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similar origin and habits, who (quasi Vulgarians or Volgarians) are supposed, by some writers, to have derived their appellation from an original settlement on the banks of the Volga. Whether, however, the river named the people, or the people named the river, is a question too important for us to decide, especially as it is, we understand, still very warmly disputed among the learned of the Russian universities. Next in order is the sanguinary irruption of the Avars, who yoked women to their waggons like buffaloes; a people as savage and frightful as the Huns, ' great in body and proud in spirit,' but who, even in the midst of their most unwarrantable excesses, are described as betraying some regard to the graces of personal appearance, since they braided their long hair into a series of tails, which were tastefully diversified with ribbon.* Before the year 568, they had overrun and pillaged all the country between the Volga and the Elbe; and in the reign of Heraclius, Baian, their khan, who, in spite of his unclassical chevelure, was ambitious of being admitted into the number of Roman patricians, was with difficulty prevented from succeeding in an attempt, which he directed against Constantinople-!/ itself. The power of the Avars fell before that of the Khozars, who, towards the end of the seventh and at the beginning of the following century, extended their dominion over the Crimea, and a vast tract of country which is now comprised in the southern governments of Russia. Unlike the banditti whom we have hitherto had to deal with, this horde seems to have made no inconsiderable progress in the Asiatic path of civilization. Though the ancient practice of living in tents (the wild liberty of which has so many charms for those habituated to its use) had not been abandoned by a numerous division of the tribe, the khans and richer Khozars were already getting reconciled to the restraints and comforts incident to the possession of permanent walls, and had even been accustomed to the confinement of crowded towns, which they inhabited with some degree of splendour. Their capital was a city called Atel, not far from the present site of Astrachan, where their khan had a palace, constructed with burnt bricks; and where his court was supplied, through the commerce of his subjects, with the tapestry of Persia, the honey of Russia, and the costly black fox skins of Siberia. The town was surrounded, according to Ebn Haukal,J by corn-fields and gardens, to the distance of twenty parasangs. Agriculture was much encouraged, and in the southern provinces the vine is said to have been cultivated. The khan himself appears to have been a despot of the finest oriental
* Mi/tUMc TTfavi'ioif. Theophan. p. 196. f Gibbuo, i», 518. X Ouacley's Ebn Haukal, 186.
cast. cast. If the office of executioner was dispensed with near his person, it was not the result of any tender-hearted policy, but of a certain peculiar complacency in the parties condemned, who, we are told, whenever he addressed them in these laconic terms, 'Go and kill yourselves,' did not hesitate obsequiously to comply. It is not the least curious part of the history of this singular people, that, in the year 740, the khan became a proselyte to Judaism, which thenceforward continued to be the established religion of the state, even after the majority of the nation had been converted to Christianity by missionaries sent from Constantinople, in the ninth century.
These golden days of strong government, however, were not destined to last for ever. Towards the end of the ninth century, came the Ungri, or Hungarians, soon followed by a swarm of Patzinnca, a tribe of equestrian and tented savages, more ugly, ferocious, unenlightened and unclean, than the very worst of those who had preceded them. After spreading themselves like an inundation over the level and defenceless territory, which upon their arrival first presented itself to their ravages, these illfavoured orientalists at last condescended to establish themselves in a convenient and commanding situation on the Dneiper, the Dneister, and the Danube, where they made themselves extremely useful to the Greeks and Russians of that vicinity, by holding themselves always prepared, at the call of either of those belligerents, to lay waste the dominions of the other.* It was on an occasion of this nature, that Rura, khan of the Patzinacae, enriched his sideboard with the skull of the Russian Duke Sviatoslaff, which was for the rest of his life of such essential service to his domestic comfort as a drinking cup.f
No obstacle of material account was opposed to this liberal and impartial distribution of international wrong, till after the lapse of no less than two centuries, when the east wind blew once more, and brought the Comanians, a plague more intolerable than its forerunners. 'It is not without horror,' says M. Karamsin, ' that our ancestors record the ferocious manners of these barbarians. With no better shelter than their tents, during the heat of summer and the cold of winter, robbery and carnage formed their principal delight. For food, they usually subsisted themselves on mares' milk, raw meat, and the blood and carcasses of animals.'(ii. 87.) That their features were as coarse as their diet was uncouth, we might safely, perhaps, have ventured to conjecture, even did we not possess, as to this particular fact,
• Zonaras, ii. 290. Const, de Adra. c. 8. Karamsin, i. 170. t Lomonossoff, 166.
H 4 more more satisfactory proof than the testimony of any trembling contemporary. Strange as it may seem, the Comanians were patrons of the chisel, and we are indebted to the same noble art which has transmitted to us the perpendicular frontal and oval physiognomy of the compatriots of Alcibiades and of Phryne, for the intimate acquaintance which we may at present maintain with the little eyes, high cheek bones, flat noses and prominent ears of these newly arrived amateurs of carrion and virtu. 'The Comanians,' says Rubruquis, (who travelled while this people was still in existence, though powerless and in vassalage to the Tartars,)' build a great toombe over their dead, and erect the image of the dead partie thereupon, with his face towards the east, holding a drinking cup in his hand, ante umbilicum.' (c. 10.) Now it is a curious fact, that a considerable number of these statues, so minutely described by the missionary, have been preserved to our time in the plain which he traversed, near the borders of the sea of Azoflf. Several of them are engraved in the Travels of Pallas, and one was recently to be seen in its original position, on a tumulus in the neighbourhood of Bakmout. No doubt can be entertained of the identity of these images, which coincide in every particular of aspect, attitude and situation, and furnish, we dare say,'a very formidable likeness' of the parties they were meant to represent; thus presenting us with a genuine series of original Comanian portraits, attesting the accuracy of Rubruquis in his account of the ceremonies of that people, determining the seat of their abode, marking their Mongolian descent, and entitling them, without fear of competition or dispute, to the palm of pre-eminent hideousness.
The Comanians first entered Europe in 1061, and from that period till the beginning of the thirteenth century, a system of desultory warfare was carried on between them and the Russians, repeatedly renewed by some freebooting foray of the former, and enlivened by reprisals from the latter. These mutual inroads, from the wild and romantic situations which they sometimes afforded, from the irregular nature and national interest of the struggle, and from the striking diversity of the two nations thus brought into conflict, furnished favourable themes for the inspiration of popular poetry which were not neglected by the minstrels and ballad-writers of Russia. One of these expeditions, in particular, unsuccessfully conducted by Prince Igor of Seversky, is detailed with a considerable share of force and spirit, in a fine eld contemporary poem still preserved in a private library at Moscow. But an opponent less resistible was at hand. The inhabitants of Kief, who had by this time become habituated to the constant state of alarm which the neighbourhood of the Comanians rendered necessary to their security, were much
astonished astonished when, in 1224, a large body of that people bringing with them their wives, their cattle, and all their valuables, as if flying from the pursuit of some near and formidable invaders, took refuge under the walls of their city. In the archaeological pages of a romance by Sismoudi, this incident would introduce the. heroine; in Russia, however, it did worse; it introduced the Tartars! The Comanians, thus collected, drew an alarming picture of the force and ferocity of the new comers, and bribing the Russian princes by large presents of camels, buffaloes and princesses, induced them, in an evil hour, and not till after much deliberation, to lead forward some troops in their defence. It is easy to conceive the wild transports of delight with which the undisciplined bowmen of the stepp are said to have received this promise of assistance from their more civilized champions. The motley host of the allies moved forward towards the Don. An European and a Tartar armament were to meet in battle for the first time; and as the opposing squadrons slowly approached each other on the immense plain where a contest so novel was to be decided, the young prince Daniel of Volhynia, with an impatient curiosity which it is almost impossible not to share, did not hesitate to spur his horse over the space which still separated the armies, and attended only by a few young men as eager and undaunted as himself, reconnoitered in person the innumerable swarms of this untried and redoubted enemy.* In describing the strange figures which this nearer approach might discover to the young warrior, we shall adopt the expressions of the missionary Carpini, who travelled not many years afterwards.
1 The Monguls or Tartars,' says he, 'in outward shape are unlike to all other people, for they are broader betweene the eyes and the balles of their cheeks, than men of other nations be. They have flat and small noses, little eyes, and eyelids standing straight upright; they are shaven on the crowns like priests. They wear their hair somewhat longer about their ears, than upon their foreheads; but behind they let it grow long like woman's hair, whereof they braid two locks, binding each of them behind either ear. They have short feet also. The garments as well of their men, as of their women, are all of one fashion. They use neither cloaks, hats, nor caps, but they wear jackets framed after a strange manner, of buckram, scarlet, or baldakins.' . . . 'Moreover, they are enjoined to have these weapons following: two long bows, or one good one at the least; three quivers full of arrows, and one axe, and ropes to draw engines withal.' . . . 'They use not to wash their garments, neither will in any wise suffer them to be washed, especially in time of thunder.'—Hakluyt, i. 54.
Such were the beings who advanced against the princes, and
* Karamsin, iii. 207.
the the issue of the contest is well known. The Russians were completely overpowered and dispersed; and though the Tartars, from some cause which has not been explained, neglected immediately to follow up the blow, they returned under Batou in 1237, laid waste the whole country with fire and sword, and reduced it to the state of a tributary province, without experiencing even a serious check.
The yoke of the Tartars was heavy and durable, but. like that of the Moors in Spain, was not destined to oppress for ever the neck of a Christian and improving people. Time and its usual agencies were at work; after the established period of possession and repose, the pugnacity of the Tartars declined; with hope and the first successes that of the Russians increased: at last better days began to dawn; the battle of the Don was fought, the tide, which so long had overspread the land, began gradually to ebb back towards Asia, till we find, at the beginning of the sixteenth century, the feeble relics of the Tartar domination in Europe reduced and split into the two detached and often conflicting Khanates of Cazan and the Crimea. The former of these was extinguished not long afterwards by the Russian Duke Ivan the Terrible, who took the city, slaughtered its inhabitants, and annexed the crown to that of Moscow, in the year 1552. The Crimea, however, being stronger in the nature of its mountainous defences, and divided from Russia by vast uninhabited plains, was suffered to remain a thorn in the side of the Tsar, the refuge and ally of his foreign and domestic enemies, and a nursery for robbers and marauders, till almost in our own days, green uniforms began to show themselves at Perekop; the khan was deposed; the geography new christened, and the Mufti himself made a Russian major-general, under the auspices of Catharine the Second.—(Pailas, ii. 3.53.)
The peninsula thus added to the dominions of the Muscovite comprises one of the most fertile and beautiful tracts which the fine regions of the East can boast. Its remarkable fertility, indeed, was well known and much celebrated among the ancients; the corn-market of Athens was glutted with its produce, and the Hellenic grower, at the very name of Theodosia, must have felt the same involuntary shudder which at present is experienced by the British man of acres on the mention of a shipment of French wheat. The exquisite beauty of its scenery, however, was not so well appreciated of old. Strabo, whose notions of this distant region were perhaps formed from the report of some trader of his time, gives just such an account of the aspect of the Crimea as might Hoot be extracted from the mate of a merchantman. Proclaiming, for instance, with due care aud commendation, the