BLTC Press Titles


available for Kindle at Amazon.com


The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

A. Conan Doyle


Novalis Including Hymns to the Night

Novalis, George MacDonald, Thomas Carlyle


Some Experiences of an Irish R. M.

Edith Somerville and Martin Ross


Letters on the Aesthetical Education of Man

Friedrich Schiller


Journey to the north of India

by Arthur Conolly

Excerpt:

4 TRAVELLING OVER THE STEPPES.

Here we cashed our bills for Russian ducats, which I believe are a good remittance to most parts of the world, and on the 17th of October resumed our route. From the last of a succession of hills, which rise gradually above each other in a distance of four verstes, we looked back upon the painted and gilded roofs and cupolas of " the city of forty times forty churches/' which lay en masse on either side of the river Moskva, backed by a deep blue sky that told of snow: while we looked the flakes began to fall thick about us; so, wrapping ourselves in our fur cloaks, we set our faces resolutely towards Asia, and bade the Isvoschtshicks give the rein and whip to their horses.

The thermometer this afternoon stood at 34° F'; a week later, when, after travelling day and night, via Toula and Eletz, we reached the town of Veronetz, at nine in the morning it was 6° below zero. As we ran south, we seemed just to keep ahead of the snow; whenever we halted it overtook us, and we hurried on day and night with as little intermission as possible.

On the night of the 24th we crossed the Don into the Cossack country; halted the 26th and 27th at Tcherkask, the recent capital of the Don Cossacks, on the 28th again crossed this noble river into Asia, and continued our rapid journey over the steppes to the Caucasus.

We chose our own road upon the turf of these

vast plains, and galloped across them with six sturdy

horses attached to each vehicle, halting only an hour,

PASSAGE OF THE CAUCASUS. 5

morning or evening, to refresh ourselves with ablutions and food, or occasionally for a few minutes during the day, to get a shot at bustard, florican, or wild fowl. There was nothing else on the face of the country to invite our stay, and the less we entered houses, the less we suffered from the attacks of the vermin which have taken a lease of Russia; the road was as safe as easy, and after rolling smoothly along all day, we used to put a board between the seats of our carriage, and, buried in our furs, sleep soundly, if not very comfortably, through the bright cold nights.

During this part of our journey, we saw no people except those inhabiting the small villages at the government posts, and the few Cossack guards connecting them, links in the chain of communication thrown over this vast empire, through which the mandates of the Czar are conducted to their point as by electricity, and to which kootoo is performed as reverentially as to the indisputable decrees of the Emperor of China.

Our onward route lay through the towns of Stavrapol, Alexandrof, and Georgevsk, to Ekaterinegrade, where we arrived on the 3rd of November, and were detained until the 8th, when, a sufficient party of travellers having assembled; we were allowed to proceed slowly under escort of some Terek Cossacks, a party of infantry, and a twelve-pounder, to defend us against attack from any of the yet unsubdued Circassian tribes. In this manner, we travelled to Vladi Caucase, which we reached in three days: this is the

6 PASSAGE OF THE CAUCASUS.

last station on the northern side of the Caucasus, and, as the key to the pass into Georgia, a military post of importance. On the 12th of November we set out again, still escorted by soldiers, and marching under their protection through and over these stupendous mountains in five days, in the course of two more we drove to Tiflis.

We had two rather laborious days' journey over the snow in the Caucasus; our carriages however were not much injured. On our route we met a troop of horse artillery coming from the war, the soldiers attached to which seemed to make light of every difficulty, assisting the horses where the road was heavy, and occasionally unharnessing them, while with ropes they drew or lowered the guns up and down the slippery steeps. As a specimen of Russian soldiership, I may mention that, early one morning, we came upon a regiment of infantry bivouacked in regular order upon the snow.


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