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at least nominal Christians, conforming to the rites either of the Greek or Armenian churches.
This unsettled and undefined dominion of the Turks, and the claims of the Persians, have led to important differences, sometimes to war between Russia and these two great empires; some of these differences form no sinall portion of the secret heartburnings that now threaten to plunge them anew into hostilities—that, in fact, seldom permit hostilities to cease.
When Russia had gradually extended her frontiers to the Kouban and Terek, and on the shores of the Caspian, even beyond the mouth of the Kour, and stimulated by the conquest of the Crimea, began to look on the range of the Caucasus as affording her a more secure barrier in that quarter, and a greater command over the Euxine and Caspian than she already possessed, it chanced that her first military introduction into this region was not in consequence of hostilities against the Circassians, her neighbours, nor even in consequence of the submission of the tribes of the Ossetians (in 1748) but on an invitation as an ally to aid the Georgians and Imerithians of the southern side of these mountains in their struggles against the Persians and Turks. Accordingly (in 1770) her troops liberated Georgia, penetrated into Imerithia, captured the T'urkish fortresses of Kotaïs and Bagdad, and confined the Turks in this country to their strong holds along the sea-shore. By the treaty of Kutschuk-khainardshi in 1774, between Russia and Turkey, the independence of Imerithia was acknowledged by Turkey, even the ports on the Euxine were not secured to her, although she has been permitted to hold them. In 1783, Irak'li (Heraclius) king of Georgia, and Solomon of Imerithia, worn out by unintermitted wars with their Mahometan neighbours, formally placed themselves under the protection of Russia. The Russians availing themselves of this act of submission, opened in 1785 a good road through the almost untrodden gates of Dariel.
It is possible that in this act the sovereigns of Georgia and Imerithia intended no more than to use the name and power of Russia as a shield against their enemies, and to call in her armies when their services should be actually necessary; but Russia viewed the measure differently, she determined that her protection should be effectual, and when in 1795, Agha Mohammed Chan, one of the many usurpers who, in latter days, have laid claim to the throne of Persia, invaded Georgia, captured and destroyed Tifflis, war was declared against Persia, and Georgia occupied by the Russian troops. The subsequent history of these districts is very brief. On the death of Irak'li of Georgia, and Solomon and his son Georgi in Imerithia, both
countries became involved in civil war-many claimants appeared as candidates for the vacant thrones--and Russia finally, in 1800, declared them provinces of her empire. It took five years, however, to quiet these disturbances, for not only the Georgians and Imerithians, but the Lesghi, and the adjacent tribes, and the borderers of Persia and Turkey were all in arms, but, since 1805, these provinces have been tranquil, excepting during a short period in 1812, in Georgia, and in 1820, when there occurred an extensive but ineffectual insurrection in Imerithia--and tribes who had been for ages in a state of total insubordination, knowing no right but power, no umpire but the sword, are gradually becoming subject to the dominion of laws, and accustomed to the restraints and improvements of civilized and social man.
We have noticed a few of the leading incidents in the annals of these people to explain, in some measure, their present condition. But nothing can be more confused, we may add more unworthy of attention, than the history of the feuds of the inhabitants of the vallies of the Caucasus for the last three or four hundred, perhaps we may say thousand years. Divided commonly into eight or ten great tribes, and subdivided into many hundred small ones, each petty clan would have its private feud as well as its public enemy; and not unfrequently these different clans would be found fighting at the same time, not only among themselves, but with every surrounding neighbour. Placed, latterly, on the borders of three great empires, they were constantly claiming the protection of each, and proffering in turn submission and obedience. Even as far back as 1555, the Circassians, and in 1589, the Georgians placed themselves under the dominion of Russia-perhaps in the same year made the same acknowledgements to Persia or to Turkey, and these overtures were renewed perpetually as the events of each year invited to new alliances, or threatened new dangers.
The Russians may be said to have entered Georgia from the summits of the Caucasus. Their descent on each side was comparatively easy. The Persian provinces along the Caspian, as far as the mouth of the Kour, had been previously conquered, and the occupation of Imerithia and Mingrelia in 1803, brought them to the shores of the Euxine, and the fortresses still held by the Turks. It cannot be supposed that to the Turks this unceasing advance of the Russian frontier, this successive acquisition of cities, and provinces, and kingdoms, once dependent on their power could be at all pleasant-while to the Russians, in
VOL. II. NO. 3.
their new position, the Turkish fortresses along the north-eastern shore of the Euxine were, in turn, sources of dissatisfaction.
After the submission of the country to Russia, these fortresses could answer only two purposes, either to furnish opportunities to excite the disaffected or unsubdued tribes to hostile enterprises, or to carry on with them a clandestine trade, principally in slaves. This commerce is one in which Turkey feels much interest. The females supply the harems in her dominions, with their most valuable inmates, and the males are supposed to have formed the best troops in the Ottoman armies. Neither of these objects could be satisfactory to the Russians; by the one the fierce tribes of the mountains excited to continual, even if petty insurrections, had been prevented from acquiring habits of order and obedience; by the other, the country was constantly drained of the finest portion of its population, to add to the resources of a rival and hostile nation. When war then commenced between these two nations, in 1806 or 7, Russia immediately invested these stations, and having the command of the sea, soon compelled them to surrender. But in 1812, when pressed herself by the mighty power of Napoleon, and obliged to struggle for existence, in order to disengage the army of Moldavia, she concluded a hasty peace with Turkey, by which all of her conquests, including these fortresses along the Euxine, were to be restored. The most important, Anapa, which opened the communication with Circassia, Poty, which actually commands the entrance of the Phasis, and a few others were surrendered; but Russia retained Redoute-kale and one or two small ports, which appeared to be necessary to keep up, by water, a communication with her troops in Mingrelia, and in the adjoining districts. These posts, whether retained or surrendered, are among the elements of discord which have been fermenting for some years past, and have caused the present disputes in Europe to assume the appearance of direct crimination between these two great empires. It is not improbable that some of the earliest hostile movements will take place on this frontier.
The Chevalier Gamba, whose travels we propose to notice in this article, made three journies in the country around the Caucasus. The first in 1817-19, and the second in 1820, along the Terek and Kouban into Georgia, to examine the advantages which it might offer for renewing the ancient commerce with Persia and India. He afterwards, in 1823, passed through Colchos, on his way to Tifflis, to reside as Consul of France. He has, in his journal, placed this latter journey first, and we shall
follow his arrangement, as between the different excursions, there is no necessary connexion.
"The Emperor Alexander," says M. Gamba,“ by an Ukase, dated the 8th October, 1821, re-opened to the inhabitants of the Mediterranean, the shortest and the most ancient route for the commerce of Asia.
“This measure, whose vast results we are permitted already to foresee, was adopted in consequence of representations made by General Yermoloff, the commander of the government of Caucasus, upon plans and memoirs that I had submitted to the ministers of his imperial majesty."-Vol. i. p. 1.
This ukase of Alexander, is, indeed, abundantly liberal. It grants to every person, foreigner or Russian, who shall settle, in the course of ten years from 1822, in the government of the Caucasus as a merchant, all the rights belonging to merchants of the first class, without paying, during this term, the taxes imposed on this class; an exemption from personal imposts and personal service; the right of acquiring immoveable property ; the right of purchasing from the crown, at moderate prices, the land necessary for their establishments; freedom from all duties, but a small one of five per cent., except on goods which may be carried from this government into the older provinces of Russia; and the promise of a military escort to give security to all merehandise passing between the Euxine and the Caspian seas.
The government of Russia sent instructions, in the spring of 1822, to Admiral Greig, who commanded the naval forces in the Black Sea, to send a vessel of war to Odessa as soon as the Euxine should be navigable, to convey M.Gamba and his attendants to Redoute-kalè on his way to Tifflis, at which place he was to reside as Consul of France. Our traveller accordingly left Petersburgh on the 1st of March, and travelled to Odessa by the route of Moscow, Orel, Taganrog and Kherson. It is impossible to read a description of this country, without being struck with the strong resemblance that the south of Russia, bears, in many respects, to the western and north-western districts of the United States. The fertile, naked steppe, the boundless waste, forever arrest the attention of the travellerevery where are seen rising villages, and as the wandering Tartar has retired or been located in fixed habitations, the commencement of agricultural life. We find also in this fruitful country the same rapid, almost magical creation of towns and cities, which is become so familiar to us, in our own land. Odessa will exemplify this remark. In 1792, it was but a Tartar village, when Admiral Ribas, on account of the insalubrity of Kherson, proposed that a city should be built at that spot,
and should be made the depot of the trade of the Dnieper and the Dniester, and in a great measure also of the Don. In 1803, Odessa contained four hundred houses, and from seven to eight thousand inhabitants, the revenue of the post-office amounted to 11,000 roubles,* and the commerce of the Black Sea to five millions. At that period, it was placed under the superintendence of the Duke de Richelieu, one of the most distinguished of the French emigrants, and in 1814, when he relinquished his command, the number of houses amounted to 2600, and they had improved in size as well as construction, and the population exceeded 35,000. The revenue of the post-office amounted to 190,000 roubles, and the commerce of the Black Sea to fortyfive millions. In 1816 and '17, this commerce greatly increased, but with the decline in the price of provisions, it has since been much reduced.
When Russia occupied, in 1774, the countries bordering on the Black Sea, and the sea of Azoph, she took possession of a desert; the greatest part of the population had withdrawn into the Turkish provinces. A few Nogais, in the plains, and about 80,000 Tartars, attached to their possessions in the Crimea, remained, suffering their love of property to overcome their religious fanaticism. In 1814, the population of this country, to which the name of New Russia has been given, was very considerable. It was composed of colonies from the interior of Russia, or from foreign countries. The plains were studded with cities and villages, which, excepting those of the Crimea, were of recent origin. In the reign of the Emperor Paul, the farm of brandy, in all New Russia, including two districts since annexed to the government of Poltowa, yielded 220,000 roublesin 1812, the lease amounted to 2,800,000, and this was considered as below its value. The salt-works of Perecoff had increased from 200,000 to upwards of 2,000,000 of roubles. Every where are seen the symptoms of increasing prosperity, and the results of a well regulated government, which, though stern and despotic in many of its features, is, at least, indulgent to the permanent proprietors of the soil.
The productions of New Russia are, as might be expected, from a new country, so exclusively agricultural, that, in 1816, when the exports of Odessa amounted to 52,716,704 roubles, the value of the grain exported is stated at 49,364,704. Wax, hides, wool, tallow, flax, hemp, and salted and smoked meats, composed much of the remainder.
* The paper rouble which is used in these calculations is equal to about 18 cts.