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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
The Lord hath cased his soul with might,
And now he comes to public light,
Stern and serene he stands, as one
Rock-based, recks not the rushing tide,
And speaks-" Ye men of Kaf,† hear me
"Deem not that God with numbers dwells-
*This is no mere poetical figure. The modern Schamyl, like the ancient Saul, 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
A Circassian fort taken by the Russians under General Grabbe in 1838. On this occasion Schamyl made an extraordinary escape.
"The root am I. One branch removed
Whose strength a thousand tempests proved:
"Be men!-or, by the God that rules
"But what Kasi Mohammed said
"Your villages. The faithful men,
"And where I come with eager wrath,
"Be wise; for thus to Schamyl spake
Thus spake the prophet, and withdrew
On wings of fire his message flew,
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. CCCCLXV.
THE EUROPEAN ALLIANCE AND RUSSIA.
THE last years of the reign of Charlemagne were spent in consolidating the conquests which had occupied a life of prodigious activity, and unparalleled fortune, and in securing the vast monarchy he had founded from the ruin which had overtaken the Roman Empire. He had terminated the war with the Saxons; conciliated, or crushed, the last and fiercest of his enemies; and with a line of forts raised along the Elbe, believed that he had opposed an insurmountable barrier to all future irruptions of the barbarians. The invasion was, it is true, arrested by land; but the pirates of Scandinavia braved the fury of the ocean in their boats of osier, covered with hides, and spread terror among the villagers of the coasts. They were at first checked; but they soon advanced in such numbers, that the fleets of boats stationed at the mouths of the rivers could no longer stop them; and their audacity increased at each irruption. The mighty emperor who had subjugated and given laws to Europe, was troubled at these fierce and frequent apparitions. Fear he had never before known; but, already near the grave, he saw, with sad foreboding, that the irruptions of the pirates were each time more numerous, and their devastations more audacious. The "antiquated imbecilities" of the imperial court thought or spoke lightly of the matter. They not only apprehended no danger to Europe or to the monarchy, but they mocked at those who believed that the occasional presence of a handful of northern pirates merited a serious thought from the wonderful man who had all but realised a universal empire. In the conflagration of a few villages, and the massacre of some hundreds of peasants, they saw only those incidents so common in that barbarous period; and though history does not record the fact, it is not improbable that a few of the statesmen of the time had the most unbounded confidence in the honour or forbearance of some great Scandinavian chief. The great emperor, bowed as he was by years, saw farther into the future
than the sycophants or the conceited imbeciles of his court. With the foresight which belongs to genius, he saw and comprehended the magnitude of the danger to the empire whose foundations, he had believed, were so deeply and so securely laid. As he approached the term of his life, the waters of the north coast of France became covered with the fleets of the rovers; their invasions were still more frequent, their progress more rapid and destructive. If the barbarians of the north, he said with a sigh, dare to attack even the remote limits of my empire, while I yet live and reign, what will they not do, not dare, when I am dead! And in the bitterness of his humiliation he shed tears. Charlemagne was right. Even then the civilisation and the power of which he had laid the foundations, were seriously menaced in all directions. Sardinia and Corsica were at the same time ravaged by the Saracens; Louis of Aquitaine was repulsed by the Moors of Spain; and Pepin of Italy by the Greeks in Venetia. The catastrophe was fast approaching, and scarce seventy years had elapsed from the death of Charlemagne, when the northern invaders, so contemptible and so distant in the beginning, precipitated the fall of his race and monarchy. Those who dwelt on the banks of the Seine, the Somme, and the Loire, the whole of the France of that day, paid bitterly for the incredulity, the apathy, or the connivance of the courtiers of Charlemagne; and they soon felt that the invasion of the barbarians should have been arrested at the very outset.
A century and a half ago, those who saw danger in the extension of a still more barbarous people inhabiting the deserts of the north, and scarcely known to the rest of Europe, would have been deemed credulous and overapprehensive. Yet, from the expulsion of the Tartars, Russia began to assume strength and consistency; and after the succession to the throne of the Romanoff family, it began to acquire gigantic proportions; and it has grown to such a height under the Holstein
Gottorp dynasty, as to require the combined force of Western Europe to arrest its further progress. In the short space of thirty-one years, Alexis Michaelovitch annexed White and Little Russia, conquered from the Poles; the Cossacks of the Ukraine made their submission; and even before Peter the Great made his way, through treason and blood, to the throne, the power of Russia began to be felt and dreaded by her nearest neighbours. Under that monarch Russia obtained a decided preponderance in the north, and the victory which laid prostrate her most formidable enemy, roused the attention of the whole of Europe. Nevertheless, no great apprehension seems to have been excited by the creation of a Russian fleet, the conquest and annexation of large provinces in the Baltic, the foundation of the city which perpetuates the name of Peter, or the force of will, the stubborn and stern character which could overcome the obstacles he encountered in the organisation of his unwieldy dominions. When that strange compound of crime and virtue fell a victim to the excesses in which he sought a recreation from the toil of government, Russia did not cease to feel the impulse he had imparted to it, and scarce a year elapsed without additions to her moral and material strength. Under Catherine II., the plunder of Poland, and the acquisitions in the Black Sea, gave her an ascendancy equal to that which she possessed in the Baltic. In the present century, the invasion of Russia by the French, and the vanity of dictating terms of peace in the ancient capital of the Czars, led to the overthrow of Napoleon's colossal power, and made Russia believe that she was invincible and irresistible. That idea was, to a great extent, shared by the other powers; and in the councils of Europe, Russia acquired a vast accession of influence. But in an empire where there are but slaves and one master, all, or nearly all, depends on the personal character of the sovereign. Until lately, the Emperor Nicholas got credit for the possession of all the qualities necessary for the administration of his vast states. His good sense, moderation, courage, and decision, were remark
able; and in vigilance and energy he surpassed all his predecessors, excepting one. The spell is now broken, and his conduct for the last twelve months appears to have reduced him, in some respects, to the level of the princes of the Lower Empire. His proclamations and his acts prove that his mind is unsettled, and his moral powers deteriorated. His once powerful frame shows symptoms of decay. When the period comes for the government to pass into other hands, less able than his were, Russia may become, in turn, the theatre of violent change, of revolution, and of civil war, from which she has, since she became a great empire, been exempt.
Öne thousand years after the great Charlemagne foresaw the decay of his empire from the irruptions of the barbarians of the north, another mighty potentate, whose ambition was not less vast, and whose genius was not less lofty, predicted danger to civilised Europe from the hordes of Russia. He, too, was in the sunset of life, and had survived power. From the rock of St Helena the imperial captive beheld the cold shadow which preceded the march of the giant. When the fate of Europe was hanging in the balance during the conference of Tilsit, even at that moment Napoleon refused to accede to the prayer of Alexander, and he thought Constantinople far too precious a gift to be bestowed on the Czar. "I might have come to an understanding with Alexander," he afterwards said, "and shared all Europe with him, had I consented to give up Constantinople, but Constantinople I would not give up." It was in vain that the Czar repeated and increased his bribesin vain he offered his co-operation in a war which had for its object the ruin of England; nothing could tempt him, no argument could persuade him to abandon to Russia a position which would make her the first power on earth. The idea of the aggrandisement of Russia, and the subjugation of the rest of Europe by the hordes of the North, haunted him to the last, and in the most cheerless days of his captivity he predicted much of what has since come to pass. Napoleon was right-the possession of Constan