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counted for by the remote and exceptional character of the Russian language, and by the peculiar habits of the people. Yet the writings of our own authors are received in Russia with the heartiest recognition. Every book of note that creates a sensation here is at once reproduced there, and our leading novelists would be surprised if they knew how anxiously the fortunes of their heroes and heroines are followed by thousands of Russian readers, not only in the two great capitals of the empire, but in every town into which the chief magazines make their way, from the borders of Germany to the Chinese frontier and from the wastes of the Arctic circle to the shores of the Caspian and the mountains of the Caucasus. We hope the time will come when Russia will pay back her debt and make us ashamed of our ignorance, for she is certainly not destitute of a national literature.
TRAVELS IN THE CAUCASUS.*)
[Edinburgh Review, October, 1869.]
The spirit of enterprise aroused by the proceedings of the Alpine Club is beginning to extend itself into other fields. As the peaks and lofty passes of Switzerland and the Tyrol come to be familiar to our enterprising mountaineers, there are naturally found some who wander into more remote and less frequented regions in quest of the excitement of novelty: and the later numbers of the “Alpine Journal' are diversified with accounts of excursions in the Sierra Nevada, Norway, Iceland, and even the Tibetan Himalayas.
But there still remained one great mountain range, which had been unaccountably neglected, though apparently calculated to afford a peculiarly favourable field for Alpine enterprise. By a singular accident, the Caucasus, though by far the earliest known of all really elevated mountain chains, and familiar, in name at least, to the Greeks in the days of Æschylus and Herodotuswhen they had never even heard of the Alps and Pyrenees—had of late years attracted very little attention. Yet it was situated within comparatively easy
*) Travels in the Central Caucasus, including Visits to Ararat
and Tabreez, and Ascent of Kazbek and Elbruz. By DOUGLAS W. FRESHFIELD. London: 1869.
reach; its loftiest summits were known to surpass the highest peaks of the Alps, while they were believed to be yet untrodden by human foot. It was known also, that since the close of the Crimean War, the Russian Government had permanently established its authority over the mountain tribes with whom it had so long been in a state of chronic warfare; and it might, therefore, be fairly presumed that an attempt to penetrate into the recesses of these wild mountains would have none but physical obstacles to encounter.
But there was another reason that seemed to make it especially incumbent on the members of the Alpine Club to undertake the exploration of the Caucasus. As early as May 1865, Mr. George (at that time Editor of the Alpine Journal) drew their attention to the circumstance that the Russian Government had officially adopted the view already taken by many geographers, and fixed on the line of the Caucasus as the boundary between Europe and Asia. The consequence was, that the highest summits of the chain came to be included in Europe, and Mont Blanc could no longer claim its proud preeminence as the monarch of European mountains. Such an announcement was eminently calculated to call forth the energies of the Alpine Club, and stimulate some of its members to atone for their past neglect, and take the lead in the investigation of this new and interesting region.
In January 1868, the author of the volume before us, Mr. Freshfield, in company with Mr. Tucker-both of them names well known for daring and successful expeditions among the High Alps-left England for Egypt and the Holy Land, with the view of proceeding to the Caucasus as soon as the season should be suf
ficiently advanced. They were afterwards joined at Tiflis by Mr. A. W. Moore, another well-known mountaineer, and they took with them an experienced Chamouni guide François Devouassoud, who proved a useful travelling servant, as well as a most valuable auxiliary in their mountain expeditions.
Before they proceeded to attack the Caucasus itself, Mr. Freshfield and Mr. Tucker had designed to ascend the still more famous peak of Ararat, a mountain that had already been more than once ascended, and on which they therefore anticipated little difficulty. Yet their attempt proved a failure, and they were obliged to succumb to sheer fatigue, arising apparently from the great length of the ascent, and the immense quantity of snow with which the mountain is covered at so early a period as the month of June, combined with the total want of training by previous excursions. Whatever the cause, this failure on the part of two such distinguished Alpine climbers to attain the summit will undoubtedly tend strongly to confirm the superstition prevalent among the natives at the foot of the mountain, that its top never has been, and never can be, trodden by mortal foot-a belief which they still maintain, notwithstanding the two recorded and undoubted ascents of Dr. Parrot in 1829, and of General Chodzko in 1850; 'neither of 'which (as Mr. Freshfield justly adds) is open to the slightest doubt.
But we hasten to introduce our readers to the Caucasus itself- a region of which they probably know as little as Mr. Freshfield and his companions before they set out on their adventurous journey. So vague and uncertain was the information they were able to collect concerning the scene of their proposed explorations
the glaciers and highest portions of the range—that they must have enjoyed in a great degree the interest, and may fairly claim, in some measure, the credit, of original discoverers. They are certainly the first who have opened to the British public a mine of beauty and interest that will not soon be exhausted; and have led a way that cannot fail to be followed by many succeeding travellers into regions of surpassing lovelinees, and some of the grandest mountain scenery in the world. It may well excite surprise, when we learn the character of the country thus explored for the first time by these pioneers, that it should have so long remained unknown. But we must remember that it is only of late years that the complete subjugation of the mountaintribes by Russia has rendered their fastnesses accessible to peaceable travellers. Before that they were visited almost exclusively by Russian officers, and the love of mountain scenery—of comparatively recent growth even among Englishmen-has not yet found its way into the Russian breast. Of the travellers from whom our knowledge of the Caucasus was previously derived Klaproth, Dubois de Montpéreux, Haxthausen, and others—hardly any had penetrated into the inner recesses of the mountains, and their attention had been principally devoted to ethnographical inquiries into the relations of the various tribes that inhabit them, or to scientific observations on the productions of the lower and more accessible regions. Hence it may fairly be said that while we knew a good deal of the country about the Caucasus, we had very little knowledge of the mountains themselves. The completion by the Russian Government of a trigonometric survey of the whole chain must have led to a far more complete