Page images

"The "elder" and the priest made their official report, which was to the effect that an old feud between the villages of Tzaldash and Moujab had resulted in the violent death, the previous January, of a son of Kazboulatt Shervashýdze, the mamasaklysy of Moujab, and as the people of Moujab muster stronger than they of Tzaldash, the allies of the deceased man's family had kept the assassin and his friends besieged in their tower since the commission of the crime, for which blood-money had never been paid. The Chief was inclined to the belief, from the evidence at hand, that the murder had not been premeditated, and that one man slew the other in self-defence ; he accordingly despatched a messenger to Tzaldash, to tell the accused and his two brothers that they were to leave the tower and come to him forthwith. A first and a second summons remaining disregarded, the Chief himself rode off to Tzaldash, accompanied by his interpreter, the priest, and a Cossack, and ordered the trio to descend, which they promised to do provided they were not constituted prisoners. After being repeatedly urged to give themselves up unconditionally for the easier investigation of the charge preferred against them, a ladder slung to a long rope was let over the parapet, and the three brothers descended to the ground, when he who was accused of the murder hurriedly approached the Chief, and insisting upon kissing him on the naked breast, pronounced his submission and readiness to follow.

• This farce being over, the brothers were ordered to the front, and as the party moved off necessarily at a walking pace, a loud voice at a loop-hole called upon it to halt, under a threat to fire. The explanation offered by the brothers was, that a man of Ypary who had fled his village for murder, had sworn to defend with his life the murderer of Tzaldash, in return for the protection afforded him from his own enemies. The interpreter shouted to the scoundrel that no harm was intended to the brothers, and that they were not being carried off against their will; the Yparian, however, who kept his rifle levelled, still threatened to fire and kill the Chief or the priest, if his friends were not immediately allowed to reascend the tower. Hereupon the youth pleaded to having sworn to stand by the runaway of Ypary, proscribed like himself

, to the last extremity, and to avoid further bloodshed begged that he might be permitted to stay, for the Yparian, he said, would most assuredly fire. The advantage being decidedly in favour of the bandit in his unassailable position, the Chief deemed it prudent to release the assassin from his bond, leaving the settlement of the matter to a future occasion, when he should be better prepared for enforcing his authority.'

On another occasion two travellers provided with Russian recommendations were, despite the Chief's personal remonstrance, refused lodging and compelled to sleep under a tree. Captain Telfer explicitly asserts that in Svanety Russian credentials are worse than useless, and when we find a magistrate unable, even when on the spot, to enforce the simplest order, or to procure provisions for his own party, it is easy to believe the statement. The Alpine Club explorers of 1868, although armed only with revolvers and a British passport, succeeded in visiting with impunity, if not without annoyance, the most barbarous communities, Adisch and Jibiani, where the Russian officials do not seem to care to venture themselves. But this was before Count Levaschoff's excursion.

The danger of this policy of letting ill alone and allowing government representatives to be insulted with impunity, was shown last year, when a serious outbreak was only averted by the forbearance of the officials concerned. The survey preliminary to a readjustment of the land-tax roused the discontent of the Svany, who surrounded the detachment at Betscho and prepared to resist in force an advance over the Latpar Pass from Mingrelia. In an appendix Captain Telfer relates from Russian sources the story of the disturbance and its suppression, which was effected without any fighting, except in tủe dislodgment of an obstinate ringleader from his tower, where he had to be formally bombarded with a howitzer. It is curious to learn that the Russians threw 300 Kabardah Militia into the valley by a glacier pass, apparently that over the main chain from Urusbieh.

Even this warning, however, did not suffice to rouse the Government to the necessity of impressing its strength on the handful of unruly mountaineers. Temporary tranquillity was purchased by concessions, and no force adequate to overawe the turbulent communities was left in the district. The result has been lamentable. During the past summer a small

. detachment of soldiers was sent to Kala, a group of villages at the northern foot of the Latpar Pass, to arrest a fugitive criminal. The Svany flew to their towers and to arms in defence of the right of asylum. At nightfall the Russian force retreated from the hamlet, having lost its three officers, and leaving dead Colonel Hrinewsky, “the Chief ’ of Captain Telfer's narrative, and his interpreter, who are said to have been treacherously slain. Such an outrage cannot be overlooked. The Independent Svany 'will afford a few weeks' occupation to two or three Russian regiments; their towers, to the great loss of lovers of the picturesque, will be levelled, and the malefactors may consider themselves lucky if they do not, like their late Abchaz neighbours, disappear off the face of the earth. With them will vanish all remains of resistance to Russian rule; and the last, and most beautiful, region in the Caucasus will be thrown open to travellers.

In another appendix Captain Telfer has reprinted from an old copy of the . Times' a very interesting account of an ascent of Ararat, which seems to have dropped entirely out


[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

of general recollection, and to have escaped the notice even of mountain-climbers. Major Robert Stuart's narrative is singularly clear and simple, and will doubtless be studied with interest in the Alpine Club. The only sentence in it we feel disposed to question, is that in which he expresses a hope that • Her Majesty will deign to accept this expression of allegiance' (the drinking of her health on the summit), on considering that hers is probably the first name that has ever • been pronounced on that solemn height since it was first quitted by the great patriarch of the human race. On the claim of Noah ever to have been in a position to descend the mountain we will not venture an opinion; but the ascents of Parrot in 1829 and of General Chodzko, the Dofour of the Caucasus, in 1850 are well authenticated.

Captain Telfer's pencil is more effective than his pen in putting before us the physical features of the region he was fortunate enough to wander through. His descriptions of scenery are somewhat few and meagre, but he says enough to show that he is not dull to the beauties of nature, and it must also be borne in mind that he was persecuted by the same bad weather as Mr. Grove. Moreover, to do any justice to Svanetian landscapes would require rare powers.

We shall be content if, by a medley of comparisons, we can succeed in suggesting some image to our readers' consciousness.

' Imagine the most luxuriant vegetation of an English park, woodland glades where stiff pines stand surrounded by quivering birches, thickets where the glooms of box and laurel are lit by golden showers of laburnum-blossom, turf strewn with the creamy heads of the low-growing Rhododendron Caucasicum; spread this carpet over hillsides large as those of the Wengern Alp, throwing in here and there a towered town such as we are accustomed to look for in the backgrounds of early Umbrian masters ; above all this plant between earth and sky a fence of glittering peaks crowned by the Jungfrau (Tau Tetnuld), the southern face of Monte Rosa (the Djanga range), and a double-headed Matterhorn (Uschba), and some faint realisation may be attained of the views round Latal and Ypary. We may

notice in company with the volumes here discussed Mr. Ashton Dilke's article • The Caucasus, published in the • Fortnightly Review 'for October 1874, a lively description of a ride across Daghestan into Kakhetia. From Botlikh the writer traversed a little-used horse-path which descends to Kvareli, after passing a crest, according to Mr. Dilke, 13,000 feet above the sea. The Russian maps do not, we think, show


[ocr errors]


any peak of this height on the main chain hereabouts. Before passing the watershed he found valleys · dark with forest,' and flowerbeds of • luxurious rankness,' a contrast to the stern treeless grandeur of the country round Gunib. In the Eastern Caucasus the traveller who will take his own path outside the Russian highways, already described by Lieut.-General Sir A. Cunynghame and others, will be well repaid. There live many of the most interesting tribes; there, also, the great snowy groups of Schebulos and Basardjusi rival the giants of the Alps. The paper we see is to form part of a book on • The Russian Power.' Before it is reprinted Mr. Dilke will doubtless correct one or two palpable inaccuracies which mar the effect of his introductory sketch of the country.

The last publication on our list is not the least important. Herr Radde's • Vier Vorträge über den Kaukasus' (forming an extra number of the 'Geographische Mittheilungen ') contains the substance of some lectures on the Caucasus delivered in Germany three years ago. The most interesting lectures are the second and the fourth—those on the Organic World and Tribes of the Caucasus. Herr Radde's heart is in botany, and he grows really eloquent over the marvellous but shortlived fora of the steppes, and the gigantic growth of weeds which bursts forth in spring from under the snowbeds of the Tzchenis Tzchali. With regard to the tribes his sketch is full of interest, though necessarily, from the limits of space, incomplete. The details of the religion and laws of the Chefsurs, a race of doubtful origin, living east of the Dariel, on the borders of Georgia and Daghestan, are most curious. Calling themselves Christians they are yet polytheists, the greatest of their pantheon being, naturally, the God of War. They still preserve the habit of wearing suits of fine chain armour, and consider themselves, on what ground is not very apparent, to be descended from some crusaders, who, taking an unusual route homewards, found in Kakhety their earthly paradise. The chapter on the “Inorganic World' is the least satisfactory. The lecturer's object evidently was to put before his countrymen the commercial importance and undeveloped mineral resources of the Caucasus, and he consequently sacrifices much matter of general interest. All the four lectures suffer from compression. Herr Radde tells us in his preface that he only claims to have laid down the lines of a comprehensive work on the Caucasus. We hope he will feel it his duty to go on with a task for which he has many advantages, and that in its execution he will not forget the claim of the mountains to a fair share of notice. Herr Abich has

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

collected some materials not as yet reproduced outside Russia, with regard to traces of ancient glacier action and geological structure, and there is much to be said on these and kindred topics. The book on the Caucasus has yet to be written, and Herr Radde has some of the qualifications necessary for the writer. But for the sake of English readers it is impossible not to regret that we had not some years ago a consulate at Tiflis, and that Mr. Gifford Palgrave, who, from Soukhoum Kaleh and Trebizonde, has shown us how he can describe the country and its people, was not our consul there.

ART. III.-1. Les Fourmis de la Suisse. Systématique,

Notices Anatomiques et Physiologiques, Architecture, Distribution Géographique, Nouvelles Expériences et Observations

de Mæurs. By AUGUSTE FOREL. Genêve : 1874. 2. Harvesting Ants. By J. TRAHERNE MOGGRIDGE, F.L.S.

London : 1873. 3. Observations on Ants. By Sir John LUBBOCK, Bart.,

F.R.S. Linnean Society's Journal, Vol. XII. OF all subjects relating to the natural history of animals

there is, perhaps, none more curious, attractive, and varied than that of Insects, and of this class the order known to entomologists by the name of Hymenoptera stands prominently out, and has just claims to hold the first place amongst the other orders of the insect world.

The various members of this order are characterised by some remarkable peculiarities of structure, and by a highly developed instinct and intelligence; they are often excellent architects, and build for themselves and their young dwellings of elaborate form; they show an unbounded love of their offspring, which they guard with the greatest care and selfsacrifice; form governments, send forth colonies, and even in some instances capture slaves, whose labours they appropriate to themselves. Bees, wasps, ants, ichneumons, gall-flies, and saw-flies are examples of the order Hymenoptera more or less familiar to everyone.

The insects of this order have the following characteristics : all possess four wings; the female has an ovipositor in the shape of an auger or a saw, or a poisonous sting; all undergo a complete metamorphosis; the larvæ are generally helpless and footless grubs, and require to be supplied with food. Bees, wasps, and ants have engaged the attention of observers from the earliest times; it is the last

« PreviousContinue »