Слике страница

Besides colonies of Germans, Bulgarians, Greeks, Jews, Poles, many individuals of foreign origin, own fine estates near Odessa. M. Rouvier, of Marseilles, possessed 87,000 French acres of land, and 35,000 merinos. M. Reveillod, 50,000 acres of land, and 20,000 merinos—the Prince of Wurtemberg, and many others, are large proprietors. So great has been, in fact, the increase in the cultivation and wealth of this district, that the memorandums of the Duc de Richelieu, given to M. Gamba, attest, that in the disastrous winter of 1812, the numerous meteils (hurricanes attended with snow) which occurred at short intervals, destroyed 102,000 horses, 250,000 horned cattle, and more than a million of sheep, and this loss was so little felt in New Russia, that the price of these animals was not increased.

M. Gamba embarked on board a Russian frigate on the 16th of May, and in three days anchored in the Bay of Sebastopol, near the southern promontory of the Crimea, a magnificent harbour, divided into many arms or basins, and the principal station of the Russian fleet in the Euxine. Its position is, in every respect, fortunate; its entrance easy; its anchorage deep and safe ; its climate healthful; but it is badly supplied with water, so that vessels are often exposed to inconvenience, even during their short cruises (promenades) around this sea.

The Russian fleet, on the Black Sea, consists of from fifteen to eighteen ships of the line, and a proportional number of frigates. The vessels are, generally, built at Nikolaiev, near the mouth of the Bog, but are repaired and refitted at Sebastopol. Ship-timber is brought down from the immense forests on the Dnieper and Dniester, masts obtained from the former of these rivers; iron and copper from Siberia, descending the Wolga and the Don to Taganrog. About fifteen thousand seamen and workmen are usually retained in the service of the fleet. Merehant vessels are forbidden to enter into the port of Sebastopol.

The frigate again sailed on the 6th of June.

“Our time," says M. Gamba," passed very agreeably, we traversed in its greatest length, with a feeling of delight, this sea, celebrated in the most ancient maritime expeditions; this sea, whose coasts are covered with the ruins of Greek colonies, and which was so long an object of terror to navigators, from its frequent tempests, its want of harbours, and the cruelty of the people who inhabited its shores it was, until the discovery of the Cape of Good Hope, the most frequented route for the commerce of Asia. Closed afterwards, for three centuries, against the Christian flags, partially opened, within forty years, to their vessels-it seems destined to become, anew, the centre of the richest commerce of the world."-Vol i. p. 35.

It was to the re-establishment of this ancient commerce, either along the Tigris and Euphrates, or through Persia to the Persian Gulph, or crossing the Caspian, to pass through Khorasan and Candahar, or by Balk and Cabul, direct to India, that the attention of our traveller was particularly directed. To his mind, for the temperament of a Frenchman is essentially sanguine, the occupation of the Bosphorus, by the Turks, opposed but a small obstacle. From the mouth of the Phasis, the productions of India and China could easily be distributed by the Don and the Wolga into the centre of Russia, and ultimately to St. Petersburgh, dividing the trade of Astrachan-by Odessa and the Dnieper into Poland, and to the Vistula—and by the Danube, which he supposes must soon be an open river, into the heart of Germany. Persia and Bucharia, however, must be more civilized, or better governed, before these magnificent schemes can, to any extent, be realised.

The voyage was generally along shores enriched by many recollections--they met but few vessels, and when they approached, as they once did the Turkish coast, near Heraclea, Sinope, and Trebizond, they saw no traces of navigation, “as if every thing which surrounds the Ottoman Empire was stricken with the silence of death."

“It is scarcely one hundred and fifty years since the celebrated tra veller Chardin, compelled to reside for a month in the port of Theodosia or Caffa, saw, in this short interval, nearly four hundred vessels enter its harbour. But, at that epoch, the Crimea possessed an immense population-its Khans were powerful, and maintained a great intercourse with Constantinople. Then Circassia, Colchos, Georgia itself, furnished great numbers of slaves. -In short, the objects of exchange were as numerous as important.”—Vol. i. p. 38.

From 1815 to 1819, the navigation of this sea resumed its ancient activity. In 1818, nine hundred vessels entered the port of Odessa, and upwards of four hundred the ports of Theodosia and Taganrog. Since that period, this commerce has again undergone a great change-the grain of Russia has been prohibited in the south of Europe, particularly in France.

"Four years of rich harvests,” adds M. Gamba, “have justified the wisdom of this measure; two years of drought or continual rains might have proved its imprudence. But I respect the decision, and shall not discuss it. I shall only confine myself to the remark, that while it injured, for the moment, the proprietors of Podolia and the Ukraine, it determined Russia, by way of reprisal, to augment the duties on our wines, to prohibit some of our manufactures; it has annihilated our navigation on the Black Sea. Thus, in the government of a great nation, an isolated measure may injure the whole social organization." Vol. i. p. 39.

Such is the usual history of restrictions—begun in greediness, producing in their progress resentment, retaliation, and national antipathy-resulting in a perverse disposition on all sides to suffer injury, rather than permit another to gain any casual benefit-and terminating in mutual loss, and in the universal retardation of improvement.

Returning to our voyage, we shall add, that favoured by south-west winds, we approached sufficiently near the coast of Circassia and Abazie to admire the smiling vallies, terminated, by mountains covered with forests of the richest vegetation, and these, at a distance, overlooked by the summits of Caucasus, covered with eternal snow.

“Among these summits, Elbourous or Elbrus is distinguished, which, according to recent observations, has been ascertained to be five hundred toises higher than Mount Blanc, and whose summit, divided into two peaks, equal and parallel, has given rise to the belief, among the Armenians, that the ark, in its uncertain march amidst the waters of the deluge, had split this mountain before it arrived at Mount Ararat.

“I could have wished, before we touched at Soukoum-kale, that it had been possible for us to have entered into the bay of Pitsunda, and to have landed there; but the part of Abazie, in which it is situated, does not acknowledge the Sovereign named by Russia, and as in the times of Strabo, the inhabitants of this coast still live by piracy and pillage.

“We passed on to the bay of Soukoum-kalè, where we anchored on the sixth day after we left the Crimea.”_Vol. i. p. 40.

At this point, M. Gamba offers such notices of the coast of Circassia as he was able to collect. We will follow him in his rapid survey.

Temrouk and Taman formerly belonged to Circassia, and the latter was its principal commercial city. But when the Kouban or K’huban was made the boundary of Circassia, these two places fell to Russia, and are now occupied by her troops. Near Taman, the Russians have constructed the fortress of Phanagoria in remembrance of an ancient Greek city which existed on the same spot. Fragments of statues, capitals and shafts of columns, marbles bearing ancient inscriptions, intermingled with unwrought stones in the construction of this fortress, bear testimony to the difference of civilization in its successive occupants.

“Nothing presents a stronger contrast than the taste for the fine arts, so remarkable

among the Greeks, who, about the age of Pericles, founded a colony on the southern shore of the Straits of Taman, and the barbarism, which scarcely a half century ago distinguished those famous Zaporogian Cossacs, transported under Catharine II. from the Cataracts of the nieper to the banks of the Kouba and now known as the Tchernomorsky Cossacs, or the Cossacs of the Black Sea.

“Their origin is traced back to the year 800, but their first warlike assemblage bears date from 948.

These Cossacs were for a long time an object of disquietude to their neighbours, the Russians, Poles, Moldavians, Tartars, Turks. They placed themselves sometimes under the protection of one of these powers, sometimes of another, but they were generally more disposed to favour the Russians, who, like themselves, professed the Greek religion.

“The Sultan Amurath, was accustomed to say, that, if all other people conspired against him, or declared war, they never disturbed his repose; but when the Zaporogians threatened to attack him, he never slumbered. They were equally dreaded by his successors; accordingly, in all the treaties made between the Turks and the Poles, the first article stipulated that the latter should interdict to the Cossacs, the navigation of the Dnieper and the Euxine.

“ The first duty of a Zaporogian was, to learn to descend in his boat the cataracts of the Dnieper; afterwards, in their expeditions they reassembled their boats, passed in compact column between the two forts the Turks possessed at the mouth of this river, and forty hours then sufficed for them to be found plundering at Trebizond or Sinope, or making prisoners in sight of Constantinople.

“ Their warlike character appeared to offer to Catharine a guaranty against the incursions of the Circassians, and they were accordingly distributed along the right bank of the Kouban.

“ It is just, however, to acknowledge, that since they have applied themselves to the cultivation of the fertile lands which have been allotted them, their manners have softened, and their most ferocious laws and customs are either abolished or are fallen into disuse. Enriched by agriculture, commerce and fishing, they have begun to educate their children, and in 1817, I saw a son of one of these fierce Zaporogians, a pupil at the Lyceum in Odessa." Vol. i. pp. 43–48.

These Cossacs brought with them the fine cattle of the Ukraine, a race of sheep originally from Silesia, which, intermingled with the merinos, produce wool sought for in the English market, and the wheat, known in commerce as the Arnaut wheat, the “grano duro” of the Italians. During the scarcity of provisions in Europe in 1816-'17, this wheat sold at 36 francs the tchetvert, (about $1.25 per bushel); it has now fallen (1823) to 7 or 8 francs, (about 25 cents per bushel); yet Russia has a tariff which has been greatly extolled in our country, and which was to raise the value of all domestic produce.

The remnant of the commerce formerly carried on at Taman, has been transferred to Anapa, a short distance from the mouth of the Kouban, built by the Turks in 1784. This place is at present the residence of a Pacha, and its possession is so much the more important to Turkey, as it serves not only as a means of communication with the Mussulman tribes who inhabit the Caucasus, but, probably, also with the Sunnite Tartars of Bucharia, who acknowledge the Grand Sultan as their Caliph or religious chief.

The commerce of Anapa might acquire_sonie importance, were it not that the unsettled relations of Turkey and Russia, render the Armenian and Turkish merchants of Constantinople, unwilling to establish there depots of articles suitable for this Scythian market.

Anapa contains a population of about three thousand inhabitants, of whom one third are Turks, the rest, Circassians, Armenians and Greeks. The latter, however, are not numerous, and are treated as captives. The fortress is furnished with more than eighty pieces of brass cannon, but the ramparts cannot offer to an enemy the slightest resistance.

Anapa was taken in 1791, and afterwards restored. It was again taken in 1807, and in 1812 it was once more given up; a measure, says M. Gamba, so contrary to the interests of his Imperial Majesty, that nothing could excuse it but urgent necessity.

In surveying this disturbed frontier and its unruly inhabitants, it is easy to perceive many of those causes which have awakened and serve to perpetuate, displeasure and enmity between the governments, and even the people of these adjoining empires. M. Gamba, it must be kept in remembrance, takes on all of these questions, the Russian view of the controversy.

“However this may be,” says M. Gamba, speaking of the retrocession of Anapa, “they (the Russian Government) felt so sensibly the fault which had been committed, that orders, it is said, were given to the General who commanded this fortress to temporise, and elude the cession. But this order was either not given or arrived too late, as Poty and Anapa were surrendered at the same time to the Turks. By the abandonment of Poty, Russia deprived herself of the navigation of the Phasis, so useful for her commercial relations, and the maintenance of her troops in Imerithia ; by that of Anapa, she placed an enemy eternally hostile to her empire, in the midst of the tribes of Caucasus, whose submission will, consequently, become much more difficult.

“ One reflection naturally arises. By the unanimous agreement of the Governments of the Continent of Europe, in which England took the lead, the abolition of the black slave-trade has been pronounced. The Emperor Alexander, carrying farther than any other sovereign his hatred of this odious traffic, has determined no longer to permit, in his states, the importation of colonial commodities, coming from countries where this trade shall be permitted. Under these circumstances, if it should be proved that the Pacha of Anapa encourages the continual hostilities of the people of Caucasus against the Russians, furnishes them with arms and munitions of war, that he purchases the men, women and children, who are the spoils gained in their incursions beyond the Kouban, is there any provision in the code of civilized nations VOL. II.-NO. 3.


« ПретходнаНастави »