A Woman's Journey Round the World
by Ida Pfeiffer
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Several eunuchs received us at the entrance of the small garden. They conducted us to an unpretending looking house, one story high, at the end of a field of flowers. I should never have looked for the country seat of the successor to the Persian throne in this house; but such it was. At the narrow entrance of the little house were two small flights of stairs, one of which led to the reception- room of the viceroy, the other to that of his wife. The doctor entered the former and several female slaves took me to the viceroy's wife. When I reached the top of the stairs, I took off my shoes, and entered a small, comfortable room, the walls of which consisted almost entirely of windows. The viceroy's wife, who was only fifteen years of age, sat upon a plain easy chair, not far from her stood a middle-aged woman, the duenna of the harem, and an easy chair was placed for me opposite the princess.

I was fortunate enough to be remarkably well received. Dr. Cassolani had described me as an authoress, adding that I intended to publish the experiences of my journey. The princess inquired whether I should mention her also, and when she was answered in the affirmative, she determined to show herself in full dress, in order to give me an idea of the gorgeous and costly dress of her country.

The young princess wore trousers of thick silk, which were so full of plaits that they stood out stiff, like the hooped petticoats of our good old times. These trousers are from twenty to five and twenty yards wide, and reach down to the ankle. The upper part of the body was covered as far as the hips by a bodice, which, however, did not fit close to the body. The sleeves were long and narrow. The corset resembled that of the time of the hooped petticoats; it was made of thick silk, richly and tastefully embroidered round the corners with coloured silk and gold. A very short white silk chemise was to be seen under the corset. On her head she wore a three-cornered white kerchief, extending in front round the face, and fastened under the chin; behind, it fell down as far as the shoulders. This kerchief was also very handsomely embroidered with gold and silk. The jewellery consisted of precious stones and pearls of great purity and size; but they had not much effect, as they were not set in gold, but simply perforated and strung upon a gold thread, which was fastened above the head kerchief, and came down under the chin.

The princess had on black silk open-worked gloves, over which were several finger rings. Round the wrists sparkled costly bracelets of precious stones and pearls. On her feet she wore white silk stockings.

She was not remarkably beautiful; her cheek bones were rather too prominent; but altogether her appearance was very attractive. Her eyes were large, handsome, and intellectual, her figure pretty, and her age—fifteen years.

Her face was a very delicate white and red; and the eyebrows were covered with blue streaks, which, in my opinion, rather disfigured than adorned them. On the temple a little of her brilliant black hair was to be seen.

Our conversation was carried on by signs. Dr. Cassolani, who spoke Persian very well, was not allowed to cross the threshold today, and the princess had received me, consequently, unveiled. During this stupid interview, I found time enough to look at the distant view from the windows. It was here that I first saw how extensive the town was, and what an abundance of gardens it possessed. The latter are, indeed, its peculiar ornament, for it contains no fine buildings; and the large valley in which it lies, together with the mountains round, are naked and barren, and present no attractions. I expressed my surprise at the great size of the town and the number of the gardens.

Towards the end of the audience, a quantity of fruits and sweetmeats were brought, of which, however, I alone partook—it being fast time.

Leaving the princess, I was conducted to her husband, the viceroy. He was seventeen, and received me seated upon an easy chair at a bow-window. I had to thank my character of authoress, that a chair was placed ready for me. The walls of the large room were panelled with wood, and ornamented with several mirrors, gilt-work, and oil- paintings of heads and flowers. In the middle of the saloon stood two large empty bedsteads.

The prince wore a European dress: trousers of fine white cloth, with broad gold lace; a dark blue coat, the collar, facings, and corners of which were richly embroidered with gold; white silk gloves and stockings. His head was covered by a Persian fur cap nearly a yard high. This is not, however, his ordinary dress; he is said to change his mode of dressing oftener than his wife, and sometimes to wear the Persian costume, sometimes to envelop himself in cashmere shawls, as his fancy may be.

I should have supposed that he was at least twenty-two. He has a pale, tawny complexion, and, altogether, no attractive, amiable, or intellectual expression; never looks straightforward and openly at you, and his glance is savage and repulsive. I pitied, in my mind, all those who were his subjects. I would rather be the wife of a poor peasant than his favourite princess.

The prince put several questions to me, which Dr. Cassolani, who stood a few paces from us, interpreted. They were nothing remarkable, chiefly common-places about my journey. The prince can read and write in his mother tongue, and has, as I was told, some idea of geography and history. He receives a few European newspapers and periodicals from which the interpreter has to make extracts, and read to him. His opinion of the great revolutions of the time was, that the European monarchs might have been very good, but they were most remarkably stupid to allow themselves to be so easily driven from the throne. He considered that the result would have been very different if they had had plenty of people strangled. As far as regards execution and punishment, he far exceeds his father; and, unfortunately, has no controlling minister at his side. His government is said to be that of a child; one moment he orders something to be done, and an hour afterwards countermands it. But what can be expected from a youth of seventeen, who has received little or no education; was married at fifteen, and, two years afterwards, takes the unlimited control of a large province with a revenue of a million tomans (500,000 pounds), and with every means of gratifying his desires.

The prince has at present only one regular wife, although he is allowed to have four; however, he has no scarcity of handsome female friends. It is the custom in Persia, that when the king, or the successor to the throne, hears that any one of his subjects has a handsome daughter or sister, he demands her. The parents or relations are greatly rejoiced at this command, for if the girl is really handsome, she is, in any case, well provided for. If, after some time, she no longer pleases the king or prince, she is married to some minister or rich man; but, if she has a child, she is immediately considered as the king's or prince's acknowledged wife, and remains permanently at court. When, on the contrary, a girl does not please the regent at first sight, her family are very much disappointed, and consider themselves unfortunate. She is, in this case, sent home again immediately, her reputation for beauty is lost, and she has not, after this, much chance of making a good match.

The princess is already a mother, but, unfortunately, only of a daughter. She is, for the present, the chief wife of the prince, because no other female has given birth to a son; but whoever brings the first son into the world will then take her place: she will be honoured as the mother of the heir to the throne. In consequence of this custom, the children are unfortunately liable to the danger of being poisoned; for any woman who has a child excites the envy of all those who are childless; and this is more particularly the case when the child is a boy. When the princess accompanied her husband to Tebris, she left her little daughter behind, under the protection of its grandfather, the Schach of Persia, in order to secure it from her rivals.

When the viceroy rides out, he is preceded by several hundred soldiers. They are followed by servants with large sticks, who call upon the people to bow before the powerful ruler. The prince is surrounded by officers, military, and servants, and the procession is closed by more soldiers. The prince only is mounted, all the rest are on foot.

The prince's wives are also permitted to ride out at times, but they are obliged to be thickly veiled, and entirely surrounded by eunuchs, several of whom hasten on before, to tell the people that the wives of the monarch are on the road. Every one must then leave the streets, and retire into the houses and bye-lanes.

The wives of the banished prince, Behmen, who were left behind, learnt, through Dr. Cassolani, that I thought of going to Tiflis. They requested me to visit them, that I might be able to tell the prince that I had seen them and left them well. The doctor conducted me into their presence. He had been the friend and physician of the prince, who was not one of the fanatic class, and allowed him the entree to the females.

Nothing very worthy of notice took place at this visit. The house and garden were plain, and the women had wrapped themselves in large mantles, as the doctor was present, some, indeed, covered a part of their faces while speaking with him. Several of them were young, although they all appeared older than they really were. One, who was twenty-two, I should have taken to be at least thirty. A rather plump dark beauty of sixteen was also introduced to me as the latest addition to the harem. She had been bought at Constantinople only a short time since. The women appeared to treat her with great good- nature; they told me that they took considerable pains to teach her Persian.

Among the children there was a remarkably beautiful girl of six, whose pure and delicate countenance was fortunately not yet disfigured by paint. This child, as well as the others, was dressed in the same way as the women; and I remarked that the Persian dress was really, as I had been told, rather indecorous. The corset fell back at every quick movement; the silk or gauze chemise, which scarcely reached over the breast, dragged up so high that the whole body might be seen as far as the loins. I observed the same with the female servants, who were engaged in making tea or other occupations; every motion disarranged their dress.

My visit to Haggi-Chefa-Hanoum, one of the principal and most- cultivated women in Tebris, was far more interesting. Even at the entrance of the court-yard and house, the presence of a well- regulating mind might be perceived. I had never seen so much cleanliness and taste in any Oriental house. I should have taken the court-yard for the garden, if I had not afterwards seen the latter from the windows. The gardens here are, indeed, inferior to ours, but are magnificent when compared with those at Baghdad. They have flowers, rows of vines and shrubs, and between the fruit-trees pleasant basins of water and luxuriant grass-plots.

The reception-room was very large and lofty; the front and back (of which the former looked out into the court-yard, the latter into the garden), consisted of windows, the panes of which were in very small six and eight-sided pieces, framed in gilded wood; on the door-posts there was also some gilding. The floor was covered with carpeting; and at the place where the mistress of the house sat, another piece of rich carpet was laid over. In Persia, there are no divans, but only thick round pillows for leaning upon.

Intimation had previously been given of my visit. I found a large party of women and young girls assembled, who had probably been attracted here by their curiosity to see a European woman. Their dress was costly, like that of the princess, but there was a difference in the jewellery. Several among them were very handsome, although they had rather broad foreheads, and too prominent cheek- bones. The most charming features of the Persians are their eyes, which are remarkable, as well for their size as their beautiful form and animated expression. Of course, there was no want of paint on their skins and eye-brows.

This party of women was the most agreeable and unconstrained that I ever found in Oriental houses. I was able to converse in French with the mistress of the house, by the help of her son, of about eighteen, who had received an excellent education in Constantinople. Not only the son, but also the mother and the other women, were read and well-informed. Dr. Cassolani, moreover, assured me that the girls of rich families could nearly all read and write. They are, in this respect, far in advance of the Turks.

The mistress of the house, her son, and myself, sat upon chairs, the rest squatted down on carpets round us. A table, the first that I had seen in a Persian house, was covered with a handsome cloth, and set out with the most magnificent fruits, sherbets, and various delicacies, which had been prepared by my host herself; among the sweetmeats were sugared almonds and fruits, which not only appeared inviting, but tasted deliciously.

The sweet melons and peaches were just in their prime during my stay at Tebris. They were so delicious, that it may well be said Persia is their native country. The melons have more frequently a whitish, or greenish, than a yellow pulp. They may be eaten entirely, with the exception of the outermost thin rind; and, if it were possible for anything to exceed sugar in sweetness, it would be these melons. The peaches are also juicy, sweet, and aromatic.

Before leaving Tebris, I must say a few words about the people. The complexion of the common men is rather more than sunburnt; among the upper classes, white is the prevailing colour of the skin. They all have black hair and eyes. Their figures are tall and powerful, the features very marked—especially the nose—and the look rather wild. The women, both of the upper and lower classes, are uncommonly thickly veiled when they go out. The better-dressed men wear, out of doors, a very long mantle of dark cloth with slashed sleeves, which reach to the ground; a girdle or shawl surrounds their waist, and their head-dress consists of a pointed black fur cap more than a foot high, which is made of the skins of unborn sheep. The women of the labouring class do not appear to have much to do; during my journey, I saw only a few at work in the fields, and I noticed also in the town that all the hard work is done by the men.

In Tebris, as well as throughout the whole of Persia, the Jews, semi-Mahomedans, and Christians, are intolerably hated. Three months since, the Jews and Christians in Tebris were in great danger. Several crowds of people gathered together and marched through the quarter where these people dwelt, when they commenced plundering and destroying the houses, threatening the inhabitants with death, and, in some cases, even putting their threats into execution. Fortunately, this horrible proceeding was immediately made known to the governor of the town; and he, being a brave and determined man, lost not a moment's time even to throw his kaftan over his house-dress, but hastened out into the midst of the crowd, and succeeded, by means of a powerful speech, in dispersing the people.

On arriving at Tebris, I expressed my desire to continue my journey from here to Tiflis by way of Natschivan and Erivan. It appeared at first that there was not much hope of its possibility, as, since the late political disturbances in Europe, the Russian government, like the Chinese, had strictly prohibited the entrance of any foreigners; however, Mr. Stevens promised to make use of all his power with the Russian consul, Mr. Anitschow, in my favour. I was indebted to this, together with my sex and age, for being made an exception. I received from the Russian consul not only the permission, but also several kind letters of introduction to people at Natschivan, Erivan, and Tiflis.

I was advised to ride from Tebris to Natschivan with post-horses, and to take a servant with me as far as that place. I did so, and commenced my journey at 9 o'clock in the morning of the 11th of August. Several gentlemen, whose acquaintance I had made in Tebris, accompanied me about a mile out of the town, and we encamped on the bank of a beautiful little river, and partook of a cold breakfast. Then I began my journey alone, indeed, but composedly and with good courage, for now I thought I was entering a Christian country, beneath the sceptre of a civilized, European, law and order-loving monarch.



11th August. The stations between Tebris and Natschivan are very irregular; one of the longest, however, is the first—namely, to the village of Sophia, which occupied us six hours. The road lay through valleys, which were, for the most part, barren and uninhabited.

As it was already 3 o'clock when we reached Sophia, the people there endeavoured to prevent me from going any further. They pointed to the sun, and at the same time signified that I might be attacked by robbers, plundered, and even murdered; but such statements had no influence with me; and after I had with great trouble ascertained that it would only require four hours to reach the next station, I determined to continue my journey; and to the vexation of my servant, whom I had engaged as far as Natschivan, ordered him to saddle fresh horses.

Immediately after leaving Sophia, we entered barren, rocky valleys, which my guide represented as being very dangerous, and which I should not have liked to pass at night; but as the sun was shining in full splendour, I urged on my horse, and amused myself by looking at the beautiful colours and grouping of the rocks. Some were of a glittering pale green; others covered with a whitish, half transparent substance; others again terminated in numerous oddly formed angles, and from the distance looked like beautiful groups of trees. There was so much to see that I really had no time to think of fear.

About half-way lay a pretty little village in a valley, and beyond it rose a steep mountain, on the summit of which a charming prospect of mountain country kept me gazing for a long while.

We did not reach Marand till nearly 8 o'clock; but still with our heads, necks, and baggage, all safe.

Marand lies in a fertile valley, and is the last Persian town which I saw, and one of the most agreeable and handsome. It has broad, clean streets, houses in good repair, and several small squares with beautiful springs, which are, moreover, surrounded by trees.

My shelter for the night was not so good as the town promised: I was obliged to share the court with the post-horses. My supper consisted of some roasted and very salt eggs.

12th August. Our journey for today was as far as Arax, on the Russian frontier. Although only one stage, it took us eleven hours. We followed the course of a small brook, which wound through barren valleys and ravines; not a single village lay on our road; and with the exception of some little mills and the ruins of a mosque, I saw no more buildings in Persia. Persia is, on the whole, very thinly populated, on account of the scarcity of water. No country in the world has more mountains, and fewer rivers, than Persia. The air is, on this account, very dry and hot.

The valley in which Arax is situated is large, and the extraordinary formation of the mountains and rocks renders it very picturesque. In the extreme distance rise lofty mountains, of which Ararat is more than 16,000 feet in height, and in the valley itself there are numerous rocky elevations. The principal of these, a beautiful sharp rocky cone, of at least 1,000 feet in height, is called the Serpent Mountain.

The river Aras flows close to the headland. It separates Armenia from Media, has a terrible fall, and high waves. It here forms the boundary between the Russian and Persian dominions. We crossed in a boat. On the opposite side of the river were several small houses where travellers are obliged to stop and prove that they are not robbers, and especially that they are not politically dangerous. Occasionally they are detained in quarantine for some time, when the plague or cholera happens to be prevalent in Persia.

A letter from the Russian consul at Tebris ensured me a very courteous reception; from the quarantine I was saved, as there was no plague or cholera. I had, however, scarcely set my foot upon Russian ground, when the impudent begging for drink-money began. The officer had among his people a Cossack, who represented himself as understanding German, and he was sent to me to ask what I wished for. The rogue knew about as much German as I did Chinese—hardly three or four words. I therefore signified to him that I did not require his services, in spite of which he held out his hand, begging for money.

13th August. I left Arax betimes in the morning, in company with a customs' officer, and rode to the town of Natschivan, which lies in a large valley, surrounded by the lofty mountains of Ararat. The country here is fertile, but there are very few trees.

I never had so much trouble to obtain shelter in any place as in this. I had two letters, one to a German physician, the other to the governor. I did not wish to go to the latter in my travelling dress, as I was again among cultivated people, who are accustomed to judge of you by your dress, and there was no inn. I therefore intended to ask accommodation in the doctor's house. I showed the address, which was written in the native language, to several people to read, that they might point out the house to me; but they all shook their heads, and let me go on. At last I came to the custom- house, where my little luggage was immediately taken possession of, and myself conducted to the inspector. He spoke a little German, but paid no regard to my request. He told me to go into the custom- house, and unlock my portmanteau.

The inspector's wife and sister accompanied me. I was much astonished at this politeness, but found, however, too soon that other reasons had induced them to come—both the ladies wished to see what I had brought with me. They had chairs brought, and took their places before my portmanteau, which was opened, when three pair of hands were thrust in. A number of papers folded together, coins, dried flowers, and other objects, obtained from Nineveh, were instantly seized hold of, and thrown about; every ribbon, every cap, was taken out; and it was clearly perceptible that the inspector's wife had some difficulty in parting with them again.

After this was sufficiently examined, a common box, which contained my greatest treasure, a small relief from Nineveh, was brought forward. One of the men took hold of a heavy wooden axe, for the purpose of striking off the lid. This was rather too much for me, and I would not allow it. To my great satisfaction, a German woman came in just at this moment. I told her what was in the box, and that I did not object to its being opened, although I wished them to do it carefully with a chisel and pincers; but, strange to say, there were no such tools in the place, although they were wanted daily. I at last succeeded in persuading them to break off the lid with care. Notwithstanding the anxiety I was in, I could not help laughing at the foolish faces which both the women and the customs' officer made when they saw the fragments of brick from Babylon, and the somewhat damaged Ninevite head. They could not at all comprehend why I should carry such objects with me.

The German woman, Henriette Alexandwer, invited me to take coffee with her; and when she heard of my perplexity with respect to a lodging, she offered me a room in her house. On the following day, I visited the governor, who received me very politely, and overpowered me with favours,—I was obliged to move into his house directly. He attended to my passport, and obtained all the necessary vises, of which I required half a dozen since entering the Christian dominions, and made an agreement for me with some Tartars, whose caravan was going to Tiflis. I then looked round the miserable half-ruined town with the good Mrs. Alexandwer, and saw Noah's monument.

According to Persian accounts, Natschivan is said to have been one of the largest and handsomest towns of Armenia; and Armenian writers affirm that Noah was the founder. The modern town is built quite in the Oriental style; only a few of the houses have the windows and doors turned towards the streets; generally the front faces the small garden. The dress of the people is also rather like the Persian, but the officials, merchants, etc., wear European costume.

Nothing more remains of Noah's sepulchre than a small arched chamber, without a cupola. It appears to have been formerly covered with one, but it is not possible to decide from the few ruins that now remain. In the interior, neither a sarcophagus nor grave are to be seen; a single brick pillar stands in the centre, and supports the roof. The whole is surrounded by a low wall. Many pilgrims come here, Mahomedans as well as Christians; and both sects entertain the remarkable belief, that if they press a stone into the wall while thinking of something at the same time, and the stone remains sticking to the wall, that their thoughts are either true or will come to pass, and the reverse when the stone does not adhere. The truth of the matter is, however, simply this: the cement or mortar is always rather moist, and if a smooth stone is pushed a little upwards while being pressed, it remains hanging; if it is only pressed horizontally, it falls off again.

Not far from Noah's tomb stands another very handsome monument; unfortunately I could not learn to whose memory it was erected, or to what age it belonged. It consists of a high building, resembling a tower with twelve angles; the walls between the angles are covered, from top to bottom, with the most artistic mathematical figures in triangles and sexagons, and some places are inlaid with glazed tiles. The monument is surrounded by a wall, forming a small court-yard; at the entrance-gates stand half-ruined towers, like minarets.

17th August. I felt very unwell today, which was the more unpleasant, as the caravan started in the evening. For several days I had been unable to take any food, and suffered from excessive lassitude. Nevertheless I left my rest, and mounted my caravan nag; I thought that change of air would be the best restorative.

Fortunately we went only a short distance beyond the city gate, and remained there during the night and the following day. We did not proceed any further until the evening of the 18th of August. The caravan only conveyed goods, and the drivers were Tartars. The journey from Natschivan to Tiflis is generally made in from twelve to fourteen days; but with my caravan, to judge from the progress we made at the commencement, it would have occupied six weeks, for on the first day we went scarcely any distance, and on the second, very little more than the first; I should have travelled quicker on foot.

19th August. It is really unbearable. During the whole day we lay in waste stubble-fields, exposed to the most scorching heat, and did not mount our horses until 9 o'clock in the evening; about an hour afterwards we halted, and encamped. The only thing good about this caravan was the food. The Tartars do not live so frugally as the Arabs. Every evening an excellent pillau was made with good-tasting fat, frequently with dried grapes or plums. Almost every day beautiful water and sugar-melons were brought to us to buy. The sellers, mostly Tartars, always selected a small lot and offered it to me as a present.

The road led continually through large, fertile valleys round the foot of Ararat. Today I saw the majestic mountain very clearly, and in tolerable proximity. I should think we were not more than two or three miles from it. It seemed, from its magnitude, as if separated from the other mountains, and standing alone; but it is in fact, connected with the chain of Taurus by a low range of hills. Its highest summit is divided in such a way that between two peaks there is a small plain, on which it is said that Noah's ark was left after the deluge. There are people who affirm that it would still be found there if the snow could be removed.

In the more recent treatises on geography, the height of Ararat is given as 16,000 feet; in the older ones, as 11,000. The Persians and Armenians call this mountain Macis; the Grecian writers describe it as a part of the Taurus range. Ararat is quite barren, and covered above with perpetual snow; lower down lies the cloister, Arakilvank, at the place where Noah is said to have taken up his first abode.

20th August. We encamped in the neighbourhood of the village Gadis. Many commentators of the Scriptures place the garden of Eden in the Armenian province of Ararat. In any case, Armenia has been the scene of most important events. Nowhere have so many bloody battles taken place as in this country, as all the great conquerors of Asia have brought Armenia under their control.

21st August. We still continued near Ararat; meanwhile we passed by Russian and German colonies, the houses in the latter had exactly the appearance of those in German mountain villages. The road was, throughout, very uneven and stony, and I cannot imagine how the post can travel upon it.

Today I met with another very unpleasant adventure. My caravan encamped in the neighbourhood of the station Sidin, about fifty paces from the side of the post-road. Towards 8 in the evening I walked out as far as the road, and as I was about to return I heard the sound of post-horses coming; I remained in the road to see the travellers, and noticed a Russian, seated in an open car, and by his side a Cossack, with a musket. When the vehicle had passed, I turned quietly round; but, to my astonishment, heard it stop, and felt myself, almost at the same moment, seized forcibly by the arms. It was the Cossack who held me, and endeavoured to drag me to the car. I tried to release myself, pointed to the caravan, and said that I belonged to it. The fellow immediately stopped my mouth with his hand, and threw me into the car, where I was tightly held by the other man. The Cossack immediately jumped up, and the driver urged his horses on as quickly as they could go. The whole was done so quickly that I scarcely knew what had happened to me. The men held me tightly by the arms, and my mouth was kept covered up until we were so far from the caravan that the people belonging to it could no longer have heard my cries.

Fortunately I was not frightened; I thought at once that these two amiable Russians might, in their zeal, have taken me for a very dangerous person, and have supposed they had made a very important capture. When they uncovered my mouth, they commenced questioning me as to my native country, name, etc. I understood enough Russian to give them this information, but they were not satisfied with that, and required to see my passport; I told them that they must send for my portmanteau, and then I would show them that I had permission to travel.

We came, at last, to the post-house, where I was taken into a room; the Cossack placed himself with his musket under the open door, so as to keep his eye continually on me; and the other man, who, from his dark-green velvet facings, I supposed to be one of the Emperor's officers, remained some time in the room. At the end of half an hour, the post-master, or whoever he was, came to examine me, and to hear an account of the achievements of my captors, who hastened, with laughing countenances, to give a complete statement of what had happened.

I was obliged to pass the night, under strict guard, upon a wooden bench, without either a wrapper or a mantle with me, and suffering from hunger and thirst. They neither gave me a coverlet nor a piece of bread; and when I merely rose from the bench to walk up and down the room, the Cossack rushed in immediately, seized my arms, and led me back to the bench, telling me, at the same time, that I must remain there quietly.

Towards morning they brought me my luggage, when I showed them my papers, and was set at liberty. Instead, however, of apologizing for having treated me in such a way, they laughed at me; and when I came out into the court, every one pointed at me with their fingers, and joined my gaolers in their laughter. Oh! you good Turks, Arabs, Persians, Hindoos, or whatever else you may be called, such treatment was never shown to me amongst you! How pleasantly have I always taken leave of all your countries; how attentively I was treated at the Persian frontiers, when I would not understand that my passport was required, and here, in a Christian empire, how much incivility have I had to bear during this short journey!

On the 22nd of August I rejoined my caravan, where I was received with cordiality.

23rd August. The country still presented the same features; one large valley succeeding another. These valleys are less cultivated than those in Persia; today, however, I saw one which was tolerably well planted, and in which the villagers had even planted trees before their huts.

24th August. Station Erivan. I was happy to have reached this town, as I hoped to meet with some of my country-people here, and, by their help, to find a quicker mode of conveyance to Tiflis. I was determined to leave the caravan, since we did not go more than four hours a day.

I had two letters; one to the town physician, the other to the governor. The latter was in the country; Dr. Muller, however, received me so well that I could not possibly have been better taken care of.

Erivan {305} is situated on the river Zengui, and is the capital of Armenia; it contains about 17,000 inhabitants, and is built upon low hills, in a large plain, surrounded on all sides with mountains. The town has some fortified walls. Although the European mode of architecture already begins to predominate greatly, this town is by no means to be reckoned among either the handsome or cleanly ones. I was most amused by the bazaars, not on account of their contents, for these do not present any remarkable features, but because I always saw there different, and for the most part unknown, national costumes. There were Tartars, Cossacks, Circassians, Georgians, Mingrelians, Turkonians, Armenians, etc.; chiefly powerful, handsome people, with fine expressive features—particularly the Tartars and Circassians. Their dress partly resembled the Persian; indeed that of the Tartars differed from it only by points to the boots, and a less lofty cap. The points on the boots are frequently as much as four inches long, and turned inward and towards the end; the caps are also pointed, and made of black fur, but not more than half as high. Very few of the women of these tribes are seen in the streets, and those are enveloped in wrappers; nevertheless, they do not veil their faces.

The Russians and the Cossacks have stupid coarse features, and their behaviour corresponds completely to what their appearance indicates; I never met with a people so covetous, coarse, and slavish as they are. When I asked about anything, they either gave me a surly answer, or none at all, or else laughed in my face. This rudeness would not, perhaps, have appeared so remarkable if I had come from Europe.

It had already been my intention in Natschivan to travel with the Russian post; but I had been dissuaded from doing so, as I was assured that, as a solitary woman, I should not be able to agree with the people. However, here I was determined to do so, and I requested Dr. Muller to make the necessary preparations for me.

In order to travel in Russia by the post, it is necessary to procure a padroschne (certificate of permission), which is only to be had in a town where there are several grades of officials, as this important document requires to be taken to six of the number. 1st, to the treasurer; 2nd, to the police (of course with the passport, certificate of residence, etc.); 3rd, to the commandant; 4th, again to the police; 5th, again to the treasurer; and 6th, to the police again. In the padroschne an accurate account must be given of how far the traveller wishes to go, as the postmaster dare not proceed a single werst beyond the station named. Finally, a half kopec (half kreutzer), must be paid per werst for each horse. This at first does not appear much; but is, nevertheless, a considerable tax, when it is remembered that seven wersts are only equal to a geographical mile, and that three horses are always used.

On the 26th of August, about 4 in the morning, the post was to have been at the house; but it struck 6, and there was still no appearance of it. If Dr. Muller had not been so kind as to go there, I should not have started until the evening. About 7, I got off—an excellent foretaste of my future progress.

We travelled certainly with speed; but any one who had not a body of iron, or a well-cushioned spring carriage, would not find this very agreeable, and would certainly prefer to travel slower upon these uneven, bad roads.

The post carriage, for which ten kopecs a station is paid, is nothing more than a very short, wooden, open car, with four wheels. Instead of a seat, some hay is laid in it, and there is just room enough for a small chest, upon which the driver sits. These cars naturally jolt very much. There is nothing to take hold of, and it requires some care to avoid being thrown out. The draught consists of three horses abreast; over the centre one a wooden arch is fixed, on which hang two or three bells, which continually made a most disagreeable noise. In addition to this, imagine the rattling of the carriage, and the shouting of the driver, who is always in great activity urging on the poor animals, and it may be easily understood that, as is often the case, the carriage arrives at the station without the travellers.

The division of the stations is very irregular, varying from fourteen to thirty wersti. Between the second and third stations, I passed over a very short space of ground, where I found a kind of lava, exactly resembling the beautiful, brilliant, glassy lava of Iceland (black agate, also called obsidian), which was stated to be found in that island only. The second stage led through a newly- erected Russian village, extending to Lake Liman.

August 27th. Today I had another evidence of the pleasure of travelling by the Russian post. On the previous evening I had ordered and paid for everything before-hand; yet I was obliged in the morning to awaken the post officers myself, as well as to see after the driver, and to be constantly about among the people, in order to get away. At the third station I was kept waiting three hours for the horses; at the fourth they gave me none, and I was obliged to stay all night, although I had gone only fifty-five wersti the whole day.

The character of the country changes before reaching Delischan: the valleys contract to narrow gorges, and the mountains seldom leave space for small villages and plots of ground. The naked masses of rock cease, and luxuriant woods cover the heights.

Near Pipis, the last stage that I went today, beautiful cliffs and rocks rose close to the post-road, many of them presenting the appearance of enormous columns.

August 28th. Continual trouble with the post people. I am the greatest enemy of scolding and harsh treatment; but I should have best liked to have spoken to these people with a stick. No idea can be formed of their stupidity, coarseness, and want of feeling. Officers, as well as servants, are frequently found at all hours of the day sleeping or drunk. In this state they do as they please, will not stir from their places, and even laugh in the faces of the unfortunate travellers. By the aid of much quarrelling and noise, one is at last induced to drag out the car, a second to grease it, another baits the horses, which have often to be harnessed, then the straps are not in order, and must be first fastened and repaired; and innumerable other things of this kind, which are done with the greatest tardiness. When, afterwards, in the towns I expressed my disapprobation of these wretched post establishments, I received as answer that these countries had been too short a time under Russian dominion, that the imperial city was too far distant, and that I, as a single woman without servants, might consider myself fortunate in having got through as I had.

I did not know what reply to make to this, except that in the most recently acquired colonial possessions of the English, which are still farther from the capital, everything is excellently arranged; and that there a woman without servants was as quickly attended to as a gentleman, since they find her money not less acceptable than that of the latter. The case is very different, however, at a Russian post station; when an official or officer comes, every one is active enough, cringing round the watering-place for fear of flogging or punishment. Officers and officials belong, in Russia, to the privileged class, and assume all kinds of despotism. If, for example, they do not travel on duty, they should not, according to the regulations, have any greater advantages than private travellers. But, instead of setting a good example, and showing the mass of the people that the laws and regulations must be observed, it is precisely these people who set all laws at defiance. They send a servant forward or borrow one from their fellow-travellers, to the station to announce that on such a day they shall arrive, and will require eight or twelve horses. If any hindrance occurs during this time—a hunt or a dinner—or if the wife of the traveller has a headache or the cramp, they postpone the journey without any ado to another day or two; the horses stand constantly ready, and the postmaster dare not venture to give them to private travellers. {308} It may so happen that travellers have in such a case to wait one or even two days at a station, and do not get through their journey quicker by the post than by a caravan. In the course of my journey by the Russian post, I several times went only a single stage during a whole long day. When I saw an uniform I was always in dread, and made up my mind that I should have no horses.

In each post-house, there are one or two rooms for travellers, and a married Cossack in charge, who, together with his wife, attends to strangers, and cooks for them. No charge is made for the room, the first comer is entitled to it. These attendants are as obliging as the stable people, and it is often difficult to procure with money a few eggs, milk, or anything of the kind.

The journey through Persia was dangerous; that through Asiatic Russia, however, was so troublesome, that I would prefer the former under any circumstances.

From Pipis the country again diminishes in beauty: the valleys expand, the mountains become lower, and both are frequently without trees, and barren.

I met, today, several nomadic parties of Tartars. The people sat upon oxen and horses, and others were loaded with their tents and household utensils; the cows and sheep, of which there were always a great number, were driven by the side. The Tartar women were mostly richly clothed, and also very ragged. Their dress consisted almost entirely of deep red silk, which was often even embroidered with gold. They wore wide trousers, a long kaftan, and a shorter one over that; on the head a kind of bee-hive, called schaube, made of the bark of trees, painted red and ornamented with tinsel, coral, and small coins. From the breast to the girdle their clothes were also covered with similar things, over the shoulders hung a cord with an amulet in the nose, they wore small rings. They had large wrappers thrown round them; but left their faces uncovered.

Their household goods consisted of tents, handsome rugs, iron pots, copper coins, etc. The Tartars are mostly of the Mahomedan religion.

The permanent Tartars have very peculiar dwellings, which may be called enormous mole-hills. Their villages are chiefly situated on declivities, and hills, in which they dig holes of the size of spacious rooms. The light falls only through the entrance, or outlet. This is broader than it is high, and is protected by a long and broad portico of planks, resting either upon beams or the stems of trees. Nothing is more comical than to see such a village, consisting of nothing but these porticoes, and neither windows, doors, nor walls.

Those who dwell in the plains make artificial mounds of earth, and build their huts of stone or wood. They then throw earth over them, which they stamp down tightly, so that the huts themselves cannot be seen at all. Until within the last sixty years, it is said that many such dwellings were to be seen in the town of Tiflis.

29th August. This morning I had still one stage of twenty-four wersti ere I reached Tiflis. The road was, as everywhere else, full of holes, ruts and stones. I was obliged always to tie a handkerchief tightly round my head, to ease the jolting; and still, I was every day attacked with headache. Today, however, I learnt the full nuisance of these carriages. It had rained, not only during the whole night, but still continued so. The wheels threw up such masses of mud, that I soon sat in a thick puddle, I was covered even over the head, and my face did not escape. Small boards hanging over the wheels would have easily remedied this inconvenience; but none trouble themselves in this country about the comfort of travellers.

Tiflis comes in sight during the latter half of the stage. The prospect of the town charmed me much; as, with the exception of a few church towers, it was built in the European style; and, since Valparaiso, I had not seen any town resembling the European. Tiflis contains 50,000 inhabitants, it is the capital of Georgia, {309} and is situated tolerably near the mountains. Many of the houses are built on hills, on high steep rocks. From some of the hills there is a beautiful view of the town and valley. The latter, at the time of my visit, was not very attractive, as the harvest had deprived it of all the charms of colour; there were also but few gardens, etc. On the other hand, the river Kurry (generally called Cyrus) winds in graceful curves through the town and valley, and in the far distance sparkle the snow-crowned summits of the Caucasus. A strong citadel, Naraklea, is situated upon steep rocks, immediately before the town.

The houses are large, and tastefully ornamented with facades and columns, and covered with sheet iron or bricks. The Erivanski Place is very handsome. Among the buildings the Palace of the governor, the Greek and Armenian seminaries, and several barracks are conspicuous. The large theatre, in the centre of the Erivanski Place, was not then finished. It is evident that the old town must give place to the new one. Everywhere houses are being pulled down, and new ones built; the narrow streets will soon only be known by tradition, and the only remains of the Oriental architecture, are the Greek and Armenian houses. The churches are far inferior in splendour and magnitude to the other buildings; the towers are low, round, and generally covered with green glazed tiles. The oldest Christian church stands upon a high rock in the fortress, and is used only for the prisoners.

The bazaars and chan present no features worthy of notice; moreover, there are already here, as in all European towns, shops and stores in all the streets. Several wide bridges are thrown over the Kurry. The town contains numerous warm sulphuretted springs, from which, indeed, it derives its name: Tiflis or Ibilissi, meaning "warm town." Unfortunately, the greater number of the many baths are in the worst condition. The buildings, within which the springs are enclosed, are surmounted by small cupolas with windows. The reservoirs, the floor, and walls, are for the most part covered with large stone slabs; very little marble is to be seen. There are private and public baths, and men are not allowed to enter the buildings where the women assemble; however, they are not nearly so strict here as in the East. The gentleman who was so kind as to accompany me to one of these baths, was permitted to come into the anteroom, although it was separated from the bathing-place only by a simple wooden partition.

Not far from the baths lies the Botanic Garden, which has been laid out, at great expense, on the declivity of a mountain. The terraces, which had to be artificially cut, are supported by masonry and filled with earth. Why such an unsuitable place was chosen I cannot imagine; the less so as I saw only a few rare plants and shrubs, and everywhere nothing but grape-vines; I fancied myself in a vineyard. The most remarkable things in this garden are two vine- stocks, whose stems were each a foot in diameter. They are so extended in groves and long rows that they form pleasant walks. More than a thousand flasks of wine are annually obtained from these two vines.

A large grotto has been excavated in one of the upper terraces whose whole front side is open, and forms a high-arched hall. In the fine summer evenings there is music, dancing, and even theatrical performances.

On Sundays and festivals the pretty gardens of the governor are opened to the public. There are swings and winding-paths, and two bands of music. The music executed by the Russian military was not so good as that which I heard by the blacks in Rio Janeiro.

When I visited the Armenian Church, the corpse of a child had just been laid out. It was in a costly open bier, covered with red velvet and richly ornamented with gold lace. The corpse was strewed over with flowers, decorated with a crown, and covered with fine white gauze. The priests, in sumptuous robes, conducted the funeral ceremonies, which were very similar to the Catholic. The poor mother, at whose side I accidentally happened to kneel, sobbed loudly when preparations were made to carry away the dear remains. I also could not restrain my tears: I wept not for the death of the child, but for the deep grief of the afflicted parent.

Leaving this place of mourning, I visited some Greek and Armenian families. I was received in spacious rooms, which were fitted up in the most simple manner. Along the walls stood painted wooden benches partly covered with rugs. On these benches the people sit, eat, and sleep. The women wear Grecian dresses.

European and Asiatic costumes are seen so frequently together in the streets, that neither the one nor the other appears peculiar. The greatest novelty to me, in this respect, was the Circassian dress. It consists of wide trousers, short coats full of folds, with narrow sashes, and breast pockets for from six to ten cartridges; tight half-boots, with points turned inwards, and close-fitting fur caps. The more wealthy wore coats of fine dark-blue cloth, and the edges were ornamented with silver.

The Circassians are distinguished from all other Caucasian people by their beauty. The men are tall, have very regular features and great ease in their motions. The women are of a more delicate build; their skin is whiter, their hair dark, their features regular, their figures slender, with their busts well developed: in the Turkish harems they are considered the greatest beauties. I must confess, however, that I have seen many handsomer women in the Persian harems than in the Turkish, even when they contained Circassians.

The Asiatic women, when in the streets here, wrap themselves in large white mantles; many cover the mouth as well, and some few the remainder of the face.

Of the domestic life of the Russian officials and officers I cannot say much. I had, indeed, a letter to the chancellor director, Herr von Lille, and to the governor, Herr von Jermaloff; but both gentlemen were not much pleased with me—my free expression of opinion, perhaps, did not suit them. I made no scruple of speaking my mind with regard to the ill-regulated posting establishments, and the miserable roads. I, moreover, related my imprisonment, with a few comments; and, what crowned all, I said that I had intended to have gone on from here across the Caucasus to Moscow and Petersburgh, but that I had been completely deterred from doing so by my short experience of travelling in the country, and would take the shortest road to get beyond the frontier as soon as possible. If I had been a man and had spoken so, I should probably have been treated with a temporary residence in Siberia.

Herr von Lille, however, always received me with politeness when I called on him for the purpose of having my passport prepared. The governor did not treat me with a like consideration; first he put me off from one day to another, then it pleased the mighty man to pass two days in the country. When he came back, it was a Sunday; on which day such a great work could not possibly be done, and so I did not obtain my passport until the sixth day.

Thus it fared with me, who was provided with letters to the chief officers,—how do poor people come off? I heard, indeed, that they are often kept waiting two or three weeks.

The viceroy, Prince Woronzou, was unfortunately not in Tiflis at the time. I regretted his absence the more, as I everywhere heard him represented as an educated, just, and extremely amiable man.

Far pleasanter than these visits to the Russian governor was that to the Persian Prince Behmen Mirza, to whom I brought letters and intelligence from his family, who were remaining in Tebris. Although he was ill at the time, nevertheless he received me. I was conducted into a large saloon, a complete hospital for eight sick persons: the prince, four of his children, and three wives, laid there upon rugs and cushions. They all suffered from fever. The prince was a remarkably handsome and powerful man of five and thirty; his full eyes were expressive of intelligence and goodness. He spoke with great regret of his fatherland; a smile of painful delight played round his features when I mentioned his children, {312} and related how safely and well I had travelled through those provinces which, but a short time before, had been under his control. What a happiness would it be for Persia if such a man as this was to come to the throne instead of the young viceroy.

The most interesting, and, at the same time, useful acquaintance which I made was that of Herr Salzmann, a German. This gentleman possesses considerable knowledge of agriculture, and more than all, a singularly good heart; he interests himself for all kinds of people, and more especially his own countrymen. Wherever I mentioned his name, people spoke of him with true respect. He had just received a decoration from the Russian government, although he was not in their service.

Herr Salzmann has built a very handsome house, with every possible convenience for the reception of travellers; besides this he owns a large fruit-garden, ten wersti distant from the town, in the neighbourhood of which are some naphtha springs. When he found that I wished to see these he immediately invited me to join a party to visit them. The springs are situated very near to the Kurry. Square pits, about twenty-five fathoms deep, are dug, and the naphtha is dipped out by means of wooden buckets. This naphtha, however, is of the commonest kind, of a dark brown colour, and thicker than oil. Asphalte, cart-grease, etc., are made from it. The fine white naphtha, which can be used for lighting and fuel, is peculiar to the Caspian Sea.

A walk to the Chapel of David, which lies upon a hill immediately in front of the town, repays the trouble. Besides the lovely country, there is to be seen here a fine monument erected in memory of the Russian ambassador, Gribojetof, who was murdered in Persia on the occasion of a revolt. A cross, at the foot of which lies his mourning wife, is very artistically cast in metal.

On Monday, the 5th of September, I received my passport, about 11 o'clock; I ordered the post carriage an hour afterwards. Herr Salzmann proposed that I should visit some German settlements, which were situated at about ten or twenty wersti from Tiflis, and offered to accompany me there; but I had not much inclination to do so, more particularly as I had heard everywhere that the settlers had already much degenerated, and that idleness, fraud, dirt, drunkenness, etc., was not less frequent among them than in the Russian colonies.

I left Tiflis about 3 in the afternoon. Just outside the town stands, by the roadside, a cross cast in metal, with the eye of Providence upon a pedestal of polished granite, surrounded by an iron railing. An inscription states that, on the 12th of October, in the year 1837, his imperial majesty was upset here, but that he had escaped without injury. "Erected by his grateful subjects."

This incident appears, therefore, to have been one of the most remarkable in the life of this powerful ruler, as it has been commemorated by a monument. It has, certainly, not been erected without the approval of the emperor. I am by no means certain which is the most to be wondered at, the people who placed it here, or the monarch who permitted it.

I went only one stage today, but it was so long, that I had to continue my journey into the evening. To go any further was not to be thought of, as the country, not only here, but in the greater part of this province, is so unsafe that it is impossible to travel in the evening or night without the protection of Cossacks, for which purpose a small company is placed at each station.

The scenery was rather agreeable; pretty hills enclosed pleasant looking valleys, and on the tops of some mountains stood ruins of castles and fortified places. There were times in the history of this kingdom as well as the German when one noble made war upon the others, and no man was safe of his life and property. The nobles lived in fortified castles upon hills and mountains, went out mailed and harnessed like knights, and when threatened by hostile attacks, their subjects fled to the castles. There are still said to be people who wear, either over or under the clothes, shirts of mail, and helmets instead of caps. I did not, however, see anything of the kind. The river Kurry continued to run along by our road. Not far from the station a long handsome bridge led across, but it was so awkwardly placed that it was necessary to go out of the way a whole werst to reach it.

6th September. The journey became still more romantic. Bushes and woods covered the hills and valleys, and the tall-stemmed, rich, green Turkish corn waved in the fields. There were also numbers of old castles and fortresses. Towards evening, after having with great exertion travelled four stages, I reached the little town of Gory, whose situation was exceedingly charming. Wooded mountains surrounded it in wide circles, while nearer at hand rose pretty groups of hills. Nearly in the centre of the mass of houses a hill was to be seen, whose summit was crowned by a citadel. The little town possesses some pretty churches, private houses, barracks, and a neat hospital. Both towns and villages here lose the Oriental character entirely.

When the atmosphere is clear the Caucasian mountains are to be seen rising in three ranges between the Caspian and Black seas, forming the boundary between Asia and Europe. The highest points are the Elberus and the Kasbeck; these, according to a new geography, are of the respective heights of 16,800 and 14,000 feet. The mountains were covered with snow far down their sides.

7th September. Today I travelled one stage as far as Suram: I could not proceed any further, as twelve horses were ordered for an officer who was returning from a bathing-place, with his wife and friends.

Suram lies in a fruitful valley, in the centre of which rises a beautiful mountain with the ruins of an old castle. In order to dispel my bad humour I took a walk to this old castle. Although it was considerably ruined, the lofty arches, stately walls, and extensive fortifications showed that the noble knight had lived tolerably sumptuously. On the return nothing astonished me more than the number of animals yoked to the ploughs. The fields lay in the finest plains, the ground was loose and free from stones, and yet each plough was drawn by twelve or fourteen oxen.

8th September. The mountains drew nearer and nearer together, the prospect became more beautiful; climbing plants, wild hops, vines, etc., twined round the trees to their highest branches, and the underwood grew so thick and luxuriantly, that it called to my mind the vegetation of the Brazils.

The third stage was for the greater part of the way along the banks of the river Mirabka through a narrow valley. The road between the river and the mountain side was so narrow, that in many places there was only room for one carriage. We had frequently to wait ten or twenty minutes to allow the cars loaded with wood, of which we met a great number, to pass us, and yet this was called a post-road.

Georgia has been for fifty year under Russian dominion, and only within a recent time have roads been commenced here and there. Fifty years hence, they may, perhaps, be finished, or fallen again into decay. Bridges are as scarce as roads. The rivers, such as the Mirabka are crossed in miserable ferry boats, those which are shallower must be forded. In time of rain, or sudden thaw in the snow mountains, the rivers are overflowed, and travellers must then either wait some days or risk their lives. What a tremendous difference between the colonies of Russia and England!

Late in the evening, I arrived, wet through and covered with mud, at the station, two wersti from Kutais. It is remarkable that the post-houses are generally one or two wersti from the villages or towns. A traveller, in consequence of this custom, is exposed to the inconvenience of making a special journey if he has anything to attend to in those places.

9th September. Kutais contains 10,000 inhabitants, and lies in a natural park; all round is the most luxuriant vegetation. The houses are neat and ornamental; the green painted church towers and barracks peep invitingly from between. The large river Ribon {314} separates the town from the large citadel which very picturesquely occupies a neighbouring hill.

The dresses of the people are as various as round Tiflis; the headgear of the Mingrelian peasants appears truly comic. They wear round black felt caps, in the shape of a plate, fastened by a string under the chin. The women frequently wear the Tartarian schaube, over which they throw a veil, which, however, is put back so that the face is seen. The men wear, in the mornings, and in rainy weather, large black collars (called burki) of sheep's wool, or felt, which reach below the knees. I must here mention that the beauty for which the Georgians are so famous must not be sought for among the common people. I did not find them particularly handsome.

The carts which the peasants use are remarkable, the front part rests upon curved pieces of wood, or sledge-bars; the hinder part upon two small thick discs of wood.

My stay in Kutais was caused by the want of horses; it was not till 2 o'clock in the afternoon that I could continue my journey. I had two stages to reach the village of Marand, which lies on the river Ribon, where the post-cars are changed for a boat, by which the journey to Redutkale, on the Black Sea, is made.

The first stage passes chiefly through fine woods, the second presents an open view over fields and meadows; the houses and huts are quite buried beneath bushes and trees. We met a number of peasants who, although they had only a few fowls, eggs, fruits, etc., to carry to the town for sale, were nevertheless on horseback. There was abundance of grass and willow trees, and consequently of horses and horned cattle.

At Marand I stopped, for want of an inn, with a Cossack. These people, who also live here as settlers, have pretty wooden cottages, with two or three rooms, and a piece of land which they use as field and garden. Some of them receive travellers, and know how to charge enough for the miserable accommodation they afford. I paid twenty kopecs (8d.) for a dirty room without a bed, and as much for a chicken. Beyond that I had nothing, for the people are too lazy to fetch what they have not by them. If I wanted bread, or anything that my hosts had not got, I might seek for it myself. As I have said before, it is only for an officer that they will make any exertion.

I had left Tiflis about 3 in the afternoon of the 5th of September, and reached this place in the evening of the 9th, five days to travel 274 wersti (195 miles). I call that a respectable Russian post!

The boat did not start for Redutkale, a distance of eighty wersti, until the morning of the 11th. It was bad weather; and the Ribon, otherwise a fine river, cannot be navigated during a strong wind, on account of the projecting trunks of trees and logs. The scenery still continued beautiful and picturesque. The stream flows between woods, maize, and millet fields, and the view extends over hills and mountains to the distant and gigantic Caucasus. Their singular forms, peaks, sunken plateaus, split domes, etc. appear sometimes on the right, sometimes on the left, in front, and behind, according to the ever-changing windings of the river. We frequently halted and landed, every one running to the trees. Grapes and figs were abundant, but the former were as sour as vinegar, and the latter hard and small. I found a single one ripe, and that I threw away when I had tasted it. The fig-trees were of a size such as I had never seen, either in India or Sicily. I believe the whole sap is here converted into wood and leaves. In the same way, the great height of the vines may be the cause of the grapes being so small and bad. There must certainly be a great field for improved cultivation here.

12th September. Our boat did not go far. There was a smart breeze, and as we were already near the Black Sea, we were obliged to remain at anchor.

13th September. The wind had dropped, and we could, without danger, trust ourselves on the sea, upon which we had to sail for some hours, from the principal arm of the Ribon to that on which Redutkale was situated. There was indeed a canal leading from the one to the other, but it can only be passed at very high water, as it is much filled with drift sand.

In Redutkale, a speculating Cossack host also received me, who had three little rooms for guests.

According to the Russian calendar, this was the last day of August. On the 1st of September, the steamer was to come, and sail again after two hours. I therefore hastened to the commandant of the town to have my passport signed, and to request admittance to the ship. Government steamers ply twice every month, on the 1st and 15th, from Redutkale to Odessa, by way of Kertsch. Sailing vessels rarely offer an opportunity of passage. These steamers always keep close into the coast; they touch at eighteen stations (fortresses and military posts), carry military transports of all kinds, and convey all passengers free. Travellers must, however, be content with a deck place: the cabins are few, and belong to the crew and higher officers, who frequently travel from one station to another. No places can be had by paying for them.

The commandant prepared my passport and ticket directly. I cannot avoid remarking in this place that the prolixity of writing by the Russian government officials far exceeds that of the Austrians, which I had formerly considered impossible. Instead of a simple signature, I received a large written sheet, of which several copies were taken, the whole ceremony occupying more than half an hour.

The steamer did not arrive until the 5th (Russian calendar). Nothing is more tedious than to wait from hour to hour for a conveyance, especially when it is necessary, in addition, to be ready to start at any moment. Every morning I packed up. I did not venture to cook a fowl or anything else, for fear I should be called away from it as soon as ready; and it was not until the evening that I felt a little safer, and could walk out a little.

From what I could see of the neighbourhood of Redutkale and Mingrelia altogether, the country is plentifully furnished with hills and mountains, large valleys lie between, and the whole are covered with rich woods. The air is on that account moist and unhealthy, and it rains very frequently. The rising sun draws up such dense vapours, that they float like impenetrable clouds, four or five feet above the earth. These vapours are said to be the cause of many diseases, especially fever and dropsy. In addition to this, the people are so foolish as to build their houses in among the bushes and under thick trees, instead of in open, airy, and sunny places. Villages are frequently passed, and scarcely a house is to be seen. The men are remarkably idle and stupid; they are tawny and lean. The natives seldom reach the age of sixty; and it is said that the climate is even more unhealthy for strangers.

Still I believe that much might be done in this country by industrious settlers and agriculturists. There is abundance of land, and three-fourths of it certainly lies uncultivated. By thinning the woods and draining the land, the badness of the climate would be lessened. It is already, even without cultivation, very fruitful; and how much this might be increased by a proper and rational mode of treatment. Rich grass grows everywhere, mixed with the best herbs and clover. Fruit grows wild; the vines run up to the tops of the highest trees. It is said that in time of rain the ground is so soft, that only wooden ploughs are used. Turkish corn is most generally grown, and a kind of millet, called gom.

The inhabitants prepare the wine in the most simple manner. They hollow out the trunk of a tree, and tread the grapes in it; they then pour the juice into earthen vessels, and bury these in the ground.

The character of the Mingrelians is said to be altogether bad, and they are generally looked upon as thieves and robbers; murders are said not to be unfrequent. They carry off one another's wives, and are much addicted to drunkenness. The father trains the children to stealing, and the mother to obscenity.

Colchis or Mingrelia lies at the end of the Black Sea, and towards the north on the Caucasian mountains. The neighbouring people were formerly known under the name of Huns and Alani. The Amazons are said to have dwelt in the country between the Caucasus and the Caspian Sea.

The little town of Redutkale may contain about 1,500 inhabitants. The men are so indolent that, during the five days that I passed here, I could not procure a few grapes or figs for love or money. I went daily to the bazaar, and never found any for sale. The people are too lazy to bring wood from the forest; they work only when the greatest necessity compels them, and require to be paid exorbitantly. I paid as much, if not more, for eggs, milk, and bread as I would have done in Vienna. It might well be said that the people are here in the midst of plenty, and yet almost starve.

I was not better pleased by the thoughtless and meaningless performance of religious ceremonies among these people. On all occasions, they cross themselves before eating or drinking, before entering a room, before putting on an article of clothing, etc. The hands have nothing else to do but to make crosses. But the most provoking thing of all is, that they stand still before every church they pass, bow half a dozen times, and cross themselves without end. When they are travelling, they stop their carriages to perform this ceremony.

While I was at Redutkale a vessel sailed. The priests were brought on board, and were obliged to go all over the ship, and pronounce a blessing upon it on every corner of the sails. They crept into every cabin or hole, and at last blessed the sailors, who laughed at them for their trouble.

I constantly found that there was less real religion in those places where there was the most parade made of it.



On the 17th of September, at 9 in the morning, the steamer arrived, and an hour afterwards I was seated on the deck. The vessel was called Maladetz; it was 140 horse power, and the commandant's name was Zorin.

The distance from Redutkale to Kertsch is only 420 miles in a straight line, but for us, who continually kept close to the shore, it amounted to nearly 580.

The view of the Caucasus—the hills and headlands—the rich and luxuriant country remains fresh in my memory to this day. In a charming valley lies the village Gallansur, the first station, at which we stopped for a short time.

Towards 6 o'clock in the evening, we reached the fortified town Sahun, which lies partly on the shore, and partly on a broad hill. Here I saw, for the first time, Cossacks in full uniform; all those I had previously seen were very badly dressed, and had no military appearance; they wore loose linen trousers, and long ugly coats, reaching down to their heels. These, however, wore close-fitting spencers with breast-pockets, each of which was divided for eight cartridges, wide trousers, which sat in folds upon the upper part of the body, and dark blue cloth caps, trimmed with fur. They rowed a staff officer to the ship.

18th September. We remained the whole day in Sahun. The coal- boats, from some inconceivable negligence, had not arrived; the coals were taken on board after we had been some time at anchor, and our supply was not completed until 6 o'clock in the evening, when we again started.

19th September. During the night there was much storm and rain. I begged permission to seat myself on the cabin steps, which I received; but, after a few minutes, an order came from the commandant to take me under cover. I was much surprised and pleased at this politeness, but I was soon undeceived when I was led into the large sailors' cabin. The people smelt horribly of brandy, and some of them had evidently taken too much. I hastened back on to the deck, where, in spite of the raging of the elements, I felt more comfortable than among these well-bred Christians.

In the course of the day we stopped at Bambur, Pizunta, Gagri, Adlar, and other places. Near Bambur I observed majestic groups of rocks.

20th September. The Caucasian mountains were now out of sight, and the thick woods were also succeeded by wide open spaces. We were still troubled with wind, storm, and rain.

The engineer of the ship, an Englishman, Mr. Platt, had accidentally heard of my journey (perhaps from my passport, which I had to give up on entering the ship); he introduced himself to me today, and offered me the use of his cabin during the day-time; he also spoke to one of the officers for me, and succeeded in obtaining a cabin for me, which, although it joined the sailors' cabin, was separated from it by a door. I was very thankful to both the gentlemen for their kindness, which was the greater, as the preference was given to me, a stranger, over the Russian officers, of whom at least half a dozen were on deck.

We remained a long time at Sissasse. This is an important station; there is a fine fortress upon a hill—round it stand pretty wooden houses.

21st September. This was a terrible night! One of the sailors, who was healthy and well the day before, and had taken his supper with a good appetite, was suddenly attacked with cholera. The cries of the poor fellow disturbed me greatly, and I went upon deck, but the heavy rain and piercing cold were not less terrible. I had nothing but my mantle, which was soon wet through; my teeth chattered; the frost made me shake throughout; so there was nothing to be done but to go below again—to stop my ears, and remain close to the dying man. He was, in spite of all help, a corpse before the end of eight hours. The dead body was landed in the morning, at Bschada; it was packed in a heap of sail-cloth, and kept secret from the travellers. The cabin was thoroughly washed with vinegar, and scoured, and no one else was attacked.

I did not at all wonder that there was sickness on board, only I had expected it would be among the poor soldiers, who were day and night upon the deck, and had no further food than dry, black bread, and had not even mantles or covering; I saw many half-frozen from cold, dripping with rain, gnawing a piece of bread: how much greater suffering must they have to undergo in the winter time! The passage from Redutkale to Kertsch, I was told, then frequently occupied twenty days. The sea is so rough that it is difficult to reach the stations, and sometimes the ship lies for days opposite them. If it should happen that a poor soldier has to proceed the whole distance, it is really a wonder that he should reach the place of his destination alive. According to the Russian system, however, the common man is not worthy of any consideration.

The sailors are indeed better, but, nevertheless, not well provided for; they receive bread and spirits, a very small quantity of meat, and a soup made of sour cabbage, called bartsch, twice a day.

The number of officers, their wives, and soldiers on the deck, increased at every station, very few being landed from the ship.

The deck was soon so covered with furniture, chests, and trunks, that there was scarcely a place to sit down, except on the top of a pile of goods. I never saw such an encampment on board a ship.

In fine weather, this life afforded me much amusement; there was always something new to see; every one was animated and happy, and appeared to belong to the same family; but if a heavy rain came on suddenly, or a wave washed over the deck, the passengers began to shout and cry, and the contents of every chest became public. One cried, "How shall I shelter my sugar-loaves?" another, "Oh, my meal will be spoiled." There a woman complained that her bonnet would be full of spots; here, another, that the uniform of her husband would certainly be injured.

At some of the smaller stations, we had taken on board sick soldiers, in order to carry them to the hospital at Kertsch. This was done, as I was told, less on account of nursing them than as a measure of safety. The former they would have received at the place they came from; but all the small villages between Redutkale and Anapka are still frequently disturbed by the Circassian-Tartars, who undauntedly break out from the mountains and rob and murder. Very lately they were reported to have fired a cannon at one of the government steamers. The Circassians {320a} are as partial to the Russians as the Chinese are to the English!

The poor invalids were also laid on the deck, and but little attention was shown to them, beyond stretching a sail-cloth over them, to keep the wind partially off; but when it rained heavily, the water ran in on all sides, so that they lay half in the wet.

22nd September. We saw the handsome town and fortress Nowa Russiska, which contains some very pretty private houses, hospitals, barracks, and a fine church. The town and fortress lie upon a hill, and were founded only ten years since.

In the evening, we reached Anapka, which place was taken by the Turks in 1829. Here the finely wooded mountains and hills, and the somewhat desolate steppes {320b} of the Crimea commence.

In the course of the day I had an opportunity of observing the watchfulness and penetration of our commandant. A sailing-vessel was quietly at anchor in a small creek. The commandant, perceiving it, immediately ordered the steamer to stop, ordered out a boat, and sent an officer to see what it was doing there. So far everything had gone correctly; for in Russia, where the limits of every foreign fly is known, what a whole ship is about, must also be seen to. But now comes the comical part of the affair. The officer went near the ship, but did not board it, and did not ask for the ship's papers, but merely called out to the captain to know what he was about there? The captain answered that contrary winds had compelled him to anchor there, and that he waited for a favourable one to sail to this place and that. This answer satisfied the officer and the commandant completely. To me it seemed just as if any one was asked whether he was an honourable man or a rogue, and then trusted to his honour when he gave himself a good character.

23rd September. Another bad night; nothing but wind and rain. How I pitied the poor, sick fellows, and even those who were well, exposed to this weather on the deck.

Towards noon we arrived at Kertsch; the town can be seen very well from the sea, as it stretches out in a semi-circle on the shore, and rises a little up the hill Mithridates {321}, which lies behind. Higher up the hill is the museum, in the style of a Grecian temple— circular, and surrounded with columns. The summit of the mountain ends in a fine group of rocks, between which stand some obelisks and monuments, which belong to the old burial-place. The country round is a steppe, covered with artificial earth-mounds, which make the graves of a very remote period. Besides the Mithridates, there is no hill or mountain to be seen.

Kertsch lies partly on the spot where Pantikapaum formerly stood. It is now included in the government of Tauria; it is fortified, has a safe harbour, and rather considerable commerce. The population amounts to 12,000. The town contains many fine houses, which are chiefly of modern date; the streets are broad, and furnished with raised pavements for foot passengers. There is much gaiety in the two squares on Sundays and festivals. A market of every possible thing, but especially provisions, is held there. The extraordinary vulgarity and rudeness of the common people struck me greatly; on all sides I heard only abuse, shouting, and cursing. To my astonishment I saw dromedaries yoked to many loaded carts.

The Mithridates is 500 feet high, and beautiful flights of stone steps and winding paths lead up its sides, forming the only walks of the towns' people. This hill must formerly have been used by the ancients as a burial-place, for everywhere, if the earth is only scraped away, small narrow sarcophagi, consisting of four stone slabs, are found. The view from the top is extensive, but tame; on three sides a treeless steppe, whose monotony is broken only by innumerable tumuli; and on the fourth side, the sea. The sight of that is everywhere fine, and here the more so, as one sea joins another, namely, the Black Sea and the Sea of Asoph.

There was a tolerable number of ships in the roads, but very far short of four or six hundred, as the statements in the newspapers gave out, and as I had hoped to see.

On my return, I visited the Museum, which consists of a single apartment. It contains a few curiosities from the tumuli, but everything handsome and costly that was found was taken to the Museum at St. Petersburgh. The remains of sculptures, bas-reliefs, sarcophagi, and epitaphs are very much decayed. What remains of the statues indicates a high state of art. The most important thing in the Museum is a sarcophagus of white marble, which, although much dilapidated, is still very beautiful. The exterior is full with fine reliefs, especially on one side, where a figure, in the form of an angel, is represented holding two garlands of fruit together over its head. On the lid of the sarcophagus are two figures in a reclining posture. The heads are wanting; but all the other parts, the bodies, their position, and the draping of the garments, are executed in a masterly manner.

Another sarcophagus of wood, shows great perfection in the carving and turning of the wood.

A collection of earthen jars, water jugs and lamps, called to my mind those in the museum at Naples. The jars, burnt and painted brown, have a form similar to those discovered at Herculaneum and Pompeii. The water jugs are furnished with two ears, and are so pointed at the bottom, that they will not stand unless rested against something. This form of vessel is still used in Persia. Among other glass-ware, there were some flasks which consisted almost entirely of long necks, bracelets, rings and necklaces of gold; some small four-cornered embossed sheets, which were worn either on the head or chest, and some crowns, made of laurel wreaths, were very elegant. There were chains and cauldrons in copper, and ugly grotesque faces and ornaments of various kinds, which were probably fixed on the exterior of the houses. I saw some coins which were remarkably well stamped.

I had now to visit the tumuli. I sought long and in vain for a guide: very few strangers come to this place, and there are consequently no regular guides. At last there was nothing left for me but to apply to the Austrian Vice-consul, Herr Nicolits. This gentleman was not only willing to comply with my wish, but was even so obliging as to accompany me himself.

The tumuli are monuments of an entirely peculiar character; they consist of a passage about sixty feet long, fourteen broad, and twenty-five high, and a very small chamber at the end of the passage. The walls of the passage are sloping, like the roof of a house, and contract so much at the top, that at the utmost one foot is left between. They are built of long and very thick stone slabs, which are placed over each other in such a way that the upper row projects about six or seven inches beyond the under one. Upon the opening at the top are placed massive slabs of stone. Looking down from the entrance, the walls appear as if fluted. The room, which is a lengthened quadrangle, is spanned by a small arched roof, and is built in the same manner as the passage. After the sarcophagus was deposited in the room, the whole monument was covered with earth.

The fine marble sarcophagus which is in the Museum, was taken from a tumulus which was situated near the quarantine house, and is considered to be that of King Bentik.

The greater number of the monuments were opened by the Turks; the remainder were uncovered by the Russian government. Many of the bodies were found ornamented with jewels and crowns of leaves, like those in the Museum; an abundance of coins was also found.

The 26th of September was a great festival among the Russians, who celebrated the finding of the cross. The people brought bread, pastry, fruit, etc., to the church, by way of sacrifice. The whole of these things were laid up in one corner. After the service, the priest blessed them, gave some few morsels to the beggars round him, and had the remainder packed into a large basket and sent to his house.

In the afternoon, nearly the whole of the people went to the burial- ground. The common people took provisions with them, which were also blessed by the priests, but were hastily consumed by the owners.

I saw only a few people in the Russian dress. This consists, both for men and women, of long wide blue cloth coats; the men wear low felt hats, with broad brims, and have their hair cut even all round; the women bind small silk kerchiefs round their heads.

Before finishing my account of Kertsch, I must mention that there are naphtha springs in the neighbourhood; but I did not visit them, as they were described to me as precisely similar to those at Tiflis.

The next part of my journey was to Odessa. I could go either by sea or land. The latter was said to present many objects of beauty and interest; but I preferred the former, as I had in the first place no great admiration of the Russian post; and, secondly, I was heartily anxious to turn my back upon the Russian frontiers.

On the 27th of September, at 8 in the morning, I went on board the Russian steamer Dargo, of 100 horse power. The distance from Odessa to Constantinople amounts to 420 miles. The vessel was handsome and very clean, and the fare very moderate. I paid for the second cabin thirteen silver roubles, or twenty florins fifty kreutzers (2 pounds 1s. 4d.) The only thing which did not please me in the Russian steamer, was the too great attention of the steward who, as I was told, pays for his office. All the travellers are compelled to take their meals with him, the poor deck passengers not excepted, who have often to pay him their last kopecs.

About afternoon we came to Feodosia (Caffa), which was formerly the largest and most important town in the Crimea, and was called the second Constantinople. It was at the height of its prosperity about the end of the fifteenth century, under the dominion of Genueser. Its population at that time is said to have been upwards of 200,000. It has now declined to a minor town, with 5,000 inhabitants.

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