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and for bread. The red wine which our host gave us was of a good quality, and did not at all resemble that which we had been accustomed to buy in the market of Redoute-kale.
“The family and the friends of the house all sat at table with us. The chamber was filled, and the doors were crowded with spectators. After supper, the master of the house and his wife slept on one of the beds, and we spread our mattrass on the other.
"The house of our host was situated on an eminence, ornamented with fine trees. On one extremity of this terrace was a wooden church, built with much care, and not yet finished. The sides of this building were formed with oaken planks, about two inches thick, well polished, and united by a tongue and grove. Around the church have been preserved ash, linden and elm trees of great magnitude.
“ As an acknowledgement of the kind offices of the head of the village, we offered him two razors and a pruning knife to trim his vines. His wife, encouraged by these small presents, asked for a pair of scissors, a thimble, needles, and, above all things, for two metal spoons, which made a part of our travelling equipage While it gave me pleasure to satisfy this wish, it was, at least, a proof that if this people eat still with their fingers if they know not the use of many things which have become of prime necessity in civilized nations, nothing would be more easy than to create these wants, and to lead them, gradually, to peaceful labours, and to manners more mild.* Having testified to my host
astonishment that he derived no profit from the fine timber and valuable wood with which his forests were filled, he replied, with an expression of profound regret, that he knew perfectly, that elsewhere these trees could be turned to profit, but that his countrymen were very ignorant and did not know where to find a market for the productions of their country.”—Vol. i. pp.
Our travellers continued their journey through almost continued forests, crossing branches of the Phasis, and having in view, occasionally, on their left, the snowy summits of the Caucasus. The interruptions were very frequent, from the heavy rains which commonly fall in the summer season, and the badness of the roads. To these, the Russians have been making great improvements, and in 1823, Tartar carriages, laden with produce, passed from Bakou on the Caspian to Redoutekalè.--" I mention this fact with pleasure, remarks M. Gamba, because, in modern times, it is the first instance of a direct commercial intercourse between the Black and Caspian Seas.”
As the travellers approached the Tskeniskal, the stream which divides Mingrelia from Imerithia, they found the country more improved, and the number of new clearings indicated an increasing population. This river is too rapid to be navigable, except
* In this, as in one or two preceding passages, we have condensed, without changing the ideas of the author.
ing near its mouth, where the port of Marane is located, which, at present, terminates the navigation of the Phasis.
Nothing is more usual than to hear the insalubrity of particular places ascribed entirely to some local cause, which may easily be removed. The following remarks on the unhealthiness of Marane at least, uncommon.
“When I arrived at Marane, I was struck with the wrinkled appearance of the Prince Abzakoff, colonel of a regiment of chasseurs. The appearance of his officers and of his soldiers, announced, evidently, that this village justly merited the reputation of being one of the most unhealthy spots in Imirethia. In the evening, the Prince proposed a walk in the fine meadow, which extends from the house of the commandant to the banks of the Tskeniskal. In passing along, I was struck with the exhalations from the odoriferous flowers with which this pasture was covered. They vitiated the vital air, and was impossible that this circumstance should not have a great influence on the fevers-putrid, malignant, and intermittent, which prevailed at this period, and which every year swept away more than one third of the garrison. I recollected what travellers in Africa relate to us of the danger of the passage from St. Louis to Galam, by the Senegal, at the period when the gigantie trees, which border the river, are in flower."-Vol. i.
From Marane to Kotais, or Cotatis, the capital of Imirethia, is about thirty-four miles. This city, the ancient Cyta, formerly the capital of all Colchos, claims a high antiquity. D'Anville considers it as the birth-place and home of Medea. If we admit this fact, its foundation would be, at least, five hundred years anterior to that of Rome. The ancient city, however, was on a mountain; its walls still exist, remarkable for their thickness and solidity, and some remains of a church, whose architecture and sculpture belong to the age of Justinian. The modern town has descended to the plain, and its present position is very beautiful. Its population does not, at present, exceed sixteen hundred people, of whom one half are Jews, the remainder Imerithians and Armenians. It is, however, increasing rapidly, and as it is the head-quarters of all the Russian establishments, civil and military, for Imerithia, Mingrelia, and Gouriel-it must become one of the most important cities in the Russian territories beyond the Caucasus. Provisions are cheap and abundant. It is situated in the centre of a magnificent semicircle of mountains. Those on the south, belonging to the chain of Mount Ararat, and separating Imerithia from the Turkish dominions. Those to the east, dividing it from Georgia, and on the north, ridges ascending to the inaccessible peaks of the Caucasus form its barrier. During a short residence here, M. Gamba made excursions to the south and to the east, and his brother, who was
one of his companions, visited the northern districts. In all directions, they found the same rich and beautiful country becoming, of course, precipitous and rugged as they approached the circumference, the same scattered and rude population, the same open and generous hospitality, wherever they were received as friends; and every where symptoms of improvement, as the people became more tranquil. Two recent incidents had
produced temporary evils throughout the country, but their impression was rapidly wearing away. The first was the plague, which, introduced from Turkey in 1812, ravaged every district around the Caucasus, leaving many habitations, even villages, desolate and tenantless. The severity of this epidemic induced the government to enforce, strictly, a quarantine system along the southern and Circassian frontier, and the sea-coast. This has increased the displeasure of the Turks, for these honest predestinarians have renounced, in almost every part of this line, ah intercourse with the Russians, rather than submit to what they consider as a tyrannical restriction. The second was an insurrection, which, even as late as 1820, broke out in many of the mountainous districts. This was soon suppressed, was punished in some places with great severity, and appears to have left no permanent state of hostility between the natives and the Russians. The truth is, so many persons will be benefited by the tranquillity and order which their present rulers have introduced, that the turbulent and restless will be repressed even by public opinion. In this country, no great and permanent change can be expected or need be apprehended, until something like a national feeling can be created, and, in a country so long divided and distracted, this can only be the slow result of education and civilization. Russia will, therefore, have nothing to fear for a long time, from any improvement she can effect.
We shall notice a few of the occurrences of these journies to illustrate, still further, the condition and manners of the people, and state of the country.
“The fields, (the author remarks, in his journey to the south, through the district of Vacca) were covered with rich harvests of maize, millet, tobacco, and short staple cotton. In order to clear up the forests, they have, hitherto, been in the practice of killing the trees with fire, and leaving to time the care of completing the destruction. This is the practice of savages. It is that which is employed in those parts of North America, which are too remote from navigable streams for the transportation of timber, and where labour is too scarce and too dear to be employed in the manufacture of pot-ash.
“We were in the middle of July, and the verdure of the country had the freshness and brilliancy of spring. This was the result of six weeks of continual rains.
“Friday is the market day at Koni, as at Kotais, and in all this country; it is the Sabbath eve of the Jews, and their usages are found throughout all Asia. On approaching Koni, we met many peasants returning from market, who were bringing back in merchandise or in cattle, the profits of their wax, honey, or cotton. Very different from what they were when I saw them three years ago, a time when a part of the country was in insurrection, their humble salutations were accompanied with an affectionate air, and an expression of kindness which manifested the happy change which had taken place in the character of the inhabitants. They begin to perceive that their repose and their safety, date from the day when they became members of the Empire of Alexander." Vol. i. pp. 194–196.
We know not if M. Gamba is a faithful interpreter of the feelings of these people, or had accurate means of ascertaining their real opinions. Of what he saw, we may consider him a fairer reporter, and we give his account of one of the entertainments prepared for him. We should, perhaps, mention, that in these excursions he was attended by an escort of Cossacs; that he carried recommendations to most of the chieftains or princes—and these chiefs, with the cordial hospitality of ancient times, not only treated him with great kindness when at their own estates, but frequently accompanied his party to the next domain or town, and sometimes continued with him for days together.
“At Chichachi, the Prince, who is a major in the imperial service, politely paid us the honours of his estate. He ordered carpets and cushions in the fine meadow before his door. We breakfasted under enormous walnut trees, whose thick foliage sheltered us from the rays of the
“The Russians have introduced into this country the use of tea—this beverage now makes a part of the luxury of the Imerithian lords, and consequently has given them an ardent desire for fine porcelain, silver tea-urns, and gilded spoons.
“The use of tables has not yet penetrated into Imerithia. Benches supply their place, and even in the houses of the princes, cakes of corn flour are used as plates. At dinner, we were attended by many
domestics, who marched in procession, some brought soup, mingled with meat and eggs, others ragouts of mutton, afterwards fricassees of chickens, hard eggs, fish, roast wild-fowl, cakes, and a large vessel of gomi; finally, four enormous copper jugs of wine.
“Each servant had his department. One with a silver trowel (ladle?) took up a large quantity of gomi, which he placed before cach guest; two others carved the meats. The butlers, holding each one of these large jugs, filled, continually, the glasses or vessels, of different forms, which were used to drink.
“During dinner, the guests presented, continually, to those who surrounded them, some portions of meat, gomi, or cakes; these presents were considered as marks of particular favour; fragments were thrown
to those at a distance, which were caught with much dexterity. Towards the close of the repast, they brought in many of the large tails of the Shamtouck sheep, salted and peppered, and broiled on the coals.
“ After we had finished, the benches were removed to some distance, and those who had been spectators took their meal. Some, whose rags denoted abject poverty, received portions of meat and gomi from the guests of the second table. The custom of including, in great repasts, the whole population of a village, is common in all Colchos, and is of great antiquity."-Vol. i. p. 201.
“In all the villages of ancient Colchos, the inhabitants were compelled to treat the sovereigns and lords who visited them, and they were accustomed to apportion the expense of these repasts among the different householders, who, on their part, had the privilege of consuming the remnant of each meal."--Vol. i. p. 207.
The travellers remarked in the southern part of the district, a custom very common of staining the beard, nails, and soles of the feet, sometimes even the hair of the children red, with the hennè, a plant that is used in Egypt for nearly the same purposes; the fondness for this colour is carried so far that the manes and tails of white and grey horses are sometimes thus dyed. M. Gamba supposes that this caprice has been derived from the Persians, with whom the practice is common.
“At Duableby, on the southern frontiers, we found the houses placed on masses of rock. The entrance into the one where we halted to dine, was by a ladder, which was removed at night. The house was provided with port-holes, the only windows which it possessed. The walls were hung with guns, sabres, pistols and quindjals, (a species of dagger) suspended on the antlers of deer, an animal abounding in the forests. The construction of one of these houses, and the arms with which they are furnished, sufficiently indicate that the inhabitants were obliged to guard and defend themselves against Turkish marauders, who made occasional incursions into their territory, and carried off their wives, children and cattle. Very probably, they sometimes made reprisals. Since Imerithia has submitted to the Emperor Alexander, the incursions of the borderers of the Pachalic of Akhaltzikhe, have almost entirely ceased.' Vol. i. p. 227.
If the Turks could be heard on this subject, they would probably say, that as soon as there existed in Colchos, a power capable of restraining the lawless tribes on its frontier, this predatory warfare naturally ceased.
On their return from this village, their ride of about fifteen miles to the Phasis, was an almost continued descent; so lofty are even the southern barriers of this fertile country.
Having arrived at the banks of the Phasis with the numerous cortège of Imerithian princes, nobles and peasants, who had successively joined our caravan, we took with them a farewell repast. And