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THE WORDS OF SCHAMYL, THE PROPHET.
[We presume there are few if any of our readers to whom the name of the Circassian prophet-warrior, SCHAMYL, is not known. His character presents that remarkable combination of sacred and secular functions, to which our modern habits in Western Europe have rendered us strange, but which was not at all uncommon in ancient times, especially in the East. In a little book on Circassia, edited by Mr M'Kenzie (London, 1854), and selected principally from a German work by Wagner, there occurs a proclamation by this remarkable man to his fellow-countrymen, which for vigour, fire, and noble daring, both of thought and expression, is unsurpassed among the records of popular eloquence. Compared with this address, the best of Napoleon's speeches to the French soldiers are mere theatrical displays; there is an air of sincerity here, and of high stern conviction, which claims brotherhood, not with the rhetoric of modern French military adventurers, but with the passionate utterances of ancient Hebrew prophets. Those of our readers who have already read the passage which we here present in a rhythmical form, will perhaps think that, like the Psalms of David, it reads better in prose than in metre; but fine poetic gems of this sort are very apt to be overlooked in a book of statistics and historical detail ; so we hope that the exhibition of this rare outburst of religious poetry (for such is its proper category), in a separate poetical form, will not only gratify the taste of some readers, but secure to the composition a more distinct attention and a wider circulation.]
SCHAMYL, the prophet, hath spent the night
In fasting and in prayer ;
And taught his heart to dare.
And calls the congregation
To all the Tcherkess nation.
Stern and serene he stands, as one
Whose life is rooted surely
But as a fort, securely
Nor all the warring storm,
He rears his kingly form ;*
While I make proclamation ;
To all the Tcherkess nation.
“ Deem not that God with numbers dwells
God dwelleth with the good;
* This is no mere poetical figure. The modern Schamyl, like the ancient Saul,
And so who was also at one period of his life amongst the prophets, is a tall man. was Agamemnon also among the Greeks.
+ The Turkish name for Elbruz, the highest peak in the Caucasus, 16,000 feet high.
Nor truth, nor strength, nor wisdom swells
With the swelling multitude.
Old truth I speak, and new ;
But freedom's sons are few.
“ The weeds are many in the field,
Both yellow weeds and blue ;
And garden flowers are few.
“ Fishes are many in the sea ;
But not in every bay,
High-vaulting dolphins play.
But not from every mould,
The ore of precious gold.
But only one possess'd
And hangs on beauty's breast.
“ Roses, and pearls, and gold are good,
But ye are better far;
Ourselves do make or mar
" The centuries. Are the roses few ?
Then plant, and make them more!
And with a crackling roar
What then? If lightning wound
The forest kiss the ground ?
“ O ye of little faith - If blight
Possess one blacken'd ear,
And putrefy with fear ?
Believe the things ye see!
Before one healthful tree
" Is reared to fruitage. Ye are all
The branches of one tree
Of sacred LIBERTY
A Circassian fort taken by the Russians under General Grabbe in 1838. On this occasion Schamyl made an extraordinary escape.
66 The root am I. One branch removed
Stirs not the stable bole,
The root sustains the whole.
“ Be menor, by the God that rules
The sure well-ordered skies,
The words that school the wise!
“ But what Kasi Mohammed said
He wished to do, I'll do;
And, like a storm, pursue
To me and Allah true,
Shall hound the craven crew;
Like a hot-burning wind,
And Ruin stalk behind.
“ Be wise; for thus to Schamyl spake
Heaven's just and righteous Lord,
Them teach thou with the sword !"
Remote from public sight;
And worshipped Allah's might.
His word consumes the Czar;
Far flames the holy war.
J. S. B.
* Two forts, the one on the Black Sea, on the extreme west, the other on the Caspian, on the extreme east of the Caucasian ranges. The former is one of the places that has recently been evacuated by the Russians.
VOL. LXXVI.-NO. CCCCLXY.
THE EUROPEAN ALLIANCE AND RUSSIA.
The last years of the reign of than the sycophants or the conceited Charlemagne were spent in consoli- imbeciles of his court. With the dating the conquests which had occu. foresight which belongs to genius, he pied a life of prodigious activity, and saw and comprehended the magnitude unparalleled fortune, and in securing of the danger to the empire whose the vast monarchy he had founded foundations, he had believed, were so from the ruin which had overtaken deeply and so securely laid. As he the Roman Empire. He had termi- approached the term of his life, the nated the war with the Saxons; con waters of the north coast of France ciliated, or crushed, the last and became covered with the fleets of the fiercest of his enemies; and with a rovers; their invasions were still more line of forts raised along the Elbe, frequent, their progress more rapid believed that he had opposed an in- and destructive. If the barbarians surmountable barrier to all future ir of the north, he said with a sigh, dare ruptions of the barbarians. The inva- to attack even the remote limits of sion was, it is true, arrested by land; my empire, while I yet live and reign, but the pirates of Scandinavia braved what will they not do, not dare, when the fury of the ocean in their boats of I am dead! And in the bitterness of osier, covered with hides, and spread his humiliation he shed tears. Charleterror among the villagers of the magne was right. Even then the coasts. They were at first checked ; civilisation and the power of which but they soon advanced in such num- he had laid the foundations, were seribers, that the fleets of boats stationed ously menaced in all directions. Sarat the mouths of the rivers could no dinia and Corsica wore at the same longer stop them; and their audacity time ravaged by the Saracens ; Louis increased at each irruption. The of Aquitaine was repulsed by the mighty emperor who had subjugated Moors of Spain; and Pepin of Italy and given laws to Europe, was trou- by the Greeks in Venetia. The catabled at these fierce and frequent ap- strophe was fast approaching, and paritions. Fear he had never before scarce seventy years had elapsed from known; but, already near the grave, the death of Charlemagne, when the he saw, with sad foreboding, that the northern invaders, so contemptible irruptions of the pirates were each and so distant in the beginning, pretime more numerous, and their devas- cipitated the fall of his race and tations more audacious. The “anti- monarchy. Those who dwelt on the quated imbecilities" of the imperial banks of the Seine, the Somme, and court thought or spoke lightly of the the Loire, the whole of the France of matter. They not only apprehended no that day, paid bitterly for the incredanger to Europe or to the monarchy, dulity, the apathy, or the connivance but they mocked at those who believed of the courtiers of Charlemagne; and that the occasional presence of a hand- they soon felt that the invasion of the ful of northern pirates merited a seri barbarians should have been arrested ous thought from the wonderful man at the very outset. who had all but realised a universal A century and a half ago, those empire. In the conflagration of a few who saw danger in the extension of a villages, and the massacre of some still more barbarous people inhabiting hundreds of peasants, they saw only the deserts of the north, and scarcely those incidents so common in that known to the rest of Europe, would barbarous period; and though history have been deemed credulous and overdoes not record the fact, it is not im- apprehensive. Yet, from the expulprobable that a few of the statesmen sion of the Tartars, Russia began to of the time had the most unbounded assume strength and consistency; and confidence in the honour or forbear after the succession to the throne of the ance of some great Scandinavian chief. Romanoff family, it began to acquire The great emperor, bowed as he was gigantic proportions; and it has grown by years, saw farther into the future to such a height under the Holstein
Gottorp dynasty, as to require the able; and in vigilance and energy he combined force of Western Europe surpassed all his predecessors, exceptto arrest its further progress. In the ing one. The spell is now broken, short space of thirty-one years, Alexis and his conduct for the last twelve Michaelovitch annexed White and months appears to have reduced him, Little Russia, conquered from the in some respects, to the level of the Poles; the Cossacks of the Ukraine princes of the Lower Empire. His made their submission; and even be- proclamations and his acts prove that fore Peter the Great made his way, his mind is unsettled, and his moral through treason and blood, to the powers deteriorated. His once powerthrone, the power of Russia began ful frame shows symptoms of decay. to be felt and dreaded by her nearest When the period comes for the govneighbours. Under that monarch ernment to pass into other hands, less Russia obtained a decided preponder- able than his were, Russia may beance in the north, and the victory come, in turn, the theatre of violent which laid prostrate her most formid- change, of revolution, and of civil able enemy, roused the attention of war, from which she has, since she the whole of Europe. Nevertheless, became a great empire, been exno great apprehension seems to have empt. been excited by the creation of a Rus One thousand years after the great sian fleet, the conquest and annexa Charlemagne foresaw the decay of tion of large provinces in the Baltic, his empire from the irruptions of the the foundation of the city which per- barbarians of the north, another mighty petuates the name of Peter, or the potentate, whose ambition was not force of will, the stubborn and stern less vast, and whose genius was not character which could overcome the less lofty, predicted danger to civilised obstacles he encountered in the or Europe from the hordes of Russia. ganisation of his unwieldy dominions. He, too, was in the sunset of life, and When that strange compound of crime had survived power. From the rock and virtue fell a victim to the excesses of St Helena the imperial captive in which he sought a recreation from beheld the cold shadow which prethe toil of government, Russia did ceded the march of the giant. When not cease to feel the impulse he had the fate of Europe was hanging in the imparted to it, and scarce a year balance during the conference of Tilelapsed without additions to her sit, even at that moment Napoleon moral and material strength. Under refused to accede to the prayer of Catherine II., the plunder of Poland, Alexander, and he thought Constanand the acquisitions in the Black Sea, tinople far too precious a gift to be gave her an ascendancy equal to that bestowed on the Czar.
I might which she possessed in the Baltic. have come to an understanding with In the present century, the invasion Alexander," he afterwards said, " and of Russia by the French, and the shared all Europe with him, had I vanity of dictating terms of peace in consented to give up Constantinople, the ancient capital of the Czars, led but Constantinople I would not give to the overthrow of Napoleon's colos- up." It was in vain that the Czar sal power, and made Russia believe repeated and increased his bribesthat she was invincible and irresistible. in vain he offered his co-operation in That idea was, to a great extent, a war which had for its object the shared by the other powers; and in ruin of England ; nothing could tempt the councils of Europe, Russia ac him, no argument could persuade him quired a vast accession of influence. to abandon to Russia a position which But in an empire where there are but would make her the first power on slaves and one master, all, or nearly earth. The idea of the aggrandiseall, depends on the personal character ment of Russia, and the subjugation of the sovereigu. Until lately, the of the rest of Europe by the hordes of Emperor Nicholas got credit for the the North, haunted him to the last, possession of all the qualities neces and in the most cheerless days of his sary for the administration of his vast captivity he predicted much of what states. His good sense, moderation, has since come to pass. Napoleon courage, and decision, were remark- was right--the possession of Constan