Front Page Titles (by Subject) Appendix B: The Vixen, and Circassia APRIL 1837 - The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXXI - Miscellaneous Writings
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Appendix B: The Vixen, and Circassia APRIL 1837 - John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXXI - Miscellaneous Writings 
The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXXI - Miscellaneous Writings, ed. John M. Robson (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1989).
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The Vixen, and Circassia
London and Westminster Review, V & XXVII (Apr. 1837), 196-209. Headed: “Art. VIII. / The Vixen and Circassia. / 1. Voyages aux Indes-Orientales par le Nord de l’Europe, les Provinces du Caucase, la Géorgie, l’Arménie, la Perse, etc., etc., par M. Charles Bélanger [1805-81]. [4 vols.] Paris [: Bertrand], 1836-37 [1834-38]. London, Dulau and Co. [not located]. / 2. A Geographical, Statistical, and Commercial Account of the Russian Ports in the Black Sea, the Sea of Asoph, and the Mouth of the Danube. From the German. With an Appendix, containing the Official Report, lately published, of the European Commerce of that Empire in 1835. [London:] Schloss [and Richardson], Great Russell Street. 1837.” Signed “B.T.” Not listed in Mill’s bibliography. Mill sent a set of the London and Westminster Review to the Foxes of Falmouth, with annotations indicating authorship; the set has not been located, but some attributions are given in Memories of Old Friends, Being Extracts from the Journals and Letters of Caroline Fox, from 1835 to 1871, ed. H.N. Pym, new and rev. ed. (London: Smith, Elder, 1883), pp. 102-4. (The mention of the gift is in Vol. I, p. 158 in the 2nd ed.) In that list, this article is said to be marked “J.S. Mill and C. Buller” (p. 103). It seems likely that Mill wrote the opening paragraphs (perhaps the first four pages), and the conclusion, and collaborated in the rest with Buller, the main author.
the subject of the above works has acquired a very great momentary interest, from the late seizure of a British vessel by the Russians on the coast of Circassia. The capture of the Vixen has been known in this country for two months: but since that period the public has been vainly looking to its ministers for any vindication of the national interests, or any explanation of the apparent wrong done to them. The matter has been frequently urged on the notice of the House of Commons, in the shape of questions and passing remarks.1 It has very lately been brought forward in a more precise shape by Mr. Roebuck, in moving for papers relative to the transaction.2 These papers were refused by Lord Palmerston, on the ground which is now taken by every Secretary for the Foreign Department—that of pending negotiations:3 the silence of the noble Lord was approved by many of those gentlemen, who think it their duty to utter their cuckoo note of agreement in a common absurdity: the required information was refused; and no explanation whatever was given. The admission of such a reason as sufficient to justify the withholding such information is equivalent to depriving the House of Commons of all control over the foreign policy of the country. In former times—in that of the transaction, for instance, respecting Nootka Sound, the naval force of the country was kept on so low a footing as to compel Ministers to have recourse to Parliament on the first prospect of any disturbance of our foreign relations.4 But with a fleet so large as to admit of our carrying on even a war on a moderate scale, a minister may indulge for a long time the natural official aversion to responsibility to Parliament. He may, if he chooses it, involve the nation half-way in a war, or he may let slip irrecoverably the proper opportunity for vindicating the national interests. Parliament has no control over him. While the public feeling is strong on any subject concerning the foreign relations of the country, the Foreign Minister may refuse all information, and consequently disable the public from exercising any control over his measures. When the public interest in the matter has exhausted itself, the Minister has only to inform an indifferent audience of his necessarily final decision of a matter over which the House of Commons has not previously had, and cannot thereafter exercise, any control.
We have not yet learned from Lord Palmerston the ground on which this seizure of British property, this interruption of British commerce, are justified. The Vixen has been seized, and condemned: this we know; but for what offence, and by what authority, and with what right, we know not. We know not whether the Russian Government defends this act on the fact of its being done in the course of a blockade of a hostile country, and the consequent application of those principles of maritime blockade, which this country laboured to establish during the last war, and of which, however we may agree with Mr. Roebuck as to their utter injustice and impolicy,5 the original and most zealous assertors have no right to demand the renunciation from others till they have set the example themselves. If this be the ground assumed, we know not how far it is supported by the facts of the case; whether the blockade had been sufficiently notified; whether it was enforced by sufficient naval means. But we cannot yet make out whether the seizure of the Vixen is not justified on grounds perfectly contrary, and perfectly inconsistent with these: whether Russia does not look on Circassia not as a hostile but a subject country: whether she does not claim to exercise a sovereign right over its trade and internal regulations; and whether the offence of the Vixen is not stated to be the violation of the Russian regulations of police, trade, or quarantine. In this case, we know not how this claim of sovereignty is supported; or how these sanatory, fiscal, or police regulations were notified so publicly as to justify the punishment of foreigners for a violation of them. And on all these matters the public may expect to be enlightened when it shall not care about the matter: when our commercial interests in the Black Sea, and our moral influence on its shores, shall have been annihilated, and it shall please the Russian Government to do us similar wrong with similar impunity in some other part of the world.
We are aware that we have been using language of a kind from which we have always hitherto been averse; and our readers will believe that we have caught the prevailing epidemic of an exaggerated fear of Russia. But this is not the case. Of the Russian power we have as little fear as ever, because we form as low an estimate of it as ever. We believe, as we always have believed, that the political influence of Russia is in many respects detrimental, and most seriously detrimental, to the interests of European freedom and civilization; and that its designs of aggrandisement are of a most extensive and pernicious nature. But we are compelled to assert the impolicy of involving one country in hostilities for the interests of other nations: and, with whatever reluctance we may abandon the interests of any independent people to the power of this barbarous despotism, we must confess that the blood and treasure, and commercial prosperity of Englishmen must not be perilled in the chances of what would be an obstinate and uncertain struggle for continental interests. The Russian designs of aggrandisement still inspire us with little terror, because these extensive designs appear to rest on very inadequate means of execution. We see no reason to believe that Russia could at present inflict the slightest permanent injury on us; or that any acquisition, which she has any chance of making, would materially increase her power of coping with us. We would not rush into the certain evils of war with a country which contributes so large a proportion to our foreign commerce, in order to avert distant and fancied chances of collision.
But the mere regard for our own interests, which induces us to deprecate hostilities resulting from idle fears, or an overstrained alarm for our dignity, prompts us to repel with the utmost vigour and celerity any actual attack on the interests of our countrymen, or any attempt to diminish our national power. We would not enter on a war with Russia to avert some fancied chance of a future attack on our Indian possessions. But an interference with our present commerce is a present evil. The maintenance of the rights of our merchants, and of the security of our commerce, is a matter which we must contend for. An Englishman6 has lost the cargo and hulk of the Vixen: English sailors have been maltreated: our merchants will consequently expect similar treatment, and will therefore be deterred from the trade with Circassia. Our merchants will lose this trade, our manufacturers this market. Here is an injury which we ought to resent, in order to procure reparation to our countrymen who have in this particular instance sustained loss,—in order to give a sense of security to those of our countrymen who are, under present circumstances, likely to be deterred from engaging in a profitable trade.
But we view this matter as an insult; and in that light likely to do us more hurt than we should experience from submitting to the actual injury. It is true that the whole trade of the Black Sea (as far as it is affected by this transaction) would not in twenty years be equivalent to the loss of a two-years’ war with so valuable a commercial connexion as Russia; and if the Court of St. Petersburgh were doggedly bent on merely excluding us from commerce with the Caucasus, it would be a question worthy of our serious consideration, whether it would be worth our while to enforce justice by war. But this act of the Russian Government is but one proof among many of a spirit of insolence and encroachment, which threatens us, if unchecked, with more serious injuries. We know that we are using terms full of danger: and when we think of the follies that nations have committed on the score of national honour, we feel almost inclined to repent of having expressed resentment at a national insult, which a country of the undoubted strength and courage of Great Britain can well afford to let pass. But this is of the class of insults which imply injury; which, in fact, aggravate the mischief of a slight injury by showing the existence of a disposition to inflict more. The Russian Government inflicts this injury because it hates us and because it fancies we cannot help submitting to that, and even worse, at her hands. If we submit to this, the spirit of hostility which is known to actuate the Government—not the people—will soon find an opportunity for some other encroachment or some other vexation of greater magnitude; and it is best in these cases to check the first outbreak of an aggressive spirit even in trifling matters, because the aggressor, after all, is as loth actually to embark in war for a slight object as the nation which is aggrieved. The sum of these, and other similar encroachments, which will follow this if it succeeds, will become serious: the only thing which can prevent a further progress in the series, is the showing Russia, by our conduct in the present instance, that she can only continue at the cost of war. The earlier we do this, the less we lose before we do it. This barbarous and unprincipled despotism cannot comprehend forbearance springing from any motive but fear; and we must show Russia that it has not the hold on us of which it would make so unmerciful a use. But we need not anticipate the evils of war. Russia cannot maintain a six-weeks’ war against England. Mr. Roebuck did not exaggerate when he said that the English would in a very brief period of time sweep the military and commercial marine of Russia off the seas, and compel the Emperor, at the hazard of his crown and his life, to accept our terms.7 He might have added, that two British squadrons, at the Dardanelles and the Sound, might starve the Russian empire.
How long Lord Palmerston will allow, or, rather, will be permitted to allow, this matter to remain suspended on the tardy deliberations of lawyers, and the purposed procrastinations of diplomacy, it is not for us to say. In the mean time, it will be of some service to show what ought to be done; and the work which we have placed at the head of this article throws some light on one of the important questions involved in the affair of the Vixen; namely, the right of Russia to the acknowledgment by other nations of her sovereignty of the Caucasus.
It was about the beginning of the present century that the Czars began to form any steady system of policy for the aggrandisement of their dominions in the mountainous districts between the Black Sea and the Caspian; several of the Circassian tribes, indeed, had become the allies or vassals of Russia about the close of the sixteenth century, but they were neglected or betrayed; and, about the beginning of the last century, most of them embraced the Mahommedan faith. In 1723, Peter the Great,8 anxious to secure for his subjects the navigation of the Caspian Sea, and, as he hoped, a large portion of the trade with India, concluded a treaty with Ismael Bey, the ambassador of Shah Támásp, by which it was stipulated that the Russian Emperor should expel the Afghans, and establish Támásp upon the throne of Persia, in return for which service the Persian prince agreed to cede to his ally the towns of Derbend and Bakú, with the provinces of Daghestan, Shirwán, Ghilán, and Asterabad.9 Two years after, the Court of St. Petersburgh, unscrupulously violating the promises made to Támásp, concluded a partition treaty with the Court of Constantinople, by which the Russians were to obtain all the Caspian Provinces from the country of the Turkomans to the conflux of the Kuŕ and the Araxes.10 The districts thus perfidiously acquired were found to be unprofitable and expensive: they were abandoned at the first summons of Nadir Shah.11 But the projects of establishing empire over the Caucasian and Caspian provinces were renewed when the sovereign of Georgia, in 1783, declared himself a vassal of the Russian empire; and they have been still more steadily prosecuted since Georgia was definitely united to Russia in 1806.12
To estimate justly the peculiar character of this mountain region, it is of more importance to examine its materials physically than geographically: the races that inhabit these districts are of more importance to the inquirer than the structure of their country; and again, the nature of the mountains and rivers is a matter requiring more minute investigation than the circumstances of their position.
Beginning at the western side of the Caucasian provinces, between the Black Sea and the mountain-chain, we find a singularly warlike and unconquered race, the Abassians. Their country is full of defiles, where a few brave men may bid defiance to an host: they have been from remote ages robbers by land and pirates by sea: they have been attacked by every power that ever aimed at establishing supremacy in the Black Sea, but they have never wholly lost their rude independence. Identity of usages and great similarity of language seem to connect them with the Circassians on the northern declivity of the Caucasus; but from the remotest ages of history a singular tradition has prevailed which traces their origin to an Egyptian colony established by Sesostris13 at the mouth of the Phasis. Herodotus declares that the Colchians or Abassians related the circumstance themselves,* and he mentions several coincidences in colour, physical constitution, language and usages; dwelling chiefly on the practice of circumcision, which was common to the two nations.† Whatever may have been their origin, they have been always averse to civilization, and they have gradually retired into their mountain fastnesses before the Georgian race, branches of which have expelled the Abassians from Imeretia and Mingrelia.
On the northern declivity of the Caucasus are found the tribes of the Cherkessians or Circassians, equally remarkable for their ferocity and beauty. Klaproth has informed us that they are divided into five classes, princes, nobles, freedmen of nobles, freedmen of freedmen, and slaves.14 Their form of government is aristocratic, but the wars between the beharichs, or petty princes, render the country almost perpetually a prey to anarchy. Some of the tribes profess Christianity, others Mahommedanism, others jumble the two creeds together, and few pay any regard to the moral principles of either. But Klaproth has not done full justice to their daring and desperate valour, nor does he notice the great value that they set on martial achievements. In fact a prince cannot be confirmed in the privileges of his birth until he has given some signal proof of his heroism. Colonel Rottier, who served several campaigns as a Russian officer in the Caucasian wars, mentions many instances of Cherkessian bravery or temerity. On one occasion a young beharich with three friends resolved to cut through a Russian column:* the daring prince effected a passage, but his three followers were slain.
Rottier adds: “even the women of this warlike nation follow their husbands to the field, not merely to dress wounds, or rouse the courage of the men, but to combat by their side.”15 This certainly tends to prove that the history of the Amazons is not quite fabulous. Most readers are aware that Zonoras relates, that on the field of battle where Pompey conquered the Albanians, cuirasses were found, which could only have belonged to women; and Procopius relates a similar circumstance of a battle between the Romans and the Huns.16 But in more modern times some Cherkessian tribes having been repulsed in an attack on the people of Karatchai, several suits of armour were brought to the prince of that country, taken from the corpses of women who had fallen in the battle. “Each consisted of a helmet, braces, and a cuirass composed of small steel plates. A vest of woollen stuff, of a bright red colour, was attached to the cuirass, and reached about half way down the leg.”* The Circassians regret the abolition of their slave-trade; to them, indeed, a state of slavery is any thing but terrible; the greater part of the population being serfs, have nothing to fear from a change in their condition: the young men are encouraged to offer themselves for sale by the anecdotes they hear of the exalted posts to which their countrymen have attained in Egypt and Turkey; and the girls, prisoners at home, and forced to work, hope that their charms may win them a more prosperous fate in another land. The prohibition of this traffic is consequently felt as a grievance, and it is a principal cause of their intense hatred of the Russian power. Lieutenant Conolly, one of the latest British travellers through these regions, gives a very lively picture of the state of the garrisons sent to control those fierce mountaineers:
The Russians do not yet command free passage through the Caucasus; for they are obliged to be very vigilant against surprise by these Circassian sons of the mist, who still cherish the bitterest hatred against them. In some instances, the Russian posts on the right of the defile were opposed to little stone eyries perched upon the opposite heights; and when any number of the Caucasians were observed descending the great paths on the mountain side, the Russian guards would turn out and be on the alert. Not very long before our arrival we learned that a party of Circassians had, in the sheer spirit of hatred, lain in ambush for a return guard of some sixteen Cossacks, and killed every man.
Such facts seem to argue great weakness on the part of the Russians; but great have been the difficulties they have contended with, in keeping the upper hand over enemies whose haunts are almost inaccessible to any but themselves. Several colonies of these ferocious mountaineers have been captured and transplanted to villages of their own in the plains, where they are guarded, and live as sulkily as wildbeasts; and a general crusade, if I may be allowed the expression, has been talked of for some years past, to sweep such untameable enemies from the mountains, and settle them on the plains in the interior of Russia.†
North and east of the Caucasus, between the river Terek and the Caspian sea, are tribes still more barbarous and more hostile. The principal are the Chetchentzes and the Lesghies, but there are several others. Though they differ in language and in origin, their usages are alike, and the description of one will serve for the rest.
The Lesghies, whose name is formidable even at the gates of Astrachan, inhabit the north of Daghestan, and are all Mohammedans. In the year 684 the Saracens, headed by Mushlimeh, the brother of the Khaliph Walid,17 obtained possession of Georgia, and continued to hold it, in spite of their incessant wars with the mountain tribes, until the year 732. During this interval several nomade tribes came from the sterile plains of central Asia to colonise these fertile valleys. Wandering hordes are still found in Daghestan, who have preserved, in whole or in part, the language of their Saracenic ancestors. Most of the Lesghies also in their appearance, manners, and idiom, exhibit marks of a mixed descent. There have been few descriptions published of this remarkable people: war alone discloses their character, and almost their existence, for it is rarely that the Russians have dared to penetrate their forests and mountains.
In Pompey’s age the Lesghies, called Albanians, from their river Albanus, still known by the name of Al-sú, or The White Water, though repulsed and decimated by the Roman armies, remained unsubdued, and continued to defy the victorious legions. Since that time the mixture of their race with the Saracenic colonists has served to augment their natural vigour, and strengthen their love of independence.
In the year 1741 Nadir Shah invaded Daghestan, to revenge the blood of his brother Ibrahaim Khan,18 who had been slain in an attack of the Lesghies. Colonel Rottier assures us that the memory of this conqueror’s exploits is still preserved in the popular songs of the Caucasus,* —but he never engaged in a more hazardous enterprise. The mountaineers defended themselves with the most desperate bravery, and the rugged nature of the whole country of Daghestan made it almost impossible to subdue them. The bravest troops of the Persian army sunk under the fatigues of this harassing war, and the Lesghies having threatened to put themselves under the protection of Russia, Nadir returned from this expedition with very partial success and very great loss.
Jonas Hanway has preserved a copy of the letter which the Lesghies addressed on this occasion to the Russian general;† it enclosed a summary of their forces, which is sufficiently curious.
Sir John Malcolm* thinks this estimate greatly exaggerated; but it must be received, not as the amount that could actually be brought into the field, but as the census of all the fighting men in the different divisions of Daghestan. A Russian journal estimates the population of the Lesghian provinces at half a million;19 and if this be at all near the truth, we cannot think the number of men stated as fit for service at all out of proportion.
From time immemorial the Lesghies have subsisted on plunder: when they cannot obtain employment from the Sultan, the Shah, or the Tartar Khans at war with Russia, they pour down on the plains of Georgia, as the highlanders of yore into the Lennox.
Issuing in spring from their impregnable fastnesses and mountains covered with snow, they principally infest Karthlinia and the lovely district of Kisiché Búdhi. They select their position near the fords of rivers, or in the woods bordering on defiles, or in the ruins of old monasteries; there they wait for the shepherd and his flock, the merchant’s caravan, or even the single traveller. They often venture to seek their prey in villages, and even in towns: they carry off the inhabitants as prisoners, ransom them, or keep them as slaves. The difficulty of preventing the flight of the latter has induced them to adopt an operation invented by the most ingenious ferocity. They guard them during the first days of their captivity with apparent negligence, and impose on them such severe tasks that a great many attempt to escape. Unacquainted with the localities, the fugitives are easily retaken, and to prevent a renewal of the effort, the Lesghian makes an incision under his captive’s heel, and thrusts chopped horse-hair into the wound. The cut soon cicatrises over this foreign body, and seems completely healed; but the wretch thus punished feels a painful tingling every time that he rests on his heel, and during the rest of his life is forced to walk on tiptoe.†
Though the Lesghies profess to be guided by the Koran, they unscrupulously violate some of its precepts. They are very fond of wine and brandy. During the war of 1812 a division of them, infuriated with liquor, broke through a Russian brigade, and when a fresh regiment came up, the conquered and conquerors were found stretched side by side, the former dead and the latter drunk. Colonel Rottier mentions several examples of their bravery, their ferocity, and their religious enthusiasm; but we have before us more recent information in the shape of an official report on the military operations against the Mussulman mountaineers of the Caucasus, translated from the Russian by the lamented Klaproth for the Asiatic society of Paris.‡ This war, which was scarcely heard of in Europe, began in 1828, and ended in 1832. A brief account of it will better illustrate the condition of the Cherkessians and the Lesghies than any laboured dissertation.
In the year 1828 several tribes of Daghestan demanded that the Russian tribunals should be abolished and justice administered by Mohammedan courts. Their discontent was stimulated by Shah Kazi Mollah,20 a native of Húmry, a village in the western territories of the Lesghians: he had the art to persuade his countrymen that he was a prophet destined to restore the purity of Islam, and he soon found himself at the head of 6000 followers, whom he named Múrids or disciples. Being defeated by the Russian general Rosen,21 he sought refuge with the Chetchentzes, the Galgaï, and the Karaboulak; fierce tribes that inhabit the mountainous districts near the sources of the Sunja, the Martan, and the Aksai. His pretensions were accredited by these barbarous hordes, and he taught his disciples that their first duty was the extermination of the Russians. Several villages were destroyed, detachments cut off, and stragglers massacred or enslaved. In 1831 he fought no less than six pitched battles with the imperial troops; and though the Russians assert that he was invariably defeated, we find that his influence and power were greatly strengthened, so that at the beginning of 1832 his authority was not only recognised by the insurgents of Daghestan, but by several tribes in Kabarda, and even in Kuban.
Baron Rosen, with a numerous and well-appointed army, was sent to suppress this dangerous revolt. He entered the country of the Chetchentzes, and stormed their principal village Ghermentchouk. One incident will serve to show the obstinate resistance made by these enthusiastic mountaineers.
After the village had been occupied, a body of about fifty men, conducted by the Mollah Abd-er-rahman, one of the most determined partisans of Kazi Mollah, was cut off from the rest, and surrounded in a large house. These fellows had no hope of safety: but when they were summoned to surrender, they thundered out verses of the Koran, as is their custom when they devote themselves to death. Then working loop-holes through the walls, they opened a well-supported and well-directed fire upon their assailants. Several grenades thrown down the chimney exploded in the interior of the house, but failed to shake their resolution. Orders were at length given to set fire to the place. Eleven of them, half suffocated by the smoke, came out and surrendered; a few others sword in hand threw themselves on our bayonets; but far the greater part perished with Abd-er-rahman chaunting to the last their song of death.*
From the country of the Chetchentzes the Russians next marched into the Lesghian districts. Here they encountered physical obstacles not less formidable than the desperate valour of the warriors previously described. If, indeed, the road to Húmry be a specimen of Caucasian communications, the military occupation of these countries is all but impossible.
The road to Húmry from the territory of the Chetchentzes presents incredible difficulties. It ascends from Karanai to the snowy summit of a lofty mountain, and then descends in a winding direction about four wersts (three miles) over the scarped side of a mountain, along precipices and across rocks: it is only the breadth of an ordinary footpath. It afterwards passes about the same distance over the narrow projections of rocks, where there are no means of going from one to the other but by ladders, with which it is necessary to come provided. Afterwards it joins another road coming from Erpeli, between two walls of perpendicular rock, when it becomes still narrower and more rugged. And finally, in front of the village of Húmry, it is crossed by three walls, the first of which is flanked by towers. The whole side of the mountain is cut into terraces, so judiciously arranged as to afford the means of making the most effective resistance.*
The Lesghians deemed this pass impregnable, and they might easily have made it so; but relying too much on its difficulties, they neglected to guard it, contenting themselves with exclaiming, “the Russians can only come here, as the rain does, by falling from heaven.”22 Favoured by a thick fog, the Russians occupied the mountains in front of Húmry, and after a furious cannonade, carried the village by storm. The final scene is too characteristic of Lesghian valour to be omitted:
After the soldiers had carried the first wall, it was not possible for the garrisons of the towers to escape. Still they refused to surrender; but on the contrary, became more obstinate in their resistance. General Veliaminov opened a heavy cannonade on the ramparts in front of the towers; but as the bandits still kept up their fire, a body of volunteers, from the corps of sappers and miners, stormed the forts, and put the mountaineers who defended them to the sword. Amongst those who fell were Kazi Mollah and his most distinguished partisans: their bodies, pierced with bayonets, were recognised next morning by their countrymen. Night put an end to the conflict, and our advanced guard halted between the third wall and the village. On the morning of the 30th of October, 1832, the Russian troops entered into Húmry.†
To complete this “strange eventful history,”23 we must quote the proclamation issued by the Russian Major-General, to inform the Lesghians of his success:
The justice of God has overtaken Kazi Mollah, the preacher of false doctrines, the enemy of peace. This scoundrel, his principal adherents, and a number of wretches that he had deceived, have been exterminated by the victorious Russian army in the celebrated defiles of Húmry, long believed impregnable.
May this example serve as a warning to all disturbers of the public tranquillity! May they, listening to the voice of penitence, have recourse to the powerful Russian government, and our mighty Emperor, in his gracious condescension, will mercifully grant them pardon. But whoever shall hereafter dare to form rebellious plots shall feel the utmost rigour of the laws. Neither mountains, nor forests, nor ravines, will shelter the traitor. The triumphant Russian troops will penetrate everywhere, and everywhere punish the disobedient. The Galgaï, the Ilczkerians, the Chetchentzes, and others, have experienced this truth! He that hath ears to hear, let him hear and understand!‡
We have lately seen a gentleman just returned from Astrachan, who assures us that Kazi Mollah’s sect is not yet extinct, and that the Lesghies continue to exhibit their former fanaticism and hatred of the Russian rule. They are also as inveterately hostile to the Georgians as ever; and their hatred is returned with interest. The Georgians form ambushes for the Lesghians who traverse their country on the road to Turkey, saying, “These Mussulman dogs constantly assault and pillage us:” on the other hand, the Lesghians make forays into Georgia, declaring, “These Christian dogs formerly hunted us in our mountains, under the pretence of converting us.” Thus all over the world a difference of religion is held to justify turpitude and atrocity.*
South of the Caucasus, Russia possesses Georgia, Imeretia, Mingrelia, and the greater part of Armenia. The Georgians voluntarily submitted to the Russian yoke to escape from the capricious tyranny of the Persians; and though they felt very bitterly the perfidious cruelty displayed to their princes, they continued unswerving in their allegiance until 1812, when a Georgian army, sent against the Aghabziké, was sacrificed by the incapacity or treachery of the Russian general:24 this national wrong, followed by an onerous system of fiscal regulations, provoked a revolt, which was quelled in blood; but its spirit still survives. Georgia is a fertile country, and Tiflis, its capital, is a thriving city; but the inhabitants are governed by foreigners, who look upon the vice-royalty as a punishment rather than an honour. Indeed, it is notorious that a southern government is regarded by the Court of St. Petersburgh as a species of honourable exile.†
From the above details, the reader will be able to form a just conception of the true character of the dominion which it is pretended that Russia possesses over the mountain tribes of the Caucasus. Russia has long endeavoured to render those tribes subject to her, but she is now as far as ever from having succeeded. Still more absurd is it to pretend that Turkey was sovereign to these regions, and ceded them to Russia by the treaty of Adrianople.25 What Turkey never had, she could not part with. The Caucasian tribes were not subject to Turkey, they were subject to no one; they have never been conquered, and dominion over them, how often soever it may have been claimed, has never yet been enforced. It is on the laws of war, therefore, and not on the internal regulations of the Russian empire, that the seizure of the Vixen must, if at all, be defended. Whether British traders can be excluded from Circassia on the plea of a blockade, is a question which remains to be discussed; on the plea of quarantine, revenue, or police, they certainly cannot. Russia cannot legislate for Circassia on any of these points, for Circassia is not Russian.
[1 ]See PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 37, cols. 133, 134 (6 Feb., 1837), and 165 (9 Mar., 1837).
[2 ]John Arthur Roebuck (1801-79), Motion on the Vixen—Treaty of Adrianople (17 Mar., 1837), ibid., col. 628.
[3 ]Henry John Temple (1784-1865), Speech on the Vixen—Treaty of Adrianople, ibid., cols. 630-6.
[4 ]See the debate on the King’s Message respecting Captures at Nootka Sound (5-6 May, 1790), in The Parliamentary History of England, ed. William Cobbett and John Wright, 36 vols. (London: Bagshaw, Longmans, 1806-20), Vol. XXVIII, cols. 769-82.
[5 ]See Roebuck, speech of 17 Mar., 1837, col. 622.
[6 ]George Bell and Co. owned the Vixen.
[7 ]Roebuck, speech of 17 Mar., 1837, col. 623; the Emperor was Czar Nicholas I (1796-1855).
[8 ]Czar of Russia (1672-1725).
[9 ]Ismael Beg (d. ca. 1740), ambassador of Shah Tahmasp II (1704-40), was instrumental in securing the Treaty of Alliance between Russia and Persia, signed at St. Petersburg, 12 September, 1723 (in Consolidated Treaty Series, Vol. XXXI, pp. 423-8).
[10 ]Treaty between Russia and Turkey, signed at Constantinople, 23 June, 1724 (ibid., pp. 487-94).
[11 ]Nadir Quli Beg (1687-1747), known as Nadir Shah.
[12 ]Heraclius II (d. 1798) put himself under Russian protection by the Treaty between Georgia and Russia, signed at Fortress George, 24 July, 1783 (in Consolidated Treaty Series, Vol. XLVIII, pp. 413-28). Eastern Georgia was annexed in December 1800 and much of western Georgia in October 1804. Perhaps the reference is to the beginning of the Russo-Turkish war of 1806-12.
[13 ]One of the legendary Pharoahs of Egypt, dating from the beginning of the second millenium
[* ]He adds: “the Phoenicians and Syrians of Palestine confess that they learned this practice (of circumcision) from the Egyptians; but the Syrians who dwell on the rivers Thermodon and Parthenius assert that they recently derived the practice from the Colchians.” [Herodotus (ca. 484-420 ), the Greek historian; see Herodotus (Greek and English), trans. A.D. Godley, 4 vols. (London: Heinemann; New York: Putnam’s Sons, 1926-30), Vol. I, p. 393 (II, 104).] This theory has been revived in our own day by Mr. Klaproth, who asserts that he recognised several Coptic words in the idioms of the north-western Caucasus. [Heinrich Julius von Klaproth (1783-1835), Tableau historique, géographique, ethnographique et politique du Caucase (Paris: Ponthieu, 1827), pp. 8-9.] We are far, however, from receiving this evidence as conclusive; we are of those who believe that the immediate derivation of the Coptic from the ancient language of Egypt is anything but proved; and we should much rather attribute these similarities to the Cherkessian Mamlukes who so long were the masters of Egypt. “During the five hundred and fifty years,” says Volney ([Constantine François de Chasseboeuf, comte de Volney (1757-1820),] Voyage en Syrie [et en Egypte, 2 vols. (Paris: Volland, and Desenne, 1787), Vol. I,] pp. 99, 101), “that the Mamlukes were in Egypt, no one of them became founder of an existing line; there was not a single family existing in the second generation; all their children died young. The means by which they were perpetuated are the same as those by which they were established; that is to say, by fresh importations of slaves from their native country (Circassia).” This would lead us to reverse the order of causation, and conclude that the Copts derived the words common to both nations from the Cherkessians.
[† ]Herodotus, Euterpe, Lib. II. See 103, 104, and 105. [Herodotus, Vol. I, pp. 391-3.] It is also mentioned by Valerius Flaccus.
(Argonaut [Gaius Valerius Flaccus (d. ca. 90 ); see Valerius Flaccus (Latin and English), trans. J.H. Mozley (London: Heinemann; Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1934), pp. 274], V, 417-22.)
[14 ]Klaproth, Travels in the Caucasus and Georgia, trans. F. Shoberl (London: Colburn, 1814), p. 314.
[* ]The Colonel uses a phrase common to the Irish peasants, when attacking a rival faction: “he swore he’d let daylight through the column.” [Translated from Bernard Eugène Antoine Rottiers (1771-1858), Itinéraire de Tiflis à Constantinople (Brussels: Tarlier, 1829), p. 18.]
[16 ]For the tale concerning Gnaeus Pompeius (106-48 ), see Plutarch, Life of Pompey, in Lives, Vol. V, p. 209, a Greek passage that Joannes Zonaras used in his Ἐπιτομἠ Ἱστοριων; for Procopius (ca. 326-66 ), see Procopius (Greek and English), trans. H.B. Dewing, 7 vols. (London: Heinemann; New York: Macmillan, 1914-40), Vol. V, pp. 77-9 (VIII, iii, 10).
[* ][Translated from] Recueil de Voyages dans le Nord, [ed. Jean Frédéric Bernard (d. 1752), 10 vols. (Amsterdam: Bernard, 1715-38),] Vol. VII, pp. 180-1.
[† ]Conolly’s Travels [Arthur Conolly (1807-42), Journey to the North of India, 2 vols. (London: Bentley, 1834)], Vol. I, pp. 9-10.
[17 ]Caliph Walid I (675-715 ) and his brother Maslama (d. 739 )
[18 ]Muhammad Ibrahim Khan (d. 1738).
[* ]Rottiers, pp. 47-8. [The preceding two paragraphs closely follow Rottiers, pp. 46-7.]
[† ]Hanway’s Travels [Jonas Hanway (1712-86), An Historical Account of the British Trade over the Caspian Sea (1753), 2nd ed., 2 vols. (London: Osborne, et al., 1754)], Vol. II, pp. 410-11. [Ahmed Khan, the Ousmai, and Ahmed Khan, of Shunketén, both fl. 1741.]
[* ][John Malcolm (1769-1833),] History of Persia, [2 vols. (London: Murray, 1815),] Vol. II, p. 95n.
[19 ]Not located.
[† ]Rottiers, pp. 48-9.
[‡ ][“Rapport officiel sur les opérations de guerre contre les montagnards, Musulmans du Caucase,” trans. Klaproth,] Nouveau Journal Asiatique, No. 61 [2nd ser., XI (Jan. 1833), 18-30.]
[20 ]Shah Gazi Muhammed (ca. 1793-1832).
[21 ]Grigory Vladmirovich Rozen (1781-1841).
[* ][Translated from] “Rapport officiel,” pp. 23-4.
[* ][Translated from] ibid., pp. 24-5.
[22 ]Translated from ibid., p. 26.
[† ][Translated from] ibid., p. 28. [The Russian general was Alexei Veliaminov (1783-1838).]
[23 ]William Shakespeare (1564-1616), As You Like It, II, vii, 164; in The Riverside Shakespeare, ed. G. Blakemore Evans (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1974), p. 382.
[‡ ]“Rapport officiel,” p. 30. [The proclamation was issued by V.D. Volkhovsky (1778-1841).]
[* ]Before quitting the Lesghians, we must notice the singular tradition of a Genoese colony having been established in their country. The town of Akusha, on the river Koisa, contains about 1000 families. Colonel Gaerber, who travelled through these countries in 1728, asserts that they called themselves Franki. At the present day they are distinguished from the rest of their countrymen by their manufacturing skill. They make excellent fire-arms, sabres, and daggers; they also fabricate coats of mail, inlaid with gold and silver; and they coin imitations of Persian, Turkish, and even Russian money. Akusha is regarded as a kind of neutral republic by the surrounding hordes; its citizens enjoy the privileges of self-government, annually electing a council of ten to rule their little state. They have a tradition of being descended from Genoese mariners, shipwrecked on the coast about the time of the capture of Constantinople by the Turks; but their language retains no traces of such an origin. [The reference is to Johann Gustar Gaeber, “Nachrichten von denen an der westlichen Seite der Caspischen See,” in Sammlung russischen Geschichte, ed. Gerhard Friedrich Müller, 9 vols. (St. Petersburg: Kayserl. Academie der Wissenschaften, 1732-64), Vol. IV, pp. 57-79; the source is probably Rottiers, who gives the reference on p. 59.]
[24 ]Alexander Tormasoff (1752-1819).
[† ]The natural fertility of Georgia and Russian Armenia is very great; corn, wine, and oil are produced abundantly; fruit trees cover the hills and encircle the forests; apples, pears, and cherries, are produced in the north, while the more genial climate of the south ripens the pomegranate, the fig, the nectarine, and the peach. But Russia derives little benefit from this bounty of nature; the empire does not import raw produce, it has an abundant supply within for the limited wants of its population.
[25 ]Treaty of Peace between Russia and Turkey, signed at Adrianople, 14 September, 1829 (in Consolidated Treaty Series, Vol. LXXX, pp. 83-96).