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securely attached to the rope, would have put an abrupt termination to his wanderings in the Caucasus.
As Uruspich will probably one of these days become a kind of Caucasian Chamouni, it is satisfactory to learn that the Tartar porters who accompanied the travellers on this occasion--two of them reaching the actual summit-showed themselves good mountaineers and capital walkers, and are pronounced by Mr. Freshfield to contain the raw material' of first-rate guides. Their share in the glory of the success naturally added to the excitement it created among the villagers; no doubt could, in this instance, be raised as to the object having really been attained; and the first ascent of “Minghi Tau'-as the mountain is called on the Circassian side—will, doubtless, long be remembered by the Tartars of Uruspieh.
The travellers had now fully accomplished the ее great objects of their journey--the ascents of Kazbek and Elbruz, and the establishment of a high-level route between them; and the remainder of their wanderings presents comparatively little interest. From Uruspieh they descended to Pjätigorsk, where the existence of mineral springs has given rise to a Russian wateringplace, that presents a singular oasis of civilisation in the midst between the dreary steppes of Southern Russia and the mountain wilds of the Caucasus. The contrast, characteristic of Russia, between an excess of luxury and a lack of the commonest articles of civilisation,' is seen in its most exaggerated form în the Caucasian provinces, and was the more striking to travellers coming fresh from the mountains to a place possessing all the external characters of an European watering-place. At Pjätigorsk they found a hotel of
palatial character, Russian officers in full uniform, ladies dressed in the latest French fashions, and loungers in patent leather boots strolling about the gardens and listening to the strains of a military band in the intervals of drinking the waters. But these attractions could not detain them long, and they soon started for a fresh expedition into the mountains, ascending the valley of the Tcherek to the basin of Balkar, at the very foot of the glaciers, and thence, crossing the Stuleveesk Pass (about 10,000 feet in height), into the valley of the Uruch. From this pass they had a splendid view of the great granitic group of the Central Caucasus, with its two towering summits of Koschtantau and Dychtau ; but, tempting as these must have looked to such adventurous climbers as the party in question, the difficulties they presented from that side were pronounced insuperable, and Mr. Freshfield and his companions were compelled to leave the second "and third summits in the Caucasus and in Europe,' not only unscaled, but unattempted.
In general, the scenery of the northern slopes of the Caucasus is decidedly inferior in beauty to that on the south, and wants especially the richness and variety of vegetation which distinguishes the TransCaucasian valleys; but the view of the great glacier range from a point above the valley of Balkar appeared worthy to be compared with those from the Gornergrat and the Æggischhorn, while the defiles through which the streams of the Tcherek and the Uruch force their way, are said to have a character of savage grandeur surpassing those of Pfäffers or the Via Mala. The gorge of Dariel, which the travellers traversed on their return journey to Tiflis, appeared to them unfit to rank
Ege = 33 d. Lad Dothing to fear
2 o52 vi in se debes in the Alps.' Bar bare i tuoi ta ise tase in the Alps, the a rises 3 camere-rad is felt as in some denn der Bibe Espressiveness of the moun
Lo the partire merits of Caucasian ad izde steder. Mr. Frebbeid does not hesitate In ote a decided peterede to the former. “There • is nothing." be sars in Switzerland or the Tyrol that * 620 eum çare rih ibe mamnificent grouping of the Spacetian ranges.
or with the gorges cut by the *nonbem risers through the limestone ridge which bars their way down to the steppe. In the Caucasus “the slopes are steeper, and the usual character of the peaks is, that they shoot up from the valleys at their "base in unbroken walls of rock and ice, to which the cliffs of the Wetterhorn afford the nearest parallel.'
But if the peaks and glaciers of the Alps, which
are accustomed to regard as their especial pride, are thus inferior to those of its rival, still more decidedly is this the case with the forests that clothe their sides. Of the richness and variety of the magnificent forests of Mingrelia all travellers speak in terms of perfect rapture. Many of them are still untouched by the axe of the woodman, and they have the peculiar advantage that deciduous trees here attain to a much greater elevation than in the Alps, in some instances rising almost up to the snow-line. In richness of flora also the Alps must yield to their rivals. The azalea and rhododendron make the “alpenrosen "humble, while there is nothing nearer home to compare
with the gorgeous magnificence of the Caucasian tigerlilies and hollyhocks.
Nor is the Caucasus deficient in attractions of another kind. To the sportsman it offers an interesting and almost unexplored field. Bears abound in the forests, chamois are found among the highest mountains, and the bouquetin—now so nearly extinct in the Alps—is by no means rare in the Caucasus. Even the gigantic auerochs' is still to be met with in the forests and valleys west of Mount Elbruz. Pheasants, too, are still abundant on the banks of the river from which they derive their name- -the Phasis, now called the Rion—and the quest of them in their native forests would afford sport of a very different kind from a Norfolk battue.
Of the inhabitants of these beautiful regions we have left ourselves little space to speak. It is hardly necessary to mention that the tribes that inhabit the Caucasus are among the most varied and multifarious to be found in any part of the world. Hence the traveller will find here in the highest degree the interest that attaches to a new and picturesque population, and will have the opportunity of making observations on races, whose origin and relations are still obscure. Mr. Freshfield has wisely refrained from entering into the complicated ethnographical questions connected with the Caucasian tribes; but his observations on the different races of mountaineers with whom he was necessarily brought into contact are valuable and interesting. On one point his testimony is precise and unequivocal. The superiority of the Mahommedan tribes on the north side of the range—the Tartars of the Kabarda-over their southern neighbours, the so-called Christians of Mingrelia and Georgia, "is so marked that no honest traveller can pass it over in silence.' But he fairly observes that the Christianity of the tribes in question is of the most imperfect and degraded character. The Ossetes in particular appear to retain in great measure their primitive paganism "overlaid by a slight varnish of nominal Christianity.' Of the character of the Suanetians we have already spoken; but it is fair to add that this is the only district in the Caucasus where the traveller now any risk of open robbery. Everywhere else the Russian authorities have established something like order and tranquillity; and there seems no doubt that the population has gained by the change. The state of disorganisation produced in the Mingrelian districts by the temporary relaxation of the Russian rule during the Crimean War is described as deplorable, and threatened a complete relapse into their primitive barbarism. If the traveller in the Caucasus (as is not unfrequently the case) be at times offended with the stupidity or corruption of Russian officials, he must not forget that, but for their presence, he would be unable to penetrate at all into the interior of the country.