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Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, No. CCCXXIX. by Various

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* * * * *





The English mania for travelling, which supplies our continental
neighbours with such abundant matter for wonderment and witticism, is of
no very recent date. Now more than ever, perhaps, does this passion seem
to possess us:

"----tenet insanabile multos
_Terrarum_ [Greek: kakoithes], et aegro in corde senescit:"

when the press groans with "Tours," "Trips," "Hand-books," "Journeys,"

In spite of this, it is as notorious as unaccountable, that England
knows very little, or at least very little correctly, of the social
condition, manners, and literature of one of the most powerful among her
continental sisters.

The friendly relations between Great Britain and Russia, established in
the reign of Edward V., have subsisted without interruption since that
epoch, so auspicious to both nations: the bond of amity, first knit by
Chancellor in 1554, has never since been relaxed: the two nations have
advanced, each at its own pace, and by its own paths, towards the
sublime goal of improvement and civilization--have stood shoulder to
shoulder in the battle for the weal and liberty of mankind.

It is, nevertheless, as strange as true, that the land of Alfred and
Elizabeth is yet but imperfectly acquainted with the country of Peter
and of Catharine. The cause of this ignorance is assuredly not to be
found in any indifference or want of curiosity on the part of English
travellers. There is no lack of pilgrims annually leaving the bank of

"With cockle hat and staff,
With gourd and sandal shoon;"

armed duly with note-book and "patent Mordan," directing their wandering
steps to the shores of Ingria, or the gilded cupolas of Moscow. But a
very short residence in the empire of the Tsar will suffice to convince
a foreigner how defective, and often how false, is the information given
by travellers respecting the social and national character of the
Russians. These abundant and singular misrepresentations are not, of
course, voluntary; and it may not be useless to point out their
principal sources.

The chief of these is, without doubt, the difficulty and novelty of the
language, and the unfortunate facility of travelling over the beaten
track--from St Petersburg to Moscow, and from Moscow, perhaps, to Nijny
Novgorod, without any acquaintance with that language. The foreigner may
enjoy, during a visit of the usual duration, the hospitality for which
the higher classes are so justly celebrated; but his association with
the nobility will be found an absolute obstacle to the making even a
trifling progress in the Russian language; which, though now regaining a
degree of attention from the elevated classes,[1] too long denied to it
by those with whom their native tongue _was_ an unfashionable one--he
would have no occasion at all to speak, and not even very frequent
opportunities of hearing.

[1] There is, strictly speaking, no middle class in Russia; the
"bourgeoisie," or merchants, it is true, may seem to form an
exception to this remark, but into their circles the traveller
would find it, from many reasons, difficult, and even
impossible, to enter.

But even in those rare cases where the stranger united to a
determination to study the noble and interesting language of the
country, an intention of remaining here long enough to learn it, he was
often discouraged by the belief, that the literature was too poor to
repay his time and labour. Besides, the Russian language has so little
relation to the other European tongues--it stands so much alone, and
throws so little direct light upon any of them, that another obstacle
was thrown into his way.

The acquisition of any one of that great family of languages, all
derived, more or less remotely, from the Latin, which extends over the
whole south and west of Europe, cannot fail to cast a strong light upon
the other cognate dialects; as the knowledge of any one of the Oriental
tongues facilitates, nay almost confers, a mastery over the thousand
others, which are less languages of distinct type than dialects of the
same speech, offshoots from the same stock.

Add to this, the extraordinary errors and omissions which abound in
every disquisition hitherto published in French, English, and German
periodicals with regard to Russian literature, and deform those wretched
rags of translation which are all that has been hitherto done towards
the reproduction, in our own language, of the literature of Russia.
These versions were made by persons utterly unacquainted with the
country, the manners, and the people, or made after the Russian had been
distilled through the alembic of a previous French or German

Poetry naturally forces its way into the notice of a foreign nation
sooner than prose; but it is, nevertheless, rather singular than
honourable to the literary enterprise of England, that the present is
the first attempt to introduce to the British public any work of Russian
Prose Fiction whatever, with any thing like a reasonable selection of
subject and character, at least _directly_ from the original language.

The two volumes of Translations published by Bowring, under the title of
"Russian Anthology," and consisting chiefly of short lyric pieces, would
appear at first sight an exception to that indifference to the
productions of Russian genius of which we have accused the English
public; and the popularity of that collection would be an additional
encouragement to the hope, that our charge may be, if not ill-founded,
at least exaggerated.

We are willing to believe, that the degree--if we are rightly informed,
no slight one--of interest with which these volumes were welcomed in
England, was sufficient to blind their readers to the extreme
incompetency with which the translations they contained were executed.

It is always painful to find fault--more painful to criticise with
severity--the work of a person whose motive was the same as that which
actuates the present publication; but when the gross unfaithfulness[2]
exhibited in the versions in question tends to give a false and
disparaging idea of the value and the tone of Russian poetry, we may be
excused for our apparent uncourteousness in thus pointing out their

[2] In making so grave a charge, proof will naturally be
required of us. Though we might fill many pages with instances
of the two great sins of the translator, commission and
omission, the _poco piu_ and _poco meno_, we will content
ourselves with taking, _ad aperturam libri_, an example. At
page 55 of the Second Part of Bowring's Russian Anthology, will
be found a short lyric piece of Dmitrieff, entitled "To Chloe."
It consists of five stanzas, each of four very short lines. Of
these five stanzas, three have a totally different meaning in
the English from their signification in the Russian, and of the
remaining two, one contains an idea which the reader will look
for in vain in the original. This carelessness is the less
excusable, as the verses in question present nothing in style,
subject, or diction, which could offer the smallest difficulty
to a translator. Judging this to be no unfair test, (the piece
in question was taken at random,) it will not be necessary to
dilate upon minor defects, painfully perceptible through
Bowring's versions; as, for instance, a frequent disregard of
the Russian metres--sins against _costume_, as, for example,
the making a hussar (a _Russian_ hussar) swear by his _beard_,
&c. &c. &c.

It will not, we trust, be considered out of place to give our readers a
brief sketch of the history of the Russian literature; the origin,
growth, and fortunes of which are marked by much that is peculiar. In
doing this we shall content ourselves with noting, as briefly as
possible, the events which preceded and accompanied the birth of letters
in Russia, and the evolution of a literature not elaborated by the slow
and imperceptible action of time, but bursting, like the armed Pallas,
suddenly into light.

In performing this task, we shall confine our attention solely to the
department of Prose Fiction, looking forward meanwhile with anxiety,
though not without hope, to a future opportunity of discussing more
fully the intellectual annals of Russia.

In the year of redemption 863, two Greeks of Thessalonika, Cyril[3] and
Methodius, sent by Michael, Emperor of the East, conferred the precious
boon of alphabetic writing upon Kostislaff, Sviatopolk, and Kotsel, then
chiefs of the Moravians.

[3] Cyril was the ecclesiastical or claustral name of this
important personage, his real name was Constantine.

The characters they introduced were naturally those of the Greek
alphabet, to which they were obliged, in order to represent certain
sounds which do not occur in the Greek language,[4] to add a number of
other signs borrowed from the Hebrew, the Armenian, and the Coptic. So
closely, indeed, did this alphabet, called the Cyrillian, follow the
Greek characters, that the use of the aspirates was retained without any

[4] For instance, the _j_, (pronounced as the French _j_), _ts,
sh, shtsh, tch, ui, yae_. As the characters representing these
sounds are not to be found in the "case" of an English
compositor, we cannot enter into their Oriental origin.

These characters (with the exception of a few which are omitted in the
Russian) varied surprisingly little in their form,[5] and perhaps
without any change whatever in their vocal value, compose the modern
alphabet of the Russian language; an examination of which would go far,
in our opinion, to settle the long agitated question respecting the
ancient pronunciation of the classic languages, particularly as Cyril
and his brother adapted the Greek alphabet to a language totally foreign
from, and unconnected with, any dialect of Greek.

[5] Not to speak of the capitals, the [Greek: gamma, delta,
zeta, kappa, lambda, mu, omicron, pi, rho, sigma, phi, chi,
theta], have undergone hardly the most trifling change in form;
[Greek: psi, xi, omega], though they do not occur in the
Russian, are found in the Slavonic alphabet. The Russian
pronunciation of their letter B, which agrees with that of the
modern Greeks, is V, there being another character for the
_sound_ B.

In this, as in all other languages, the translation of the Bible is the
first monument and model of literature. This version was made by Cyril
immediately after the composition of the alphabet. The language spoken
at Thessalonika was the Servian: but from the immense number of purely
Greek words which occur in the translation, as well as from the fact of
the version being a strictly literal one, it is probable that the
Scriptures were not translated into any specific spoken dialect at all;
but that a kind of _mezzo-termine_ was selected--or rather formed--for
the purpose. What we have advanced derives a still stronger degree of
probability from the circumstance, that the Slavonic Bible follows the
Greek _construction_. This Bible, with slight changes and corrections
produced by three or four revisions made at different periods, is that
still employed by the Russian Church; and the present spoken language of
the country differs so widely from it, that the Slavonian of the Bible
forms a separate branch of education to the priests and to the upper
classes--who are instructed in this _dead_ language, precisely as an
Italian must study Latin in order to read the Bible.

Above the sterile and uninteresting desert of early Russian history,
towers, like the gigantic Sphynx of Ghizeh over the sand of the Thebaid,
one colossal figure--that of Vladimir Sviatoslavitch; the first to
surmount the bloody splendour of the Great Prince's bonnet[6] with the
mildly-radiant Cross of Christ.

[6] The crown was not worn by the ancient Russian sovereigns,
or "Grand Princes," as they were called; the insignia of these
potentates was a close skull-cap, called in Russian shapka,
bonnet; many of which are preserved in the regalia of Moscow.
This bonnet is generally surrounded by the most precious furs,
and gorgeously decorated with gems.

From the conversion to Christianity of Vladimir and his
subjects--passing over the wild and rapacious dominion of the Tartar
hordes, which lasted for about 250 years--we may consider two languages,
essentially distinct, to have been employed in Russia till the end of
the 17th century--the one the written or learned, the other the spoken

The former was the Slavonian into which the Holy Scriptures were
translated: and this remained the learned or official language for a
long period. In this--or in an imitation of this, effected with various
degrees of success--were compiled the different collections of Monkish
annals which form the treasury whence future historians were to select
their materials from among the valuable, but confused accumulations of
facts; in this the solemn acts of Government, treaties, codes, &c., were
composed; and the few writings which cannot be comprised under the above
classes[7] were naturally compiled in the language, emphatically that of
the Church and of learning.

[7] For instance, sermons, descriptions, voyages and travels,
&c. Two of the last-mentioned species of works are very curious
from their antiquity. The Pilgrimage to Jerusalem of Daniel,
prior of a convent, at the commencement of the 12th century;
and the Memoirs of a Journey to India by Athanase Nikitin,
merchant of Tver, made about 1470.

The sceptre of the wild Tartar Khans was not, as may be imagined, much
allied to the pen; the hordes of fierce and greedy savages which
overran, like the locusts of the Apocalypse, for two centuries and a
half the fertile plains of central and southern Russia, contented
themselves with exacting tribute from a nation which they despised
probably too much to feel any desire of interfering with its language;
and the dominion of the Tartars produced hardly any perceptible effect
upon the Russian tongue.[8]

[8] The only traces left on the _language_ by the Tartar
domination are a few words, chiefly expressing articles of

It is to the reign of Alexei Mikhailovitch, who united Little Russia to
Muscovy, that we must look for the germ of the modern literature of the
country: the language had begun to feel the influence of the Little
Russian, tinctured by the effects of Polish civilization, and the spirit
of classicism which so long distinguished the Sarmatian literature.

The impulse given to this union, of so momentous an import to the future
fortunes of the empire, at the beginning of the year 1654, would
possibly have brought forth in course of time a literature in Russia
such as we now find it, had not the extraordinary reign, and still more
extraordinary character, of Peter the Great interposed certain
disturbing--if, indeed, they may not be called in some measure
impeding--forces. That giant hand which broke down the long impregnable
dike which had hitherto separated Russia from the rest of Europe, and
admitted the arts, the learning, and the civilization of the West to
rush in with so impetuous a flood, fertilizing as it came, but also
destroying and sweeping away something that was valuable, much that was
national--that hand was unavoidably too heavy and too strong to nurse
the infant seedling of literature; and the command and example of Peter
perhaps rather favoured the imitation of what was good in other
languages, than the production of originality in his own.

This opinion, bold and perhaps rash as it may appear to Russians, seems
to derive some support, as well as illustration, from the immense number
of foreign words which make the Russian of Peter's time

"A Babylonish dialect;"

the mania for every thing foreign having overwhelmed the language with
an infinity of terms rudely torn, not skilfully adapted, from every
tongue; terms which might have been--have, indeed, since
been--translated into words of Russian form and origin. A review of the
literary progress made at this time will, we think, go far to establish
our proposition; it will exhibit a very large proportion of
translations, but very few original productions.

From this period begins the more immediate object of the present note:
we shall briefly trace the rise and fortunes of the present, or
vernacular Russian literature; confining our attention, as we have
proposed, to the Prose Fiction, and contenting ourselves with noting,
cursorily, the principal authors in this kind, living and dead.

At the time of Peter the Great, there may be said to have existed (it
will be convenient to keep in mind) three languages--the Slavonic, to
which we have already alluded; the Russian; and the dialect of Little

The fact, that the learned are not yet agreed upon the exact epoch from
which to date the origin of the modern Russian literature, will probably
raise a smile on the reader's lip; but the difficulty of establishing
this important starting-point will become apparent when he reflects upon
the circumstance, that the literature is--as we have stated--divisible
into two distinct and widely differing regions. It will be sufficiently
accurate to date the origin of the modern Russian literature at about a
century back from the present time; and to consider Lomonosoff as its
founder. Mikhail Vassilievitch Lomonosoff, born in 1711, is the author
who may with justice be regarded as the Chaucer or the Boccacio of the
North: a man of immense and varied accomplishments, distinguished in
almost every department of literature, and in many of the walks of
science. An orator and a poet, he adorned the language whose principles
he had fixed as a grammarian.

He was the first to write in the spoken language of his country, and, in
conjunction with his two contemporaries, Soumarokoff and Kheraskoff, he
laid the foundations of the Russian literature.

Of the other two names we have mentioned as entitled to share the
reverence due from every Russian to the fathers of his country's
letters, it will be sufficient to remark, that Soumarokoff was the first
to introduce tragedy and opera, and Kheraskoff, the author of two epic
poems which we omit to particularize, as not coming within our present
scope, wrote a work entitled "Cadmus and Harmonia," which may be
considered as the first romance. It is a narrative and metaphysical
work, which we should class as a "prose poem;" the style being
considerably elevated above the tone of the "Musa pedestris."

The name of Emin comes next in historical, though not literary,
importance: though the greater part of his productions consists of
translations, particularly of those shorter pieces of prose fiction
called by the Italians "novelle," he was the author of a few original
pieces, now but little read; his style bears the marks, like that of
Kheraskoff, of heaviness, stiffness, and want of finish.

The reputation of Karamzin is too widely spread throughout Europe to
render necessary more than a passing remark as to the additions made by
him to the literature of his country in the department of fiction: he
commenced a romance, of which he only lived to finish a few of the first

Narejniy was the first to paint the real life of Russia--or rather of
the South or Little Russia: in his works there is a good deal of
vivacity, but as they are deformed by defects both in style and taste,
his reputation has become almost extinct. We cannot quit this division
of our subject, which refers to romantic fiction anterior to the
appearance of the regular historical novel, without mentioning the names
of two, among a considerable number of authors, distinguished as having
produced short narratives or tales, embodying some historical
event--Polevoi and Bestonjeff--the latter of whom wrote, under the name
of Marlinski, a very large number of tales, which have acquired a high
and deserved reputation.

It is with Zagoskin that we may regard the regular historical
novel--viewing that species of composition as exemplified in the works
of Scott--as having commenced.

With reference to the present state of romance in Russia, the field is
so extensive as to render impossible, in this place, more than a cursory
allusion to the principal authors and their best-known works: in doing
which, we shall attend more exclusively to those productions of which
the subject or treatment is purely national.

One of the most popular and prolific writers of fiction is Zagoskin,
whose historical romance "Youriy Miloslaffskiy," met with great and
permanent success. The epoch of this story is in 1612, a most
interesting crisis in the Russian history, when the valour of Minin
enabled his countrymen to shake off the hated yoke of Poland. His other
work, "Roslavleoff," is less interesting: the period is 1812. We may
also mention his "Iskonsitel"--"the Tempter"--a fantastic story, in
which an imaginary being is represented as mingling with and influencing
the affairs of real life.

Of Boulgarin, we may mention, besides his "Ivan Vuijgin," a romance in
the manner of "Gil Blas," the scenery and characters of which are
entirely Russian, two historical novels of considerable importance. "The
False Dimitri," and "Mazeppa,"--the hero of the latter being _a real
person_, and not, as most readers are aware, a fictitious character
invented by Byron.

Next comes the name of Lajetchnikoff, whose "Last Page" possesses a
reputation, we believe, tolerably extensive throughout Europe. The
action passes during the war between Charles XII. and Peter the Great,
and Catharine plays a chief part in it, as servant of the pastor Glueck,
becoming empress at the conclusion. The "House of Ice," by the same
writer, is perhaps more generally known than the preceding work. The
last-named romance depicts with great spirit the struggle between the
Russian and foreign parties in the reign of Anna Ivanovna. But perhaps
the most remarkable work of Lajetchnikoff is the romance entitled
"Bassourman," the scene of which is laid under Ivan III., surnamed the
Great.[9] Another Polevoi (Nikolai) produced a work of great
merit:--"The Oath at the Tomb of Our Lord," a very faithful picture of
the first half of the fifteenth century, and singular from the
circumstance that love plays no part in the drama. Besides this, we owe
to Polevoi a wild story entitled "Abbaddon." Veltman produced, under the
title of "Kostshei the Deathless," a historical study of the manners of
the twelfth century, possessing considerable merit. It would be unjust
to omit the name of a lady, the Countess Shishkin, who produced the
historical novel "Mikhail Vassilievitch Skopin-Shuisky," which obtained
great popularity.

[9] The non-Russian reader must be cautioned not to confuse
Ivan III. (surnamed Velikiy, or the Great) with Ivan IV., the
Cruel, the latter of whom is to foreigners the most prominent
figure in the Russian history. Ivan III. mounted the throne in
1462, and his terrible namesake in 1534; the reign of Vassiliy
Ivanovitch intervening between these two memorable epochs.

The picturesque career of Lomonosoff gave materials for a romantic
biography of that poet, the work of Xenophont Polevoi, resembling, in
its mixture of truth and fiction, the "Wahrheit und Dichtung" of Goethe.

Among the considerable number of romances already mentioned, those
exhibiting scenes of private life and domestic interest have not been
neglected. Kalashnikoff wrote "The Merchant Jaloboff's Daughter," and
the "Kamtchadalka," both describing the scenery and manners of Siberia;
the former painting various parts of that wild and interesting country,
the latter confined more particularly to the Peninsula of Kamtchatka.
Besides Gogol, whose easy and prolific pen has presented us with so many
humorous sketches of provincial life, we cannot pass over Begitcheff,
whose "Kholmsky Family" possesses much interest; but the delineations of
Gogol depend so much for their effect upon delicate shades of manner,
&c., that it is not probable they can ever be effectively reproduced in
another language.

Mentioning Peroffsky, whose "Monastirka" gives a picture of Russian
interior life, we pass to Gretch, an author of some European reputation.
His "Trip to Germany" describes, with singular piquancy, the manners of
a very curious race--the Germans of St Petersburg; and "Tchernaia
Jenstchina," "the Black Woman," presents a picture of Russian society,
which was welcomed with great eagerness by the public.

The object of these pages being to invite the attention of British
readers to a very rich field, in a literature hitherto most
unaccountably neglected by the English public, the present would not be
a fit occasion to enter with any minuteness into the history of Russian
letters, or to give, in fact, more than a passing allusion to its chief
features; the translator hopes that he will be excused for the
meagreness of the present notice.

He will be abundantly repaid for his exertions, by the discovery of any
increasing desire on the part of his countrymen to become more
accurately acquainted with the character of a nation, worthy, he is
convinced, of a very high degree of respect and admiration. How could
that acquaintance be so delightfully, or so effectually made, as by the
interchange of literature? The great works of English genius are read,
studied, and admired, throughout the vast empire of Russia; the language
of England is rapidly and steadily extending, and justice, no less than
policy, demands, that many absurd misapprehensions respecting the social
and domestic character, no less than the history, of Russia, should be
dispelled by truth.

The translator, in conclusion, trusts that it will not be superfluous to
specify one or two of the reasons which induced him to select the
present romance, as the first-fruit of his attempt to naturalize in
England the literature of Russia.

It is considered as a very good specimen of the author's style; the
facts and characters are all strictly true;[10] besides this, the author
passed many years in the Caucasus, and made full use of the
opportunities he thus enjoyed of becoming familiar with the language,
manners, and scenery of a region on which the attention of the English
public has long been turned with peculiar interest.

[10] The translator recently met in society a Russian officer,
who had served with distinction in the country which forms the
scene of "Ammalat Bek." This gentleman had intimately known
Marlinski, and bore witness to the perfect accuracy of his
delineations, as well of the external features of nature as of
the characters of his _dramatis personae_. The officer alluded
to had served some time in the very regiment commanded by the
unfortunate Verkhoffsky. Our fair readers may be interested to
learn, that Seltanetta still lives, and yet bears traces of her
former beauty. She married the Shamkhal, and now resides in
feudal magnificence at Tarki, where she exercises great sway,
which she employs in favour of the Russian interest, to which
she is devoted.

The picturesqueness as well as the fidelity of his description will, it
is hoped, secure for the tale a favourable reception with a public
always "_novitatis avida_," and whose appetite, now somewhat palled with
the "Bismillahs" and "Mashallahs" of the ordinary oriental novels, may
find some piquancy in a new variety of Mahomedan life--that of the
Caucasian Tartars.

The Russian language possessing many characters and some few sounds for
which there is no exact equivalent in English, we beg to say a word upon
the method adopted on the present occasion so to represent the Russian
orthography, as to avoid the shocking barbarisms of such combinations as
_zh_, &c. &c., and to secure, at the same time, an approach to the
correct pronunciation. Throughout these pages the vowels _a, e, i, o,
y_, are supposed to be pronounced as in French, the diphthong _ou_ as in
the word _you_, the _j_ always with the French sound.

With respect to the combinations of consonants employed, _kh_ has the
gutteral sound of the _ch_ in the Scottish word _loch_, and _gh_ is like
a rather rough or coarse aspirate.

The simple _g_ is invariably to be uttered hard, as in _gun_ or _gall_.

To avoid the possibility of errors, the combination _tch_, though not a
very soft one to the eye, represents a Russian sound for which there is
no character in English. It is, of course, uttered as in the word

As a great deal of the apparent discord of Russian words, as pronounced
by foreigners, arises from ignorance of the place of the accent, we have
added a sign over every polysyllable word, indicating the part on which
the stress is to be laid.

The few preceding rules will, the translator hopes, enable his
countrymen to _attack_ the pronunciation of the Russian names without
the ancient dread inspired by terrific and complicated clusters of
consonants; and will perhaps prove to them that the language is both an
easy and a melodious one.

_St Petersburg, November_ 10, 1842.


"Be slow to offend--swift to revenge!"
_Inscription on a dagger of Daghestan._

It was Djouma.[11] Not far from Bouinaki, a considerable village of
Northern Daghestan, the young Tartars were assembled for their national
exercise called "djigitering;" that is, the horse-race accompanied by
various trials of boldness and strength. Bouinaki is situated upon two
ledges of the precipitous rocks of the mountain: on the left of the road
leading from Derbend to Tarki, rises, soaring above the town, the crest
of Caucasus, feathered with wood; on the right, the shore, sinking
imperceptibly, spreads itself out into meadows, on which the Caspian Sea
pours its eternal murmur, like the voice of human multitudes.

[11] Djouma answers to our Sabbath. The days of the Mahomedan
week are as follows: Shambi, Saturday; Ikhshamba, Sunday;
Doushamba, Monday; Seshamba, Tuesday; Tchershamba, Wednesday;
Pkhanshamba, Thursday; Djouma, Friday.

A vernal day was fading into evening, and all the inhabitants, attracted
rather by the coolness of the breeze than by any feeling of curiosity,
had quitted their saklas,[12] and assembled in crowds on both sides of
the road. The women, without veils, and with coloured kerchiefs rolled
like turbans round their heads, clad in the long chemise,[13] confined
by the short arkhaloukh, and wide toumans,[14] sat in rows, while
strings of children sported before them. The men, assembled in little
groups, stood, or rested on their knees;[15] others, in twos or threes,
walked slowly round, smoking tobacco in little wooden pipes: a cheerful
buzz arose, and ever and anon resounded the clattering of hoofs, and the
cry "katch, katch!" (make way!) from the horsemen preparing for the

[12] Sakla, a Circassian hut.

[13] A species of garment, resembling a frock-coat with an
upright collar, reaching to the knees, fixed in front by hooks
and eyes, worn by both sexes.

[14] The trowsers of the _women_: those worn by the men, though
alike in form, are called shalwars. It is an offence to tell a
man that he wears the touman; being equivalent to a charge of
effeminacy; and _vice versa_.

[15] It is the ordinary manner of the Asiatics to sit in this
manner in public, or in the presence of a superior.

Nature, in Daghestan, is most lovely in the month of May. Millions of
roses poured their blushes over the crags; their odour was streaming in
the air; the nightingale was not silent in the green twilight of the
wood, almond-trees, all silvered with their flowers, arose like the
cupolas of a pagoda, and resembled, with their lofty branches twined
with leaves, the minarets of some Mussulman mosque. Broad-breasted oaks,
like sturdy old warriors, rose here and there, while poplars and
chenart-trees, assembled in groups and surrounded by underwood, looked
like children ready to wander away to the mountains, to escape the
summer heats. Sportive flocks of sheep--their fleeces speckled with
rose-colour; buffaloes wallowing in the mud of the fountains, or for
hours together lazily butting each other with their horns; here and
there on the mountains noble steeds, which moved (their manes floating
on the breeze) with a haughty trot along the hills--such is the frame
that encloses the picture of every Mussulman village. On this Djouma,
the neighbourhood of Bouinaki was more than usually animated. The sun
poured his floods of gold on the dark walls of the flat-roofed saklas,
clothing them with fantastic shadows, and adding beauty to their forms.
In the distance, crawling along the mountain, the creaking arbas[16]
flitted among the grave-stones of a little burial-ground ... past them,
before them, flew a horseman, raising the dust along the road ... the
mountain crest and the boundless sea gave grandeur to this picture, and
all nature breathed a glow of life.

[16] A kind of rude cart with two wheels.

"He comes, he comes!" was murmured through the crowd; all was in motion.
The horsemen, who till now had been chattering with their acquaintance
on foot, or disorderedly riding about the meadow, now leaped upon their
steeds, and dashed forward to meet the cavalcade which was descending to
the plain: it was Ammalat Bek, the nephew of the Shamkhal[17] of Tarki,
with his suite. He was habited in a black Persian cloak, edged with
gold-lace, the hanging sleeves thrown back over his shoulders. A Turkish
shawl was wound round his arkhaloukh, which was made of flowered silk.
Red shalwars were lost in his yellow high-heeled riding-boots. His gun,
dagger, and pistol, glittered with gold and silver arabesque work. The
hilt of his sabre was enriched with gems. The Prince of Tarki was a
tall, well-made youth, of frank countenance; black curls streamed behind
his ears from under his cap--a slight mustache shaded his upper lip--his
eyes glittered with a proud courtesy. He rode a bright bay steed, which
fretted under his hand like a whirlwind. Contrary to custom, the horse's
caparison was not the round Persian housing, embroidered all over with
silk, but the light Circassian saddle, ornamented with silver on a black
ground; and the stirrups were of the black steel of Kharaman, inlaid
with gold. Twenty noukers[18] on spirited horses, and dressed in cloaks
glittering with lace, their caps cocked jauntily, and leaning affectedly
on one side, pranced and sidled after him. The people respectfully stood
up before their Bek, and bowed, pressing their right hand upon their
right knee. A murmur of whispered approbation followed the young chief
as he passed among the women. Arrived at the southern extremity of the
ground, Ammalat stopped. The chief people, the old men leaning upon
their sticks, and the elders of Bouinaki, stood round in a circle to
catch a kind word from the Bek; but Ammalat did not pay them any
particular attention, and with cold politeness replied in monosyllables
to the flatteries and obeisances of his inferiors. He waved his hand;
this was the signal to commence the race.

[17] The first Shamkhals were the kinsmen and representatives
of the Khalifs of Damascus: the last Shamkhal died on his
return from Russia, and with him finished this useless rank.
His son, Suleiman Pacha, possessed his property as a private

[18] The attendants of a Tartar noble, equivalent to the
"henchman" of the ancient Highlanders. The nouker waits behind
his lord at table, cuts up and presents the food.

Twenty of the most fiery horsemen dashed forward, without the slightest
order or regularity, galloping onward and back again, placing themselves
in all kinds of attitudes, and alternately passing each other. At one
moment they jostled one another from the course, and at the same time
held in their horses, then again they let them go at full gallop over
the plain. After this, they each took slender sticks, called djigidis,
and darted them as they rode, either in the charge or the pursuit, and
again seizing them as they flew, or picking them up from the earth.
Several tumbled from their saddles under the strong blows; and then
resounded the loud laugh of the spectators, while loud applauses greeted
the conqueror; sometimes the horses stumbled, and the riders were thrown
over their heads, hurled off by a double force from the shortness of
their stirrups. Then commenced the shooting. Ammalat Bek had remained a
little apart, looking on with apparent pleasure. His noukers, one after
the other, had joined the crowd of djigiterers, so that, at last, only
two were left by his side. For some time he was immovable, and followed
with an indifferent gaze the imitation of an Asiatic combat; but by
degrees his interest grew stronger. At first he watched the cavaliers
with great attention, then he began to encourage them by his voice and
gestures, he rose higher in his stirrups, and at last the warrior-blood
boiled in his veins, when his favourite nouker could not hit a cap which
he had thrown down before him. He snatched his gun from his attendants,
and dashed forward like an arrow, winding among the sporters. "Make
way--make way!" was heard around, and all, dispersing like a rain-cloud
on either side, gave place to Ammalat Bek.

At the distance of a verst[19] stood ten poles with caps hanging on
them. Ammalat rode straight up to them, waved his gun round his head,
and turned close round the pole; as he turned he stood up in his
stirrups, turned back--bang!--the cap tumbled to the ground; without
checking his speed he reloaded, the reins hanging on his horse's
neck--knocked off another, then a third--and so on the whole ten. A
murmur of applause arose on all sides; but Ammalat, without stopping,
threw his gun into the hands of one of his noukers, pulled out a pistol
from his belt, and with the ball struck the shoe from the hind foot of
his horse; the shoe flew off, and fell far behind him; he then again
took his gun from his nouker, and ordered him to gallop on before him.
Quicker than thought both darted forward. When half-way round the
course, the nouker drew from his pocket a rouble, and threw it up in the
air. Ammalat raised himself in the saddle, without waiting till it fell;
but at the very instant his horse stumbled with all his four legs
together, and striking the dust with his nostrils, rolled prostrate. All
uttered a cry of terror; but the dexterous horseman, standing up in the
stirrups, without losing his seat, or even leaning forward, as if he had
been aware that he was going to fall, fired rapidly, and hitting the
rouble with his ball, hurled it far among the people. The crowd shouted
with delight--"Igeed, igeed! (bravo!) Alla valla-ha!" But Ammalat Bek,
modestly retiring, dismounted from his steed, and throwing the reins to
his djilladar, (groom,) ordered him immediately to have the horse shod.
The race and the shooting was continued.

[19] 3500 English feet--three quarters of a mile.

At this moment there rode up to Ammalat his emdjek,[20] Saphir-Ali, the
son of one of the poor beks of Bouinaki, a young man of an agreeable
exterior, and simple, cheerful character. He had grown up with Ammalat,
and therefore treated him with great familiarity. He leaped from his
horse, and nodding his head, exclaimed--"Nouker Memet Rasoul has knocked
up the old cropped[21] stallion, in trying to leap him over a ditch
seven paces wide." "And did he leap it?" cried Ammalat impatiently.
"Bring him instantly to me!" He went to meet the horse--and without
putting his foot in the stirrup, leaped into the saddle, and galloped to
the bed of a mountain-torrent. As he galloped, he pressed the horse with
his knee, but the wearied animal, not trusting to his strength, bolted
aside on the very brink, and Ammalat was obliged to make another turn.
The second time, the steed, stimulated by the whip, reared up on his
hind-legs in order to leap the ditch, but he hesitated, grew restive,
and resisted with his fore-feet. Ammalat grew angry. In vain did
Saphir-Ali entreat him not to force the horse, which had lost in many a
combat and journey the elasticity of his limbs. Ammalat would not listen
to any thing; but urging him with a cry, and striking him with his drawn
sabre for the third time, he galloped him at the ravine; and when, for
the third time, the old horse stopped short in his stride, not daring to
leap, he struck him so violently on the head with the hilt of his sabre,
that he fell lifeless on the earth.

[20] Foster-brother; from the word "emdjek"--suckling. Among
the tribes of the Caucasus, this relationship is held more
sacred than that of nature. Every man would willingly die for
his emdjek.

[21] This is a celebrated race of Persian horses, called Teke.

"This is the reward of faithful service!" said Saphir-Ali,
compassionately, as he gazed on the lifeless steed.

"This is the reward of disobedience!" replied Ammalat, with flashing

Seeing the anger of the Bek, all were silent. The horsemen, however,
continued their djigitering.

And suddenly was heard the thunder of Russian drums, and the bayonets of
Russian soldiers glittered as they wound over the hill. It was a company
of the Kourinsky regiment of infantry, sent from a detachment which had
been dispatched to Akoush, then in a state of revolt, under Sheikh Ali
Khan, the banished chief of Derbend. This company had been protecting a
convoy of supplies from Derbend, whither it was returning by the
mountain road. The commander of the company, Captain -----, and one
officer with him, rode in front. Before they had reached the
race-course, the retreat was beaten, and the company halted, throwing
aside their havresacks and piling their muskets, but without lighting a

The arrival of a Russian detachment could have been no novelty to the
inhabitants of Daghestan in the year 1819; and even yet, it must be
confessed, it is an event that gives them no pleasure. Superstition made
them look on the Russians as eternal enemies--enemies, however, vigorous
and able; and they determined, therefore, not to injure them but in
secret, by concealing their hatred under a mask of amity. A buzz spread
among the people on the appearance of the Russians: the women returned
by winding paths to the village, not forgetting, however, to gaze
secretly at the strangers. The men, on the contrary, threw fierce
glances at them over their shoulders, and began to assemble in groups,
discussing how they might best get rid of them, and relieve themselves
from the podvod[22], and so on. A multitude of loungers and boys,
however, surrounded the Russians as they reposed upon the grass. Some of
the Kekkhouds (starosts[23]) and Tehaoushes (desiatniks[24]) appointed
by the Russian Government, hastily advancing to the Captain, pulled off
their caps, after the usual salutation, "Khot ghialdi!" (welcome!) and
"Yakshimousen, tazamousen, sen-ne-ma-mousen," (I greet you,) arrived at
the inevitable question at a meeting of Asiatics, "What news?"--"Na

[22] The being obliged to transport provisions.

[23] The chief of a village.

[24] The subordinates of the atarost.

"The only news with me is, that my horse has cast a shoe, and the poor
devil is dead lame," answered the Captain in pretty good Tartar: "and
here is, just _apropos_, a blacksmith!" he continued, turning to a
broad-shouldered Tartar, who was filing the fresh-shod hoof of Ammalat's
horse. "Kounak! (my friend,)--shoe my horse--the shoes are ready--'tis
but the clink of a hammer, and 'tis done in a moment!"

The blacksmith turned sulkily towards the Captain a face tanned by his
forge and by the sun, looked from the corners of his eyes at his
questioner, stroked the thick mustache which overshadowed a beard long
unrazored, and which might for its bristles have done honour to any
boar; flattened his arakshin (bonnet) on his head, and coolly continued
putting away his tools in their bag.

"Do you understand me, son of a wolf race?" said the Captain.

"I understand you well," answered the blacksmith,--"you want your horse

"And I should advise you to shoe him," replied the Captain, observing on
the part of the Tartar a desire to jest.

"To-day is a holiday: I will not work."

"I will pay you what you like for your work; but I tell you that,
whether you like it or not, you must do what I want."

"The will of Allah is above ours; and he does not permit us to work on
Djouma. We sin enough for gain on common days, so on a holiday I do not
wish to buy coals with silver."[25]

[25] Go to the devil.

"But were you not at work just now, obstinate blockhead? Is not one
horse the same as another? Besides, mine is a real Mussulman--look at
the mark[26]--the blood of Karabakh."

[26] The Asiatics mark their horses by burning them on their
haunch with a hot iron. This peculiar mark, the [Greek: stigma]
or [Greek: kotpa] of the Greeks is called "tavro."

"All horses are alike; but not so those who ride them: Ammalat Bek is my
aga (lord.)"

"That is, if you had taken it into your head to refuse him, he would
have had your ears cropped; but you will not work for me, in the hope
that I would not dare to do the same. Very well, my friend! I certainly
will not crop your ears, but be assured that I will warm that orthodox
back of yours with two hundred pretty stinging nogaikas (lashes with a
whip) if you won't leave off your nonsense--do you hear?"

"I hear--and I answer as I did before: I will not shoe the horse--for I
am a good Mussulman."

"And I will make you shoe him, because I am a good soldier. As you have
worked at the will of your Bek, you shall work for the need of a Russian
officer--without this I cannot proceed. Corporals, forward!"

In the mean time a circle of gazers had been extending round the
obstinate blacksmith, like a ring made in the water by casting a stone
into it. Some in the crowd were disputing the best places, hardly
knowing what they were running to see; and at last more cries were
heard: "It is not fair--it cannot be: to-day is a holiday: to-day it is
a sin to work!" Some of the boldest, trusting to their numbers, pulled
their caps over their eyes, and felt at the hilts of their daggers,
pressing close up to the Captain, and crying "Don't shoe him, Alekper!
Do nothing for him: here's news, my masters! What new prophets for us
are these unwashed Russians?" The Captain was a brave man, and thoroughly
understood the Asiatics. "Away, ye rascals!" he cried in a rage, laying
his hand on the butt of his pistol. "Be silent, or the first that dares
to let an insult pass his teeth, shall have them closed with a leaden

This threat, enforced by the bayonets of some of the soldiers, succeeded
immediately: they who were timid took to their heels--the bolder held
their tongues. Even the orthodox blacksmith, seeing that the affair was
becoming serious, looked round on all sides, and muttered "Nedjelaim?"
(What can I do?) tucked up his sleeves, pulled out from his bag the
hammer and pincers, and began to shoe the Russian's horse, grumbling
between his teeth, "_Vala billa beetmi eddeem_, (I will not do it, by
God!)" It must be remarked that all this took place out of Ammalat's
presence. He had hardly looked at the Russians, when, in order to avoid
a disagreeable rencontre, he mounted the horse which had just been shod,
and galloped off to Bouinaki, where his house was situated.

While this was taking place at one end of the exercising ground, a
horseman rode up to the front of the reposing soldiers. He was of
middling stature, but of athletic frame, and was clothed in a shirt of
linked mail, his head protected by a helmet, and in full warlike
equipment, and followed by five noukers. By their dusty dress, and the
foam which covered their horses, it might be seen that they had ridden
far and fast. The first horseman, fixing his eye on the soldiers,
advanced slowly along the piles of muskets, upsetting the two pyramids
of fire-arms. The noukers, following the steps of their master, far from
turning aside, coolly rode over the scattered weapons. The sentry, who
had challenged them while they were yet at some distance, and warned
them not to approach, seized the bit of the steed bestridden by the
mail-coated horseman, while the rest of the soldiers, enraged at such an
insult from a Mussulman, assailed the party with abuse. "Hold hard! Who
are you?" was the challenge and question of the sentinel. "Thou must be
a raw recruit if thou knowest not Sultan Akhmet Khan of Avar,"[27]
coolly answered the man in mail, shaking off the hand of the sentry from
his reins. "I think last year I left the Russians a keepsake at Bashli.
Translate that for him," he said to one of his noukers. The Avaretz
repeated his words in pretty intelligible Russian.

[27] The brother of Hassan Khan Djemontai, who became Khan of
Avar by marrying the Khan's widow and heiress.

"'Tis Akhmet Khan! Akhmet Khan!" shouted the soldiers. "Seize him! hold
him fast! down with him! pay him for the affair of Bashli[28]--the
villains cut our wounded to pieces."

[28] The Russian detachment, consisting on this occasion of
3000 men, was surrounded by 60,000. These were, Ouizmi
Karakaidakhsky, the Avaretzes, Akoushinetzes, the Boulinetzes
of the Koi-Sou, and others. The Russians fought their way out
by night, but with considerable loss.

"Away, brute!" cried Sultan Akhmet Khan to the soldier who had again
seized the bridle of his horse--"I am a Russian general."

"A Russian traitor!" roared a multitude of voices; "bring him to the
Captain: drag him to Derbend, to Colonel Verkhoffsky."

"'Tis only to hell I would go with such guides!" said Akhmet, with a
contemptuous smile, and making his horse rear, he turned him to the
right and left; then, with a blow of the nogaik,[29] he made him leap
into the air, and disappeared. The noukers kept their eye on the
movements of their chief, and uttering their warcry, followed his steps,
and overthrowing several of the soldiers, cleared a way for themselves
into the road. After galloping off to a distance of scarce a hundred
paces, the Khan rode away at a slow walk, with an expression of the
greatest _sang-froid_, not deigning to look back, and coolly playing
with his bridle. The crowd of Tartars assembled round the blacksmith
attracted his attention. "What are you quarrelling about, friends?"
asked Akhmet Khan of the nearest, reining in his horse.

[29] The whip of a Kazak.

In sign of respect and reverence, they all applied their hands to their
foreheads when they saw the Khan. The timid or peaceably disposed among
them, dreading the consequences, either from the Russians or the Khan,
to which this rencontre might expose them, exhibited much discomfiture
at the question; but the idle, the ruffian, and the desperate--for all
beheld with hatred the Russian domination--crowded turbulently round him
with delight. They hurriedly told him what was the matter.

"And you stand, like buffaloes, stupidly looking on, while they force
your brother to work like a brute under the yoke!" exclaimed the Khan,
gloomily, to the bystanders; "while they laugh in your face at your
customs, and trample your faith under their feet! and ye whine like old
women, instead of revenging yourselves like men! Cowards! cowards!"

"What can we do?" cried a multitude of voices together; "the Russians
have cannon--they have bayonets!"

"And ye, have ye not guns? have ye not daggers? It is not the Russians
that are brave, but ye that are cowards! Shame of Mussulmans! The sword
of Daghestan trembles before the Russian whip. Ye are afraid of the roll
of the cannon; but ye fear not the reproach of cowardice. The ferman of
a Russian pristav[30] is holier to you than a chapter of the Koran.
Siberia frightens you more than hell. Did your forefathers act, did your
forefathers think thus? They counted not their enemies, they calculated
not. Outnumbered or not, they met them, bravely fought them, and
gloriously died! And what fear ye? Have the Russians ribs of iron? Have
their cannon no breach? Is it not by the tail that you seize the
scorpion?" This address stirred the crowd. The Tartar vanity was touched
to the quick. "What do we care for them? Why do we let them lord it over
us here?" was heard around. "Let us liberate the blacksmith from his
work--let us liberate him!" they roared, as they narrowed their circle
round the Russian soldiers, amidst whom Alekper was shoeing the
captain's horse. The confusion increased. Satisfied with the tumult he
had created, Sultan Akhmet Khan, not wishing to mix himself up in an
insignificant brawl, rode out of the crowd, leaving two noukers to keep
alive the violent spirit among the Tartars, while, accompanied by the
remainder, he rode rapidly to the ootakh[31] of Ammalat.

[30] A superintendent.

[31] The house, in Tartar, is "ev;" "outakh," mansion; and
"sarai," edifice in general; "haram-khaneh," the women's
apartments. For palace they employ the word "igarat." The
Russians confound all these meanings in the word "sakla,"
which, in the Circassian language, is house.

"Mayest thou be victorious," said Sultan Akhmet Khan to Ammalat Bek, who
received him at the threshold. This ordinary salutation, in the
Circassian language, was pronounced with so marked an emphasis, that
Ammalat as he kissed him, asked, "Is that a jest or a prophecy, my fair

"That depends on thee," replied the Sultan. "It is upon the right heir
of the Shamkhalat[32] that it depends to draw the sword from the

[32] The father of Ammalat was the eldest of the family, and
consequently the true heir to the Shamkhalat. But the Russians,
having conquered Daghestan, not trusting to the good intentions
of this chief, gave the power to the younger brother.

"To sheath it no more, Khan? An unenviable destiny. Methinks it is
better to reign in Bouinaki, than for an empty title to be obliged to
hide in the mountains like a jackal."

"To bound from the mountains like a lion, Ammalat; and to repose, after
your glorious toils, in the palace of your ancestors."

"To repose? Is it not better not to be awakened at all?

"Would you behold but in a dream what you ought to possess in reality?
The Russians are giving you the poppy, and will lull you with tales,
while another plucks the golden flowers of the garden."[33]

[33] A _jeu-de-mots_ which the Asiatics admire much;
"kizil-gulliar" means simply roses, but the Khan alludes to
"kizil," ducats.

"What can I do with my force?"

"Force--that is in thy soul, Ammalat!... Despise dangers and they bend
before you.... Dost thou hear that?" added Sultan Akhmet Khan, as the
sound of firing reached them from the town. "It is the voice of

Saphir-Ali rushed into the chamber with an agitated face.

"Bouinaki is in revolt," he hurriedly began; "a crowd of rioters has
overpowered the detachment, and they have begun to fire from the

[34] The Tartars, like the North American Indians, always, if
possible, shelter themselves behind rocks and enclosures, &c.,
when engaged in battle.

"Rascals!" cried Ammalat, as he threw his gun over his shoulder. "How
dared they to rise without me! Run, Saphir-Ali, threaten them with my
name; kill the first who disobeys."

"I have done all I could to restrain them," said Saphir-Ali, "but none
would listen to me, for the noukers of Sultan Akhmet Khan were urging
them on, saying that he had ordered them to slay the Russians."

"Indeed! did my noukers say that?" asked the Khan.

"They did not say so much, but they set the example," said Saphir-Ali.

"In that case they have done well," replied Sultan Akhmet Khan: "this is

"What hast thou done, Khan!" cried Ammalat, angrily.

"What you might have done long ago!"

"How can I justify myself to the Russians?"

"With lead and steel.... The firing is begun.... Fate works for you ...
the sword is drawn ... let us go seek the Russians!"

"They are here!" cried the Captain, who, followed by two men, had broken
through the disorderly ranks of the Tartars, and dashed into the house
of their chief. Confounded by the unexpected outbreak in which he was
certain to be considered a party, Ammalat saluted his enraged
guest--"Come in peace!" he said to him in Tartar.

"I care not whether I come in peace or no," answered the Captain, "but I
find no peaceful reception in Bouinaki. Thy Tartars, Ammalat, have dared
to fire upon a soldier of mine, of yours, a subject of our Tsar."

"In very deed, 'twas absurd to fire on a Russian," said the Khan,
contemptuously stretching himself on the cushions of the divan, "when
they might have cut his throat."

"Here is the cause of all the mischief, Ammalat!" said the Captain,
angrily, pointing to the Khan; "but for this insolent rebel not a
trigger would have been pulled in Bouinaki! But you have done well,
Ammalat Bek, to invite Russians as friends, and to receive their foe as
a guest, to shelter him as a comrade, to honour him as a friend! Ammalat
Bek, this man is named in the order of the commander-in-chief; give him

"Captain," answered Ammalat, "with us a guest is sacred. To give him up
would be a sin upon my soul, an ineffaceable shame upon my head; respect
my entreaty; respect our customs."

"I will tell you, in your turn--respect the Russian laws. Remember your
duty. You have sworn allegiance to the Tsar, and your oath obliges you
not to spare your own brother if he is a criminal."

"Rather would I give up my brother than my guest, Sir Captain! It is not
for you to judge my promises and obligations. My tribunal is Allah and
the padishah! In the field, let fortune take care of the Khan; but
within my threshold, beneath my roof, I am bound to be his protector,
and I will be!"

"And you shall be answerable for this traitor!"

The Khan had lain in haughty silence during this dispute, breathing the
smoke from his pipe: but at the word "traitor," his blood was fired, he
started up, and rushed indignantly to the Captain.

"Traitor, say you?" he cried. "Say rather, that I refused to betray him
to whom I was bound by promise. The Russian padishah gave me rank, the
sardar[35] caressed me--and I was faithful so long as they demanded of
me nothing impossible or humiliating. But, all of a sudden, they wished
me to admit troops into Avar--to permit fortresses to be built there;
and what name should I have deserved, if I had sold the blood and sweat
of the Avaretzes, my brethren! If I had attempted this, think ye that I
could have done it? A thousand free daggers, a thousand unhired bullets,
would have flown to the heart of the betrayer. The very rocks would have
fallen on the son who could betray his father. I refused the friendship
of the Russians; but I was not their enemy--and what was the reward of
my just intentions, my honest counsels? I was deeply, personally
insulted by the letter of one of your generals, whom I had warned. That
insolence cost him dear at Bashli ... I shed a river of blood for some
few drops of insulting ink, and that river divides us for ever."

[35] The commander-in-chief.

"That blood cries for vengeance!" replied the enraged Captain. "Thou
shalt not escape it, robber!"

"Nor thou from me!" shouted the infuriated Khan, plunging his dagger
into the body of the Captain, as he lifted his hand to seize him by the
collar. Severely wounded, the officer fell groaning on the carpet.

"Thou hast undone me!" cried Ammalat, wringing his hands. "He is a
Russian, and my guest!"

"There are insults which a roof cannot cover," sullenly replied the
Khan. "The die is cast: it is no time to hesitate. Shut your gate, call
your people, and let us attack the enemy."

"An hour ago I had no enemy ... there are no means now for repulsing
them ... I have neither powder nor ball ... The people are dispersed."

"They have fled!" cried Saphir-Ali in despair. "The Russians are
advancing at full march over the hill. They are close at hand!"

"If so, go with me, Ammalat!" said the Khan. "I rode to Tchetchna
yesterday, to raise the revolt along the line ... What will be the end,
God knows; but there is bread in the mountains. Do you consent?"

"Let us go!" ... replied Ammalat, resolvedly.... "When our only safety
is in flight, it is no time for disputes and reproaches."

"Ho! horses, and six noukers with me!"

"And am I to go with you?" said Saphir-Ali, with tears in his
eyes--"with you for weal or woe!"

"No, my good Saphir-Ali, no. Remain you here to govern the household,
that our people and the strangers may not seize every thing. Give my
greeting to my wife, and take her to my father-in-law, the Shamkhal.
Forget me not, and farewell!"

They had barely time to escape at full gallop by one gate, when the
Russians dashed in at the other.


The vernal noon was shining upon the peaks of Caucasus, and the loud
voices of the moollahs had called the inhabitants of Tchetchna to
prayer. By degrees they came forth from the mosques, and though
invisible to each other from the towers on which they stood, their
solitary voices, after awaking for a moment the echoes of the hills,
sank to stillness in the silent air.

The moollah, Hadji Suleiman, a Turkish devotee, one of those
missionaries annually sent into the mountains by the Divan of Stamboul,
to spread and strengthen the faith, and to increase the detestation felt
by the inhabitants for the Russians, was reposing on the roof of the
mosque, having performed the usual call, ablution, and prayer. He had
not been long installed as moollah of Igali, a village of Tchetchna; and
plunged in a deep contemplation of his hoary beard, and the circling
smoke-wreaths that rose from his pipe, he gazed from time to time with a
curious interest on the mountains, and on the defiles which lay towards
the north, right before his eyes. On the left arose the precipitous
ridges dividing Tchetchna from Avar, and beyond them glittered the snows
of Caucasus; saklas scattered disorderly along the ridges half-way up
the mountain, and narrow paths led to these fortresses built by nature,
and employed by the hill-robbers to defend their liberty, or secure
their plunder. All was still in the village and the surrounding hills;
there was not a human being to be seen on the roads or streets; flocks
of sheep were reposing in the shade of the cliffs; the buffaloes were
crowded in the muddy swamps near the springs, with only their muzzles
protruded from the marsh. Nought save the hum of the insects--nought
save the monotonous chirp of the grasshoppers indicated life amid the
breathless silence of the mountains; and Hadji Suleiman, stretched under
the cupola, was intensely enjoying the stillness and repose of nature,
so congenial to the lazy immobility of the Turkish character. Indolently
he turned his eyes, whose fire was extinguished, and which no longer
reflected the light of the sun, and at length they fell upon two
horsemen, slowly climbing the opposite side of the declivity.

"Nephtali!" cried our Moollah, turning towards a neighbouring sakla, at
the gate of which stood a saddled horse. And then a handsome
Tchetchenetz, with short cut beard, and shaggy cap covering half his
face, ran out into the street. "I see two horsemen," continued the
Moollah; "they are riding round the village!"

"Most likely Jews or Armenians," answered Nephtali. "They do not choose
to hire a guide, and will break their necks in the winding road. The
wild-goats, and our boldest riders, would not plunge into these recesses
without precaution."

"No, brother Nephtali; I have been twice to Mecca, and have seen plenty
of Jews and Armenians every where. But these riders look not like Hebrew
chafferers, unless, indeed, they exchange steel for gold in the mountain
road. They have no bales of merchandise. Look at them yourself from
above; your eyes are surer than mine; mine have had their day, and done
their work. There was a time when I could count the buttons on a Russian
soldier's coat a verst off, and my rifle never missed an infidel; but
now I could not distinguish a ram of my own afar."

By this time Nephtali was at the side of the Moollah, and was examining
the travellers with an eagle glance.

"The noonday is hot, and the road rugged," said Suleiman; "invite the
travellers to refresh themselves and their horses: perhaps they have
news: besides, the Koran commands us to show hospitality."

"With us in the mountains, and before the Koran, never did a stranger
leave a village hungry or sad; never did he depart without tchourek,[36]
without blessing, without a guide; but these people are suspicious: why
do they avoid honest men, and pass our village by by-roads, and with
danger to their life?"

[36] A kind of dried bread.

"It seems that they are your countrymen," said Suleiman, shading his
eyes with his hand: "their dress is Tchetchna. Perhaps they are
returning from a plundering exhibition, to which your father went with a
hundred of his neighbours; or perhaps they are brothers, going to
revenge blood for blood."

"No, Suleiman, that is not like us. Could a mountaineer's heart refrain
from coming to see his countrymen--to boast of his exploits against the
Russians, and to show his booty? These are neither avengers of blood nor
Abreks--their faces are not covered by the bashlik; besides, dress is
deceptive. Who can tell that those are not Russian deserters! The other
day a Kazak, who had murdered his master, fled from Goumbet-Aoul with
his horse and arms.... The devil is strong!"

"He is strong in them in whom the faith is weak, Nephtali;--yet, if I
mistake not, the hinder horseman has hair flowing from under his cap."

"May I be pounded to dust, but it is so! It is either a Russian, or, what
is worse, a Tartar Shageed.[37] Stop a moment, my friend; I will comb
your zilflars for you! In half-an-hour I will return, Suleiman, either
with them,--or one of us three shall feed the mountain berkoots

[37] The mountaineers are bad Mussulmans, the Sooni sect is
predominant; but the Daghestanetzes are in general Shageeds, as
the Persians. The sects hate each other with all their heart.

Nephtali rushed down the stairs, threw the gun on his shoulders, leapt
into his saddle and dashed down the hill, caring neither for furrow nor
stone. Only the dust arose, and the pebbles streamed down after the bold

"Alla akber!" gravely exclaimed Suleiman, and lit his pipe.

Nephtali soon came up with the strangers. Their horses were covered with
foam, and the sweat-drops rained from them on the narrow path by which
they were climbing the mountain. The first was clothed in a shirt of
mail, the other in the Circassian dress: except that he wore a Persian
sabre instead of a shashka,[38] suspended by a laced girdle. His left
arm was covered with blood, bound up with a handkerchief, and supported
by the sword-knot. The faces of both were concealed. For some time he
rode behind them along the slippery path, which overhung a precipice;
but at the first open space he galloped by them, and turned his horse
round. "Salam aleikom!" said he, opposing their passage along the rugged
and half-built road among the rocks, as he made ready his arms. The
foremost horseman suddenly wrapped his bourka[39] round his face, so as
to leave visible only his knit brows: "Aleikom Salam!" answered he,
cocking his gun, and fixing himself in the saddle.

[38] The Circassian sabre.

[39] A rough cloak, used as a protection in bad weather.

"God give you a good journey!" said Nephtali. repeating the usual
salutation, and preparing, at the first hostile movement, to shoot the

"God give you enough of sense not to interrupt the traveller," replied
his antagonist, impatiently: "What would you with us, Kounak?"[40]

[40] Friend, comrade.

"I offer you rest, and a brother's repast, barley and stalls for your
horses. My threshold flourishes by hospitality: the blessing of the
stranger increaseth the flock, and giveth sharpness to the sword of the
master. Fix not the seal of reproach on our whole village. Let them not
say, 'They have seen travellers in the heat of noon, and have not
refreshed them nor sheltered them.'"

"We thank you for your kindness; but we are not wont to take forced
hospitality; and haste is even more necessary for us than rest."

"You ride to your death without a guide."

"Guide!" exclaimed the traveller; "I know every step of the Caucasus. I
have been where your serpents climb not, your tigers cannot mount, your
eagles cannot fly. Make way, comrade: thy threshold is not on God's
high-road, and I have no time to prate with thee."

"I will not yield a step, till I know who and whence you are!"

"Insolent scoundrel, out of my way, or thy mother shall beg thy bones
from the jackall and the wind! Thank your luck, Nephtali, that thy
father and I have eaten one another's salt; and often have ridden by his
side in the battle. Unworthy son! thou art rambling about the roads, and
ready to attack the peaceable travellers, while thy father's corse lies
rotting on the fields of Russia, and the wives of the Kazaks are selling
his arms in the bazar. Nephtali, thy father was slain yesterday beyond
the Terek. Dost thou know me now?"

"Sultan Akhmet Khan!" cried the Tchetchenetz, struck by the piercing
look and by the terrible news. His voice was stifled, and he fell
forward on his horse's neck in inexpressible grief.

"Yes, I am Sultan Akhmet Khan! but grave this in your memory,
Nephtali--that if you say to any one, 'I have seen the Khan of Avar,' my
vengeance will live from generation to generation."

The strangers passed on, the Khan in silence, plunged, as it seemed, in
painful recollections; Ammalat (for it was he) in gloomy thought. The
dress of both bore witness to recent fighting; their mustaches were
singed by the priming, and splashes of blood had dried upon their faces;
but the proud look of the first seemed to defy to the combat fate and
chance; a gloomy smile, of hate mingled with scorn, contracted his lip.
On the other hand, on the features of Ammalat exhaustion was painted. He
could hardly turn his languid eyes; and from time to time a groan
escaped him, caused by the pain of his wounded arm. The uneasy pace of
the Tartar horse, unaccustomed to the mountain roads, renewed the
torment of his wound. He was the first to break the silence.

"Why have you refused the offer of these good people? We might have
stopped an hour or two to repose, and at dewfall we could have

"You think so, because you feel like a young man, dear Ammalat: you are
used to rule your Tartars like slaves, and you fancy that you can
conduct yourself with the same ease among the free mountaineers. The
hand of fate weighs heavily upon us;--we are defeated and flying.
Hundreds of brave mountaineers--your noukers and my own--have fallen in
fight with the Russians; and the Tchetchenetz has seen turned to flight
the face of Sultan Akhmet Khan, which they are wont to behold the star
of victory! To accept the beggar's repast, perhaps to hear reproaches
for the death of fathers and sons, carried away by me in this rash
expedition--'twould be to lose their confidence for ever. Time will
pass, tears will dry up; the thirst of vengeance will take place of
grief for the dead; and then again Sultan Akhmet will be seen the
prophet of plunder and of blood. Then again the battle-signal shall echo
through the mountains, and I shall once more lead flying bands of
avengers into the Russian limits. If I go now, in the moment of defeat,
the Tchetchenetz will judge that Allah giveth and taketh away victory.
They may offend me by rash words, and with me an offence is
ineffaceable; and the revenge of a personal offence would obstruct the
road that leads me to the Russians. Why, then, provoke a quarrel with a
brave people--and destroy the idol of glory on which they are wont to
gaze with rapture? Never does man appear so mean as in weakness, when
every one can measure his strength with him fearlessly: besides, you
need a skilful leech, and nowhere will you find a better than at my
house. To-morrow we shall be at home; have patience until then."

With a gesture of gratitude Ammalat Bek placed his hand upon his heart
and forehead: he perfectly felt the truth of the Khan's words, but
exhaustion for many hours had been overwhelming him. Avoiding the
villages, they passed the night among the rocks, eating a handful of
millet boiled in honey, without the mountaineers seldom set out on a
journey. Crossing the Koi-Sou by the bridge near the Asheert, quitting
its northern branch, and leaving behind them Andeh, and the country of
the Boulinetzes of the Koi-Sou, and the naked chain of Salataou. A rude
path lay before them, winding among forests and cliffs terrible to body
and soul; and they began to climb the last chain which separated them on
the north from Khounzakh or Avar, the capital of the Khans. The forest,
and then the underwood, had gradually disappeared from the naked flint
of the mountain, on which cloud and tempest could hardly wander. To
reach the summit, our travellers were compelled to ride alternately to
the right and to the left, so precipitous was the ascent of the rocks.
The experienced steed of the Khan stepped cautiously and surely from
stone to stone, feeling his way with his hoofs, and when they slipped,
gliding on his haunches down the declivities: while the ardent fiery
horse of Ammalat, trained in the hills of Daghestan, fretted, curveted,
and slipped. Deprived of his customary grooming, he could not support a
two days' flight under the intense cold and burning sunshine of the
mountains, travelling among sharp rocks, and nourished only by the
scanty herbage of the crevices. He snorted heavily as he climbed higher
and higher; the sweat streamed from his poitrel; his large nostrils were
dry and parched, and foam boiled from his bit. "Allah bereket!"
exclaimed Ammalat, as he reached the crest from which there opened
before him a view of Avar: but at the very moment his exhausted horse
fell under him; the blood spouted from his open mouth, and his last
breath burst the saddle-girth.

The Khan assisted the Bek to extricate himself from the stirrups; but
observed with alarm that his efforts had displaced the bandage on
Ammalat's wounded arm, and that the blood was soaking through it afresh.
The young man, it seemed, was insensible to pain; tears were rolling
down his face upon the dead horse. So one drop fills not, but overflows
the cup. "Thou wilt never more bear me like down upon the wind," he
said, "nor hear behind thee from the dust-cloud of the race, the shouts,
unpleasing to the rival, the acclamations of the people: in the blaze of
battle no more shalt thou carry me from the iron rain of the Russian
cannon. With thee I gained the fame of a warrior--why should I survive,
or it, or thee?" He bent his face upon his knee, and remained silent a
long time, while the Khan carefully bound up his wounded arm: at length
Ammalat raised his head: "Leave me!" he cried, resolutely: "leave,
Sultan Akhmet Khan, a wretch to his fate! The way is long, and I am
exhausted. By remaining with me, you will perish in vain. See! the eagle
soars around us; he knows that my heart will soon quiver beneath his
talons, and I thank God! Better find an airy grave in the maw of a bird
of prey, than leave my corse beneath a Christian foot. Farewell, linger

"For shame, Ammalat! you trip against a straw....! What the great harm?
You are wounded, and your horse is dead. Your wound will soon healed,
and we will find you a better horse! Allah sendeth not misfortunes
alone. In the flower of your age, and the full vigour of your faculties,
it is a sin to despair. Mount my horse, I will lead him by the bridle,
and by night we shall be at home. Time is precious!"

"For me, time is no more, Sultan Ahkmet Khan ... I thank you heartily
for your brotherly care, but I cannot take advantage of it ... you
yourself cannot support a march on foot after such fatigue. I repeat ...
leave me to my fate. Here, on these inaccessible heights, I will die
free and contented ... And what is there to recall me to life! My
parents lie under the earth, my wife is blind, my uncle and
father-in-law the Shamkhal are cowering at Tarki before the Russians ...
the Giaour is revelling in my native land, in my inheritance; and I
myself an a wanderer from my home, a runaway from battle. I neither can,
nor ought to live."

"You ought _not_ to talk such nonsense, dear Ammalat:--and nothing but
fever can excuse you. We are created that we may live longer than our
fathers. For wives, if one has not teazed you enough, we will find you
three more. If you love not the Shamkhal, yet love your own
inheritance--you ought to live, if but for that; since to a dead man
power is useless, and victory impossible. Revenge on the Russians is a
holy duty: live, if but for that. That we are beaten, is no novelty for
a warrior; to-day luck is theirs, to-morrow it falls to us. Allah gives
fortune; but a man creates his own glory, not by fortune, but by
firmness. Take courage, my friend Ammalat.... You are wounded and weak;
I am strong from habit, and not fatigued by flight. Mount! and we may
yet live to beat the Russians."

The colour returned to Ammalat's face ... "Yes, I will live for
revenge!" he cried: "for revenge both secret and open. Believe me,
Sultan Akhmet Khan, it is only for this that I accept your generosity!
Henceforth I am yours; I swear by the graves of my fathers.... I am
yours! Guide my steps, direct the strokes of my arm; and if ever,
drowned in softness, I forget my oath, remind me of this moment, of this
mountain peak: Ammalat Bek will awake, and his dagger will be

The Khan embraced him, as he lifted the excited youth into the saddle.
"Now I behold in you the pure blood of the Emirs!" said he: "the burning
blood of their children, which flows in our veins like the sulphur in
the entrails of the rocks, which, ever and anon inflaming, shakes and
topples down the crags." Steadying with one hand the wounded man in the
saddle, the Khan began cautiously to descend the rugged croft.
Occasionally the stones fell rattling from under their feet, or the
horse slid downward over the smooth granite, so that they were well
pleased to reach the mossy slopes. By degrees, creeping plants began to
appear, spreading their green sheets; and, waving from the crevices like
fans, they hung down in long ringlets like ribbons or flags. At length
they reached a thick wood of nut-trees; then came the oak, the wild
cherry, and, lower still, the tchinar,[41] and the tchindar. The
variety, the wealth of vegetation, and the majestic silence of the
umbrageous forest, produced a kind of involuntary adoration of the wild
strength of nature. Ever and anon, from the midnight darkness of the
boughs, there dawned, like the morning, glimpses of meadows, covered
with a fragrant carpet of flowers untrodden by the foot of man. The
pathway at one time lost itself in the depth of the thicket; at another,
crept forth upon the edge of the rock, below which gleamed and murmured
a rivulet, now foaming over the stones, then again slumbering on its
rocky bed, under the shade of the barberry and the eglantine. Pheasants,
sparkling with their rainbow tails, flitted from shrub to shrub; flights
of wild pigeons flew over the crags, sometimes in an horizontal troop,
sometimes like a column, rising to the sky; and sunset flooded all with
its airy purple, and light mists began to rise from the narrow gorges:
every thing breathed the freshness of evening. Our travellers were now
near the village of Aki, and separated only by a hill from Khounzakh. A
low crest alone divided them from that village, when the report of a gun
resounded from the mountain, and, like an ominous signal, was repeated
by the echoes of the cliffs. The travellers halted irresolute: the
echoes by degrees sank into stillness. "Our hunters!" cried Sultan
Akhmet Khan, wiping the sweat from his face: "they expect me not, and
think not to meet me here! Many tears of joy, and many of sorrow, do I
bear to Khounzakh!" Unfeigned sorrow was expressed in the face of Akhmet
Khan. Vividly does every soft and every savage sentiment play on the
features of the Asiatic.

[41] Tchinar, the palmated-leaved plane.

Another report soon interrupted his meditation; then another, and
another. Shot answered shot, and at length thickened into a warm fire.
"'Tis the Russians!" cried Ammalat, drawing his sabre. He pressed his
horse with the stirrup, as though he would have leaped over the ridge at
a single bound; but in a moment his strength failed him, and the blade
fell ringing on the ground, as his arm dropped heavily by his side.
"Khan!" said he, dismounting, "go to the succour of your people; your
face will be worth more to them than a hundred warriors."

The Khan heard him not; he was listening intently for the flight of the
balls, as if he would distinguish those of the Russian from the Avarian.
"Have they, besides the agility of the goat, stolen the wings of the
eagle of Kazbec? Can they have reached our inaccessible fastnesses?"
said he, leaning to the saddle, with his foot already in the stirrup.
"Farewell, Ammalat!" he cried at length, listening to the firing, which
now grew hotter: "I go to perish on the ruins I have made, after
striking like a thunderbolt!" At this moment a bullet whistled by, and
fell at his feet. Bending down and picking it up, his face was lighted
with a smile. He quietly took his foot from the stirrup, and turning to
Ammalat, "Mount!" said he, "you shall presently find with your own eyes
an answer to this riddle. The Russian bullets are of lead; but this is
copper[42]--an Avaretz, my dear countryman. Besides, it comes from the
south, where the Russians cannot be."

[42] Having no lead, the Avaretzes use balls of copper, as they
possess small mines of that metal.

They ascended to the summit of the crest, and before their view opened
two villages, situated on the opposite sides of a deep ravine; from
behind them came the firing. The inhabitants sheltering themselves
behind rocks and hedges, were firing at each other. Between them the
women were incessantly running, sobbing and weeping when any combatant,
approaching the edge of the ravine, fell wounded. They carried stones,
and, regardless of the whistling of the balls, fearlessly piled them up,
so as to make a kind of defence. Cries of joy arose from one side or the
other, as a wounded adversary was carried from the field; a groan of
sorrow ascended in the air when one of their kinsmen or comrades was
hit. Ammalat gazed at the combat for some time with surprise, a combat in
which there was a great deal more noise than execution. At length he
turned an enquiring eye upon the Khan.

"With us these are everyday affairs!" he answered, delightedly marking
each report. "Such skirmishes cherish among us a warlike spirit and
warlike habits. With you, private quarrels end in a few blows of the
dagger; among us they become the common business of whole villages, and
any trifle is enough to occasion them. Probably they are fighting about
some cow that has been stolen. With us it is no disgrace to steal in
another village--the shame is, to be found out. Admire the coolness of
our women; the balls are whizzing about like gnats, yet they pay no
attention to them! Worthy wives and mothers of brave men! To be sure,
there would be eternal disgrace to him who could wound a woman, yet no
man can answer for a ball. A sharp eye may aim it; but blind chance
carries it to the mark. But darkness is falling from heaven, and
dividing these enemies for a moment. Let us hasten to my kinsmen."

Nothing but the experience of the Khan could have saved our travellers
from frequent falls in the precipitous descent to the river Ouzen.
Ammalat could see scarcely any thing before him; the double veil of
night and weakness enveloped his eyes; his head turned: he beheld, as it
were in a dream, when they again mounted an eminence, the gate and
watch-tower of the Khan's house. With an uncertain foot he dismounted in
a courtyard, surrounded by shouting noukers and attendants; and he had
hardly stepped over the grated threshold when his breath failed him--a
deadly paleness poured its snow over the wounded man's face; and the
young Bek, exhausted by loss of blood, fatigued by travel, hunger, and
anguish of soul, fell senseless on the embroidered carpets.

* * * * *


No. VI.


"Vivos voco--Mortuous plango--Fulgura frango."

Fast, in its prison-walls of earth,
Awaits the mould of baked clay.
Up, comrades, up, and aid the birth--
THE BELL that shall be born to-day!
And wearily now,
With the sweat of the brow,
Shall the work win its grace in the master's eye,
But the blessing that hallows must come from high.

And well an earnest word beseems
The work the earnest hand prepares;
Its load more light the labour deems,
When sweet discourse the labour shares.
So let us ponder--nor in vain--
What strength has wrought when labour wills;
For who would not the fool disdain
Who ne'er can feel what he fulfills?
And well it stamps our Human Race,
And hence the gift TO UNDERSTAND,
When in the musing heart we trace
Whate'er we fashion with the hand.

From the fir the fagot take,
Keep it, heap it hard and dry,
That the gather'd flame may break
Through the furnace, wroth and high.
Smolt the copper within--
Quick--the brass with the tin,
That the glutinous fluid that feeds the Bell
May flow in the right course glib and well.

What now these mines so deeply shroud,
What Force with Fire is moulding thus,
Shall from yon steeple, oft and loud,
Speak, witnessing of us!
It shall, in later days unfailing,
Rouse many an ear to rapt emotion;
Its solemn voice with Sorrow wailing,
Or choral chiming to Devotion.
Whatever sound in man's deep breast
Fate wakens, through his winding track,
Shall strike that metal-crowned crest,
Which rings the moral answer back.

* * * * *

See the silvery bubbles spring!
Good! the mass is melting now!
Let the salts we duly bring
Purge the flood, and speed the flow.
From the dross and the scum,
Pure, the fusion must come;
For perfect and pure we the metal must keep,
That its voice may be perfect, and pure, and deep.

That voice, with merry music rife,
The cherish'd child shall welcome in;
What time the rosy dreams of life,
In the first slumber's arms begin.
As yet in Time's dark womb unwarning,
Repose the days, or foul or fair;
And watchful o'er that golden morning,
The Mother-Love's untiring care!

And swift the years like arrows fly--
No more with girls content to play,
Bounds the proud Boy upon his way,
Storms through loud life's tumultuous pleasures,
With pilgrim staff the wide world measures;
And, wearied with the wish to roam,
Again seeks, stranger-like, the Father-Home.
And, lo, as some sweet vision breaks
Out from its native morning skies,
With rosy shame on downcast cheeks,
The Virgin stands before his eyes.
A nameless longing seizes him!
From all his wild companions flown;
Tears, strange till then, his eyes bedim;
He wanders all alone.
Blushing, he glides where'er she move;
Her greeting can transport him;
To every mead to deck his love,
The happy wild flowers court him!
Sweet Hope--and tender Longing--ye
The growth of Life's first Age of Gold;
When the heart, swelling, seems to see
The gates of heaven unfold!
O Love, the beautiful and brief! O prime,
Glory, and verdure, of life's summer time!

* * * * *

Browning o'er the pipes are simmering,
Dip this fairy rod within;
If like glass the surface glimmering,
Then the casting may begin.
Brisk, brisk to the rest--
Quick!--the fusion to test;
And welcome, my merry men, welcome the sign,
If the ductile and brittle united combine.

For still where the strong is betrothed to the weak,
And the stern in sweet marriage is blent with the meek,
Rings the concord harmonious, both tender and strong:
So be it with thee, if for ever united,
The heart to the heart flows in one, love-delighted;
Illusion is brief, but Repentance is long.

Lovely, thither are they bringing,
With her virgin wreath, the Bride!
To the love-feast clearly ringing,
Tolls the church-bell far and wide!
With that sweetest holyday,
Must the May of Life depart;
With the cestus loosed--away
Flies ILLUSION from the heart!
Yet Love lingers lonely,
When Passion is mute,
And the blossoms may only
Give way to the fruit.

The Husband must enter
The hostile life,
With struggle and strife,
To plant or to watch,
To snare or to snatch,
To pray and importune,
Must wager and venture
And hunt down his fortune!
Then flows in a current the gear and the gain,
And the garners are fill'd with the gold of the grain,
Now a yard to the court, now a wing to the centre!
Within sits Another,
The thrifty Housewife;
The mild one, the mother--
Her home is her life.
In its circle she rules,
And the daughters she schools,
And she cautions the boys,
With a bustling command,
And a diligent hand
Employ'd she employs;
Gives order to store,
And the much makes the more;
Locks the chest and the wardrobe, with lavender smelling,
And the hum of the spindle goes quick through the dwelling;
And she hoards in the presses, well polish'd and full,
The snow of the linen, the shine of the wool;
Blends the sweet with the good, and from care and endeavour
Rests never!
Blithe the Master (where the while
From his roof he sees them smile)
Eyes the lands, and counts the gain;
There, the beams projecting far,
And the laden store-house are,
And the granaries bow'd beneath
The blessings of the golden grain;
There, in undulating motion,
Wave the corn-fields like an ocean.
Proud the boast the proud lips breathe:--
"My house is built upon a rock,
And sees unmoved the stormy shock
Of waves that fret below!"
What chain so strong, what girth so great,
To bind the giant form of Fate?--
Swift are the steps of Woe.

* * * * *

Now the casting may begin;
See the breach indented there:
Ere we run the fusion in,
Halt--and speed the pious prayer!
Pull the bung out--
See around and about
What vapour, what vapour--God help us!--has risen?--
Ha! the flame like a torrent leaps forth from its prison!

What, friend, is like the might of fire
When man can watch and wield the ire?
Whate'er we shape or work, we owe
Still to that heaven-descended glow.
But dread the heaven-descended glow,
When from their chain its wild wings go,
When, where it listeth, wide and wild
Sweeps the free Nature's free-born Child!
When the Frantic One fleets,
While no force can withstand,
Through the populous streets
Whirling ghastly the brand;
For the Element hates
What Man's labour creates,
And the work of his hand!
Impartially out from the cloud,
Or the curse or the blessing may fall!
Benignantly out from the cloud
Come the dews, the revivers of all!
Avengingly our from the cloud
Come the levin, the bolt, and the ball!
Hark--a wail from the steeple!--aloud
The bell shrills its voice to the crowd!
Look--look--red as blood
All on high!
It is not the daylight that fills with its flood
The sky!
What a clamour awaking
Roars up through the street,
What a hell-vapour breaking
Rolls on through the street,
And higher and higher
Aloft moves the Column of Fire!
Through the vistas and rows
Like a whirlwind it goes,
And the air like the steam from a furnace glows.
Beams are crackling--posts are shrinking--
Walls are sinking--windows clinking--
Children crying--
Mothers flying--
And the beast (the black ruin yet smouldering under)
Yells the howl of its pain and its ghastly wonder!
Hurry and skurry--away--away,
And the face of the night is as clear as day!
As the links in a chain,
Again and again
Flies the bucket from hand to hand;
High in arches up rushing
The engines are gushing,
And the flood, as a beast on the prey that it hounds,
With a roar on the breast of the element bounds.
To the grain and the fruits,
Through the rafters and beams,
Through the barns and the garners it crackles and streams!
As if they would rend up the earth from its roots,
Rush the flames to the sky
And at length,
Wearied out and despairing, man bows to their strength!
With an idle gaze sees their wrath consume,
And submits to his doom!
The place, and dread
For storms the barren bed.
In the deserted gaps that casements were,
Looks forth despair;
And, where the roof hath been,
Peer the pale clouds within!

One look
Upon the grave
Of all that Fortune gave
The loiterer took--
Then grasps his staff. Whate'er the fire bereft,
One blessing, sweeter than all else, is left--
_The faces that he loves_! He counts them o'er--
And, see--not one dear look is missing from _that_ store!

* * * * *

Now clasp'd the bell within the clay--
The mould the mingled metals fill--
Oh, may it, sparkling into day,
Reward the labour and the skill!
Alas! should it fail,
For the mould may be frail--
And still with our hope must be mingled the fear--
And, even now, while we speak, the mishap may be near!

To the dark womb of sacred earth
This labour of our hands is given,
As seeds that wait the second birth,
And turn to blessings watch'd by heaven!
Ah seeds, how dearer far than they
We bury in the dismal tomb,
Where Hope and Sorrow bend to pray
That suns beyond the realm of day
May warm them into bloom!

From the steeple
Tolls the bell,
Deep and heavy,
The death-knell!
Measured and solemn, guiding up the road
A wearied wanderer to the last abode.
It is that worship'd wife--
It is that faithful mother![43]
Whom the dark Prince of Shadows leads benighted,
From that dear arm where oft she hung delighted.
Far from those blithe companions, born
Of her, and blooming in their morn;
On whom, when couch'd, her heart above
So often look'd the Mother-Love!

Ah! rent the sweet Home's union-band,
And never, never more to come--
She dwells within the shadowy land,
Who was the Mother of that Home!
How oft they miss that tender guide,
The care--the watch--the face--the MOTHER--
And where she sate the babes beside,
Sits with unloving looks--ANOTHER!

* * * * *

While the mass is cooling now,
Let the labour yield to leisure,
As the bird upon the bough,
Loose the travail to the pleasure.
When the soft stars awaken,
Each task be forsaken!

And the vesper-bell lulling the earth into peace,
If the master still toil, chimes the workman's release!

Gleesome and gay,
On the welcoming way,
Through the wood glides the wanderer home!
And the eye and ear are meeting,
Now, the slow sheep homeward bleating--
Now, the wonted shelter near,
Lowing the lusty-fronted steer;
Creaking now the heavy wain,
Reels with the happy harvest grain.
Which with many-coloured leaves,
Glitters the garland on the sheaves;
And the mower and the maid
Bound to the dance beneath the shade!
Desert street, and quiet mart;--
Silence is in the city's heart;
Round the taper burning cheerly,
Gather the groups HOME loves so dearly;
And the gate the town before
Heavily swings with sullen roar!

Though darkness is spreading
O'er earth--the Upright
And the Honest, undreading,
Look safe on the night.
Which the evil man watching in awe,
For the Eye of the Night is the Law!
Bliss-dower'd: O daughter of the skies,
Hail, holy ORDER, whose employ
Blends like to like in light and joy--
Builder of Cities, who of old
Call'd the wild man from waste and wold.
And in his hut thy presence stealing,
Roused each familiar household feeling;
And, best of all the happy ties,
The centre of the social band,--
_The Instinct of the Fatherland!_

United thus--each helping each,
Brisk work the countless hands for ever;
For nought its power to strength can teach,
Like Emulation and Endeavour!
Thus link'd the master with the man,
Each in his rights can each revere,
And while they march in freedom's van,
Scorn the lewd rout that dogs the rear!
To freemen labour is renown!
Who works--gives blessings and commands;
Kings glory in the orb and crown--
Be ours the glory of our hands.

Long in these walls--long may we greet
Your footfalls, Peace and concord sweet!
Distant the day, Oh! distant far,
When the rude hordes of trampling War
Shall scare the silent vale;
And where,
Now the sweet heaven when day doth leave
The air;
Limns its soft rose-hues on the veil of Eve;
Shall the fierce war-brand tossing in the gale,
From town and hamlet shake the horrent glare!

* * * * *

Now, its destined task fulfill'd,
Asunder break the prison-mould;
Let the goodly Bell we build,
Eye and heart alike behold.
The hammer down heave,
Till the cover it cleave.
For the Bell to rise up to the freedom of day,
Destruction must seize on the shape of the clay.

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