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there, ready dressed, to meet the sunbeams, strewing the still cold, bare forest-ground with its blossoms, growing round the roots of dark firs or leafless trees, and blooming amid the blighted straw-coloured grass.
The child had carried that little blo-sippa' five or six English miles to sell it for less than a halfpenny. I gave her some confectionary, and received a courtesy in return, that would have graced the first drawing-room in our land, and a simple look of gratitude that would grace all places.
I then went to my lonely breakfast, and spent the rest of this Christmas-day- the first I had ever spent in a foreign landquite alone. It is not celebrated by the Swedes in the way
it is with us. They anticipate all that on its eve, and the day itself is more religiously kept.
I had been engaged to spend it with our minister ; but the post, unaffected by times of joy or sorrow, had on this day brought distressing tidings to that respected house, for other English residents thought of all lonely fellow country-people; so I felt that good comes out of evil, and that it is well to be left alone, even on a Christmas-day, in a strange land, if it teaches us when at home to think of, and feel for the houseless and homeless—the stranger and solitary.
Since that Christmas time, what changes have come to pass ! The time has not been long, yet among them are some striking
The good, respected, but then afflicted, representative of our government, at whose hospitable mansion I was to have spent that day, is now beneath the walls of Sebastopol, leading our gallant navy against the Russians with whom we were then on terms of friendly intimacy; his name is now ever put forth, as the bravest among commanders, just as it was then as the kindest and warmest among
friends. So ends the recollections of a Christmas in Sweden.
IF thou art worn and hard beset
SCHAMYL AT HOME;
OR, GLIMPSES OF THE DOMESTIC LIFE OF THE CIRCASSIAN
The name of Schamyl has long been before the civilized world as å synonyme for bravery and glorious deeds of heroism. Nor is its prestige likely speedily to die out. As the hero of the Caucasus, as the symbol of modern chivalry, as the champion of his people's wild mountain liberty, and as the terrible avenger of ambition, he continues to maintain his traditional renown. The invading forces of the northern despot have again, very recently, felt the weight of his chastisement, in one of those sudden, swift, avalanche-like irruptions of his hardy mountaineers, which have long invested his name with so much terror to the military myrmidons of the Czar. But for the stupendous achievements which have, for some months past, centred all eyes and hearts upon Sebastopol, the brilliant exploit of the Circassian warrior in the neighbourhood of Tiflis would have enjoyed a larger share of public attention. And it is highly probable that, in the succeeding spring, when a new and more vigorous Asiatic campaign against Russia is undertaken, he and his brave fighting men will again distinguish themselves, and render signal service to their European allies, in the noble task to which they have pledged themselves in the interest of public justice and humanity.
But, although the name and chivalric exploits of Schamyl are so familiar to the reader of our English newspapers and periodicals, it is surprising how little is known concerning the personnel of this redoubtable man. After reading of the mysterious visits of this chieftain, at the head of his irresistible flood of warriors, to the camp of the Russian invaders—the tremendous force of the onset, by which everything is borne before them—and the magical celerity with which they disappear in their mountain fastnesses when their work is done—who is there that does not long to follow them to their secret alpine heights, which the Russian eagle has never yet been able to reach, and examine into the habits and customs of this brave, but comparatively unknown, people? This laudable curiosity we are about to attempt to gratify to some extent, by affording some glimpses of the domestic life and residence of the great prophet-warrior. The interest attaching to the scanty information we may be able to supply is enhanced by the circumstance, that both political policy and religious requirements induce the chieftain to surround himself by almost impenetrable barriers, so as to exclude all, and especially the Christian, from the precincts of his domestic circle. We now proceed to narrate the principal incidents of a visit which, but a few years ago, was paid, under somewhat extraordinary circumstances, to Schamyl's home.
It was in May, 1848, that a merchant, a native of Murdock, applied to the commander of a Russian fortress on the borders of Circassia, under the following singular circumstances. It appears that, about eight years before, a beautiful girl, a cousin of the merchant, had been captured and carried off into the interior by some of Schamyl's people, and who afterwards, as he had learned, became one of the wives of the chieftain. The object of his application to the Russian governor was to request him to employ his influence to facilitate an interview between him and his lost relative. This the Russian functionary consented to do, by allowing the merchant to communicate with the scouts, through whom he was enabled to establish a correspondence with the Naïbs Duba-Sadaulah and Dalchik. By means of the former, who was a favourite and a privy councillor of Schamyl, he communicated by letter with
the warrior himself. In a few days a messenger arrived from Duba with the announcement, in Schamyl's name, that Duba himself, Egie Adschi, and another confidant of the chief, would act as guides and bring him to the residence of their leader. But we shall allow the traveller in these secluded and closely-guarded regions, for the most part, to tell his own tale, merely somewhat condensing the narrative :
“ When I was informed,” he says, " that Schamyl's ambassadors were within four versts of the fortress, I took leave of its commander, who warned me of my danger, put on the costume of the Tschetschenzes, armed myself completely, and set out in the company of two well-mounted horsemen. One of these, named Sisa, was my host.
“ Along the ravine of the Argua, I approached the messengers of Schamyl, and when we were about within gunshot of them, we consulted as to who should advance. My companions refused to go forwards, for, belonging to a village that had submitted to the Russians, they were at deadly enmity with Schamyl's people. I reminded them that, according to Mussulman law, a kunak (host) should rather die than leave his friend in danger; on which appeal Sisa agreed to follow me; but the other remained behind.
“Approaching cautiously to within a short distance, I asked Sisa if he recognised either of the Naïbs. Only the Naib Duba,' he replied—'him who is distinguished by a yellow turban.' I then saluted him aloud in his own language, to which he responded. Advancing with the greatest circumspection, for I feared an ambuscade, I at last sprang suddenly forward and held out my hand to him. We then exchanged salutations after the manner of the Tschetschenzes.”
The party was then joined by an escort of fourteen horsemen, cach of whom had to be greeted separately; and after a variety of questions and satisfactory answers, as to the object of our merchant's visit, they set out on their journey. Not quite satisfied, however, as to the honesty of his intentions, and fearing he might be a Russian spy, they conducted him by a most difficult and circuitous route. The road was constantly up-hill, and often so precipitous that they were obliged to dismount and lead their horses. They also traversed pathless forests, swarming with boars of an immense size. It was not till the seventh day that they reached the village of Datsche-Barsa, the residence of Duba, in whose house our traveller was accommodated.
Our narrator continues :
“Soon after we had arrived at our resting-place all the inhabitants of the village came to the house of the Naïbysome of whom sat down in the second story of the house, where we drank Russian tea under an open gallery. I was much amused with the behaviour of the Naïb's servants to the crowd of inquisitive natives who thronged the house. At length they armed themselves with sticks, belaboured the crowd lustily, and drove
them away, asking them at the same time who they were, what they wanted, and if they had never seen a Russian before?
“The next morning we continued our journey, as before, over steep rocks and fearful precipices—up lofty mountains, and through almost impenetrable forests—till we came at length to an immense valley, in the middle of which lies the village of Wedenno. About four versts to the east of the village is seen a small opening in the mountain, bounded on the right by the lofty, forest-clothed mountain, and protected on the left by a fearful chasm, through which flows the Chlilo. In the midst of this opening is a flat space, from which rises a fortress, surrounded by a variety of other buildings. This inaccessible stronghold is called Dargy Wedenno, and is the residence of the illustrious chieftain. The stronghold has but one gate, which is protected by a tower within the outer fortifications. These consist of large beams, fixed into the ground, the intervals between them being filled up with stones and rubbish, rammed down into a compact mass. To the right of this fortress is a village set apart for the murids. There is another small assemblage of houses near by, inhabited principally by mechanics, among whom is a watchmaker. A large reservoir, used for bathing purposes is supplied with water from a spring in the adjacent mountain. At a short distance is a storehouse, filled with maize, wheat, and other grain. Such are the environs and the outward aspect of Schamyl's abode.
“I arrived at Dargy on the evening of the eighth day, and stayed at the house of Egie Adschi. The three next days were occupied in interrogations and cross-examinations, as to the object and aim of my journey, as Schamyl feared that I was some treacherous emissary in the employ of Russia. During this painful interval of suspense I hovered between lifu and death; for if the result of the inquiries had been unfavourable, my death would have been inevitable. The suspicions of my interrogators however, were disarmed, and I was hospitably entertained. At the close of the third day I was invited to supper in Schamıyl's house for strangers, where his more immediate followers take their meals. This building is situated in the midst of the fortress. At the end of the meal, they offered me pilau ; and, to my astonishment, I remarked that the guests, of whom there were no fewer than twenty present, became much excited after they had partaken of the pilau, frowned, and looked gloomily at me. The horrible thought now fashed across my mind that they might have treated me kindly only as a preliminary to cutting off my head. But I preserved an air of cold indifference, however, and endeavoured to console myself with the reflection that it must be a strange custom of theirs to look gloomy and whisper mysteriously to each other after having eaten pilau. At this harrowing juncture of affairs, I addressed some questions to my neighbour, but received no answer, which served to increase my alarm.
“ After the pilau, cakes of maize were served as dessert, which were very well prepared. I refused them at first, but when one of the hosts said to me, 'Eat; your cousin prepared them,'I answered, “In that case I will partake of some with pleasure.' Their threatening aspect, however, was not relaxed, until a young murid entered the room, and spoke a few words in their mountain dialect. Immediately after this communication, the behaviour of all present underwent a change ; they freely conversed