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"We must be on our guard," said that determined fellow. "I think, as the coast is clear, we had better retreat; but with our faces towards that door."

Before they had retreated three steps, a heavy fall in the inner room, followed by a gurgling sound, arrested them. Chabon hurried to the door, flung it open, and disclosed the corpse of Lestang.

The wretched man, finding himself detected, and believing Chabon's story of the Gandons' confession, saw in a flash the whole edifice of a laborious life suddenly destroyed. To die was little; to die on the scaffold would not greatly have alarmed him; but to die ignominiously-carrying to the scaffold the crime of a premeditated murder against one who never wronged him, and thus to forfeit in a day that long respect which for so many years had been the reward of his industry and intelligence-this thought crushed him, and his resolution to avoid by suicide the ignominy of exposure was formed almost as soon as he heard that he was betrayed.

Four days afterwards Victor Marras was closeted with Robespierre, to whom he had given a letter from Marie Antoinette to her brother, the Emperor of Austria, in which, among other indications of importance, there were unmistakable proofs of Mirabeau's relations with the Courtproofs which Robespierre hugged with peculiar satisfaction,* and for

which he felt very grateful to the young Jacobin.

The necessities of my tale force me to hurry over this portion of Victor's career, which formed his entrance into what may be called official life. Robespierre took great notice of him, employed him frequently, and when the Comité de Salut Public was established, sent him as Commissary, first to Tours, and subsequently to Brittany, where we now find him anxiously waiting to see his former benefactor the Comte de Chateauneuf, and his former love, Adrienne de Chateauneuf conducted before him as prisoners. They had not met since that morning when he had been driven from the chateau with words of scorn, which he then swore terribly to avenge. In the six years which had elapsed since that morning, he had become a metamorphosed man. He had lived twenty years in those six. The fiery anger which burned in his heart on quitting Chateauneuf had long burnt itself out. Even the remembrance of that day but rarely visited him, and never with any strong feelings of indignation. began to see the matter more calmly and rationally, and to understand the Comte's point of view. As for Adrienne, his love for her, but we will not anticipate on this point, for the two are about to be brought into each other's presence under very peculiar circumstances, and their feelings will have opportunities of displaying themselves.


This intercepted letter is still extant, and in the possession of Mr Monckton Milnes, M.P., who has a rare collection of Revolutionary documents.


NO. I.

THE accounts which were transmitted to every capital in Europe of the apathy and distrust with which the British public received the tidings of peace, has derived a still higher significance when contrasted with the accounts which have been given of the opposite sentiments of our ally; and we may hope that the impression produced will not be altogether unfavourable to ourselves. It is indeed some satisfaction to feel, that, when other nations were tired of war and exhausted by its exigencies, we were just warming to the work, and awakening to a sense of the vast extent of our resources. Animated by this consciousness, it requires some philosophy to reconcile us to a peace obtained upon lower terms than those which would have been secured to us by a prolongation of hostilities. But there are other considerations besides those which affect our own national interest, which may lead to a regret that the war which has just terminated should not have been continued. It is true that we have gained, in a questionable form, the objects for which it was undertaken; but we seem to have forgotten that, during a period of two years' hostilities, the theatre of its operations had become extended, and new complications had arisen, affecting the destinies of countries not originally interested in the dispute, and who now possess strong claims upon our sympathies. This has been strikingly illustrated upon the eastern shore of the Black Sea, in the province of Abkhasia. We commenced a war, the sole object of which was to protect the "integrity and independence of the Ottoman Empire." Our last act was to compromise the ruler of a small principality with the power to whom he owes allegiance, and to expose to its retributive vengeance his unfortunate subjects, who were certainly in no way whatever interested in the fate of the Ottoman Empire. Those who know Russia can appreciate at its true value the amnesty clause,

and predict how much attention it is likely to receive in this quarter.

In order to a successful prosecution of the war, this policy may have been unavoidable. It is, at all events, extremely doubtful whether we have been in a position to demand from Russia those stipulations in his favour which Prince Michael is entitled to expect at our hands. The idea of going to war with Russia about Abkhasia would naturally be ridiculed by the whole British public. It is only when the aggressions of another power become dangerous to ourselves that the fine moral feelings of Englishmen are awakened, and they are impelled by a love of justice and hatred of oppression to rush to the rescue of the threatened power. If Prince Michael had ruled in the Balkhan, we should have smothered him with civility, and overwhelmed him with our support as he only rules in the Caucasus, we let Michael, liberty, civilisation, &c., take care of themselves, and confine our attentions to our ally who does rule in the Balkhan. Having fought for the "integrity" of his empire, the result of the Commission for the Principalities will show us how it will be preserved; while the effects of the Hatti Houmayoum, as enforced by French and British bayonets, upon its independence, will not be long in manifesting themselves.

It is not, however, the object of this article to discuss either the wisdom or the morality of this policy, but rather to give some account, from personal observation, of Abkhasia and its neighbouring province of Circassia, as these countries are comparatively little known-are deeply affected by the sudden termination of hostilities-and have been brought more prominently to the notice of the public by the recent campaign of the Turkish army, whose expedition to the eastern shores of the Black Sea, and subsequent operations in this quarter, formed the last offensive operation in a war more re

markable for the gigantic scale on which it was undertaken than for the political results which it has achieved.

The capital town of Abkhasia is Souchoum Kaleh. Here it was that a large Russian force was permanently garrisoned, and it was hoped that the troops of the Czar, supported by the powerful influence of Prince Michael, would eventually lead to the subjugation of those wild mountaineers who professed to own allegiance to their prince, and to the annexation of the entire province to the Muscovite Empire. That anticipation had not been realised when the war broke out. Notwithstanding the exertions of Prince Michael in favour of Russia, the greater portion of his subjects could not be induced to relinquish that independence which he (perhaps compelled by the force of circumstances) had already forfeited. Secure in their mountain strongholds, they bade defiance to the imperial troops, who dared not penetrate beyond a few miles into the interior. A line of Russian forts along the coast, however, insured the obedience of those of the inhabitants who preferred their worldly possessions to their liberty; while, as the plains which extend in a south-easterly direction from Souchoum Kaleh increase in breadth as the mountains recede from the sea-shore, the population which inhabits them found any attempt at opposition hopeless, and have long since resigned themselves to their fate, to which they have been the more easily reconciled, as they are opposed in religion to the Mahometan mountaineers in the north, and sympathise in their Christian worship with their wily conquerors. These have sedulously fostered that disunion in the country which a difference of faith was likely to engender; and there can be little doubt that, if the old regime be restored, this policy will be at last successful.

Prince Michael, called by the Turks Hamid Bey, is himself a Christian; but his father was a Mahometan, and most of his family still profess that faith. He has two country residences, one situated at Shemsherrai, about thirty-six miles to the south-east

of Souchoum Kaleh; the other at Souksou, about fifteen miles to the north-west of that place. The former of these I had already visited. A large wooden mansion it was, with elaborately carved overhanging eaves, and gaunt unfurnished rooms, looking doubly desolate in the absence of the owner, with nothing but a couch in one, and two or three rickety chairs and a table in another, and a heap of suspicious-looking bedding piled in a corner of a third, and a quantity of noble antlers, the spoils of many a hard day's chase in the mountains, ornamenting a fourth. Prince Michael had often asked me to pay him a visit, and I was not sorry to find that he was away from home on this occasion, as it involved an expedition to his northern residence at Souksou, and an opportunity would thus be afforded of visiting a new part of his territory. Meantime Abkhasia was becoming a place of considerable resort. On my first arrival I had found it an invisited and almost unknown country; now English and Turkish men-of-war lay at anchor in the beautiful bay of Souchoum, and English travellers and Turkish soldiers encountered one another in its formerly deserted streets. It was with a party of the former that, in the beginning of last October, I undertook the expedition to Souksou, with a view of afterwards extending our wanderings, and penetrating, as far as time and circumstances would permit, into some of the hitherto totally unknown and unexplored valleys of Circassia.

Souksou is situated at a distance of about five miles in the interior, and we proceeded in two men-ofwar steamers to a little village upon the coast, not far from the dismantled Russian fortress of Bambor. The arrival and disembarkation of so formidable a party at this remote harbour caused no small sensation. A Turkish flag, of minute dimensions, was hoisted upon the steep bank which overhung the water, and the houses were soon emptied of their inmates, collecting in wondering groups on the beach. The singular attire and handsome figures of Caucasian mountaineers render such assemblages doubly interesting; and whether in Cir

cassia, Abkhasia, or Mingrelia, I always thought that their picturesque inhabitants formed their most characteristic feature. The scenery is indeed probably unequalled in the world; but if those rocky gorges and smiling lovely valleys were not inhabited by such a peasantry, they would lose their highest charm.

There was a steep little street, composed of wooden houses, leading up to the top of the rugged and precipitous bank, where a winter torrent had rendered the ascent easier; and there were quaint old houses perched upon the edge of the cliff, with deep verandahs, where the old men of the village sit and smoke their pipes, and no doubt discuss Abkhasian politics. Dogs and children were playing together upon the short green grass in front of one of these as we approached, and broke off the game abruptly to bark and cry at the strangers. An old patriarch, whose more elaborate costume betokened a man in authority, advanced to offer us horses on which to ride up to Prince Michael's; and while they were getting ready we sat down in chairs of a civilised construction at the edge of the cliff, and became the centre of a group of admiring Abkhasians.

At length a number of diminutive but wiry ponies made their appearance, with slippery, impossible-looking saddles, upon which we perched ourselves with difficulty. It requires a short residence in Circassia before one becomes thoroughly reconciled to the seat of the country. The saddlebow is about six inches high, and terminates in a sharp point. There is a corresponding elevation similarly shaped behind, so that one has very much the sensation of being jammed down between two perpendicular hunting-knives. As the stirrups are so short as to throw the knees considerably above the withers of the horse, there is a natural tendency to rise in them; and when one is thus thrown above the saddle, an anxiety suggests itself about getting safe back again. However, we were in an impatient humour, and, reckless of consequences, dashed off at a gallop with our knees up to our chins, and our arms extended to assist in preserving our balance.

We did not visit Bambor, as there was nothing to distinguish it from the other forts on the coast; nor had we time for a diversion to the ruined castles of Anakopi or Psirste, distant four or five miles to the right. After crossing the undulating plain of Bambor, covered only with fern, holly, and butcher's broom, we entered a noble forest, composed of trees the dimensions of which were gigantic, even in Abkhasia. Their magnificent proportions could be the better ap preciated because they were not crowded in such a way as to impede their growth. There was no underwood to prevent us from galloping under the wide-spreading branches of majestic beech or linden trees, while from their topmost boughs drooped in sweeping festoons the graceful tendrils of the wild vine, waving softly above our heads their luscious burdens of purple grapes. Here and there the darker green of the boxtree contrasted with the surrounding foliage, while the unusual size of its growth almost entitled it to a position among forest-trees. The grateful shelter afforded by such luxuriance of vegetation was taken advantage of by the peasants, and we cantered along grassy glades to a little village composed of neat wooden cottages embowered among trees, in the twisted branches of which the people had stacked their newlygathered maize. Its golden hue, sparkling out from under green leaves at a height of twenty or thirty feet above the ground, produced a most singular and uncommon effect. All the male inhabitants of this village were collected upon the smooth green lawn on which Prince Michael's house was situated. It was a large massive building, constructed partly of roughly-hewn stone, and partly of wood; and, consigning our steeds to the charge of the country-people who clustered round and contended for the honour of assisting us to dismount, we followed our guide up a narrow stair to the apartment of the Prince, who, surrounded by plenty of attendants and very little furniture, received us with much urbanity, and a polish which plainly indicat ed a familiarity with St Petersburg saloons. I was surprised to find that

one who had lived in the Russian capital, and enjoyed the comforts of civilisation, should not have introduced more of them into his own residence. Nothing could be more cold and cheerless than the interior of this princely habitation; and, with the exception of the chairs we sat on, and a spittoon, I did not observe any furniture in his reception-room.

Though we could not compliment our host upon the comfort of his apartment, we could conscientiously congratulate him upon the magnificence of his territory, and especially upon the charming situation of his house. The lovely country through which we had been riding stretched away seaward in rich luxuriance, and bore completely the character of an English park, except that the trees which dotted its undulating slopes were more imposing, and the effect of their beauty was enhanced by the constant intermingling of vine leaves with their own foliage; for all these forest giants were united in one loving embrace by the lusty arms of this noble creeper. Inland the country was more thickly wooded; the undulations swelled into hills; the park was converted into forest; from its tone of exquisite softness the scenery gradually changed to one of majestic grandeur; deep gorges cleft the precipitous ranges of the lower Caucasus-hitherto untrodden by the foot of the western traveller-and gave rise to a longing desire to penetrate into the mysteries of their gloomy recesses. Sweeping down the rugged side of the lofty range beyond, enormous glaciers descended into dark blue haze, and, towering over all, a chain of glittering snowy peaks, round which hovered a multitude of fleecy clouds, shot into the sky.

There was a picturesque old church within a few yards of the house, which we went to inspect. It is of Byzantine architecture, and probably dates from the eighth or ninth century. The walls, built of a freestone, are in the shape of a square, and surmounted by an octagonal dome. The interior is ornamented with numerous rough frescoes; while slabs, inscribed with Georgian characters, mark the burial-places of some of the former rulers of Abkhasia. An intelligent

young priest, with locks flowing over his shoulders, did the honours of the church, and showed some curious illuminated bibles in Georgian character. It is said that the Emperor had intended to form this church into a monastery, and the seat of a colony of priests for Abkhasia.

While one of our party, whose Crimean sketches have gained for him a world-wide notoriety, was engaged in immortalising the scene, we strolled through a rough, ill-tended garden, and regaled ourselves on pomegranates, and then, not without reluctance, once more inserted ourselves into our saddles, and, bidding adieu to the Prince and his enchanting domain, galloped down to the boats, and pursued our northward


After rounding the low promontory of Pitzounda, we found ourselves approaching the northern frontier of Abkhasia. The undulating plains which separate the lower range from the sea gradually narrow, and through them numerous streams take their winding course. The gorges by which these issue from the mountains become more clearly discernible-dark and gloomy portals to unknown and mysterious valleys beyond. Above all towered the stupendous Ochetène, rearing its snow-crowned summit to a height of about 13,000 feet. Distant scarcely twenty-five miles from our ship, its altitude seemed even greater, and it reduced to insignificance the intervening range, which, though from 7000 to 8000 feet in height, was free from snow, and presented that rugged and precipitous aspect which characterises the limestone formation generally. From the Ochetène to the Djoumantau, the main chain is composed of a series of peaks of an almost uniform elevation. It forms the north-eastern frontier of Abkhasia, and separates that province from the Circassian tribes of the north, serving as a barrier which, except at one or two points, is insurmountable. We were assured that the only practicable pass from Abkhasia across these mountains, for horses, was from Souchoum Kaleh to Karachai, a province situate upon the western shoulder of Mount Elbruz. We had indeed at one time entertained the

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