as a 
linen shirt and a silver cross were given to every Ossete 
who underwent baptism. The pious zeal of the new con- 
verts was greatly excited by these means, and there was no 
end to the number of neophytes who aspired to the rite of 
baptism, till at length it came to pass that one immersion 
was not reckoned sufficient, and that many Ossetes, in order 
to become genuine Christians, and at the same time the 
owners of a respectctble amount of linen, received the sacra- 
ment five or six times following/ He adds : * If the 
Bussian Government had permitted other Christian con- 
fessions to hold intercourse with the mountaineers of the 
Caucasus, their Christianity might possibly have been 
something better than ^^ sounding brass and a tinkling 
cymbal/* * 

One of the peculiarities of the country is that the 
superiority of the Christian over the Mahommedan popu- 
lation, commonly seen in Syria, is entirely reversed. In 
the Caucasus the traveller will be compelled to contrast 
the truthfulness, industry, and courteous hospitality of the 
Mahommedans north of the chain with the lying, indolence, 
and churlishness of the Christians on the south. The 
Georgian races who inhabit the upper valleys of Mingrelia 
are, as a rule, too lazy to take advantage of the rich natural 
gifts of the country they inhabit; they are greedy of ill- 
gotten gain, and careless of life in its pursuit. This con- 
clusion as to their character is the result of our own 
experience, but it is confirmed by that of other travellers, 
even from remote times. Thus Chardin, writing nearly 
200 years ago, says: *The women of Mingrelia are 
extremely civil, but otherwise the wickedest in the world, — 
haughty, furious, perfidious, deceitful, cruel, and impudent 
— so that there is no sort of wickedness they will not put in 
execution. The men are endowed with all these mischie- 



456 RETURN TO TIFLIS. 

vous qualities, with some addition. There is no wickedness 
to which their inclinations will not naturally carry them, 
— ^but all are addicted to tliievin<^. That they make their 
study — ^that they make their whole employment, their 
pastime, and their glory. Assassination, murder, and lying 
are among them esteemed to be noble and brave actions, 
and for all other vices, they are virtues in Mingrelia/ * 

Haxthausen, whose work was published in 1854, writes : 
' The Russian ofiBcers, civil and military, all agreed in des- 
cribing the people of this country, especially the Imeritians, 
as thoroughly depraved, immoral, thievish, mendacious, and 
quarrelsome.' 

Malte-Brun, in his * Geographical Encyclopsedia,' which 
contains much correct information on the Caucasus, thus 
describes the Imeritians : ^ The indolence of the inhabitants 
allows the rich gifte of nature and the climate to perish in 
a most useless manner.' He says of the Mingrelians: 
* They live surrounded by women, who lead a life of 
debauchery, often eat with their fingers, and bring up their 
children to lying, pillage, and marauding.' 

The Tartars of the Kabarda are in most qualities the re- 
verse of their southern neighbours. Rich in flocks and 
herds, and cultivating comland sufiBcient to supply them 
with daily bread, they pass a peaceable and patriarchal 
existence, and are ever ready to extend towards travellers 
that hospitahty which they regard in the light of a reli- 
gious duty. One unamiable trait they share with all the 
Caucasian races we came in contact with — a desire to drive 
a hard bargain in matters of business. 

The distinction here drawn between the character of the 
so-called Christian and the Mahommedan tribes is so 
marked, that no honest traveller can pass it over in silence. 
The explanation of the fact must be sought in the degraded 

* I am indebted for this quotation to Mr. Usher^s ' London to Fersepolis/ 



THE RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT. 457 

character of the native Georgian and Armenian Churches, 
and in the evil wrought by Russian proseljtism, which en- 
deavours to eflfect wholesale conversions by holding out 
baits of worldly advantage. Converts thus made abandon 
their old religion without gaining anything in its place. 
For the present, the heads of the Greek Church may more 
profitably employ its energies in sending missionaries to 
lead their ruffianly co-religionists in the southern valleys to 
a better mode of life. When Mahommedans have no longer 
to maintain a guard, to protect their flocks from Christian 
thieves, there will be more hope of their adopting the re- 
ligion recommended to their notice. 

I now turn to the relations existing between the Eussian 
Government and the mountain-tribes. Our observations 
fully confirmed all we had been previously told respecting 
them. Since the conclusion of the Crimean War, the whole 
country has been fairly conquered, and the inhabitants have 
leamt from experience that any rising wiU be promptly put 
down and summarily revenged. The European traveller 
need no longer fear open robbery, except in Suanetia, 
and in this district it is owing rather to want of wiU 
than of power that the Russians leave the village commu- 
nities to their native misrule. Selfishly speaking, the 
policy of the Government in abstaining from garrisoning 
the upper valleys is prudent ; it would gain nothing, and 
spend much, by acting otherwise. It matters little to 
Kutais if the inhabitants of two Suanetian villages like to 
cut one another's throats, and the maintenance of an armed 
force in the district would, except from a philanthropic point 
of view, be unprofitable. That such conduct, however, 
shows a neglect of the first duty of a Government, even 
Russians must admit, if they believe, with us, that the 
extension of any organised system of justice, however im- 
perfect, is a blessing to regions formerly a prey to the mis- 



458 EETURN TO TIFLK. 

rule and exactions of petty princes, and still the scene of 
constantly-recurring robberies and murders. The evidence 
of our Mingrelian servant, whose prejudices were certainly 
not Russian, was conclusive on this point. The picture 
he drew of his native district, Sugdidi, on the Lower Ingur, 
during the Crimean War, when Russian rule was relaxed, 
was indeed deplorable. Robberies, as ofben as not 
accompanied by murder, were of daily occurrence; the 
culprit in most cases escaped, shielded by the influence 
of the petty chieftain whose vassal or serf he was. 
A man with a reputation as a successful murderer was 
too useful ever to feel the lack of princely favour. The 
peasant-farmer, vrith the knowledge that another woxdd 
reap the fruits of his toil, and that a large portion of 
his crops would go to swell the contents of the nearest 
chieftain's barn, had no inducement to agricultural 
improvement. 

This state of things is now at an end. OfiEences against 
life and property are promptly punished, and though 
small disputes still come before the native princes, an 
appeal is possible to Russian officials. The ukase for 
the emancipation of the serfs,- the operation of which was 
specially delayed in Mingrelia, is just taking effect. In 
return for these advantages, the inhabitants pay a house- 
tax varying, in the mountain districts, from five to ten 
roubles (fifteen to thirty shillings) per annum. This does 
not seem regarded as a grievance, but we heard con^plaints 
of the increased price of imported goods, owing to the high 
tariff maintained by the protective policy of the Moscow 
merchants. Georgia enjoys a special immunity from the 
conscription, founded on the terms on which it was handed 
over to the Czar by the last of its native princes, and the 
Caucasians are, as a rule, exempted from compulsory 
service. 



STATE OP THE COUNTEY. 459 

The dark picture given above of the past condition of 
the country is, of course, far from being universally appli- 
cable. It is drawn from one district, towards the Black Sea 
coast; but the whole mountain region has always been more 
or less given over to lawlessness, and the dwellers in the plain 
had probably good ground for attributing to their neigh- 
bours of the mountains a belief in the following legend : 
* This wild race pretend, that after God created the world, 
an edict was published, by which all people were sum- 
moned to take possession of their several portions. All 
mankind had an appointed share, except the inhabitants 
of the Caucasus, who had been forgotten. Upon putting 
in their claim, which the Deity acknowledged to be just, 
they received permission to live at the expense of their 
neighbours, and assuredly they reap ample profits from 
the presumption of such license.' Like our own High- 
landers of former days, the mountaineers of the Caucasus 
look on the wealth of the lowland population as their 
lawful perquisite, and their final subjugation will be a 
necessary consequence of the progress of civilisation. 

Though the politician may, with reason, regret that the 
Russian armies, no longer conscious of formidable foes in 
their rear, can now, from the highlands of Armenia, look 
down over the Valley of the Euphrates, the traveller in the 
Caucasus, out of temper, as he will often be, with the cor- 
ruption and stupidity of all but the highest class of offi- 
cials, roust not forget that, but for their presence, he would 
be unable to penetrate at all into the interior of the 
country. 

Little or nothing has been said in the course of this 
narrative about the wild animals to be found in the 
Caucasus. We met vnth chamois occasionally, but never 
in any great number ; we twice saw dead bouquetin, and 
we noticed the track of bears in the forest ; we also found 



4eo RETURN TO TIFLIS. 

some cubs in captivity in Suanetian villages, but tbis was 
the sum of the quadrupedal life which came under our 
eyes. A few eagles and a great number of cuckoos, vocal 
despite the lateness of the season, were the most remark- 
able members of the feathered tribe whicb attracted our 
observation. Nevertheless, those who may visit the Cau- 
casus for the sake of sport will probably find it. A 
sportsman, ambitious of a bullfight, will meet with a 
worthy foe in the gigantic ' auruch,' which still haunts 
the valleys west of Elbruz, and of which a stuffed specimen 
may be seen in the museum at Tiflis. 

That bears abound is proved by the complaints we heard 
of their ravages, and by the frequency of their tracks; 
chamois and bouquetin must be su£Sciently numerous, if 
the account given to Herr Badde, by the natives of the 
upper Zenes-Squali, of a winter-drive on snowshoes, when 
thirty-three were slain, may be believed. In the swamps 
bordering the rivers that join the Terek, as weU as in the 
jungle of the Eur, wild boars make their lairs, and the 
traveller obliged to spend the night at Mscheti is fre- 
quently disturbed by the cries of wolves and. jackals. 
Pheasants still exist on the banks of their native river, 
the Fhasis, and are said to be so plentiful on the north of 
the chain, as to be sold by the Russian soldiers to their 
officers for fourteen copecks (or about fivepence) a brace. 
Badde gives an account of the snaring of ptarmigan in 
Suanetia, where they are found upon the mountain-slopes 
even in winter. In summer they raise their broods 
within the forest boundary. 

Much as we vnsh to persuade travellers, and more 
especially mountaineers, to abandon for a season their old 
Swiss loves, and to start in quest of the fresher charms of 
the hitherto-neglected maiden peaks of the Caucasus, we 
must, in fairness, point out the principal difficulties that 



HINTS FOR TRAVELLERS. 461 

will be met with in such an enterprise, and how best they 
may be encountered. For some years to come travellers 
in the Caucasus will find letters of introduction to the 
government oflScials a useful, if not essential, pai-t of 
their outfit. Without them they may be objects of sus- 
picion, and their purpose in desiring to penetrate the 
fastnesses of the mountain-tribes may be misunderstood. 
Some people say that a uniform is absolutely necessary in 
Russia; though this is not the case, those who hold 
any position entitling them to wear an official dress will 
do well to take it. In the East even more than in the 
West, and above all among Bussian officials, ^ fine feathers' 
are considered to make ^fine birds,' and even an old 
Volunteer tunic would protect its wearer from much rude- 
ness from postmasters and sub-officials. 

The selection of a starting-point v^ill depend upon the 
toor proposed by the traveller. Tiflis is far from the 
mountain-chain, but the fact that there only can the 
necessary maps be bought, will induce even those to whom 
a city combining, in such a striking manner, the discor- 
dant elements of European and Asiatic life is not a 
sufficient attraction, to visit the Trans-Caucasian capital. 
Yladikafkaz is the best base for the exploration of the 
northern valleys. It is the residence of the commandant of 
the district, and the Cis-Caucasian officials appreciate better 
the aims of an explorer, and are more practical in the aid 
they afford him, than those at Tiflis. Kutais is admirably 
situated as a starting-point for the Mingrelian valleys, 
and next year will probably be brought nearer to the 
Black Sea coast, by the partial opening of the Poti-Tifiis 
Railroad ; while Patigorsk is a convenient Capua, within 
j two days' ride of the base of Elbruz. 

. The first necessity for a journey in the mountains is a 
servant ready to rough it, and sufficiently conversant with 



^62 RETURN TO TIFLIS. 

the native dialects to act as interpreter. A knowledge of 
cooking, sucli as our man possessed, is a great additional 
recommendation. A light tent and a cooking apparatus 
are essentials, as well as the usual requisites for travel in 
uncivilised countries, which I need not catalogue here. 
The diflBculties of mountaineering inherent to such a 
country as the Caucasus are obvious. The peaks are, gene- 
rally speaking, extremely formidable; the natives, except 
at Uruspieh, are useless above the snow-level, and it is 
often impossible to leave luggage at the mercy of villagers 
while making an ascent. The climate is changeable, and 
the rainfall, owing to the position of the chain between two 
seas, is frequently excessive. Thus the impediments to a 
mountain tour are very serious, though not, in my opinion, 
sufficient to counterbalance the advantage and pleasure 
to be derived from a journey in a country sui-passing, both 
in freshness, grandeur of natural scenery, and ethnological 
interest, any other so accessible to English travellers. 

The expedition will, of course, diflFer much from 
a run to the Oberland or Zermatt, and it should be 
imdertaken only by men prepared to face daily-recurring 
difficulties with good temper and perseverance. A party 
of five or six, accompanied by not less than two 
firstrate guides, of which two of the members have 
botanical or artistic tastes, and would be content to 
remain below, or to cross a lower ridge with the luggage, 
while their friends attacked * peaks, passes, and glaciers,* 
would have the best chance of success ; if favoured with 
fine weather, and with the help of a Cossack in all 
dealings with the villagers, they might effect a great deal. 

Before bidding farewell to the Caucasus, I must remove 
any impression the previous pages may have given that 
either Eazbek or Elbruz are in themselves difficult moun- 
taius. First ascents are proverbially the hardest. On 



KAZBEK TO ELBRUZ. 463 

Kazbek we had to contend against severe wind and cold, 
and total ignorance of the mountain, which made ns go 
up the wrong way. On Elbruz we encountered a tempest, 
which, but for the entire absence of other difficulties, 
would have rendered the ascent impossible. On both 
occasions we might have imagined that we were wrestling 
against * principalities and powers.' The icy wastes of the 
Caucasus have been peopled throughout all ages with 
invisible occupants. In this region dwelt Gog and 
Magog ; here Oriental fancy has placed the abode of the 
Deevs, a race of pre- Adamite monarchs, and the retreat of 
the Peri and the Grenii. It was to this snowy prison that 
Solomon consigned the rebel Afrites, and it would have 
been strange indeed had not the Djin-Padishah, or Ruler of 
the Spirits, who dwells on Elbruz, summoned * the Prince 
of the Power of the Air ' to his aid, to resist the strange 
company who, armed with rope and ice-axe, ventured to 
intrude on his dominions. 

According to their best biographers, giants and gnomes 
seldom fight a second time. After their power has been 
once successfally defied, they either tamely expire, or 
retreat to some more remote fortress. The Djin-Padishah 
has, for the present, probably taken up his abode on Mount 
Everest, whence, let us hope, he may soon be dislodged, 
and dismissed to the North Pole, or some equally remote 
and apparently unattainable spot. But, abandoning alle- 
gory, I think we may fairly assume that, short of actual 
wet weather, in which no one would attempt a first-class 
peak, we encountered, in our own attacks on both Elbruz 
and Eazbek, every obstacle that either mountain possesses 
or can summon to its aid. Any mountaineers whom 
this account of our journey may set Hhinking on the 
frosty Caucasus,' may rest assured that in fine weather 
they cannot fail to reach the summits of both. Few of 



464 RETURN TO TIFLIS. 

our followers are likely to rest content with this measure 
of success, but, however formidable may be the difficulties 
to be overcome in climbing the other great Caucasian 
peaks, it is something to know that the two most famous 
mountains of the chain are within the reach of all those 
who possess the physical endurance necessary for an 
ascent of Mont Blanc. 



J 



 !■ ■.■-■I I .■! . m-m - WiMa* €-W. •■ -h 



DEPARTURE FROM TIFLIS. 405 



CHAPTER XIV. 

TRANSCAUCASIA AND THE CRIMEA : HOME THROUGH 

RUSSIA. 

Borjom — Bad Road — ^Beautiful Scenery — Achaltzich — Across the Hills — 
Abastuman — A Narrow Valley — The Burnt Forest — ^Panorama of the 
Cauciisns — Last Appearance of Kazbek and Elbruz— A Forest Ride— 
Bagdad — Mingrelian Hospitality — A French Baron's Farm — The Rion 
Biisin — Kutais — The Postmaster — Poti — A Dismal Swamp — Soukhoum- 
KaU — Sevastopol — ^The Battlefields — The Crimean Cornicbe — Bakhchi- 
Sarai — Odessa — A Run Across Russia — A Jew's Cart — The Dnieper Steam- 
boat — ^Kieff — Picturesque Pilgrims — The Lavra— Sainted Mummies — A 
Long Drive — Vitebsk — St. Petersburg — Conclusion. 

August 29 — SOth, — ^We were able to retain the same 'dili- 
gence' and conductor we had brought from Vladikafkaz 
for our drive to Achaltzich. Having already traversed the 
road between Tiflis and Suram, we determined to start in 
the afternoon of Saturday, and travel through the night, 
by which means we hoped to arrive at Borjom at midday 
on Sunday. At Mscheti we thought ourselves lucky to 
escape with only a couple of hours' detention ; after this 
all went well, and we arrived at Sui-am in time for break- 
fast. Here we parted from Fran9ois, who was despatched, 
with some of the luggage, to make his way in * telegas ' to 
Kutais, by the aid of a * podorojno/ and the knowledge of 
about a dozen words of Russian. 

From Suram to Borjom is a distance of eighteen miles, 
divided into two stages. Most of the valleys, by which the 
streams rising in the tablelands of Armenia force their way 
northwards, are deep, narrow, tortuous, and well-wooded, 

H H 



468 TRANSCADCAStA. 

and that of the Tfur forms no exception to the general rule. 
The road, or rather track (for made road there is none), 
is wonderfully bad, when one remenibei-s that it is the only 
communication between the capital and summer residence 
of the Governor of the Caucasus. It climbs up and down 
steep bills in the most reckless manner, and if there is one 
thing more than another its constructors appear to have 
aimed at, it is the production of steep pitches witb sharp 



comers at their feet. After waiting two hours for horses 
at the roadside shed which serves as the halfway station, 
we were given over to the mercies of a bumpkin, who 
had apparently never driven anything but a cart, and who 
waa with the greatest difficulty persuaded to put on the 
drag in going downhill, even after one of his horses had 



BORJOM. 467 

The scenery is exceedingly pretty ; the Kur flows in a 
clear rapid stream along the bottom of the glen, the sides 
of which, broken here and there by masses of crag, are 
clothed in thick pinewoods. Beside the road grow copses 
of the wild rose, which is indigenous to this country. 
Borjom is situated at the point where the Kur receives a 
small tributary flowing from the eastern hills. The grand- 
ducal villa, a modem construction in the chalet style, is 
on the left bank of the river ; the hills rise immediately 
behind it, in steep slopes. Boijom itself is on the further 
side of the Kur, which is here crossed by a substantial 
bridge. The village is of quite modern date, and consists 
of a few shops and a number of low cottage residences 
with large verandahs, in which their occupants seem to 
pass the greater poi'tion of their existence. The mineral 
spring, the waters of which are of a ferruginous character, 
bursts out of the ground in a lateral glen watered by a 
small stream, and overhung by lofty clifiFs. A bath-house 
has been built, and the grounds in the neighbourhood laid 
out in lawns and garden- walks. 

Borjom, owing to its being the chosen retreat of the 
Grand Duke, has become the most aristocratic of the 
Caucasian bathing-places, and a recent Russian writer 
goes so far as to call it the Baden-Baden of the East, and 
to reproach it with excessive luxury and extravagance, a 
charge which cei-tainly did not suggest itself to our minds. 
We were driven to the front-door of a large building at 
the mouth of the ravine in which the source is situated, 
and had already alighted, when a domestic stepped forward 
and informed us that that part of the building was reserved 
for * les hauts employ&,' information which did not im- 
press us with so deep a sense as he seemed to expect of 
the impropriety of which we had been guilty. Having 
been driven round to a side-door, we were allowed to enter* 

H H 2 



w^_*- 



468 TRANSCAUCASIA. 

and shown a large room, ill-provided, as Russian rooms 
generally are, with sleeping accommodation, but otherwise 
comfortable. We spent the evening in sauntering about 
the place, which is so overshadowed by trees and rocks 
that scarcely any sunshine can reach it — a circumstance 
which, in the hot climate of Georgia, has contributed 
greatly to its reputation as a pleasant summer retreat for 
those who do not require any very violent course of 
mineral waters. 

At Patigorsk at least two-thirds of the society are real 
invalids ; here we saw scarcely any, and the Russian young 
ladies who raced about the gardens, and chatted together 
in excellent English, afforded a more pleasing spectacle 
than the sickly officers and decrepit old men of the Cis- 
Caucasian Spa. An excellent military band, by far the 
best we heard in the Caucasus, played in the gardens 
about sunset, and we had the satisfaction of hearing the 
* Mabel Waltzes* (the popularity of which seems unbounded 
in Russia) and the overture to * The Huguenots' performed 
in a masterly style. A question seemed likely to arise as to 
the possibility of procuring horses in the morning to go 
on to Achaltzich, but, owing to an officer for whom some 
were ordered being unable to start, we succeeded in getting 
the. requisite number. 

August 31s^. — The first stage is a long one of twenty-six 
versts (seventeen miles) and the road is extraordinarily hilly. 
The morning was lovely, and we fully enjoyed the pretty 
scenery of the winding valley, where the Kur flowed be- 
tween hillsides clothed with thick oak and fir-forests, from 
amongst which rise the ruins of old castles, commanding 
in former days this entrance to Georgia. We were re- 
minded at every turn of the Jura, to which, in its relation 
to the higher neighbouring chain, tlie Georgian bill-country 
may, mutatis mutandis^ be very fairly compared. The 



ACHALTZICII. 469 

situation of Atskur, the halfway station between Borjom 
and Achaltzich, is extremely picturesque. The hotises are 
grouped at the base of an abrupt crag, crowned by the 
extensive remains of an old Georgian fortress, which com- 
manded alike the entrance to the defile and the bridge 
over the Kur. The type of the buildings, and of the men 
we met on the road, had already changed ; the * baschlik ' 
and cartridge-breasted coat had disappeared, and we saw 
in their place the turbans and dress of a Turkish race, 

Atskur marks the limit between the wooded and bare 
country ; beyond it the landscape became more open, and we 
found ourselves again in the region of rolling hills which ex- 
tends as far as Erivan and Erzeroum. The road was heavy, 
and our cattle were weak poor-spirited brutes, though far 
superior to the driver, who was the most incompetent man 
for his post we had yet come across. We had constantly 
to get out and walk, and even thus the heavy carriage had 
several narrow escapes of rolling back again, horses and all, 
when halfway up one of the steep hills which occurred 
every quarter of a mile. The Kur forces its way through 
a narrow cleft in a low range, and the road is carried over 
the brow. Above this the valley opens out into a broad 
cultivated basin, and there is nothing to attract attention 
until the green roofs and white walls of the Kussian 
quarter of Achaltzich come into view. Our carriage might 
never have reached it, had not the conductor forced the 
miserable postilion to dismount, and himself urged on 
the horses. 

Achaltzich, though not an imposing, is an interesting 
place ; it is situated on the banks of a tributary of the Kur, 
which divides it into two quarters, the Turkish and Russian 
— the former exactly similar to every other military colony 
in the Cnucasus; the latter a mass of grey flat-roofed 
houses, rising tier above tier against a steep hillside, the 



470 TRANSCAUCASU. 

top of which, a bold bluff commanding the valley, is 
crewned by a fortress. It was to gain possession of this 
position that the Turks, under the leadership of a Pasha 
more brave than prudent, gave battle to the Russians in 
the winter of 1853, and suffered a signal defeat, only pre- 
vented from becoming a disastrous rout by the bravery 
and promptness of some English officers with the Turkish 
army, who, by a judicious use of two field-guns, put a stop 
to the Russian pursuit. 

Immediately south of the town (3,376 feet above the 
sea), the bare slopes rise to a rounded summit, 8,4502 feet 
in height. We found sleeping-quarters in a restaurant, 
chiefly frequented by Russian officers. Being a saint's 
day, the bazaar was shut up, and, cut off from" this 
source of amusement, we took refuge in the never-failing 
public garden and band. Although one of the tracks 
leading to Abastuman, a bathing-place in the mountains 
which divide this district fix3m the basin of the Rion, is 
called a post-road, we heard such bad accounts of its 
condition that we preferred to dismiss our * diligence '.and 
procure horses to take us all the way to Kutais— an addi- 
tional inducement to this course being that we were more 
sure of obtaining the requisite number of animals here 
than at Abastuman. 

Septembenr IsU — It is at Achaltzich that the greater part 
of the silver filigree-ware sold in the shops of Tiflis is 
fabricated, and one of the workmen brought some of his 
goods to show us in the morning. They were exceedingly 
pretty, and nearly a third less in price than at Tiflis, 
but there was not so large a supply to select from. 
The man with whom we had, without any difficulty, made 
a bargain for horses, appeared in due time, and we set out, 
on some ungainly but enduring animals, for our ride 
•across the hills to Kutais. The first day's joiu'ney was to 



I *— !■ '^PW^ IWPl^^B^iP 1 ■' ' !■ II 



ABASTUMAN. 471 

be a very short one. The direct horse-road to Abastuman 
crosses the spur on wliich the fortress is built, turns up 
into the hills, and after a long ascent — which in parts re- 
minded us of Syria, except that the features of the surround- 
ing landscape were on a larger scale — reaches the top of a 
wide down, covered with cornfields and dotted with vil- 
lages, the inhabitants of which, picturesque Turks dressed 
in the brightest colours, were enjoying a midday rest from 
field labour, clustered in groups, any one of which would 
have made the fortune of the artist who faithfully repro- 
duced it. 

From the heights we had gained, we looked down on a 
wide basLu of cornland, with numerous villages, which, by 
a judicious arrangement of the frontier-line, have been just 
included within the Bxissian Empire. The roimded hills 
rising beyond it are in Turkish territory, and a long day's 
ride over them would bring the traveller to the gate of 
Kars. The view at the present season was very striking ; 
the valleys and cultivated slopes stood thick with corn, 
and shone golden in the cloudless sunshine, and the far- 
spreading downs above them seemed to bask in the uni- 
versal blaze of light and heat. We crossed several deep 
hollows, and passed a large village surrounded by fruit- 
trees, before descending finally to the banks of a little 
stream, just where it issued from the wooded limestone 
chain. The road henceforth follows the water through a 
narrow winding glen, clothed in firs, where an old castle, 
perched like an eagle on a lofty crag, looks down on the 
passers-by. The scenery is no more than pretty, and its 
features seemed puny and tame compared to the wide 
landscape we had just left. 

The bathing village of Abastuman is entered almost be- 
fore it is seen ; it consists of a row of houses along the 
roadside, one of which — ^very unlike moat Eussian build- 



47-2 TRANSCAUCASIA. 

iiigs, and reminding us of a small Swiss inn — serves as an 
hotel. We had plenty of time during the afternoon to 
stroll about the neighbourhood, and contrast the attrac- 
tions of Abastuman with those of the other Caucasian 
watering-places. Situated in a basin surrounded on all 
sides by wooded hills, the place is necessarily without any 
distant view^ and depends on its home-scenery. The 
stream is crossed by rustic bridges, and the small arbours, 
which crown the rocky points projecting everywhere from 
the hillsides, give a cockney air to the place which is the 
last thing one would expect in so retired a comer of Asia. 
Owing to its elevation (4,178 feet above the sea), Abastuman 
enjoys a comparatively cool climate during the summer 
months, when it is much frequented by the Russian resi- 
dents both of Kutais and Achaltzich, the latter town 
being fearfully hot. It cannot, however, claim to rival 
Borjom in the rank and fashion of its visitors, and in one 
essential attraction it is far inferior. The band was small 
and indifferent, but the audience seemed little critical, 
and crushed any sense of its deficiencies by dancing vigo- 
rously to a sorry performance of the ' Guards' Waltz.' 

September 3rd. — The morning was again lovely, a matter 
of some importance, as we were about to cross the moun- 
tain ridge dividing us from Mingrelia. We set out at 
5 A.M., and rode for several miles through a narrow valley, 
where the road constantly crosses and recrosses the stream. 
There is plenty of wood, but nothing of a peculiarly large 
or striking character. Where the two rivulets forming 
the sources of the Abastumanska unite theii* waters, our 
way struck up the hillside, and we gained a considerable 
height, by a long series of zigzags. A carriage-road over 
this pass has been traced, and partially cut, from Achalt- 
zich to the summit, and a little way down the other 
side. A few bridges have also been built, but some of 



THE SIKAR PASS. 473 

them have already been carried away by the floods. The 
track, left half finished like most Russian engineering 
works, is already falling into disrepair. At its present rate 
of progress, years must pass before the arduous work in the 
long Mingrelian valley of the Ghani-Squali is brought to 
a termination. Having reached the top of the spur, the 
road kept along a tolerably broad ridge between the two 
glens, affording views, now over one, now over the other. 
The eastern basin was the most extensive, and we con- 
tinuaJly remarked the admirable grouping, and forms of 
the ridges that surrounded it. The road passes through 
an extensive tract of forest desolated by fire ; there are 
few gloomier sights than a burnt forest, and beyond the 
crop of weeds which covered the ground, nature had done 
nothing to repair the desolation. The tall charred trunks 
stood up, brown and leafless, and no younger trees had as 
yet sprung up amongst them. 

We were glad to reach the point where the ridge 
merges in the watershed of the mountains, a few hundred 
feet below the broad gap which forms the pass. The 
forest ceases at about the same level, and the final ascent 
is by long zigzags over a grassy slope covered with rank 
herbage. Passing a solitary house occupied by several 
Cossacks, and the ruins of a large encampment used by 
the detachment formerly engaged in cutting the road, we 
pushed eagerly up the crest, anxious to resolve the 
question which, since leaving Tiflis, had been a source of 
alternate hope and fear — ^whether we should gain fi-om this 
point a clear view of the Caucasian chain. The sky over- 
head was of unclouded blue, but, knowing how soon the 
vapours drawn up by the morning sun from the Mingre- 
lian marshes condense into clouds, we feared that the 
mountains might already be partially obscured. Our 
delight therefore was unbounded when, as we crested the 



474 TRANSCAUCASIA. 

ridge, not only the vast basin of the Pliasis lay spread 
beneath, but beyond, and standing out sharp and clear 
against the northern horizon, the icy wall of the Central 
Caucasus met our eyes, distant at its nearest point eight}-^- 
five miles. By following the ridge a few hundred yards 
to the west, we gained a brow, whence Kazbek, previously 
hidden by a neighbouring eminence, was added to the view, 
and then sat down to examine more fully the details of 
the vast panorama. 

The foreground was of exquisite beauty ; forested ranges 
fell gradually from our feet to the Mingrelian plain, which 
was flooded by a transparent purple haze. On the further 
side an army of green hills clustered round the knees of 
the snowy giants of the central chain, which were ranged 
in line along the horizon. Directly opposite our view- 
point was the great wall of rock and ice which towers 
over the sources of the Ingur, terminated on the west by 
the graceful snow-cone of Tau Totonal. Equidistant from 
this mass rose, on either hand, the clustered peaks above 
Gurschavi, and the solitary Uschba. The latter mountain 
looked taller and more terrible than it does even when 
seen close at hand, where its gigantic proportions, and 
the comparative insignificance of its neighbours, are not 
so folly revealed. Elbruz, huge and rounded, asserted as 
usual its supremacy, at least in height, over all the other 
summits. Further west there was only one peak, a 
remarkable obelisk of rock, which attracted our attention. 
In the far east, the snowy sides of Kazbek, bathed in a 
flood of morning sunshine, gleamed on us for the last 
time. 

We had before us apanora^ma, extending over 150 miles, 
of the Central Caucasus, Kazbek and Elbruz being each 
105 miles distant in a direct line. These figures give but 
a weak idea of the extent, and tell nothing of the splen- 



t^m 



PANORAMA OP THE CAUCASUS. 476 

dour, of the glorious vision. To describe it in all its beauty 
would be impossible, and, even were it otherwise, fear of 
disappointing the next traveller, who, having read these 
pages, may follow the same path, would make me hesitate 
in the attempt. In the first place, few can hope to be 
favoured with such a day ; in the second, the scene will 
not produce in every traveller the same feelings that it 
did in us, to whom every summit and glacier in the long 
snowy ridge were full of memories. The ordinary observer, 
unused to the scale of great mountain scenery, will see 
nothing but curious crags in the huge cliffs of Uschba, 
and will pass over without a second glance the strips of 
glistening silver which seam the mountain- wall : we, 
who recognised in one of them the frozen cascade above 
Adisch, in another the glacier above Glola, from the ice- 
fall of which we had retreated in despair, lingered to take 
a long and affectionate farewell of old friends seen beyond 
hope once more. Among the numerous Russian officers 
who had passed this way with whom we conversed, we 
did not find one who seemed aware that the great moun- 
tains were visible from the pass, and travellers like 
them, incapable of interpreting rightly the images pre- 
sented to their eyes, will perhaps accuse us of making an 
absurd fuss over a distant horizon of snow and a few jagged 
rocks, which seem to them rather to spoil the sweep of 
the skyline. 

We paid comparatively little attention, at the time, to 
the view looking back into the Turkish territory, but it must 
not be left wholly unnoticed. There, beyond the wooded and 
broken spurs of the chain on which we stood, the highlands 
of the province of Kars, a succession of rounded hills, with 
a few patches of snow still lingering on their summits, 
stretched away to the horizon. 

A long ride still lay before us — our horsemen urged us 



,« 



476 TRANSCAUCASIA. 

onwards, and we were forced reluctantly to turn away and 
commence the descent. For some distance the new road 
is cut in steep and long zigzags ; it plunges almost imme- 
diately into a grove of noble pines and firs, with long 
mossy streamers hanging from their branches. The track, 
reduced to a rough bridle-path, crosses a rivulet, and makes 
a second and deeper plunge to the bed of the Chani-Squali, 
the course of which it follows henceforth to the Mingrelian 
lowlands. We imagined that we had already exhausted 
the charms of sylvan scenery, but the forest in which we 
now found ourselves surpassed in the richness and 
variety of its foliage any we had yet seen. To enumerate 
the trees would be not only to exhaust, but to make several 
additions to, the list of those found in Central Europe; 
the beech, the elm, and the alder, which here grows to 
an enormous size, were the most conspicuous. Long 
wreaths of ivy hung from their branches, and twisted 
round their stems, and the ground was covered with a 
dense undergrowth of box, holly, laurel, azalea, and 
rhododendron bushes. Long grasses and ferns, some 
rising to the height of a man, filled the glades ; others, 
small and delicate, grew in the crannies of the mossy 
cliflfs. The stream foamed at the bottom of the deep glen 
in a succession of falls and rapids ; the path, following 
and frequently crossing it, grew worse and worse, and 
our horses found difficulty in picking their way along it. 
A causeway of logs had in many places been laid upon 
the swampy ground, and the track, poached into holes 
between the timbers by the feet of passing animals, was 
converted into a succession of ridges and furrows similar 
to an American ^ corderoy.' 

We wandered on for some hours through the glades 
and thickets, halting at times to admire some exquisite 
vista, in which the snowy peak of Tau Totonal, framed 



A FOREST RIDE. 477 

between the green hillsides, seemed to float in blue haze 
rather tha.n to beloner to earth. The narrow trench 
gradually expanded, leaving space for occasional patches 
of cultivated ground. Cornfields were in time succeeded 
by plantations of the tobacco-plant, the bright-green 
leaves of which are in their natural state always a pleasing 
sight. At the comers of many of the enclosures, which 
are generally surrounded by rough fences, we noticed 
raised wooden platforms ; these are said to be look-out 
posts, where a watchman keeps guard against the depre- 
dations of the bears which abound in the forest. Below 
the junction of the two glens the valley widens, and is 
dotted with numerous clusters of cottages. Fruit-trees 
now become plentiful ; the plum, the pear, and the medlar 
grow wild, and the vine trails its long branches over the 
forest trees. 

The new road was in course of construction, and we 
found parts in a sufficiently forward state to enable us to 
ride along it. The valley, having trended north-west for 
some distance, turned due north, and a village stood on the 
opposite bank of the stream. From this point, the hills 
sank rapidly, and our horsemen pointed out the position 
of Bagdad in the distance. It was dark, and the wood- 
cutters' fires blazed out cheerily, high upon the hillsides, 
before we reached our resting-place. Bagdad is situated 
close to the point at which several valleys open on to the 
plain. The village consists of one street, with houses on 
either side; there were plenty of people about, but they 
one and all refused us shelter for the night ; we were 
getting angry and perplexed at this final specimen of 
Mingrelian manners and hospitality, when one of the 
peasants suggested that a French baron lived half a mile 
off, and that we might find lodgings with him. We 
guessed rightly that there could not be two Fi-ench barons 



478 TRANSCAUCASIA. 

near Kutais, and that this one must be the Baron de 
Longueil, whom we had met six months before on board 
the Bion steamer. Under tlie circumstances, the best 
course was evidently to accex:>t the proposal, and claim the 
hospitality of the only civilised being within reach. 

Though the Baron was away from home, ' Madame ' re- 
ceived us with the greatest kindness, and gave us both 
food and beds, lururies which, ten minutes before, we had 
seemed little likely to obtain on this side of Kutais. From 
the account we heard of it, &rming in Mingrelia does not 
seem to be so wholly delightful an occupation as the 
natural fertility of the soil might lead one to suppose. 
* Madame ' complained bitterly of the laziness and dis- 
honesty of the native servants, and of the excessive diffi- 
culty of transport, Kutais, though only about thirty miles 
distant, being often rendered inaccessible for weeks in win- 
ter by swollen streams and the horrible state of the roads. 

September 4th. — ^When daylight came, we saw that the 
Baron had bmlt himself a pretty little villa, ornamented 
with a verandah overgrown with creepers, and some 
attempt at a garden. . Bidding a grateful adieu to our 
kind hostess, we remounted our horses, and started to ride 
across the flat country that separated us from Kutais. The 
sky was overclouded, and we could not but congratulate 
ourselves on our good-luck in having had so perfect a view 
the previous morning. The road leads at first across glades 
of turf, and between copses of fruit-trees overhung and 
knitted together by wild vines, and passes through several 
villages. Mingrelian hamlets are all exactly alike, and 
it would be impossible to improve on Mr. Palgrave's des- 
cription of one : * The houses ai-e neither ranged in 
streets, nor grouped in blocks, but scattered as at random, 
each in a separate enclosure. The houses themselves are 
one-storied, and of wood, sometimes mere huts of wattle 



MINGRELIAN VILLAGES. 4T9 

and of clay ; the Gnclosures are of cut stakes, planted and 
interwoTen lattice-wise. Old forest trees, fresh underwood, 
bramble, and grass grow everywhere, regardless of the 
houses, which are in a manner lost among them ; one is at 
times right in the middle of a village before one has even 
an idea of having approached it.' On the country roads 
in the neighbourhood of Katais, rude vehicles, half-slodge, 
half-cart, may frequently be met, drawn by two oxen. 



Uingidlu Wise Ju. 

and la4en with one of the hiige earthenware jars used for 
storing wine, which will scarcely fail to recall to the 
traveller's mind the story of the Forty Thieves in the 
' Arabian Nights.' 

For nearly an hour we traversed a thick beechwood, 
and emerged from it at the point where it is necessary to 
ford not ouly the stream of the Chani-SguaJi, but the larger 
and far more formidable Quirila. Three months earlier 
we should have found a new bridge just completed, but 



480 TRANSCAUCASIA. 

after a career of usefulness, short even for this country, 
the unhappy structure had been left standing high-and- 
dry, while the river flowed in a new channel fifty 3'ards 
further south. To judge them by their works, Russian 
engineers seem incapable of anything thorough, and the 
amount of money wasted during the last few years in the 
Caucasus would be difficult to calculate. Even the late 
Czar Nicholas is said to have sighed over the constant call 
for fresh grants for the construction of the Dariel road, 
which is not finished yet. With more skill and less jobbery 
a Swiss canton would have made it in a quarter of the 
time, and at half the expense it has cost the Imperial 
Government, 

The Quirila was fortunately not in flood, and we waded 
without difficulty through its broad clear-flowing current. 
The hard road into Kutais is half completed, and follows 
the left bank of the Rion at no great distance from the 
river. The journey divides itself naturally into two stages ; 
the first across the marshy lowlands, from which a steep 
bank leads to an upper level covered with dense oak copses, 
through which the track runs straight as an arrow for 
several miles, until, bending to the left, it descends into 
Kutais. The first view of the town from this side, with its 
large white-walled green-roofed buildings and domed 
churches, set in a framework of hills, and watered by the 
rapid stream of the Rion, is exceedingly -pretty. We trotted 
through the streets, and dismounted at the door of the 
*H6tel de France,' where we found Fran9ois, who had 
arrived safely with the luggage two days previously. 

There was some difficulty in finding rooms, for the hotel 
was crowded ; the Grand Duke Michael, after escorting the 
Grand Duchess to the seaside, had returned to Kutais, and 
set out from thence early on the previous day to ride 
through the Radscha and over the Mamisson Pass to 



KUTAIS. 48 1 

Yladikafkaz. Many of the officers, who had come from 
country posts to meet him, were still in the place, and there 
were, besides, an unusual number of travellers awaiting the 
departure of the next steamer from Poti, Amongst them 
were two gentlemen, who had, like ourselves, been engaged 
in exploring the Caucasus — Mons. Pavre, the son of the 
well-known Genevese geologist, and Mons. DesroUes, an 
entomologist, whom the natives had facetiously nicknamed 
the 'Father of Flies.* The extent of their excursions in the 
mountains had been to cross the Mamisson Pass and ride 
up to ITruspieh. We also met an English gentleman and 
his vrife, who had made their way across the Caucasian 
isthmus from Petrovsk, on the Caspian. The journey from 
that place to Yladikafkaz, occupying three days, had to be 
performed in ' telegas,' and is one which few ladies would 
care to undertake. 

September 5th. — ^We discovered during the day two new 
attractions in Kutais — :its photograph shop, and its jet. 
We purchased a considerable number of * cartes-de-visite * 
of the peasantry of the surrounding districts, executed with 
an eye to the picturesque in the grouping and accessories, 
which did great credit to the enterprising artist. The jet, 
which is somewhat softer in substance and more brittle, 
but otherwise similar to that sold in England, is hawked 
about the streets in long chaplets, and may be bought for 
very low prices ; we were assured that aU the beads are 
hand-cut. Its native name is ' gicher,' which, in Armenian 
phrase, also means ' night.' 

Before leaving Kutais, we had the pleasure of making the 
acquaintance of Mons. Elhatissian, an Armenian gentle- 
man who has spent much time in exploring the neighbour- 
hood of Kazbek, and lived for some weeks encamped at the 
foot of the Devdorak glacier, engaged in scientific re- 
searches, of which he means to publish the results, accom- 

1 1 



4h2 TRANSCAUCASIA. 

panied by a map of the glaciers on the eastern flank of the 
mountain. Much of the information we derived from him 
has been embodied in previous pages. 

We had intended to remain two days, and spend the 
second in an excursion to the celebrated monastery of 
Ghelathi, founded at the end of the eleventh century by 
a Mingrelian sovereign, which is celebrated alike for the 
interest of its architecture, and the venerable images and 
ecclesiastical wealth it contains. We heard, however, such 
disquietingreports of the irregularity of the Sunday steamer 
on the Hion, that it seemed more prudent to follow the 
example of most of our fellow-travellers, and start twenty- 
four hours sooner than we had proposed. To this end an 
arrangement was concluded with the postmaster, the 
same man who had given us trouble on our former visit, 
by which he undertook to provide a ^ tarantasse ' and horses 
at midnight on Friday— the usual time for starting, as the 
accommodation at Orpiri is bad, and the Bion steamer 
leaves early in the morning. The money for the horses 
was paid, and we believed the afiPair settled; but at the 
japi)ointed hour no horses came, and on sending to the 
post, we were told that the official had gone off to Orpiri, 
leaving no instructions, and that if we wanted horses we 
must pay overlain, and make a present besides for the 
favour of having thenu The postmaster who had thus 
sought to cheat us was described by a gentleman of 
Kutais as a ^ brigand du premier ordre,' and, unwilling to 
become his victims, we visited two higher officials, from 
one of whom we received an order that horses should be 
given us directly, and no further payment asked. Let all 
travellers beware of that pair of harpies, the mistress of 
the ^ H6tel de France,' and her friend the postmaster at 
Kutais! 

We drove to Orpiri in pouring rain. During our voyage 
down the river, the weather, though cloudy, was fine — a 



POTI. 483 

fortunate circumstance, aa, owing to the shallowness of the 
water at this season, the ordinary boats cannot get up to 
Orpiri, and the passengers and cargo are transferred half- 
way from one boat to another. At Poti we went to the 
* Hdtel Jacquot,' which is clean and comfortable. No reader 
of * Martin Chuzzlewit * could fail to be struck with the 
resemblance to Eden of this miserable spot. Its situation, 
in a swamp rather below the waters of the Bion, which 
are only prevented by embankments from sweeping away 
the place, combines almost every disqualification for a 
commercial town. The hotels (there are three), the office 
of the steamboat company, and a few houses of the better 
sort, are planted at irregular intervals near the quay. 
Behind them is the main and only street, which consists 
of a causeway running between two rows of log-shanties, 
raised on piles above pools of fetid water, and ending 
abruptly in a dismal swamp. 'Every road has two large 
ditches, brimming with stagnant slime on either side, 
crossed by little bridges, which, as one of our party found 
by unpleasant experience, are easily missed in the dark. 
What wonder that fever and ague are written in the faces 
of the dismal gathering of officers and employ^, to whom, 
in what the residents are pleased to call a public garden, a 
melancholy band nightly discourses doleful tunes ! All the 
real merriment and music of Poti is confined to the fix>gs, 
and they, to judge by the noise they make, lead a merry 
life of it. All night long their ceaseless chorus resounds 
through the place, and it is asserted by the inhabitants — 
though I cannot wholly credit the story — ^that the sound, 
when the wind blows that way, is audible even at Constan- 
tinople. 

So long as Turkey keeps Batoum, Russia is reduced to 
make the best of Poti, as the port of the Caucasus. Souk- 
houm-Kal6, which seems at first sight preferable, is little less 

II 2 



484 TRANSCAUCASIA. 

unhealthy, and is besides rendered difficult of access from 
the interior by the numerous streams (of which the Ingur is 
the largest) flowing out of the mountains, none of which 
the Russians have as yet succeeded in bridging. The future 
Transcaucasian Railway is to begin at Poti, and endeavours 
are being made to deepen the bar of the Rion, and convert 
its second mouth into a harbour. Colonel Schauroff, the 
officer in charge of the works, is firmly persuaded of the 
eventual success of the scheme which he has himself origi- 
nated, and is endeavouring to execute ; but, as is ofben the 
case, his superiors do not share his convictions, and their 
half-hearted support and iscanty doles are likely to delay 
indefinitely the completion of the proposed works. 

On the mioming of the 6th we made the first break in 
our party. Fran9ois left us on board the Batoum steamer 
to find his way home to Chamonix by Constantinople and 
Marseilles. Later in the day we embarked with Paul on 
board the small but prettily-fitted boat which was to convey 
us to Soukhoum-E[al6. The sunset was fine, but clouds hung 
over the Caucasian chain^ and deprived us of bur last 
chance of seeing Elbruz, which in clear weather is plainly 
distinguishable &om shipboard. At daybreak on the 7th 
we were at anchor in the bay of Soukhoum-Kal6, alongside 
the larger steamer to which we were to be transferred for 
the farther voyage. The town, a small seaport, is situated 
at the head of a southward-facing bay ; a short distance 
inland the country rises in graceful wooded hills, but 
Soukhoum-Kal6 stands on the level marshy shore, and is 
very unhealthy. Its only sights are some wonderful 
weeping-willows in the main street, dignified as a boule- 
vard, and a botanical garden, or rather plantation of exotic 
trees. There was much ripe fruit there — grapes, pears, 
and plums — well guarded by a sturdy youth, who assured 
us they were aU reserved for the consumption of a Greneral, 



THE COAST OF THE CAUCASUS. 48.3 

and whom our felonions attacks on his treasures excited 
to desperation. This spot witnessed some hard fighting 
in 1864, when the Abkhasians broke out into open revolt, 
overpowered and murdered every man at some of the 
Bussian outposts, and attacked Soukhoum in force. 

Our steamboat, the * General Kotzebue,' one of the 
finest in the Black Sea Company's fieet, lefb on the evening 
of the 7th. All night and the next day we were running 
along the Caucasian coast. The shore is lined with grey 
or white cliffs, behind which the mountains rise in long 
wooded ridges broken by valleys, through which numerous 
streams find a way down to the sea. Though on the 
whole fine, the character of the scenery was not so grand 
as we had been led to expect. After a short stay at 
Novorosiski, an unattractive4ooking Russian colony in a 
deep bay, we continued our voyage, the coast of the 
Caucasus gradually fading in the darkness. During the 
night we arrived off Kertch, where the boat remained till 
midday, allowing time to visit the town, rebuilt since the 
war ; the museum, the chief treasures of which have been 
removed to St.. Petersburg, and one of the tumuli in the 
neighbourhood, containing a curious stone chamber. 

The run from Kertch to Sevastopol ocxjupied twenty- 
six hours, including stoppages at Theodosia and Yalta. 
Beyond the latter place the coast-scenery is superb, and 
the magnificence of the weather enabled us fully to enjoy 
it. We had pleasant and amusing society on board. 
Besides the travellers whom we met at Kutais, there were 
two Russian Generals, types respectively of the two 
extremes met with in the Imperial Service; a Georgian 
youth, splendidly dressed in his full national costume, and 
a less showy boy (a son of the Suanetian prince who mur- 
dered the Governor of Mingrelia), both of whom were going 
to complete their education at the University of Odessa. 



486 THE CRIMEA. 

On the afternoon of September 10th, after running 
across Balaclava Bay, and rounding Cape St. George, we 
entered the harbour of Sevastopol, at the mouth of which 
stands Fort Constantine, looking as strong as ever, though 
its southern brother is utterly destroyed. The interior of 
the town presents a scene of destruction for which we 
were quite unprepared. Not only are the dockyards and 
government buildings blown to pieces, but the main street 
is deserted and grass-grown, and the houses that line it, 
built of white stone, stand roofless and shattered wrecks. 
Nowhere but at Pompeii have I seen such desolation. The 
population has fallen from 80,000, before the war, to 8,000 ; 
it is now rising again, owing to the recent establishment 
of the shipbuilding yards of the * Black Sea Steam Navi- 
gation Company' in the Admiralty Creek. Their new 
machinery-sheds, and the adjacent barracks, are the only 
signs of life about the place. 

We were surprised to find the lines of the Russian 
defences so perfect ; the lower story of the Malakhoff tower 
still stands, surrounded by the big ditch and high mound ; 
the salient angle of the Sedan looks fresh and sharp, and 
a dismounted cannon lies in one of the embrasures. On 
the heights outside the town, the trenches are easily trace- 
able, and at a greater distance, where the huts stood, the 
ground is strewn with fragments of broken bottles and old 
shoe-leathers. The French dead have been, as far as possi- 
ble, collected into one cemetery, which is planted with 
trees, and placed under the charge of a resident guardian ; 
but the bodies of our countrymen lie scattered over the 
downs, in more than fifty small enclosures, each surrounded 
by a low wall. At the time of our visit, these graveyards 
were covered with a dense growth of weeds, many of the 
tombstones were broken and the inscriptions erased, and 



THE BATTLEFIELDS. 487 

we saw everywhere proofs of a carelessness and neglect 
which are discreditable to the English nation. 

The battlefields of Balaclava and Inkerman are marked 
by simple stone obelisks. It is difficult to recognise the 
* Valley of Death ' in a slight depression between two grassy 
knolls ; the heights of Inkerman are more like what fancy 
pictures them, and the ravine up which the Kussians came 
to the assault is striking, apart from its associations. On 
a sloping hill, above the forts on the northern side of the 
harbour, is the g^eat Russian cemetery. The simple fact, 
that from 250 to 300 dead lie under each of the large 
nameless tombstones that line the central avenue, gives 
some idea of the numbers buried there. Prince Gortscha- 
koflfs monument stands at the top of the enclosure; 
though he survived the siege for several years, the inscrip- 
tion states that he wished to ^ lie with those brave com- 
panions in arms, by whose valour the enemy was prevented 
from penetrating further into fatherland.' On the brow 
above the cemetery, a handsome memorial chapel has been 
erected. The building is an attempt, not wholly success- 
ful, to unite a monument and a chapel; externally it 
has the form of an irregular pyramid surmounted by a 
large cross. The interior, a Greek church of the usual form, 
is in course of decoration with a series of frescoes by native 
and Italian artists, which seemed to us of considerable 
merit. 

English travellers are strangely indifferent to the at- 
tractions of the Crimea. Setting aside for the moment 
natural beauties, its historical interest well repays the 
trouble of a visit. Whatever monuments may be raised 
elsewhere, Sevastopol itself will for many years to come 
remain the greatest memorial of the struggle which 
centred round it. Great battles are fought, and little 



488 THE CRIMEA. 

trace remains ; it is in the ruin caused by sieges that war 
stamps its most lasting mark. In the bullet-riddled walls 
of the once handsome buildings, in the laboriously- wrought 
labyrinths of lines and counterlines that encompass them, 
in the shattered forts and demolished dockyards on the 
water's edge, and, more than all, in the crowded burial- 
grounds on the heights, it is easy to read the story of the 
siege ; and, in gazing on them, one is led to appreciate 
both the importance of the result, and the cost at which 
it was obtained. 

Travelling in the Crimea is rendered more agreeable 
than in most parts of Russia by the excellence of the 
roads, combined with the -civility and promptness met 
with at the post-stations. These unusual phenomena 
are in a great measure due to the fact, that this is the only 
district of Russia where pleasure-travellers are understood, 
and somewhat also to the pervading influence of the 
Woronzofif family, at whose expense the greater part of 
the coast-road was constructed. It is a very pleasant drive 
from Sevastopol to Yalta, Simferopol, Bakhchisarai, and 
back. The entire distance can be got over in three days, 
but five are the least that should be allowed, as it is 
desirable to leave time for a visit to the villas on the coast, 
and Bakhchisarai and its neighbourhood a£Ebrd employ- 
ment for a long afternoon. 

Balaclava is the first post-station. While changing 
horses we had time to climb to the old Genoese tower, 
and look down, on one side on the landlocked creek, on 
the other on the iron-bound coast on which the ill-fated 
* Prince ' struck and went to pieces. It is after a long 
inland climb that the road, in a gap between two wooded 
hills, reaches the Gate of Baidar, a classical archway 
built to mark the spot whence the traveller gains his first, 
or last, view of the Grarden of the Crimea. From the 



THE CRIMEAN CORNICIIE. 489 

water's edge, 1,500 feet below, a long slope of garden, wood, 
and vineyard, dotted with villas, runs up to the foot of a 
tall range of grey limestone cliffs. The Russian Comiche, 
as the post-road from this point to Alushta (a distance 
of sixty miles) has been aptly called, need not shrink from 
comparison with its more famous rival. Few will be 
found to depreciate the beauty of a series of landscapes 
which unite, in constantly-shifting proportions, the charms 
of bold rock-scenery and rich vegetation, enhanced, as &r 
as such scenery can be, by human aid, and set in a frame of 
blue sky and still bluer sea. No one who is fortunate 
enough to travel here in the vintage-season vrill despise 
the merits of the grapes, which are sold at a few copecks 
the poxmd. 

Yalta is the Mentone of the co4st. Here however, as 
is generally the case in Russia, the English rather than 
the Italian style has been adopted, and the little town, 
seen from the sea, with its prim houses and square- 
towered church, reminded us more of the Isle of Wight 
than of anything on Mediterranean shores. The three 
principal estates are all near Yalta. At Alupka, Prince 
WoronzofiT's seat, the house is an odd mixture of the feudal 
and Saracenic styles, while the grounds are laid out entirely 
in the English manner. Orianda, the property of the 
Grand Duke Constantine, occupies the finest position, but 
is the least interesting; Livadia, the Emperor's villa, is 
more in the ch&let style, and has attached to it a chapel, 
small, but exquisitely decorated. We remarked that the 
Czar has some fine watercolour drawings of the Caucasus 
in his study, the general fittings of which, as of the rest 
of the house, are very plain, and, with the photographs of 
the Imperial Family hanging on the walls, give an un- 
expected but pleasant impression of homeliness, and 
absence of court restraint. 



490 THE CRIMEA^ 

The road to Simferopol continues along the coast as far 
as Alushta — ^then turns inland, and crosses a well-wooded 
ridge of 3,000 feet, a spur of Tchatyr-Dagh (5,125 feet), 
the respectable monarch of Crimean heights. Sleeping at 
Simferopol, an uninteresting town, we drove on next day 
to Bakhchisarai, crossing halfway the brook Alma, con- 
siderably above the battlefield. The town, picturesquely 
situated in a narrow glen, in the centre of a wide desolate 
steppe, is entirely Turkish in character, and forms a 
striking contrast to the Russian style of the rest of the 
Crimea. The principal attraction to visitors is, however, 
the residence of the Tartar Khans, used as a hospital 
during the war, but which has since been tastefully 
restored, at the expense of the Government. It is a very 
perfect specimen of an Oriental palace, and the gaily- 
decorated ceilings and brilliant stained-glass make the 
deserted rooms look bright and cheerfdl. A soldier acts 
as cicerone, but he was so gloriously intoxicated at the 
time of our visit, that little information could be got from 
him. In the neighbourhood is a curious monastery, 
hollowed out of the rock, and a village of Karaite Jews, a 
sect the origin of which seems doubtful, if not unknown, 
and who are accordingly supposed to be a remnant of the 
lost Ten Tribes. 

We returned to Sevastopol on the 16th, and on the 
afternoon of the 1 7th embarked for Odessa. The steamer, 
calling at Eupatoria on the way, makes the passage in 
twenty hours. At Odessa the Eastern element is altogether 
wanting, and even the Russian is unobtrusive ; it is, in fact, 
a Western city. Its character is no doubt due to its 
having grown up under the patronage of a French exile, 
the Due de Richelieu, and a Russian Anglo-maniac, Prince 
Woronzofif. It is at present the best-paved and best-lighted 
town in Russia, and boasts a handsome boulevard and an 



ODESSA. 491 

opera. Its commeFcial prosperity will no doubt be largely 
increased by the opening of railway communication with 
Moscow. 

Situated on the brow of a cliff, and at the edge of a 
sandy plain, Odessa has few attractions for the passing 
traveller, who, as soon as he has sauntered through the 
streets, visited one or two chm*ches, the Jewish synagogues, 
and the boulevard, will be glad to continue his journey. 
This, now that the railroads are finished, will be found no 
difficult matter, but for us it was different. The line to 
Kieff was as yet unopened, and at one time the difficulties 
of making our way across Kussia to St. Petersburg seemed 
so great that we had almost decided to fly to Istamboul and 
return home by Athens, when a piece of intelligence, which 
afterwards proved untrustworthy, made Tucker and myself 
revert to our original plan. Moore, however, could not 
spare longer time, and left us to cross Europe by a more 
direct route, by way of Lemberg, Czemowitz, and Cracow, 
by which he succeeded in reaching Paris in 6^ days' hard 
travelling, including a detention of twenty-four hours at 
Czemowitz. Paul also, who had served us well and faith- 
fully during our Caucasian wanderings, was now dismissed, 
to return to his Mingrelian home ; thus Tucker and I were 
left to end our journey, as we had begun it, by ourselves. 

On the evening of the 21st September, we went by rail 
to Birzoula, where the new 'KieS Line branches off from 
that to Elizavetgrad ; it had been partially opened, and we 
had hopes of being forwarded along it, which however 
proved illusory. After a vexatious delay of twenty-four 
hours, we went on again by the Odessa train, and reached 
Elizavetgrad on the morning of the 23rd. This part of 
Russia consists of nothing but bare rolling downs, on which 
much of the com shipped annually from Odessa is grown; 
the scenery is consequently very uninteresting and mono- 



4D2 HOME THROUGH EUSSIA. 

tonoufl* The towns and villages are situated in depressions, 
watered by small streams. Elizavetgrad, planted in one 
of these wrinkles of the steppe, is a large but unremarkable 
place, the headquarters of the cavalry in Southern Russia. 
We found a man at the railway-station who talked German, 
and who undertook to procure a carriage to take us to 
Krementchuk, eighty miles distant, where we hoped to 
catch the Dnieper steamboat on the following morning. 
A springless waggon, covered with a tilt, and drawn by 
four horses, was made ready, and after a tedious drive of 
twenty hours, we reached Krementchuk at 8 a.x. on the 
28rd, an hour after the time fixed for the steamboat's 
departure. Fortune, however, befriended us for once, and 
as we drove over the long bridge of boats, we saw the 
little steamer still lying beside the wharf, and, urging our 
driver to quicken his pa^, we made our way through the 
loose soft sand which covers the banks, and got on board 
ten minutes before she started. The steward and waiter 
spoke German ; the cabin, though very small^ was clean, 
and the fare good. 

The voyage up the Dnieper from Krementchuk to Kieff 
occupied two days, for we lay-to at night, owing to the ab- 
sence of moon, and the difficulty of the navigation. There 
is little or no scenery on the river, which for many miles 
runs through a level country between low sandy shores ; 
nearer Eieff, the right bank rises into bold bluJSs, crowned 
here and there by the pagoda-like churches of Russian 
villages. The river-boats are very picturesque objects, 
with a tall tapering mast bearing a huge sail, and a long 
pennant (generally crimson) flying from the top. Although 
on the evening of the second day we caught sight of the 
burnished cupola of the Lavra, reflecting the last rays of 
the setting sun, it was long after dark before we passed 
under the central span of the great suspension-bridge, and 



A saint's DAT AT KIEFF. 493 

anchored alongside the busy quay of the Podole, or lower 
town of Kieflf. A * droschky ' soon carried us up the steep 
hill to the upper town, and after some difficulty in making 
ourselves understood, we procured rooms in the * H6tel 
d'Europe.* 

We spent two days in Kieff, which is the most pictur- 
esque and one of the most interesting of the great cities of 
Bussia. The town, built on the top of two lofty blufiPs, 
commands a wide view of the plains stretching far away 
eastwards in the direction of Koursk; as a matter of 
course the public buildings are large, the streets wide, 
and the open spaces numerous. The peculiar character of 
the town is due to the multitude of churches with green, 
gilt, or silvered cupolas, and the number of trees inter- 
spersed amongst the houses. The public gardens are, for 
Russia, exceptionally pretty and well-kept ; in a dell in 
their centre, sheltered by wooded banks, is a large ca£$ and 
pleasure-ground, where two excellent bands performed in the 
evening. The cathedral is very old and curious, contain- 
ing some fine ' eleventh -century mosaics and the tomb of 
Yaroslaf ; but the great attraction to visitors is the famous 
fortress-convent, or Lavra, considered the holiest in Bossia, 
to which crowds of pilgrims draw together from the far- 
thest parts of the Empire. We were lucky in visiting it 
on a saint's day, when every corner was crowded with 
peasants in the most picturesque costumes — ^men in heavy 
jackboots, bright-coloured shirts fastened in by a belt at 
the waist, and low-crowned hats — and girls vfith gaudy 
necklaces and wreaths of paper-flowers round their heads, 
some of them fresh and pretty-looking, though all more or 
less of the flat-faced Russian type. 

The churches are gorgeous with silver-plated pictures 
of saints and jewelled relics. At the time of bur visit a 
large and excited crowd were pushing and jostling in the 



494 HOME THROUGH RUSSIA. 

eager stmggle to approach and kiss these holj treasures. 
In the catacombs, a long series of cellar-like vaults hewn 
in the rock, a multitude of saints and pious virgins, each 
in a separate niche, lie in open coffins robed in gorgeous 
silks, the faces veiled, but a shrivelled finger protruding 
to receive the kiss of the orthodox. The pilgrims, who 
accompanied us through the vaults, laid small offerings on 
the bodies of their favourite saints, which were collected by 
the square-capped monk who brought up the rear of the 
party. English visitors are few and far between at the 
Lavra, and we excited a good deal of curiosity, though we 
met with nothing but civility. 

Our first enquiries as to the best mode of continuing our 
journey were met by the unpleasant news that, only ten 
days before, the regular ^ diligence ' service on all the lines 
had been suspended, and the post ordered for the future to 
travel in ' telegas.' Further researches resulted in the dis- 
covery, that St. Petersburg by way of Vitebsk was more 
accessible than Moscow by way of Koursk, the advantage in 
distance (sixty miles) of the latter being more than counter- 
balanced by the better road to Vitebsk. On calling at the 
carriage bureau, at the post, we were lucky enough to see a 
high official, who spoke excellent Trench, and was very civil 
and glad to see us, for he had a lady in charge desirous of 
making the same journey. We quickly agreed to take a 
'diligence ' between us, and start on the morning of Monday 
the 28th ; before the time came two other people were found 
to occupy the vacant places. Tucker and I took the 
' banquette,' and with pleasant weather and no dust, the 
long drive was by no means disagreeable. 

The road was broad and metalled, and the stations, 
mostly tenanted by Jews, well-fitted-up, at least compared 
to those in the Caucasus. Our drivers were a constant 
source of amusement. Sometimes a postilion rode one of 



ABRIVAL AT ST. PETERSBURG. 495 

the leaders, sometimes two peasants sat side by side on 
the box — one driving the leaders, the other the four 
wheelers, harnessed abreast after the usual Russian 
fashion; for two stages only, a man bolder than usual 
gathered up the mass of reins, and drove the whole team 
single-handed. This part of the interior of Russia is 
not so ugly as that country is popularly supposed to be ; 
where flat, it is generally weU-wooded with pine and 
birch, and between Mohilef and Vitebsk, where the water- 
shed between the Dnieper and Dwina is crossed, the 
country becomes reaUy hilly. The autumn tints on the 
foliage were glorious. We accomplished the 360 miles in 
seventy hours, and reached Vitebsk early on Thursday 
morning. There we came upon one of the yet-unfinished 
threads of the web of European railways which will soon 
spread itself over the whole of Russia. The train carried 
us in twenty-four hours to St. Petersburg, where we arrived 
ten days after leaving Odessa, having, with the exception 
of our halts of one day at Birzoula, and two at Kieff, 
travelled day and night. 

Anything connected with the Caucasus, a country 
associated in the national mind with a long and victorious 
struggle, is sure to attract atticntion at St. Petersburg. 
The notices of our ascents of Kazbek and Elbruz, which 
had appeared during the summer in the newspapers, had 
created considerable interest, and we received, on our 
arrival in the capital, many kind invitations, most of which, 
owing to the shortness of our stay, we were compelled, 
much against our wish, to decline. A matter of more serious 
regret to us was the miscarriage of an invitation to be 
present at areviewof the Czarewitch's regiment of Cossacks, 
held in the Great Riding School. We did not receive the 
Imperial commands until it was too late to obey them, 
and were thus deprived of an opportunity of presenting 



496 HOME THROUGH RUSSIA. 

the Czar with a portion of the highest rock in his 
European dominions. 

It is now time to cut a long story short. Amongst 
the sights of Moscow and St. Petersburg, and on th,e 
homeward journey, I need not detain my readers, to 
whom I here bid a hearty farewell, trusting that I may 
persuade some of them to follow in our footsteps, and to 
learn for themselves, on the slopes of Elbruz and at Russian 
post-stations, the force of Shakspeare's questions : — 

Oh, who can hold a fire in his hand 
By thinking on the frosty Caucasus ? 
Or cloy the hungry edge of appetite 
By bare imagination of a feast ? 



/ 



APPENDIX I. 



THE ELBRUZ EXPEDITION OF 1829. 

The Expedition of 1829, led by General Emmanuel, was a sort of 
politico -geographical progress through some of the northern val- 
leys of the Caucasus, with the ultimate object of ascending Elbruz. 
It was accompanied by several German savants, one of whom, Herr 
Kuppfer, has given an account of it in his * Voyage dans les En- 
virons du Mont Elbrouz dans le Caucase,' published at St. Peters- 
burg, 1830. 

After experiencing many difficulties on the road, the ezpedi- 
tion, escorted by Cossacks and several cannon, reached in safety 
the headwaters of the Malka, 8,000 French feec above the sea. 
On the morning of the 21st July a portion of the party set out 
at 10 A.M., and at 4 p.m. attained the edge of the snow, at a height 
which they assumed to be not &r from 11,000 ft. Here they en- 
camped for the night, and at 3 the next morning started with some 
native (Circassian) mountaineers and a few Cossacks. At first 
all went smoothly, but as the steepness of the slopes and the heat 
of the sun increased, their progress became more laborious, until 
— at a point which was determined to be 14,000 French (14,921 
English) feet above the sea, and therefore really 3,600 English 
feet, though estimated by them to be 1,492 English feet below the 
summit — ^M. Kuppfer and three of his companions £aSrlj knocked 
up. In spite of this, with strange looseness of expression, he 
proceeds to add: 'However, this first attempt had succeeded 
beyond our hopes. On entering the Caucasus we had believed 
Elbruz inaccessible, and in a fortnight we were on its summiU.* 
Meanwhile M. Lenz, who, accompanied by two Circassians and a 

K K 



49» THE ELBRUZ EXPEDITION OP 1829. 

Cossack, bad preceded Lis friends, got as &r as the top of a ridge 
of rocks in the direction of the summit by 1 p.m., and then turned 
lack, as time ran short and the snow "was soft. 

While his companions were engaged in assaulting the moun- 
tain, General Emmanuel, seated before his tent in the valley, 
watched their progress through a telescope. He suddenly ob- 
served a single man fer in advance of the rest. We are rather 
superfluously informed that the features of the solitary climber 
were indistinguishable, but the General could tell from his dress 
that he was a Tcherkess. The figure advanced steadily towards 
a scarped crag, which appeared from the camp to be the summit, 
walked round its base, and then vanished behind the mists which 
cut off all farther view of the mountain. 

What he had thus seen satisfied the Greneral that the object of 
his expedition was folfilled, and that the highest smninit of Elbruz 
had been trodden by human feet. He ordered the news to be 
proclaimed in camp, and gave notice that the successfnl climber 
should receive the promised reward of 400 roubles as soon as he 
appeared to claim it. Few of my readers will be surprised to 
hear that in the course of the evening a Tcherkess named Killar 
presented himself and received the money. 

If, as the loosely-worded narrative seems to show, neither 
Mens. Lenz nor any of the German savants saw or beard anything 
of their more fortunate rival until they returned to the camp, 
Killar's claim to the honour of the first ascent rests entirely on 
General EmmanueVs account of what he saw through his tele- 
scope, under circumstances which render his testimony, to say the 
least, very questionable. It is difficult even for practised eyes 
to distinguish a solitary man on a snowslope broken by crags 
10,000 feet in vertical height above the observer, and in such cases 
men often see what they both wish and look for. Moreover, in 
the present instance. General Emmanuel's credit was involved in 
the success of an expedition which had been organised with much 
care and expense, and he had every motive to make a discovery 
which would justify him in asserting officially that the top of 
Elbruz had been gained by one of the men under his command. 
Even Russians treat the official statements of their countrymen 



THE ELBBUZ EXPEDITION OF 1829. 499 

with a certain amount of reserve, and require external confirma- 
tion before believing them. If^ however, both the Cleneral's good 
faith and his telescope are thought above suspicion, the only 
fact proved is that a Tchcrkess reached the foot of rocks, which 
looked from below like the top, and was then lost in clouds. 

In default of better evidence we can scarcely be expected to 
regard Elillar as the Jacques Balmat of Elbruz. 



K R 2 



APPENDIX II, 



 Ot 



HEIGHTS OF PEAKS, PASSES, TOWNS, AND VILLAGES 
IN THE CAUCASIAN PROVINCES. 



[N3, — The barometrical heights are untrnstworthy, and can only be considered 

as roughly approximatiye.] 





PEAKS. 








Ararat . . ^ 
Little Ararat . 1 


PcBitioa 


Rtnsiflii 
Surroy 


Barometer 


Brtimate 


S. of Erivan 


16,916 
12,840 






Alagoz 


NW. ofEtchmiadzin 


13,436 






Kazbek . 


W. of Kazbek viUage on 
Dariel road 


16,546 


16,675 




Gumaran Khokh ^ 
Tau Teply . i 


In the Kazbek group, lying 


15.672 






off the watershed 


14,510 






Zilga Khokh . 


Abore the source of the 
Terek 


12,645 






Adai Khokh . 


NW. of Mamisson Pass 


15,244 






Tau Eurdisida . 


Between Gurdzieveesk and 
Karagam Passes 






14,000 


Tan Schoda 


S. of Gebi 


11,128 






Dychtau . . » 
Koschtantau . f 


Between the two branches 


16,925 






of the Tcberek 


17,096 






Tau Totonal . i 
Uschba . . i 


N. of Suanetia 






15,500 
16,500 


Tungzorun 


S. of the Baksan sources 






•15,000 


Elbruz 


Between the sources of the 
Kubati, Malka, and Bak- 

CO n 


18,526 






Beschtau . 


N. of Patigorsk 


4,594 







HEIGHTS OP PEAKS, PASSES, ETC. 



501 



PASSES. 



Suram Pass 
Krestowaja Gora 
Pass to Zacca . 
Mamisson Pass . 
Gurdzieveesk 

Pass 
Karagam Pass 
GK>ribolo Pass . 

Noschka Pass . 

Naksagar Pass . 

Dschkjiimer Pass 

NakTa Pass 
Stuleveesk Pilss 

Sikar Pass 



Position 



On Tiflis-Kuiais road 
OnTiflis-Vladikaf kaz road 
Between Torek and Ardon 
Between Ardon and Kion 

Between Rion and Unich 

Between Eion and Zenes- 

Squali 
Between E. and W. Zenes- 

Squsli 
Between W« Zenes-Squali 

and Ingur 
Between Kalde and Adisch 

glens 
Between Ingur and Baksan 
Between Tcherek and 

Uruch 
Between Abastoman and 

Kutais 



Rn«tian 
Survoy 



3,027 
7,977 

9,390 



7,104 



Iladde 



Barometer 



9,421 

9.598 
8.460 
8.831 



7,770 
10,690 

9,650 
11,250 

12,250 
9,700 

8,400 

8,780 

9,075 

10,850 
10,500 



 


TOWNS AND VILLAGES. 






Kntais 


Position 


BoBsian 
Survey 


Badde 


Barometer 


Capital of Mingrelia 


670 






Tiais 


Capital of Georgia 


1,350 






Buschet . 




2,918 






Kobi 


> On Dariel road 


6,500 




6,400 


Kazbek • 




5,740 


^ 


5,720 


Abano 


Upper Terek Valley 


7,600 




7,400 


KesatKan .i 
Teeb 


► Ardon Valley 


• 




7.190 
6.460 


Garschayi. .% 








6,600 


Glola 




4,844 


4,644 


4,250 


Chiora 


h Kion Valley 






4.390 


Gebi. 




4,539 


4,397 


4,550 


Sia,Bsagoneili . J 








6,150 


Jibiani « .^ 






7,064 


7,130 


Adisch 








7,000 


Suni . 


h Soanetia 






6,350 


Latal 








4.265 


Pari. . 




4,635 




4,480 


Unispieh . .i 
Atashkutan 


\ Baksan Valley 


5,136 




6,240 
2,100 


Fatigorsk . . i 
Kislovodsk 


On the Podkumok 


1,800 
2,700 






Vladikafkaz . 


On the Terek 


2,368 






Borjom 
Adultzich 


^ On the Kur 


?,636 
3,376 






Abastnman 


NW. of AchalUich 


4,178 







APPENDIX III 



-•«»■ 



CATALOGUE OP PLANTS 

Collected in the summen of 1864-65 hy Herr Badde, and arranged by 

Herr V . Trautvetter 



BoTJonif Jime^ 1865 

Scropbularia lucida L, 
Scrophnlazia variegata 3f« B* 
Ziziphora clinopodioideB Lavi,^ 

Yart« canescens Led* 
Melica ciliata L* 
Dactjlis glomerata L* 
Centanrea lenoolepis Dec* (Le* 

del,) 
Carduus hamtllostis Hhrh* 
Adonis aestivalis L. 
Onobiycbis sativa Lam* 
Pyrus salicifolia L» 
Gentaurea bella Trautv, 
Medicago falcata L* 
Rhus Cotinns L. 
Leontodon biscntellsBfolins Bee. 
Onobrychis petrsea Dec. 
Medicago minima Zom. 
Crat83giis melanocarpa 3f. B. 

vart. glabrata Trautv, 
Cerastinm grandiflorum W, et 

Kit vart. glabra Koch* 
Arabis hirsuta Scop, 
Convolvnlus b'neatus L. 
Bibes Grosstdaria L. 
Alsine setacea M, et Koch* 
Scrophnlaria rupestris 3f. B. 



2,600— 3,400 ft. 

Salvia sylvestris L. 
Mulgedimn albannm Bee* 
Helianthemttm cBlandicnm Wah- 

lent* vart. hirta Ledeh* 
Thalictnmi minus L* vart. sti- 

pellata. 
Campannla Kaddeana Trautv. 
Cmpina vulgaris Cass* 
Valerianella Morisonii Bee. vart. 

dasycarpa Trautv, 
Saponaria atocioides Boiss* 
Briza media L. 
Anacamptis pyramid alia Rich. 
Verbascum, sp. 
Ervum Ervilia L* 
Centranthus longiflora Stev* 
Poljgonatum latifolium Desf, 
Lathyrus rotundifolius W* 
Hablitzia tamnoides M. B, 
Onosma microcarpum Stev. 
Asperula azurea Jauh et Spach* 
Vincetoxicum medium Decaimi., 

vart. latifolia Trautv, 
OnobrychiB Michauxii Dec, vart. 

glabra Begel, 
Rhamnus grandifolia F, et M, 

vart. umbellis sessilibus. 



CATALOGUE OP PLANTS. 



503 



YaJerianella carinata Lois, 
Lysimachia punctata L, 
Odontarrhena argentea Ledb. 
Stachys pubescens Ten. 
Silene sazatilis Sims, 
Rbamniis Pallasii F. et M, 
Scabiosa Golumbaria L, vart. 
Pyrothnim parthenifolium JD. 
Galiam Aparine L, 
Geranium robertianrun JD. 
YincetoxictLm nigram Monch. 
Lampsana intermedia Af. B, 
Philadelplins coronarins L, 
YaJeiiana officinalis L. 
Epilobitun montaniim L. 
Astragalus galegnfonnis L, 
Lactuca muralis Dec, 
Papaver caucasicum M. B, 
Geranium lucidmn L, 
Tamus conununis L. 
Orobus roseus Ledeb, 
Clinopodimn, Tulgare L. 
Spiraea AmncuB L, 
Geranium sanguineum L. 
Ecbenais carlinoides Gass, 
Orobus aurantiacus 8tev. 
Solanum Dulcamara L., vart. 

persica (Solan, persicum W.). 
Moehringia trinervia Glairv, 
Carex remota L, 
Festuca Drymeja Mert, et Koch, 
Euphorbia glareosa M, B, 
Cuscuta cupulata Engelm, 
Veronica orbicularis Fisch, 
Rosa canina, L, var. collina 

Koch, forma 1, sempervirens 

Bau (^Ledb.), 
Juniperus communis L, 
Knautia «nontana Dec. 
Scutellaria altissima L. 
Qymnadenia conopsea B, Br, 
Alnus glutinosa W, tjpica. 



Veronica Anagallis L, typica, 
Pimpinella rotundifolia M. B, 
Saxifraga cartilaginea W. 
Leontodon bastilis L., vart. gla> 

brata Koch. 
Cephalanthera rubra Rich. 
Epipactis Helleborine Crantz. 

vart. 
Rhaponticum pulcbrum F. et M, 
Padonia oorallina Betz. 
Euphorbia aspera M. B, 
Silene nemoralis W. et Kit, 
Veronica officinalis L. 
Reseda lutea L. 
Gardamine impatiens L. 
Genista tinctoria L, 
Lathyrus pratensis L. 
Saxifraga rotundifolia L, 
Fragaria vesca L, 
Orobus hirsutus L, 
Farsetia clypeata R, Br, 
Dianthus Carthusianorum L, 
Silene chlorsdfolia Sm. 
Tragopogon pusillus M. B. 
Acantholimon Kotschyi Boiss, 

vart. pontica Trautv. 

Onosma sericeum W. 

Achillea pubescens L, (Acli. 
micrantha M. B.). 

Astragalus denudatus Stev, 

Oxytropis pilosa Dec. 

Lathyrus Nissolia L. 

Thesium ramosum Hayne. 

Grucianella glomerata M, B. 

Alopecuri sp.? 

Anthyllis Vulneraria L, 

Blitum virgatum L, 

Phleum alpinum L. 

Evonymus latifohus Scop. 

Rubus csesius L. 

Ostrya carpinifolia Scop. 

Thlaspi macrophyllum Hoffm. 



504 



CATALOGUE OP PLAXTS- 



Doronicum cancasicnm M. B. 
Paris incompleta M. B, 
Luzula pilosa W. 
Oxalis Acetosella L, 
Anemone ranonculoides L. 
Symphytum tauricum W, 
Viola canina L., vart. sylvestris 

Koch. 
Quercus Bobnr 2/., iberica Stev, 
Acer campestre L. . 
Orobns hirsutos L. 
Pterotheca bifida F. et M. 
Sideritis montana L, 
Pastinaca intermedia F. et M. 
Centanrea dealbata W. 
Cerastinin grandiflornm W. et 

Kit. vart. glabra Koch. 
Gotoneaster Nununularia F. et 

Mey. 
Alyssnm campestre L,, vart. 
hirsuta 7}rauiv. 

Coronilla iberica Stev. 

Pedicnlaris comosa L. 

Thlaspi orbicnlatnm 8t-ev. 

Fnmaria parviflora Lam. 

Garpinus duinensis Scop. 

Potentilla recta L. 

Stellaria holostea L. 

Medicago falcata L. 

Convolvnlns Gantabrica L. 

Anthriscns trichosperma Schult. 

Scleranthns annnns L. 

Hieracinm prsealtnm Koch. 

Vicia tennifolia Both. 

Lathyms rotundifolius W. 

Polygala major Jacq. 

Veronica austriaca L., vart, 
pinnatifida Koch. 

Comas mascnla L. 

Melica ciliata L. 

Ziziphora capitata L. 

Campanula sibirica L» 



Dactylus glomerata L. 

Poa tri\4alis L. 

Asti-agalus Raddeanus Ti.o<i'^l. 

Cytisus rat isbonensis Schn'jj. 

Cerinthe niiuor L., vart. niucu- 

lata G. A. Meyer. 
Picridium dichotomum. F. et 

Mey. 
Aethionema Buxbaumii Dec. 
Melilotus arvensis Wallr. 
Onosma rupestre M. B. 
Marrubium catarisefolium Desc. 
Daucus pulcherrimus Koch. 
Salvia grandiflone Ettl. affinis. 
Goronilla varia L. 
Leonurus Gardiaca L. 
Campanula ranunculoides L. 
Lathyrus pratensis L. 
Coronilla coronata L. 
Teucrium orientale L. 
Sophora alopecuroides L. 
Pterotheca bifida F. et M. vart. 
Linaria armeniaca Chav. 
Cleome virgata Stev., vart. ma- 

cropoda Trautv. 

Schambohell, 6,000 ft. 
Lomatocarum alpinum F. et M. 

Kutais, July. 600 ft. 
Zelkowa crenata Spach. 

Schamhohell, 4-5,000 ft. 

Trifolium alpestre L. 
Echium rubrum Jdcq. 

Ahastumun, July. 4,500 ft. 

Hypopitysmultiflora Scop.y vart. 

hirsuta Koch. 
Dianthus recticaulis Ledeh. 
Bubus fruticosus L, 



CATALOGUE OF PLANTS. 



sas 



Schamhoholl, south of Achaltzich, 
July. 5-7,000 ft. 

Juncus alpigenuR C. Koch, 
Scirpus sylvaticus L. 
Campanula collina M. M, efc 

Ledeb, 
Campanula Rapunculus L. 
Aquilegia Wittmanniana Stev, 
Campanula Saxifraga M. B. 
Scabiosa caucasica M. B., vart. 

heterophylla Ledb, 
Silene sazatilis Sims. 
Cerastinm purpurascens Adam. 
Hypericum hyssopifob'um TFi'ZZ, 

vart. abbreviata Ledb. 
Lotus comiculatus L., vart. 

birsutissima Ledb. 
Trifolium ochroleucum L. 
CbamaBsciadium flavescens G. 

A. Meyer. 

Sikar Pass, north of Abas^ 
tuman, July. 6—7,000 ft. 

Pimpinella magna I/., vart. 

rosea St&v. 
Epilobium trigonum Schrank. 

Ledb. 

Scropbularia macrobotrys Ledb. 

Ranunculus caucasicus M. B. 

Viburnum Lantana L. 

Geranium psilostemon Ledb. 

Rosa canina L., vart. dumeto- 
rum Koch. 

Cardamine impatiens L. 

Arnebia echioides Dec. 

Rumex scutatus L. /3 hastifolius 

G. A. Meyer. 

Schambobell, July. 5-7,000 ft. 

Ranunculus Villarsii Dec. 
Papaver monathum Trautv 
Pimpinella Saxifraga L. 



Bctonica grandiflora Steph. 

Pedicularis condensata M. B., 
vart. minor Trautv. 

Spiraja Filipendula L. 

Orchis maculata L. 

Gymnadenia conopsea, B. Br. 

Centaurea montana L. vart., 

purpurascens Dec. et vart. al- 

bida Dec. 
Alsine hirsuta Fenzl. 
Linum hirsutum L. 
Crucianella aspera M. B. 
Diantbus Seguierii Vill. vart. ? 

SHcar Pass. 6,000 ft. 
Lonicera caucasica Pall. 

Scltamhobell. 4-5,000 ft. 
Tragopogon pusillus M. B. 

Sikar Pass. 6-7,000 ft. 

Scropbularia congesta Stev. 
Konnea intermedia Ledb. 

Foot of Elbruz, August 9. 
5,000 ft. 

Nepeta cyanea Stev. 

Nachar Pass, south side, August. 
6-7,000 ft. 

Saxifraga exarata Vill. 
Vicia variegata W. 
Hedysamm caucasicum M. B. 

Foot of Elbruz, August 9. 
5-6,000 ft. 

Salvia canescens G. A. Meyer, 

Nacliar Pass, south side, Av^gvst. 
5-7,000 ft. 

Myosotis sylvatica Hoffm. 
Veronica monticola Trautv, 



606 



CATALOGUE OP PLANTS. 



Campanula Saxifraga M. B, 
Gentiana auriculata Pall. 
Ilanunculus subtilis Trauiv, 

Chursuk Valley^ west foot of 
Elbruz, August 9. 4,000 ft. 

Oypsophila elegans M. B. 

NacJiar Pass, saidh side, Anfang, 
August. 

Trifolium polyphyllum (7. A, 
Meyer. 

West side of Elbruz. 8,000 ft. 

Sedum tenellmn M. B. 
Senecio pyroglossns Kar et Kir. 

Nachar Pass, August 6. 6,500 ft. 
Scophularia Scopolii Hoppe 

West of Ellyruz, August 10. 
10,000 ft. 

Eritrichiam nanum Schrad. 
Draba scabra 0. A. Mey. 

East of Elbruz, August 10. 
9,000 ft. 

Delphinimn caucasicnm (7. A. 

Meyer. 

West side of Elbruz, August 10. 
8-10,000 ft. 

Saxifraga flagellaris W. 
Anthemis Marschalliana W., 

vart. Rudolphiana G. A. 

Meyer. 

Nachar Pa^s, south side, Aug. 6. 
5-7,000 ft. 

Arenaria rotundifolia M. B. 
Epilobixim origanifolium Lam. 



Saxifraga sibirica L. 

Scrophularia pyrrholopha Boiss. 
et Kotschy, vart. pinnatifida 
Trautv. 

West of Elbruz, August 10. 
8-9,000 ft. 

Ranancnlos arachnoidens G. A. 
Meyer. 

North side of Elbruz, Av>gust 10. 
10-12,000 ft. 

Lamium tomentosam W. 
Hypericum nnnimukrioides 
Trautv. 

West and East sides of Elbruz, 

Aug7ist 10. 6-8,000 ft. 
Pedicularis crassirostris Bunge 
Pedicularis Nordmaimiana 

Bunge. 

MinUausu VaUey, August 10. 
6,000 ft. 

Acomtum Anthora L. 

Elbruz, Aug. 10. 7-9,000 ft. 

Lozula spicata Dec. 
Cerastium latifolium L. (G. A, 
Meyer.) 

Elbruz, Aug. 10. 8-10,000 ft. 
Arenaria lychnidea M. B. 

Nachajr Pass, Av^gust 6. 
8-9,000 ft. 

Myosotifl sjlyatica Hoffm. 

West and North sides of Elbruz. 
9-12,000 ft. 

Cerastiiim parpurascens Adam. 

South side of Nachar Pass, 
August 6. 6,000 ft. 

Gnaphalinm eylvaticiim L. 



CATALOGUE OP PLANTS. 



507 



South side of Nachar PasSf 
Augv^t 6. 9,500 ft. 

Saxifraga exarata Vill. 

North afid West sides of Elbruz, 
August 10, 10-12,000 ft. 

Veronica repens Clar. 

Veronica minuta G, A. Meyer. 

Eunonia rotnndifolia 0, A, 
Meyer, 

Alsine imbricata 0. A. Meyer. 

West side of Elbruz, August 10. 
9-10,000 ft. 

Saxifraga sibirica L, 
Taraxacum Stevenii Dec, 
Potentilla gelida 0, A, Meyer, 

North side of Nachar Pass, 
August 6. 9,500 ft. 

Veronica gentianoides Vahl» 
Campannlae sp. 
Saxi&aga muscoides Wulf, 

From Muri to Lentechi, June 
16-19. 1,600-2,600 ft. 

Staphylea colcbica 8tev. 
Myosotis sparsiilora M^ca/n. 
Valeriana saxicola G. A, Meyer,, 

vart. lyrata Trautv. 
Cystopteris fragilis Bemh, 
AsplenianL septentrionale 8to. 
Scropbularia lateriflora Trautv, 
Pyrethrum macropbyllum W, 
Galium valantioides M. B. 
Aspidium aculeatum 8w. 
Saxi&aga orientalis Jacq. 
Androsaemum officinale All, 
Orobancbe alba Stev. 
Hypericum montanum L. 
Poa nemoralis L. 



Dadiasch, June 23. 7-9,000 ft. 
Gentiana vema L,, vart. alata 

Griseb. 
Draba tridentata Dec. 
EIsBocbans palustris R. Br. 
Bbodondendron caucasicum 

PaU. 
Daphne glomerata Lam. 
Veronica Chamaedrys L., vart. 

peduncularis Led. 
Sibbaldia procumbens L. 
Primula amcena M, B. 
Potentilla Nordmanniana Led^,? 
Garex leporina L. 
Primula fikrinosa L., vart. xan- 

tbophylla Trautv, et Meyer =^ 

Pr. aJgida Ad,, vart. luteo- 

&rinosa Bupr. 

Dadiasch, Jwne 23. 6,000 ft. 
Acer byrcanum F, et Meyer, 

Laschketi, June 20. 3-4,000 ft. 
Rhyncbocoris Elepbas Grisb. 
Coronilla iberica Stev. 

Dadiasch, June 23. 5-6,000 ft. 

Androsace aJbana Stefo, 
Pedicularis comosa L. 
Astrantia belleborifolia Salisb, 

Dadiasch, June 23. 7-9,000 ft. 

Alcbemilla sericea W. 
Campanula Biebersteiniana B, 
et Sch. 

Laschkeii, June 20. 4,000 ft. 
Psoralea acaulis Stev. 

Dadiasch, June 23. 7-8,000 ft. 

Alsine hirsuta Fenzl. 

Jurinea subacaulis F, et Meyer. 



508 



CATALOGUE OP PLANTS. 



Anemone alpina L, /3. sulphurea 
Ledb. 

Primula grandis Trautv. 

Pari, July 11. 7-8,000 ft. 
Cnidium meifolium M. B. 

Pari, July 11. 4-5,000 ft. 
Bupleurum falcatum L.^ vart. 

oblongifolia Trautv, 
Hypericum Richeri Vill, 

Fart, July 11. 7-8,000 ft. 

Ranunculus montanus W,^ vart. 
glabrata Trautv. 

Kalde^tshalai, July 6. 6,000 ft. 

Saxifraga Kolenatiana Regel n. 
sp. 

Karet Pass, July 5. 9,000 ft. 
Orobanche sp. n. 

Naksagar Pass, June 29. 7,000 ft. 
Salix apus Trautv, n. sp. 

Pari, July 11. 6-8,000 ft. 

Salidago Virgaurea L, 
Corydalis spc. 

Pari, July 11. 5,500 ft. 
Scrophularia divaricata Ledb. 

Karet Pass, July 5. 9,000 ft. 

Primula Meyeri Bupr,, vart. 
hypoleuca Trautv, 

Pari, July 11. 7,000 ft. 
Valeriana dubisB Bunge affinis. 

Pari., July 11. 4,600 ft. 
Stachys persica 8, 0, Chnel. 



Pari, July 11. 7,000 ft. 

Ranunculus Villarsii Dec. 
Ditjitalis ciliata Trautv. 

Jibiani, July 4:. 7,500 ft. 

Scutellaria orientalis L., vart. 
chamaedryfolia Beichb. 

Pari, July 11. 8,500 ft. 

Gagea Liottardi Schult. Ledb, 

Phleum alpinum L. 

Nonnea ? (intermedia Ledeb.) 

Laschheti, June 23. 4,000 ft. 
Hypericum ramosissimum Ledb, 

Kutais, May, 700 ft. 

Euphorbia Lathyris L. 
Dorycnium latifolium W, 
Fragaria indica Andr, 

North side of Nakerala, 3,500 ft. 
Azalea pontica L. , 

Nakerala, south side, June, 
3-4,000 ft. 

Vaccinium Arctostaphylos L, 
Scolopendrium officinarum Sw, 
Veronica cbamasdrys L., vart. 

peduncularis Led, 
Gentiana asclepiadea L. 
Mulgedium petiolatum Koch, 
Cirsium fimbriatum Dec, 
Orobus roseus Ledeb. 

Tschitcharo, June, Alpine Re- 
gion, 6-8,000 ft. 

Saxifraga IsBvis M. B. 
Podospermum Meyeri G. Koch. 
Campanula Biebersteiniana B. 
et Sch. 



CATALOGUE OF PLANTS. 



509 



Pedicularis crassiroatris Bv/nge, 
Salix arbuscula L. 
Saxifraga exarata Vill. 
Saxifraga rotundifolia L. 
Corydalis angustifolia Dec, 
Cnidium carvifolium M. B. 
Primula pycnorhiza Ledb, 
Oxytropis caucasica BegeL 
Piristylus viridis Lindl. 
Viola grandiflora L, (V. oreades 

M.B,) 
(Jalantlma plicsatus M. B. 
Arenaria lychnidea M, B. 

Noschka Pass, June. 6-7,000 ft. 

Salix apiis Trautv, 

Androsace villosa L, /3. latifolia 

Ledh. 
Amebia ecbioides Dec. 
Trichasma cylycinum Walters. 
Silene lacera Sims, 

ZeneS'Squali sources. 4,500 ft. 

Ribes Biebersteinii Berl, (R. 
petrseum Fl, ross.). 

Laschketi, Juiie. 4,500— 
5,000 ft. 

Ranuncnlus arvensis L, /3. tu- 

berculatus Ledh, 
Hypericnm hirsutum L, 
Hypericum orientale L, 
CircsBa alpina L. 
Trifolium elegans Fl. germ. 
Tamus communis L. 
Scrophularia Scopolii Hoppe, 
Euphorbia micrantha Staph. 
Mulgedinm albanum Dec. 
Datisca cannabina L. 



. Laschketij June. 4,000 ft. 

Lampsana grandiflora M. B. 
Nonnea versicolor Sir act. 
Scroplmlaria lucida L. 
Sanicula europaea L. 
Qenista tinctoria L. 
Agrostis vulgaris With. 

Scandix Pecten L., vart. trachy- 
carpa Trautv. 

Gypsophila elegans M. B. 

Valerianella Morisonii Dec., 

vart. leiocarpa Trautv, 

Bion sources, Mamisson Pa^s, 
Ooriholo, Aug, and Sept. 
6-7,000 ft. 

Phleum alpinum L. 

Agrostis calamagrostoides R^gel. 

n. 8p. 
Senecio longiradiatus Trautv. 
Delphinium speciosum M. B., 

var. dasycarpa Trautv. 
Crocus Suworovianus C. Koch. 
Potentilla elatior Schlechtend. 
Aconitum variegatum L. 
Draba tridentata Dec. 
Gentiana septemfida Pall. 
Girsium munitum M. B. 
Poa alpina h. 

Ranunculus caucasicus M. B, 
Briza media L. 
Colchicum speciosum Stev. 
Senecio nemorensis L. 
Phyteuma canipanuloiilos M. B. 

Campanula collina J/. B. sub- 

uniflora Ledh. 
Knautia montana Dec. vaH. 
Cirsium simplex G. A. Moijer. 
Swertia iberica. 



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mounted on Canvas, in a folding case, price 12«. 6<2. 

GUIDE to the PTEENEES, for the Use of Mountaineers. By Charles 
Packs. Second Edition, corrected; with Frontispiece and Map, and an 
Appendix. Crown 8vo. price 7s. 6d. 

PICTUEES in TTEOL and Elsewhere, from a Family Sketch-Book. 
By the Author of ' A Voyage en Zigzsg,' &c. Second Edition, revised ; with 62 
Lithograpluc Plates of Illustrations, containing 113 Sketches. Small quarto, 
price 21<. 



'Athoroagbljdelightfnlbook.* ExAJONSB. 

*The Writer of theae charming deacripUve 
chapten, the artist who drew these matobleoi 
sketches, so full of truth, humour, force, and 
freshness, most be the most acceptable of oom- 
paaiona.' OomtbiiporAry Bbview. 

* Here we haye the nxnid racy pehdl, with the 



charming piquant studies of the Anglais giving 
himself up to every conceivable and inoon- 
ceivable form of independent adventure on 
mountain and pass, relieved by clear and spark- 
ling sketches of the manners and customs of the 
barbarous folk who dwell on the Continent of 
Europe, which bring to shame the puppet writer 
of travels.' Satuodat Bbyixw. 



Works by the same Author, 

HOW WE SPEKT THE STTKKEB, or a Voyage en Zigzag. Third Edition, I6s, 
BEATEN TRACKS, Pen and Pencil Sketches in Italy, 16<. 

EOMA SOTTEEAHEA; or, some Account of the Roman Catacombs, 
especially of the Cemetery of San Callisto. Compiled from the Works of 
Commendatore Db Rossi, with the consent of the Author, by the Rev. J. S. 
NoHTHCOTE, D.D., President of St. Mary's College, Oscott ; and the Rev. W. R. 
BaowNLOW, M.A., Trinity College, Cambridge. With 66 Engravings on Wood, 
10 Lithographs, 10 Plates in Chromolithography, and Two Plans (one coloured), 
all executed in Rome under the Author's superintendence for this Translation. 
8vo. price 31«. 6d, cloth. 

London: LONGMANS and CO. Paternoster Row. 



To TBATEILEES in 8WITZEBLAV0, tlt« TTBOL, and the EA8TEEK ALPS. 



THE NEW ALPINE GUIDES. 



Lately publUhedf 

THE ALPINE GUIDE, 

Bj JOHN BALL, M.R.LA. F.L.S. Late President of the Alpine Club. 

In Thbeb Farts or Volumes, post 8ro. with Maps, Panoramas of Summits, and 

other Illustrations : — 

GUIDE TO THE WESTERN ALPS, 

Ifont Blanc, Monte Rosa, &c. including the whole range of the Alps of Piedmont, 
Dauphin^, and Savoy, from Nice to the Pass of the Simplon, price 6«. 6d. 

GUIDE TO THE CENTRAL ALPS, 

Including the Bernese Oberland, with Lombardj and the adjoining portion of the 

Tyrol, price 7«. &?. 

GUIDE TO THE EASTERN ALPS, 

Including the Salzburgh and Central Tyrolese Chains, the Styrian Alps, and the 
Teiglou District from the Valley of the Drave to the Adriatic, price 10<. 6d. 

INTBODTTOTION on ALPINB TRAVELLING In General and on the Qeologj of the Alps, price U. 
Each of the Tbrbb Voluxcs or Parts of the Alpine Guide may be had with thia Imtbodoohoh 
prefixed, price 1«. extra. 

CmTICAL OPINIONS of the ALPINE GUIDE, 



.'By &r the most scientific and 
complete Guides to which the English 

traTeller hits access We have 

examined the Guide very carefully — in- 
deed, it is so interesting as to have no 
small attractions for the general reader, 
even without the additional stimulus of 
any intention to follow the various routes 
discussed: and so far as our experience 
of the Tyrol goes, it is beyond praise/ 

Spbctatob. 

' These three volumes form the 
simplest and completest Guide to the 
Alps in our own or any other language. 
Every tourist who has used either or 
both of the two previous volumes knows 
frx)m experience now useful they are. . . 
Mr. Ball is entitled to our congratula- 
tions that he has lived to achieve his 
' self-appointed task, and now to put the 
finishing touch to a work which will 
doubtless long preserve his name, and 
associate him with the many intrepid 
Alpine adventurers who have made the 
high Alps better known to us than they 
would have been for perhaps a century 
to come but for their numerous and 
arduous ascents and explorations.* 

ATHBlfJEUlL 



* No other Guides convey half so 
much interesting and valuable scientific 
information, though they may be more 
copious in their gossip about inns and 
refreshments. The geologist, mineralo- 
gist, entomologist, and botanist may all 
here find directions to their most coveted 
treasures, and it is altogether written in 
a style which puts it far beyond the com- 
mon run of Guide-books. It is full of 
interest even for those who never have 
visited, and never intend to visit, these 
districts.' English Indbpsndbmt. 

* The Author's style is clear, easy, 
and, if we may be permitted to say so, 
pedestrian in its character. It goes 
leisurely, gives the reader time to look 
about him and examine stone or plant, 
and is not unmindful of such hints as are 
useful to those who, though thoy do not 
want to know only where the best inns, 
and the easiest carriages, and the most 
richerchi dinners are to be found, are yet 
disposed to make themselves comfortable 
when they have ended their day's journey. 
There is a healthy simplicity and com- 
panionship in this volume which seems 
to have been somehow developed in the 
mountain air/ Illustbatku Tiues. 



London : LONGIilANS and CO. Paternoster Row. 



4 



1511 IG 




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