Page images


Rivalem patienter habe. Ovid.

With patience bear a rival in thy love.

The demon, Jealousy, with gorgon frown,
Blasts the sweet flowers of pleasure not his own;
Rolls his wild eyes, and through the shuddering grove
Pursues the steps of unsuspecting love;
Or drives o'er rattling plains his iron car,
Flings his red torch, and lights the flames of war.
Here cocks heroic burn with rival rage,
And quails with quails in doubtful fight engage;
Of armed heels, and bristling plumage proud,
They sound th' insulting clarion, shrill and loud,
With rustling pinions meet, and swelling chests,
And seize, with closing beaks, their bleeding crests;
Rise on quick wing above the struggling foe,
And aim in air the death-devoting blow.
There the hoarse stag his croaking rival scorns,
And butts and parries with his branching horns;
Contending boars, with tusk-enamtU'd, strike,
And guard with shoulder-shield the blow oblique;
White female bands attend in mute surprise,
And view the victor with admiring eyes.—
So knight on knight, recorded in romance,
Urg'd the proud steed, and couch'd th' extended lance;

* The following similics are to be reprobated as to their poetical propriety; but, in a moral sense, they energetically show the evils of jealousy, the torment and malignancy of that of the heart, when deeply rooted in it. •

He whose dread prowess, with resistless force,
O'erthrew lh' opposing warrior and his horse;
'Bless'd as the golden guerdon of his toils,
Bow'd to the beauty, and receiv'd her smiles.
So when fair Helen, with ill-fated charms,
By Paris woo'd, provok'd the world to arms,
Left her vindictive lord to sigh in vain
For broken vows, lost love, and cold disdain;
Fir'd at his wrongs, associate to destroy
The realms unjust of proud adult'rous Troy,
Unnumber'd heroes brav'd the dubious fight,
And sunk, lamented, to the shades of night.


Hominem pagina nostra sapit. Mart.

Men and their manners I describe,

The two opposite customary laws, namely, those of hospitality and revenge, are sacredly observed among the Circassian knights, as well as among most other nations of the Caucasus. The right of hospitality, which they term runak, is established on certain principles; and every person submitting to its protection is perfectly secure from all injuries. He who befriends a stranger, defends him, if occasion requires it; not only with his own blood and life, but also with that of his relatives; nor does he suffer him to depart without an equestrian escort, and delivers him to his next confederate's, under such conditions that a murder or injury committed on the guest is avenged with equal severity as the death of a relation by consanguinity. A stranger who intrusts himself to the patronage of a woman, or is able to touch with his mouth the breast of a -wife, is spared and protected as a relation of the blood, though he were the enemy, nay, even the murderer, of a similar relative.

The opposite conduct, or bloody revenge, is practised •with the most scrupulous adherence to custom. The murder of a family relation must be avenged by the ixext heir, though he should be an infant at the time when the deed .was committed. Every degree of vindictive malice is exercised sooner or later, whether publicly or in a clandestine manner, to take away the life of the murderer, lest the injured party should be considered as an outcast of society: nay, this desire of revenge is hereditary in the successors and the whole tribe: it remains as it were rooted with so much rancour, that the hostile princes or nobles of two different tribes, when they meet each other on the road, or accidentally in another place, are compelled to fiwht for their lives, unless they have given previous notice to each other, and bound themselves to pursue a different route. Among the Circassians the spirit of revenge is so great, that all the relations of the murderer arc considered as guilty. This customary infatuation to avenge the blood of relatives, generates most of the feuds, and occasions great bloodshed among all the nations of the Caucasus; for, unless pardon be purchased, or obtained by intermarriage between the two families, the principle of revenge is propagated to all succeeding generations. The hatred which the mountainous nations evince against the Russians, in a great measure arises from the same source. If the thirst of vengeance is

[ocr errors]

quenched by a price paid to the family of the deceased, this tribute is called thlil-iiasa, or the price of blood; but neither princes nor usdens accept of such a compensation, as it is an established law among them to demand blood for blood.

The education of the children of the Circassian princes is of such a nature as to suppress, from the earliest infancy, every feeling peculiar to consanguinity. Their sons and daughters are immediately, after birth, intrusted to the care of a nobleman, who is frequently none of the most wealthy; and the parents, especially the father, has no desire to see his son till he is an adult, and capable of bearing arms; while no notice is taken of the girls, till after marriage. The tutor of the prince is obliged to take upon him the whole charge of his education: he instructs the youth, during his adolescence, in all the schemes of robbery, which are held in great estimation among the equestrian knights; be provides him with arms, as soon as he is strong enough to wield them, and in such array he is presented to his father. The grateful pupil rewards his foster-father for the pains he has taken to qualify him in the predatory arts, by giving him the greatest share of the booty he is able to obtain.

The female children are nourished in the most sparing and wretched manner, that they may acquire a slender and elegant form; because such a stature is considered as an essential requisite to a Circassian princess. They are trained to all ornamental work in the domestic economy of females, especially to embroidery, weaving of fringe, sewing of dresses, as well as the plaiting of straw mats and baskets. The noble man intrusted with their education is also obliged to procure for his princely foster-daugher a husband of an equal rank, in default of which he is punished with the loss of his head. In the courtships every attention is paid to the rank of the parties. No usden dares to court the daughter of a prince; and if such an amour should ever take place, or the princess be seduced by an usden, the presumptuous lover, on the first occasion, forfeits his life without mercy*.

The daughters of slaves, brought up by the mother, receive the same education: they learn to embroider, to make their own dress, and that of their future husbands. They are sold, according to their beauty, from twenty to one hundred pounds, and sometimes much higher. These are principally Georgians. Soon after the birth of a girl a wide leather belt is sewed round her waist, and continues till it bursts, when it is replaced by a second By a repetition of this practice their waists are rendered astonishingly small; but their shoulders become proportionably broad, a defect which is little attended to on account of the beauty of their breasts. On the wedding night the belt is cut with a dagger by the husband, a custom sometimes productive of very-fatal accidents. The bridegroom pays for his bride a marriage present, or kalym, consisting of arms, or a coat of mail; but he must not see her, or cohabit

* The foregoing sketch is taken from the interesting and instructive Travels of Pallas through Southern Russia. The following is abridged from Pinktrtaa's valuable Geography. It is copied by Mr. P. from EUts's Memoirs.

« PreviousContinue »