« ForrigeFortsæt »
Cossack. His dignified and majestic look; his elevated brows, and dark mustachoes ; his tall helmet of black wool, terminated by a crimson sack, with its plume, laced festoon, and white cockade; his upright posture; the ease and elegance of his gait; give him an air of great importance. We found them in considerable number at Kasankaia, lounging before their houses, and conversing in such large parties, that it seemed as if we were entering their capital. Their dresses were much richer than any thing we had seen in Russia, although all were uniform. Each person's habit consisted of a blue jacket, edged with gold and lined with silk, fastened by hooks across the chest. Beneath the jacket appeared a silk waistcoat, the lower part of which was concealed by the sash. Large and long trowsers, either of the same material as the jacket, or of white dimity, kept remarkably clean, were fastened high above the waist, and covered their boots. The sabre is not worn, except on horseback, on a journey, or in war. In its place is substituted a switch, or cane, with an ivory head: this every Cossack bears in his hand, as an appendage of his dress; being at all times prepared to mount his horse at a moment's notice. Their cap or helmet is the most beautiful part of the costume; because it is becoming to every set of features. It adds considerably to their height, and gives, with the addition of whiskers, a military air to the most insignificant figure. They wear their hair short round the head, but not thin upon the crown.
It is generally dark, thick, and quite straight. The cap is covered by a very soft and shining black wool. Some of them have civil and military distinctions of habit ; wearing in time of peace, instead of the jacket, a long frock without buttons. The sash is sometimes yellow, green, or red, though generally black; and they wear large military gloves. There is no nation in the world more neat with regard to dress; and, whether young or old, it seems to become them all. A quiet life seems quite unsuited to their disposition. They loiter about, having no employment to interest them; and passionately fond of war, seem distressed by the indolence of peace.'
Our traveller observed the bag-pipe frequently in use. * The puppets common in Calabria, and carried by the inhabitants of that part of Italy over all Europe, were much in vogue here. These consist of two small figures suspended by a string, one end of which a piper fastens to his knee, or to one of his fingers; while the other end is held by a gimlet screwed into a table or floor ; and, by the motion of the knee, the figures are made to move in time. The Calabrians manage them with great dexterity, and often collect a crowd in the streets of London and Paris. We saw also the Cossack dance, which much resembles the dance of the gipsyes in Russia, and our English hornpipe. Like every other national dance, it is licentious.'
The uncultivated steppes have a 'most desolate appearance in winter; but in summer, they appear like a wild uncultivated meadow, the herbage rises knee deep, and are full of flowers. In this journey they visited an encampment of Calmucks, who were distilling brandy from butter-milk. Nothing,' he observes, is more hideous than a Calmuck. High, prominent, and broad cheek bones; very little eyes, widely separated from each other; a flat and broad nose; coarse, greasy, jet black hair; scarcely any eyebrows; and enormous prominent ears; compose no very inviting countenance. Their women are uncommonly hardy; and on horseback outstrip their male companions in the race. The stories related of their placing pieces of horse flesh under the saddle, in order to prepare them for food, are true. They acknowledged that this practice was common among them on a journey, and that a steak so dressed became tender and palatable. In their large camps, they have cutlers, and other artificers in copper, brass, and iron ; sometimes goldsmiths, who make trinkets for their women, idols of gold and silver, and vessels for their altars ; also persons expert at inlaid work, enamelling, and many arts vainly believed peculiar to nations in a state of refinement.'
The Don, our author remarks, is in many respects similar to the Nile. On approaching Tcherchaskoy, the capital of the Don Cossacks, by the river, he says, it afforded a most
novel spectacle, and although not so grand as Venice, it resembles that city. The entrance is by broad canals, intersecting it in all parts. On either side, wooden houses, built on piles, appear to float upon the water: to these the inhabitants pass in boats, or by narrow bridges only two planks wide, with posts and rails, forming a causeway to every quarter of the place. As we sailed into the town, we beheld the younger part of its inhabitants upon the house-tops, sitting upon the ridges of the sloping roofs, while their dogs were actually running about and barking in that extraordinary situation. During our approach, children leaped from the windows and doors, like so many frogs, into the water, and in an instant were seen swimming about our boat. Every thing seemed to announce an amphibious race: not a square inch of dry land was to be seen: in the midst of a very populous metropolis, at least one half of its citizens were in the water, and the other in the air.
After viewing this curious and hospitable city, our traveller embarked for the sea of Azof. The Tartars on this sea, he describes as a most diminutive race, and frightful looking people. Near the fortress of Azof, he enquired after the remains of the ancient city of Tanais, but no vestige of its existence could be discovered. The garrison of this place, he describes as leading a most solitary and wretched life. Having sailed across the sea of Azof, he and his companions travelled through Kuban Tartary to the frontier of Circassia. There was then a war between the Circassians and Russians. The former are described as a most extraordinary people. Their clothes ragged, and their necks and legs quite bàre. They are, however, excellent, horsemen and remarkably brave.
Dr. Clarke skirted along the frontier of Circassia, to the Cimmerian Bosporus. Upon the elevated land near the Kuban, "and in the midst of the military stations protecting the line, observatories of a very singular construction are raised, for the purpose of containing a single person. They resemble so many eagles' nests. Each of these is placed upon three upright tall poles, or trunks of trees, Here a Cossack sentinel, standing with his fusil, continually watches the
motions of the Circassians, upon the opposite side of the Kuban.'
After collecting some antiquities, our traveller crossed the straits and proceeded to Caffa. "The town appeared covering the banks, rising like a vast theatre, with its numerous mosques and minarets, over all the hills inclosing that part of the bay. Many vessels were at anchor near the place; and, notwithstanding the destruction of buildings by the Russians, it still wore an aspect of some importance. In former times it bore the appellation of “ The Lesser Constantinople;" containing 36,000 houses within its walls; and including the suburbs, not less than 44,000.' The barbarism of the Russians has ruined this place, which however still contains several magnificent baths and mosques, though in a ruined state. Baktcheserai, the capital of the Crimea, has likewise suffered from the wickedness and wantonness of the same savages. Indeed they have laid waste the whole Crimea, cut down the trees, pulled down the houses, overthrown the sacred edifices, destroyed the public aqueducts, robbed the inhabitants, insulted the religion of the Tartars, violated the tombs of the dead, in short, nothing has escaped the Russian rage for destruction.
From this melancholy city, Dr. Clarke proceeded to the Heracleotic Chersonesus, and from hence along the south coast of the Crimea. He next made an excursion, accompanied by professor Pallas, to the minor Peninsula. He afterwards visited Cherson, near which is the tomb of the immortal Howard. From this place he travelled to Odessa, where he embarked on board of a vessel bound to Ineada, in Turkey, and after lying a few days at this place, the Turkish vessel proceeded on her voyage, and landed our ingenious traveller safe at Constantinople, after a long, fatiguing, and perilous journey.
Newcastle : MACKENZIE AND DENT, PRINTERS.
View of America