« PreviousContinue »
style of an attentive and faithful observer. The author does not attempt to exalt himself in the reader's opinion, but plainly relates what he witnessed.
• The narrative of the following Travels was not originally intended for the press. It was written at first purely as a homage at the shrine of friendship; but many of those persons for whose private amusement it was destined, as well as others distinguished for their science and information, having pronounced the manuscript to be both interesting and instructive, their judgment has had sufficient weight with Ihe writer to induce him to present his observations to the public at large.
• Though the rapidity with which the traveller proceeded, permitted him to cast only a transient view upon the different objects worthy of remark which offered themselves to his attention, yet the historian, the geographer, and the statistical observer, will perhaps find some scattered hirits in these pages, which they will deem not unworthy to be registered and remembered.
The most interesting parts of the narrative will no doubt be found to be the journey of the writer across the Crimea, and the minute and ample account of the expedition of the famous embassy from Petersburg to Constantinople, as well as of its residence in the capital of the
Turkish empire, in 1793. The public as yet knows nothing, or knows very little, respecting the interesting route of this deputation through a considerable part of Europe; a part hitherto almost unfrequented, and respecting which we have scarcely any authentic information; while the voyage of lord Macartney to Pekin and the other provinces of China, has been detailed with emphasis, published with splendour, and is in the hands of all the world.
• This Russian embassy, composed of a train of nearly seven hundred personş, and which presented a spectacle of truly Asiatic luxury, consisted, stricily speaking, of a single caravan. A detachment of infantry and cavalry opened and closed their march; they advanced by very slow stages; every evening an encampment was formed according to all the rules of the military art; and every third day was devoted to relaxation and rest. It was not till the sixth month after they left Petersburg that they arrived at Constantinople, and their ceremonial entry was in an uncommon degree memorable and brilliant. All the curiosities of this ancient metropolis were exposed to the view of the ambassador and the principal persons of his suite, by the express orders of the grand-signior; and the author of the following sheets exerted as much vigilance as eagerness, to keep an ample and
exact journal of every thing he saw.' P. iii. • We shall step, with the author, immediately into the Crimea, a country which we have lately glanced at with professor Pallas, in the course of which we mentioned the present journal. The plain of Oczakow is a vast surface, al. most wholly choaked with weeds, without a bush or a babitation, except an occasional post-house. Cherson, a town on the Dnieper, beyond the river, which was once the boundary between Russia and Turkey, is no longer necessary as a barrier town; yet over the gates is still to be seen the following significant epigraph- This is the way to Byzantium'
a way which we trust Russia will never explore or attain, On crossing the Dnieper, our author arrives at Perecop, whence the moat, that divides the Taurida from the main land, is only half a league distant. From Sympheropol, where our author resided, the distance to Perecop is inconsiderable ; and his description is equally luxuriant with that of Pallas, whose account of this part of the Crimea we lately noticed. The Tartars can scarcely reconcile themselves to the customs of the Russians, though the conduct of the governor is particularly liberal and attentive. The Tartars, in return, are kind and hospitable to strangers and even Russians, though, as we have just remarked, they feel a repugnance to adopt either their manner of living or their customs.
The first of our author's excursions was to Sewastopol, a port in the south-west ; and the singular configuration of the rocks, preserved in the plates illustrative of Pallas's travels, excites his astonishment. In penetrating the valleys of the interior, he sees the ancient Arcadia almost realised ; and surveys, with admiration, the numerous flocks of the Tartars, and the peculiar sheep of the Crimea, whose fleeces are so much valued. The port of Sewastopol is yet in its infancy, but it is extensive and convenient...
The second excursion was to Sudak, in the interior of the Crimea, delightfully situated among mountains of very picturesque forms. Its chief production is wine. The avenues leading to the mountains are diversified with numerous villas and gardens rising to their suminits, whence the sea and land prospects are peculiarly beautiful. · The third excursion was to the mountain Tsherderdak, the highest in the Crimea. Of the view from its symmit, we shall select our author's description.
I had the pleasure of beholding underneath me the beautiful peninsula in all its extent, its mountains, its valleys, its woods, its towns, and its villages. I continued eight whole days in this place, without being able to exhaust the vast picture that on all sides excited my admiration and astonishment. Towards the north, I discerned distinct. ly the little town of Perecop; towards the west and the south, the Black Sea, which waters the coast of the peninsula; towards the east, the sea of Asoph, which however, on account of its distance, was not so easily distinguished.
I had scarcely enjoyed this majestic and enchanting scenery half an hour, when the sky became covered with black clouds, which very soon descended half-way down the mountain, substituting for the spectacle I had been enjoying, another, which, though less agreeable, afforded me however, on account of its novelty, very high pleasure. A most violent storm took place bencath my feet, and filled my soul with I know not what sentiment of joy and terror, which, in the state of astonishment and stupor into which this striking occurrence had thrown me, it was impossible to develop. The cold with which I was seized on the summit of the mountain obliged me to think very soon of departing. The clouds however had renoved ; and I had the pleasure of beholding the picture I had so ardently enjoyed by degrees reanimated, and presenting me, in the midst of different objects becoming insensibly visible to the eye, with attractions that drew all my attention. I discovered a great number of the grottoes, cavities, and abysses of the rocks. The snows, with which these last are filled, and which exist eternally, give birth to the Salgir, and sustain besides an infinity of smaller streams, which flow in an irregular course on every side. This great quantity of water, produced by the melting of the snow, as it escapes from the gulfs and profound excavations which it seems to have assisted in forming, encounters in its passage to the foot of the mountain different rocks, which convert it into a number of cascades, the noise of which‘is loud enough to be heard at a considerable distance. The water is extremely cold, and so limpid, that notvithstanding a depth of seventy fathoms, the sound of a piece of money being thrown in, and reaching the bortom, would be distinctly heard. I discovered in different parts of the mountain many loud and distinct echoes, which return several reverberations. P. 41.
In our anthor's return to Petersburg, through Poland, we meet with nothing peculiarly striking. He points out the gigantic magnificence of Moscow, and the barbaric splendour of its vast fétes. In Petersburg, too, he notices the show, the luxury, the magnificence, of the entertainments given by the higher ranks.
The embassy, which he is engaged to follow, soon calls him from these scenes; and his journey, for a part of the way, brings him towards his former track. We pursue Splendid spectacles, however, with less interest than the simple views of nature, and scenes not yet painted by the faithful hand of a real observer.
We stop with a little interest at Jassy, the capital of Mol. davia, as at no great distance princc Potemkin breathed his lust, in a field, as he was taken ill in bis carriage. In this neighbourhood, too, count Romanzow lived in retirement, after having yielded the command of the army to the supe. rior abilities, or the happier fortune, of Potemkin, The princes of Moldavia are subject to the Porte; and the precarious office of hospodar prevents any concerted plan for the incrcased prosperity of the country. The embassy was received with the most pompous hospitality; and the enter. tainments were enlivened by the beauty, good humour, and splendor, of the ladies, who had learned English and Polish dances, teaching, in return, those of their own country.
At Bucharest they were received with similar attention, and soon afterwards crossed the Danube, when they entered Bulgaria, a mountainous country, though highly cultivated, and where the peasants enjoy a fertile soil in security and peace. Romelia, the nest province, is more mountainous still; yet cultivated badly, and parched, at that time, by a long continued drought. At last, however, they cross Mount Balkin, the ancient Hæmus, and reach Adrianople, in a valley, beautiful, well cultivated, and watered by three rivers.
From Adrianople, we find nothing particularly interesting to detain us; and we shall add the general feelings of the traveler in this very tiresome journey, from his reflexions on arriving at Constantinople.
• If it has ever happened to any of the persons who read to the end of my work, to wander during six months on the high roads before obtaining the object they had in view; if in the course of their journey they have been shut up in a carriage drawn at a slow pace by oxen, exposed to the burning rays of the sun, suffocated by the dust, torn hy thorns and brambles, and horribly jolted by the roughness of the roads; if during the greatest part of the nights they have been under tents incapable of defending them from the torrents of rain which poured down upon them; if when exhausted with weariness and fatigue they have experienced the vexation of being awakened by trou. blesome insects and reptiles; or if they have passed abruptly through the extremes of heat and cold, and supported the intemperance of the seasons; if in the course of their travels they have been inconvenienced with occurrences of this nature, they may perhaps form a just idea of the delight I experienced when I got out of my bed for the first time after our arrival at Constantinople. I was so enchanted with the reflexion that I was no lorger under the necessity of occupying myself with preparations for travelling, that I thought of nothing but eating the excellent breakfast that waited for me, and this idea caused me additional joy, when, from the window of the apartment I shared with some of my companions, I beheld the most enchanting spectacle in the world. It is a generally acknowledged truth, that Constantinople is more delightfully situated than any other town in Europe, and that in this point of view she may dispute the preference with even Genoa or Naples. She is placed at the extremity of the celebrated Bosphorus of Thrace, which may be about half a league in length. It is by the Bosphorus that the Black Sea communicates with the sea of Marmora. On each side along its banks are a great number of gardens and country-houses, in the arrangement and construce tion of which is conspicuous the taste of alt nations, without even excepting the Chinese. The city rises in an amphitheatre, exhibiting an infinite number of mosques and towers. Its shores are in general planted with cypress and other trees, presenting a most varied and animated scene, from the quantity of persons who pass and repass, as differently habited as the occupations are various which conduct them thither. Before the town extends the sea of Marmora, whose ime mense and tranquil surface of water facilitates the view of numerous Vessels of all sizes and from all countries ; to say nothing of a prodi. gious quantity of handsome barges; and islands full of rocks, or cor vered with lively verdure, light-houses, and many other edifices. The scene is also embellished by the coasts of Asia, enriched with hills and interspersed with country-houses, delightful gardens, and clumps of trees, in addition to which appears in the neighbourhood the large town of Scutari, presenting a very gratifying perspective.' P. 103.
The ceremonies, spectacles, and galas, ve shall not notice; and we have already so many descriptions of Constantinople, and its ancient remains, that it would be difficult to offer any striking novelty. We mean not that any part is trite or copied. On the contrary, the author seems to have been peculiarly active in surveying the environs, and to have had some peculiar advantages in cxamining the different parts of this successor of the ancient Byzantium. We mean only to say, that the novelties are not easily discotered or separated from what has been before told.
The return is more full and descriptive than the journey forward. In the vicinity of the Black Sea, through the delightful provinces already noticed, and in the neighbourhood of the Danube, rolling majestically to the Luxine, the author could not avoid many interesting reflexions.
We find little of importance till the travelers cross the an. cient Hæmus, and arrive in Bulgaria ; but the Hæmus, inferior to the ancient Rhodope, which it mects at nearly a right angle, sends out but few rivers. It is from the latter mountain that the numerous streams arise, which swell tlie Danube, at its embouchure, into a vast river.
Bulgaria is not highly fertile; but the inhabitants are distinguished by a simplicity of manners and a courteousness that engage regard. Walachia is more luxuriant; and Molda. via is apparently capable of supporting a considerable population. In the fornier, however, agriculture is much negJected. The wheat, Turkish corn, barley, millet, and a small quantity of oats, are only raised for their interior consumption.
• Labour, and the proper adaptation of crops, are in general so ill understood in this country as to render the scantiness of its produce very little surprising. Not more than a fortieth part of its extent is tilled. The cultivator only sows what he considers as sufficient to serve him for the necessaries of life, under the apprehension that the boyards or lords, who take the utmost care that these unfortunate peasants should retain no more than what will suffice for their existence, may seize whatever exceeds that proportion. The misery and idleness, or rather the state of non-entity of the human species in these sountries, appears almost incredible when the natural excellence of the soil is considered ; but when reflexion is carried back to the operation of eas:ern despotism, refined by the hospodars, who are at the same