Page images

byacrowd of women, arranged in a circle, who appeared to be overwhelmed with grief, making a singular noise. Approaching nearer, I observed that they were sitting round a grave, and mourning the loss of a relative or friend whose remains were deposited in it. Some were howling aloud, as if suffering from acute bodily pain, and appeared to feel deeply on occasion of the loss sustained. Others however, I could clearly perceive, were acting a hired part, “And live upon the dead

By letting out their persons by the hour

To mimic sorrow, when the heart's not sad." Scriptural passages appear to warrant the conclusion, that the posture of these females, and their manner of going through a scene expressive

-of grief, must have been a very ancient custom. The description given of the children of Israel, after the destruction of Jerusalem, exactly

corresponds with the situation of these mourners. “ The elders of the daughter of Zion sat upon the ground; the virgins of Jerusalem hang down their heads to the ground.” (Lamentations, ii. 10.) The prophet Isaiah thus alludes to the desolation of Judea. “ She being desolate, shall sit on the ground.” (Isaiah, iii. 26.) And it may be added as a striking fact, that I have a Roman medal, found during my travels, that represents J udea under the figure of a woman sitting in the attitude of grief. The custom of hiring people professionally to lament obtains among the natives of Greenland.—“ The women continue their weeping and lamentation. Their bowl is all in one tone ; as if an instrument were to play atremulous fifth downwards through all the

' semi-tones.”—(Vide Crantz’s History of Greenland.)

We now proceeded over an extensive plain, which had a wild heathy aspect, interspersed with irregular hills of gravel, covered with tufts of dry prickly herbage, and withered aromatic plants ; among which were vast numbers of the florican, bustard, and black-breasted partridge. The latter is a very singular bird : round the eye it exhibits a warty skin ; on the foot a small spur, bare and black ; the forepart of the leg covered with short ferruginous feathers ; and the bill convex. The male and female are of the same colour, though the former has black spots, which on the latter approach to a yellow.

After proceeding some miles, we crossed the river Kourak in front of some snowy hills, which were one untracked surface. Here, the

prince, who was a keen sportsman, obtained some capital shooting :

.indeed all travellers pursuing this route would find many modes of

dissipating the tedium of their journey, as game of every description is most abundant. Our table groaned under the wild ducks, partridges,

-.quails, floricans, and bustards, which were daily supplied by the prince


and Mr. Comurcx his physician. We went cheerily on, over a succession of finely undulating hills and dales, till we reached our halting place at three o'clock P. l. with no more fatigue than if we had taken only a morning ride.

We left Zodi at seven o'clock next morning, still traversing the plain in a direction south 50' east. The country, though so extensive, changed nothing in its appearance, excepting that the hills stood thicker and higher. The weather was delightfully pleasant, and every thing breathed the air of spring. We proceeded along the left side of the Aligez, close to the base of its mountain-wall. Its sloping sides were thickly set with hamlets and enclosures, which produced a most delight

ful contrast to the regions of barren rock which pended above. Con

tinuing our march, the plain widened between more equally undulating banks, and soon after we discovered an addition to our party in the shape of a greyhound. His service proved an acquisition, for scarcely had we seen him, ere a herd of antelopes presented themselves along the slope of the hills near the low ground. We allowed them to advance upon the plain, and then slipped the dogs. The antelopes darted before us like a flash of lightning, and the Persians halloed like thunder. The sport became both animated and delightful, and the steeds, having a fine even plain before them, kept well up. At length the chased animal finding the dogs. gaining upon him, made for the hills with redoubled speed, when Prince Krrosnou, who was in the way as he repassed within musket shot, fired and so wounded him that the dogs were on him before he could traverse another fifty yards. He was placed upon the back of a mule, and proved a capital addition to our travelling stock of provisions.

We now took a descending position, due east, over a stony and diflicult road ; which carried us through several rocky defiles, and over the river Terter, till we reached a small Muhammedan village named Sauk Boulak. We halted there for the night, and slept under the roof of a hospitable Mussulman, who roasted a sheep whole, and gave us some excellent coffee. On the morning of the 10th, we left our kind host,

who appeared glad enough to see us depart, having been frightened by the fierce looks, and glittering arms of the Prince’s attendants. We

set forth over a road leading due south, passing to the westward of Shesha, the capital of Karabagh. On our way, we saw several Cossack stations, where our conductor, the Russian General, changed his baggage horses. These posts consisted of a few miserable straw huts, and the soldiers appeared performing the most menial oflices. As we passed along, they stood with their heads uncovered; and the people of the country likewise observing this ceremony looked enough, since their heads were closely shorn.

This province is laid down in ancient maps as the country of the Sacaseni, a brave tribe of Scythians, mentioned by Sramo, which the learned now-a-day try to prove are from the same stock as the Anglo~ Saxons. To the eastward is the province of Shirwan, the ancient Albania, the scene of so many actions of Crane, and subsequently of Pourar. Not far hence, the Koor mingles its waters with the Araxes. thus forming the apex of a triangle; and the united streams, turning abruptly to the south, discharge themselves into the Caspian Sea. From a series of observations, lately made with Fahrenheit's thermometer in boiling water, at different heights, on the shore of this see, it appears that water boils at 212°. 75 and the barometer stood at 28° 7" 1' *; hence the surface of the Caspian is 375 feet below the level of the ocean. PALLA8 in his travels, speaks of the low level of the Caspian, compared with other seas. Enonnnxanr and Pxaaor, in their late journey to the Caucasus say, that the surface of the Caspian is 308.8 French feet beneath that of the ocean. The Koor contains a greater body of water than the Araxes, though its course is less rapid. Crnus is said to have been murdered on its banks by the neighbouring mountaineers.

The weather, which for the last week had been so mild, became suddenly extremely cold, with a cloudy sky, and seven degrees of frost. Our track lay over an uneven plain for nine miles, when we began a gentle ascent up a hill to the south-east; and passing over its brow descended on the opposite side by a narrow and romantic path towards the river Parianzour. Following its course for two miles, we entered a deep wood. The thickets through which we plunged to reach a new ascent were covered to the depth of two feet with snow, and the difficulties our horses encountered from such insecure footing increased at every movement. The track up the height itself did not afford a more secure one, and when the ascent was gained, similar obstacles presented themselves. We had to pass along the ridge of a chain of rugged hills, whose situation exposed us to every blast, while the road itself over which we travelled some hours, was slippery and dangerous. At the end of fifteen miles, we reached Gorouzour, where some Cossack horses were changed. That done; we recommenced our march over the same rough ground, till we came up to an encampment, where we halted for the night. The portable houses of the peasantry of the country, we found comfortable enough. They cannot be called tents, although their structure is as simple. Several long rods, regularly disposed at the distance of about two feet asunder, surround a circular space from ten to fifteen feet in diameter, and form the skeleton of the walls, which are firmly tied together by bands of hair ropes, hitched round the end of

' Sic in MS. perhaps 28.71 French inches.—En.

each rod to secure it in its position. From the upper ends of these, rods of asimilar kind are bent, so as to slope to the centre, and being thus tied‘ with ropes, form the frame work of the roof ; over which is thrown ‘ta covering of black felt, leaving an aperture in the centre to give vent to the smoke. Similar coverings are Wrapt round the sides, and to keep all tight, another frame is bound externally, formed of cane tied together with strong cord, which firmly unites the whole. The aperture at the top is closed, as occasion requires, by a piece of felt, which is drawn off or on by a strong cord. Our next day‘s journey spread a whole region of snow before us; hill and dale one dreary waste, with a sky threatening a still more deepening fall. Winter had here laid his “ cold and shrouded hand” on every object: our halting place for the night was to be Koubat, about six leagues distant in a south-westerly direction. The road was better, which enabled us to reach our quarters early in' the evening. It appeared a wretched place; nevertheless, I must do the natives of these wild hamlets the justice to say, that, notwithstanding the unpromising exteriors of their habitations, they evince a frank hospitality within, to be remembered with gratitude by every way-worn traveller. The description of their sepulchral-like abodes I have already given, but it may be as well to picture the interior likewise. On descending a few steps, we enter a room which fills the whole space of the house, being about eighteen feet square, an ill-proportioned size to the lowness of the dwelling. At one side we find the hearth with its chimney, and directly opposite a small aperture in the roof, to admit light and air. The earthen floor is beaten down very flat and hard; but carpets are spread when the inmates sit or sleep. No furniture of any description is to be seen. The walls are of dried mud, with recesses left in them to hold the utensils of the family. A small portion of the habitation is generally assigned to the horses, cows, or sheep, but they frequently mix indiscriminately with their masters. '

We left Koubat with the cold at eight degrees of Reaurnur, and quitted the now expanded channel of the Parianzour under a clear and beautiful sky. Our road led to the south-east, andafew hours’ travel brought us to the banks of the river above mentioned, whose impetuous motion was staid in some places, and frozen to the depth of several inches. As we proceeded, the character of the plain gradually disappeared amongst hills, and we soon found ourselves in a narrow .valley, which by degrees contracted to a rocky gorge of very steep acclivities. At the bottom ran a stream. whose waters in spring swell to an impas‘sable height; but at the present moment they were hardly more than a rill, and flowed amongst the rocks, while we journeyed by its side, contemplating the beauty of the overhanging cliffs. We rode between

[ocr errors]

them for upwards of a mile, and then came out on a small plain, which appeared to be completely surrounded by mountains. Through an immense chasm to the east, I had a beautifully distinct view of the windings of the Araxes. Herds of antelopes were bounding over the precipitous sides of the mountains, and pheasants, which are seldom seen to the south of this river, were in great numbers. The source of this celebrated stream, which is boldly described by Virgi , “ Pontem indignatus Araxes,” is from the mountains a little to the south of Erzeroum, (the Arze of the Byzantines,) whence it flows on~ wards in a serpentine course; until in gliding through the plain of Irivan, it sweeps to the southward, embracing the provinces of Irivan, Nakshiwan and Karabagh; and finishes its impetuous course in the north-east, near the castle of Kalagan, where it mingles its waters with the Koor, when both these famous rivers roll into the Caspian.

An hour more brought us to the margin of the Araxes, at which point the power of Russia ceases—-for the present. How long this may continue to be the boundary line, and whether it be politic for us to remain inactive spectators of these rapidadvances and encroachments, requires our most serious consideration. Be the intention of the Government what it may, all Russian oflicers, during my residence amongst them. spoke of the march against India as an ultimate object of its policy; and if we felt alarmed at the proposed attempt of the French on our eastern possessions, we should have far greater apprehensions from any similar designs of the Russians*.

Through the kindness of Prince Kuosuou’s Russian Mehmandar, we were accommodated in tents pitched upon the shores of the Araxes, as on neither side were any villages situated. The surrounding scenery was awfully wild. It was like a ruin of nature itself, as if the earth had been convulsed to her very centre, and rocks and mountains had been hurled from their foundations by the violence of her convulsive throes. In the hollow of caverns formed by these grotesque combinations, the shepherd and his flocks had taken up their residence, and secured to themselves dwellings which nothing but a similar revolution could destroy. From the verge of the stream I observed that its utmost velocity in the most obstructed channels was about six miles per hour; while

' We are compelled to omit here our cor-respondent's observations on the subject of a Russian invasion, as unconnected with the relation before us, and not adapted for our pages, from which the discussion of political questions has hitherto been

scrupulously excluded.-—En.

« PreviousContinue »