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from the earliest times, the most discontented and refractory of a turbulent and almost independent aristocracy, have consequently assumed the reputation of being champions of the nobles and people, and have even given their name to a conspicuous mountain in the neighbourhood of Karasubazar, where, mounted and armed at the head of their retainers, they were accustomed to meet in treasonable deliberation on the slightest occasion of disagreement with the Khan. The Murzas, since the conquest, have sunk, of course, into comparative insignificance, but many of them retain a large share of their former property and have considerable influence among their own countrymen.
The mulla is in most cases the only inhabitant of a Tartar village who is master of the abstruse art of reading; he is even more distinguished by the possession of this exclusive accomplishment than by the white fillet which he binds round his head. Lest the reader, however, should be misled by this remark to attribute to him too large a share of learning, it is necessary to explain, that though called upon to read he is by no means required to understand; the office of the mosque being performed in the original Arabic, which he seldom is able to interpret. The village mullas of the Crimea are generally decently behaved and respectable men, a little too much given to sell charms for the ague, but living, for the most part, among their neighbours a quiet and charitable life, the arbitrators as well as curates of their sequestered vallies, and frequently possessing, in addition to these weighty charges, the sinecure office of parish schoolmaster.
The Tartar peasants are chiefly supported by pastoral and agricultural occupations, and by gardening. Possessed in general of no right or property in the soil, they are permitted to reside on the estate of some landed proprietor, (who is usually a Russian or German absentee, and more rarely a Tartar murza,) with the privilege of grazing all their horses, cattle, &c. on his open pastures, in return for which each male gives him annually eight days labour. In cases where the peasant undertakes the cultivation of the soil, he gives one-tenth of the produce as rent to his landlord; and for hay, likewise, according to the abundance of the season, he pays one-third or one-half.
'In the simple life of the Tartars,' says our author,' much may be traced of similarity with those recorded in the earliest ages of Scripture history. Their riches consist now, as was usual then, in flocks and herds, and in the number of their families. Many also of their domestic habits are the same.' . . . . ' Exchange is still the medium of purchase, and money is but seldom required or produced in bargains made between one Tartar and another, since they look with far more anxious eyes on the expenditure of a single petack, than at the cost of ten or
twenty twenty roubles if negociated by way of exchange. Poor Tartars, like Jacob, serve an apprenticeship for their wives, and are then admitted as a. part of the family.'—p. 6.
The first remark which must occur to every one who attends to the manners of the modern Tartars, and" compares them with those of their forefathers, is the extraordinary alteration which they have undergone since the days of Batou and even of Mengli Gherei. Their character, indeed, seems not to have submitted to those more ordinary modifications, which so frequently affect the habits of other nations, but to have passed at once from the ne plus ultra of restless ferocity, to the opposite extreme of passive indolence. Instead of the Kaptjack butchers of Souzdal, Vladimir, and Kieff; instead even of the ' Krym,' who, at a less remote period,* fired Moscow, and ' sent the Russe Emperor a knife, as was said, to sticke himself withal],' we find, after the lapse of a couple of centuries, ' a quiet harmless race, not given to violence or open plunder,''f remarkable for temperance, soberness, and chastity,' deeming it their greatest happiness to sit still, to smoke, and to sleep, having nothing to employ their thoughts and as little as possible to do.'j A change to all appearance so complete is not, we think, altogether to be accounted for by the luxurious enjoyment, during several ages, of a rich and productive country like the Crimea, nor by the lulling effects of the Mahometan religion, after its first fanaticism has evaporated, though both these causes have undoubtedly had a share in the operation. More in this case is, we suspect, to be attributed to the utter extinction of military power and military feeling among this branch of the Tartar nation, and to the depressed and feeble state of their present political situation. 'Deprived of' their arms, ' says M. Reuilly, ' they have lost the habit of using them.' Reduced to a small and insignificant tribe, defached from their kinsmen and natural allies, and without a hope of ever striking again a successful blow for their own independence, they seem to have turned away their thoughts in despair from the more active occupations of their ancestors, and to have fallen at once into a state of peaceful and unresisting apathy, which hardly requires any assistance from opium. Moreover, it should be remembered, that when we contemplate them now, they are at home and in the midst of their families, where they never have exhibited any of those barbarous excesses, which have characterised their transactions abroad. Allowing, indeed, for an accumulation of very natural ennui, we are strongly disposed to believe, that they never differed very widely, under their own vines and
fig-trees, from the good creatures described by Mrs. Holderness. Broniovius, who resided among them in the sixteenth century as ambassador from Stephen, king of Poland, describes them in terms, which, with some few exceptions, might be used at the present day. He represents them, for instance, as courteous and friendly to wayfarers and strangers, lamenting, at the same time, as much as our author can do, that ' the greatest part of them are always idle;' but qualifying this less creditable constituent of their character, by making honourable mention of their ' peaceableness.' 'They are far,' says he, ' from controversies, criminations, justices, unnecessary and personal brawlings, envy, hatred, filthy excess, luxury, and ambition in their victuals and array. I abode there nine months, neither heard I criminal or civil act to have happened among them, or any composition by reason of enmity.'* All this too was written at a time when the Tartars, ' fierce by nature, hardy and bloody,' were in the annual habit of making those atrocious incursions into the Russian territory, of which, if we are to believe Dr. Fletcher, the special business was to carry off little boys and girls. 'To this purpose,' says the Doctor,. 'they take with them great baskets, made like bakers' panniers, to carry them tenderly, and if any of them happen to tire or to be sick on the way, they dash him against the ground or some tree, and so leave him dead.'i" A combination, like this, of inhumanity in war, with hospitality and bonhommie at home, is no very unusual or incredible phenomenon in the history of uncivilized tribes. But whatever alteration they may have undergone. in other respects, one national propensity remains, in which the modern Tartars have preserved, unsuspected and undiminished, the full force- of their hereditary character. Deficient in the energy which prompts to active violence, in pilfering they are* as unrivalled as ever. The produce of the orchard and bee-garden are never safe, and horse-stealing is a flourishing trade. Even . their friend, Broniovius, is obliged to admit this foible; indeed so frequent in ancient times were their attacks upon the live stock of. the Russians, that, as Fletcher (c. 190 te^s us, tne borderers of those parts were at last compelled to vest their farming capital, almost exclusively in large herds of swine, by which ingenious expedient they drew a cordon of pork from one side of the empire to the other, and thus effectually succeeded in paralysing the assaults of the conscientious disciples of the Koran. ,
In all points connected with the customs and ceremonies of religion, as well as in many particulars of their domestic manners, the Tartars, as might be expected, closely resemble their neigh-.
• Purchas, iii, 639.
t Fletcher's Treatise of Russia, 1588. c. 19.
bours the Turks. Polygamy, however, is less commonly practised among them, partly from' economical motives and partly from a characteristic love of peace and quiet. 'In cases where husbands have two or more wives, separate apartments and separate establishments must be given them; they will never consent to live together, and always regard each other with feelings of hatred, jealousy, and pride.' Of the state of the female department of a Tartar menage, much new information is afforded by the work before us; for with the advantage of a lady, instead of a philosopher, for our guide, we are not turned back from the door even of the harem, but are enabled to obtain a very clear and curious notion of the interior of that forbidden sanctuary. The Murza ladies, if we may trust the report of Mrs. Holderness, are rarely handsome, but endeavour to supply, in the barbarous magnificence of their habiliments, what is wanting in personal beauty. Their fashions are in general copied from the Turkish, and like the women of all eastern nations, they are ' very fond of showy colours and gilding in their dress as well as in the decoration of their apartments.' Stiff with brocade, weighed down with necklaces of money, collars of silver and bracelets of gold, each finger loaded with a multitude of rings of every material, from lead to jewels, a Tartar wife passes her dull and monotonous existence in embroidering napkins and towels, and varying her finery for the gratification of a single pair of eyes, unfurnished with any atom of instruction which might occupy or amuse her mind—and not always without suspicion of the itch. Married women are allowed to paint their faces both white and red, a process which they execute with little skill on a had ground; those who are unmarried are denied this high privilege, but may stain' their fingers and toe-nails with kna. The rooms of the harem swarm with fleas, but in other respects are tolerably comfortable, and are ornamented with specimens of the needle-work of its inmates. On occasion of a wedding they hang the chemises of the bride round the walls, forming, as Mrs. Holderness justly remarks, ' an extraordinary sort of tapestry.' Their diversions, as might be guessed, are few and not lively. The gayest and most popular is swinging, which they practise with all the spirit and enthusiasm of children, and were surprised that Mrs. Holderness did not join them. So great an indulgence as this, however, is only granted at the feast of Bairam; but at other seasons, if a piper should arrive, they are sometimes, as an extraordinary favour, permitted to look down, from a lofty latticed gallery, on the men who are dancing in the court. The Tartars are a goodnatured race, and unhappy marriages are said to be rare among
i 2 , . them, them, but the domestic despot keeps up the forms of state to a greater degree than we were aware of.
'When a murza visits the apartments of his women, they all rise on his entrance and again when he leaves it, although he comes and goes very frequently. This ceremonious mark of respect is never omitted even by the wife, or by any other of the females, except they be very old women, who, on account of their age, are excused.'—p. 21.
Next to his harem in the affections of a Tartar is that favourite of his fathers, the horse. The taboons, or studs, of some of the murzas, are still, it appears, very considerable, and maintained more from traditional habit than from any view to utility or profit.
* That belonging to Yie Yie Murza, in our immediate neighbourhood, consists of no less than 500 mares. They appear to have no idea of deriving any fixed revenue from breeding these animals, nor indeed any advantage, that I could understand, from keeping so many. Their pride is gratified by the number of their taboon, and they never part with any till the want of a little money compels them. . . . . The native horses of the country are small and ill-looking. The Tartars usually ride them in an amble, and this is the only pace which. they go well. Nothing can be more slight and rapid than their method of breaking them in. Having ensnared the animal by means of a rope fixed at the end of a long light pole, they tie a halter round his neck, so tight that there seems to be danger of strangling him, and in this manner they pull him about for some few minutes, till they consider him subdued; he is then mounted and soon becomes tractable.' . . . . ' Some few Circassian horses are imported, but there are not many proprietors in the Crimea, who will put themselves to the expense of buying them. They are remarkably fine animals, and are sold at from 200 to 500 roubles; while those of the country may generally be bought for forty roubles, or about two pounds sterling.'—p. 131.
The Crimean dinner tables are, it seems, no longer supplied with entrees of these cheap but noble quadrupeds, and the Tartars had even the hardihood to deny to Mrs. Holderness, that the custom of eating horse-flesh was ever practised by their nation. While we cordially congratulate the present inhabitants of the Crimea on the advancement in decency which this disclaimer denotes, we must take the liberty of assuring them, that their assertion to our author is totally unsupported by fact. There is not the slightest reason to believe, that the Crim of former days was less equivorous than the rest of his race. Not to dwell on the admission of the resident Broniovius, who says, ' they feed on camels, horses, and oxen, unprofitable for burthen, and kill them when they are about to die,' the good old English evidence of Fletcher is so direct and positive, that we are induced to extract the passage at length. 'When the emperor,' he tells us, ' hath any use of them, (i. e. of the Dukes or Murzas,) to