« AnteriorContinuar »
serve in his wars, they are bound to come and to bring with them their soldiers to a certain number, every man with his two horse at the least; the one to ride on, the other to kill, when it cometh to his turn to have his horse eat. For their chief victual is horse-flesh, which they eat without bread, or any other thing with it. So that if a Tartar be taken by a Russ, he shall be sure lightly (commonly) to find a horse-leg, or some other part of him, at his saddle bow. This last year, when I was at the Mosko, came in ope Kiriach Morsey, nephew to the emperor of the Chrims, that now is, (whose father was emperor before,) accompanied with 300 Tartars, and his two wives, whereof one was his brother's widow; where being entertained in very good sort after the Russ manner, he had sent unto his lodging for his welcome, to be made ready for his supper and his companies, two very large and fat horses, ready flayed in a sled, (sledge.) They prefer it before other flesh, because the meat is stronger, as they say, than beef, mutton, and such like.' (c. 190 In more modern times, De Tott's ' Simper vraiment Militaire,' will occur to the recollection of our readers; and even as recently as the year 1803, whep M. Reuilly paid a visit to the brother of Atay Murza, that nobleman, he says, regaled him with the flesh of a young' mare, which he slaughtered in honour of his arrival.* Lastly, should it be objected, that in the lighter sort of travels such anecdotes are not always to be taken tout honnement; the testimony of M. Reuilly may be satisfactorily confirmed by reference to the conclusive authority of Pallas.f
Not hippophagy alone, but falconry and archery, two other favourite diversions of the earlier Tartars, have shared, within these few years, the same fate as elsewhere, and have gone out of fashion in the Crimea. M. Reuilly describes his friend Atay Murza as excelling in toxophilite pursuits, and has introduced a vignette in which he himself is represented as receiving from his 'host a complete archer's equipment. 'Acceptez,' said the old bey, ' cet arc' et ce carquois rempli de fleches; puissent elles abattre tous yos ennemis!' Mrs. Holderness observed only one bow during the whole of her residence in the peninsula, and even this appears, from the account she gives of it, to have been preserved as an object of curiosity. The characteristic amusement of horse-racing, however/ is still practised with considerable eagerness, and is seldom omitted tin occasions of festivity, of which it forms a very principal feature.
• 'A mon arrive Chez )e trere d'Atayroy rza, ce prince me dit: Soyez le bien venu. J'ai abattu (tue) line jeune jument a la nouvelle de votre arrivee. L'interprete qui ju-'accompagnait me fit observer que je reccvais de mon hfite la plus grandc marque d'estinie.'—Reuilly, 157.
| ift 359.
•' i 3 'They ''They have no stated course,' says Mrs. Holderness,' and run to no stated distance. The manner in which the race is conducted is as follows: one party, holding a handkerchief (the prize contended for) irchis mouth, sets off at full speed, followed by one, two, or perhaps ten or twenty others. He who overtakes the first, snatches the prize, and is in like manner pursued by the rest, who all endeavour to get possession of the handkerchief, or at any rate to prevent the rider who bears it, from effecting his return to the spectators. It becomes the property of him who retains it till he can contrive to reach the horses of those who are engaged in observing the contest. Thus the race is shorter or longer, according to the number and success of the competitors. There is sure to be a full attendance at this amusement, whenever it may occur, but chiefly at their weddings, when every Tartar who possesses a tolerably good horse, considers himself called upon to display the skill of the animal and his own, in this popular and national diversion.'—p. 83.
Large flocks of sheep are kept in those parts of the peninsula which constitute, or border on, the stepp, and the listless occupation of a shepherd is (at least in fine weather) perhaps the most congenial of any to the taste and habits of the nation. Those flocks from which the celebrated gray lambskins are derived, only thrive near Kosloff and Kertch; in other places a few merinos have been introduced, without much success;'but by far the commonest species to be met with in the Crimea is the usual broad-tailed sheep of the east. These, during the summer, find a luxurious sustenance in the unlimited pasturage of the plain; but in winter, they must be driven, if possible, among the mountains, to seek shelter from the sudden and violent snow storms, (called metel by the Tartars,) which often prevail at that season. On the dreaded appearance of these well-known drifts, every animal exposed to their fury gallops off with impetuosity before the force of the wind, and is frequently lost in the pits and holes of the stepp, or sometimes even in the sea. M. Degonsoff relates,* that, in 1812, during a metel which lasted four days, no less than 60,000 head of cattle were destroyed in this manner, in a single aestuary, at the mouth of the Dneiper.
'Kal Kev 'ej ayt/xwy hirurav irkdarov npiios t\6r),
We learn from our author, that on occasions of this nature, the goats, which are usually kept mixed with the sheep, are said to show considerably more courage than the latter animals, and are sometimes the means of saving the whole flock, by heading it and turning it from the danger.
• De la Civilisation de» Tatares-Nogais, p. 77.
When an unavoidable necessity for the exertion of digging becomes apparent to the mind of a Tartar, he deliberately proceeds to take a seat upon the ground, and goes through his job in that commodious position. From this specimen of their activity, an idea may be formed of the qualifications of this people for agricultural pursuits, concerning their proficiency in which several characteristic details are furnished by the work before us. Winter wheat of a bad quality, rye, barley, with a few oats and a small quantity of hemp, flax, and millet, are for the most part, the sole articles of Tartar cultivation. They have no idea of the advantages to be derived from a succession of crops, and uniformly 'sow the most inferior sorts of grain without any regard to the mixture of other seeds which it may contain. This neglect almost always gives them an abundant crop of weeds with their corn, which they would rather lose altogether than be at the trouble of cleansing.' Naturally the slowest and most indolent workmen in the world, their idleness is increased both at hay-time and harvest, by a ridiculous custom of waiting 'till all the village shall have finished cutting, before any one begins to carry home his share.' Thus, in case of bad weather, the most active and industrious come worst off", and a premium is offered for procrastination. * Their agricultural implements are as rude as their method of using them. They are made almost entirely of wood, and since iron causes the heaviest part of the expense, they employ as little as possible of that material in their construction.' So wretched are their mills, that no fine flour is to be met with that has not travelled upwards of 900 miles from Moscow. The creaking of the wheels of their clumsy waggons is sufficient to alarm .a whole district'. 'When asked,' says our author, 'why they do not prevent this annoyance by the application of a little grease, their usual answer is, that they are no thieves, and are not ashamed that the world should hear of their movements' 'From the rude and barbarous form in which their ploughs are constructed, seven pair of oxen are often required in breaking up old grass land.' They submit these animals to the yoke at two years old, and work them till they are twenty, making use of them for every kind of agricultural labour, except that of threshing, which is generally performed by horses.' A few buffaloes are kept in some places, but seem singularly ill-adapted to the climate. The Bactrian camel is more hardy and serviceable, but is confined to the neighbourhood of the isthmus.
Herodotus mentions, that the savage race of Tauri, who inhabited, in his time, the mountains of this peninsula, were accus-r tomed to fix human heads on poles, as imaginary guardians of their houses. (Melp. '255.) It would seem that the Tartars,
14 who who have succeeded to their possessions, still countenance the practice of their predecessors, softening it, however, by substituting the skull of a horse, which they doubtless consider next in value. Most of the superstitions of the Turkish rabble, and many that were never heard of by that people, send their terrors and consolations to the conviction of a Tartar, and are hourly the motives of his most deliberate actions. Should a child unfortunately receive a glance from a stranger, the poor infant must be spit upon without mercy, to avert the bad consequences of the evil eye. If a horse be taken ill, they throw eggs in his face, or tie a bag of millet round his neck. Ladies walk about with Written conjurations in their hair, while gentlemen wear them stitched between their shoulders. No Tartar would think of leaving home on a Tuesday* 'for,' said one of them to Mrs, Holderness, ' I once began a journey on that day, and lost two horses by it, so that I would not run the risk again for a thousand roubles.' Spirits of the dead are more manageable in the Crimea than elsewhere, for in cases where they are troublesome to the living, the annoyance is removed by uncovering the grave, and either shooting the body, or cutting off its head. This is evidently the old story of the Varnpire and the approved mode of dealing with that troublesome visitor. \Ve are surprised, that with such a fund of credulity at command, the Tartars have no legendary poetry. They have not even the usual oriental taste for tales of necromancy and enchantment; 'but,' says Mrs. Holder-! ness, ' they are fond of ghost stories, and the fact of the devil walking in the garden at Karagoss is not doubted by anv one of them,'
On the political situation and opinions of the Tartars, our author furnishes no information, and we infer from her silence, tha$ political opinions do not exist; we are, consequently, unable, to draw any conclusions from her work as to their condition under the Russian yoke. Whatever may have been its former conduct, however, the government at present seems to be acting an humane and judicious part, in abandoning to them, almost exclusively, the occupation of their southern vallies, and thus bringing them as little as possible into contact with their Christian masters. Exempted from taxation and conscription by express capitulation, they are placed, as to these points, on a better footing than the majority pf their Russian fellow-subjects; Bnd, excepting from the temporary exactions of some traveller
• We smile at this without recollecting the many persons of our own age and country, who are-equally superstitious as to the ill luck of commencing any undertaking of a' Friday. When the Alceste was lost, every one at Portsmouth exclaimed,' I thought so—she sailed on a Friday.' ,
, wbq who abuses his privileges, we believe that the property as well as persons of the Tartars are, in ordinary circumstances, undisturbed. It is chiefly in matters of judicial procedure that they have reason to desire an amendment; since the jurisprudence of the Russians invades the pocket and back to an extent never practised by the Mussulmans. The decisions, under the Khan, were prompt, equitable, and unbought,—in civil cases resembling arbitration; and even the barbarous regulation which caused the sentence of a criminal to be completed by the hand pf the injured party, wore a rude appearance of retributive right, which made it perhaps less offensive than such protracted and horrible scenes as the following :—
In the spring of IS 18, seven Tartars, who had been found guilty of various robberies and murders in the districts of Akmetchet, Theodosia, Kertch, and Port Patch, were sentenced by the Russian law to receive. the punishment of the knout* in each of these towns. Having first undergone this dreadful penalty at Akmetchet, they were conducted to Theodosia, heavily ironed, and lodged in the gaol there till the hour appointed for the flogging. They were then taken to the market-place, where hundreds of spectators were assembled to witness the scene, and from an Englishman, present on that occasion, I received the following account of the transaction :—" The culprits, each in his turn, were fastened to an inclined post, having a ring at the top, to which the head was so tightly fixed, by means of a rope, as to prevent the sufferer from crying out. The hands were closely tied on either side, and at the bottom were two rings for the feet, which were in like manner secured. The back was then bared, and the plaster or rag, which had been applied after the previous whipping, was torn off. The Tartar sacerdatal, attended by a Tartar priest, next advanced, and read aloud the crimes for which the offenders were punished, together with the sentence of the law. This took up nearly half an hour. The knout has a very heavy thong, as thick as a man's wrist, and weighing from two to three pounds. The lash is of leather, about the breadth of a broad tape ; the handle is about two feet long. With this weapon, the executioner now approached, and giving one cut, walked back again to the distance of about forty yards. He then returned, flourishing his whip, and struck again, till the appointed number of strokes was given, and till it was certain that the poor wretch was all but dead. At every blow the blood spirted from the wound, but the previous-preparation prevented the possibility of exclamation. Each one, when his flogging was finished, was unbound, and having the rag replaced on his back, was removed into a cart, till all had been thus disposed of; having witnessed the sufferings of their comrades, and endured their own. Before they left Theodosia, one of them died; and of the seven, I believe, not one Jived to undergo the whole of the sentence." '—p. 89.
• * The true pronunciation of this word would perhaps be better represented if it were spell knoot.