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Title: Armenia, Travels and Studies (Volume 1 of 2) - The Russian Provinces
Author: Lynch, H. F. B.
Language: English
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Armenian Genocide.



                                ARMENIA

                          TRAVELS AND STUDIES


                                   BY
                             H. F. B. LYNCH



                    Nature's vast frame, the web of human things.

                                                       Shelley, Alastor.

                    Who can foretell our future? Spare me the attempt.
                    We are like a harvest reaped by bad husbandmen
                    amidst encircling gloom and cloud.

                                                         John Katholikos
                     Armenian historian of the Xth century Ch. CLXXXVII.



                             IN TWO VOLUMES

          WITH 197 ILLUSTRATIONS, REPRODUCED FROM PHOTOGRAPHS
                      AND SKETCHES BY THE AUTHOR,
                NUMEROUS MAPS AND PLANS, A BIBLIOGRAPHY

              And a Map of Armenia and Adjacent Countries

                                 VOL. I

                         THE RUSSIAN PROVINCES



                        LONGMANS, GREEN, AND CO.
                       LONDON: 39 PATERNOSTER ROW
                          NEW YORK AND BOMBAY

                                  1901



PREFACE


This book contains the account of two separate journeys in Armenia,
the first extending from August 1893 to March 1894, and the second
from May to September 1898. Before embarking upon them, I was already
familiar with the contiguous countries, having spent a considerable
portion of the years 1889 and 1890 in Mesopotamia and Persia. The
routes shown in my map from Aleppo to Diarbekr and down the Tigris,
and from Batum across Georgia and the Caspian to Resht, were taken
during the course of these earlier wanderings, and they contribute
no part of the ensuing narrative.

What attracted me to Armenia? I had no interests public or private in
a country which has long been regarded even by Asiatic travellers as a
land of passage along prescribed routes. One inducement was curiosity:
what lay beyond those mountains, drawn in a wide half-circle along
the margin of the Mesopotamian plains? The sources of the great rivers
which carried me southwards, a lake with the dimensions of an inland
sea, the mountain of the Ark, the fabled seat of Paradise.

With each step forward in my knowledge of the countries west of India
came a corresponding increase of my original emotion. Sentimental
were reinforced by purely practical considerations; and I seemed to
see that the knot of politics tightening year by year around these
countries was likely to be resolved in Armenia. I became impatient
to set foot upon Armenian soil.

When my wish was realised, my first experiences of the country
and of the Armenians in the Russian provinces exceeded my
expectations--fringed with doubt as these were by disappointment with
much I had seen in the East. So I passed over the Russian frontier,
struck across to the lake of Van, and spent the winter in Erzerum.

When I came to setting down on the map my routes in Turkish Armenia,
the scantiness of existing knowledge was painfully plain. I soon
realised that it would be necessary to undertake a second journey
for the purpose of acquiring the necessary framework upon which to
hang the routes. Meanwhile the events occurred with which we are
all familiar--the Armenian massacres, and the comedy of the concert
of Europe.

It was with difficulty that I was at length enabled to return to the
country. These later travels were almost exclusively occupied with
the natural features, our tents spread upon the great mountain masses,
whence plain and lake and winding river were unfolded before us like
a map.

Primitive methods were rendered necessary for transferring these
features to paper. One is not allowed in Turkey the use of elaborate
or obvious instruments, and miles of ground had to be crossed in full
view of Turkish officials before reaching the field of our work. But
I was able to transport to Erzerum a standard mercurial barometer,
which was duly set up in that centre and read several times a day
during our absence. We carried two aneroids, a boiling-point apparatus,
a four-inch prismatic compass, used upon a tripod and carefully tested
at Kew; lastly, a rather troublesome but very satisfactory little
instrument called a telemeter, and made by Steward. The measurements
were checked by cross-readings with the compass, and we found that they
could be relied upon. Once we were upon the mountains our operations
were not impeded, and, indeed, were assisted by the authorities.

I was accompanied on this second journey by my friend, Mr. F. Oswald,
who had been helping me disentangle the voluminous works of the great
Abich upon the geology of the Caucasus and Russian Armenia. The varied
talents of Oswald were of the greatest service to the work in hand,
while his society was a constant source of pleasure and repose. He
is now engaged with the geological results of this journey, and with
a well-considered study of the geology of Armenia as a whole. These
he hopes to publish before very long.

The illustrations are for the most part reproductions of my
photographs, being a selection from a collection which fills several
cases. On my first Armenian journey I was accompanied as far as
Erzerum by Mr. E. Wesson of the Polytechnic in London, who not only
developed the films and plates upon the spot, but rendered the most
valuable assistance in the photographic work. He also displayed the
qualities of a veteran campaigner before the journey was done. And
I was always missing him after his return home and during the second
journey, when the work devolved entirely upon myself.

My cousin, Major H. B. Lynch, now serving in South Africa, travelled
with us as far as Ararat and took charge of the camp. It is, I think,
a legitimate cause for satisfaction that, except for momentary lapses
on the part of the cook, not one of the party during either of the
two long journeys fell ill or became incapable of hard work. And on
both occasions the horses were sold at a small profit when the coast
was at length reached.

Why does one write a book? I find it difficult to answer the question,
which, indeed, demands a knowledge of human nature greater than any I
possess. There are societies and individuals who, I feel sure, would
offer a price if the potential author would agree to keep his material
to himself. The sum might probably be augmented by the contributions
of weary students; and a revenue could be collected from these various
sources far exceeding any royalties received from publishers. Moreover
the author would escape the foreboding of condign punishment, which
he is made to feel suspended over his head. On the other hand, there
is the fascination of feeling possessed by a subject, stronger than
yourself and elemental. And there is the joy and the impersonality
of the work reacting upon the personality of the writer.

The country and the people which form the theme of the ensuing pages
are deserving, the one of enthusiasm and the other of the highest
interest. It is very strange that such a fine country should have lain
in shadow for so many centuries, and that even the standard works of
Greek and Roman writers should display so little knowledge of its
features and character. Much has been done to dispel the darkness
during the progress of the expired century; and I have been at some
pains to collect and co-ordinate the work of my predecessors. In this
task I have been assisted by my friend, the Hon. Mrs. Arthur Pelham,
to whom the credit of the bibliography accompanying my second volume
is due.

In taking leave of the book--and it has been a long connection--the
mind rests with pleasure and gratitude upon the help given without
stint by fellow-workers in the same or in different fields. To my
friend, Mr. R. W. Graves, now Consul-General in Crete, I am indebted
for a lengthy spell of hospitality and delightful companionship in
distant Erzerum. I have borrowed freely from his intimate knowledge of
extensive regions in Turkish Armenia, as well as from that acquired
by my friend, Major Maunsell, now our Consul at Van, the principal
contemporary authority on Kurdistan. Geheimrath Dr. G. Radde of
Tiflis has rendered me valuable assistance on more than one occasion;
and it is also a pleasure to feel conscious in many ways of my
obligations to my friend, Mr. L. de Klupffell, formerly of Batum. At
home I have received much kindness from Mr. Fortescue of the British
Museum library, and from Dr. Mill, who has so long presided over the
library of the Royal Geographical Society, and whose recent retirement
from that office in order to devote himself to his scientific work
is keenly regretted by those whom he encouraged by his assistance
and advice. The book has brought me several new friends, among
them Mr. F. C. Conybeare of Oxford, the extent of my debt to whom,
in various directions, it would be difficult to estimate. Professor
Sayce has kindly looked over the sheets dealing with the Vannic empire,
and contributed several valuable suggestions. Prof. E. Denison Ross
has helped me with the Mussulman inscriptions, besides informing me
upon a number of obscure points.

A portion of the narrative of the ascent of Ararat has already appeared
in Messrs. Scribner's Magazine, reprinted in Mountain Climbing,
a book published by this firm. Parts of the concluding chapters of
each volume, entitled "Statistical and Political," have seen the
light in the shape of a series of articles in the Contemporary Review.


H. F. B. LYNCH.


The map which accompanies my first volume will be on sale separately
at Messrs. Stanford's in Longacre.



CONTENTS

                                                                PAGE
    CHAPTER I
    The Coast and the Port                                         1

    CHAPTER II
    Ascent to Armenia                                             37

    CHAPTER III
    To Akhaltsykh                                                 53

    CHAPTER IV
    To Akhalkalaki                                                72

    CHAPTER V
    At Akhalkalaki                                                86

    CHAPTER VI
    Prospect from Abul                                            92

    CHAPTER VII
    Gorelovka and Queen Lukeria                                   96

    CHAPTER VIII
    To Alexandropol                                              118

    CHAPTER IX
    At Alexandropol                                              124

    CHAPTER X
    To Erivan                                                    133

    CHAPTER XI
    To Ararat                                                    143

    CHAPTER XII
    Ascent of Ararat                                             156

    CHAPTER XIII
    The Heart of Ararat                                          179

    CHAPTER XIV
    Return to Erivan                                             200

    CHAPTER XV
    At Erivan                                                    206

    CHAPTER XVI
    Edgmiatsin and the Armenian Church                           228

    CHAPTER XVII
    To Ani and to Kars                                           316

    CHAPTER XVIII
    Ani, and the Armenian Kingdom of the Middle Ages             334

    CHAPTER XIX
    Kars                                                         393

    CHAPTER XX
    Across the Spine of Armenia                                  409

    CHAPTER XXI
    Geographical                                                 421

    CHAPTER XXII
    Statistical and Political                                    446



LIST OF PLATES

    Ararat from Aralykh                                 Frontispiece
    Trebizond from above the Head of the Western Ravine
                                                     To face page 12
    Trebizond: Hagia Sophia                                       24
    Trebizond: Façade of Hagia Sophia on the South                25
    Plain of the Rion from the Southern Slopes of Caucasus:
    Kutais in the Foreground                                      46
    View North from the Zikar Pass                   Back to page 52
    View South from the Zikar Pass                                53
    Safar: St. Saba from the West                                 62
    Safar: Porch of St. Saba                                      63
    Akhaltsykh from the Road to Akhalkalaki          To face page 65
    Castle of Khertvis                                            76
    Vardzia, the Troglodyte City                                  80
    Mount Abul from Akhalkalaki                                   92
    Summer Pavilion at Gorelovka                                 109
    Alagöz from the Plain of Alexandropol                        122
    Alexandropol from the Armenian Cemetery                      125
    Ararat from near Aramzalu                                    153
    Great Ararat from above Sardar Bulakh                        165
    Our Kurd Porters on Ararat                                   167
    Akhury: The Great Chasm from Aralykh                         179
    Akhury: Inside the Great Chasm                               194
    Erivan and Ararat from the North                             208
    Erivan: Interior of the Kiosque of the Sirdars               216
    Edgmiatsin: The Great Court and the Cathedral                243
    Edgmiatsin: Ceremony of the Consecration of the
    Katholikos--Anointing with Oil from the Beak of a
        Golden Dove                                              254
    Edgmiatsin: Interior of the Cathedral                        267
    Edgmiatsin: Exterior of St. Ripsime                          269
    Edgmiatsin: Exterior of St. Gaiane                           270
    Edgmiatsin: Exterior of Shoghakath                           271
    Talin: Mouldings on South Side of Ruinous Church             322
    Walls and Gateway of the City of Ani from Outside,
        looking East                                             369
    Ani: The Cathedral from South-East                           370
    Ani: Niche in Eastern Wall of Cathedral                      371
    Ani: Apse of the Cathedral                                   372
    Ani: Church of St. Gregory from the West                     373
    Ani: North Wall of the Church of St. Gregory                 374
    Ani: Detail of the Porch of St. Gregory                      375
    Ani: Mosque and Minaret                                      376
    Ani: Detail of Doorway of Chapel near Citadel                379
    Ani: Chapel of St. Gregory, East Side                        380
    Ani: Chapel of St. Gregory, Entrance                         381
    Ani: Interior of the Chapel of St. Gregory                   382
    Ani: Chapel of the Redeemer                                  383
    Ani: Doorway of the Castle                                   384
    Ani: Portal of the Church of the Apostles from the West      385
    Ani: East Front of the Church of the Apostles                386
    Khosha Vank: Pronaos                                         387
    Khosha Vank: Exterior of Pronaos and Church from South-West  388
    Khosha Vank: Hall of the Synod                               389
    Looking down the Valley of Kagyzman                          417
    A Rib or Buttress of Aghri Dagh                              419
    Pass over Aghri Dagh                                         420



ILLUSTRATIONS IN THE TEXT

    Entrance to the Black Sea from the Bosphorus                   3
    Interior of Hagia Sophia                                      27
    Banks of the Rion above Kutais                                46
    Road in the Forest                                            50
    Georgians                                                     51
    Portrait of Ivan                                              59
    Group of Villagers at Khertvis                                77
    Archimandrite and Deacon at Vardzia                           82
    Head Waters of the Arpa Chai                                 121
    Byzantine Picture in Greek Church                            128
    Wedding Party at Alexandropol                                130
    Church of Marmashen from S.W.                                131
    Alagöz from the Head Waters of the Abaran                    136
    Ararat: Aralykh in the foreground                            155
    Our Cavalcade on Ararat                                      159
    Our Encampment at Sardar Bulakh                              163
    Little Ararat from near Sardar Bulakh                        164
    Summit of Ararat from the South-East, taken at a height
        of about 13,000 feet                                     180
    Boulders near Akhury                                         191
    Ararat from a house-top in Erivan                            207
    Alagöz from a house-top in Erivan                            208
    Entrance to Gök Jami, Erivan                                 213
    Court with basin of Gök Jami, Erivan                         214
    The Temple, Gök Jami                                         215
    Pilgrims' Court, Edgmiatsin                                  230
    The Katholikos Mekertich Khrimean                            237
    The Lake at Edgmiatsin                                       246
    Ararat from the Lake at Edgmiatsin                           247
    Armenian Nun                                                 252
    Interior of the Portal of the Cathedral                      266
    Episcopal Staves                                             268
    Sculptured Stone                                             271
    Village of Talin, with Mount Bugutu                          322
    Mouldings on North Side of Ruinous Church at Talin           323
    Tartar Khan at Talin     }                                   324
    Pristav of Talin         }
    Priest of Talin                                              325
    Tartar of Akhja Kala                                         326
    Alagöz from the Plains on the West                           327
    Greek Girl of Subotan                                        331
    Ani: Bas-relief on the Inner Wall of the Gateway             369
    Ani: Sculptured Stone Moulding                               373
    Ani: Walled Enclosure and Chapel                             376
    Ani: Building on the Citadel                                 378
    Ani: Pilaster in the Building on the Citadel                 379
    Ani: Landscape from the southern extremities of the site     380
    Ani: The Castle                                              383
    The Monastery of Khosha Vank: east side                      386
    Khosha Vank: Chapels in the Ravine of the Arpa Chai          387
    The Citadel of Kars                                          406
    Molokan Elder at Vladikars                                   411
    House at Novo-Michaelovka                                    412
    Aghri Dagh from the Araxes Cañon                             414
    Cliffs composing Northern Wall of Araxes Cañon               415
    The Araxes near Kagyzman                                     416
    Kara Vank on Aghri Dagh                                      419
    Map of the Armenian Plateau                                  452



LIST OF MAPS AND PLANS

    Plan of the Ancient Fortifications of Trebizond  To face page 13
    Trebizond and Surroundings                                    30
    Plan of the Monastery and Churches of Edgmiatsin
                                           Between pages 244 and 245
    Plan of the Deserted City of Ani                To face page 390
    Kars and Surroundings                                        395
    The Structural Features of Asia        Between pages 422 and 423
    Map of Armenia and Adjacent Countries                      Cover



CHAPTER I

THE COAST AND THE PORT


On four different occasions, both in summer and in winter, I have
sailed along the southern shore of the Black Sea almost from one
extremity to the other; yet I do not remember having seen the sky free
from heavy clouds during two consecutive days. As the ship speeds
eastwards along the mountains of Bithynia, a thin veil of haze will
blend the land outlines together; while, as the range grows in height
with every mile of progress, the vapour will collect about its upper
slopes in long, horizontal, black banks. Even when the sun of this
southern climate has swept the sky of every lingering film, when
the zenith and the water recall the hues of the Mediterranean--the
whole scale of brilliant blues--somewhere upon the wide circle of
the horizon will be lurking the scattered forces of the mist. But
the stronghold of the cloud is in the mountains of Akhaltsykh, at
the foot of Caucasus, in the extreme eastern angle of the sea. Can
there exist a more gloomy coast? There the sky is always lowering
above the inky water, and the forests of fir which clothe the range
from foot to summit wave darkly, like feathers over a pall. Such,
I think, are the impressions which the mind most closely associates
with the aspect of this sea and shore. What a contrast to the smiling
landscape of the Bosphorus, the strait through which we enter this
sad sea or leave it on our return home! The cold draught follows the
home-coming ship up the narrow channel between the wooded cliffs,
and frets the running tide into crisp little waves which sparkle in
the brilliant light. The dolphins leap from the blue water and dart
shining through the air. To the traveller who is returning from a long
journey in Asia and a tedious tossing on this grey sea, the Bosphorus,
always bright and gay and beautiful, may appear as the promised gate
of paradise beyond the world of shades.

The character of the coast cannot fail to be affected by this climate,
by this atmosphere. Just as the vapours gather thickest where the
mountains are most lofty, at the south-eastern angle of the sea,
so the vegetation increases in luxuriance and variety the further
eastwards we proceed on our course. The cliffs or rolling hills about
the entrance of the Bosphorus--the closing cliffs of the Greek legend,
which caught the tail-feathers of the dove--soon give place to the
belt of wooded mountains which rise from the immediate margin of the
water, and stretch from west to east along the entire seaboard to the
Phasis and Batum. Tier upon tier they rise from the narrow strip of
sand and pebbles, and grow both in height and in boldness of outline
as they stretch towards the east. The winds of the open sea, the cold
winds of Scythia, fly over the barrier of the range; and the ship
may often anchor in smooth water at a point where least protection
would appear to be offered by the configuration of the shore. But the
moisture of the air is arrested at the coast-line, and hangs about the
upper tiers of the mountains or clings to the fir-clad slopes. These
natural conditions are extremely favourable to vegetation, and the
larger grows the scale upon which they are operating, the more abundant
becomes the growth of trees and shrubs. When at last we have reached
the neighbourhood of the Phasis, where the wall of this range towers
highest above us on the one side, and the line of Caucasus closes the
horizon on the other, the shore becomes clothed with dense forests,
plants and creepers flourish with tropical exuberance; the traveller,
threading the maze of evergreen woodland, might be walking along the
banks of the Amazon or through the glades of Mazanderan.

August 13, 14.--Our ship is outward bound for the banks of the Phasis,
"the furthest point to which vessels sail." It was evening when we
hove anchor from Constantinople, and night had already closed as we
passed the cliffs of Buyukdere and opened the mouth of the strait
(Fig. 1). This morning we are skirting the Bithynian mountains,
our head well up towards Amasra, behind us the bluff of Cape Baba,
a promontory of twin hills. That cape hides the site of Heraklea,
one of the most important of the old Greek cities, now patched with
the relics of its former splendour, and shorn of the glory of its
statue of Herakles, with lion-skin, club, quiver, bow and arrows
all wrought of solid gold. The same lofty coast and bold headlands
accompany our course; in a few hours we double Cape Karembe, and
the sun has not yet set as we cast anchor off Ineboli, the outlet of
the rich districts about Kastamuni, and perhaps at present the most
prosperous of these western Pontic ports.

Herakli, Ineboli, Sinope, Samsun--the ships often stop at one or
two of these places; yet how little now remains of the old Greek
cities of the Argonautic shore! Step on land, and there are the
high-prowed galleys drawn up, quite in the ancient fashion, upon the
narrow strip of sand. But the hill to which we look for the ancient
akropolis appears bare of any building now, and it is only by careful
searching and diligent enquiry that you will find some faced stone with
a Greek inscription of the Roman period built into the buttress of a
modern bridge, or mocking the ruder masonry of a Turkish wall. Here at
Ineboli, indeed, half-bedded in the soil a few paces from the shore,
lies a shining fragment of white marble with sculptures in relief. A
line of white-faced houses with roofs of red tiles nestles beneath the
mountain wall. The Greeks live on one side, the Turks on the other;
and the intelligent man to whom you naturally address yourself is
an Armenian in European dress. Our ship does not call at Sinope
this voyage--Sinope of the open site and spacious roadstead, whose
walls seem to have resisted the general crumbling, and rise from the
water a still perfect model of a fortified mediæval town. During the
night we round the hump of Anatolia, and before mid-day we are lying
in the bay of Samsun, towards the centre of the long curve lined
with white-faced, red-tiled houses, beyond which the ruined walls
of ancient Amisus still emerge from the briars on the summit of the
hillside which closes the landscape on the north-west. But at Samsun
also destruction has been busy; I look in vain for the massive tower
of old acquaintance at the south-eastern extremity of the shore. I
recognise the spot where it stood at the end of the long sea-wall,
some parts of which still remain; but the foundations alone have
escaped demolition, and the few large blocks of stone which still
lie scattered on the ground testify rather to the carelessness of
the Turkish building-contractor than to any respect on the part of
his employers for the beauty and interest of their town.

The sites of these coast towns have been determined by the
characteristics of the range of wooded limestone ridges which rise
along the shore. Sometimes it will be a cleft in this latitudinal belt
of mountains, a transverse fissure in the grain of the range, which,
with its rustling river giving access to the interior, has attracted
a settlement. The eye rests with pleasure on the deep green of these
narrow valleys; the limestone towers high above them and protects the
rich growth of trees and shrubs. Or the range recedes from the margin
of the water, sweeping inland in the shape of a vast amphitheatre,
and curving outwards again to form a distant promontory of the bold
and sinuous coast. The first description will apply to the position
of Ineboli; the second may be illustrated in a typical manner by the
site of Samsun. There the open stage of the wide hemicycle is filled
with rolling hills and level expanses which yield abundant crops of
cereals. It is true that the estuaries of the two larger rivers,
Halys and Iris, present exceptions to the normal configuration
of the seaboard. These considerable streams form extensive deltas
which project far out into the sea. For awhile, as you pass them,
you almost lose sight of the mountains, and the view ranges across
low, marshy tracts, studded with trees. As we skirted the delta of
the Halys, we looked down upon such a wooded plain across a narrow
bank of sandy shore. It appeared as if inside that slender barrier
the solid land had sunk beneath the level of the waters upon which
we sailed. The delta of the Halys is as celebrated for its tobacco
as that of the Iris for its Indian corn, and Bafra and Charshembeh
are becoming serious rivals to the old Greek cities of the coast.

Indeed, even along this remote seaboard the flowing tide of Western
civilisation is surely setting eastwards again. How the conditions
of human life around these lonely waters have altered within the
last sixty years! Sixty years ago the first steamer drew her train
of smoke and foam past these forelands and bays of still uncertain
fame. The slave ships infested the harbours of the coast, and if a
sail rose upon the horizon it was likely to be a slaver's sail. Armed
bands still forayed into the recesses of Georgia for their loot of
beautiful boys and girls, and parents who wished to preserve their
daughters from the market would place them, when quite children,
in one of the numerous fortified convents which crowned the summits
of their native hills. Slowly the grip of law has fastened upon the
peoples of Caucasia, a stern force moving with the insistence of a
vice from distant Russia, from the north; while from the west, with,
perhaps, less system, less coherence of methods, European commerce
creeps along this Turkish shore of the sea, and extends ever further
into the inland country the solvent influences of her sway. Already
towards the middle of the century the Russians swept these waters
with their steam cruisers, while their police boats blockaded all
the coast of Circassia to guard against the import of arms. Only
when the season was most tempestuous, when the cruisers had retired
within their harbours and the Cossacks no longer dared to face the
open sea, the captain of the slave ship would venture out upon his
perilous voyage from some wooded inlet of the eastern shore. At the
present time this traffic has either ceased entirely or is conducted
through obscure and secret channels, where it would be difficult to
trace. To Russia belongs the credit of this achievement, which has
accompanied the extension of her empire down the eastern coast of the
Black Sea. To Europe and to the increasing intercourse with European
markets is due the growing prosperity of these towns of the Turkish
seaboard, and indeed the very appearance which they present. New
houses, in construction far more solid than their predecessors, are
transforming the aspect of the shore; burnt bricks or stone masonry
take the place of wood, and these materials are faced with a coat of
concrete, painted a pure white. The window apertures are large, and at
evening or morning a row of wide glass panes reflects the glow. Even
the Government can show some signs of progress; carriageable roads
have been constructed to the towns of the interior, from Ineboli to
the inland centre of Kastamuni, from Samsun to Amasia and Sivas.

August 15.--Weighing from Samsun at night, it is early morning as we
cast anchor off Kerasun--Kerasun with its castled rock thrown seawards
from the range, the lofty headland of the bay, from which the town
curves westwards and sinks to the waterside under the shadow of the
mountain wall. Were it not for the needle forms of minaret and cypress,
rising against the terraces of white walls and red roofs which mount
from the water's edge, we might be sailing on the Rhine, past some
grim old burgh, dominating the cluster of peaceful habitations which
cower at its skirts. In less than three hours the barges are emptied,
and we are proceeding on our course. Almost immediately we pass close
to a little island, a rare object along this shore. It is a mere fleck
of rock, picturesquely encircled by feudal walls and towers. The range
on our right hand is always rising in elevation; hard porphyritic
rocks are beginning to take the place of the crumbling limestone;
the ridges, clad with firs to the very summits, stand up one behind
another ever loftier and more abrupt. At the same time the lower
slopes increase in verdure; orchards and plantations clothe each
respite of open ground. Small settlements succeed one another more
closely, the houses peeping out with their white faces from the soft,
leafy background of green.

Such is the appearance of the shore we are skirting this morning--the
range growing in height, the vegetation increasing, the characteristic
beauties of the coast now, perhaps, for the first time imprinting
a lasting image upon the mind. Like the Mediterranean, this sea
is almost tideless--the narrow strip of sand, upon which the waves
plash, is unencumbered with those oozy beds of giant seaweed which,
scattered in fragrant streamers upon our English seaboards, whet the
freshness of our sea-breeze. Beyond this margin rise the first spurs
of the mountains, or immediately descend into the deep, clear waters
in the form of bold capes. If this coast yields to some in variety
of outline, and is wanting in those combinations of sinuous bays and
sea-thrown islands which lend such beauty to the landscapes of western
Asia Minor and to the European shore of the Mediterranean Sea, it
is surpassed by none in distinctness of character, in singleness of
effect. Day after day it is the same long belt of mountains always
following the shore, the same long series of parallel ridges rising
roughly parallel to the shore. The persistence of the range, the
regularity of the system, the many signs along the seaboard of an
ever-increasing development in the scale of the mountain walls which
lie behind--all contribute to the growing consciousness that this
foot of the barrier, the pleasing inlets of this shore, are but the
threshold of some commanding piece of natural architecture of which
we long to realise the plan. While the imagination is stimulated by
this largeness of feature, the eye also is pleased. Groves of lofty
fir trees clothe the slopes and climb the summits, standing out on the
undulating backs of the ridges against the light of the sky. Wherever
the soil favours, there are pretty orchards, and an abundant growth of
plants and trees. Nature strikes the first note of that "evergreenness"
for which the coast of Kolchis has been famed.

Towards mid-day we are holding up for a well-defined headland,
projecting towards the north. It is distinguished by bold bluffs,
breaking off in the form of cliffs before they reach the water's
edge, and by a succession of deep valleys which descend on either
side to the margin of the shore. It is the promontory of the "sacred
mountain"--Hieron Oros, now called Yoros, Ieros, or simply Oros--and it
forms the western border of that series of smaller indentations which
make up the beautiful bay of Trebizond. Platana, most picturesque
of little settlements, nestles well under the shelter of this cape
upon the west, when once you have doubled the points; while on the
eastern side of the bay, exposed to the strong north-westerly winds of
the seaboard, lies the site of the old city of Trebizond. From this
port starts the principal avenue of communication between Turkish
Armenia and the sea; and beyond the mountains, on the south of this
wild coast range, now traversed by a metalled road, lie the plains
of the Armenian tableland. The width of this mountain belt which
borders Armenia--this continuous chain of latitudinal ridges which,
rising one behind and higher than the other, lead up like a ladder
to the edge of the Armenian plateau--is on this section of the range
a direct distance of nearly fifty miles. When the roses are blowing
in the gardens of the seaboard, the Armenian rivers may be bound with
ice; an unbroken sheet of snow may dazzle the eyes of the traveller,
as he penetrates from this border country of parallel crests and
depressions to the open landscapes of the tableland.

Fifty miles of intricate mountain country, inhabited at all periods
by a sparse and little civilised population of doubtful or mixed
race! The fact goes far towards explaining the isolation of Armenia,
the remoteness throughout history of the great grain-growing plains of
the interior from the coast towns of the Black Sea. While the Greek
cities of the seaboard, sheltered behind the barrier of the range,
found a natural and almost uninterrupted connection with the main
currents of Western history and Western life, the Armenian country and
people, full exposed to the revolutions of Asia, belonged essentially
to the East.

Yet these crumbling walls and towers, emerging at intervals from a
leafy overgrowth of creepers and trees, claim a larger share of our
attention than a merely passing notice of the port of Trebizond. For,
in the first place, no traveller, about to enter the interior by
this well-known and well-beaten route, can fail to undergo the spell
which belongs to these ruins, or to feel his interest aroused by
the monuments which still remain here of an empire long forgotten in
the West. Nor will a mind which has been fed upon Western literature
ignore the importance of realising the events of Western history as
they touch this remote shore. The annals of Trebizond, while they
illustrate and in themselves to a great extent resume the fortunes of
these coast towns, were joined by a thread which was seldom severed
to the web of Western things.

August 16.--The morning is the time to arrive at Trebizond, perhaps
to wake when the ship lies secure at anchor, while a fresh land-wind
blows. The vessel coming from the west crosses the bay from Cape Ieros
to an answering headland in the east, and does not bring up till she
has doubled this lesser promontory and closed or almost closed the
wide bay from sight. The anchorage lies at the foot of the eastern
suburb of the city, now the most flourishing portion of the town, and
the suburb mounts the back of the little promontory, and descends to
the water on the opposite or western side. The inlet which recedes
from the cape is not deep or extensive, and the shelter which it
offers is so partial that in stormy weather a ship may be obliged to
run for Platana, and seek shelter under the lee of Cape Ieros, now
some fifteen miles away. This configuration of the shore may be said
to give two faces to the site of Trebizond. While the ancient city
with the ruins looks seawards and westwards, commanding the softer
landscape of the bay, to the anchorage belongs an easterly aspect,
and a view past the estuary of the famous river Pyxitis along the
wildest portion of the coast range.

Facing the anchorage, on the east of the white houses which climb
the western skirts of the rising land, a bold cliff towers up above
the water with abrupt walls of dark rock. The face of this cliff
is almost bare of vegetation; but the summit, which is flat, is
completely covered with a soft carpet of old turf. The elevation of
this lofty platform above the sea-level is 850 feet. East and west the
hill descends with gentler gradients, on the one side to the estuary
of the Pyxitis, and on the other to the little cape and to the town;
but whether you approach it from the city or from the river valley,
the slopes are no light matter to climb. On the south it joins on to
the half-circle of the coast range, which recedes from beyond the
river in a wide amphitheatre, embracing both the bays and all the
town. Thus the town itself is shut off from the level ground about
the river by this peninsula of table-topped rock; and while one road
climbs these slopes to unite the two valleys, the other winds outwards
along the foot of the cliff, following the curve of the shore.

I remember that, when for the first time I looked out upon the city,
I was at once impressed with the manner in which this bold natural
feature corresponded to the name of the town (Trapezous). Could
the shape which is denoted by the figure of a table be presented by
Nature in a more convincing manner than by this mass of rock, towering
up above the sea and from the valleys to a summit which is almost
perfectly flat? Yet the name does not appear to take its origin in a
justification at once so striking and so clear, but rather to derive
from the configuration of the ground in the western bay upon which
the ancient fortress was built. Still this platform is surely the most
impressive characteristic of the site of Trebizond. The Turks, who have
no antiquarian sympathies, apply to it the bald and undiscriminating
appellation of Boz Tepe, the grey hill, basing the name upon the colour
of the trachytic rock of which the hill is composed. The Greeks of
old knew it as the Mount of Mithros--Mithrios--from a statue of the
god Mithras which used to stand upon this elevated spot. It is not
easy to imagine a more delightful ground of vantage from which to
overlook the town and command the coast. You may step a distance of
some 500 paces by 200 on a level surface of springy turf, with no
object between you and the wide expanse about you, in air which is
at once full of sun and vigorous; and, if the day be clear, you may
descry beyond the endless stretch of water the faint blue line of
distant Caucasus closing the horizon in the east.

The anchorage of Trebizond receives the first flush of morning;
a mellow light is thrown upon the terraces of the eastern suburb,
circling seawards down the lower slopes of Mount Mithros to the point
of the little cape. Here and there among the buildings rows of tall
cypresses still hold the shadows of night; but the white faces of
the houses soon dispel the darkness, and their glass windows reflect
in a glow of dazzling splendour the lurid brilliance of the rising
sun. Nowhere else than in these landscapes of the Black Sea and the
Caspian is the dawn more essentially the "rosy-fingered," or the
sea at sunrise "the glass-green." As the rays commence to break, the
wind freshens and the black cypresses wave and sway. Down the coast,
beyond the dark cliff of Mithros, the mountains of the seaboard
are massed in savage parapets beneath the rising sun; the faithful
clouds cling to their slopes or float above them, a sky of cold,
silvery greys. Westwards, above the point of the little promontory,
under the immediate lee of which we lie, you just discern the softer
setting of the greater bay itself, as the outline of the range sweeps
in long undulations far out into the western sea. The day wakes; the
colours start; the world of pinks and opals disappears. The aspect of
the town is warm and genial, even in winter, when the background of
broken ridges look their wildest and the sparse fir trees stand out
darkly from the snow. Sunny meadows and flashes of green turf caress
the traveller, who may have journeyed through the long Eastern summer
and autumn in countries where scarcely a blade of grass grows. The
shore is soon astir, and the cries of the boatmen are carried down
the wind. Large, high-prowed galleys bear down upon us, the crews
racing for the first berth. We are surrounded by a swarm of ragged
human beings, shouting, scrambling, gesticulating, as their boats
and heavily laden barges drive against our tall iron sides.

The steamers anchor at some little distance from the shore, and
it takes a long pull, at a time when the wind is setting off the
land, to reach the little mole. The shore-boats are manned with
ill-miened youngsters, whose clamour never ceases from ship-side to
landing-stage. On the quay are arrayed the customs officers and their
assistants, motley groups in which the cast-off wardrobes of Europe
mingle with the coloured cottons of the East. What a relief to escape
from all this turmoil, to repose for a few minutes in a spacious
coffee-house, rising high above the harbour and the noise! A youth
is just completing his lustral service of the morning; the floor has
been swept and watered, the nargilehs are coiled--the peaceful figure
of Ion rises in the mind.

Our road leads up the hillside, at first by the town garden and wide
streets, lined with houses and shops built in European style, and then
through the narrow alleys which intersect the Christian quarters, a
labyrinth of winding ways. These streets of Trebizond have a width not
exceeding six or eight feet, and sometimes less, and are lined by the
dull walls of garden enclosures which shut out all prospect over the
town. A raised pavement runs along them, sometimes on both sides of
the way, and always on one. Here and there the fresh green leaves of
a fig tree overhang the walls, or the cherry-laurel with its clusters
of claret-coloured fruit, or the pink flowers of the oleander. The
houses are, for a great part, quite Eastern in character--blank,
featureless wall, broken only at mid-height by little windows with
gratings made of laced strips or mortised cubes of wood. But the
modern villa is rapidly taking their place.

What waifs of all the ages may be met within these alleys! Yet I
think, and our Consul, Mr. Longworth, seems inclined to agree with
me, that the Greek type prevails. Our conversation turns upon these
race questions; one can indeed never cease learning what fallacious
guides in such questions religion and nationality are. There are whole
villages on this seaboard whose inhabitants are Mussulmans, and would
resent being called by any other name than Osmanli; yet their Greek
origin is established both by history and by the traditions which
they themselves still in part retain. Thus take Surmeneh and Of,
two considerable villages on the east of Trebizond. These versatile
Greeks are as famous now for their theological eminence as they
were formerly under the Eastern Empire, with this difference, that
whereas in those days they supplied the Church with bishops, it is
now mollahs that they furnish to Islam. Yet, fanatical as they are,
they still hold to certain customs which connect them with the old
faith they once served with such distinction, and have, no doubt,
since persecuted with equal zeal. Under the stress of illness the
Madonna again makes her appearance, her image is again suspended above
the sick-bed; the sufferer sips the forbidden wine from the old cup of
the Communion, which still remains a treasured object with the whole
community, much as they might be puzzled to tell you why. As we are
talking, a little girl happens to pass down the lane, a child of some
ten years. Her limbs are scarcely covered by a loose cotton skirt,
although her complexion has not suffered from the sun. The waxen
texture of the flesh, the transparent colouring, and the rich setting
of auburn hair remind one of the favourites of Venetian painters and
of faces seen in North Italian towns. It is besides only natural that
the people of this city should possess a strain of Italian blood;
not so many centuries ago the Genoese controlled the commerce and
menaced the independence of Trebizond.

It is a long climb from the anchorage to the British Consulate, which,
although within the limits of this suburb of gardens, has an elevation
of at least 150 feet. Still, the site has the advantages of a middle
position between the old fortified city in the western bay below us
and the open walks around Boz Tepe. And if the mornings be devoted
to the town and the ruins, the evenings may be spent on that airy
platform or upon the lonely slopes of the adjacent hills.

There are many pleasant spots which, in the course of these rambles,
invite a view over the town. The landscape which you overlook is
that of the west--the vague succession of endless little capes and
inlets, disappearing and combining to form the single feature of a
wide and open bay. Below you lies the old city, mediæval walls and
towers, overgrown by a canopy of leaves, gently sloping to the sea
(Fig. 2). Yet, however beautiful in itself may be the scene that
expands before you, it is rather upon the thoughts and the memories
which it raises that the mind is inclined to dwell. The sea is not so
much the blue floor without limits to which the sinuous outline of
the coast descends, as the open thoroughfare which leads across to
Europe, joining Asia to the West. The fir-clad ridges, which close
the prospect towards the interior, are rather the first outrunners
of that wide belt of troughs and ridges in which so many armies
have become entrapped, than the background of sterner features which
supports the peaceful landscape in which the ruined burgh lies. The
scene itself is the same that brought tears to the eyes of Xenophon,
and which was associated in the mind of the Emperor Hadrian with his
first view of this shore and sea.

But the morning is not the time, nor is this the occasion for such
retrospective thoughts. Fresh from sleep, our first interest is the
ivy-grown ruins of Trapezus, which lie far below us in the western
bay. We descend from the slopes about Boz Tepe, by the neat villas
and garden enclosures of the eastern suburb, to the ravine which
separates this suburb, with the anchorage and commercial quarter,
from the site of the old fortified town. It is indeed a position not
readily forgotten and not easy to mistake. If the descriptions of
Trapezus which have come down to us portray in a defective manner the
many remarkable features which are characteristic of the place, they,
at least, leave no doubt as to the identity of the historical city with
the position of these ruins. At the foot of the precipitous slopes of
Boz Tepe, on the western side of that table-topped hill, the surface of
the ground is broken by two deep ravines, which, at a narrow interval,
descend from the interior to the seaboard about at right angles to the
margin of the shore. They represent the lower course of two of those
wooded valleys of which the landscape towards Cape Ieros contains a
succession, various in feature, but in character the same. Peculiar to
these two ravines is their close proximity to one another; the streams
which flow along them are only about 400 yards apart as they approach
the sea. Indeed, at one point, over 1000 yards from the coast, the
mass of rock by which they are separated forms a neck or isthmus of
which the top is less than 60 yards across. In this manner a site is
constituted which is bounded on three sides by natural defences--on
the west and east by the ravines, and on the north by the sea. Draw
a wall across the neck or narrowest portion of the rock, and you
at once enclose the figure of an irregular parallelogram, of which
the fourth side is the short cross-wall. These natural features,
so favourable for defence, have not escaped the ingenuity of man;
the cross-wall has been built in the shape of a massive tower and
citadel, while the inner sides of the ravines have been lined with
walls and castellations, which still frown above the leafy abysses
and the streams rustling through the shade.

In appearance the protected enclosure, with its flanking ravines,
has been described by some writers as a peninsular plateau, while to
others it has suggested the shape of a table and seemed to justify
the name of Trebizond (Trapezous). Neither likeness appears to me to
be quite happily chosen. Both contain in themselves the conception
of a disparity of levels, the plateau of a stage raised above the
surrounding country, the table above the surface of the floor. Such are
not the characteristics of the site. The metaphor of a table seems the
more inappropriate, inasmuch as the least one might expect of such an
object is that it should have a flat and horizontal top. This site
possesses neither of these qualities. On the one hand, the upper
portion, which supports the citadel, rises above the lower like
a dais or step; while, on the other, the plane of the ground is an
inclined plane, and follows the general configuration of the country,
shelving from the hills towards the sea.

Yet these images and the impressions from which they derive are no
doubt founded upon real conditions. The isolation of the figure,
together with its elevation--not indeed above the levels which
adjoin it on either side, but above the level of the sea--these
are the two factors which have supplied the real substance of such
impressions. The first of these features would appeal to the eye
with more distinctness, were it not for the thick growth of trees
and underwood which rises from the floors and up the slopes of the
ravines, and almost conceals the escarpment of their sides. The depth
of the gulfs may be gauged by the following measurement made at the
head of the western ravine. Standing at the bottom of the abyss, the
rock which supports the citadel and palace overtops you by about 150
feet at the highest point. The width across them, from cliff to cliff,
varies considerably, according as each gulf opens or closes in; the
length of each of the two bridges which span the ravines is about 100
paces. Both ravines tend to flatten as they descend towards the shore,
or in other words, to increase in width and diminish in depth. As for
the elevation of the enclosure, it is of course most considerable at
the narrow isthmus and the citadel. This highest portion, containing
the keep and palace, is about 200 feet above the sea.

It is plain from the description which has just been given that the
characteristic features of the site attain their greatest development
in that part of the enclosure which is most remote from the shore;
that it is there the protecting gulfs are deepest, and the rock
loftiest which they flank. Indeed, during the Byzantine and earlier
Comnenian periods the fortress was confined to this upper portion,
and the outer wall on the side of the sea was drawn from gulf to
gulf at a distance of about 460 yards from the present margin of
the shore. A few sentences may suffice to present the plan of the
fortifications, as it may be traced among the ruins that remain. At
the very head of the formation came the keep and citadel, the outer
wall being drawn across the narrow isthmus between the two ravines;
this was the weakest point in the whole circumference of the fortress,
and the works were strongest upon this side. Built into this outer
wall stands a massive square tower, which rises boldly above the
battlements and faces the approaches from the south. The ground
shelves upwards almost from the immediate foot of the tower to the
amphitheatre of hills which surround the bay. Thus the fortress
is commanded by the slopes upon the south, where already it is by
nature most vulnerable. It was from the south that its assailants
delivered their principal attacks: the Goths, the Georgians, the
Seljuks, the Turkomans, the Ottoman Turks. All the space inside the
wall and between the two ravines was filled up at this uppermost part
of the fortress, first by the keep, and then by the palace itself;
the citadel served as the kingly residence, and the wall with the
bold windows which rises along the edge of the western ravine was
alike fortress and palace wall. This uppermost fortress or citadel,
with the palace of the king, was separated from the lower but more
extensive portion of the site by a cross-wall, equal in height to the
walls along the ravines, and supported at either end by towers. So much
loftier is this upper stage than the stage which lies below it that,
whereas the palace, which occupies the most elevated point, towers
high above the battlements of the cross-wall, the base of this wall
itself overtops the highest buildings of the second and lower stage.

Below the cross-wall, with its massive double gate, lay that part
of the fortress which contained the cathedral and public buildings,
and formed the inhabited portion of the original fortified town. Like
the citadel, it was protected on two sides by the ravines, lined on
their inner edge by a lofty wall seven feet in thickness, with towers
at intervals. A second cross-wall, extending from ravine to ravine,
was its bulwark on the side of the sea, and constituted the outer
rampart of the enclosure as it existed in the ancient form. This outer
rampart followed the edge of a natural declivity in the surface of
the shelving ground, and presented a bold front to the lower levels
lying between it and the shore.

The third and lowest stage of the fortified enclosure filled the
space that yet remained between this outer wall of the city and the
immediate margin of the sea. The ravines open outwards as they approach
the seaboard, and the figure widens which they bound; but on the other
hand, the sides of these natural barriers flatten and take the surface
of the adjoining ground. Thus the plan of the lower fortress did not
display the same subservience to the natural features of the site,
and was protracted on the west beyond the outer margin of the western
ravine. Indeed, the area enclosed by this later work of the fourteenth
century was considerably greater than that of the ancient burgh;
and in proportion as it was deficient in natural defences, so it was
stronger in those of art. A wall six feet and a half in thickness,
with towers at irregular intervals, surrounded the new work; and,
except on the side of the sea, this rampart was flanked by a second
and lower wall with a moat on its outer side. But, although the lower
fortress formed a third and separate unity, overstepping the natural
limits of the site, it was connected in the closest manner with the
upper enclosure, and with the walls flanking the ravines. On the east
the new ramparts joined the old wall, and continued its direction
in a straight line to the shore, at which point they turned at right
angles, along the shore. Thus the old cross-wall was completely covered
by the new fortifications, and the principal gate of the old city,
leading through that wall and facing the sea, instead of standing at
the outer extremity of the fortress, now became situated in about the
middle of the fortified plan. The new wall along the sea was protracted
further westwards than the western extremity of the old cross-wall; it
was drawn across the mouth of the western ravine, and far overlapped
the parallel line of the old wall. Some little distance west of the
depression it again changed direction, and stretched up towards the
south, until it reached a point opposite to the bridge which leads
out from the middle fortress, and over 100 paces from the edge of the
ravine. From this point, which was emphasised by a rectangular tower
of extraordinary size, the line of wall was taken at right angles,
and met the margin of the ravine.

This threefold disposition of the walls and fortifications is
characteristic of the plan of the fortified city, and forms a
feature well noted in the descriptions of the topographers and still
distinguished in popular speech. Indeed, even at the present day,
when most of the great gates have disappeared, and houses with several
storeys obscure the plan, the hillside is lined by three complete
fortresses, each separated from the other and one higher than another,
yet all three welded closely into one. The appearance of the city
in the days of her splendour must have justified her reputation as
"Queen of the Euxine," and lent colour to her claim to be the capital
of a restored Roman Empire of the East. Between extensive suburbs,
filled with busy streets and markets, rising from the shore on either
hand, through a labyrinth of gardens and garden-houses, clustered
on the higher slopes, the two converging lines of massive parapets
and towers mounted slowly up the shelving ground. The further they
receded from the margin of the seaboard, the clearer grew the essential
features of the site--the ravines opening darkly at the immediate foot
of either wall, the walls closely following the irregular course of
the chasms, and now rising, now declining, along the uneven surface
of the cliffs. Near the head of the figure stood the royal palace,
raised high above the massive works of the citadel, deeply moated by
the sister gulfs on either side. Broad windows opened from the royal
reception hall of white marble to the varied prospects on every side,
while within, the vast apartment was adorned with rich paintings, the
portraits of successive holders of the imperial office, their insignia
and arms. On the east, beyond the abyss, the slope gathered gradually
to the side of Mithros, the table-topped hill, in which direction,
just opposite the palace, the church and fortified enclosure of
St. Eugenius crowned an almost isolated site which was flanked on
the further side by a third and lesser ravine. Towards the interior,
on the side of the narrow isthmus, the view ranged wide, above the
battlements, over the hills encircling the broad bay; while the
rising ground, opening upwards from the tongue of the isthmus, was
occupied by the theatre and by the extensive walled enclosure of the
polo-ground or hippodrome. A royal gate gave access from the palace
to these pleasure-places, the distance of a short walk from the wall;
and through this gate the imperial party and their brilliant court
would pass to their marble seats above the race-course, whence the
whole landscape of city and field and ocean lay outspread at their
feet. If the several divisions of the fortified enclosure may be
described as so many steps, or shelving terraces, rising one behind
another from the shore, then the race-course outside the walls will be
the fourth stage of the platform, the last and highest, and the fairest
of all. Indeed the prospect over the walls and towers of the city to
the distant sea beyond must at all times have been one of surpassing
beauty, whether seen from the windows of the Imperial residence, or
from these airy heights above the town. To the palace was displayed
the long perspective of the city architecture outlined against the
blue bay--the massive cross-walls cleaving the crowded quarters,
the domes of the churches glancing in the brilliant sunlight, and,
interspersed, quiet respites of shade and leafiness, where some portico
with frescoed walls and row of marble pillars recalled the habits of
the classical age. From the higher standpoint of the race-course all
the rich detail of this scene was blended and subdued; the eye would
follow the long line of parapets and towers descending by the side of
the sinuous streak of verdure which marked the course of the western
ravine. The palace windows, which still rise above the head of that
ravine, commanded the landscape of the west, the wide bay with its
peaceful setting of cultivated hillsides stretching seawards to the
distant cape.

Among the most pleasing and, perhaps, not the least striking feature
in the composition of these scenes must at all times have been the
luxuriance and variety of the vegetation which is natural to this
soil. The necessary moisture is provided, not by stagnant pools and
marshes, as in the country watered by the Kolchian rivers further
east, but by salubrious springs, bubbling from the surface of the rock
and collecting in rustling streams. The sun is indeed the fiery orb
of Eastern landscapes; but the climate is tempered by the chilling
winds from across the sea, bringing rain and mist in their train. The
outcome of these conditions is the simultaneous exuberance of the
trees and plants which flourish upon the coasts of the Mediterranean
and of the leafy giants of our Northern woods; side by side with shady
thickets of chestnut, elm, oak and hazel, groves of cypress, laurel
and olive grace the shore. The wild vine hangs in festoons from the
branches, and in sheltered places the orange tree, the lemon, and the
pomegranate thrive and yield their fruit. All our fruits are found
in the well-stocked gardens, while the fig of Trebizond is of old as
famous as the grapes of Tripoli and the cherry of Kerasun. Cucumbers
are cultivated, and heavy pumpkins, and tobacco, and Indian corn, with
its reed-like stalks and luscious leaves. The beautiful pink flowers
of the oleander may be seen rising above some orchard wall. In the
middle of the seventeenth century we are told of upwards of thirty
thousand gardens and vineyards inscribed in the city registers, and
at that time the slopes about Boz Tepe were completely covered with
vines. But it is on the western rather than on the eastern side of
the fortress that Nature has most freely lavished her gifts; and on no
spot with more abundance or greater effectiveness than on the western
ravine. The beauties of that valley, almost as we see them to-day,
have been described in glowing language by Cardinal Bessarion in the
fifteenth century, himself a son of Trebizond, and by the historian of
the Comnenian empire whose warm imagination was kindled by scenes which
recalled and intensified the graces of his native Tyrol. [1] A path
leads down from the suburb on the west into the shade and freshness
of the gorge, through thickets of lofty forest-trees, their leafy
branches laced together by wild vines. Even at mid-day, when the sun
hangs cloudless over the narrow vista, the rays scarcely penetrate to
the deep shadows of the evergreens--a luxuriant undergrowth of myrtle,
laurel and ivy, rising from the floor and up the cliffs. From the
highest point of the castle rock some 150 feet above you, amongst a
wild confusion of creepers and trees, the bold wall of the palace,
now reduced to an empty skeleton, still stands up against the sky;
and the broad windows which once opened from the emperor's apartments
still overlook the verdant scene below. Past mossy banks, upon which
the iris and primrose flourish, through leafy brakes, where trees of
laurel hide the ground, the little stream cascades into the laps of
the hollows or plashes over ledges of hard rock.


    But we are anticipating on our walk, which has not yet brought us
    further than the edge of the eastern ravine. We cross the bridge,
    and at once find ourselves within the fortified enclosure,
    which is traversed by a broad road. Following that road,
    we are passing through the middle fortress--that part of the
    site which constituted the inhabited quarter of the walled city
    in its original form. Now as in ancient times it is crowded by
    buildings, while a considerable portion is taken up by the Serai,
    or Government House (No. 17 on plan of Trebizond and surroundings),
    which is situated about in the middle of the space between the
    ravines, on the south side of our road. Here the pasha will be
    sitting within an inner room, a bundle of papers by his side on
    the divan. Entering the court, you have on one side this palace,
    thronged with applicants, and, on the other, the iron gratings of
    a prison, banding the faces of the captives as they stare on the
    scene below. Past the gateway of the Serai, a narrow way leads
    up the enclosure, diverging at right angles from the road which
    joins the ravines. It conducts us to the upper fortress through
    a quarter filled by private houses, and inhabited exclusively by
    Mohammedans. A walk of some two or three hundred yards brings us
    to the foot of the lofty cross-wall, which is almost as fresh
    to-day as when it was reared. By a steep incline we enter a
    gateway into a hollow tower adjoining the outer wall on the east,
    which constitutes the only passage into the citadel.

    The massive ancient gate still rests upon its hinges,
    its rusty iron plates riddled with bullets. A second gate,
    placed at right angles to the first in the further wall, gives
    issue from the tower. The citadel, like the middle fortress,
    is occupied by modern houses; but they are less frequent, and
    are almost confined to the spaces immediately neighbouring the
    cross-wall. There is some difficulty in examining the extensive
    ancient works which still in part remain upon the site. One of
    the principal buildings is occupied by military stores, and is
    forbidden ground. I contrive to effect an entrance, and find it
    quite empty--a palpable reason for such exclusive measures. Then
    the walls which enclose the gardens of the private dwellings are
    no less the discreet protectors of the life of the harem than
    the veil to hide the squalor of faded opulence. While one of us
    is taking readings with the prismatic compass, the whole quarter
    is raised by the protestations of a young minx, who will insist
    that she is the object of his unmannerly stares. I have said that
    the palace is now a mere skeleton; a rambling old house, with
    a picturesque overhanging roof, fills a portion of the ground
    plan of the royal apartments, where they overlooked the western
    ravine. We are tardily given admission by a female voice. From
    an embrasure in the massive wall of the fortress, just below the
    row of eight arched windows, which stand up blank against the sky,
    we feast our eyes upon the charming view over the western ravine,
    following its sinuous outline into the background of leafy hills,
    or resting upon the cypresses and minaret of the Khatunieh mosque
    among the villas on the opposite margin of the abyss.

    Within this outer wall, a little south of our standpoint, a square
    tower rises above the outline of the battlements, displaying in
    its upper storey the interior of a spacious apartment with windows
    opening upon the landscape. The fragment of a wall juts out towards
    us from beside the tower; and three large windows, of which two
    are double, with slim dividing pillars, have been spared to it by
    the ravages of time. Just north of us, three more windows rise from
    the outer wall, on a higher plane than those above our heads. Both
    rows are but the remains of much longer series, once the life and
    pride of these grim parapets. They enable us to reconstruct the
    ancient splendour of the imperial residence, which, day by day,
    is slowly passing towards the world of unsubstantial memories,
    to share the fate of sacred Troy and of King Priam, rich in flocks.

    Above the palace, within the narrowing tongue of the
    circumvallation, the space is occupied by the substructures
    of the keep, over which we clamber to the parapets of the
    outer wall. Beside us, the square tower at the extreme end
    of the fortress frowns out upon the knife-like ridge between
    the ravines. It is probable that this tower is composed of a
    solid mass, for one cannot trace any sign of a passage in. The
    battlements of the wall rise to a height of nearly 200 feet
    above the western ravine. Just on the east of the tower is placed
    the only entrance to the citadel from the side of the ridge. It
    consists of a long passage, flanked by a parallel outer wall,
    and abutting on a huge angular tower. But the inner doorway is
    now walled up, and one is obliged to retrace one's steps to the
    middle fortress, in order to pass without the walls.

    The gate is situated just below the entrance to the citadel, in
    the wall on the east. It too is furnished with double doors, which,
    like their neighbours, have been riddled by musket fire. South of
    this gateway there is just enough room between the wall and the
    edge of the eastern ravine to permit of a narrow road. Leaving
    the interior of the fortress, one is taken along this road,
    with the wooded precipice on one hand and on the other the
    ivy-grown battlements. Peasants, carrying baskets, pass by on
    their way to market; and beneath a fig tree, teeming with fruit,
    some Mussulman women, resting from their wayfaring, cower within
    their veils as we approach. The colossal angular tower projects
    from the head of the irregular wall towards the leafy abyss,
    a large inscription gleaming white upon the wall which faces us,
    the record of the conquest of Mohammed II.

    But the point at which you pause is at the head of the
    fortification, beneath the soaring escarpment of the square
    tower. It is the same site upon which the peoples from the remote
    recesses of Asia have stood with the lust of conquest in their
    eyes. On the opposite bank of the eastern ravine the drum-shaped
    dome of St. Eugenius rises from among a cluster of red-roofed
    villas. It was there that the Seljuk sultan issued his threats and
    insults, while the Greek emperor fasted and prayed. From within
    the limits of that same sanctuary were heard the shouts of the
    revellers, mingling with the voices of their concubines. And
    a white minaret proclaims the event of the long and unequal
    struggle between the full-blooded followers of the Prophet and
    the emaciated children of the Cross.

    The tower itself has evidently been built at a later period than
    the wall from which it rises in a continuous face. The colour of
    the stone is slightly paler, and an inscription, now much decayed,
    attests it to be the work of the Emperor John the Fourth, the
    last but one of the Comnenian dynasty. The ground widens like
    a fan from the foot of this tower, and the ravines, which have
    almost met, diverge and become great valleys, stretching into the
    bosom of the hills. Within that ampler space, a few hundred yards
    south of the fortress, one may still recognise the enclosure of
    the hippodrome and the great gateway on its northern side. The
    wall still rises in places to a height of from six to ten feet,
    but all the interior structures have disappeared. A field of
    tobacco grows upon the site. Adjoining the gateway, and facing
    the palace, one is impressed by the shape and appearance of a
    projecting tongue of land with a flat top. The theatre may once
    have stood upon this spot.

    The ancient churches of Trebizond, some converted into mosques
    and others into public baths, are among the most interesting
    relics which the town contains. Retracing our steps to the
    middle fortress and to the road which joins the two ravines,
    we have almost reached the bridge over the westerly depression
    before attaining the old cathedral, sacred to the golden-headed
    Virgin, of which the southern wall borders our road on the north
    (No. 18). How bare and bleak it looks, shorn of its southern and
    western porches, and covered with a thick coating of whitewash! A
    little court, paved with flagstones, adjoins it on the east,
    over which you pass to an entrance at the north-east corner which
    has destroyed the side apse on that side. If you scrutinise the
    outer wall of the principal apse, you may still distinguish
    beneath the whitewash a design of figures in mosaic, one of
    which perhaps represents the seated Virgin. Time has worn down
    the few sculptured mouldings of which any trace remains. There
    is little to attract the eye in this mangled group of gables,
    surmounted by the drum of a duodecagonal dome. On the northern
    side rises the minaret, adjoining the principal entrance which
    has made use of the old porch on the north. Four marble pillars
    with Ionic capitals, probably the spoil of some pagan temple,
    support the roof of this spacious porch. We are about to enter,
    when we are called aside to observe an old fountain in the court
    on the east. It contains a marble slab with a Greek inscription,
    which is illegible; and the water issues from a much-worn bronze
    spout, representing the head of a serpent or dragon, which is
    said to have belonged to a bronze model of such a monster, killed
    by the spear of Alexius the First. Near the fountain is a tomb,
    still maintained in good order, in which repose the remains of a
    shepherd youth to whom the townspeople attribute the capture of
    the fortress by the Ottoman Turks. The story runs that Mohammed
    the Second, foiled by the strength of the citadel, had recourse
    to a final expedient of which the result should determine the
    alternatives of further effort or abandonment of the siege. A
    number of shots were to be fired from a cannon at the chain
    which supported the drawbridge. Should it be severed, it would
    be a signal for a renewal of operations; in the contrary case
    the siege was to be raised. The experiment failed; the sultan
    broke up his camp and removed the bulk of his army, leaving,
    however, the loaded cannon still in site. A young shepherd,
    happening to pass by, was prompted by the hardihood of his years
    to try his skill at the difficult mark. He discharged the gun,
    and the drawbridge fell. This child of a short-lived future sped
    to the camp of Mohammed, who was making his way up the valley of
    the Pyxitis towards Baiburt. But his story was derided, and the
    sultan, in a fit of anger, caused him to be killed. The rage of
    the despot was turned to grief when the confirmation reached him of
    this miraculous exploit. His return was followed by the fall of the
    city; and he endeavoured to atone for his rash action by loading
    his victim with posthumous rewards. Over the coffin one may still
    see the ball suspended which decided the fate of Trebizond. And
    the martyr is known by a name which repeats the sultan's sorrowful
    exclamation: "Khosh Oghlan," or "Well done! Oghlan."

    The interior of the mosque produces an effect of extraordinary
    massiveness, with its bulky piers supporting the dome, with the
    walls which join these piers to the walls of the church and screen
    off the aisles from the open space beneath the dome. Except for
    the two inner columns of the porch, not a single pillar is to
    be seen. The aisles are narrow, and their ceilings low; they are
    surmounted by a gallery, from which you look through low, arched
    apertures into the nave. The Turks have placed a wooden stage in
    the northern arm of the church, between the two walls which screen
    off the aisle. This erection faces their altar, and is reserved
    for their women; you reach it by a staircase placed inside the
    building, in front of the north-east entrance. A doorway leads
    from this wooden structure into the old gallery over the aisle,
    through which you pass to the women's gallery in the original
    design, which fills the space above the ceilings of the narthex
    and exo-narthex on the western side of the mosque. Two lofty
    vaulted openings display the interior to this gallery; while the
    wall between narthex and exo-narthex is pierced by three arches in
    a similar style. The door on the west in the storey below, which
    in Christian times gave access through these outer spaces into the
    body of the church, is no longer used, now that the religious focus
    of the building has been changed from the apse to the southern
    arm between the aisles. The exo-narthex has a width of 18 feet,
    and the narthex of 9 feet 7 inches. The piers upon which repose
    the vaulted ceilings of these courts are of such thickness that
    the entire space, measured from the inner side of the outer wall
    to the outer side of the wall of the nave, amounts to 37 feet
    5 inches. The interior measurements of the church proper are a
    length of 93 feet 6 inches from the commencement of the nave to
    the head of the apse, and a breadth of only 50 feet 5 inches. It
    is well lit from windows in the apse and along the walls; but the
    twelve windows in the dome are small. Beautiful marble plaques of
    various colours, and designs in mosaic, may still be admired in the
    apse; but there is an almost total lack of ornament elsewhere. As
    to the date of the building, it is ascribed by Texier to the
    Grand-Comneni; with much less knowledge I hesitate to offer the
    opinion that the design belongs to an earlier period.

    From this mosque of the middle fortress, Orta Hisar Jamisi, the
    ancient cathedral, it is but a few steps to the bridge over the
    western ravine. Like its fellow on the east of the enclosure,
    it consists of a lofty stone embankment, with a single narrow
    arch through which the stream flows. The prospect on either side
    is of great beauty, while the deep shadows of the vegetation,
    rising from the floor of the ravine, rest the eye and refresh the
    sense. Towards the south, beyond an irregular line of ivy-grown
    parapets, and towers of varying features and size, the stately
    works of palace and citadel rise against the sky; while in the
    direction of the sea, where the depression flattens and is lost
    in a maze of houses, the tiers of red-tiled roofs are pierced by
    a double series of battlements and embowered forts. The wall of
    the middle fortress is seen extending for some distance along
    the uneven edge of its rocky support; but it is overpowered in
    the landscape by the outer line of walls, which, starting from
    the opposite side of the ravine, are drawn in a long perspective
    to the shore.

    Our goal is now the famous church of Hagia Sophia; it is
    situated upon the coast on the west of the city, at a distance
    of over a mile from the walls (No. 25). The bridge leads over
    into the western suburb, and for a short space you follow the
    outer wall of the lower fortress, stretching westwards at right
    angles to the ravine. On the right hand this solid masonry and
    a massive rectangular tower; on the left, a little further on,
    the cypresses of the Turkish burying-field, the leaning white
    headstones with their gilt Arabic inscriptions better disposed
    and tended than is usually the case. We have passed the street
    which turns upwards to the mosque Khatunieh (No. 20), the spacious
    and still well-ordered mosque and medresseh which keeps alive the
    memory of the mother of Selim the First. Like the middle and lower
    fortress, this western suburb is inhabited for the most part by
    Mohammedans--what a contrast to the bustling town on the east of
    the city where the Christian quarters lie! There, busy streets,
    lined with the broad-paned windows of offices and shops; here,
    the silent graveyard and widely scattered dwellings which seem
    to shrink from contact with life. A brighter aspect belongs to
    the meidan or open place, to which we pass and which we cross
    (Kavak Meidan, or plane tree square)--an extensive stretch of
    green turf, resembling an English common, where in old times the
    jerid or spear exercise was performed. Several tombs (kumbets)
    are to be seen on this grassy lawn, but I do not know to whom they
    have been raised. A little later we have left the last settlements
    behind us, and are winding outwards towards the sea-shore.

    The church of Hagia Sophia, or the Divine Wisdom, now converted
    into a mosque, has been described as one of the most interesting
    monuments of Byzantine architecture, sculpture, and painting
    that time has spared. [2] This appreciation can only be partially
    tested by the traveller of the present day, because the frescos
    which once covered the interior of the building have been daubed
    over with successive coats of whitewash. It is possible that
    when the time comes for restoring the building to Christian
    worship, or at least, as we may hope, for preserving it as a
    relic to instruct an enlightened age, the scales may fall away
    and disclose in some of their ancient brightness the solemn faces
    and gorgeous robes of the Grand-Comneni as they looked down upon
    the congregation of monks and pilgrims six centuries ago. In
    the meanwhile we may consult those descriptions of the paintings
    which have come down to us in the accounts of modern travellers
    more fortunate than ourselves, for at some periods a portion of
    the plaster has fallen and revealed the rich work below. Of the
    sculpture and architectural merits we are able to judge on the
    spot, for, although the Turks have introduced some alterations
    in the structure, they are too clumsy to mislead.

    The first view of the building, high-seated on the left hand
    where the road debouches upon the sands, at once exhibits the
    beauties which are peculiar to it: the choice of site and the
    skilful grouping of the component parts (Fig. 3). A broad terrace
    or esplanade, which is partly natural and in part supported by
    an embankment and a wall, forms the summit of a gentle slope
    which rises from the water beyond a fringe of cactus and leafy
    shrubs. The surface of the platform is flat and even, and is
    covered by a green carpet of turf. The prospect ranges wide
    across the bay to Cape Ieros, and seawards without limit over
    the waves. On the east, rising ground shuts out the city and the
    suburb, while on the south, the open landscape of hill and valley
    is felt rather than observed.

    From the peaceful elevation of this pleasant terrace the
    well-preserved remains of an ancient monastery look down upon the
    shore. On the west, at the further extremity of the platform,
    a lofty square bell-tower or campanile stands out alone, like
    a sentinel, fronting the sea; just below it lies the church,
    a cluster of roofs and gables centring in a drum-shaped dome. Of
    the monastic buildings only one has been spared, a massive square
    edifice at the south-western corner of the platform, which is
    almost concealed by trees.

    We mount the slope and reach the platform on the southern side,
    with the church between us and the blue waters of the bay. A
    custodian has been found in some hovel among the orchards, but
    no meaner object breaks the grassy surface of the terrace from
    which the building rises, the even masonry exposed from base to
    dome. Against the plain grey spaces of the walls which lie behind
    it, the rich façade of the southern entrance at once attracts the
    eye (Fig. 4). It consists of a porch or lateral structure, which
    once gave access to a door in the main wall of the church. Two
    graceful marble pillars with Corinthian capitals supported the
    façade; but the Turks have closed this entrance and walled up the
    columns, which are only visible from the inside. The new work
    does not rise much higher than the tops of the capitals, and
    the openings of the three arches which spring from the pillars
    have been filled with window glass. Of these, the central arch
    is slightly pointed, and those on either side are round. A
    pleasing feature of the design is the bold rounded arch which
    spans the porch from one wall to the other, and envelops the three
    lesser vaultings and their marble columns within a broad band of
    unsculptured stone. On the outer side, a narrow beading of grapes
    and vine-leaves accentuates the studied absence of all ornament
    upon the masonry of the span; and the keystone is enriched by
    the figure of the single-headed eagle of the Comneni, with open
    talons and wings outspread. The space of wall which is framed in
    this stately manner, and which is supported by the pillars of the
    façade, forms a panel or panels which are admirably adapted to
    receive that style of decorative treatment in which Byzantine
    art excelled. About in the centre, the space is broken by a
    quatrefoil window, above which, and on either side, plaques of
    varied mosaic have been inserted into the wall. Below the window,
    and from end to end, runs a frieze in low relief, surmounted
    by an inscription in Greek, "Have mercy upon me, save me from
    my sins, O succour me, Lord, God, Holy! Holy!" In the frieze
    may be discerned among the shapes of plants and trees, rendered
    with the highest skill and with much grace, human figures which
    indeed have suffered mutilation, but which, like corresponding
    works of the Romanesque style, appear deformed in size. Adam lies
    asleep among the foliage of the garden; a serpent, coiled round
    a leafless trunk, confronts the standing figure of Eve. Of the
    mosaics two at least of the plaques have been removed or have
    perished; you see the vacant oblong spaces on either side of the
    quatrefoil. The largest panels contain geometrical patterns; but
    the most beautiful and best preserved, if perhaps the smallest,
    is composed of two doves and two sprays of pomegranate in white
    on a black ground. This plaque has been placed just above the
    window and below the talons of the royal bird.

    The reader will have divined that the great charm of this façade
    lies as much in the skill of the design--the wide span of the
    arch above the lesser arches, and the pleasing combination of
    these forms with the vertical lines of walls and columns, and
    with the sharp angle of the roof--as in the decorative effect
    of delicate mouldings and elaborate sculptures, and of rich
    mosaics thrown on the grey stone. Porches of similar plan give
    access to the interior, both on the western and northern sides;
    but their tympana or panels are without ornament. The western
    porch has an Arab niche with a deep honeycomb moulding from
    which the outer arch springs, and this moulding is continued
    in the form of imposts above the capitals of the columns. That
    on the north is without any remarkable feature, except that the
    capitals, which are of fresh white marble, appear to be of much
    later date. They are without carving, but in each is cut a panel,
    bearing the figure of a Latin cross.

    A walk round the building confirms the impression which a first
    view produced. It is the number of roofs at various levels, the
    different grouping of the gables at every turn, that arrests and
    pleases the eye. The walls themselves are of hewn stone, with
    plain mouldings, of which the most delicate runs round the apse
    and side chapels, above the windows, in a continuous band. On the
    face of the apse itself you see the eagle of the Grand-Comneni,
    set in panel in the wall.

    The entrance to the mosque is through the porch on the west. It
    is much shorter or less deep than its two counterparts, but,
    unlike them, gives access through a marble doorway to a second
    vestibule or outer court. This court or narthex extends the whole
    width of the building, and is both lofty and well lit. A door
    opens from it into the church proper, an airy interior of pleasing
    proportions, into which the light streams from the twelve windows
    in the circumference of the dome (Fig. 5). Four massive marble
    pillars with carved Byzantine capitals support the pendentives
    from which the dome springs; but the sharpness of the sculpture
    has been obliterated by thick coats of buff and green paint. The
    Turks have also introduced some structural changes. The southern
    porch has been thrown into the body of the building, and an altar
    (mihrab) placed between the two columns which properly belong
    to the façade. In this manner the porch, with its orientation
    towards Mecca, has become the religious focus of the mosque;
    a wooden gallery, from which my illustration was taken, has been
    erected against the opposite wall. The apse, which is lit by three
    windows, is supplemented by two smaller apses or side chapels at
    the extremities of the aisles.

    Like most of the ancient churches we are about to visit during
    the course of our journey south, Hagia Sophia is a building of
    small dimensions according to modern ideas. The interior has a
    length of not more than 69 feet from the inner door to the head
    of the apse, with a breadth, excluding the side porches, of 36
    feet. A building of this size is admirably adapted to the art of
    the painter in fresco, while his work derives the greatest possible
    advantage from the features of the design. The lofty vaulted spaces
    of the dome and apse were once resplendent with bright effects;
    and on the walls were depicted the richly-apparelled figures of
    the princes of the Comnenian line. From the partial glimpses of
    the paintings obtained by various travellers, it is possible
    to realise, at least in some measure, the former splendour of
    the scene. At the entrance above the door was seen the image
    of Alexius, first emperor of Trebizond, surrounded by his court,
    like Justinian at Ravenna; in his hands the golden globe of empire,
    and on his forehead a white diadem. On the right of the same door
    stood the first Manuel (r. A.D. 1238-63), the prince who was known
    as "the great captain," and who, according to the description at
    the side of the figure, was the founder of this monastery. The
    emperor was without crown, but his forehead was encircled by a
    cinglet with a double row of pearls. The front of the royal robe
    was adorned on either side by a band of large circular medallions,
    bearing the device of the single-headed eagle; a similar ornament,
    engraved with the equestrian figure of St. Eugenius, hung upon the
    royal breast. Many of the successors of these two princes were
    without doubt represented on the remaining spaces of the walls;
    while the portraits included those of saints and evangelists,
    all attired in costliest style. The apse displayed a group of
    three figures, of whom the central one appears to have designated
    St. Paul; on his right hand St. James and on his left St. John
    were identified by written scrolls. From the inner sides of the
    arches, as from the vault of heaven, the faces of angels looked
    down. The floor was paved by a rich marqueterie of marbles; you
    admired in particular a design of geometrical character in which
    the tracing was done in black marble on a ground of vivid reds
    and pinks and greens.

    But the impression which we should take away from this elaborate
    interior would be one of sadness, perhaps of pain. The art, the
    life, here represented, was an art in shackles, an expiring phase
    of life. The peculiar wooden quality of these expressionless
    faces may be gauged by the examples which have been preserved
    for us by the care of Texier. Strict conventions had taken the
    place of realities alike in life and in art; and how sad after
    the unsurpassed beauty of Hellenic vigour are the gaudy get-up
    and childish love of baubles which mark the declining years
    of the Greek world! Vanished, or hidden from sight behind the
    inexorable whitewash, lies the vivid evidence of that departed age;
    repugnant alike to the spirit and to the mission of Mohammedanism,
    this rich collection of Christian images must, from the first,
    have courted effacement. At the time of our visit the walls had
    been recently limed over to purify the edifice after the service
    of State prison to which, during the prevalence of cholera in
    the town, it had been temporarily assigned. In the upper storey
    of the campanile, a later work of the fifteenth century, the
    frescos are still exposed; but it is evident that they can never
    have possessed much importance. The baptistery, which is said
    to have been covered with such paintings, has been removed many
    years ago. It stood near the edge of the terrace, on the north.

    Before retracing our steps towards the city, it is worth while
    to extend the excursion to the neighbouring ruin of Mevla Khaneh
    (House of gods, No. 23), if only for the sake of a ramble through
    the pleasant country lanes and a view over the peaceful landscape
    of the bay. Against the background of the line of heights, at
    a distance from Hagia Sophia of about three-quarters of a mile,
    the scanty remains of a heathen temple emerge from a leafy brake
    which fills a recess of the hillside. Portions of a tower and
    doorway, the lower parts of two walls have escaped the ravages of
    time. Small square niches are seen in the walls at close intervals,
    said to have contained the statues of the gods. From the floor
    of the temple rise tall elm trees, festooned with wild vine; and
    an ancient laurel tree bends over the ivy-grown masonry. Rarely
    do people pass this way; and, on the occasion of our visit, we
    were the unwilling authors of a rather serious offence. Among the
    lanes below the ruin we surprised a young woman, combing her long
    hair on the margin of a stream from which she had just stepped out.

    One may return to Trebizond by the old road towards Platana, which
    has been replaced by a new chaussée nearer the shore. From the
    Kavak Meidan, with its one fine plane tree, we proceed through
    the quarter of Sotke towards the gate of the same name in the
    wall of the lower fortress. The riparian quarters on the east of
    the city are well worthy of a visit; they may be reached either
    by crossing the crowded spaces of the fortified enclosure, or by
    making the more pleasant circuit by the side of the sea. Choosing
    the second alternative, we soon arrive at the angle of the wall,
    and are treading the broad strip of sand. All the elements of the
    picturesque are present in the varied scene--the line of walls,
    the massive tower just on the east of the gate of Molos, the
    broad-prowed ships drawn up on the shore, the groups of people in
    motley attire. In the autumn large quantities of nuts are spread
    out on the sand, awaiting shipment to France. The tower is flanked
    on the west by the parapet of a modern battery, while on the east
    it is adjoined by the vault through which the stream issues which
    comes from the western ravine. In front of the vault there is a
    little bridge. The submerged remains of a semicircular mole--a
    work of the old Greek times--are indicated by a line of surf in
    the sea. It is evident that the entrance to this harbour was on the
    east. On that side too there is a tower, projecting into the waves
    with the form of a wedge, and still joined to the north-eastern
    angle of the fortress by the substructures of a massive wall.

    It is through an opening in that wall that we pass from the
    life of the sea-shore into the more intense and throbbing life
    of the bazar. In old times one of the great gates gave issue
    from the lower fortress to the important riparian quarters on
    the east. This gate, the bazar gate or gate of Mumkhaneh (candle
    factories), has been removed to give space to a broad street. The
    stream from the eastern ravine, which passes outside the walls,
    is taken by a tunnel through this crowded quarter. The bazars
    adjoin the fortress; they are well stocked and extensive. The
    more one walks in Trebizond, the more one is impressed by the
    shyness of the women; nowhere in the East have I seen them more
    ashamed to show the face. Nowhere does one realise more keenly
    the loss of colour and gaiety which this muffling and veiling of
    women entails. A fine example of an old Italian magazine may be
    seen in this neighbourhood; it is called the Bezestan (repository
    of stuffs, No. 16). Where the bazar is at its busiest, a massive
    square building of stone and brick rises above the lines of booths
    with their shadowed recesses. It is entered by four doors, of wood
    plated with iron, one on each side. In the centre is a well; the
    roof rested on four piers and sprang from vaultings at each angle
    of the square. The piers and vaultings still remain, but the roof
    is gone. The place is occupied by sellers of quilts, or coverlets
    stuffed with cotton, which take the place of blankets in the East.

    South of this building, beyond the large mosque of the quarter,
    which is without architectural interest, are situated the two Greek
    churches of Aivasil and Aiana, the first almost on the fringe of
    the bazars. Aivasil (No. 14) has been rebuilt, or rather the site
    of the old church has been covered by a modern and tasteless
    erection. But a long stone, part of a frieze, containing an
    inscription of Justinian, which belonged to the earlier edifice,
    is still preserved as an historical relic in the body of the
    church. Aiana (No. 13), its close neighbour, is, on the other
    hand, quite intact, and remains a most interesting example of the
    beginnings of Christian architecture. A small and unpretentious
    building of stone, not too evenly put together, with the arches
    over the little windows constructed of brick, it would almost
    escape notice were it not for a large bas-relief in marble which
    is inserted into the wall over the door on the south. Although
    the stone is cracked and the sculpture has suffered mutilation,
    one can recognise that there is represented a colossal seated
    figure, with a smaller figure, holding a shield, at her feet. The
    interior is built of brick, and consists of a nave and two aisles,
    the principal apse being flanked by two side apses. [3] But there
    is no dome; and the scanty light which falls on the withered
    frescos comes from nine little windows in the walls. Each aisle
    has two arches, the more easterly pair resting on piers, and the
    more westerly on marble pillars with Ionic capitals. One remarks
    the narrowness of the apse, in which is placed a primitive altar,
    resembling those in the oldest Armenian churches. It consists
    of a horizontal slab resting on a circular stone, and on the
    side of the slab is a Greek inscription. Several of the frescos
    remain with which the walls were once covered, the building being
    still used as a church. Besides Biblical subjects, one observes
    several portraits upon the wall on the west. The greater portion
    of the space is filled with the pictures of saints and monks;
    but on the north side there is represented a colossal figure,
    of which the head has unfortunately been effaced. The figure is
    attired in a purple robe, with bands of gold embroidered in black,
    the same costume as that in which the Emperor Alexius III. is
    depicted in the Bull at Sumelas. He holds a circular ornament
    or emblem in his left hand. An inscription, partially effaced,
    is seen on the wall below the figure. [4] Such is this relic
    of the early city, with its spoils of still earlier temples,
    bridging the periods of the old worship and the new.

    Returning to the commercial quarter from the narrow alleys which
    surround this building, we pass an old house which is an example
    of a style of architecture now rapidly being replaced by the
    modern villa. The exterior, with its projecting upper storey
    and semicircular, roofed balcony, where the inmates would enjoy
    the freshness of the afternoon, produces an impression at once
    of somewhat costly solidity and of picturesque charm. The rooms
    are panelled in wood, both walls and ceilings; and screens of
    open woodwork, placed before the windows, preserve the privacy
    of the life within. In the little niches and in the details of
    the ornamentation the spirit is that of Persian art.

    The magazines of the merchants are situated along the shore between
    the fortified city and the point of Güzel Serai. Proceeding
    eastwards, we need scarcely stop to visit the Greek cathedral
    (No. 12), a large modern building of extraordinary ugliness on the
    margin of the sea. On the south side of this pretentious church we
    are shown the tomb of the last of the Georgian kings. A road leads
    upwards through the crowded Christian quarter, Frank Mahalla, past
    the wall and tower of Güzel Serai (No. 10). These buildings date,
    I believe, from a comparatively recent period; but they occupy
    the site of the famous fortress of Leontocastron, long in dispute
    between the Comnenian emperor and the Genoese. The companion
    fort of Daphnus, another Genoese possession, probably stood in
    the bay on the west, where the quarter of Dia Funda, an Italian
    corruption of the Greek name, faces the modern anchorage. The
    walls of Güzel Serai overlook a park of artillery, drawn up on
    a grassy platform at the point.

    Our walk through the eastern suburb may be protracted to the slope
    of Boz Tepe, where an ancient nunnery, famous for its frescos,
    commands the landscape of the city from a well-chosen site just
    outside its extreme fringe (No. 6). Adjacent to the building,
    which presents the appearance of a fortress, was placed the
    summer residence or pleasure-house whence the Grand-Comneni used
    to survey their beauteous capital. I can well remember the ruin
    of this palace, with its blank windows, such a pleasant frame
    to the charming view which they overlooked. Alas! this fragment
    has disappeared, to make room for an ugly guest-house which the
    avaricious nuns have built in its place. The chapel of the nunnery,
    dedicated to the Virgin, Panagia Theoskepastos, is built into the
    side of the cliff, its inner end being, in fact, a cave. Damp
    has blurred the frescos; but one may still recognise the royal
    portraits upon the north wall. The upper portions of two kingly
    figures, attired in purple robes, and on their right hand, side
    by side, two queens with jewelled crowns, still colour the mouldy
    side of the cave, and are almost hidden by a row of stalls. They
    have been identified by inscriptions which, I presume, have become
    effaced, as Alexius III. and his queen Theodora; as Andronicus
    and Eirene, mother respectively and son of the first-named prince.

    Nor should the traveller omit a visit to the church of St. Eugenius
    (No. 19), although he may not have time to visit the grottoes in
    the face of Boz Tepe, and to protract the excursion beyond the
    embouchure of the Pyxitis to the site of Xenophon's camp. That
    famous church is situated in the opposite direction, and has been
    already mentioned in the description of the upper fortress. It
    stands on the margin of the eastern ravine, almost opposite to
    the great polygonal tower. The site is separated from the slopes
    of Boz Tepe by a second and smaller ravine, which shows remains,
    on the western bank, of walls and towers. Houses cluster round
    the building, their horizontal outlines topped by its gables and
    crowned by its polygonal, drum-shaped dome. St. Eugenius dates from
    the period of the Grand-Comneni; but the frescos on the western
    wall, which some travellers have noticed, are now nothing more
    than patches of colour. It is a somewhat larger edifice than
    Hagia Sophia, which, although less graceful, it resembles in
    some respects. The dome rests upon two fluted columns on the
    west side, while, on the east, it is supported by piers. A
    flood of light fills the interior, which is plain and bare,
    the church having been converted to the service of Islam by the
    Ottoman conqueror. It was here that Mohammed II. is said to have
    worshipped on the first Friday after the capture of the city by
    his troops. The event is commemorated by the name of New Friday
    (Yeni Juma) under which the mosque is known.


One is fortunate if it be possible to spend the later afternoons of
days devoted to the study of the town among the restful surroundings of
the pleasant country-side, upon the slopes of the adjacent hills. Such
was my privilege in 1898. Our tents were pitched on the lofty plateau
north-west of the city, the view ranging on the one side to the rocky
cliffs of Boz Tepe, and, on the other, to the distant promontory
of the sacred mountain. The crowded impressions of the day would
take proportion and perspective. One saw a city which, in spite
of the modern aspect of certain quarters, has lost little of the
romance of the Middle Age. The earlier imprint upon its buildings
is that of the era of Justinian; [5] their actual appearance is
due to the Grand-Comneni; a great sleep has bridged the interval
to the present time. Yet the life of the place, such as it is,
pursues the old channels, and the throng in the streets is to-day
not less heterogeneous than it was four centuries ago. The French,
the Austrians, and the Russians conduct the carrying trade with
Europe, reviving the function of the Genoese. The wares they bring
are largely of British origin, and are largely imported by British
merchants trading in Persia. Strings of Bactrian camels may be seen
in the streets, about to start on the long stages which separate the
seaport from Erzerum and Tabriz. The various peoples of Asia and of
Europe still meet in the bazars. [6] But the romance of the city can
never have equalled the romance of her surroundings, Nature being
the subtlest weaver of mysteries, the mother with unending fables in
whom the romantic spirit finds the only wholesome refuge from the dull
realities of daily life. The most permanent memory which the traveller
may take away from his visit may be the fruit of those half-hours
between daylight and night which he spends in his encampment above
the town. When once the sun has set there ensues a period of twilight,
in which the glow of the south appears to be blended with the gorgeous
effects of northern latitudes. Indeed, the view over the sea by day
recalls the colouring on our English coasts; and the little silken
Union Jack which fluttered over the tent of my companion, who was
acting as consul, would often seem to wave on a field of its native
blue. But in the evening there is produced a combination of elements,
at once much softer and much sterner than the setting of our English
scenes. The spirit of Scythia, of the frozen North, meets the languid
Mediterranean spirit, and spreads a robe of fire and paleness over
the sea. Only the cypresses and the luxuriant foliage preserve the
identity of the sinuous bays; and the succession of meridional ridges
which feature the coast towards Cape Ieros are clothed with a forest
of trees, fretting the splendour of the western sky.



SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE

For the topography and antiquities of Trebizond I would refer the
student who may be desirous of going more closely into the subject to
the following works:--Ritter, Erdkunde von Asien, vol. xviii. pp. 852
seq.; and in particular to the following authorities, cited by Ritter,
viz. Travels of Evliya, translated by von Hammer, London 1850,
vol. ii. pp. 41 seq.; Tournefort, Voyage du Levant, Paris 1717,
vol. ii. pp. 233 seq.; Hamilton, Researches in Asia Minor, etc.,
London 1842, vol. ii. appendix v. p. 409 (inscription No. 49, over the
gateway); Fallmerayer, J. P., Fragmente aus dem Orient, 2nd edition,
Stuttgart 1877, with which should be read the Original-Fragmente of
the same author, published in the Abhandlungen of the Academy of Munich
(Hist. Classe), vols. iii. and iv., 1843-44. Fallmerayer was the first
to investigate the subject in an adequate manner; his descriptions
are charmingly written; and, while I have availed myself freely in
composing a part of this chapter of the results of his researches,
I must also acknowledge having come under the spell of his personality
(for a slight biography of the historian see Mitterrutzner, Fragmente
aus dem Leben des Fragmentisten, Brixen 1887).

Among those who have advanced our knowledge of the place since Ritter
wrote I would cite the following:--Texier, 1839, Description de
l'Arménie, etc., Paris 1842, two vols. folio, with plates (see also
the magnificent work by Texier and Pullan, L'Architecture Byzantine,
London 1864); Pfaffenhoffen, Essai sur les aspres Comnénats ou blancs
d'argent de Trébizonde, Paris 1847; Finlay, Mediæval Greece and the
Empire of Trebizond (vol. iv. of History of Greece, revised edition,
Oxford 1877); Tozer, Turkish Armenia, London 1881, pp. 450 seq. I
have also had access to a book in Armenian which was shown to me at
Trebizond, and which is entitled: History of Pontus, by the Rev. Father
Minas Bejeshkean (Mekhitarist), a native of Trebizond, Venice 1819. [7]

The plans which accompany this chapter were made at the close of my
second journey by kind permission of the Turkish Government, and after
I had already perused the accounts of my predecessors. There is one
point in connection with the topography which one would like to feel
sure about, namely, upon what eminence in the neighbourhood the statue
of Hadrian was set up. I fancy it must have been erected on the Karlik
Tepe, a bold peak about four miles south of the town, commanding a
magnificent view. A small chapel now stands upon the summit.

The history of the empire of the Grand-Comneni of Trebizond forms
a most instructive episode in the immemorial struggle between the
East and the West. It was Fallmerayer who may be said to have given
this history as a new possession to knowledge in his admirable
Geschichte des Kaiserthums von Trapezunt, Munich 1827, followed by
the Original-Fragmente, cited above. These sources have been utilised
by Finlay in his History of Greece and Trebizond; but it is to be
regretted that Fallmerayer himself did not rewrite his Geschichte after
his later discoveries of new and important material. The outline of
the subject may, perhaps, be presented in the following brief notice.

The further one pursues one's studies of the countries west of India,
whether in the camp or in the library, the larger looms the stately
fabric of the Roman Empire of the East, and the more is felt the
need of a work dealing comprehensively with this great subject. Our
historians have allowed their interest to be absorbed by Europe; upon
Asia and the rule of the Cæsars over some of the fairest portions
of her vast territories for a period, which, commencing with the
Roman Republic, may be said to extend down to the suppression of the
despots of Trebizond by the Ottoman Turks in the latter half of the
fifteenth century, they have scarcely bestowed more than an impatient
glance. The period covers the bloom and fall of at least six great
Asiatic dynasties--the Arsakids, Sasanians, Arab caliphs, Seljuk Turks,
shahs of Kharizme, Tartar khans. It comes to an end among the ruins
of Asiatic prosperity, when the Turkomans are pasturing their flocks
among the débris of civilisation, and the Ottoman sultans, deriving
their origin from a nomad Turkish tribe, are being carried to their
zenith by the former subjects of the Cæsars, severed in the corps of
Janissaries from their Western culture and Christian religion, and
living only with the breath of their Mohammedan and Oriental king. This
startling revolution in the political and economical condition of Asia,
the effects of which are operative at the present day, may be traced
back to the decisive blow which was struck at the Roman Empire of
the East by the victory of the Seljuk sultan, Alp Arslan, over the
Cæsar Romanus near Melazkert in Armenia in the year 1071. The three
centuries of imperial rule in Asia which succeeded this event reveal
few and spasmodic interruptions to the inclined plane of Western
relapse. Then the darkness finally closes in; Constantinople falls
(1453), and Western commerce is expelled from the Black Sea.

The empire of Trebizond takes its place in this great tragedy of
history when the end is already in view. In the same year and the
same month in which the Latins took Constantinople and the nobility
of the imperial capital fled to the cities of Asia (April 1204),
two youthful scions of the illustrious House of Comnenus appeared
at the head of a body of Georgian mercenaries before the gates
of Trebizond. The Comneni, whose name perhaps reveals an Italian
origin, emerge into the light of history in the latter part of the
tenth century, from a private station among the Greek nobility of
Asia, where their hereditary estate was situated near Kastamuni,
a town in the interior, which one may reach at the present day by a
carriageable road from the port of Ineboli on the Black Sea. Manuel
Comnenus, the first to bring fame to the family, was prefect of all
the East under the Cæsar, Basil the Second (in 976); and his son, the
scholarly Isaac Comnenus, was chosen by his contemporaries to occupy
the imperial throne. The nephew of Isaac, the Emperor Alexius Comnenus
(r. 1081-1118), is well known for the part which he played during
the crusading era; and he was followed on the Byzantine throne by
two of the most martial figures of that age of heroes, Kalo-Joannes
(r. 1118-43) and Manuel (r. 1143-80). Manuel was succeeded by his
cousin Andronicus Comnenus (r. 1182-85), an emperor who did much to
purify the corrupt provincial administration of the Byzantine monarchy,
and who perished in a domestic revolution, due to his severe measures
against the high nobility. The murder of this prince was followed at
no long interval by the Latin conquest of the capital; and the two
Comneni who came to Trebizond in 1204 were sons of Manuel, son and
heir to Andronicus, who had also perished in the aforesaid revolution.

Their names were Alexius and David; and they were assisted in their
enterprise by their paternal aunt, Thamar, the offspring of their
grandfather and a Georgian lady. The political condition of Trebizond
during the interval between the murder of Andronicus and the Latin
conquest of the capital is not definitely known; but the Greek city was
probably feeling the pressure of the neighbouring kingdom of Georgia
at the time of the advent of the two Greek princes. The prospects
of relief, on the one hand, from this pressure, and, on the other,
from dependence upon the rotten court of Constantinople under the
hopeful rule of an illustrious family, must have operated as powerful
inducements to the townspeople to welcome the new régime. Alexius
Comnenus is accepted as master of the city, and his rising fortunes
attract to his victorious standard some of the noblest of the refugees
from the capital, flying into Asia before the Latins. Others range
themselves round the person of Theodore Laskaris in Bithynia; and two
rival Greek or Roman empires are established upon Asiatic soil, that of
Nicæa, or Nice, the capital of Bithynia, and the empire of Trebizond.

The successors of Laskaris fought their way back to Constantinople,
which was recovered from the Latin barons in 1261. A much less splendid
fate was reserved for the family of Alexius Comnenus; yet the little
empire on the Black Sea survived the restored Byzantine Empire; and
a space of nearly a hundred years separates the fall of the last of
the Greek cities of the interior (conquest of Philadelphia by the
Sultan Bayazid in 1390) from the overthrow of the rule of the Comneni
at Trebizond (1461). During a period of over 250 years these petty
Greek princes contrived to elude the storms of Mussulman conquest
behind the wall of mountains interposed between the interior and
the coast. Sometimes as vassals of the Oriental dynasties, at other
times in a state of independence, they ruled over the beautiful city
and a narrow strip of seaboard of varying extent. Their possessions
even included a part of the Crimea, of which the tribute was conveyed
across the expanse of waters in the imperial galleys. Proud of their
pompous titles of Grand-Comneni and Emperors of the Romans, or lords
of all Anatolia, Georgia, and the Transmarine, they supplied their
deficiencies in real power by elaborate ceremonials, and substituted
the gorgeous cult of their patron saint, Eugenius, for the devotional
exercises of the Christian religion. They might be consigned without
regret to the limbo of history, were it not for the cause of which they
were the late and debased representatives, but which, nevertheless,
they contributed to sustain. Their territory afforded a home and
holding ground to commerce; and, when the land routes through Asia
Minor fell into disuse owing to the increase of anarchy, Trebizond
became an emporium of the trade with the further Asia, diverted to the
more secure avenue of the Armenian plains. This trade was conducted
with great spirit by the Genoese from their factories at Trebizond,
until Grand-Comneni, Italian merchants, and all the apparatus of
civilisation were swept away by the Ottoman sultan, Mohammed the
Second (1451-81). This type of Oriental exclusiveness came marching
across the mountains some years after his conquest of Constantinople
(1453). The citadel of Trebizond was given over to the Janissaries,
the palace to a pasha; the last of the Comneni was transported to an
exile in Europe, whence, not long afterwards, he was summoned to the
capital and commanded to abjure the Christian faith. The firmness of
his refusal and the dignity of his martyrdom cast a parting ray of
glory through the shadows which had already closed upon his House. His
body and those of the princes who died with him were thrown to the dogs
beyond the walls of Constantinople. Only one-third of the inhabitants
of Trebizond, and these the dregs of the populace, were suffered to
remain in their native city. The remainder were compelled to emigrate,
and their estates were confiscated. In 1475 the policy of expulsion
of all Western influences was crowned by the Ottoman occupation of
Caffa and Tana, the more northerly depôts of the Genoese in the Black
Sea. European ships were expelled from these waters; where trade was
banished ensued barbarism; and for three centuries these shores were
forgotten by the West. A new era found expression in the Treaty of
Adrianople (1829), which secured the free navigation of this sea. The
first steamer made her appearance in 1836, and since then commerce
has steadily increased. It flows along the shore, to be distributed
throughout the interior, until it reaches the solid barrier of the
Russian frontier. It is carried across Asia just outside that barrier
on the backs of camels and mules. On the far side of the wall is heard
the whistle of the locomotive, and the rumble of a train which not a
bale of the hated products of European industry is permitted to invade.

Let the progressive states of modern Europe take heed lest their
domestic rivalries result in the conversion of the Black Sea into a
Russian lake, and the re-establishment of the old and melancholy order.



CHAPTER II

ASCENT TO ARMENIA


It had never been our intention to enter Armenia by the well-beaten
avenue of Trebizond and Erzerum. The season was advanced; our first
objective was Ararat; and it appeared doubtful whether, even with
the utmost possible expedition, we should be able to accomplish
the ascent of the mountain before the commencement of the winter
snows. The attack is no doubt feasible from the side of Turkey; at
least on two occasions it has been successful; but the journey is long
from Erzerum to Bayazid, and the stages must be covered by your own
horses; there is no posting system to furnish you with relays. Nor
is it likely that you will find the same facilities at Bayazid that
are offered in Russian territory, through the courtesy of the Russian
Government, by the detachment of Cossacks which is stationed on the
northern slopes. These considerations were decisive in determining
us upon the approach from Georgia; but I was also anxious on other
grounds to become acquainted with the Russian provinces of Armenia
before investigating the condition of those under Turkish rule. With
these purposes we rejoined our steamer on the night of the 16th of
August and continued the voyage to Batum.

August 17.--From Trebizond to the Russian port is a run of a hundred
miles; the early morning saw us skirting the redoubts that line
the shore and doubling the little promontory on which the lighthouse
stands. In the bight or tiny inlet that recedes from that low headland
a depth of water of some thirty fathoms may be found; yet the bay as
a whole is shallow and full of silt, and it is only on this western
side, close in upon the land, that such soundings are obtained. The
largest vessels may be seen brought up so near to the beach that their
lofty sterns almost overhang its shelving slopes. But the space is not
extensive in this favoured quarter, and if this natural harbour is
protected on the east by the wall of the coast range, it is exposed
towards the north. The Russians have endeavoured to overcome these
disadvantages by constructing a long breakwater of solid masonry,
which projects from the side of the mountains into the bay; for years
they have been engaged in dredging operations, but they have been
hampered by the continual tendency of the anchorage to fill with
sandy deposit along the eastern shore.

I should not trouble or divert my reader with a humble incident
of travel, were it not that I am anxious to dispel the prevailing
prejudices which attribute an unusual degree of severity to the service
of the customs at this port. Some years ago, when returning from Persia
to Europe, I had been summoned to the fearful presence of the presiding
officers and had been amiably dismissed; but on that occasion I was
invested with the more innocent character of an export, whereas now
it was with the savoury attributes of imports from Great Britain that
we were walking into the lion's mouth. Stories were abroad of ladies
who had arrived in silken dresses and who had been seen to issue from
the portals of this redoubtable Custom-House in whatever garments may
have escaped the confiscation from their persons of the more valuable
products of European looms. It was therefore with some apprehension
and not without anxiety that we awaited the arrival of the inspector
and his men. Their white caps and white tunics are soon in evidence on
the ship's ladder; they step on deck, appear uncertain and desirous of
information; then, after a cast or two, we see them settling to the
line. In a remote corner of the deck, almost covered by the gigantic
frame of Rudolph, lies a pile of miscellaneous but extremely creditable
luggage, of which the hapless owners are ourselves. When the Swiss
is interrogated he smiles blandly; the salute on their side is not
less gracious and more effusive; then they leave the steamer and we
are free. What is the incident? If you measure it by the paradoxical
nature of the occurrence, it was more than an incident, it was an
event. For the rest we were not slow to discover the explanation;
there is not in Russia a more courteous official or kinder personality
than the Director of Customs at Batum. M. de Klupffell is a veteran
sportsman, and, as such, a friend of Englishmen; in my cousin he found
an ardent votary of his own science and a companion in its pursuit;
and we were linked together by a number of pleasant memories before
the day of departure hurried us apart.

Five valuable days, of which not a minute was vacant, were consumed
in completing the preparations for our journey and in procuring a
supplementary supply of letters of introduction to those in authority
at the centres through which we should pass. We were about to enter a
country which, both for strategical and political reasons, is hedged
in with scarcely visible but extremely palpable restrictions, and for
the unprepared and ill-recommended traveller is almost of the nature
of forbidden ground. There are wide districts in which our consul at
Batum is not permitted to travel; I am sure he would not venture to
cross the threshold of Kars. To make certain of being allowed to move
about without hindrance and to enjoy the luxury of the confidence
that your presence will be tolerated and that you will not suddenly
be summarily expelled, it is necessary to supply yourself with a
special authorisation from the proper Minister at St. Petersburg. But
our ambassador at the Russian capital refuses to put forward the
application; he has made a rule which nothing will induce him to
break through. At Constantinople our embassy is of course completely
helpless; there remains the doubtful method of private approach. The
days were swelling into weeks while we lingered on the Bosphorus;
it was useless to proceed without some form of pass in our pockets,
but the precious months of summer were gliding away. At length we
were sufficiently provided with recommendations to be warranted in
trusting fortune to do the rest; we owed much to the kindness of our
Russian acquaintances at Constantinople, and we were able to realise
a fact of which we subsequently received such abundant evidence,
that the highest Russian officials are as a rule enlightened men of
the world as well as the kindest and most hospitable of hosts.

On the side of Georgia there are two principal approaches to Armenia,
and the traveller who desires to consult his comfort may be advised to
restrict his choice to these two roads. The more westerly ascends the
valley of the Kur river and reaches the highlands about Akhaltsykh by
the romantic gorge and passage of Borjom; the other, further east,
leaves the railway between the Black Sea and the Caspian at the
station of Akstafa, some fifty miles below Tiflis, and, mounting from
the trough of the Kur along the course of the Akstafa, issues upon
the open country on the west of Lake Sevan, near the posting-stage
of Delijan. [8] A bifurcation at that point leads by one branch to
Alexandropol and by the other to Erivan. You may ride in a victoria
and with relays of post-horses on either of these roads. Both conduct
you from the steppes at the southern foot of Caucasus and from levels
that are comparatively low across or aslant the grain of the peripheral
ranges to the edge of the Armenian tableland. Those ranges are the
continuation upon the east of the mountains which we have followed
from the Bosphorus to Batum; they stand up like a wall from the
flats of the Rion and from the plains which border the lower course
of the Kur, with much the same appearance as we saw them rise with
ever-increasing proportions along the floor of the Black Sea. Beyond
those lowlands a mighty neighbour, the parallel chain of Caucasus,
faces them on the north. Only at one point do these two great systems
join hands together, in the belt of mountainous country which separates
the watershed of the Kur from that of the Rion and which the railway
crosses by the pass of Suram (about 3000 feet). This linking chain
is known to geographers under the name of the Meschic or Moschic;
geologists are inclined to connect it with the structure of Caucasus;
our senses might invest it with a separate existence, a transverse
barrier as it were, thrown from range to range across the hollow
which extends from sea to sea.

I was disinclined for several reasons to traverse this barrier, so
that we might avail ourselves of either of the main roads. Erivan
was our destination, the railway and the valley of the Akstafa our
readiest means of access; but I was already familiar with the trough
of the Kur between Tiflis and the Caspian, and I had read so many
accounts of this approach to Armenia that the natural features of
the several stages between the Georgian river and Lake Sevan seemed
imprinted upon my mind. I was also anxious to gain some knowledge of
the western portion of the tableland, of which I had only succeeded in
obtaining from the literature of travel a wholly insufficient idea. To
these districts the route by Borjom is at once the best-known avenue
and that which combines with a lavish display of magnificent scenery
the comforts of a beaten track. But to worm myself up the valley of
the Kur to the Armenian highlands was, I thought, to miss an occasion
which might not subsequently be offered of realising at the outset of
our long journey the essential features and characteristics of the
country we had come to see. In Asia so vast is the scale upon which
Nature has operated, so much system has she bestowed upon her works,
you may follow for hundreds of miles the same manifestations, till
from some favourable point of vantage you may discover unfolded before
you the clue and the abiding principles of her extensive and majestic
plan. What approach was better calculated to offer large views over
Nature and to instruct us in her designs than one which scaled the
walls of the girdle ranges where they tower highest above land and
sea? From Batum it might be possible to penetrate the mountains of
Ajara, and debouch upon some of the most elevated regions of the
plateau from which the upper waters and earliest affluents of the
Kur decline; but the lower reaches of the Chorokh and its alpine
tributaries intersect a most intricate and savage country, where the
process of elevation has resulted in dislocation of the range, and
has produced convulsions which, while they afford a most interesting
field to the geologist and to the student of mountain-structure,
have placed obstacles in the way of human communications which the
traveller is not required to overcome. By following the bend of
the chain up the coast and along the Rion until it again assumes a
normal course, he may avoid this knot of ridges and maze of valleys
and at the same time obtain a clearer and more definite conception of
the geography of these lands. We learnt that there was a road from
the plain of the Rion up the side and to the summit of the range;
we soon decided upon the superior attractions which it promised,
and took our tickets for the capital of the country on the west of
the Meschic barrier, the ancient city of Kutais.

August 22.--Rain was falling as we slowly steamed away from the
station; it is almost always raining at Batum. The clouds cannot leap
the gigantic bulwark of the mountains at this south-eastern angle of
the sea; they cling to the fir-clad slopes or put out hands and scale
the escarpments until they become exhausted and dissolve. The town was
soon behind us as we wound along the foot of the range on the narrow
respite of the shore--Batum, with her grim defiance of the written law
of Europe, with her peaceful situation at the gate of the oil industry,
of which she receives the products by the railway from the Caspian
to distribute them over all the world; a creation of modern Russia
on the familiar official pattern of spreading boulevards with fine
shops and large hotels. Here is the starting-point of the first train
which skirts the coast of the Euxine--and even this remote example
of the species turns aside from the mysterious seaboard to the cities
of the interior after a brief space of some twenty miles. Yet within
such limits we are carried through the wildest piece of country that
may be found between the mouth of the river Rion and the entrance to
the Black Sea, a district endowed with extraordinary fertility, which
still remains unexploited and unreclaimed. It is inhabited here and
there by a few straggling settlements, which contrast to the splendour
of his natural surroundings the squalor of uncivilised man. We have
outreached the furthest extension of the fringe of Greek elements;
Georgian peoples live in the valleys of the interior and are thinly
scattered upon the malarious coast; while further east, where the
chain has left the sea and is aligned upon the plains, lowlands as
well as mountains, the skirts of the range and its innermost recesses
are the home of a population of Georgian race. Between Trebizond and
the Russian fortress first the Lazis and then the Ajars may perhaps
be regarded as transitional factors to the new order which commences
after you have left Batum. I should not venture to pronounce upon the
racial connections of the Lazis; they may represent the aboriginal
occupants of their country, the wild tribes who harassed the army of
Xenophon and were the settled plague of the Byzantine governors and
of the emperors of the Comnenian line. The Ajars would appear to be of
mixed parentage; like the Lazis they profess the Mohammedan faith. The
Georgian districts which we are now entering still retain the names of
the several independent principalities to which they formerly belonged,
and except in the case of Abkhasia, up in the north at the foot of
Caucasus, the Christian religion almost exclusively prevails. First
comes Guria along the shore and the bend of the mountains; Imeritia
extends on either bank of the Rion and as far as the pass of Suram;
Mingrelia is the name of the country on the north of the Kolchian
river, and it is bounded by Imeritia in the east.

For a distance of some fifteen miles the landscape was monotonous;
on the one hand the almost vertical bulwark of the mountains, on the
other the little grey waves breaking on the stony shore. But just
before we arrived at the station of Kobulety the oppressive proximity
of the range was relaxed, the country opened, and between low forest
and maize-grown clearings the soil-charged waters of a river wound
their way down towards the sea. It was the commencement of the
scenery which is characteristic of Guria, a tract of virgin woodland
which clothes the spurs of the receding chain and the alluvial flats
and marshes of the coast. Rolling hills take the place of the abrupt
wall of rock; they are covered with a jungle of bush and little trees,
which is broken here and there by irregular patches planted with Indian
corn. Dark streams heavy with loam descend between high banks. Not
a village could we see, nor any human habitation; distant prospects
were obscured by a veil of mist. Yet the day was fairly fine, and, if
the clouds were deeply banked on the horizon, the zenith often burst
to pure blue. As we proceeded, the forest increased both in grandeur
and in luxuriance; clusters of magnificent trees rose from the bush
and above the brushwood, until the features of hill and spur became
lost beneath the lofty overgrowth and transformed to masses or ledges
of tall stems and spreading branches outlined against the sky. The
withered forks of lifeless trunks stood out in grim relief from this
ground of shadow, or were projected in weird tracery upon the field
of light--an eloquent proof that no human hand had yet disturbed the
natural order of these primeval woods. The sea was lost behind leafy
brakes festooned with luscious creepers, which flourish with almost
tropical development in this warm climate and upon this soaking
soil. Not a single road did we see; the stations are mere stages,
and the only sign of the presence of man was one of the long-legged
dappled pigs so common in Imeritia, which was trespassing on the line.

Such are the characteristics which broadly prevail between Kobulety
and Lanchkhuty, a space of some twenty-four miles. But we had not yet
reached the latter station, which is situated due north of the capital
of Guria, Ozurgeti, when new features were discovered in the scene. On
the left hand the view opened across an even country where the sappy
stems and reed-like forms and flowers of the maize-plants alternated
with stretches of unreclaimed bush; and in the distance a bold hill,
only partially wooded, projected into the plain from a long, vague
line of mountains which closed the horizon on the north. We felt that
these must surely be the spurs of Caucasus, and that the Phasis would
shortly be disclosed.

You cross that fabled river--the modern Rion--by the commonplace
method of a railway bridge; it flows between high banks through
the wide expanse of these surroundings on the southern margin of the
plain. Some distance east of these lower reaches the impetuous current
that has pierced the Caucasus, from which it issues at Kutais, has
been deflected by the mountains of the southern border, which turn
it towards the west. You do not follow its tortuous course, which
skirts the outworks of these mountains as they stretch inwards from
the coast; the ground is flat, the railroad points more directly for
the capital at the foot of the great chain on the north.

Mile upon mile the plain of the Rion was unfolded about us, a fertile
province which might be made the granary of Georgia, but which would
now appear to produce little else but the lowest of the cereals,
an endless succession of plantations of Indian corn. The land is
ill-reclaimed; little labour has been expended, and the bush starts
up among the canes. At the stations we remarked groups of women and
young girls clad in loose cotton dresses with cotton kerchiefs on
their heads. Geese strutted along the line or paddled in the shallow
streams, and we became familiar with the strange appearance of the
Imeritian pigs. But still no village! At rare intervals a wooden hut
with a large verandah, and here and there among the maize one of the
rude wooden stages erected to command a prospect over the fields.

As we advanced, the dim and misty boundary of the Caucasus took shape
and colour about the lower slopes. The soft hues of vegetation,
the brighter flashes of naked strata were distinguished from the
uncertain background of rock and cloud; bold ridges with fantastic
outlines stood up on the horizon; but here and there the white
vapour was still clinging to their highest parapets and spreading
fanwise to the brief circle of clear sky. Above them lay a world
of half-lights and banked cloud-masses, the veiled presence of the
main chain. Behind us rose the wooded ridges of the southern range,
till they vanished in the folds of the murky canopy which they hold
so firmly and love so well; but the marshes had disappeared and the
lowest spurs which met the plain were almost devoid of trees. On our
point of course the two great ranges appeared to mingle together and
arrest our even progress towards the east.

For a second time we were overlooking the stream of the Rion to regain
the left bank. It was flowing with a rapid current in a direct line
from the Caucasus, channelling the beached-up shingle of an extensive
bed. In places the waters spread in shallow lakes and deposit a thick
sediment of soil. This upper portion of the plain is barren and stony;
it is partially covered with a low jungle of bush. It is confined on
either side by the meeting flanks of the mountains; and as we made
our way due north with the river serpenting beneath us, all prospect
on our right hand was shut out by rising ground clothed with a forest
of low oak trees.

On the opposite slopes, among the deepening tints of wood and
clearing, beneath the growing distinction of light and shade, we
could discern the white faces of a few scattered houses and then the
gardens among which they stood. Two larger buildings were apparent,
crowned with conical cupolas, of which the roofing was coloured a
soft green. Such are the outskirts of Kutais; the town is hidden
from the plain. Towering above the scene and almost infinitely high,
we might feel vaguely but could scarcely see the gigantic framework
of Caucasus, except where here and there a dazzling light among the
clouds revealed the presence of a snowfield in the sky.

We were tempted to linger in the capital of Imeritia, and I can
confidently recommend to the more leisurely traveller a protracted
stay in this fascinating place. You will never tire of the beauty
of site and grandeur of surroundings, while few street scenes are
more picturesque than those which are disclosed during an afternoon
ramble in the Jewish quarter of Kutais. It is a convenient centre
for excursions into the recesses of Caucasus, and you have only
to follow the windings of the valley of the Rion to be introduced
to the inmost sanctuaries of the chain. In the ruins of the noble
cathedral beyond the outskirts of the town, in the neighbouring and
well-preserved monastery of Gelat, with its enchanting prospect from
the slopes of Caucasus over the open landscape of the south, both the
archæologist and the student of architecture will discover an abundant
source of interest; while, if the study of Nature herself be among
the objects of your journey, what richer field could be offered to
the geologist or the naturalist than these mountains and untouched
forests and flowery hills? But we ourselves were hurried away by the
exigencies of travel after a short sojourn of two and a half days,
and my present purpose must be confined to the elucidation of those
natural features which accompanied the early stages of our ascent to
Armenia, and which were unfolded to our view in an extensive panorama
from the declivities about Kutais.

I shall therefore take my reader to some convenient standpoint in
the environs, let us say to the cliffs on the right bank of the Rion
and the hill upon which the massive ruins of the cathedral rise on
the sky-line above the leafy brakes (Fig. 6, a). I can show you the
position from the opposite bank of the river in a picture which was
taken over a mile above the town from the road which ascends the
valley and which we followed on our way to Gelat (Fig. 6). The Rion
is flowing from you into the middle distance coming from the north;
Kutais itself is hidden by a wooded promontory (Fig. 6, d); but you
see the group of buildings which compose the Armenian and the Catholic
churches, and which crown the extreme northerly projection of the site
(Fig. 6, b). Three bridges span the Rion where it sweeps past the town
confined between lofty banks, and lead from the busy streets to the
peaceful heights which overlook them and command all the landscape
of the plain. I cannot imagine a more charming walk than by the hill
church of St. George (Fig. 6, c) to the pleasant eminence which I
have already described.

We reach our point, and there before us expands the open landscape of
which the second photograph embraces a considerable part (Fig. 7). We
are standing on the southern slopes of Caucasus, with a wide belt of
hill and ridge behind us, and, beyond and far above such familiar
natural features, the white serrations and air-borne snowfields of
the inmost chain. The atmosphere is fresh and crisp even at this
season and with this temperature; [9] and banks of white cloud float
in the sky. At our feet lies Kutais, with head upon the hillside and
foot upon the margin of the plain; the eye follows the winding river
which has just escaped from Caucasus and is flowing outwards towards
the opposite range; the horizon is closed by that wall of mountain,
emerging solid from a tender veil of mist. The plain itself is flat as
water; it is coloured with the golden hues of the ripening maize-fields
and featured by a labyrinth of vague detail. On the left hand, outside
the photograph, a little north of east, you just discern high on the
slopes beyond the left bank of the Rion the site of the monastery of
Gelat; and the other day we thought we could descry from its lofty
terrace, at the base of a distant promontory of Caucasus the shimmer
of the sea in the west.

Let us realise for a moment the meaning of the landscape, and allow the
mind to assist the eye. The opposite mountains belong to the girdle of
ranges which buttress the Armenian tableland, the same which we have
followed along the coast of the Black Sea, and which we left at our
entrance upon the plain of the Rion stretching eastwards away from the
shore. Here they constitute the barrier which separates the lowlands
of Imeritia from the highlands about Akhaltsykh in the south; and,
if you wish to examine the structure of this barrier more closely,
you will find that the back or spine of the system consists of a
ridge which extends in an easterly direction to about the longitude
of Tiflis. The Caucasus, with an axis inclining south-eastwards, steps
up to this latitudinal chain, and just east of Kutais the two systems
join hands in the belt of picturesque hill scenery which divides
the watershed of the Kur from that of the Rion, and which we already
know under the name of the Meschic linking range. East of Tiflis the
axis of the Armenian border ranges is turned towards south-east, and
follows a direction parallel with that of Caucasus along the trough of
the Kur towards the Caspian Sea. Like the Caucasus here in the north,
its opposite neighbour, that southern bulwark extends from sea to sea;
and some geographers have applied to it the name of Little Caucasus,
a misleading and, if we attach importance to the phenomena of Nature, a
most inappropriate name. For while the northern range may be described
as an isolated and independent structure--independent in appearance
at least--which rises on the one side from about the same levels as
those to which on the other side it declines, that on the south is in
reality nothing more than a succession of steps or buttresses which
lead up to and flank the Armenian highlands. The first stages of our
journey will conduct us up the slopes of those mountains, from a plain
which does not much exceed the sea-level, across a ridge of which
the pass has an altitude of about 7000 feet, to plains which range
between a height of 7000 and not less than 3000 feet above the sea.

August 25.--From Kutais to where the southern range perceptibly
commences to gather, about the village of Bagdad, is a direct distance
of close on fifteen miles. So even is the plain that the road makes
little deviation and covers the space in seventeen miles. At half-past
eight on the morning of the 25th of August our victoria, drawn by
four horses abreast, made its start from the little hotel in which we
had lodged; it was followed by the cart which we had engaged for the
luggage and to which was harnessed a similar team. We had hired both
conveyances for the whole of the journey to Abastuman on the further
slopes of the southern range; the regular avenue of communication with
that summer watering-place is by the valley of the Kur and Borjom,
and it is necessary to make your own arrangements if you desire to
take the Imeritian road. We spent five hours upon the first stage of
only seventeen miles; our coachman was obliged to harbour the strength
of his horses for the long ascent to the summit of the chain, and we
were always halting to take photographs and to realise the interest
of the magnificent scenery which forms the distant setting of these
lowlands. We were crossing the uppermost portion of the plain of the
Rion, where it rises to the belt of hill and mountain which links
the northern with the southern range; long stretches of woodland
with an undergrowth of wild rhododendron had taken the place of the
expanse of golden maize-fields, broken by little trees and intervals
of bush. To emerge from the shady avenue upon a tract of open country
was to feast our eyes upon a landscape of no ordinary character. On
the one hand the airy pinnacles and gleaming snowfields of Caucasus,
on the other the forest-clad walls of the Armenian border chain;
in the west the varied detail that covers the floor of the plain as
with a carpet, and behind us the spurs meeting in the east.

We were impressed by the hush of life over the plain and in the
woodlands, by the sparseness of human habitations, and by the absence
of traffic along the road. Such are the certain signs in the East of
economical stagnation, when man is idle and the earth sleeps. It was
therefore with pleasure that about one o'clock we came upon a tiny
village and lingered beneath a spreading tree. Not very far from this
little settlement we crossed a stream at the base of the mountains,
and at half-past one we came to a halt in the street of the village of
Bagdad, after a short but perceptible rise. We noticed some vineyards
during the course of our upward progress; the elevation of Bagdad,
according to the single reading of my barometer, is 922 feet. [10]

It is at Bagdad that you begin the ascent of the mountains of the
southern border. So broad is the range, the pass so lofty and the
road so tortuous, that it would be no easy matter to cross them in
a single day. The direct distance measured on a map from the village
to the pass is no less than seventeen miles, and along the road you
cover some thirty-one miles. There is a hut at about half-way which
is a convenient night's quarter, and we resolved to make it the goal
of our second stage.

We left Bagdad at three o'clock, with the valleys still open about us,
with the wooded slopes rising on every side. After we had passed to the
right branch of the stream which we had crossed below the village, the
gradients commenced to make themselves felt, and here and there among
the foliage the first fir trees started, the delicate blue firs. We
followed the course of the running water up the spacious valley,
through the forest which clothes the range from foot to summit and
stands up along the ridges against the sky.

The saturated atmosphere and warm climate of the seaboard were
still with us; the one feeds, the other stimulates this luxuriant
growth. Even on this fine day the clouds still lingered in the
uppermost hollows, and when at four o'clock we opened up a beautiful
side valley, all the landscape of wooded fork and winding torrent
reflected the silvery hues of a crown of captive vapour clinging to
the recesses at the head of the glen.

Verst after verst we might count our progress on the white milestones,
but we rarely observed a sign of the presence of man. A Georgian
wayfarer, staff in hand, a peasant's cottage with its wide verandah,
were the infrequent incidents in a scene which still belonged to
Nature, and with which such figures and such objects harmonised. At
last at the side of the road where the forest was thickest we came
upon a solitary little cabin, a neat wooden structure, which we at
once recognised as our shelter for the night. It was a quarter-past
seven o'clock and we had reached an altitude of 1900 feet. [11]
During the space of some fourteen miles from our mid-day station,
the valley to which we had throughout been faithful had narrowed to a
deep trough; and an hour before our arrival at the hut of Zikari the
read was taken for a short space along the left bank of the stream,
in order to avoid a projecting buttress of its eastern wall.

August 26.--Some distance below the hut the stream which we had
followed is joined by a tributary coming from the east; the two
branches of the fork collect a number of smaller affluents which have
their sources near the summit of the chain. In continuing our course
next morning up the more westerly of these branches, we were rapidly
transported to the more open landscapes of the higher slopes, and made
our way almost in a direct line for the pass, circling the outworks
of the principal ridge. Filmy white clouds were suspended from the
pine woods above us, when at a quarter-past seven we again took to
the road; but for five hours the forest trees remained with us and
increased rather than diminished in size. In one place it was a lime
of unusual proportions rearing a maze of branches from a quadruple
trunk; at another we stood in wonder before a gigantic beech which
measured 17 feet 6 inches round the base. The undergrowth was supplied
by laurel and holly, and cascades leapt from the rocks. The reader
may see our road as it wound through this sylvan scenery (Fig. 8),
but he must allow his imagination to supply the inherent deficiencies
of photographic methods. The rare inhabitants of these solitudes are
of Georgian race and wear the dress of Georgia (Fig. 9), but their
straggling tenements are few and far between.

Above the forest the groves of fir, higher still the grassy slopes
and naked crags--such is the familiar order of mountain scenery as
you slowly rise to the spine of a range. The two last features became
apparent at the sixty-sixth verst-stone, or some twelve and a half
miles from the hut. A profusion of wild raspberries were growing on
the mossy banks and provided us with a delicious meal. We remarked the
sharpness of the summits of the ridge above us and read the number of
the seventy-second verst. The pass is just above this lofty standpoint,
and we left the carriage to reach it by a short cut. We arrived there
after a brief climb to find a fresh breeze blowing and all the wide
belt of mountain at our feet.

I doubt whether there exists in the nearer Asia a standpoint which
commands a prospect at once so grand and so instructive as that which
is unfolded from the summit of the Zikar Pass (Zikarski Perival;
altitude by my Hicks mountain aneroid, 7164 feet; Russian survey,
7104 feet). With its double front towards north and south and the
contrasting features of the dual landscape, it may be said to overlook
two worlds. On the north the view ranges across the broad belt of
wooded mountains, which culminate in this ridge, to the gigantic
barrier of the Caucasus of which the peaks are distant some ninety to
a hundred miles (Fig. 10). Invisible in the hollow lies the plain of
the Rion; the crests before you, boldly vaulted and clad with forest
to the very summits, sweep away to a dim horizon of grey mist; above
that uncertain background the snows and glaciers of Caucasus appear
suspended in the air among the clouds. Dense vapour shrouds the scene,
and above the flashes of the snow a long bank of white cloud spreads
fanwise up the sky.

But turn to the south--the forms and texture of the earth's surface,
the lights and shadows falling through a rarer atmosphere from lightly
floating filaments of cloud, are those of a new world (Fig. 11). The
pine wood still struggles down the hillside, and gathers from the
blighted trunks around you to clothe the first valleys of the southern
watershed. But the view will no longer close with successive walls of
mountain; the road ceases winding up the slopes of successive outworks;
every vertical line, each deep vaulting relaxes and disappears. The
highest plains of the tableland attain about the same elevation as
the pass upon which you stand; all the outlines in the distance are
horizontal, all the shapes shallow-vaulted and convex. If you follow
the long-drawn profiles of the loftier masses, it is the form of a cone
that breaks the sky-line, and never that of a peak. The colours are
lightly washed ochres and madders; the surface of the volcanic soil
is bare of all vegetation; the shadows lie transparent and thin. Such
was our first view of Armenia and such the impression which our later
travel confirmed.



CHAPTER III

TO AKHALTSYKH


Where else except in London will you see clever driving? Is not England
the only country where you can trust your coachman to shave his corners
and keep his team in hand? With four horses abreast the process is
perhaps not easy, especially down a fairly steep incline. We were
pursued by a landau which contained some Russian officers who had
been spectators of our photographic and hypsometrical operations on
the summit of the pass; our driver became inspired with the spirit
of rivalry, and within a few minutes the trot had developed into a
canter, the canter into a headlong career. On the left hand a deep
abyss, on the right a mossy bank, and the post of danger occupied
by our plump little dragoman who sat on the left-hand box seat! The
carriage grazed the bank and, before we had time to pull the Armenian
to us, struck and overturned. No damage to the horses or to the rest
of the company, but the unfortunate dragoman, moaning and sobbing on
the road! Happily his contusions were not serious, and a draught of
brandy almost restored him to the possession of himself. Assisted by
our kind acquaintances, who were the unwitting cause of the disaster
and who had hurried to the scene, we conveyed him down the slope to
where a gay picnic party were regaling themselves with cakes and tea
and a variety of strong liqueurs. At once the ladies busied themselves
with the bruised and dust-covered youth, whose numbed senses quickly
revived under their care. But the incident delayed us, and it was
night before we arrived at the outskirts of Abastuman, situated in
the pine woods some ten miles south of the pass, at an elevation
of 4278 feet. We were tempted to pitch our tents above the village,
on the banks of a pleasant stream; but the darkness as well as the
lateness of the hour decided us to have recourse to a crowded hotel.

We were again in the midst of wealth and luxury--an oasis strangely
incongruous with the solemn character with which these vast and lonely
landscapes are impressed. The strains of music floated on the air;
a dance was proceeding, to which after a hurried meal my cousin and
myself repaired. All that was most brilliant in the official world
of the Caucasus was gathered in the bright ball-room; and as we made
our way there through the garden we met a group of returning guests
gathered about a slender and youthful figure, to whom all appeared
to defer. It was the Grand Duke George of Russia, since Tsarevich,
who was residing in this lofty station alike in winter as in summer
for the benefit of his health. In the afternoon of the following day,
which was devoted to work and to preparations, came a message from
His Imperial Highness inviting us to mid-day dinner; so we deferred
our start from early morning to a later hour. His villa was situated
just above the street of pleasure-houses among the fir trees which
clothe the valley from trough to ridge; and on the opposite side of
the road the slope had been converted into a park, which contained
living specimens of the big game of the Caucasian wilds. The dinner
was al fresco in the garden of the villa; the Grand Duke welcomed
us in perfect English and placed my cousin on his right and myself
on his left hand. Opposite me and on my cousin's right sat the Duke
of Oldenburg, a practised sportsman and a charming personality,
whose lively humour made the talk flow. On my left I had a graver
but extremely well-informed gentleman whose conversation impressed
me, but whose name I forgot to record. M. Asbeleff of the suite of
His Highness was also of the party, and most kindly provided us with
introductions which were of great service to us at a later stage of
our journey. Quite a respectable number of guests were gathered round
the circular table, the majority clad in the white cotton tunics
which are the summer uniform of the official class.

A purée or thick soup was served, which I thought delicious, but
which brought a twinkle from the playful eye of the Duke. As each
successive dish of this dinner à la Russe made its appearance a smile
came from across the table, or "Isn't it nasty?" or some even less
mildly deprecating words. I ventured to demur to his good-humoured
criticism and to submit that, if the French alone possessed the art of
cooking, the Russians succeeded, where the English failed signally,
in making things taste nice. The champagne came in for a particular
share of attention, having been produced by the Duke from his vineyards
at Kutais. My cousin let out the secret that we had already made its
acquaintance: that we had visited his cellars and had been greatly
interested in his enterprise, especially on the evening at the
hut of Zikari, when we had regaled ourselves with a bottle of his
sparkling wine. He now insisted on our taking a little case with us,
and promised it should be dry to suit what he said he knew to be our
taste. My companion on the left discussed the objects of our journey,
and was of opinion that we might succeed in reaching the slopes of
Ararat before the first snows commenced. I told him that we were also
anxious to study the condition of the country, and the conversation
turned upon the limitations which he said were imposed in India upon
foreigners travelling with similar aims. Can there be anything more
fatuous than such restrictions? We both agreed that it was perfectly
possible to guard against political intriguers and at the same time to
leave bona-fide travellers free. The Grand Duke spoke English like an
Englishman, and you could not have a more amiable host. We remarked
that his features resembled those of his cousin, the Duke of York,
of whom a portrait was placed on his writing-table together with the
photographs of other members of our Royal House.

Two four-horsed posting carriages had been prepared for the drive to
Akhaltsykh, distant 16 1/2 miles. By four o'clock we had rejoined the
rest of our party and were leaving behind us the pleasant station of
Abastuman. We followed the tripping stream down the narrow valley,
the rocky and beetling sides studded with firs from foot to summit;
and from among them a ruined castle, ascribed as usual to Queen Thamar,
frowned out upon the passage which it controls. But we had not gone far
before a complete change came over the landscape; the valley opened,
distant prospects were disclosed. Before us lay the scenery which
is typical of Armenia and upon which our eyes had rested from the
summit of the Zikar Pass. Nature is seldom abrupt in her processes;
a transitional character invests the first slopes of the southern
watershed; the narrow belt of pine-clad ridges interrupts the contrast
between the luscious forests which cover the range on the side of
the Black Sea littoral and the barren highlands through which the
upper waters of the Kur descend. We had issued from those recesses,
and around us in a wide circle were unfolded the Armenian plains. The
view ranged over an open country, for the most part bare of vegetation,
and featured by a succession of convexities in the friable surface,
from the foreground of hummock and hill to the sweeping outlines of
the higher masses, changing colour and complexion with every change
in the sky.

The ground was crumbling with excessive dryness; the soil is rich,
and would no doubt yield crops of great value were it cultivated on a
liberal scale. Yet all the cultivation we could see was of the nature
of little patches of yellow stubble or lightly ploughed land. It was
evident that the primitive methods of the East had not been superseded,
and that agriculture still partook of the precarious character which
is the outcome of centuries of political disturbance--the peasant
uncertain of reaping what he has sown. Stony tracts interrupted these
plots of reclamation, but in general the surface was apt for the
plough. The springs of life had been exhausted by the drought of an
Eastern summer; the fertile earth was bare as water, and transparent
tints of pink and ochre invested the landscape far and wide. A spirit
of vastness and loneliness breathed over the scene; the air was clear
and crisp and recalled the bracing climate of the Persian tablelands.

Such characteristics were strange to some among our party, for only
my cousin and myself knew the interior of Asia and recognised in the
note which was now for the first time sounded the commencement of a
familiar theme. We pursued our way in silence, each absorbed by his
own reflections and all responsive to the same spell. Through the
bleak landscape wound the little river and stretched the white line
of the road. Here and there on the margin of the water or beyond the
irregular border of the pebble-strewn bed a little orchard or a patch
of garden planted with potatoes, formed a spot of verdure contrasting
with the hues around. [12]

Where were the villages? For it seemed that there must be inhabitants
who had gathered this scanty harvest and ploughed the surface of
the darker soil. They select the slope of a hill or the rise of an
undulation; the door and front of their dwellings are alone visible,
the back is caverned into the shelving ground; you must pass close
to such a settlement and by daylight to notice the incidence of a
human element in the scene. We came upon four villages of this pattern
before the mid-way station was reached. They were peopled by Tartars,
who were occupied in threshing and winnowing the season's corn. The
husks were flying in the air and the bright cottons of men and women
fluttered in the breeze.

Benara, the posting-house which supplied us with fresh horses, is
situated close to the bank of the stream, at no great distance above
the point where it joins the Koblian Chai, a river which collects the
drainage of the extreme north-western angle of the tableland. A little
below this junction the united waters receive a further affluent,
known as the Poskhov Chai, which gathers the streams from south-west
and south-east. Even at this season the three combined form a river
of fair size, flowing through the plain on an easterly course in a
bed of many channels, and joining the Kur after passing through the
town of Akhaltsykh. This river is usually called the Akhaltsykh Chai.

Our road followed its course, taking an abrupt bend eastwards and
still faithful to the left bank. Some hillocks closed the view on the
north for a short space; then they flattened, and in that direction
the great plain rolled around us, bounded in the distance by hummock
hills. At intervals we caught a glimpse of the pine-clad ridges of the
border range, standing up on the horizon in the east. Behind us the
long-drawn outlines and bare slopes of the mountains of the tableland,
and towards the south the ground rising from the right bank of the
river to the summit-line of a mountain mass of this character which
has the hummock formation throughout.

Massed battalions of Russian soldiers, it seemed a whole army corps,
were drawn up on the plain. We were passing a permanent camp with
pavilions and stationary cannon, and for some distance the ground
was dotted with white tents. A review was proceeding, and the dark
uniforms of the troops gave their columns the appearance of a series
of black blocks. A hymn was being sung; the stately music swelled
over the hushed scene.

What a contrast between the landscape and such accidental incidents,
the Russian road, the Russian camp! On the road little piles of
stones heaped at regular intervals; but the country without a fence,
without boundaries or divisions, a mere expanse of rolling soil.

The first town or larger village that we saw was Suflis, rising among
orchards from the right bank. It is backed by the bleak mountain
mass which the river skirts; the flat roofs, ranged in tiers, were
scarcely distinguishable from the shelving ground, but the vertical
lines of several minarets were seen from afar. Could you be shown a
more typical example of a tumble-down Eastern township? Yet you are
on the threshold of an important fortress and provincial centre where
modern appliances are in vogue.... Suflis passed, we approached more
closely to the river; the mass on our right broke off in cliffs to
the margin of the water, while on our left hand a low ridge, which
had the appearance of an outcrop of volcanic rock, stepped up to the
border of the stream. The road followed down the defile, skirting
huge boulders and overtowered by bold crags; until the heights on
our left were crowned with masonry, partly ruinous; and before us,
across the river, where the gorge opened, the cherry-coloured roofing
of the modern town of Akhaltsykh was outspread among gardens on the
level ground. A little further down we crossed a substantial bridge,
and, without entering the town, pitched our tents on the sand of the
river-bed. It was nearly seven o'clock, and night had fallen before
our camping operations were complete.

From the Olympian eminence of the Grand Duke's circle at Abastuman and
from the steps of the Imperial throne, we came near to being hurled
forth at Akhaltsykh into the abyss of a Russian prison. The gods
must surely weep at the sorry manner in which their human ministers
interpret their laws. Day broke without any shadow of presentiment--a
fresh and breezy morning, the river rippling before us, and on
the opposite bank the ancient fortress edging the steep crags and
outlined on the luminous sky. The delicious sleep beneath a tent was
followed by an early bathe; the town was silent, but, as we made our
way up the margin of the current, a little village was discovered,
of which the feminine occupants were already descending the slope
with their many-shaped water-jars and divesting themselves of their
loose cottons to splash on the brink of the stream. A little later we
passed their hovels and recognised them as Armenians, and admired the
beauty of one among them, now busy with the routine of her household,
who with her arched eyebrows, aquiline nose, massive forehead, and
coal-black tresses reminded us of Biblical heroines. The fascination
of travel consists in its many-coloured contrasts; nothing ruffled the
composure of our mood of detachment as we left this peaceful scene
to explore a fresh hive of human beings with the easy confidence of
men to whom the land belongs. Our first visit was as usual to the
civil governor; he was to conduct us to the hive, remark upon the
peculiar qualities of the honey, and deferentially withdraw while we
pursued our own investigations into the mysteries of insect life. If
our attitude could be convicted of any element of such fatuous vanity,
the illusion was quickly and rudely dispelled. We were taken to a mean
structure on the southern outskirts of the town, which resembled wooden
boxes placed one above another, with broad wooden verandahs running
round. These balconies were indeed the distinguishing feature; and,
when we observed the groups of ill-miened loafers who loitered within
them, it was hard to believe that we were anywhere else but in Turkey
visiting a pasha at the Serai. After some palaver with the menials,
who were not disposed to excessive courtesy, it transpired that the
governor had left that very morning on a visit to Abastuman. We
asked to see his deputy, and were ushered into the presence of a
broad-shouldered official whose little eyes and cast of face were
essentially Russian, and who did not receive us with any excessive show
of warmth. Such is the manner of deputies all the world over--but our
disappointment turned to surprise when who should enter the apartment
but Wesson, closely escorted by a formidable individual whom we at
once recognised as a commissary of police!

May I introduce the reader to Ivan Kuyumjibashoff, a personality
no less alarming than his name (Fig. 12), and may I take this early
opportunity to place him on his guard against the fallacy that the
Armenians are not a martial race? For this man was a pure Armenian,
in spite of the Russian termination of -off instead of -ean. Erzerum
was his native city; his family had emigrated to Russia, and during
the last war against the Turks Ivan had gained the cross of honour
for personal bravery in the field. At his side hung a sword of which
the scabbard and hilt were adorned with chased silver; the blade was
his special pride, being of ancient Khorasan workmanship, a trophy
from the Kurds. His features inspired fear; his skin of leather was
the result of exposure; but we had not yet learnt that, like all true
warriors who are not barbarians, the lion's fierceness was tempered
by the meekness of the lamb. A cloud settled over the face of the
deputy as the massive fist turned the handle of the door and the heavy
tread fell on the bare boards. Arrived at his side, Ivan whispered
something in his ear, and I ventured to ask what might be the business
of this man. The official replied that he was the emissary of Captain
Taranoffsky, the chief of the so-called gendarmerie, and that he had
been sent to conduct us to the presence of his superior, who would
personally explain the purport of his summons. I enquired whether
Colonel Alander was not the governor of Akhaltsykh, and his office
the seat of supreme power; I was answered that there was another and
separate jurisdiction which the governor did not control. The deputy
added with an agreeable humour that, should we be thrown into prison,
he would be powerless to take us out. Nothing therefore to be done
but to follow Ivan; and would that his master had been as capable
as himself!

In these Armenian provinces of Russia the machinery of administration
is conducted by a handful of Russian officials through Armenians,
who are employed even in the higher grades. The Armenian is a man of
ancient culture and high natural capacity; neither the instinct nor the
quality would be claimed by his Russian superior, who is the instrument
of a system of government rather than a born ruler, and who in general
is lacking in those attributes of pliancy and individual initiative
which it is the tendency of rigid bureaucracies to destroy. Moreover
the Russian official gives the impression of being overwhelmed by his
system, like a child to whom his lessons are new; and, when you see him
at work among such a people as the Armenians, you ask yourself how it
has happened that a race with all the aptitudes are governed by such
wooden figures as these. There are of course notable exceptions to this
general statement, which resumes one's experience of the subordinate
officers rather than of those who are highest placed. Taranoffsky was
about as bad a specimen of his class as it has been my misfortune to
meet. A short man of portly figure, fat red face, and little eyes, he
had all the self-assertion which so often accompanies small stature,
all the unfriendliness which seems the almost necessary outcome of
a lack of physical grace. I at once perceived all the elements of
an unpleasant situation; nor were my apprehensions disproved by the
result. We were taken to a hotel, deprived of our papers and letters,
and placed under close police surveillance pending a decision as to
our future fate. The warmest pass of arms was that which took place
over our photographic negatives, which our persecutor peremptorily
required. I represented that many of the films were as yet undeveloped,
and was absolute in my refusal to give them up. On the other hand
I expressed myself anxious that he should see them developed in his
presence, for which purpose I begged him to prepare a dark room. I
forget whether he accepted this tempting proposal; the negatives
remained intact. Permission was given us to drive under escort to
the monastery of Safar, and the arrival that night or the following
morning of Colonel Alander appeared to alleviate the disfavour with
which we were viewed. Not that these two imperia work harmoniously
together! How can it be expected that they should? The political police
are particularly active in fortress towns such as Kars or Akhaltsykh;
but I understood from Ivan that they are pretty widely distributed
over the country, and that their functions extend to tracking down
Socialists and Nihilists, and in general to the diffusion of alarm
and annoyance far and wide. "How ugly is man!" has exclaimed a French
novelist; indeed how ugly at such moments he appears.

If the morning was consumed by these unforeseen complications, the
afternoon held in store for the harried travellers a further contrast
and a rich reward. The monastery of Safar is situated a few miles
[13] south-east of Akhaltsykh on the lofty slopes of a volcanic ridge;
the drive thither displays the landscape of the town and surrounding
country, and the goal is a group of buildings, of which the principal
church is a gem of architecture, instinct with the graces that
adorn and elevate life. For awhile we followed down the right bank
of the river along the road toward Akhalkalaki and the east; then,
almost reversing direction, turned up a side track on the right hand,
which conducted us, always rising, across the bleak undulations at
the back of the modern town. Here and there the soil had been sown
and was yellow with stubble, or lay exposed in patches of plough;
but cultivation was only partial, and for many a mile not a village
could be discerned. Far and near, the surface of the earth was of a
hummocky nature, like sands modelled by children's spades.

After jolting along this track for some distance, we again struck
a metalled road. It winds along the side of the ridge upon which
Safar is situated, and overlooks a deep ravine. The slope of the
ridge is clothed in places by a scanty growth of bush and dotted by
low trees; but the ravine and opposite hillside are bare and stony,
and the landscape is bleak and wild in the extreme. The only signs
of life and movement proceeded from a village of which the tenements
were built into that opposite slope. The peasants in their gay cottons
were threshing the season's harvest, and, as we returned, we saw them
transporting it in little carts, drawn by eight oxen apiece, from the
fields, where it had been left since the end of June in convenient
places, up to the village threshing-floors. We were surprised at the
evident prosperity of the occupants of this Georgian settlement; what
could be more quaint than women with white gloves and parasols who
dwelt in such hovels as those? We met several such groups on the road
and about the monastery, which was the goal of their afternoon's walk;
several families also, who had come from afar, were encamped at Safar,
at once a pilgrimage and a pleasant residence during the summer months.

A similar practice no doubt prevailed with the powerful governors of
Upper Georgia, of that remote and extensive province of Semo-Karthli
which comprised the uppermost valleys of the Kur and Chorokh and
the mountains of Ajara to the Kolchian coast. Known under the
title of atabegs, they flourished in the fourteenth, fifteenth,
and sixteenth centuries, became independent of the kings of Georgia,
and were only suppressed at a late date by the Ottoman Turks. [14]
Here was their seat of predilection during the heats of summer, and,
except for the arid soil and crops of stones that cover the valleys,
one cannot but approve their choice. You are at a height of some
1000 feet above the town of Akhaltsykh; deep below you flows the
Kur, the river of Ardahan as they call it, on its way to pierce the
barrier of the border ranges by the passage of Borjom. On the side
of the ridge a narrow site, whence the ground declines abruptly to
the abyss below, is filled by a cluster of little chapels, backed,
at the extreme end, by an imposing church. I wish I could offer my
reader an ampler description; but just at this point I am trusting
entirely to my memory and bewailing the loss of a portion of the day's
notes. Counting the chapels, they would tell you that the monastery
contained twelve churches, while according to our notions it possesses
only one. That one is St. Saba, of which I offer two illustrations,
one to present the ensemble of the building with the adjacent belfry
(Fig. 13), the other to exhibit the charming detail of the porch on
the west (Fig. 14).

In a treeless country, devoid of the rich bewilderment of a luxuriant
Nature, and moulded on a scale which would mock the more ambitious
creations of human effort and is everywhere present to the eye,
such a jewel in stone as St. Saba and many another Armenian temple
are seen at an advantage which they would scarcely possess in Western
landscapes. Planted on the rough hillsides, overlooking vast expanses
of plain and mountain, winding river and lonely lake, they offer
at once a contrast to the bleakness of Nature and a quiet epitome
of her startling forms. Take this church as an example of the most
finished workmanship; what a pleasure to turn from the endless crop of
chaotic boulders to the even surface of these walls of faced masonry
which the dry climate preserves ever fresh, to the sharply chiselled
stone-work of the elaborate mouldings and bands of arabesques! Or,
if you extend the vision to comprise the distant scene about you, it
will often happen that the mountain masses tower one above another
like the roofs and gables by your side, and culminate in the shape
of a dome with a conical summit which repeats these outlines, like
a reflection, against the sky.

St. Saba, although created through the munificence of a Georgian
atabeg, is probably the work of an Armenian architect, and may
certainly be counted as an example of the Armenian style. If we may
trust a mutilated inscription in the interior, which has been in part
deciphered by Brosset, the present church was built by the Atabeg
Sargis, the son of Beka, who flourished between 1306 and 1334; and,
if we could only be certain of the signification of the four numeral
letters which are plainly seen on the face of the wall at one side
of the window of the western porch, we should perhaps be able to fix
the exact date. Dubois, indeed, supposes that it was constructed
by Manuchar, brother of the last of the atabegs, Kuarkuareh, who
fought with such valour against the Turks. But Dubois is relying
upon what he terms "constant tradition," and Brosset cautions us
against accepting anything that he has written about Safar. One would
certainly not have thought that such a well-instructed traveller, as
was Dubois, could have mistaken a monument of the fourteenth century
for a production of the later years of the sixteenth; and personally
I should be inclined to attribute the edifice to a period at least
as early as the fourteenth century. [15]

August 30.--The Tartar who had accompanied us on the excursion to
Safar had fired my cousin with an account of some stag and big game
shooting which was to be found some four hours' journey from the
town. According to arrangement he made his appearance in the early
morning, and found my cousin already prepared. I had resolved to devote
the day to the town and outskirts, should our persecutors leave me
free. But I had no sooner reached the bridge from our encampment on
the bed of the river, in order to see my cousin on his way, than the
plans of both of us were arrested by the advent of Ivan the Terrible,
who rose from the cushions of a landau and summoned us to be seated at
his side. I need not devote space to a repetition of fresh annoyances,
since they had already almost reached their term. Was the departure of
Colonel Alander connected with our arrival, and had he gone to satisfy
himself about us at Abastuman? When at length we were able to see him
he greeted us kindly, and furnished me with all the information of
which I was in want. Let me therefore at once introduce the reader
to the town of Akhaltsykh and to the people who dwell therein.

The view of the place which I offer (Fig. 15) was taken on the road
to Akhalkalaki from the right bank of the river, some distance below
the bridge. Within the precincts of the town the camera was strictly
interdicted, although, since our tents were pitched just opposite the
fortress, we might well have sketched that old-fashioned stronghold
from memory when the canvas was closed for the night. The river is
flowing towards you through grassy meadows, which are verdant even
at this season, and which are being browsed by flocks of sheep and
goats. On the right bank, on the left of the picture, and stretching
across the middle distance to a promontory which is washed by the
stream, lies the modern town with its gardens and substantial houses
(Fig. 15, a); on the opposite shore, following the cliff from the
extreme right of the illustration, you have first the old town (b),
then the fortress (c), and last the gorge (d).

The inhabitants of Akhaltsykh are censused at 15,000--at the time
of our visit the registered figure was 15,120, although the latest
tabulated statistics which Colonel Alander was able to show me gave
a total of 15,914 for 1891. This total was divided in the following
manner, according to religion and race: Gregorian Armenians, 9620;
Catholic Armenians, 2875; Georgians and Russians, excluding the
garrison, 782; Roman Catholics, 97; and 2540 Jews. I cannot help
thinking that the proportion of Armenians is excessive, and that
the governor has included among those of the Catholic persuasion a
considerable number of Armenian Catholics who are of Georgian race. At
Kutais I had been informed by a Roman Catholic priest that I should
find among the communion of the Armenian Catholics at Akhaltsykh many
Georgians whose ancestors had been devout Catholics and had become
united to the Armenian Catholics, as the nearest Catholic Church,
when the Georgian Church followed the Greek in cutting off relations
with Rome. The Georgian kings forbade them to hold their services in
Georgian, which had been their practice previously. These men were no
doubt the converts of the old Roman Catholic missions; it is known that
at the commencement of the thirteenth century the kings of Georgia were
in correspondence with the popes, and that these communications and the
despatch of missionaries to Georgia were continued in the following
century. [16] The published statistics of 1886 give the number of
Georgians as 2730 souls, and evidently include the large majority of
them among the Roman Catholics. It is therefore probable that both
lists fall into error, and that of the two the published table is the
more reliable in all that concerns distinction of race. I append it in
a footnote, [17] and have only to add in this connection that in both
lists the number of males exceeds that of females, and that for this
reason the totals are in general too small. In Colonel Alander's list
the male population amounts to 8335, in the published list to 8480
souls. The women must be at least as numerous as the men, although,
owing to Eastern prejudices, they are much more difficult to count.

In several senses the town of Akhaltsykh has undergone a revolution
during the course of the present century. At the commencement of
this period we are introduced to a flourishing city of the Ottoman
Empire, the capital of a pashalik, which was composed of six
sanjaks or administrative divisions, [18] in close communication
with the neighbouring cities of Kars and Erzerum and the emporium
of an extensive traffic in Georgian slaves. [19] At this time it is
said to have contained some 40,000 inhabitants, of whom the greater
portion were Mussulmans. [20] The site of the city was the same as
that of the old town of the present day, but the houses extended to
the immediate confines of the citadel. The whole was defended by moats
and a double row of walls with battlements and flanking towers. The
right bank of the river was embellished by numerous gardens, but there
does not appear to have been anything like a town upon this side. The
citadel was remarkable for its beautiful mosque, with an imposing
minaret more than 130 feet high. This minaret, like the mosque,
was built of blocks of hewn stone; and, so solid was its structure,
that it suffered little damage during the Russian bombardment,
although hit by no less than seven cannon balls. Such was Akhaltsykh
prior to its conquest by the Russians under Paskevich in 1828. [21]
The conquerors introduced far-reaching changes, of which the evidence
remains to the present time. They razed a portion of the town in the
vicinity of the fortress, which had furnished cover to the Turks in
the desperate attempt which they subsequently made to recapture their
old stronghold. The outer walls of the city were either demolished
or fell into ruin and disappeared. The mosque of the citadel was
converted into a Russian church and shorn of its minaret. [22] A
new town was founded on the right bank of the river and assigned to
Armenian colonists. The Mussulman population emigrated into Turkey;
and Akhaltsykh, which received a large body of Armenian immigrants
from Kars and Erzerum, became practically a Christian town. The native
inhabitants who were Christians erected belfries near their churches
and heard with joy the sound of Christian bells. But it would seem that
no great measure of prosperity attended this new birth. The immigrants
were bent on doing business and opening shops; only those among them
who were agriculturists did well. Commerce declined owing to the
inclusion of the town within the frontier line of the Russian customs
and the consequent interruption of relations with the neighbouring
cities in the south. The traffic in slaves was, of course, abolished,
and no considerable industry took its place. Akhaltsykh was shut up
in her corner of Asia; for the impracticable barrier of the border
ranges walls her off from the sea. Still the fact that the place was
a frontier fortress of the Russian Empire must have been productive of
at least a local trade. In 1833 the population appears to have numbered
only 11,000 souls; [23] but it probably increased from that date, year
by year. When Kars came into the permanent possession of the Russians,
the newly-acquired fortress in part supplanted Akhaltsykh; and the
progressive decline of the Turkish Empire has further contributed to
relieve the Government of the necessity of providing the last-named
stronghold with modern fortifications. At the time of my visit it
was evident that the town was declining and losing importance year by
year. I questioned several of the better-informed among the inhabitants
as to the cause of this unhappy state of things. "You have long enjoyed
the blessings of security," I observed, "both for property and life;
yet in place of a steadily increasing prosperity I see nothing but
signs of impoverishment and falling-off." As usual in the East, I
received several answers; but all were unanimous in declaring that
the principal reason was the depopulation of the surrounding country,
owing to the persistent emigration of the Mussulmans and the want
of colonists to take their place. Another cause, they said, was the
decline in military importance to which I have already referred.

The modern town on the right bank was nearest to our encampment;
may I therefore commence the account of what we saw at Akhaltsykh
with a stroll through its garden-lined streets? The houses are nice
little one-storeyed dwellings, some built of brick, others of stone. A
feature were the quaint little spouts to carry off the rain-water,
shaped at the ends to resemble dragons' heads. I have already spoken
of the "cherry-coloured roofing"--an effect which we discovered
was due to no more interesting process than a coat of paint applied
to corrugated iron. In a similar manner the roof of a church would
be tinted a cool green, and the combination of these hues with the
rich foliage was extremely pleasing to the eye. Where the scattered
tenements collect together and you reach the business quarter, here
and there a modern shop may be seen; but the handicrafts for which
Akhaltsykh is in some degree famous are still carried on in those
brick-built booths with their shadowed recesses which constitute
the little world of the Eastern artificer, at once his workshop and
the mart for his wares. We examined some of the productions of the
workers in silver without being tempted to buy. We were made aware
of the existence of a silk industry for which the raw material is
brought from Georgia. We visited the schools and conversed with the
masters; but the scholars were making holiday. Akhaltsykh possesses
two important schools, the one belonging to the Armenian community,
the other a Russian State school. That of the Armenians provides
education to some 300 boys and youths, and to a still larger number
of girls. Both the Gregorian Armenians and the Catholics attend
this establishment; religious instruction is imparted to the members
of either communion by teachers of their own persuasion in separate
classes. We were told that the yearly income amounted to 14,000 roubles
(£1400), exclusive of what was received from the girls; and that this
sum included the receipts of the theatre which is attached to this
enterprising school. The Russian institution boasts of 300 scholars,
of whom 75 per cent are Armenians; it does not possess a branch
for girls. On the other hand, it indulges in the modern fashion of
technical instruction, a side which does not appear to be cultivated
in the Armenian school. Its staff consists of fifteen teachers; a fee
of twelve roubles (£1:4s.) a year is levied, but many poor pupils are
admitted free. A few boarders are received, whose parents live at a
distance; and I may here remark that, except in cases which I shall
endeavour to specify, all the schools of which I shall make mention
in the following pages are practically day-schools. We were taken to
see the churches--commonplace edifices--of which the Armenians, with
so many examples of noble architecture about them, ought really to be
ashamed. The largest of them is called the cathedral, and belongs to
the Gregorians; there is also, not far from it, an Armenian Catholic
church. West of the cathedral on the hillside--it appears in my
illustration--we were shown a second church belonging to the Gregorian
community; but I do not remember its name. It was at Akhaltsykh that
we were first impressed by the custom of the Armenians to kiss the
ground when they face the altar in prayer. Such abject prostration in
the dust we had never before witnessed in any Christian church. It was
Oriental; it was pathetic--the gesture of a poor raya at the feet of
his savage lord.... Last of all we were shown the Court of Justice,
where a resident magistrate and visiting judges from Tiflis dispense
the law behind a barrier of baize-covered tables beneath a life-size
portrait of the Tsar. And that is what we saw of the modern town of
Akhaltsykh; I doubt whether there is much more to be seen.

The old town on the left bank presents a striking contrast to its
young rival across the water. You gain the bridge and pause for a
moment to follow the many-channelled river threading the banks of
yellow pebbles in its bed; flowing through a landscape of wild and
bare hills, which streams with the garish daylight of the East. The
road mounts the slope of the opposite cliff or convexity, which, a
little further west, joins the more abrupt ridge of crag and precipice
crowned by the battlements of the fortress. In this cliff, with its
swelling shapes, soft soil and irregular hummocks, the Armenians have
discovered a burrowing-ground exactly suited to their requirements;
the gaping apertures of chimneys and windows threaten to engulf
the guileless traveller who walks, unwitting, between the houses up
the hillside. No vegetation relieves the monotony of the constant
hues of ochre, and the tiers of clay and stone which represent the
larger tenements mingle naturally with the stone-strewn surface of
the friable earth. We saw two churches; one is administered by the
Armenian Catholics, the other, which is situated a little above the
first, is a Russian Orthodox church. Besides these larger buildings
there are two chapels or prayer-houses, which scarcely attain the
dignity of a church. These belong to the Gregorians, and we were told
that the Roman Catholics have a small chapel within the precincts
of the old town. But what interested us most was the Jewish quarter
with its two spacious synagogues. We admired the simplicity of these
airy chambers--in the middle the pulpit, the benches disposed around;
and we pictured to ourselves the eager faces of the congregation,
upturned from those benches to the grave preacher and mobile to
every turn of his discourse. The Jew is a rare creature upon the
tableland of Armenia; he finds it difficult to exist by the side
of the Armenian, who is his rival in his own peculiar sphere. [24]
There is a saying that in cleverness a Jew is equal to two Greeks,
a single Armenian to two Jews.

The community gathered round us and almost filled the synagogue, in
which we sat and rested for a considerable space. Two distinct types of
physiognomy were represented; on the one hand the fat, florid cheeks
and thick lips which are so characteristic of the coarser strain of
Jew, on the other the cavernous features, wrinkled skin, aquiline nose
and penetrating eyes which are the monument of the ancient refinement
of the Jewish race. When we contrasted the destitution and even the
misery of this quarter with the air of prosperity which the synagogue
displayed, it was evident that the community were undergoing a period
of adversity, and we enquired the reasons of this decline. They
attributed their fallen state to the competition of the Armenians;
the Armenians, they said, were good workers and a great people,
the Jews few in numbers and isolated. There was nothing left for the
poor Jew but to tramp round the villages, carrying his goods upon his
back. They must emigrate, they were emigrating.... Alas! we thought, to
what distant land across the mountains, across the sea, shall the poor
Jew wander out? How shall he escape the dangers of the way, with the
hand of the Government against him, with hatred and contempt dogging
his weary steps? And the Christianity by our side appeared detestable
to us, doubly odious by its want of every Christian virtue and by the
mummery of its gaudy symbols and vulgar shows. The Jew carries with
him the vastness of Asia, the sublimity of the worship of a single
God; may the nations be fertilised by the powerful intellect and
their religions elevated by the high conceptions of the Hebrew race!

The fortress, with which the old town naturally communicates, was to
us strictly forbidden ground. Although I urged its worthlessness as
a reason why we should be permitted to visit it, Captain Taranoffsky
would on no account give way. The mosque, the present church, to which
I have already alluded, was of course all that we wanted to see. It
stands on the northern side of the fortress enclosure; the base of
the minaret still remains and is crowned by a little cupola to which
is affixed a cross. An inscription on the gate by which the court
is entered gives as the date of construction the year of the Hegira
1166 (A.D. 1752-53). [25] Dubois informs us that the architect was
an Italian; [26] but Brosset, who says that it was built upon the
model of St. Sophia, is silent upon this point. For the character
of the interior as it existed before the Russian occupation I may
refer the reader to Dubois. The fountain in the centre of the court
is supplied by an underground aqueduct which conveys the waters of
a limpid spring, some seven miles off. [27]

From the old town we slowly made our way back to the encampment,
enjoying the scene, observing the passers-by. Here and there we would
meet a group of Russian soldiers in their white tunics, taking their
evening stroll. Their large frames, fair hair, shaven faces and coarse
features contrasted with the neatness of the Oriental type. Their
little eyes, deeply set behind the flat nose, were answered on every
side by the glances that proceeded from the large and lustrous eyes
of the Armenian race. The sheep and cattle were winding into the town
from the meadows, each animal finding its stable for itself.



CHAPTER IV

TO AKHALKALAKI


The distance by road between Akhaltsykh and Akhalkalaki is 66 versts,
or nearly 44 miles. The post divides the journey into four stages,
of which the shortest is 9, the longest 12 miles. The charges, which,
I think, were uniform, whenever we were able to avail ourselves of
posting facilities, were three kopeks or farthings per verst for each
horse supplied, and twelve kopeks for the carriage between each two
stations, said to be a charge for greasing the wheels. In addition,
a tax of ten kopeks for the whole journey is levied upon each horse,
the proceeds of which are due to Government by the contractors who
supply the teams. A victoria may be procured in the larger centres,
and for this luxury there is, I believe, no extra charge. Four horses
will usually be harnessed to it abreast, and an equal number to the
luggage cart.

August 31.--At ten o'clock we left Akhaltsykh on our journey southwards
and followed the tripping river on the right bank. It was the same
road we had taken for a short distance on our way to Safar, the same
aspect of the picturesque site of the town (Fig. 15). Between us and
the stream lay the stretch of meadow where the sheep and cattle of
the townspeople browse--a grassy plain set in the barren landscape,
a rare incident in an Eastern scene. Beyond the water the ground rose
in gentle undulations of bank and hummock and hill, the parched and
friable surface yellow with stubble or with the exhausted growth of
weeds. In the background, some five miles distant, stretched the
spurs of the border ranges, scantily wooded along the summits and
upon the slopes. On our other hand, towards the south, all prospect
was excluded by barren hummocks of crumbling soil.

We had covered about 2 1/2 miles, when before us lay the junction of
the rivers, of the river of Akhaltsykh with the Kur or Ardahan river,
for it is known under both names. From their nearer margins to our
road extended a stretch of alluvial ground, filling the angle between
the two streams. Their further banks are high, and are bordered by
hummock hills, a feature most pronounced on the bank of the Kur. The
united waters break through the soft hummocks and become engulfed
in the rocky barrier of the border ranges--a bold and lofty wall of
mountain, partially covered with wood. In the hollow is situated a
village with trees and pleasant verdure, an oasis in the sterile
landscape around. We were told that its name was Tsinis and that
it was inhabited by Mussulmans; beyond it, through the glasses,
we discerned the road to Tiflis entering the jaws of the gorge.

Skirting the barren convexities which closed the view on our right
hand, and upon slightly higher ground, we gained the left bank of the
Kur and proceeded along it for a short space up stream. Leaving on our
right a small Armenian village, we then descended to the river-bed;
strips of vegetables had been planted along the water, which is here
crossed by a strong wooden bridge. The stream was flowing towards us,
newly escaped from the narrows, where it is confined by rocky cliffs
of forbidding aspect, harbouring a scanty growth of stunted bush. A
few poplars lined its immediate margin, and a slender fringe of
green. It had a width of some 30 yards at the mouth of the passage,
a rapid current, charged with soil and tawny, which divides into
several channels and forms a broad and pebbly bed as it issues upon
the open plain. After crossing the bridge to the right bank, we passed
a Mussulman village where the women were sifting the season's grain.

Our course for the rest of the day lay on this bank of the river;
the road leaves the plain and dives into the narrows, where walls of
rock enclose the swirling stream. The Kur is following the base of
the border ranges, piercing the spurs where they meet the outskirts
of the Dochus Punar. In places it has a width of some 50 yards or
more, and the eye cannot penetrate the dull depths; but more often
it is a narrow and shallow torrent, wreathing and foaming over the
rocks. On the left bank, as we passed a break in the mountains, it
is joined by the clearer waters of a little tributary, the Uravel,
which wound below us at Safar.

The weather was delightful; a cool air, a brilliant sun, a few
white clouds floating in the blue. Eagles, a small species, circled
against the heaven or alighted on grisly crags. The sides of these
low mountains are composed of a lava, dry and barren, which in
places is disposed in layers of conglomerate, like the masonry of a
Cyclopean wall. We passed the seventh verst-stone from Akhaltsykh,
having covered over 4 1/2 miles. A short space further and we were
opposite a Georgian village, placed on the hillside of the left bank.

Between the thirteenth and sixteenth verst-stones (8 1/2 and 10 1/2
miles) the range opens, and is seen, beyond a plain of about half a
mile in width, pursuing a direction from south-east towards north-west
on the right bank. On our left hand we passed a few miserable houses
which, we ascertained, were inhabited by Kurds. We entered a country of
bleak hummocks, where barren and yellow hills closed the view. Among
such surroundings lies the posting station of Rustav, 18 versts or
12 miles along our road. By half-past twelve o'clock we had changed
horses, having arrived a quarter of an hour before.

The characteristics of the landscape between Rustav and Khertvis
may be summarised in a few words. For awhile the bare, low mountains
again border the river on either side, at no great distance from the
shore. But they tend to circle in amphitheatres and to leave a respite
of even ground. Little rills descend from the heights above the valleys
and give birth to verdure and shade. The further we proceed, these
oases increase in extent, enhancing the contrast between sterile,
lonely walls of rock, and luscious gardens where bright birds flit
through the scene.

Thus on the left bank, shortly after leaving Rustav, the eye was
greeted by such welcome relief. A high ridge of grey rock descended
to the river, but rich verdure clothed its base. The lower slopes
were terraced with plantations of Indian corn, and among the stubble
herds of heifers grazed the sweet herbs. Rivulets started from the
very summit, where a grove of trees was outlined on the sky. The
falling water was diffused into a network of tiny channels, which fed
the fertile earth. Such were the outskirts of a Mussulman village,
of which the name is Gobet. The foreground, on our side of the river,
was strewn with boulders of volcanic rock. Large lizards darted from
cranny to cranny, and brilliant birds with blue breasts and yellow
collars took wing at our approach.

The note, thus early sounded, attained increasing volume in the
valleys of Akhashen, of Aspinja and of Khertvis. The first is situated
some five miles from Rustav, and takes its name from a Mussulman
village on the left bank. [28] Akhashen is a characteristic Eastern
village; the tenements are built in terraces up the slope, scarcely
distinguished from the soil. We admired the bold site and pleasant
setting of garden; at our feet, in the fuller light of this open
circus, the Kur sent flashes of blue, reflecting the bright zenith,
from the transparent surface of its yellow stream. On our left hand
we recognised the familiar outline of the border ranges stretching
away from south to north.

Next, Aspinja lay before us, an open valley, a bower of trees, water
trickling from the hillside and collected in little channels which
seamed the floor of fertile earth. [29] We were skirting the gardens
of two Mussulman villages, and some of the inhabitants happened to
pass by. They looked unhappy; we spoke to one of their number and
elicited the usual quantity of doubtful truths. It is certain that
all the Mussulmans of the Kur valley are discontented; and these two
communities were preparing to emigrate. Mention was made to us of a
recent ordinance of the Russian Government under which they would be
required to serve in the Russian army, and perhaps to fight against
the forces of Islam. [30] Aspinja, which we soon reached, is also
inhabited by Mussulmans. The slopes above the village are planted with
orchards, and every corner of the little plain is cultivated. Indian
corn, tobacco and the stubble of cereals were on all sides present to
the eye. It is some distance beyond the oasis to the posting station,
a stage of 16 versts (10 1/2 miles) from Rustav.

It was nearly three o'clock when we arrived at this station; luscious
water-melons grew in the little garden and relieved the dulness
of our mid-day meal. But the smiling landscape lay behind us, long
out-distanced; and we were again in the fork of a barren gorge. Low
ridges break off to the river in rocky cliffs, which descend to
a narrow margin of level ground. From the valley of Aspinja these
uninteresting walls are continued to the outskirts of Khertvis.

Such was the monotonous scene through which the Russian road wound
during the course of our afternoon's drive. Beside us raced the river;
we faced the current; at short intervals large, loose stones were
disposed in the shape of circles in the shallows at no great distance
from the shore. We were told that in winter fish are caught within
these circles by means of traps placed at opposite sides. In summer the
Georgian fisherman trusts to his casting-net, a laborious process which
was being pursued by one of the fraternity for the reward of a few
small fish. On the opposite bank we were impressed by the proportions
of a cliff of lava, of which the face was disposed throughout in
spheroidal blocks rising immediately from the water's edge.

At last the landscape opened, the most extensive of these oases,
the fertile valley of Khertvis. It is heralded from afar by a line
of orchards and by gardens terraced up the slope. A well-planned and
elaborate system of aqueducts and channels dispense water on every
side. Then the road rises up a hillside and commands a startling
scene. Below you, crowning a crag at the confluence of two rivers,
a well-preserved example of a mediæval castle on a large scale lifts
its towers against a background of lofty cliffs (Fig. 16). A village
cowers at the foot of the fortress, almost hidden by dense trees. Such
is the castle and township of Khertvis, situated at the junction of
the river of Akhalkalaki with the Kur. The road follows the right
bank of the first of these streams, and the station is some distance
from the town. We were obliged to leave the carriage and entrust our
effects to the villagers, who carried them down the steep sides of the
high cliff. It was six o'clock; we crossed the river of Akhalkalaki
by a little footbridge, and pitched our tents on the floor of a shady
garden, not far from the margin of the Kur.

A motley group of people collected about us; of what race, of what
faith? Mussulmans! We expected and received the answer, although there
was little except our knowledge of the checkered history of these
valleys to indicate their adhesion to Islam. The owner of the garden
bore the name of Bin Ali Bey Vishnadzi, and was of mixed Georgian and
Turkish blood; he stands in the centre of my illustration, in Cossack
dress, with his cap on one side (Fig. 17). His cast of countenance is
Georgian, and the hair is somewhat fair; yet his uncle, Hasan Bey,
has the Turkish type. His mixed ancestry is no exception among the
villagers, and they all call themselves Turks. Their number was given
to me as 1500, with 200 houses; the Russian census, which classes them
as Georgians, bears out these figures as approximately correct. [31]
Among them are a handful of Armenian Christians; the old man with a
staff, seated in the foreground of my picture, was our guide from the
road to our pleasant camping-ground, and belonged to the Armenian race.

If reliance can be placed on the figure given by Dubois, the population
of Khertvis has almost doubled since 1833. [32] However this may be,
the township is now in full decline; misery was written in the faces
of a great part of the inhabitants, of whom many were preparing
to leave Russian soil. As we passed through the streets, between
the tumble-down houses, we observed that some of the shops had been
permanently closed. Is it their unfitness to flourish under systematic
government? Or the policy of the Russian Government to discourage
Mussulmans, with their Turkish sympathies, or some special causes
which we were unable to ascertain? Our stay was too short to sift fact
from fable; and a rigid reticence was observed by the leading people,
who were evidently under the influence of fear. [33]

The river of Akhalkalaki, or the Toporovan river, as it is sometimes
called, enters the valley from a little north of east. It appeared to
us to contain as much water as the Kur, into which it swirled. [34]
The united streams for a short space pursue a westerly direction until
they settle to a normal course towards the north. The affluent washes
the northern side of the castled rock, which protects a tongue of
alluvial ground at its southern base. On this land is situated the
little township, embowered in leafy groves. The castle dates from a
remote period; and even the present structure is ancient, although
it belongs to different epochs. The citadel with the little chapel,
occupying the summit of the perpendicular rock, is a work of the
middle of the fourteenth century, when the Georgian atabegs were the
lords of the land; the remaining portion, with its several towers,
is more modern. [35] We ourselves were unable to visit the edifice,
which we were never tired of admiring from the river-bed. Behind
it soar the walls of volcanic material, where the younger have been
forced through the older lavas and have produced fantastic contortions
of the rocks. [36]

September 1.--From Khertvis we made an excursion up the valley of
the Kur to the crypts of Vardzia, situated on the left bank, some
nine miles above the confluence with the Toporovan. For the greater
part of the journey, which is performed on ponies, you follow the
right bank of the river, along a path which in many places becomes a
mere track. We had soon left the shady groves behind us, our clever
little ponies often obliged to pick their footsteps, where an outcrop
of rock or blocks of fallen stone obstructed the margin of level
ground. On either bank, beyond this margin, high hills enclose the
narrow valley; here and there with naked crags, more generally with
stone-strewn slopes, harbouring a scanty growth of parched grass. No
oasis, not a sign of a human being, no visible animal life. The
landscape streaming with light, and the brawling Kur breaking over
the boulders which encumber its bed. But the climate was delicious,
and the blue zenith was flaked with luminous cloud.

After over an hour's ride in this confined valley, we reached the
ruins of a fort, or small castle, and issued upon more open ground. The
valley expands on the right bank of the river in an irregular series of
hill and dale. We passed the rush-grown banks of a little lake, so blue
and clear that it lay like a jewel on the waste. It is called Sülük,
or lake of leeches; and Hasan Bey, our guide, told us that leeches
abound. In a hollow on the further side of this lake we came upon the
gardens of the Mussulman village of Margistan. Beyond this oasis, and
beyond the open ground about us, we could see the valley contracting,
the river flowing through a gorge, overhung by perpendicular cliffs;
and we were shown our path climbing the side of the cliff and entering
the jaws of the gorge.

We had crossed or skirted the volcanic circus, with the lake in
the extinct crater, of which Dubois has furnished us with a learned
account. [37] Before us lay the defile through the gigantic dam of
volcanic mountain which has opened, as if by miracle, to the puny
stream.

Soon we are winding along that path, about at mid-height of the cliffs,
the river brawling far beneath us, a tortuous thread of foam. It is a
remarkable scene, a freak of Nature on a large scale, of which none of
us, at least, has seen the like. The volcanic layers have been split
by vertical fissures, and huge masses of conglomerate rock tower high
above us, almost separated from the mountain side. Their masonry
of cemented blocks gives them the appearance of castles, the work
of a more than human hand; they threaten to tumble headlong into the
valley, a fate to which some have already succumbed. They remind me of
the Devil's city of Montpellier-le-Vieux, in the Cevennes country--a
mere sprite's village by their side. The dark colour of the rocks,
the gloom of the passage, the height of the cliffs, soaring from the
twilight in the hollow to jagged summits some 500 to 600 feet above
the gulf, all contribute to enhance the impression of mystery and to
suggest the presence of a prince of fiends.

Opposite us, on the left bank, the bold outline of the fish-backed
ridge is crowned with the ruinous remains of masonry, barely
distinguished from the rock. A long line of crumbling edifices
marks the site of a considerable fortress; in the depths beneath,
at the foot of the perpendicular mountain, a wall descends the last
slope to the margin of the water and cuts off access to the valley
from the river-bed. A few miserable huts are seen in the hollow:
who could inhabit such a weird and lonely spot? Kurds, they say,
as though they were no human beings--a lingering remnant of Turkish
times. The ruins are the relics of Zeda Tmogvi, a stronghold famous
in the history of these lands. [38]

Beyond this gorge the valley opens and resumes the more normal
character of a torrent bordered by lofty hillsides. The further you
proceed, the floor of the hollow is covered by richer verdure, while
a grove of fruit trees spreads shade. Are they wild or were they
planted? The extreme loneliness of the scene was scarcely broken by
a sign of human life. We forded the Kur, and, after winding through
these orchards of the river margin, doubled a projecting spur of
the valley wall. We were at the foot of a perpendicular cliff which
displayed irregular rows of gaping caves at a considerable height above
the river-bed. These grottoes have been cut in the face of a layer
of volcanic rock of extraordinary smoothness and of flesh-coloured
hue. The layer does not extend to the summit of the cliff, which is
composed of a conglomerate with greyish tints (Fig. 18).

It was Vardzia, a troglodyte city of a remote antiquity, which the
Georgians and Armenians believe to have been founded in the twelfth
century by the father of Queen Thamar, and to have been completed by
that princess. They say it was a favourite residence of Thamar; you
are shown the cave in which she resided during winter, the terrace
where she spent the summer days, the chapel where her brilliant
court assembled, even, it is affirmed, the tomb where her remains
were placed. This last object had evidently escaped the knowledge
of the resident priest, although Dubois has sought to establish
its identity with a curious structure which he found in the little
sacristy on the inner side of the church. [39] Vardzia is, in fact,
the city of Thamar, just as every castle in Georgia is the castle of
Thamar and every antiquity a relic of the great queen.

We picked our way among the boulders up the steep side of the cliff
until it became a perpendicular wall. There commence the irregular
horizontal rows of caves, stretching eastwards, where the escarpments
are most abrupt. A narrow path ends at a polygonal structure of
which the roof has fallen off. This edifice is either modern or has
been extensively restored; it forms a gateway and seals the approach
to the caves. The gate passed, you stand on a level footway, partly
hollowed in the rock and partly supported by rude masonry, which takes
advantage of the inequalities of the cliff-side. In the steepest places
this footway is tunnelled through the rock, and it can, of course,
be barricaded at any point. Thus it would appear that Vardzia is
inaccessible to siege, at least by any of the usual means. But one
remembers that Timur employed an ingenious contrivance to reduce the
Georgians, when they fled to their caves. From the heights above
he suspended wooden stages, from which his warriors leapt into
the crowded grottoes or scattered fire among the panic-stricken
foe. Vardzia itself is said to have been taken by this conqueror,
by what methods I do not know.

We were met by an old archimandrite and his deacon, the only
inhabitants of this long-deserted place (Fig. 19). They are supported
by the occasional contributions of pilgrims, who visit the church in
great numbers at certain times. Both were sunk to an equal degree in
abysmal ignorance, and the deacon was so shy in manner and movement,
he seemed a half-tamed creature of the rocks. I asked them the meaning
of the name Vardzia, which, according to Dubois, signifies, both in
Georgian and Armenian, the fortress of the roses. They derived it from
zia, which means uncle, and vard, I am here. They stoutly maintained
this extraordinary derivation, in face of the doubt which we displayed.

We passed along the footway for some distance, with grottoes above us
and beneath. Then we came to an imposing vaulted balcony, of which the
inner side and roof are hollowed in the rock, and the other parts are
built up with masonry. The footway forms the floor of this balcony,
which looks important when seen from below. The vaulted ceiling is
adorned with old frescos, which are in a state of advanced decay. A
doorway opens from the inner wall to a spacious cave--an oblong area
with an arched roof, disposed in the familiar shape of a simple nave
and apse. This church has a length of 46 feet 3 inches and a breadth
of 27 feet. For decoration it depends upon richly-coloured frescos,
some of which may still be seen. In the apse are depicted Mary and
the infant Christ; on the Virgin's right is placed a female aureoled
figure, clad in white and with embroidered bands. On a pilaster, left
of the apse, you discern the features of a woman whose dark complexion
impresses the eye. It seems an Egyptian type; she has been honoured
with an aureole; the old priest declared the portrait to be Queen
Thamar's, but he was almost certainly in error. In the panel of the
arch, which lies beyond, a king and queen are represented, aureoled,
their hands extended towards a stage upon which are seated the Virgin
and Child. An angel is flying towards the Virgin, bearing an object
the nature of which we were unable to ascertain. A passage leads from
the church to an adjoining chamber, in which the articles of value
are preserved. Dubois informs us that above this church, and as it
were a second storey, a second temple has been hewn of equal size. A
subterranean passage connects it with the sacristy; and this same
passage tunnels the cliff and debouches at the caves where the wine of
the city was made and stored, and which are situated in an adjoining
gorge. Dubois, who discovered this passage, found it blocked with
débris and in disuse; its existence was not mentioned to ourselves.

Beyond the church we were taken to the apartments of Queen Thamar,
which are situated further to the east. On our way we were shown a
cave which must have served as a bath-chamber; an oblong well has been
sunk into the floor. In the recess behind, a broad drain is visible,
said to be the receptacle of the water-vessels. We also noticed a
grotto which displayed a number of hewn pigeon-holes, and which had
probably served the requirements of a chemist's shop.

The queen's grotto is a spacious vaulted chamber, 32 feet 4 inches
in length, 20 feet 1 inch in breadth, and some 14 feet in height. A
doorway gives access to this interior, and there is a small aperture
or window on either side. On the opposite wall, and towards its right
corner, you see a communicating apartment of much smaller dimensions;
and to the left of this recess has been hewn an arched niche with
a depth of over 4 feet. Several smaller niches adorn the chamber,
of which a feature is a low divan, cut at the foot of each wall, a
continuous ledge only 13 inches broad. On the right of the entrance,
in the wall which runs at right angles, is situated another small
apartment, lit by an aperture on its outer side. It may be that these
smaller chambers served as sleeping-places; the ingenious Dubois
boldly assumes that the first was a wardrobe and the second a kind
of boudoir. In the floor are several hollow spaces, as usual in these
caves. Above the grotto is situated the so-called summer apartment--an
open cave issuing upon a terrace from which a fine view is obtained.

But what impressed us more than the caves and their associations
was the solitude of the place, the sense of extreme remoteness--some
pulseless corner, as it seemed, of the living world. A torrent winding
between grave cliffs, covered with a scanty growth of parched herbage;
no runnel diffusing life, and by our side the precious water collected
in a cistern with a floor of cement. Where are the vineyards which
must once have clothed the lower slopes, protected by the walls of
the volcanic valley against the rigorous climate of a region over
4000 feet above the sea? Nature had blighted the scene with layers
of lava and cinders; man reclaimed the spot with laborious patience,
until the work perished under the curse of his fellow-man. But what
enemy would penetrate to this hidden valley, concealed behind the most
inaccessible zone of the border mountains, defended by the Devil's
gorge? Perhaps the appearance of the opposite cliff affords a clue to
this mystery. It is higher than the summit which towers immediately
above you; the outline is horizontal and the edge flat. It is in fact
an exposed rim of the great tableland, broken here by the cañon of
the Kur. A series of plains extend hence to the furthest skirts of
Persia, vague divisions of a single elevated stage. [40]

The afternoon was far advanced as we retraced our steps to our
encampment, and night already rested in the gorge. We were disappointed
of a photograph of its solemn horrors, and made our way in silence
beneath the twilight, following the murmuring stream. On the following
day we proceeded to Akhalkalaki up the valley of the Toporovan. The
posting station of Abazbek, 14 versts from Aspinja, is situated some
distance up the valley, and the stage between it and Akhalkalaki is one
of 18 versts or 12 miles. It was between these points that we travelled
for the first time in a brichka, or springless posting cart. The drive
occupied about three hours, and the road, which was well constructed,
mounted continuously, following and fronting the swirling current of
the Toporovan. The gardens of Khertvis extend for some distance beyond
the castle, and a portion of the township lies upon this side. Then
the margin of the river contracts to the verge of disappearance,
and stony cliffs, with an elevation of about 200 feet, border the
water on either bank. It is in fact a deep crack in the surface of
the plateau, upon which the town of Akhalkalaki stands. Not a village
did we pass, or any oasis among the rocks; it was indeed a bleak
scene. But the sky, flaked in places with wandering white clouds,
was intensely clear and blue, and the foaming river refreshed the
scene. After passing the low edifice of the castle of Akhalkalaki,
which lines the edge of the cliff on the left bank, we crossed to
that bank by a wooden bridge and wound slowly up the hillside. It was
evident that we had arrived almost at the head of the formation, the
point where the watercourse descends from the surface of the plateau
and eats deeply into the volcanic soil. It was almost night when we
reached the level summit of the cliff and breathed the crisper air. A
place was found for our tents in an open space of the little town,
which is situated at an elevation of 5545 feet above the sea.



CHAPTER V

AT AKHALKALAKI


At Akhalkalaki we had reached a country which is peopled in
large preponderance by the Armenian race. The town is the centre
of an administrative division (ouezde), which is dependent upon
the Government of Tiflis. This division is partitioned into two
administrative districts, of which the most northerly takes its
name from the village of Baralet, on the way to Lake Tabizkhuro;
while the more southerly is called the district of Bogdanovka, a
Russian settlement on the road to Alexandropol. The population of the
division amounts to a total, according to the published statistics,
of 59,500 souls; or, according to the figures which were kindly
communicated to me by the Governor, of 66,000 souls. The numbers of
the Armenians are given in the first of these lists as over 42,000, a
proportion of seven-tenths of the whole; while in the Governor's list,
which, I presume, is the most recent, they are censused at 58,000,
a proportion of seven-eighths. I am inclined to place more reliance
on the total furnished by the Governor than upon his subdivision
according to race; and I shall conclude that the Georgians contribute
a sixth of the inhabitants and the Russian settlers something less
than a tenth. These figures do not comprise the town of Akhalkalaki,
which, out of a total population of something over 4000, contains
4000 Armenian inhabitants. [41]

Be they immigrants or aboriginal, the character of their surroundings
is in harmony with the instincts of their race. A vast and elevated
plain upon which the snow lies in winter and a southern sun shines. A
fertile volcanic soil, abounding in springs and favourable to cereals
of every kind. Measured from north-east to south-west, the plain of
Akhalkalaki has a length of nearly forty miles; [42] its latitudinal
extension may be gauged by the course of the Kur on the west, and,
on the east, by that of the stream which issues from Lake Madatapa
and skirts the outworks of the eastern meridional range. The plain is
situated at an altitude which ranges between 5500 and 7000 feet. The
soil, when exposed by the plough, is black in colour, or, perhaps, dark
chocolate, and reveals the influence of the lavas below. The extreme
evenness of the surface is due to the fluid nature of these lavas,
which streamed, at a comparatively recent period, from fissures at the
southern base of the Trialethian Mountains and from vents at other
points of the mountain girdle which encircles the flat expanse. On
the floor of the plain itself the effects of volcanic action are
visible in the forms of hummock and rounded hill. Volcanic emissions
have produced the lap-like enclosures which are the reservoirs of the
lonely lakes. Their waters are fed by springs from beneath the surface,
and by copious rains from the clouds of the Pontic region, which
fly the topmost bulwarks of the tableland and distil on the western
slopes of the meridional volcanic barrier, the limit on the east
of the even ground. From Agrikar to Karakach is the section of this
barrier along which this process of condensation is most pronounced;
the mountains are known by the natives under the collective name of
Mokri Gori, the wet mountains. The principal stream, besides the Kur,
is that which issues from Lake Toporovan, and, descending south, flows
through Lake Tuman. After emerging on the southern shore, it receives
an affluent from Lake Madatapa, and pursues a northerly course. Where
we arrived upon its margin, half an hour south of Akhalkalaki, it
was a nice flash of water, flowing slowly over the surface of the
plateau. Below the town it is joined on the left bank by a stream
which has descended from the northern slopes of the Chaldir Hills;
and further west, on the right bank, by the river of Samsar, which
brings the drainage of the north-easterly arm of the plain and flows
in a deeply eroded bed. [43]

At Akhalkalaki the Toporovan is bordered by lofty cliffs, a cañon or
trough which has the appearance of a sinuous crack in the surface of
the plain. Gaining the summit of either cliff, you stand on level
ground, with a flat or undulating country sweeping around you to
the distant limits of the mountain chains. You breathe a keener
air when you emerge from the narrow valley; the town is placed at a
little distance from the edge of the cliff which rises along the left
bank. But how present my reader with a picture of a settlement which is
nothing more than an agglomeration of one-storeyed, flat-roofed houses,
placed, as it were at random, on the floor of the plain? It seemed
ridiculous to focus the camera at such an insignificant object--the
flat roofs, with their covering of withered turf, repeating and
lifting the texture and colour of the ground. Moreover Akhalkalaki is a
fortress; the camera is interdicted--a happy thought in this particular
case. Fortress-spying would be a poor amusement in this country; like
the fleet of Spain, they are so extremely difficult to detect. The old
castle above the river has been restored and converted into a barrack;
a similar purpose is served by some stone buildings in the environs of
the town. I do not know that the god of war is otherwise represented;
but greater honour has been paid to the demigods of justice, and the
Governor remarked to me--what was indeed sufficiently evident--that
the prison on the outskirts was the only two-storeyed edifice in the
place. Just a house or two, including that of the Governor, had been
provided with a roofing of metal sheets, painted a pleasant red. But
all the tenements appeared well built, of solid stone masonry; and
the street or two which the place contains were certainly spacious,
although ill-maintained and deep in dust. When we arrived, we were
greeted by a chorus of the pariah dogs, as though we were entering
a purely Eastern town. Still there are a few modern shops, notably a
large drapery establishment, where the necessaries of civilised life
may be procured. A feature were the wooden hoods on the tops of the
houses, a feature not uncommon in the towns of Armenia; they serve
as screens to the apertures of the chimneys, and appear a dangerous
contrivance to European eyes. Such was our impression of the aspect
and character of Akhalkalaki, the new fortress. Vague tracks lead
away into the surrounding country, which is bare and bleak in the
immediate neighbourhood of the settlement.

In addition to the principal avenue of outside communication by
way of Akhaltsykh and the passage of Borjom, the town is connected
with Georgia by a road which crosses the Trialethian Mountains and
debouches by a short cut at the last-named place. We were shown this
road, where it mounts the cliff on the right bank of the river,
as we crossed to the left bank. Leaving Lake Tabizkhuro on the
right, it mounts to the spine of the system, which it crosses by
a pass of about 8000 feet. [44] Tiflis may no doubt be reached by
the valley of the Khram, but I have no information upon the nature
of the route. Metalled roads are scarce in these distant provinces;
it may surprise the reader to learn that the road we travelled over
from Akhaltsykh was only completed in 1892. During all those previous
years of Russian occupation the post was carried from the important
centre of Alexandropol to foreign countries along a stony track in
the valley of the Toporovan.

Akhalkalaki has belonged to Russia since the campaign of 1828, when
it was taken under Marshal Paskevich by assault. It was not the first
time that Russian troops had entered the fortress; it had fallen in
1812 to the arms of General Kutlerusky, who marched from Gori and took
the garrison by surprise. In the time of Paskevich the defenders were
a determined body of men, recruited from among the most warlike of the
inhabitants of these countries, and serving in their own land and under
their own chiefs. Flushed by the fall of Kars, the general appeared
before the place and summoned the Turkish commander to submit. His
emissaries received the reply that the women and children had been
removed, and that the men were determined to die at their posts. They
numbered 1000, with fourteen cannon; and they reminded the Russians of
the proverb that one soldier of the province of Akhaltsykh was equal
to two of Kars and three from Erivan. Red standards were displayed
on the walls, and, during the progress of the siege, the garrison was
heard making the responses to the mollah, who led their prayers from
the gallery of the minaret and who had himself sworn to share their
fate. A Cossack officer stepped forth and endeavoured to parley with
them; he fell, pierced by a number of bullets. No opposition was
offered to the establishment of the batteries; no attempt appears
to have been made to outwit the foe. The Russian cannon beat down
the walls, their rifle fire decimated the defenders, following them
from wall to wall. Paskevich then gave the order to cease firing,
and called upon them afresh to submit. The old answer was returned;
the assault was sounded; nor were the Cossacks appeased and the honour
of the defenders satisfied until six hundred of the men of Akhaltsykh
had eaten the dust. [45]

At the time of our visit Colonel Tarasoff was civil governor of the
town and administrative division; he received us with the utmost
courtesy. We would leave our tent to join his hospitable family
circle, to discuss the many interesting features of the country and
to drink endless glasses of delicious tea. We learnt that the road to
Akhaltsykh had been made under his directions; Greek workmen performed
the blasting and stone-cutting, while for the levelling forced labour
was employed. The road is the property of the Russian Government,
and horses are provided by contractors to carry the post. The
administration is conducted on a primitive but common-sense principle:
a head man in every village, responsible to a head of a group of
villages, who is again answerable to the Governor himself. Besides
police--among whom the Armenians are prominent, their fierce faces
belying the reputed meekness of the race--Colonel Tarasoff has a
force of Cossacks at his disposal; and it is of course open to him
to send for the troops of the district, should any special emergency
arise. In addition to the Governor, there is in each larger town a
resident judicial officer, who dispenses justice ex contractu as well
as ex delicto, and whose judgments are subject to revision at assize.

As usual in the Armenian provinces, the need of elementary education
is supplied from a double source. Foremost in the field are the
Armenians, with a separate organisation; the Russian State school
is not so well attended, and, in this province, is probably not so
well served. Yet the Russian principal impressed me as a capable and,
certainly, as a most amiable individual; he was a Georgian, speaking
Georgian as his native language; his wife and family affected the
Georgian dress. His pupils consisted of 150 boys and youths, all,
or almost all, Armenians. The school supplies a kind of secondary
education as well as the elementary course. Of this privilege to its
rival, the Armenian school was justly jealous; it is only allowed the
two primary classes, which the scholars complete in their twelfth
year. The roll consisted of 250 boys and no less than 300 girls. A
reading-room and library were attached to the institution, and it
was evident that the teachers were men of greater attainments than
are required by the kind of instruction they are supposed to dispense.

I sat with Colonel Tarasoff in his Court, a well-ordered building,
in which he is wont to reverse the procedure of his classical
prototypes. Enter to us an old turbaned Mohammedan; status, mollah of
doubtful fame. He has come to Akhalkalaki with the object of collecting
money wherewith to purchase sacred books. But only the chief mollah
has the right to take subscriptions for this purpose; and where is
the written authorisation in favour of this mendicant, bearing the
seal of the most holy man? Enough, that he cannot produce it; he must
desist from his collection. He must be silent: the next case is called.

Enter a roughly-clad Georgian peasant, a lean figure, a dejected
mien. He has been staying overnight at a village in the district, and
has been robbed of three cows. The Governor has given orders that they
must immediately be restored to him; two have been returned, he cannot
recover the third. Decided that the village itself must pay the full
equivalent; a look of delighted surprise lights the poor man's eyes.

Enter a Georgian of the middle class who impresses us as a stupid
fellow; but he brings a highly original plaint. It appears that
he has fallen out with his brother, and that they both occupy the
same house. They have separated their goods and do not speak to one
another. Complainant applies to the Governor to order his brother to
open a separate door. I can scarcely refrain from betraying my host
by a peal of laughter; he knits his brows and dismisses the case with
a volley of hard words.

Enter a young man, one of two brothers who live together and share a
common employ. It so happens that both have been summoned to perform
military service; may one of them be exempt? Supporters of families
are excused, and the conscription in Transcaucasia is as yet conducted
on a very small scale. Still the Colonel upholds the summons; the
service covers a short period, and will do both brothers good.



CHAPTER VI

PROSPECT FROM ABUL


East of the town of Akhalkalaki, which almost touches the long train
of the western slope, a bold mass of mountain features the landscape,
square-seated on the floor of the plateau (Fig. 20). It rises to a
height of nearly 11,000 feet; but this imposing altitude is shorn of
half its grandeur by the lofty levels of the adjacent plain (5500-6000
feet). Still the mountain overpowers all the surrounding outlines;
the summit overlooks the neighbouring heights. When we had issued
from the chasm of the Toporovan river and gained the surface of the
plateau, our first thought was to ascend this elevated viewing-stage,
and command the flat expanse, bordered by dim and distant ranges,
which was now unfolded before us on every side.

Horses were impressed on the morning after our arrival to take us to
the foot of the higher slopes. We were informed that it was necessary
to make the half-circuit of the mountain and to start climbing on
the eastern side. But why reject the tempting gradients of the nearer
western slope, sweeping towards you with a succession of harmonious
curves? Yet where obtain a satisfactory answer to this question? The
actual experiment might involve the loss of a day. So we bowed to
the decision of our native conductor, and became reconciled to the
long ride. Mile after mile the great plain stretched to the westward,
a solid sea, patched in places with fallow and stubble, but treeless,
without a hedge, without a boundary of any kind. We were approaching
the stony confines of the mountainous zone which borders the plateau
on the east. The wretched village of Abul rears its stacks of cow-dung
fuel among a waste of stones.

Seen from the side of Akhalkalaki, the mountain presents the
appearance of a composite mass. A long trough mounts to the summit
region, dividing the fabric into two halves. Each half is crowned
by a well-defined summit; that on the south is single of form and
considerably lower, its loftier neighbour on the north appears to
possess two peaks. In reality this double peak conceals a third fang,
which is prominent on the eastern side. The three-fanged summit
communicates with its less elevated neighbour by a lofty col, the
uppermost edge of the trough. The slopes of Abul display the volcanic
origin of the mountain, and descend in long-drawn outlines to the
plain. The lengthiest declines westwards from the more northerly
summit, and has the shape of a long back or ridge. The steepest is
the slope just beneath this summit, facing north; it is inclined at
an angle of 30 degrees. The village of Abul is situated to the south
of the western slope, and would present a convenient starting-point
from which its easy gradients might be scaled. Our guide, however,
assured us, I cannot conceive upon what foundation, that the ascent
would occupy two days. So we left the village to skirt the base of
the southern half of the mountain, of which the sides have a gradient
of 18 degrees. Rounding the mass, we were able to reach on horseback
some grassy uplands of the further slopes. This favourable nature of
the ground extends to a considerable elevation, and had probably been
the inducement which had influenced our leader to bring us such a long
way. From these pastures it was a climb of one and a half hours over
the rocks to the pinnacles of the loftiest and most northerly mass. We
sent the horses back, with directions to meet us on the further side,
since we had decided to descend by the western ridge.

Throughout the length and breadth of the Armenian highlands, themselves
the loftiest section of the bridge of Asia between India and the
Mediterranean Sea, there is perhaps no summit, with the possible
exception of that of Ararat, which possesses a prospect at once so
distant, so extensive and so full of interest as that which expands
on every side from the triple peak of Abul. [46] You stand on a stage
which commands the fabric of the nearer Asia, without dwarfing the
proportions of the majestic structure, without confusing the varied
members of the vast design. The tableland with its open landscapes
is unfolded before you, swelling and falling from plain to hummock,
from hummock to rounded ridge, from vaulted ridge to the soaring arcs
of an Alagöz and an Ararat, crowned with perpetual snow. The troubled
outlines of the border ranges encircle the mysterious scene; and,
far away, from a gloomy background to this full sunlight and radiant
atmosphere, lurid flashes are reflected through layers of murky vapour
by the snows of Caucasus, infinitely high.

The detail of the landscape engages the mind with the same engrossing
fascination as the panorama impresses the sense. From west right
round to south, vast tracts of level ground are outspread at your
feet. Here and there the plain is broken by barren convexities,
of which the outlines mingle with the outlines of the surrounding
chains. No wood or leafy hedgerows dull the mobile surface, which is
responsive to every mood of the sky. But a large area is checkered
with black and yellow patches--alternate fallow and stubble-field and
standing corn. The reclamation extends to the slopes and recesses
of the neighbouring mountains, struggling upwards to the verge of
the rock. Yet this human note is lost in the immensity of the scene,
which displays no other sign of the presence of man. Lonely lakes lie
lapped in the hollows of these mountains and upon the floor of the
plain. A deep crack in the solid earth features the distance from west
to south, and is drawn towards you almost at right angles through the
plain. It is formed by the sinuous clefts of the Kur and the Toporovan,
and it is almost the limit of the level ground upon the west and north.

Beyond this cañon of the Kur, which is distant some twenty miles,
ridge upon ridge of lofty and barren mountains are massed upon the
horizon from south-west. They belong to the Dochus-Punar volcanic
system, and they overpower all the ranges about us, with the exception
of the dim Caucasian chain. From those slopes, as from these slopes
upon which we are standing, lavas have streamed over the surface of the
intermediate country and levelled the inequalities of the ground. That
eruptive action is long extinct; the fires are dormant; no wreath
of smoke crowns the familiar volcanic forms. The system is seen to
sink to the cañon upon the north, where a gap in the outlines gives a
passage to the Kur. On the northern side the heights are resumed by a
long, serrated ridge, which belongs to the northern border mountains,
and which extends from west by south to east by north. A little west
of north lies Lake Tabizkhuro, with the dome of Samsar rising from
its shores. The foreground towards the north is filled with mountain
masses, with vaulted summits and rounded slopes. Our guide was unable
to name them to us, and I therefore busied myself with an outline
sketch. A long ridge sweeps away from Abul on the north-eastern
side in a hemicycle concave to the west. It mingles with the forms
of the nearer masses, of which the most prominent may, I suppose,
be identified with Kör Ogly and Godorebi, members of the Abul-Samsar
eruptive group. The long bulwark of the Trialethian chain is either
hidden by these nearer mountains, or only disclosed through brief
vistas to a sea of outlines beyond. The northern horizon is closed
by the snowy peaks of Caucasus, over a hundred miles away.

Towards the east we were not impressed by any commanding features in
the mountain landscape, although we were overlooking the eastern wing
of the meridional eruptive system, flanked by the Somkethian ridges
on the further side. Between us and those vague shapes was lapped an
extensive lake, Lake Toporovan, broken by the outline of the eastern
fang of Abul. But what are those gleaming snows, just protruding above
the horizon from a snowless vaulted ridge in the south-east? The flat
horizontal outline is broken towards the centre by a low serration of
snow-clad peaks. It is Alagöz, seventy miles distant in a straight
line; it is even said that from here the dome of Ararat is visible,
when it is not concealed by its faithful wreath of cloud. Compared to
these, the nearer heights in the south are thrown into insignificance;
the eye completes the circle to the point from which it started,
the lofty ridges in the south-west.

Slowly we made our way over the piled-up boulders, down the back of
the long ridge which descends to the westward, along the northern
side of the deep trough. Before us, on the plain, we followed the
fissure in the even surface which marks the course of the hidden river
of Akhalkalaki, until it was lost in the radiance of the setting
sun. Regaining our horses, we paused for awhile on the margin of a
little marsh which is situated about at the foot of the mountain,
some 4000 feet below the topmost peak. The mournful chorus of frogs
broke the intense silence, and contributed to the impression of the
loneliness of Nature which inspired the mood of our homeward ride.



CHAPTER VII

GORELOVKA AND QUEEN LUKERIA


Discussing the projects of our future travel, I was reminded by
Colonel Tarasoff that we must not fail to make a stay in one of the
villages of Russian peasants which were situated upon the route of our
journey south. The Governor had so often sung the praises of these
villagers that we were all anxious to comply with his advice. If
only this fertile country could be inhabited by such a peasantry;
what crops it would bear, what riches it would produce! He added:
"Be sure to visit Gorelovka; there you will see what Russian colonists
can bring to pass."

Russian colonists! But, of course, Russia is not yet in a position
to colonise, however much these distant provinces of her Asiatic
empire may be in need of new methods, of new blood. Indeed, the
rulers of Russia early recognised the expediency of introducing
into their lawless possessions beyond Caucasus a leaven of orderly
and strenuous elements from the West; and in the dearth at home
of such material, which might be available for the purpose, they
invited or encouraged settlements from abroad. It is possible that
they were shown the way by the finger of Providence; it is at least
certain that, when once the favourable opportunity arose, they did
not suffer it to pass them by. In the earlier years of the present
century the kingdom of Würtemberg was the scene of a struggle among
the Protestant community, of which the origin was no less curious
than the results were strange. It had been solemnly announced by
several popular pastors that the second coming of Christ was near
at hand. Such was the confidence of the reverend teachers in their
prophetical powers, that they had already fixed the date when the
sun and moon should be darkened, the celestial bodies should reel,
the ocean roar, and men expire from fright before the crowning event
had been accomplished--the Son of Man appearing with glory in the
clouds. These signs and stupendous portents should be revealed to a
distracted world in 1836.

Greater credence was attached by the people to these terrible
predictions by reason of what was passing in their little world. Their
clergy were divided on a religious question well calculated to touch
to the quick the popular mind. The predominant party succeeded in
effecting an alteration in the prayers and hymns of their beloved
Church. Passions became inflamed which appeared to herald persecution,
which rallied the faithful in defence of the old forms. Were not the
days of tribulation already upon them; and in what asylum among the
mountains should these Christians of a larger Judæa find the refuge
which had been promised by the word of Christ? The same teachers
assured them that such an asylum would not be wanting, and might be
found in the neighbourhood of the Caspian Sea. The fearful nature of
the Divine warning, the conviction that it would be early realised,
the aversion which the new-fangled forms of worship inspired in many
earnest souls--all contributed to steel the old Protestant courage;
to induce a large body of human beings to leave home and native
land behind them, and, without superfluous forethought, to embark on
the perilous journey to that distant land where they might await in
peace and spiritual contentment the glorious coming of the Redeemer
of the human race. Their ranks were swelled--such is the irony of our
complex society--by many who were in search of change and adventure;
they left Würtemberg 1500 families strong. Two-thirds of these are
said to have perished before reaching Odessa, where the remnant was
reinforced by a further body of their countrymen, to the number of
100 families. In the Emperor Alexander I. they found a friend who
extended to them extensive privileges upon their arrival in Georgia
in 1817. They were settled in several colonies in the Governments of
Tiflis and Elizabetpol, which have endured to the present day. They
have been tried by afflictions and internal dissensions; some have
perished by wild beasts, some were carried into captivity during the
course of the Persian war. Still their numbers have increased, their
standards of life have been maintained, and the traveller rests with
pleasure within their villages. But neither the paramount object of
their migration nor the wider purpose of Alexander has been fulfilled
up to the present time. The jealousy of the Russian Church-State has
deprived them of much of their potential usefulness; and mankind are
still groping beneath dark clouds of error, faintly silvered with
the precious promise of perfect light. [47]

The fate or fortune of these German settlements was recalled to me
at Akhalkalaki not only by the mention of the Russian colonial
experiment, but also through our intercourse with a forlorn
individual, whose history linked him with the early history of that
courageous company. What use to conceal his name, since I cannot
hide his identity, since I am only dealing with the current facts of
provincial life? It was the mission of Sembat Baghdasareantz to sow
abroad the seeds of the Gospel, carrying his liberty and even his
life in his hand. An Armenian by birth, he had pursued his studies
in Europe, where he had resided among the Methodists of Frankfurt,
although not a member of that persuasion himself. A Protestant, he
disclaimed allegiance to any particular denomination; he belonged
to the society of Evangelical preachers which had been founded some
seventy years ago in Shusha, the capital of the province of Karabagh,
by missionaries from Basle. Zaremba is the name of the teacher whom
his successors most closely associate with the origin and early
struggles of their brotherhood; his memory is joined with that of
his colleague Dittrich, who shared his labours from the first. These
missionaries represented a Society whose devout zeal had been directed
to the Mohammedans of distant Persia; prudence dictated the choice of
a base within the territory of Russia; yet the Russian Church was a
formidable enemy on Russian soil. She claimed the right of baptizing
and holding within her own communion all converts to the Christian
faith. But an exception had been made in favour of those communities of
heterodox Christians which were tolerated by the Russian State; it was
permissible for a Mohammedan to become converted to their tenets and
to be enrolled as a member of their sect. The Society of Basle were
therefore encouraged to attempt the expedient of a protected colony,
which should receive a special charter from the Russian Government
and be invested with the character of a tolerated sect. An example
of such a colony was already before them; their Scotch brethren were
engaged in preaching to the mountaineers of Caucasus from an adopted
home at Karass. In the pursuit of this purpose, Zaremba and Dittrich
were sent to St. Petersburg in 1821. They were received by the same
Alexander who had favoured the Germans, and in a spirit which partook
of their own zeal. Liberal provisions were attached to the charter of
their prospective colony, among which the right of baptizing converts
was included. They were further authorised to establish a printing
press, to found elementary schools, and to organise a seminary in
which the higher learning should be dispensed. In the meanwhile they
were invited to travel in Transcaucasia with the view of selecting
a locality for their future home.

When the missionaries arrived in Georgia in the spring of 1823, their
interest was aroused by the condition of the German colonists--their
co-religionists, almost their countrymen, settled in this remote
country without spiritual direction, without the elements of
ecclesiastical order. Could there exist a prior claim upon their
own activities than was furnished by the spectacle of this flock
without shepherds, severed from the homestead and wandering where it
might? Their first summer was devoted to the charge of these brethren,
among whom the slow blight of purely worldly preoccupations had already
sapped the vigour of early zeal. The success of their efforts appears
to have awakened the Lutheran Consistory of St. Petersburg, to whom the
spiritual interests of their co-religionists in Russia are entrusted
by Russian law. The Consistory sent a pastor, duly commissioned; and
the colonists were resigned into his hands. But the hardy Germans had
not quarrelled with ecclesiastical authority in their native country
in order to subject themselves to similar tyranny in their new seats;
they disclaimed any connection with the Consistory, and refused to
accept its nominee. The dispute was referred to Alexander, and was by
him decided with his usual good sense. He consented that the Society
of Basle should supply them with pastors, and he went so far as to
endow their churches himself.

When the missionaries next turned their attention to the pursuit
of their original purpose, they were confronted by difficulties
of a different kind. To their surprise they were informed by the
Governor-General of Transcaucasia that the Government possessed no
land on the Persian frontier which could be spared for the settlement
they had in view. The Mission itself would be allotted a building
in any town which they might select; and, although the privilege of
receiving converts would not be legally attachable, the Governor
himself would exert his influence to protect them in its exercise
should their efforts be blessed with fruit. Shusha was their choice for
the establishment of their Mission; schools were opened and a printing
press set up. But in the countries west of India the conversion of
Mohammedans has at all times been an arduous and ungrateful task. Our
own missionaries, established in Persia, are roused to extreme
enthusiasm should a stray Moslem embrace their faith. I remember
travelling across Persia with one of these pampered individuals, who
appeared to me to be admirably equipped for early perdition among
the surroundings in which his walk in life lay. The experiment was
boldly made by the missionaries of Shusha, although the conquests
of Russia, a few years after their installation, provided them with
an ample field for conducting their operations without crossing into
Persian soil. Zaremba followed in the track of the armies of Paskevich,
distributing the Scriptures, duly translated into Turkish, and arguing
the eternal truth of Christianity and the errors of Islam. But his
books were torn in pieces by a population among whom contempt for
Christians is engendered through their mother's milk; and I do not
know that the bread which he cast upon the waters has been found up to
the present day. Better results might be expected from their labours
among the Armenians, whose clergy they discovered sunk in the depths
of ignorance, where the beginning of the twentieth century finds them
still. But they had not anticipated the existence of this sphere for
their activities; and in the absence of special powers it was not
permissible to them to receive converts from a Christian Church. It
was open to the proselyte to enter the Orthodox Church of Russia;
but, if he desired to be baptized by a minister of the tolerated
sects, his own clergy could claim him back. It was inevitable that,
with the progress of their schools and religious teaching, such a
case should soon arise. It is, no doubt, the lofty virtue and the
traditional practice of the Armenian Church to respect the religious
tenets of other Christian Churches, and to inculcate a large tolerance
among their congregation of the doctrines held by their brothers of a
varying creed. In this respect the reverend traveller, to whose work
I am indebted for this little history, might have learnt but failed
to learn a valuable lesson from a clergy whose general standards he
justly condemns. [48] But the attitude of these militant missionaries,
no less than the success of their efforts, touched the vanity of the
Armenian hierarchy to the quick. Two deacons of their persuasion had
become allied to the Swiss teachers, without formally renouncing their
own Church. They were accused of influencing the people against their
old religious practices, and, according to a time-honoured usage,
it was ordered by the katholikos that they should be bound and sent
to Edgmiatsin. The missionaries appealed to the Governor-General,
who, in the spirit of a Roman proconsul, inquired for what reason
they were interfering in the concerns of the Armenian Church. Let the
Germans remain Germans and the Armenians remain Armenians--a ruling
which was modified by the Imperial Government, to whom this high
functionary referred the case. It was decided, much to the dismay
of the religious communities, that if a man were determined to leave
the bosom of the Armenian Church, it was not permitted to the clergy
to retain him by force. But this favourable disposition on the part
of the central Government was in advance of Russian methods. The
victory of the missionaries was not of long duration; the multitude
of their enemies overbore the power of their few friends. Their
printing press is long since silent; they have no successors,
except a few Armenian preachers, faithful to the old traditions,
of whom our friend at Akhalkalaki was one. He himself was confined
by Government within the limits of this remote fortress; two years
he had already passed in this manner of imprisonment; for three more
years he was sentenced to remain. He earned his own subsistence as
clerk and assistant in the large draper's shop. In Shusha itself,
if I may trust the official statistics, the members of the Armenian
Protestant community did not exceed twenty-six souls in 1886. [49]
Russian policy of the present day abhors missionary effort; it has
been justly remarked by a recent clerical traveller that if a priest
wishes to travel in the Russian provinces he must divest himself of
his clerical character and clerical garb. [50] I myself can testify
to the extreme difficulty with which the Protestant missionaries in
Turkey obtain permission to cross Russian soil. Such is the jealousy of
that Orthodox Church, the object of British episcopal blandishments,
to whose mercies it is announced that the Archbishop of Canterbury is
about to transfer his long-cherished pupils, the Chaldæan or Assyrian
Christians of Kurdistan. [51]

To Sembat the Russian colonists were an object of peculiar interest,
not indeed in the same capacity in which they appealed to the Governor,
but by reason of the kind of religion which they professed. Here was
a people who, like himself, were exiles for the sake of religion,
who resembled, in their aversion to the trammels of ecclesiasticism,
the congregations in whose bosom he had himself been reared. The
history of the Dukhobortsy or Dukhoborians--I became familiar with
the latter termination, and such is the name of the sect to which
these settlers belong--composes a chapter which is neither the least
remarkable nor the most creditable in the history of the Russian
Church-State. Their origin would appear to be wrapt in some mystery;
according to one account a discharged soldier first disseminated the
teaching in the Government of Kharkov and in the year 1740. [52] Count
Tolstoy adopts the view, which would appear the more probable, that it
was a foreigner, a Quaker, immigrant to Russia, who spread the seeds
of their belief. [53] Neither their opinions, nor the temper which
was the outcome of their convictions, were calculated to promote
the smoothness of their early course. In a country where Church
interests permeate every act of policy, they denied the necessity,
even the expediency of a Church. Among a people attached with devotion
to their temples, images and eikons, they professed the uselessness of
all such external aids to religious life. The crusty formulas cracked
under their merciless logic; and the grim earnestness with which
these spiritual combatants grappled with themselves and with society
wore out the patience or aroused the apathy of the State. Already in
the eighteenth century they suffered persecution; and so bitter grew
the feeling against them, that in the early years of the nineteenth
century the Emperor Alexander I. settled them in the Tauric province,
in the neighbourhood of the Sea of Azov. But Alexander was not the man
to become the instrument of their enemies, whose hostile instances
provoked an Imperial rebuke. It had been proposed that a further
migration of the sect should be required; the ukase of 1816 enacted
that no such migration should take place. The same edict recited the
favourable testimony to their character which had been received from
the official in whose district they lived, dwelt on the proved futility
of the measures previously taken against them, and proclaimed that,
far from meditating the repetition of any such measures, it was the
Imperial will that every unnecessary restriction should be removed
and that all annoyance of the sectaries should cease. The humane,
the wise policy of this enlightened ruler has not been followed by
his successors on the throne. Nicholas the First expelled them to the
Transcaucasian provinces, and they are being persecuted at the present
day. The principal emigrations took place between 1841 and 1845. They
were allotted seats in the bleak country on the south of Akhalkalaki,
whence they have spread into the Government of Elizabetpol and into
the more recently acquired province of Kars. According to the census
of 1886 their numbers in their adopted country amounted to 12,500
souls at that date. [54]

In the eyes of a philosopher the Dukhobortsy may appear to practise
pure religion, and to observe the spirit of the teaching of Christ. Yet
in the view of the majority of Christians their doctrines would be
deemed heretical and their religious usages would be condemned. Such
an attitude is the fruitful parent of misrepresentation and calumny;
and the account of them which we received from our itinerant
preacher was not untinctured by these defects. In justice to him
one must remember that his own services would be repudiated by these
fellow-offenders with him against the majesty of the Orthodox Church;
that neither a Zaremba nor an Eli Smith would be welcomed by these
simple peasants and solicited to direct and elevate their spiritual
life. The imagination of the Oriental may have been coloured by the
prejudice of the Christian teacher; yet I cannot doubt that the tales
which he told us about them were widely current in the gossip of the
countryside. According to Sembat, considerable mystery surrounded
the religion of these peasants, which he himself had not sufficient
knowledge to dispel. Pagan practices were freely imputed to them; and
they were said to worship images of birds and beasts. Whether they
worshipped them, or only regarded them as symbols, it was at least
certain that they were in the habit of making such images, and we could
judge for ourselves what purpose they served. And then he related to
us a portion of the story of Lukeria--half-goddess and half-queen.

September 5.--In the East mankind is usually a monotonous animal,
which you would scarcely notice, such is the majesty of his natural
surroundings, were it not for the needs which you share in common
with him, and which he most indifferently supplies. It was therefore
with expectations of no ordinary character that we set out from
Akhalkalaki to visit the Russian colonies on the southern margin of
the great plain. The direct distance between the town and Gorelovka,
the principal settlement, is seventeen miles. The road, although it
constitutes the avenue of communication with Alexandropol, is little
better than a track. In places the carriage is jolted in a merciless
manner by protruding boulders, embedded in the soil. We started at
half-past two, on a course a little east of south; the vastness of
the expanse and the billowing surface of the naked soil suggested the
appearance of the sea. But the horizon was outlined by the forms of
lofty ranges, encircling the floor of the plain. Banks of white and
grey cloud were suspended about their summits, while the zenith was
blue and the air crisp, yet full of sun.

At three o'clock we gained the margin of the Toporovan river, a
flash of water slowly flowing over the surface of the plain. On the
further bank a small Armenian village; a little Tartar settlement on
this shore. We paused awhile, that we might realise the features of
the landscape, the same we had commanded from the summit of Abul. On
our left hand we were skirting some stony hummocks, which flank the
mass of Abul. That broad-based mountain rose beyond them, closing
the landscape in the east. On our point of course, some eight miles
distant, a range of gentle vaulting stretched from east by south to
west by north. It may be identified with the outer framework of the
mountains which encircle Lake Chaldir. In the south-west we discerned
a break in the ranges, the distant passage of the Kur. On our right
the level plain; and beyond it, at a long interval, the lofty ridges
which border the Kur on the left bank. Behind us, from a second cleft
or opening in the mountains, a long serrated ridge, which belongs to
the northern border ranges, and which formed a striking feature in
the prospect from Abul. This chain and that in the west appeared to
be the highest, except for the nearer outline of Abul.

In another half-hour we had passed the track which leads to Manzara,
and were crossing the richest portion of the plain. The deepness
of the furrows in the black earth argued careful cultivation; the
crops had already been gathered in. We were now pursuing a rather
more easterly direction, and could see a gap in the outlines on our
point of course. The hummocks still followed us, at an interval of
a couple of miles, and, beyond them, the meridional range to which
Abul belongs. But, on our right hand, we now lost the open prospects;
low, rocky hills advanced from the region of Lake Chaldir. It seemed a
neck of the plain; for, further south, the view again opens, and the
plain expands anew, in the form of a gulf-like extension, towards the
water-parting between the Araxes and the Kur. It was evident that we
were reaching considerably higher levels, for the crops were still
standing, although ripe. The reapers were busy, gaily clad Armenians,
the women helping in the work. In the distance, at the base of the
eastern mountains, we saw a village, which was inhabited by Armenian
Catholics. The cereals consisted of oats, from which they make bread,
and a species of bearded wheat. At half-past four we arrived at the
first considerable village, which, indeed, proved to consist of two
villages, both of which adjoin the road. The first is called Khojabek,
and is inhabited by Armenians; it contains fifty houses, and possesses
a church but no school. The second, Bogdanovka, is a Russian settlement
with eighty houses, the first of those settlements which we were so
anxious to see. [55] At this double village we crossed a stream which
was said to issue from Lake Chonchal, and which bears the same name
as the lake.

Bogdanovka is not a favourable specimen of its species. I did not
notice any appreciable contrast between the Russian and the Armenian
village; it is indeed possible that they may have mutually affected
one another, not to the advantage of the Russian settlement--in
both cases rambling, stone-built tenements, and flat roofs, topped
with turf. Dirty little lanes, of uneven surface, debouch upon the
principal street. But the gait, the physiognomy of the two races--what
a remarkable contrast in this respect! Large, lustrous, coal-black
eyes: little, colourless pupils; shapely features, animate with
expression: formless protuberances from a massive, heavy skull. The
ugliness of the women especially appalled us, and we were impressed
with the deliberate slouch of the men's walk.

We had come a distance of 18 versts (12 miles). After changing horses,
we gained some rising ground on the further side. From here we could
see Lake Chonchal, with a village at the foot of the rising ground
on its opposite shore. In half an hour we were at the tiny lake and
village of Orlovka--a ragged-looking place, of which a striking feature
was the stacks of tezek or dried manure. This was the second Russian
village; we were disappointed. Gorelovka, the goal of our journey,
was to come next.

The range on our left still continued; but on our right the hills had
receded, and were replaced by gently rising ground. Patches of arable
land mounted the slopes about us, suggesting that the rising tide
of reclamation was flowing into these remote solitudes. We noticed
that the soil had become more turf-like and fibrous in character;
we thought it well adapted to potato culture, but not a field of
potatoes could we see. These uplands provide good pasture during
summer and sweet hay for the long winter months. It was a landscape
of open downs at a great elevation; we had reached a height of some
7000 feet. Such are the bleak surroundings of Gorelovka. We were
chilled to the bones when we arrived at half-past six.



The impression which we had received at the two smaller villages was
quickly dispelled by our new surroundings. Great was our pleasure
when we recognised that the high opinion of Colonel Tarasoff was amply
justified by those to whom it applied. It is true that these sectaries
are the flower of the peasantry in Russia; but that peasantry is none
the less honoured by what they have achieved.

Gorelovka is the largest village in the district; it contains 150
houses and a population of some 1500 souls. The inhabitants said
it was fifty-two years since they came hither from Russia, and
were allotted lands. Each house pays fifteen roubles (about thirty
shillings) annually to the State for the rent of their lands. Snow
lies on the ground for about eight months in the year, and, like the
Armenians, they heat their houses with tezek fuel, or cakes of dried
manure. I admired their ploughs and spacious waggons; they are their
own handiwork. You do not see such ploughs and waggons among their
neighbours--Armenians, Tartars and Turks. On the other hand, they
have not improved upon the usual threshing implements--the flat beams
encrusted with sharp stones. They said they had found this method in
use in the country, and that it satisfied their needs. Their markets
are Alexandropol and Akhalkalaki. Cereals struggle for existence at
this altitude; yet the patches of plough and stubble, spread upon the
hillsides, climb higher every year. [56] It is pleasant to watch the
waggons, loaded with hay, winding homewards over the springy turf.

A Dukhobortsy village is not built into the earth, like the burrows
of the Armenians and the Kurds. The Russians cheat the climate
by the additional thickness which they put into their solid stone
walls. Their dwellings are low, one-storeyed houses; the masonry is
covered over with plaster, which receives several coats of whitewash. A
long street traverses the village--straight, broad and well maintained;
the houses are aligned upon it at intervals. The roofs are almost flat,
and consist of stout beams, supporting a superstructure of earth and
sods of turf. The chimneys are mere apertures in the roof, protected
by little wooden hoods. We found the interiors clean and comfortable;
the wooden ceilings are neatly mitred, and the walls are distempered
white. The deep embrasures of the windows testify to the thickness
of the walls. In some of the Russian settlements, through which we
passed later, the people had adorned their homes with gay shutters
and combings of fretwork design; in Gorelovka no work of fancy adorns
the dwellings of the peasants, and they have lavished all their skill
in wood-carving upon the residence of their queen.

The inhabitants are tall and powerfully built, and, although they are
bronzed in complexion almost beyond recognition, the fair hair bears
witness to their northern origin. Their limbs are loosely put together,
so that, apart from the difference of their dress and demeanour,
they present a strong contrast to the neatly-made natives of the
country, by reason of their lofty stature and the unbuckled slouch
of their walk. The features are irregular, the eyes small, and the
countenance is wanting in animation, in the case of both women and
men. The dress of the men consists of dark blue trousers and jacket
and a peaked military cap; this costume gives them the appearance of
old soldiers, and all seem to shave the beard. The women wear very
clean cotton dresses of showy patterns and bright hues.

Next morning, according to arrangement, we were to visit, in company
with our host, Alexei Zupkoff, the venerable starshina, or head of
the village, the residence and garden of the queen. The brother of
the queen joined our party--Michael Vasilievich Ghubanoff, the same of
whom Count Tolstoy speaks. We passed down the long, straight street of
the village, the spacious intervals between the white houses opening
to the breezy downs. Entering an enclosure, we found ourselves in a
delightful flower-garden, among trees and thick rose-bushes, allowed
to spread in freedom, and only saved from rankness and riot by the
loving hand of man. How strange, after our wanderings among peoples
whose material standards hover on the extreme margin where life is
just possible and no more, appeared to us the sight of these garden
flowers and the scent of the double rose. A low one-storeyed building
faces the garden on two sides; the one wing contains the chapel and
reception room, the other the private apartments in which the queen
used to live. Passing within the doorway, we stood in a little hall
from which rooms opened, one on either side. Both apartments are
spacious, and their size was enhanced by the complete absence of
furniture. Large stone stoves are built into the rooms, and form
the most prominent feature in them; these stoves are usual in all
the houses, but in this house they are decorated with a scroll of
stone carving, which is not the case elsewhere. The ceilings are low,
and the walls are so thick that the windows have the appearance of
fortress embrasures, with their deep cavernous sills. The two large
rooms on either side of the hall were formerly devoted, the one
to prayer meetings and the other to social gatherings; but it was
evident that they were not in use at the time of my visit, and I was
told that assemblies in this house had been interdicted by Government,
on account of the fresh outbreak of fanaticism which was apprehended
should the people come together beneath the roof of their former queen.

The general arrangement and appearance of the chapel or apartment
in which they used to meet for prayer is this--the low ceiling is
composed of narrow pine planks, the surface being relieved by delicate
wood beadings along the seams where plank meets plank. The large pier
of the stove projects boldly into it from the side of the door. The
walls of such rooms are in general covered with a neat paper of common
Russian pattern, and the floors are either painted a reddish colour,
or the boards are left natural, and stopped, and scrubbed daily, like
the deck of a yacht. Round this particular apartment there runs a low
bench; this is the only sitting-place. Large pots of flowers, carefully
pruned and tended, bloomed in the deep embrasures of the windows,
and broke the light, diffused about the sober apartment in a warm and
regular glow. In that part of the building where the queen used to
live, the rooms, although smaller, presented a similar appearance;
they were maintained in the same state of scrupulous cleanliness as
though she inhabited them still. The furniture had all been removed
from them; but, in addition to the pots of beautiful flowers, there
was in each a dish of Easter eggs.

In the centre of the garden among the rose-bushes stands the summer
pavilion of the queen (Fig. 21). The kernel of the structure may
be described as consisting of two square boxes, placed one above
the other, and serving as living rooms. Each side of the upper room
is broken by a large window; so that the view from within embraces
the whole settlement and all the landscape around. The lower room
contains a bed and a row of pegs, on which, behind a light covering,
hang the dresses of the queen; that above is bare of all furniture,
and was always used as a sitting-room. A broad wooden balcony with
staircase runs round this inner kernel, supported on pillars of
wood. They have lavished all their skill upon the decoration of
this balcony, enriching it with delicate fretwork traceries and with
figures placed at the angles of the roof. At each corner sits a dove
with wings outspread, while on the summit of the roof a dove is just
alighting, the wings just closing, the legs outstretched. In front
of the pavilion, on the side of the house, there is a large standard
lantern, a work of curious design and fancy, surmounted by an image
of St. George and the dragon, carved with much life and vigour in wood.

By my side stood the man who had made these images, and I asked him
whether they had any religious meaning, peculiar to their creed. I was
loath to put the question, so obvious was their purpose, so universal
the symbolism they implied. He answered good-humouredly that they
were pure ornaments, and that he was flattered by my appreciation of
his skill.

In a room, removed from the part of the village in which the queen
lived, they showed us her furniture and effects, her personal
ornaments, and every detail of her attire. Everything that belonged
to her had been carefully kept and cherished, like the relics of
a saint. Her possessions had been those of a simple peasant woman,
verging on the middle class--a velvet chair or two, some statuettes in
plaster, a few chromo-lithographs. Many trays of coloured Easter eggs
were here collected--the offerings, I suppose, of many happy Easters,
when she had led their congregations of prayer.

Seven years had elapsed, at the time of our visit, since they had lost
their beloved Lukeria Vasilievna, their leader both in spiritual and
in temporal matters; they honoured and obeyed her like a queen. [57]
Her influence was supreme among the settlers on these highlands; and it
appears to have extended to all the colonists in Transcaucasia of the
Dukhobortsy sect. The traveller Radde, who visited Gorelovka in 1875,
was privileged to meet her in her home. He describes her as a widow
in the thirties, strong, tall, of full but still shapely forms. Her
features wore the imprint of beauty. He testifies to the veneration
in which she was held. That Lukeria was nothing more to them than the
contemporary holder of an office which had been the outcome of their
religious and social needs, would, I think, be no less fallacious
to suppose than to credit the rumours current in the country that
it had been in the character of a divine personage that her people
had submitted themselves to her will. A childlike nature, at once
the product of the religious temperament and its peculiar pride, may
find it difficult to discriminate between the emotions of worship and
of love. When I questioned them, they strongly disclaimed for Lukeria
any pretension to supernatural gifts, and they rejected as a fable the
imputation that they had paid her divine honours. They had loved and
revered in her a good and noble woman, who raised their lives, relieved
their sorrows, and led their aspirations towards the higher life. The
evidence of her work and example is written in the appearance of this
model village, and in the demeanour of its inhabitants. All were well
clothed and clean and well nourished; it was a pleasure to see them go
about their business in their quiet, earnest way. I saw no poor people
in Gorelovka, not a sign of the habitual squalor of the East. Provision
had been made for the orphans and the destitute, and I understood that
all the colonists of the neighbourhood contribute to the funds. But
what impressed me most, beside the evidence of their affection in
these dwellings and this enclosure maintained in neatest order, as
though in spirit she inhabited them still, was the love of flowers
which the queen appears to have developed in her people and brought
them to share with her. In the decline of wealth and of the arts,
the sight of garden flowers becomes more and more rare in the East;
and, at best, they are there little more than the ornament of luxury
and the setting of sensual delights. At Gorelovka one cannot doubt
that these geraniums and roses are cultivated for their own sake alone.

The religion of the Dukhobortsy resembles that of our own extreme
Protestants; it is the Government fans their zeal into destroying
flames. That they are Christians there can, I think, be scarcely any
doubt; they told me positively that they acknowledged and worshipped
Christ as God. [58] But God is a spirit, and they that worship God
must worship Him in spirit and in truth. The spirit of God dwells
in the souls of His servants, who themselves are sons of God. How
therefore can a church, an image or an eikon claim reverence as a
holy thing? In these there dwells no spirit, no effluence of Godhood;
the Church of God is the human soul. Reasoning thus, the Dukhobortsy
bow to one another after prayer, saluting the divinity that resides
in man. Scripture they accept; but the book of God must be a living
book, a book to which there is never any end. Hence their religious
conceptions float about in the mouths of the people, in the form of
psalms. New psalms may be sung; but the old psalms never perish--the
Word of God, old yet ever new. They reject priests and all the
apparatus of official religion, and themselves conduct whatever simple
ceremonies may be necessary upon birth, at marriage and after death.

The moral ideas of the Dukhobortsy are such as might be expected
from a people who hold this lofty view of the nature of man. Man,
being the receptacle of the divinity, must not injure, must not
kill his fellow-man. Hence they do not see the necessity of judicial
tribunals; for they do not wish to wrong any man. Nor do they consider
that one man should exercise authority over another; each one must do
his duty, because it is his duty, and no compulsion can be necessary
from outside.

That from such peaceful surroundings there should issue fierce
dissensions, that a people trained to mutual love and forbearance
should be inflamed by the worst passions of an opposite nature, and
turn the hand which they had been unwilling to lift against their
fellow-men upon the brothers of their own creed, is a melancholy
example of the failure of purely emotional methods to elevate
permanently the nature of man. It seems there are no short cuts
to virtue; the standards attained under the impulse of religious
enthusiasm have but an ephemeral life. With the death of Lukeria
was removed the personality and visible example for which simple
natures crave; and the exaggeration of sentiment, of which she
had been the object, brought with it its own revenge. Although cut
off at the early age of forty-three years, the queen was already a
widow when she died. Her marriage had been childless, and, even had
she possessed a natural successor, the place which she occupied in
the imagination of her people would perhaps have been impossible to
fill. Yet scarcely a year had elapsed from the time of her death when a
pretended successor arose--a boy, who, I believe, claimed relationship
with her, and who presumed to be worthy to wear the mantle which
had hitherto descended on none. The inhabitants of Gorelovka, whose
version of the story I am giving, were emphatic in their statement
that this youth was an impostor. "He told lies," was the expression
which they used. His authority had never been acknowledged by them,
and he had stirred up their own brethren against them. I gathered
that they had not stopped short of actual violence in the ardour of
religious and partisan zeal. Gorelovka, it appears, had been solid
against the usurper; but opinions had been divided in the neighbouring
villages and throughout the community settled in Transcaucasia of the
Dukhobortsy sect. The Russian Government, as was natural, surveyed
the situation from the standpoint of hard-headed prudence; they were
not anxious to see installed a successor to Lukeria and a revival of
the old religious flame. The weight of their authority was thrown in
the scale against the pretender; he was suppressed without delay and
banished from the country to a remote exile in the north.

At the time of our visit the feud was slumbering; Count Tolstoy informs
us how it broke out anew. It would appear that the pretender--his
name was Peter Veriguin--was supported by the large majority of the
Dukhobortsy, who were incensed at the action of the authorities in
making over to the brother of Lukeria, our friend Ghubanoff, the
succession to the communal funds. From his place of exile Veriguin
corresponded with his disaffected brethren; Government, apprised of
the fact, removed him to Siberia during the winter of 1894-5. While
he was in Moscow on his way to the land of forgetfulness, he was
visited by his relations and by some of his spiritual allies. Them he
charged to convey a proposal to the brethren: that they should abstain
from participation in the violent acts of Government, should refuse
to serve in the capacity of soldiers, and should destroy all their
arms. This proposal was accepted by the whole of the larger party;
and they prepared to translate it into action without delay.

In the Government of Elizabetpol, on the first day of the festival of
Easter, eleven Dukhobortsy, who were performing military service with
a reserve battalion, refused to parade, and formally signified that
they intended to serve no more. At their head was an individual who,
in spite of his legal disability as a sectarian, had been promoted
to the rank of a non-commissioned officer for his high qualities and
the exceptional nature of his deserts. Their example was followed
in other provinces, in Akhalkalaki, in Kars. No pains were spared
by the authorities to save them from their rashness; when persuasion
failed, fear was tried. Five recalcitrants in Akhalkalaki were taken
into the prison yard and placed in line. A firing party of Cossacks
was called in and ordered to load with ball; the prisoners asked and
received permission to pray. The command "make ready" was next issued,
and a few minutes passed. The former soldiers quietly awaited the
word to fire. It was not given; the muzzles were lowered, and they
were conducted to their cells. In other places Cossacks charged the
prisoners and made pretence to cut them down. When the sectarians still
persisted in their decision, they were beaten with the lash. Asked how
they justified their action, they answered that they were Christians,
endeavouring to observe the precepts of Christ. Nor was their refusal
to serve in the army the only issue with Government into which they
were carried by their aversion to violence in human affairs. It so
happened that a certain prisoner, in course of transportation, was
brought to one of their villages. It was the duty of the elder of the
village to provide for his further escort and to hand him over to
a sure man. This charge had fallen by turn upon the brother of the
sergeant who had renounced service on the first day of Easter. The
man informed the elder that he could not escort the prisoner because
he would be unable to use force. He asked him to report his refusal
to the authorities; but the elder answered that he was not prepared
to turn traitor; he should bring the prisoner to the house of his
temporary warder, who would act as he thought best. The man returned to
his house; the elder brought the prisoner, and went away. The warder
treated his charge as though he were a pilgrim, warmed him, gave him
to eat and drink, gave him a bed. Next morning, observing that the
prisoner was a poor man, he supplied him with money and offered to
direct him on his way. When they had arrived outside the village,
he showed him two roads, of which he gave him the choice. He told
him that the one led to his destination as prisoner and the other
to liberty. The prisoner preferred the first road, and came to the
place of his destination. In this case no evil consequences ensued.

In 1895 the prison of Elizabetpol contained no less than 120 members
of the Dukhobortsy sect. All had been sentenced for offences of the
nature already described; but the crown of the people's offence was
not yet come. In a country where the holding of arms is regarded in
the light of a civil duty, they determined to burn every weapon in
their possession of which the purpose was to kill men. The night
of the 28th of June, the eve of the feast of Peter and Paul, was
chosen for the simultaneous execution of this resolve. In Kars and
in Elizabetpol the event passed off without serious trouble; but
the case was different in the province of Akhalkalaki. About three
versts from the village of Orlovka there is an excavation in the rock,
which the people call "The Cave." In this spot it was their habit to
hold their large prayer meetings; it was now chosen as the tryst for
the burning of arms. On the appointed night about 2000 people were
there collected; a pile was made, fuel and petroleum added, and the
whole ignited in due course. In the morning, when the flames were
exhausted, the assembly offered up prayer, and each man returned to
his home. The day passed quietly; they returned in the evening, and
collected together the metal parts which had escaped the fire. These
they melted into a mass, in the presence of a still larger concourse,
among whom were many women and young children.

In Gorelovka, which was on the side of Government, the restless
symptoms among the opposite party, and the fact that they were
collecting arms, had not passed unobserved. Anticipating attack,
the villagers had denounced their co-religionists and had received a
garrison of Cossacks and regular troops. On the 30th of June an order
came to all the settlements that the Governor was about to arrive
in Bogdanovka from Gorelovka and that he required all the settlers
to repair to that place. Those who were at home obeyed the summons;
their absent kinsmen, although apprised of the order, remained where
they were and engaged in prayer. A messenger arrived and repeated the
injunction. The old men answered that they were praying, that their
prayers would continue, and that, if the Governor wished to see them,
it was his part to come to them, they being many and he one. A second
messenger was sent with no better fortune. Then the watchers ran in
with the news that the Cossacks were close at hand. No sooner had
the assemblage closed together than the horsemen were upon them. An
officer rode at their head and cried "Oura!" The crowd was ridden down
and mercilessly beaten with the sharp lashes which the Cossacks use. A
man was seen to brandish his whip in the air for shame of striking. The
officer approached him, shouted to him that he was deceiving the Tsar,
and struck him in the face with his lash. Bruised and covered with
blood, the people were taken to the Governor; the women followed,
although the Cossacks tried to whip them away. Approaching Bogdanovka,
they met the carriage of the high official, and the officer shouted
"Hats off!" The old men answered him that they would know how to do
their duty when the Governor passed and saluted them. Again "Whips,
Oura!" and a second pitiless beating, until the grass was red with
blood. The Governor stopped the whipping and proceeded to Bogdanovka,
where he collected the brethren who had remained behind. When he began
to upbraid them, a man stepped forward with a military certificate
in his hand. This document he handed in to the Governor, announcing
that in future he refused to serve. The Governor lost command of his
temper and beat him with a stick. Then the people declared that they
would no longer obey Government or comply with any of its demands. The
Governor retaliated by ordering them to be whipped, and even threatened
to shoot them down. The next measure was to quarter Cossacks in their
villages, who lived at free quarters and violated the women. Four
hundred and sixty-four families were expelled from the district and
sent to starve in Georgian villages. These became labourers to the
Georgians and continued to maintain their high character. [59]

Reflecting upon this story after reading these accounts, the mind
travels back to the dawn of Christianity and to the annals of the early
Church. The famous letter of Pliny appears fresh and modern, while
the grave language of the London Times in the leading article which
it publishes mingles naturally with the spirit of a pre-Christian age:
"The first principles of their creed lead straight to social anarchy,
tempered only by the whims of the 'sons of God.' They are doubtless
sincere fanatics, and as such must be looked upon with a measure of
pity and respect." It is interesting to place by the side of this
paragraph in a modern newspaper the words of the great historian of
the Roman world: "The Christians were not less averse to the business
than to the pleasures of this world. The defence of our persons and
property they knew not how to reconcile with the patient doctrine
which enjoined an unlimited forgiveness of past injuries and commanded
them to invite the repetition of fresh insults. Their simplicity was
offended by the use of oaths, by the pomp of magistracy, and by the
active contention of public life; nor could their humane ignorance be
convinced that it was lawful on any occasion to shed the blood of our
fellow-creatures, either by the sword of justice or by that of war,
even though their criminal or hostile attempts should threaten the
peace and safety of the whole community;... while they inculcated
the maxims of passive obedience, they refused to take any active
part in the civil administration or the military defence of the
empire.... This indolent, or even criminal disregard to the public
welfare exposed them to the contempt and reproaches of the pagans,
who very frequently asked, What must be the fate of the empire,
attacked on every side by the barbarians, if all mankind should adopt
the pusillanimous sentiments of the new sect?"

Have the Christians of the present day become pagans, or did the
pagans only change their name?



CHAPTER VIII

TO ALEXANDROPOL


To-night we are to sleep on the banks of the Arpa, by the waters
which swell the flood of the Araxes and sweep the base of Ararat! This
was the reflection which lightened the mood of sorrowful meditation
that our visit to Gorelovka had inspired. Our grave hosts, for whom
one felt a vivid sympathy, a warm affection, conducted us in their
spacious waggons to the posting station of Efremovka, a few versts'
distance along our road. It is a Russian settlement with some ninety
houses and a population of 860 souls, besides a collection of huge and
formidable dogs. The station is a stage of 16 versts (10 1/2 miles)
from Bogdanovka, and of 21 versts (14 miles) from the succeeding post
house of Shishtapa, which was our destination for the afternoon. At
Efremovka we took leave of our companions, and, at the same time,
of the solid villages of this Russian zone.

A country of elevated uplands, a natural carpet of springy turf,
broken here and there by patches of cultivation which struggle upwards
from the plainer levels to the hillsides. Grey lights descending from
a grey heaven upon a surface swelling and falling like the sea. In
the east the near reliefs of the mountains of the meridional border,
their base checkered with plots of fallow and stubble, their summits
veiled with cloud. At their foot the lake and marsh of Madatapa,
with the Russian village of Troitskoy upon its shore. In the west
the vague downs, rising to a distant horizon of loftier shapes,
similar to themselves. Such were the opening phases of the scene
through which we passed to the scarcely perceptible water-parting
between the Araxes and the Kur. After less than an hour's drive from
Efremovka we could see the village of Korakhbur (Armenian Catholic)
on the hillside, about a mile away on our left hand; on our right was
an Armenian hamlet, which was named to us Jaila; both are situated in
the southern watershed. The height of the parting between the basins,
at the point where we crossed it, is placed by the Russian map at
6777 feet, a figure which, if it errs, is below the truth. And now
for the first time were disclosed the gleaming peaks which we had
seen from Abul--beyond a line of hummock hills the group of snowy
teeth which break the horizontal outline of Alagöz.

Tazaken, a Turkish settlement; Khancharli, a large village of Armenian
Catholics, were rapidly left behind. The landscape opened to a lofty
range of swelling shapes and rounded outlines on the western margin of
the plain. They were the mountains about Lake Chaldir; the declining
sun was about to touch them from behind a shroud of mist. Sheets of
light were thrown upon those distant opaline masses as upon the coast
of a hazy sea.

At a quarter to six--we had left Efremovka at 4.20--we were winding
between the two Shishtapas, on our right the Turkish Shishtapa, washed
by the young stream of the Arpa; the Armenian Shishtapa further away on
our left. At six o'clock we crossed a bridge which spans a tributary
of the Arpa, coming from the east. The confluence takes place some
hundred yards below the bridge, and the name of the tributary was
given to us as Kizil-Goch (the red lamb). It is a solid stone bridge
with a curious stone ornament; on the further side you rise to an
eminence which overlooks the Arpa, and upon which the lonely post
station of Shishtapa is built.

The doors were heavily barred; when at length they yielded, after many
grumblings, a wizened figure in official uniform stepped forth. It
was the postmaster--it seemed the embodiment of some immense
and ideal sorrow of which all human griefs are but the mirrored
images. How cross the threshold upon which he stood, how enlist
his sympathy with our puny wants, who himself was the incarnation
of Want? But the keenness of the air overcame our hesitation; a
night in tents and without blankets was the alternative course. So
with a greeting, which was coldly returned, we led the way to the
interior, followed by our dismal host. It appeared to consist of a
single room, a spacious apartment with bare floor and white-washed
walls. A few chairs and a large table were the only furniture; the
only ornaments the usual coloured oleograph of the reigning emperor,
and, perhaps, the almanac and the posting map, which were suspended
on the walls. Yet the postmaster was not the only occupant of the
building; children appeared, and with them a young and beautiful
girl. A Polish maiden? one could not doubt of the answer, as one
admired the slender form, the swelling bust, the full lips and the
pale face with its animated eyes. Ah! the pitiful story eloquently
told by this unambiguous presence--the mother already a victim to
the prolonged atrophy of these cheerless surroundings, the father a
sapless tree in an alien soil. Who sent them to such cold solitudes,
these warm natures and passionate temperaments? Find a wilderness and
it will be tenanted by a Pole.... The practical question arose: how
accommodate ourselves and the family within the four white walls? The
father protested that it was completely impossible; the girl came to
our assistance, and revealed the existence of an adjoining closet,
which she offered to share with the children for the night. After
partaking of a frugal meal, after several futile attempts at sustained
conversation, our strange party disposed itself for the night.

For myself, I could not sleep, for all the comfort of my camp bed,
and memories of sound slumbers which it evoked. Was it the grave
faces of the Russian peasants and the strange irony of their history
and circumstances that haunted and kept the mind strung? Or were the
senses fluttering under the presence of the fair woman whose soft
breathing one could almost hear? God residing in those frames of
steel, God incarnate in her voluptuousness!--Yet their God was not
the God of the pantheist, but a stern, a militant God.... And thought
wandered out into the stony by-paths, the home of the sprites that
mock thought. The ingenious wickedness of man with his Churches and
his heretics, and all the cowering crowd of Jews, Armenians, Poles!

A faint light was already diffused over the cheerless apartment as
I passed down the row of heavy sleepers and gained the door and the
open air. Day had broken--a morning of perfect stillness, the vapours
lingering on the saturated grass. A cold, grey world of bleak uplands
and mist-veiled mountains, a chill atmosphere which sent one pacing
to and fro. But when the sun rose above the haze into the clear vault
of heaven, the colours started, the chill softened into delicious
freshness, and the peculiar beauty of the scene was revealed. One
looked in vain for the snowy fangs of Alagöz; they had been lost to
view behind the amphitheatre of nearer outlines which composed the
closing phases of our stage of yesterday. But within the limits of
those gentler shapes was outspread an ideal landscape, typical of the
most elevated areas of the tableland (Fig. 22). The plainer levels
were invested with the character of swelling downs, and down and
hillside were carpeted with turf. Over the green and fibrous surface
flowed the Arpa and its tributary, flashes of white and luminous
blue. Here and there brief patches of cultivation checkered the soil,
especially towards north-west and west. In the middle distance one
could discern two villages of moderate size--the two Shishtapas,
barely distinguished from the waste. Beyond the Turkish Shishtapa,
obscuring all but the first line of the settlement, lay a captive
cloud, an opaque opaline mass. The illustration shows the rivers
descending towards you and uniting at your feet. The hills which line
the distance circle round and mass behind you, closing the prospect
towards the south. In that direction the united waters bid farewell
to the grassy uplands, and enter the stony tracts which slope to the
plain of Alexandropol between the outworks of the Chaldir system and
those of the meridional border range.

September 7.--By half-past eight we were following the course of the
Arpa and taking leave of the green meadows and blue streams. We were
soon involved among the hummock ridges which confine the amphitheatre
of the Shishtapas, and through which the river winds in a stony
valley, at some little distance to the west of the track. Progress
was retarded by the steepness of the inclines as we crossed this
elevated ground. Once again in possession of a prospect, we were
skirting the bases of successive promontories, which projected,
on our left hand, from the mountains of the meridional border into
the broken surface of a volcanic plateau. This plateau extends for
many miles to the westward, and is bounded by lofty mountains on
that side. The Arpa was running off into the easier levels in the
west, while the road hugged the rocky eastern shore. The waters of
the river were not visible after leaving Shishtapa; they are buried
in a cañon, of which you trace the sinuous edges through the bleak
and boulder-strewn waste. Ala-Kilisa, a village of Armenian-speaking
Greeks; Amasia, a Turkish settlement; Karachanta and Kara Mehemet, the
first inhabited by Turks, the second by Armenians, were successively
left behind. At half-past ten we arrived at the station of Jellap,
a stage of twenty versts (thirteen miles).

The post house is situated at some little distance from the village--an
Armenian settlement which is exposed to view after you have left the
station, high-seated among the rocks above the road. It is a gloomy
habitation, standing in a stony valley by the banks of a stream which
descends to the trough of the Arpa from the rocky hummocks to which
the road adheres. Starting at a few minutes after eleven, we commenced
by crossing a projecting promontory, mounting the slopes of the puny
ridges by steep gradients, and never regaining the prospect which had
been lost before reaching Jellap. At length, at half-past eleven,
the valleys opened; and we overlooked the landscape of the plain
of Alexandropol.

A vast plain lay before us, level as water, to the floor of which
the ground declines on every side. A single mountain, which has the
appearance of a gigantic bank of soil, is drawn in a long horizontal
outline along its southern verge. This outline is the dominant
feature in the scene, extending from north of east to south of west
(Fig. 23). The heart and highest points of the volcanic elevation are
situated in the easterly portion of the mass; they are represented
by the jagged profile of the broken outer side of a crater, and
they gleam with perpetual snow. Some conception of the stupendous
proportions of the mountain may be derived from a rough measurement
of its protraction in a latitudinal sense. On the east the volcanic
emissions have been arrested by the barrier of the border ranges; on
the west they have descended from the central or subordinate points
of eruption to the valley of the Arpa Chai. From that valley, in the
neighbourhood of Ani, to the road which passes between the volcano
and the meeting slopes of the border chain is a distance of over 40
miles. Throughout this space the bulk of the giant is thrown across
the landscape, his head and body resting against the framework of the
border ranges, his feet extended to the margin of the historic stream.

Such a prospect is the rich reward of the traveller; we paused to
admire and to realise the scene. It was difficult to believe that
those snowy peaks were over 30 miles distant; yet a glance at the map
brought home to us this fact. The floor of the plain has an elevation
of some 5000 feet, while those peaks are 13,000 feet high. Between
us and the base of the mountain no meaner object disturbed the view,
which ranged uninterrupted across dim tracts of earth and stone,
tinted with shades of ochre in the burnt grass and scanty stubble,
but treeless, without verdure of any kind. In the east the limit
of the plain is the outline of the border ranges, of which we were
touching the skirts; they describe a wide curve, concave towards the
expanse, and appear to pass over into a meridional direction before
the point of intersection with the volcanic mass. Their sides are bare
of vegetation, as are those of the volcano, and they are much broken
into hummock forms. From north-west descend the slopes of the Chaldir
system, of which the base is inclined towards the plain. In the west
the eye is unable to discern a boundary to the misty distance of flat
or undulating ground. A little to the right of the white summits in
the south your attention is directed to a slender line of grey--a
low relief upon the surface of the plain. It is Alexandropol; such
is the first view of the site of the city, backed by Alagöz. We made
rapid progress across the level interval and arrived in the town at
a quarter before one.



CHAPTER IX

AT ALEXANDROPOL


The city and district of Alexandropol are included in the
administrative division of the Government of Erivan. Yet they are
separated from the capital and territory of that name by a natural
barrier of vast extent. The mass of Alagöz, which one may compare
to a gigantic shield with a central boss, interrupts communication
with the valley of the Araxes. It must be turned and cannot be
crossed. In a geographical sense the province of Alexandropol unites
more naturally with that of Kars; while, if we measure its importance
by the populousness of its principal town, it deserves to enjoy a
position of primacy in the Government of which it may form part. The
city has double the number of inhabitants as compared to Erivan,
if I can trust the figure given me by the governor and corroborated
by the leading notables--a round total of 30,000 souls. [60]

Its extreme youth and the fact that it is almost exclusively peopled
by Armenians are the most remarkable features about Alexandropol. At
the commencement of the nineteenth century the site was partly vacant
and partly tenanted by an insignificant village called Gümri. The
district formed part of the outlying province of Shuragel, [61] which
belonged to the Georgian kingdom at the time of the annexation of
Georgia by Russia in 1801. The Cossacks who came to take over this
important piece of territory appear to have established a camp in
the vicinity of Gümri; the place was early developed into a frontier
station on the side of Turkey, and in 1817, when it was visited by
an English traveller, was already occupied by a considerable Russian
garrison. [62] In the war between Russia and Turkey, which broke
out in the spring of 1828, this partially fortified position served
the Russians as an advanced base. It was on the line of advance or
defence on the side of Gümri that the Russian military authorities
placed the greatest store. There the Russian possessions were most
open to attack; but, on the other hand, it was through Gümri that
they could take the offensive with the greatest advantage, since it
enabled them to cut off Akhaltsykh and the northern provinces from
Erzerum and those upon the west. How Turkey could have permitted her
powerful neighbour to acquire this strip without an appeal to arms can
probably best be explained on the ground of Oriental fatalism. When
Marshal Paskevich had taken Erivan and concluded the war with Persia
by the Peace of Turkomanchai (February 1828), his hands were free
to cut large slices from the Ottoman empire; and it was at Gümri,
overlooking the Arpa Chai, the boundary against Turkey, that he
effected the concentration of his troops. From Gümri he set out in
person at the head of his army on the 26th of June 1828. The outcome
of this war was the capture of Kars and Erzerum, and the permanent
acquisition by Russia of Akhaltsykh and the northern districts under
the Treaty of Adrianople (1829). The restoration to the Sultan of the
two first-named strongholds increased the strategical value of the
station on the Arpa Chai. Gümri was slowly but persistently converted
into a first-rate fortress, the necessary timber for the constructions
being supplied to his hereditary enemies by the Pasha of Kars from
the forests of the Soghanlu Dagh. In 1836 the place was visited by
the Emperor Nicholas I. in person, who inspected the works, which,
however, were only in an inchoate state. [63] The inhabitants date
the prosperity of their town from the Imperial visit, which at once
inaugurated an era of rapid expansion and transformed the village of
Gümri into the city of Alexandropol. Since Russia has become possessed
of Kars, the fortress on the Arpa has somewhat declined in importance;
but it is still occupied by a considerable garrison, and the strength
of its defences should enable it to give a good account of itself in
time of war.

Our experiences at Akhaltsykh had warned me to proceed with caution in
endeavouring to realise the topography of the site. It was not often
or in public that I could have recourse to my compass; yet I contrived
to collect sufficient particulars of an innocent nature to supply my
own wants and those of my lay readers. Conceive in the first place a
fordable river flowing on a southerly course through a plain of vast
extent and slightly basin-like surface. On the left or eastern bank
beyond a strip of quite level ground rises a ridge of insignificant
elevation, roughly parallel to the stream. Of no great breadth upon
the summit, it tends to circle inwards on the north of the town, which
it screens from the river. South of the site it dies away into the
plain. The north-west angle of this ridge is occupied by the citadel,
and consists of a spacious table surface, with plenty of room for
barracks and magazines. The entire formation is strongly fortified
with earthworks and with massive structures in brick or stone. Such
is the principal or, at least, the most conspicuous feature in the
defences of Alexandropol. But it is by no means the only advantage
which they derive from Nature.

Just inside and, therefore, east of this longitudinal ridge a second
back of nearly equal height and of similar direction rises beyond a
ravine which is threaded by a brook, and which widens as it extends
from the citadel towards the south. It forms the standpoint from which
I took my photograph of the town (Fig. 24), extending eastwards at
its skirts. The tombs seen in the foreground belong to a straggling
Armenian cemetery. From this position on the inner ridge I estimated
the distance across the ravine at about five hundred yards, and our
distance from the river at about three-quarters of a mile. As the
valley narrows towards the citadel, it is filled with the trees of
a little park, whither the citizens repair to escape the dazzling
light of summer and to enjoy the contrast of deep shade and murmuring
waters. It forms a welcome patch of verdure in the treeless expanse. On
this same ridge, but further south, are seen the graves of officers
and men who fell in the last Russo-Turkish war. They are grouped
about a monument to Loris Melikoff; but I believe that great general
of Armenian origin is buried at Tiflis.

In the manner I have tried to describe, Alexandropol is screened on
the west at first by the river, and then by two long ridges, with a
valley between which may be compared to a gigantic moat. I am not
aware that the inner crest is strengthened by fortifications; but
it offers an admirable second line of defence. The curious feature
about the site is that the ridging formation is not yet exhausted;
three minor and roughly parallel elevations are covered with the
houses of the town. They cause the streets to go up and down, and make
them none too pleasant walking. As a fortress, I should be inclined
to conclude that the place is weak upon the east and south; while
the nature of the ground beyond the river, rising as it does from
the right bank to a height almost equal to that of the outer ridge,
exposes it to a bombardment from that side.

It must not be supposed that these characteristics of the topography
are prominent in the landscape. They are lost in the folds of
the plain and overpowered by the scale of their surroundings. Look
where you will, you have around you the floor of a sea-like expanse,
bounded at immense intervals by mountainous coasts. In the east it
is the indented outline of the range on the side of Georgia, curving
round from a south-easterly into a due meridional direction as it
approaches the point of intersection with Alagöz. From that point
the great volcano composes a side of the frame, inclining a little
south of an east-west line. It forms a magnificent object as seen from
Alexandropol, high in the sky, yet with scarcely perceptible gradient
in the profile on either side of the core of precipitous peaks. You
follow its train declining into the vague spaces of the west, where
the bulging convexities become broken into hummock forms. The greatest
breadth of the plain, as it appears to the eye, would be measured from
the wall of the range which intersects with Alagöz to a distant mass
of mountain in the south-west. That vague boundary probably belongs
to one of the elevations on the plateau which extends between Kars
and the Araxes. Between it and the skirts of the volcano there is a
broad depression in the outlines, giving passage to the Arpa Chai. The
misty prospects on the west and north-west did not reveal during the
course of our stay the limits of the level surface in those directions.

Let us see now what these latter-day Armenians have made of their
city; for the public and private edifices are creations of their
own. It is evident that they have inherited the love of building
which distinguished their forefathers, and that the craft of that
excellent masonry which we admire in their ancient monuments has not
become extinct. On the other hand, they share to the full in the
tastelessness of the modern peoples in the decorative arts. Their
churches are at once pretentious and commonplace both in design and
in ornamentation. Of those exquisite mouldings with their lace-work
chisellings which adorn the exteriors of their mediæval counterparts
there is, indeed, scarcely a trace on these ambitious structures. But
even the standard of the seventeenth century, of which many a specimen
has been preserved elsewhere, notably in the porches of much older
churches, has not been maintained into our times. Size and a certain
effect, rather than elegance of proportion and a loving care for
detail, are the characteristics of the new style. The cathedral,
dedicated to the Trinity, is a spacious building, which is held up
to your admiration, as blending the features of the old models. It is
difficult to understand how such an assertion and such a comparison can
be forthcoming from people who have at their doors in the neighbouring
cloister of Marmashen an example of the art of their ancestors. I need
only say of the cathedral that it is built of black volcanic stone,
relieved by courses of the same material but with a ruddy hue. I was
informed that it was commenced in 1859 and completed in 1874.

Besides this temple the Gregorian Armenians have three churches,
of which the most considerable is a large structure in grey stone,
named after the Virgin Mary. The Armenian Catholics are possessed of
a single but roomy church. The Greek chapel of St. George is of some
interest because of its connection with the Greek colony of Erzerum,
who, like so many of the ancestors of the Armenian inhabitants of
Alexandropol, followed the armies of Marshal Paskevich upon his
evacuation of Turkish territory. It contains a picture of St. George
and the dragon (Fig. 25) which is of considerable merit, and is said
to contain the date of 1327. But those figures, as they now appear,
are due to a recent restoration. The father of a M. Mergoroff, whom I
met during my stay, was principally concerned in its transportation
at the time of the exodus. I understand that it was brought to
Gümri, whence it migrated to a village called Zalga, only returning
after the lapse of seven years. M. Mergoroff writes a curious hand,
partly composed of Greek letters and partly based upon the Russian
alphabet. This characteristic may correspond to the present culture
of his countrymen at Alexandropol, numbering some four hundred souls.

This flourishing town is badly supplied in respect of education, the
Armenian schools being restricted by Government to a purely elementary
course, and having the rank only of schools of two classes. [64]
They are three in number and are attended by 700 boys, besides two
institutions which dispense instruction to 500 girls. The Russian State
school is said to be limited in accommodation, and is attended by no
more than 140 youths, principally Armenians. The inhabitants have
been agitating for a Russian gymnasium or High School, such as has
been vouchsafed to their less numerous compatriots at Erivan. They
attribute their ill-success and the greater advantages enjoyed by
Akhaltsykh to the fact that the latter town belongs to the Government
of Tiflis while they are dependent upon Erivan. At Alexandropol I heard
little of the much-vexed school question, which I shall treat in a
subsequent chapter. But the inhabitants were loud in their complaints
that, while forbidden to raise the standard of their own schools,
they were not provided with adequate education by Government. Such
a situation is typical of the application of Russian methods, and
would be humorous if its results were less grave.

I must have spent much of my time in attending the various ceremonies
attendant upon the wedding of a M. Ter Mikelean. I think I may have
come near to getting married myself, the lady being none other
than his intended bride. For on one occasion, when we were all
assembled in a lower apartment, and, the bride's father being dead,
her nearest male relation was conducting her sale by formal auction,
my own bid seemed for some time to hold its own against all rivals,
amounting, so far as I remember, to twenty pounds. I was relieved at
discovering that there was a want of reality about the proceedings,
and that it had been arranged beforehand that the damsel should be
knocked down to the chosen bridegroom. When we were taken upstairs,
and, among a throng of women, were permitted to gaze upon the girl's
features, my apprehensions were almost converted into regret. Such
a sweetly pretty face, recalling the favourites of Andrea del Sarto,
with their fresh simplicity and candid eyes! I was in part rewarded
by her consenting to form the centre of a wedding group, and thus
to enable me to perpetuate her youthful beauty (Fig. 26). The lady
with the head-dress, standing behind her, is her amiable mother, a
type of Giovanni Bellini; while the gentleman with his back to the
wall is M. Vahan Barsamiantz, engaged in an export business of the
fruits of the castor-oil plant, which is cultivated in the valley of
the Araxes. The musicians in the foreground were the most lively and
strenuous performers I have ever met, being rarely silent and never
tired. Every member of the group was an Armenian. When night came there
were dances in the open air to the light of streaming torches. The
strains were not yet hushed as we regained our encampment, which we
had placed in a shabby garden of the suburbs.

I must not omit a notice of an excursion which we made to the
neighbouring cloister of Marmashen. It is a monument of the period of
the mediæval kings of Armenia, and is of the same order of architecture
as those at Ani. It is situated about five miles north of Alexandropol,
on the rocky banks of the Arpa Chai. As we drove over the plain, we
remarked that ploughing had not yet commenced, and that the stubble
still stood in the somewhat stony soil. Not a fence or other boundary,
and not a single tree diversified the expanse of ground. Sowing takes
place in April, rains fall in May and June, and the harvest is gathered
during July and August. The surroundings of the monastery are bleak
and unrelieved by vegetation; the church and chapels are falling into
ruin, and rise from among piles of débris. My illustration (Fig. 27)
displays the principal edifice from the south-west and the chapel
which adjoins it on the south. A companion but larger chapel on the
north is hidden from view, [65] and a third structure of the same
order, but more distant on that further side, is beyond the range of
the picture. The visitor cannot fail to admire the simplicity of the
design of the church and the absence of any excrescences. The device
of the niche has been used to lighten the wall on the east, where the
plan of the interior requires an apse and two side chapels. Each of
the two recesses upon that side has a depth of 3 feet 8 inches; while
the similar features on the north and south sides have probably been
added for the sake of uniformity. The wall spaces have been diversified
with elegant false arcades, and the window on the west is framed in a
band of exquisite chiselling. All these features will be familiar to my
reader when he has read my account of Ani, and I need not, therefore,
dwell upon them in this place. He will also become acquainted with
the personages who erected these edifices, and whose names figure
in the long inscriptions on the walls of the church. From these we
learn that it was built by none other than the great prince Vahram,
the hero of the resistance offered by the inhabitants of Ani to the
occupation of their city by the Byzantine Cæsar. It was commenced in
the year A.D. 988, and does not appear to have been completed until
1029. [66] On the other hand, a memorial tablet, inserted into the wall
on the west, contains a well-preserved inscription which we copied,
giving the date of 470 of the Armenian era, or A.D. 1021. Presumably
the building would have been in use at that time. According to an
inscription on the north wall it was extensively restored in A.D. 1225
by descendants of Vahram. [67] The wife of that prince and perhaps,
too, his own remains were buried at Marmashen.

The interior, a nave and two narrow aisles, has a length of 61 feet,
measured to the head of the apse, and a breadth of 34 feet. The daïs
of the apse is not less than 4 feet in height, the face of the daïs
being decorated with a sculptured frieze of intricate design. In
other respects the masonry is free of ornament, and the walls have
been left bare. The name of the cloister is said to be a corruption of
Marmarashen, which would signify the marble edifice. Yet the material
used is a pink volcanic stone, and I did not observe any marble about
the church. A porch extended at one time the whole breadth of the
façade, and must have had a length of nearly 37 feet. A prominent
feature of this approach were four octagonal pillars, of which the
remains still exist. They have a circumference of 7 feet 10 inches in
the shaft. I cannot say that I admire the dome, and it is, perhaps,
due in its present form to the restoration of the thirteenth century.



CHAPTER X

TO ERIVAN


During our stay at Alexandropol it had required no small effort
to detach our minds from the paramount object with which they
were filled. Every day, every hour, which separated us from Ararat
diminished the prospects of a successful ascent. We were impatient,
and anxious to leap the intervening stages, like pilgrims almost in
sight of their long-sought shrine.

It was, therefore, with a sense of relief that, at one o'clock, on
the 12th of September, we set out from the city in the direction of
Alagöz. We were to make for the passage between the volcano and the
border mountains, and to rest in that valley for the night. The road
is a mere track, yet we were able to engage a private carriage to take
us to Erivan. One is astounded in the East at the performances of a
victoria, should the necessities of a European or the ostentation
of an Oriental have summoned such an object of luxury to their
wilds. Our luggage accompanied us in a springless waggon, which,
like the carriage, was privately horsed. The post road to Erivan
makes the long deviation down the valleys of the border ranges to
the junction with the road from Tiflis at the station of Delijan.

The great plain lay around us, level and devoid of objects, like the
bosom of a sea. Before us stretched the mountain, the unwieldy bulk
of a colossus, a formidable barrier to the country on the south. In
such an expanse the human note is overwhelmed by Nature; one hardly
notices the signs of the presence of ubiquitous man. There are villages
which you scarcely see until you have passed within their precincts;
such were Tapa Dolak, through which we drove at a quarter before one,
and Golgat, which we reached at four o'clock. Both are inhabited
by Armenians; neither possesses a school or school-house, but the
second owns and the first was building a church. After obtaining a
view, on our right hand, of two considerable Armenian villages, we
arrived at Norashen, where we were to rest the horses, at half-past
four o'clock. It is an Armenian settlement with ninety-five tenements
and a population of 900 souls, and it was in process of erecting a
school. Let the reader picture to himself rude structures of stone and
wood and earth, which, at one end, issue upon irregular little lanes,
and, at the other, are buried into a slope of the ground. Through such
entrances you pass to subterraneous chambers which serve as stables
and as living rooms. In the midst of these sordid surroundings four
stone walls are a prominent object; they belong to a little chapel,
which has a roof of sods and a bare interior; the bells are hung in
a wooden structure at the side. Men with tanned complexions, deep
wrinkles, and bent knees issue from the tenements and slouch along the
lanes. Children crowd about you, their little stomachs unduly swollen
and barely covered by a single cotton shirt. Nobody can read or write;
we questioned several. Such is the description which, with variations,
applies to most of these villages, and is true of Norashen.

With what emotion one turned to the contemplation of the magnificent
landscape which was outspread at our feet! The squalor of man, the
grandeur of his natural environment--the reflection recurs and recurs
in the East. We were standing on the lower slopes of the mountain,
some 1500 feet above the floor of the plain. A gentle incline, of
which the surface was checkered with alternate patches of fallow and
stubble, stretched away from a foreground of loose stones and garnered
corn-land to the dim lights and opaline mists of a vast amphitheatre,
where the expanse of level land was confined and choked by a wide
girdle of mountains--long volcanic outlines and fantastic shapes of
cone and peak mingling with the gloom of the distance and the gloom of
the sky. But the zenith was intensely blue, and we breathed a strong,
yet sunlit air. Behind us, in the opposite segment of the heaven,
white, luminous clouds touched and concealed the snowy region where
Alagöz sits enthroned; yet we were able to observe that the snow lies
in drifts within that region, for many of the flatter places were
free of snow. A prominent feature, to which I have already alluded,
is the manner in which the heart, or central rock mass of the volcano,
is seen to rise beyond the edge of a rounded bank of softer texture,
which follows the inner ridge at a respectful interval, and appears
to be separated from it by a deep ravine. One cannot fail to observe
the contrast between the roundness and softness of the outwork and
the steep sides and black rocks of the inner ridge.

In fact, as you skirt the slopes of the volcano, you never touch
the sides which mount immediately to the snows. You follow along the
direction of gently vaulted banks of soil, parallel to the upstanding
core of the mass. Their surface is patched with cultivation to a height
which has been estimated at 8300 feet. [68] The herbage is sweet and
produces excellent crops of hay; the earth is black and rich. Soon
after leaving Norashen--we started at about six--you turn the flank
of the range which meets the volcano at right angles, and then recedes
in a hollow, concave to the shield-shaped pile. You enter the passage
between Alagöz and the border mountains, and you arrive at the head
waters of the southward-flowing streams. In this region are situated
Güzeldere and Kerwanserai, the first an Armenian village, the second a
Kurdish settlement. In the latter we found a station-house maintained
by Armenians, who provided us with a guide and a Chinese lantern to
take us to the guest-house, distant about two versts, which stands
above the village of Haji Khalil. It occupied us some little time,
groping our way through the thick darkness, and we did not arrive
until eight o'clock.

The little guest-house proved a dreary and comfortless shelter; we
sighed for the comparative luxury of a Persian chapar-khaneh or the
cleanliness of a Swiss hut. A fetid odour exuded from the peeling walls
and cracked flooring, and legions of active fleas rose from beneath
the boards. We slept, as we might, on the wooden takht or daïs, until,
at half-past one, the door thundered with heavy knocks. After some
parley the intruders were admitted to our chamber--was it a dream,
or whence issued these strange shapes? One awaited the wild staccato,
followed by the flowing iambic:--


        astrôn katoida nykterôn homêgyrin
        kai tous pherontas cheima kai theros brotois
        lamprous dynastas emprepontas aitheri [69]


Yet the floor, the walls, the companions were all real--everything,
except those figures at the door. The flicker of a lamp was reflected
upon their bearded faces and bare necks, upon the heavy folds of the
brown draperies hanging about their shoulders, upon the blunt ends of
their wooden staves. Did they proclaim the line of bonfires?--Watchmen,
stationed by an unseen hand to guard us, and come to announce the
break of day. The break of day? It cost us a pang to convince them
of their error; we were loth to commence fresh contests with the
fleas. Poor watchmen, who had forestalled the stars with longing for
the morning! How many times was Troy taken in watchmen's dreams?

September 13.--At a quarter to six we were on the road. A chill was in
the air, and heavy, sleepy clouds lay on the ground. But the zenith
was softly blue, and a pleasant light fell on the valley with its
spacious floor and ample expanse of sky. Our station was situated at
a slightly higher altitude than the threshold of the pass; I should
estimate our elevation, from the readings of my barometers, at about
7000 feet. After an hour's drive, our track joined a newly-made
road, metalled and ditched on either side; progress was fairly rapid
down the incline of the valley, parallel with the current of the
Abaran. This road was intended to serve as the postal avenue to Erivan
from Alexandropol, and it bifurcates from the existing post road;
but a series of misfortunes appear to have attended its construction,
and it had not yet been used by the post. Verst after verst we drove
along it, through a landscape which changes little from the features
at the entrance of the pass. On our right hand rose the huge volcano,
no longer an extended horizontal outline, but a shield-shaped mass,
bellying upwards to the rim of a crater, which circled from us with
a wide sweep (Fig. 28). The slopes of the mountain were inclined
at an angle of scarcely more than eleven degrees--soft convexities,
broken into gullies and little hummocks, and, here and there, strewn
with a shingle of greenish hue. The peaks had gradually disappeared
as we rounded the base of the pile--a transition of which the phases
were frequently withdrawn from observation through the incidence of
clouds. On our left, at varying but always ample interval, the outer
spurs of the border mountains described a parallel half-circle with the
contour of Alagöz--one might almost mistake them for some outer shell
of the volcano, so closely did they appear to follow the curve of its
base. But, unlike their big neighbour, the slopes of these outworks
were covered with brushwood, which developed into dwarf trees as we
advanced. The floor of the valley revealed in most parts the hand
of the reclaimer, by the side of a stretch of turf, by the margin
of a rotting marsh. Yet mile after mile we could see no settlement;
we seldom met a wayfarer, except for some drivers with a string of
donkeys, laden with grapes from the valley of the Araxes, and a group
of supple Kurdish girls. At a quarter to eight we drew rein for a few
minutes in the large Armenian village of Bash Abaran. The inhabitants
were busy getting in their corn from the open; here and there it had
not yet been cut. In another hour we opened out a vista of Ararat,
and, at a quarter to ten, we feasted our eyes upon the whole majestic
fabric, before descending into the village of Ali Kuchak.

One may safely say of the scene which expanded before us that it
is unsurpassed upon the surface of our globe. Nor is it difficult
to account for the strength and permanence of the impression which
it produces upon the mind. Nowhere has Nature worked on a scale
more stupendous; yet on none of her works has she bestowed greater
unity of conception, a design more harmonious, surroundings more
august. Whatever mysteries compose the spell of the wide ocean and
the open firmament, all the exquisite shades of light which temper
the gloom of a northern climate, all the many-coloured radiance of
the south, have been lavished upon the panorama which centres in
Ararat and is spread like a kingdom at his feet.

Seen at this distance--measured on the map it is a space of fifty-six
miles to the summit--the mountain is little more than an outline
upon the horizon; yet what an outline! what a soul in those soaring
shapes! Side by side stand two of the most beauteous forms in Nature,
the pyramid and the dome. Both are developed on lines of almost
ideal perfection, with proportions which startle the eye in spite
of all their symmetry; and both are supported by a common base. The
pyramid is one, and the dome is one; yet the structure is single
which they combine to raise. From the dim east into the dim west you
follow that long-drawn profile, rising from a distant promontory,
declining to a distant promontory, centring in the roof of the dome,
in the peak of the cone. The dome has an elevation of 17,000 feet,
the cone of nearly 13,000 feet; and the base reclines on a plain
which forms the greatest depression in the relief of Armenia, and
which has an altitude of scarcely more than 3000 feet above the sea.

The standpoint from which we looked upon the wonders of this landscape
were the basal slopes of the opposite colossus of Alagöz, where they
descend to that same spacious plain. It is the plain which the Araxes
waters; yet we could not see the river, hidden in the unseen hollow
of the expanse. Between us and our horizon flat tracts of naked earth
stretched away from the stony ground about us to a distant region
of half lights and soft mist; above those shadows rose the mountain,
bathed in light and luminous vapour, to wreaths of white cloud, hanging
to the snows of the dome. On our left hand, a wooded hill--the only
spot of verdure in the scene--jutted out into the levels from the
border ranges, which here recede from the plain. Its summit outline
is broken by a fantastic peak, like the comb of a cock, and it may
perhaps be identified with the volcanic elevation of Karniarch. Below
us lay the village, a cluster of stacks of tezek fuel, and driving
smoke, proceeding from scarcely visible huts of mud and stone. Ledges
or tongues of rock and cliff projected on our right from the base
of Alagöz; they represent the extreme outrunners of the northern
mountain and sink into the landscape, like the capes of a rock-bound
coast. We were about to leave that coast behind us and to cross the
floor of this sea-like plain; hues of ochre were lightly laid upon
its gently undulating surface and mingled with the nearer tints of
yellow and umber in the stubble and fallow of the cultivated land.

All our thoughts, our whole ambition, were centred on that distant
mountain; our emotions satisfied, we reflected that the spot where
we were standing was the nearest point which we should reach to the
summer resort of Darachichak. It might be possible to hire horses
and ride the distance of some twenty miles; all the official world
of Erivan would be assembled in that pleasant valley, and we had
need of their assistance for our ascent. So, once arrived within
the village, we sent for the elder; and we were glad to hear that
the place was the seat of a Pristav, or head of an administrative
group of villages. A lean and lank Armenian responded to our summons;
he came with a slouching gait and with sleep in his eyes, and he was
engaged in buttoning his long grey coat. The official dress of Russia
and the peaked cap of white canvas on such a truly Oriental figure as
this! However, he promised to procure us horses, and, putting faith
in his official dignity, I decided to split our party into two. My
cousin and myself would adventure upon the journey into the mountains;
Wesson, Rudolph and the Armenian would proceed in the victoria and
with the waggon to the town of Erivan.

Our companions started on their journey, while we with our saddles
made our way to a neighbouring village in which the horses were to be
found. We were accompanied by the Pristav's man, a sinister-looking
villain; the saddles followed on a bullock cart. But at a winding of
the path, just after leaving the settlement, the wheels sank into an
abysmal depth of mud. I have no doubt that this incident is of daily
occurrence, and that neither village would entertain the notion of
making a road. The horses were on the meadows; their owners refused
to catch them, and we were obliged to essay the task ourselves. But
in this open country they eluded all our efforts; we were obliged to
return without attaining our end. The Pristav received our maledictions
with equanimity, and we were reduced to the tame expedient of two
sorry ponies, which were only equal to carrying us to the nearest
considerable station on the road to Erivan.

How poor in resources is this magnificent country! what a curse
appears to lie on these fertile lands! Our Pristav had the charge of
thirty-six villages, of which six were inhabited by Persian Tartars
and the remainder by a population of his own race. His district
extended from Bash Abaran to Ashtarak; yet he told us that in the
whole of this considerable region there did not exist a single school.

Baffled of our purpose, we mounted our ponies and took to the road
to Erivan, two solitary figures in the lonely waste. The provincial
capital was over thirty-five miles distant, and it was already
half-past four o'clock. The prospect over the plain, which I have just
described, is so far deceptive that you under-rate the extension of
these stony basal slopes. This mistaken estimate is due in part to
the position of the hill of Karniarch, which blocks the view towards
the south-east. To gain Erivan, you are obliged to round the base of
that elevation; nor, in that direction, do the rocky inclines die
away in the level campagna before you have reached the gardens of
the town. The base of Alagöz appears to mingle with the base of the
volcanic masses which line the inner edges of the border range; mile
after mile you cross a bleak and boulder-strewn country which sweeps
into the plain. To add to our impression of the complete forlornness of
this region, a violent storm arose. The immense expanse of heaven was
filled with driving clouds, riven by lightning; the torrents roared,
and the blast bent the stunted bushes which rise along their margin
among the rocks. We were reminded of the famous night upon the Brocken,
as our tired ponies tottered forward into the blinding rain. Shelter
there was none; it was a case of struggling onwards and taking pleasure
in the elemental war. And the road! was there ever outside of Persia
such a strange caricature of a road? It wound like a snake, avoiding
every hillock; the traffic made short cuts from bend to bend. There
were bridges broken in the back with a ford alongside them; there
were yawning culverts and parallel tracks avoiding the horrors of the
metalled way. Not a soul did we meet, until, as the evening advanced,
we passed through some considerable Armenian villages which presented
the strange spectacle of a lamp-lit street. But where was Ashtarak,
the goal of our journey? should we ever accomplish our self-imposed
stage? When our mounts could go no further, my cousin points out a long
building by the side of a large church. No door could we see or opening
on to the ground, only a lofty verandah with a ladder, a feature which
recalled the old lawless times. We clamoured, and were admitted after
sundry explanations, and a stable was found for our weary hacks.

We were received by a young Armenian who spoke a little French, and
who ushered us into the presence of a vardapet or monastic priest. I
regret my inability to place on the page the handsome features of our
host, Monseigneur Achote--so he transcribed his rank and name. He
told us that we were welcome to the monastery of Mugni, and that
he himself happened to be the only priest in residence. Assisted by
his clerk, he busied himself about our comforts; clothed us afresh,
gave us to eat and drink. Monseigneur belongs to the new school of
Armenian ecclesiastics; he has received an excellent education, and
possesses wide sympathies and broad views. His room was littered with
books and papers; his talk was animated, and one could not doubt that
his ardent patriotism was sincere. Next morning--September 14--we
visited the church of Mugni, a plain but solid stone structure,
quite in the grand style. An open portal, resting on four solid
piers, gives access to the doorway with its richly carved mouldings,
and is surmounted by a little tower in which the bells are hung. The
exterior is of grey stone, varied by blocks of red volcanic rock; here
and there carved slabs of such rock have been inserted, a familiar
feature in Armenian architecture. The interior is quite plain and the
masonry uncovered; so thick are the walls that in the apse you are
shown two secret chambers built into the frame of the church. Access
to these chambers is obtained by removing a block of stone in the
ceilings of two recesses in the apse. In the old lawless times these
rooms served as a refuge; they are capacious and receive the light of
day. The head of St. George is preserved in a little side chapel, a
treasure of considerable value to the monastery. It seemed so strange
that our enlightened host should be profiting by the possession of
this relic, and I thought that he answered my smile. An inscription
informs us that the church was built--or may it not be restored or
embellished?--by Mgr. Peter of Argulis in the year of the Armenian
era 1118 or A.D. 1668, with his people's money and his own.

Monseigneur's windows looked out upon a wretched village, which
appeared doubly miserable in the cold light. At half-past nine we
mounted our ponies, and set out for Ashtarak. Mugni lies to the south
of the hill of Karniarch--a name which our native guide pronounced
Garnara. The surrounding country maintains the stony and inhospitable
character of the waste through which we had lately passed. A short
ride brought us to the descent into the little township--an oasis of
verdure, a pretty church, with a cluster of roofs and gables, tall
poplars, terraces of flat house-tops. But when we had passed within
the precincts, this pleasant impression faded; were the crumbling
walls of the houses in course of demolition, or was this rude masonry
of mud and stone succumbing to the storm of yesterday? We proceeded
down a narrow street which is lined with lofty trees and channelled
by a swirling stream. Here the owners of the ponies were lying in
wait for us; a sure instinct had placed them upon our way. According
to the published statistics Ashtarak possesses some 3000 inhabitants,
all of Armenian race.

By eleven o'clock we had procured horses and were again on the road to
Erivan. The entire region is strewn with rocks and presents the same
bleak appearance, except where, here and there, a stream descends the
barren slopes and sustains a slender line of green. In such places you
may discern the rare site of a village, a few poplars, the grouped
architecture of a church. At length, after long winding between the
stony eminences, we opened out a view over the great plain. The sky
had not yet cleared, and mists obscured the forms of the mountains;
but the whole lap of the plain was revealed. Patches of soft blue
relieved the surface of the dim country--the vegetation of the rich
campagna about the banks of the Araxes. We rode on, always descending,
over these stony uplands, until they dipped to the floor of the level
ground. Luxuriant gardens filled the gently-pursing hollow, intensely
green after the heavy rain of the preceding day. Pools of water lay
on the road; the water-courses were brimming over. The orchards were
clothed with fruit of ideal perfection in form and colour; we admired
the size and brilliant hues of the clustering peaches, side by side
with the bending branches of the apple and the pear trees, with the
deep shade of the walnut and the mulberry trees. Ripe grapes hung
in abundance from the low vine-stocks.... Such are the outskirts of
Erivan, a town embowered in foliage. We reached the central park at
half-past one o'clock.



CHAPTER XI

TO ARARAT


Erivan is a town of gardens in which a network of irrigation channels
preserves from early spring into late autumn the perfection of the
foliage. In the heart of the business quarter is situated a little
park, disposed into shady alleys and promenades for the citizens,
but presenting also pathless spaces of forest land. We were tempted
to pitch our tents in the secluded portion. But the storm had soaked
the soil; solid walls were a preferable shelter. We encamped in
the naked rooms of a building which faced the park and bore the
pretentious inscription, Hôtel de Londres. Our first care was to
dispatch a mounted messenger to General Frese, Governor of Erivan,
who was residing at the summer resort of Darachichak. I begged His
Excellency to instruct his people to assist us in our preparations,
and to furnish us with a letter to the commandant of the Cossacks,
stationed on the slopes of Ararat.

On the morning of the 16th of September our courier returned and
informed us that the Governor had sent the necessary instructions
to the Nachalnik, or chief of the district police. I had already
made the acquaintance of that important official, chief of police
for the district of Erivan, and acting chief of police for the
town of Erivan. A brief experience had taught me that without his
active co-operation all private efforts were made in vain; the
forces one set in motion returned in useless circles to the point
from which they had started. But it so happened that the Nachalnik
was an extremely amiable person; he had helped us, he would help us
again. Without delay he provided us with a letter to the Cossacks;
nothing remained but to make a start. But in the East one can never
count upon being able to proceed on one's journey before the cavalcade
is already on the outward road. I had read of the difficulties which
had been experienced by previous travellers in finding horses in the
district neighbouring Ararat to convey them to the higher slopes. I
had therefore made contracts with owners in Erivan to provide us
with the necessary animals. When I summoned these individuals, they
were no longer forthcoming, they were nowhere to be found. I then
endeavoured to hire a carriage, to take us as far as Aralykh, with
the resolve to trust to fortune later on. I offered handsome prices
to several drivers; they pleaded the badness of the road and refused
to go. Finally I had recourse to the posting authorities; they swore
that in all their stables not a single horse remained. Convinced of
the futility of further steps on my own initiative, I sought out the
private abode of the chief of police. The hour of the mid-day meal
was already over; a fierce sun was beating upon the silent streets.

I crossed the shady alleys of the little park, in which not another
person moved. A few steps through the blinding glare of an adjacent
side-road, deep in white dust, brought me to the enclosure which
surrounds the residence of the Nachalnik. I knocked at the little
postern door. A drowsy servant opened to me, and, in answer to my
enquiries, informed me that his master was asleep. Compromising for
once with the valuable principle of always addressing oneself to the
supreme authority, I turned away and walked to the station of the town
police. But not a single officer was in attendance at headquarters;
a couple of men were dozing in the guard room, outstretched upon the
wooden seats. No other course was open but to arouse the Nachalnik;
I returned and again knocked at the little door. It was pleasant to be
offered a seat in a spacious verandah, overlooking a garden; nor was
it long before the master of the house appeared. There are individuals
in whom a tendency to corpulence, while it appears to dispose them
favourably towards their fellow-men, has induced a provoking habit
of restful satisfaction, and has built up a wall of self-possession
against which nervous temperaments beat in vain. The Nachalnik was
not wanting in these passive qualities; and I could not doubt that
they would be exercised on the present occasion as I observed the
approach of his burly form. The white tunic was partially buttoned,
the hair was matted on the brow, the eyes were still heavy with
sleep. I quickly apprised him of the nature and extent of our troubles;
how the owners of our hired horses had broken their contracts, how
the various forms of transport had been successively requisitioned,
with equal failure in every case. Tartar pony men, Molokan droshky
drivers, Armenian posting contractors--not a man among them could
be induced to stir. Our luggage, accompanied by Wesson and Rudolph,
had left that morning in a waggon of the post; we ourselves were
determined to follow them, if necessary on foot. To this petulance
he replied with the utmost composure, to the effect that the people
were free to make their own bargains, and that he could not compel
them to go. It was the familiar story, the honourable attempt to rule
the East upon Western principles, the patient endeavour, rich both
in humour and in pathos, to infuse the drowsy mass with the elements
of vitality and make it respond to those inducements of enlightened
self-interest which move the peoples of the West. In the mouth of the
Nachalnik the enunciation of this principle was not without a certain
vein of almost tragic irony. Himself the child of a race which has
scarcely yet assimilated the motives and the restraints of civilised
life, he had been transplanted from the frozen North to this burning
valley; and the hot sun was already drying up those scanty springs
of action which had so recently been set free. It was plain that the
position could not be carried directly; but it occurred to me at that
moment that there was a weak place on another side. This heavy man,
whose languid negatives and long-drawn affirmatives were capable of
almost infinite resistance, could be stirred to a fury of words and
gestures by the suggestion that his authority had been slighted,
or his orders left unfulfilled. He had been endowed with a talent,
rare in one of his temperament, for grandiose histrionic expression;
and it was not so much, I think, the matter at issue which moved him,
as the favourable opportunity which was offered in such circumstances
for a luxurious display of his talent to himself. I had observed in the
garden the graceful figure of the young sergeant whom he had lent to
me the day before. He had changed his travelling dress for the elegant
skirted coat of Georgia; a row of silvered cartridge-heads glittered
upon his breast, and the dark moustache was carefully pencilled
upon the clean-shaven cheeks. I beckoned him to me and begged him
to confirm what I said. The sergeant had been obliged to use the
name of the Nachalnik, and in that name to threaten horse-owners
and posting contractors in turn. Yet not a man among them could be
made to move. I added that it would seem as if, in the absence of
the Governor, there was an end to all authority in the town. At this
speech the Nachalnik rose from his chair and summoned his servants
about him. He cursed the mongrel race of horse-keepers, Persians or
Tartars, the blood of brigands all. Who could tell in what holes these
thieves were hiding? We should go by the post, and post horses must
be found. Arrived at Aralykh, the Cossacks would mount us on their
own horses; and we should no doubt be able to impress some animals
in the neighbourhood for the transport of our tents. His emissaries
flew in all directions, with the result that, within the respectable
space of three hours, a post cart, drawn by a pair of horses, was
standing at our door.



Erivan is situated on the northern skirts of the valley of the Middle
Araxes--a valley distinguished by its important geographical situation,
by the great works of natural architecture which are aligned upon it,
and by the high place which it holds both in legend and in history
as the scene of momentous catastrophes in the fortunes of the human
race. The natural avenue from east to west across the tableland of
Armenia, it gives easy access to the heart of Asia Minor from the
shores of the Caspian Sea. The nations about and beyond the Caspian
have found their way along this avenue to the coasts of the Black Sea
and the Mediterranean; and, while tradition connects these scenes with
the site of Paradise, the bloody wars which they have witnessed have
suggested to a graceful writer the appropriate recollection of the
curse of the flaming sword. [70] Along the line of the 40th degree of
latitude a succession of plains extend across the tableland, varying
in their depression below the higher levels, watered by the Araxes
and by the upper course of the Western Euphrates, and each giving
access to the other by natural passages. The first is this valley of
the Araxes, with its more narrow continuation westwards through the
district between Kagyzman and Khorasan; the second is the plain of
Pasin; the third the plain of Erzerum. Yet while the plains of Pasin
and of Erzerum are situated respectively at an altitude of 5500 and
5750 feet, the valley of the Araxes in the neighbourhood of Erivan
is only 2800 feet above the sea. Both on the north and south of this
considerable depression, even the plainer levels of the tableland
attain the imposing altitude of 7000 feet, while its surface has been
uplifted by volcanic action into long and irregular convexities of
mountain and hill and hummock.

On either side of the extensive plain which borders the course of
the Middle Araxes rise mountains of astounding proportions and of
large variety of form. Let us dwell for a moment on the character
of the northern barrier, which closes the prospect from the slopes
of Ararat at a distance of from 30 to 50 miles. The immense bulk
of Alagöz extends across the horizon from the longitude of Ararat
to the districts adjoining the left bank of the Arpa Chai. In that
direction the mass occupies a space of about 40 miles, rising from
the level tracts through which the Araxes flows to a height of over
13,000 feet and inclined from north of east to south of west. The
snowy fangs of the shattered crater are situated a little west of the
longitude of the dome of Ararat; from those peaks the outline of the
mountain is shadowed on either side in an almost horizontal bar. On
the west the streams of molten matter have met with little resistance
to their onward flow; the eastern slopes have been confined by the
bulwark of the border ranges, and are of comparatively insignificant
extent. Where the base gathers beyond the river is a distance from
the slopes of Ararat of about 35 miles; the two summits are nearly
60 miles apart. Yet so large is the scale of this colossal mountain,
and so even the surface of the intervening plain, that, seen through
the clear atmosphere of an Eastern climate, it fills the eye with
its huge presence, sweeping the valley with massive foundations,
and drawn across the sky in a long and rounded bank, broken only by
the trident of shining peaks.

Such is the character, to a point about north of Ararat, of the
northern wall of this valley of the Araxes--the length of a single
mountain, an unbroken barrier from west to east. At that point the mass
of Alagöz meets the spurs of the border ranges, and its base mingles
with the base of the volcanic elevations which rise along their inner
edge. These elevations continue the wall of mountain eastwards, but
incline it towards the south; they come forward in front of the giant
volcano and narrow the plain. Yet so gradual is the transition that it
is scarcely perceptible; until the eye is awakened by the change in
the sky-line, so even before, so restless now, fretted by the shapes
of cones and little craters which, behind the soft convexities of
flanking outworks, feature the chain which separates the basin of
Lake Sevan from the waters which wash the base of Ararat.

On the southern side of the great plain there is a remarkable
correspondence with the northern border in the constitution of the
mountain masses, and an interesting difference in the manner in which
they are disposed. On the north you have first a single mountain,
and then a mountain system; on the south the line commences with a
mountain system and ends with a single mass. On the north the mountain
system steps out in advance of the mountain; on the south, by a happy
reversal of the order, the mountain stands forward alone. Alagöz and
the belt south of Lake Sevan are answered by the Ararat system and
by the fabric of Ararat.

The range which I have termed the Ararat system is known in the country
under the name of Aghri Dagh, a name which is equally applied to
Ararat, but of which the roughness on the palate appears to express
with greater felicity the rugged character of the system to which
Ararat belongs. From the wild and mountainous country which, about the
42nd degree of longitude, borders the right bank of the Upper Araxes
before it enters the plain of Pasin, there extends across the plateau
in an easterly direction a long and comparatively narrow range, which,
skirted on the one side by the course of the Araxes, and on the other
by the plain of Alashkert, composes the spine of this central region
of the tableland, and is interposed as a barrier between north and
south. The appearance of the chain presents a striking contrast to
the convex shapes which feature the adjacent landscapes; the sides
are abrupt, the summits sharp, and the peaks rise from deep valleys
to a height which reaches over 11,000 feet. Where the Araxes leaves
the narrows near the town of Kagyzman, this range is seen massed upon
the right bank of the river; and after following the stream along
the 40th degree of latitude, it inclines to the south-east. Aided by
this slight inclination in the direction of its southern barrier,
the valley rapidly expands, and attains its greatest dimensions at
a point just south of Alagöz. It is at that point that the western
slope of Ararat, which has risen in advance of this satellite system
from a low cape in the west, begins to gather in height and volume,
concealing the rough features of these obsequious mountains behind
the royal sweep of a long train.

At the back of this even western slope a pass of about 7000 feet
connects the fabric of Ararat with the spinal system which it succeeds
and resumes. Ararat takes up the line of the southern border,
and draws his entire length along the valley in a direction from
north-west to south-east (Frontispiece). There he stands, like some
vast cathedral, on the floor of the open plain. The human quality of
this natural structure cannot fail to impress the eye; and, although
its proportions are not less gigantic than those of the opposite mass
of Alagöz, it contrasts with the Cyclopean forms of that neighbouring
mountain a subtle grace of feature and a harmonious symmetry of
design. Slowly the long slope rises from the western distance, a
gently undulating line; and, as it rises, the base gradually widens,
advancing with almost imperceptible acclivity into the expanse of
plain. So it continues, always rising against the sky-ground, always
gathering at the base, until at a height of 13,500 feet it reaches
the zone of perpetual snow. The summit region of Ararat presents
the appearance of a vast dome of snow, crowning a long oval figure
of which the axis is from north-west to south-east. The whole length
of this roof, on its north-eastern side, is exposed to the valley of
the Araxes. The vaulting is less pronounced upon the west than on the
east, and ascends through a succession of snowfields to the highest
point of the dome. The average inclination of this north-western
slope, where it rises more immediately towards the summit from the
almost horizontal train, is only 18°, while its whole length has been
computed by Parrot at no less than 20 miles. From the massive roof,
which attains a maximum elevation of nearly 17,000 feet above the sea,
or 14,000 feet above the plain, the outline sinks by a steeper but
still easy gradient towards the south-east; the snow-covered slope
dips at an angle of about 30°, and the side of the dome, when seen
from that point of the compass, presents the appearance of an almost
perfect cone. The south-eastern side of Ararat is encumbered below the
snow-line by banks or causeways of piled-up rocks, which branch off
from wedge-shaped ridges descending fanwise from the summit region,
and fall into the plain. On the south-east these causeways narrow
the fork of an upland valley, of which the saddle is placed at a
height of 8800 feet. This valley separates the greater from the lesser
Ararat, and determines the extension of the south-eastern slope. The
horizontal distance of the valley from the summit of the greater Ararat
is about 5 miles. From this saddle the outline of the fabric rises,
and now more rapidly than before. The shape of a beautiful pyramid
is presented; the pointed summit reaches an altitude of about 13,000
feet, and is placed at a distance from the valley of only 2 miles. The
south-eastern slope of this lesser mountain at first declines with
rapid gradients, which give sharpness to the graceful cone, and then
is drawn through the eastern distance, a gently undulating outline,
sinking to a dim promontory in the east.

Such is the profile and such the appearance of the majestic structure
upon which eye and mind dwell. When we come to investigate the
underlying principle, we find that, along a line of upheaval which
has been uniform in a direction from north-west to south-east, two
mountains have been reared by volcanic action, their axes following the
line of upheaval and their summits 7 miles apart. The south-eastern
slope of the greater mountain and the north-western side of the
smaller are contiguous at an altitude of about 8000 feet; they meet,
as we have seen, in a fork or valley at an elevation which ranges
between 7500 and 8800 feet. In other words, this valley is the point of
intersection between the bases of either mountain; and that part of the
fabric which lies below it may be regarded as the common foundation
of both. But the base of the smaller and more pointed mountain is
merged into the base of the larger and less steep; and the forms of
the lower portion of the structure continue the contours of Great
Ararat as they sweep away to the south-east. The pyramid of Little
Ararat rises directly from the upland valley; Great Ararat rises from
the floor of the plain. These features lend unity to the whole fabric,
and preserve an exactly proportionate relation between the shape and
size of the two mountains and the protraction of their basal slopes.

The base or foundation of the Ararat fabric gathers immediately from
the surface of the plain, advancing ever further into the even country
as the weight of the upper structure grows. If the ground plan of the
entire fabric may be described as a long elliptical figure of which
the axis is from north-west to south-east, then the point at which the
base is most developed lies north-east of the summit of Great Ararat,
in the latitude of Erivan. When already, along the axis of this figure,
we have followed the long-drawn outline from the cape in the distant
west to where, beyond the Little Ararat, it slowly falls away into the
east, the eye turns naturally to the face of the mountain, and dwells
with ever-increasing admiration upon the subtle structural qualities
there displayed--the combination of grace with extraordinary solidity,
the easy transition from the lower to the middle slopes, and of these
to the uppermost seams. From the margin of the marshes which border
the right bank of the Araxes the ground commences to incline; yet so
gradual is at first the rise that, if we measure on our base plan,
we find that it is not more than about 3000 feet within a space of 10
miles. If it be permissible, in the gradual process from one gradient
to another, to fix a division between the upper structure and the base,
the dividing line may be drawn at an elevation of about 5800 feet,
at a distance from the summit of 6 1/2 miles, and of 10 miles from
the floor of the plain. Beyond that line, the seams which mount to
the dome of snow appear to commence their long climb; the eye follows
them on their upward course until they attain the summit region and
end in a long cornice of snow. The extraordinary elevation of Ararat
above the plain of the Araxes--it may be doubted whether there exists
in the world another mountain which rises immediately from a level
surface to such a height--is balanced and controlled by this broad
and massive base, and by the exquisite proportions of the upper
structure which rises to the snowy roof. Yet neither the strength
nor the symmetry of this admirable fabric has been proof against
decay. Momentous convulsions from within have completed the work of
gradual corrosion, and have opened a wide breach in the very heart
of the mountain, where it faces the river and the plain. From the
snow-beds of the lofty cornice to the base at the gathering of the
seams the whole side of Ararat has been fractured and rent asunder;
the standing portion overhangs the recess with steep walls, which
spread within it perpetual gloom. Further east, just in advance of
the saddle which divides the Ararats, a grassy hill of unwieldy shape
and flat summit interrupts the basal slopes, and offers an isolated
contrast to the symmetry of the neighbouring forms. The chasm of
Akhury and the hill of Takjaltu are minor features in the structure
of Ararat which are seen and recognised from afar.

But most of all, as we realise the vision, which in the noblest shapes
of natural architecture, the dome and the pyramid, fills the immense
length of the southern horizon and soars above the landscape of the
plain, the essential unity of the vast edifice and the correspondence
of the parts between themselves are imprinted upon the mind. If
Little Ararat, rising on the flank of the giant mountain, may recall,
both in form and in position, the minaret which, beside the vault
of a Byzantine temple, bears witness to a conflicting creed, this
contrast is softened in the natural structure by the similarity of the
processes which have produced the two neighbours, and by their intimate
connection with one another as constituents in a single plan. In this
respect they suggest a comparison to a stately ship at sea, with all
the close weaving and interdependence of hull and masts and sails. In
the harmony of a common system each supplements and continues the
other, and what Great Ararat is to the western portion of the fabric
Little Ararat is to that on the east. The long north-western slope of
the larger mountain is answered on the south-east by the train which
sweeps from the side of the smaller towards the mists of the Caspian
Sea; and there is the same correspondence between the slopes which are
contiguous as between those which are most remote. The steeper side
of the greater Ararat is turned towards the needle form of the lesser;
and, standing in the valley which divides the two mountains, it appears
that the degree of inclination of either slope is in exactly inverse
proportion to their size. This pleasing interplay between constancy in
essential principles and diversity of form invests the long outline
of the dual structure with a peculiar charm. The differing shapes
repeat one another, and one base supports the whole.

The plain itself, on the confines of which, and opposite to one
another, these several ranges and mountain masses rise, is not unworthy
of the works around it, and spreads at their feet a long perspective of
open and even ground. Where the valley attains its greatest extension,
just west of Erivan, the width of its floor, or level surface, is
over twenty miles; and even when the spurs of the Lake Sevan system
have inclined the northern boundary to the south, the space between
these spurs and the extreme base of Ararat is scarcely less than ten
miles. But these are divisions which the mind appreciates and the eye
is unable to perceive, so gradual is the transition from one level
to another, from plain to mountain-side. On the north the dappled
landscape of the campagna mingles with the patches of field and
garden which, fed by a number of slender rivulets, clothe the first
slopes of Alagöz; on the south the gathering foundations of Ararat
are accompanied by an almost insensible inclination in the surface
of the dry and sandy soil. From either side the prospect extends
unbroken to the long summit lines which confront one another at an
interval of nearly sixty miles. From invisible limits in the western
distance issues the looping thread of the Araxes, and, skirting the
base of the Ararat fabric, bends slowly south-eastwards and disappears.



The shady walks of the little park were beginning to fill with groups
of loungers when, at five o'clock in the afternoon of the 16th of
September, we started from the central square of Erivan. A single
horseman accompanied us, a chapar or courier belonging to the country
police. This was the first occasion, since we had entered Russian
territory, upon which an escort had been considered necessary by those
responsible for our safety. We were approaching the Turkish border, and
along that extended mountain frontier acts of brigandage are still not
unknown. Yet the prince of brigands, the redoubted Kerim, no longer
flouts the nachalniks; and a stream of laden carts and leisurely
wayfarers attests the public confidence. Slowly we threaded the
clay-built walls of successive orchards, the trees within them bending
with fruit, until beyond this oasis of foliage and freshness opened,
like an ocean at the mouth of a harbour, the free expanse of plain.

The springless troika bumped heavily on the projecting slabs of massive
boulders, embedded in the fairway. The road which leads through this
stony region is little better than a natural track. The rocky slopes
of the northern mountain border extend to the south of Erivan, until
they die away into the level surface of the valley a few versts from
the town. The evening was advancing and we had no time to linger;
we were obliged to put up with the jolting and push on. At the
promise of a rouble to the driver the pace quickened; we clutched
the bare sides of the little post cart, and tightened our seat on
the narrow belt of chains, cushioned with a bundle of hay. At the
half stage our courier took his leave and was succeeded by a fresh
horseman; and so throughout the journey one horseman gave place to
another with only a few minutes' delay. These chapars are young men,
native to the country, who find their own mounts; they wear the drab
skirted coat of Georgia and the usual lambskin cap. Their stations
are often isolated, and are distinguished by the curious structures
which adjoin them--lofty platforms, built upon piles, which serve the
purpose of watch towers, and from which they command the inequalities
of the ground (Fig. 29). Away on our right the distant chain of the
Ararat system was shadowed in tints of opal and indigo upon a rich
ground of orange and amber hues; the sun sets behind those mountains,
and it was touching with globe of red fire the fantastic peaks of
the range. About us the plain lay grey and dim, and all the light
and glory was in the western sky. In the south the misty fabric
of Ararat loomed more gigantic as night approached; ever higher,
before us, in the paling vault of heaven the dome and the pyramid
rose. As we neared the first station on the road to Aralykh, the
village of Aramzalu, it seemed as if the snowy roof of the mountain
were suspended in the sky above our heads, a cold and ghostly island,
holding the last glimmer of day.

Of the forty versts (26 1/2 miles), which separate Erivan from Aralykh,
we had covered thirteen versts (8 1/2 miles) within the space of an
hour and a half. The next stage is the village of Kamarlu, a distance
of fifteen versts. Between these two stations the road follows the
course of the Araxes, at an interval of two or three miles, and is
lined on either side by the walls of extensive gardens, watered by a
network of little channels which carry the river into the plain. The
character of the soil favours the well-metalled avenue which leads
within the fringe of poplars and fruit trees and forms the principal
artery of this fertile and populous zone. Night had fallen; the road
was clear; the fresh pair of horses were less than an hour in covering
the ten miles.

In the post house of Kamarlu, where we again changed horses, we
were surprised to find our cook. He had been retained as a hostage
for the way-money of the fourgon, which our people had been unable
to pay. We released him, and stowed him away with difficulty in
a corner of the cart. At Kamarlu you leave the region of gardens,
and make direct for the margin of the river, which flows between
high banks through a melancholy district of waste land and cracking
soil. In this yellow stream, of which the width at this point can
scarcely exceed eighty yards, it is difficult to recognise with
becoming emotion the haughty flood of the Araxes; yet the river is
still crossed by fords or ferries, and still retains, I believe,
the ancient distinction that it does not brook a bridge. A standing
hawser of woven wire is laid from bank to bank, and the force of the
stream propels along it a wide and solid pontoon. Transported without
delay to the opposite bank, we made rapid progress along the roadway
across low and marshy ground, and arrived just after nine at the row
of trim cantonments which compose the military station of Aralykh,
eleven versts from Kamarlu (Fig. 30).

We made halt before the entrance to a single-storeyed dwelling built
of clay and painted white. A young Russian officer in white linen
tunic received us at the door. As we passed within the house, the
burly figure of Rudolph was seen emerging from the shades. Our host
had lodged the whole party in his quarters, and would not hear of
our living in our tents. At Aralykh there are stationed a squadron
of Cossacks and a detachment of regular cavalry. The regulars are
employed in protecting the customs, and the Cossacks in hunting the
Kurds. It was interesting to notice the contrast--in demeanour as
well as in habits--between the polished young lieutenant of regulars
and the kind but boisterous colonel of Cossacks. How small are the
differences between opposite nationalities when compared with such
essential divisions as these! In this hospitable house the manners of
Europe prevailed over those of the East. As we sat in the comfortable
room of the Russian officer it was strange to reflect that we were
at the foot of Ararat, face to face with the memories of primeval
simplicity among the thousand pretty nicknacks of a leisurely writing
table and the various implements of a modern toilette. Perhaps the
link, which connects all human development, was in this case supplied
by a primitive reckoning table with rows of skewered beads.



CHAPTER XII

ASCENT OF ARARAT


Next morning the sun had already risen as I let myself down through
the open casement of the window and dropped into the garden among the
dry brushwood encumbering its sandy floor. Not a soul was stirring,
and not a sound disturbed the composure of an Eastern morning, the
great world fulfilling its task in silence and all nature sedate and
serene. A narrow strip of plantation runs at the back of Aralykh,
on the south, sustained by ducts from the Kara Su or Blackwater,
a stream which leads a portion of the waters of the Araxes into the
cotton fields and marshes which border the right bank. Within this
fringe of slim poplars, and just on its southern verge, there is
a little mound and an open summer-house--as pleasant a place as it
is possible to imagine, but which, perhaps, only differs from other
summer-houses in the remarkable situation which it occupies and in
the wonderful view which it commands. It is placed on the extreme
foot of Ararat, exactly on the line where all inclination ceases and
the floor of the plain begins. It immediately faces the summit of
the larger mountain, bearing about south-west (Frontispiece).

Before you the long outline of the Ararat fabric fills the southern
horizon--the gentle undulations of the north-western slope, as it
gathers from its lengthy train; the bold bastions of the snowfields,
rising to the rounded dome; and, further east, beyond the saddle where
the two mountains commingle, the needle form of the lesser Ararat,
free at this season from snow. Yet, although Aralykh lies at the flank
of Ararat, confronting the side which mounts most directly from the
plain to the roof of snow, the distance from a perpendicular drawn
through the summit is over 16 miles. Throughout that space the fabric
is always rising towards the snow-bank 14,000 feet above our heads,
with a symmetry and, so to speak, with a rhythm of structure which
holds the eye in spell. First, there is a belt of loose sand, about
2 miles in depth, beginning on the margin of marsh and irrigation,
and seen from this garden, which directly adjoins it, like the sea-bed
from a grove on the shore. On the ground of yellow, thus presented,
rests a light tissue of green, consisting of the sparse bushes of
the ever-fresh camelthorn, a plant which strikes down into beds of
moisture, deep-seated beneath the surface of the soil. Although it
is possible, crossing this sand-zone, to detect the growing slope,
yet this feature is scarcely perceptible from Aralykh, whence
its smooth, unbroken surface and cool relief of green suggest the
appearance of an embroidered carpet, spread at the threshold of an
Eastern temple for the services of prayer. Beyond this band or belt
of sandy ground, composed no doubt of a pulverised detritus, which
the piety of Parrot was quick to recognise as a leaving of the flood,
the broad and massive base of Ararat sensibly gathers and inclines,
seared by the sinuous furrows of dry watercourses, and stretching,
uninterrupted by any step or obstacle, hill or terrace or bank, to the
veil of thin mist which hangs at this hour along the higher seams. Not
a patch of verdure, not a streak of brighter colour breaks the long
monotony of ochre in the burnt grass and the bleached stones. All
the subtle sensations with which the living earth surrounds us--wide
as are the tracts of barren desert within the limits of the plain
itself--seem to cease, arrested at the fringe of this plantation,
as on a magician's line. When the vapours obscuring the middle slopes
of the mountain dissolve and disappear, you see the shadowed jaws of
the great chasm--the whole side of the mountain burst asunder from
the cornice of the snow-roof to the base, the base itself depressed
and hollow throughout its width of about 10 miles. No cloud has yet
climbed to the snows of the summit, shining in the brilliant blue.

It was the morning of the 17th of September, a period of the year
when the heats have moderated; when the early air, even in the plain
of the Araxes, has acquired a suggestion of crispness, and the sun
still overpowers the first symptoms of winter chills. [71] The tedious
arrangements of Eastern travel occupied the forenoon; and it had been
arranged that we should dine with our host, the Lieutenant, before
making the final start. Six little hacks, impressed in the district
and sadly wanting in flesh, were loaded with our effects; our party
was mounted on Cossack horses, which, by the extreme courtesy of the
Russian authorities, had been placed at our disposal for a week. We
took leave of our new friend under a strong sentiment of gratitude
and esteem; but a new and pleasurable surprise was awaiting us, as we
passed down the neat square. All the Cossacks at that time quartered
in Aralykh--the greater number were absent on the slopes of the
mountain, serving the usual patrols--had been drawn up in marching
order, awaiting the arrival of their Colonel, who had contrived to
keep the secret by expressing his willingness to accompany us a few
versts of the way. My cousin and I were riding with the Colonel,
and the purpose of these elaborate arrangements was explained to us
with a sly smile; the troop with their Colonel were to escort us on
our first day's journey, and to bivouac at Sardar Bulakh. The order
was given to march in half column. It was perhaps the first time that
an English officer had ridden at the head of these famous troops. We
crossed the last runnel on the southern edge of the plantation and
entered the silent waste.

For awhile we slowly rode through the camelthorn, the deep sand
sinking beneath our horses' feet. It was nearly one o'clock, and the
expanse around us streamed in the full glare of noon. A spell seems
to rest upon the landscape of the mountain, sealing all the springs
of life. Only, among the evergreen shrubs about us, a scattered group
of camels cropped the spinous foliage, little lizards darted, a flock
of sand-grouse took wing. Our course lay slantwise across the base of
Ararat, towards the hill of Takjaltu, a table-topped mass, overgrown
with yellow herbage, which rises in advance of the saddle between the
mountains, and lies just below you as you overlook the landscape from
the valley of Sardar Bulakh. Gullies of chalk and ground strewn with
stones succeed the even surface of the belt of sand, and in turn give
way to the covering of burnt grass which clothes the deep slope of
the great sweeping base, and encircles the fabric with a continuous
stretch of ochre, extending up the higher seams. Mile after mile we
rode at easy paces over the parched turf and the cracking soil. When
we had accomplished a space of about 10 miles, and attained a height
of nearly 6000 feet, the land broke about us into miniature ravines,
deep gullies, strewn with stones and boulders, searing the slope about
the line of the limit where the base may be said to determine and the
higher seams begin. Winding down the sides of these rocky hollows,
one might turn in the saddle at a bend of the track, and observe the
long line of horsemen defiling into the ravine (Fig. 31). I noticed
that by far the greater number among them--if, indeed, one might not
say all--were men in the opening years of manhood--lithe, well-knit
figures, and fair complexions, set round with fair hair. At a nearer
view the feature which most impressed me was the smallness of their
eyes. They wear the long, skirted coat of Circassia, a thin and worn
khaki; the faded pink on the cloth of their shoulder-straps relieves
the dull drab. Their little caps of Circassian pattern fit closely
round their heads. Their horses are clumsy, long-backed creatures,
wanting in all the characteristics of quality; and, as each man
maintains his own animal, few among them are shod. Yet I am assured
that the breed is workmanlike and enduring, and I have known it to
yield most satisfactory progeny when crossed with English racing
blood. As we rounded the heap of grass-grown soil which is known as
Takjaltu, we were joined by a second detachment of Cossacks, coming
from Akhury. Together we climbed up the troughs of the ridges which
sweep fanwise down the mountain side, and emerged on the floor of
the upland valley which leads between the greater and the lesser
Ararat, and crosses the back of the Ararat fabric in a direction
from south-west to north-east. We were here at an elevation of 7500
feet above the sea, or nearly 5000 feet above the plain. Both the
stony troughs and ridges, up which we had just marched, as well
as the comparatively level ground upon which we now stood, were
covered with a scorched but abundant vegetation, which had served the
Kurds during earlier summer as pasture for their flocks, and still
sheltered numerous coveys of plump partridges, in which this part of
the mountain abounds.

At the mouth of this valley, on the gently sloping platform which its
even surface presents, we marked out the spaces of our bivouac, the
pickets for the horses, and the fires. Our men were acquainted with
every cranny; we had halted near the site of their summer encampment,
from which they had only recently descended to their winter quarters
in the plain. As we dismounted we were met by a graceful figure,
clad in a Circassian coat of brown material let in across the breast
with pink silk--a young man of most engaging appearance and manners,
presented to us as the chief of the Kurds on Ararat who own allegiance
to the Tsar. In the high refinement of his features, in the bronzed
complexion and soft brown eyes, the Kurd made a striking contrast
to the Cossacks--a contrast by no means to the advantage of the
Cis-Caucasian race. The young chief is also worthy to be remembered
in respect of the remarkable name which he bears. His Kurdish title
of Shamden Agha has been developed and embroidered into the sonorous
appellation of Hasan Bey Shamshadinoff, under which he is officially
known.

From the edge of the platform upon which we were standing the ground
falls away with some abruptness down to the base below, and lends
to the valley its characteristic appearance of an elevated stage and
natural viewing-place, overtowered by the summit regions of the dome
and the pyramid, and commanding all the landscape of the plain. On the
south-west, as it rises towards the pass between the two mountains--a
pass of 8800 feet, leading into Turkish and into Persian territory,
to Bayazid or Maku--the extent of even ground which composes this
platform cannot much exceed a quarter of a mile. It is choked by the
rocky causeways which, sweeping down the side of Great Ararat, tumble
headlong to the bottom of the fork, and, taking the inclination of
the ever-widening valley, descend on the north-western skirt of the
platform in long, oblique curves of branching troughs and ridges,
falling fanwise over the base. The width of the platform, at the mouth
of the valley, may be about three-quarters of a mile. It is here that
the Kurds of the surrounding region gather, as the shades of night
approach, to water their flocks at the lonely pool which is known as
the sirdar's well. On the summit of the lesser Ararat there is a little
lake, formed of melted snows; the water permeates the mountain, and
feeds the sirdar's pool. Close by, at the foot of the lesser mountain,
is the famous covert of birch--low bushes, the only stretch of wood
upon the fabric, which is entirely devoid of trees. The wood was
soon crackling upon our fires, and the water hissing in the pots;
but the wretched pack-horses, upon which our tents had been loaded,
were lagging several hours behind. We ourselves had reached camp at six
o'clock; it was after nine before our baggage arrived. As we stretched
upon the slope, the keen air of the summit region swept the valley
and chilled us to the skin; the temperature sank to below freezing,
and we had nothing but the things in which we stood. [72] Our friends,
the Cossack officers, were lavish of assistance; they wrapped us in the
hairy coats of the Caucasus, placed vodki and partridges before us, and
ranged us around their hospitable circle, beside the leaping flames.

But the mind was absent from the picturesque bivouac, and the eye
which ranged the deepening shadows was still dazzled by the evening
lights. Mind and sense alike were saturated with the beauty and
the brilliance of the landscape, which, as you rise towards the
edge of the platform after rounding the mass of Takjaltu, opens
to an ever-increasing perspective, with ever-growing clearness of
essential features and mystery gathering upon all lesser forms. The
sun, revolving south of the zenith, lights the mountains on the north
of the plain, and fills all the valley from the slopes of Ararat
with the full flood of his rays--tier after tier of crinkled hummock
ranges, aligned upon the opposite margin of the valley at a distance of
over twenty miles, their summit outline fretted with shapes of cones
and craters, their faces buttressed in sand, bare and devoid of all
vegetation, yet richly clothed in lights and hues of fairyland--ochres
flushed with delicate madder, amethyst, shaded opaline, while the
sparse plantations about the river and the labyrinth of the plain
insensibly transfigure, as you rise above them, into an impalpable
web of grey. In the lap of the landscape lies the river, a thin,
looping thread--flashes of white among the shadows, in the lights a
bright mineral green. Here and there on its banks you descry a naked
mound--conjuring a vision of forgotten civilisations and the buried
hives of man. It is a vast prospect over the world.... Yet vaster far
is the expanse you feel about you beyond the limits of sight. It is
nothing but a segment of that expanse, a brief vista from north to
east between two mountain sides. On the north the slopes of Great
Ararat hide the presence of Alagöz, while behind the needle form of
Little Ararat all the barren chains and lonely valleys of Persia are
outspread.... The evening grows, and the sun's returning arc bends
behind the dome of snow. The light falls between the two mountains, and
connects the Little Ararat in a common harmony with the richening tints
of the plain. There it stands on the further margin of the platform,
the clean, sharp outline of a pyramid, clothed in hues of a tender
yellow, seamed with violet veins. At its feet, where its train sweeps
the floor of the river valley in long and regular folds--far away in
the east, towards the mists of the Caspian--the sandy ground breaks
into a troubled surface, like angry waves set solid under a spell,
and from range to range stretch a chain of low white hummocks, like
islands across a sea. Just there, in the distance, beneath the Little
Ararat, you see a patch of shining white, so vivid that it presents
the appearance of a glacier, set in the burnt waste. It is probably
caused by some chemical efflorescence, resting on the dry bed of a
lake. All the landscape reveals the frenzy of volcanic forces, fixed
for ever in an imperishable mould; the imagination plays with the forms
of distant castles and fortresses of sand. Alone the slopes about you
wear the solid colours, and hold you to the real world--the massive
slopes of Great Ararat, raised high above the world. The wreath of
cloud which veils the summit till the last breath of warm air dies
has floated away in the calm heaven before the western lights have
paled. Behind the lofty piles of rocky causeways, concealing the
higher seams, rises the immediate roof of Ararat foreshortened in
the sky--the short side or gable of the dome, a faultless cone of snow.

When we drew aside the curtain of our tent next morning, full daylight
was streaming over the open upland valley, and the vigorous air had
already lost its edge. [73] The sun had risen high above the Sevan
ranges, and swept the plain below us of the lingering vapours which
at morning cling like shining wool to the floor of the river valley,
or float in rosy feathers against the dawn. The long-backed Cossack
horses had been groomed and watered and picketed in line; the men
were sitting smoking in little groups or were strolling about the
camp in pairs (Fig. 32). A few Kurds, who had come down with milk
and provisions, stood listlessly looking on, the beak nose projecting
from the bony cheeks, the brown chest opening from the many-coloured
tatters draped about the shoulders and waist.

The space of level ground between the two mountains cannot much exceed
three-quarters of a mile. On the east the graceful seams of Little
Ararat rise immediately from the slope upon our right, gathering just
beyond the covert of low birchwood, and converging in the form of a
pyramid towards a summit which has been broken across the point. The
platform of this valley is a base for Little Ararat--the rib on the
flank of the greater mountain from which the smaller proceeds. So
sharp are the lines of the Little Ararat, so clean the upward
slope, that the summit, when seen from this pass or saddle, seems
to rise as high in the heaven above us as the dome of Great Ararat
itself. The burnt grass struggles towards the little birch covert,
but scarcely touches the higher seams. The mountain side is broken
into a loose rubble; deep gullies sear it in perpendicular furrows,
which contribute to the impression of height. The prevailing colour
of the stones is a bleached yellow verging upon a delicate pink; but
these paler strata are divided by veins of bluish andesite pointing
upwards, like spear-heads, from the base (Fig. 33).

Very different, on the side of Great Ararat, are the shapes which
meet the eye. We are facing the south-eastern slope of the mountain,
the slope which follows the direction of its axis, the short side or
gable of the dome. In the descending train of the giant volcano this
valley is but an incidental or lesser feature; yet it marks, and in
a sense determines, an important alteration in the disposition of the
surface forms. It is here that the streams of molten matter descending
the mountain side have been arrested and deflected from their original
direction, to fall over the massive base. The dam or obstacle which
has produced this deviation is the sharp, harmonious figure of the
lesser Ararat, emerging from the sea of piled-up boulders, and cleaving
the chaos of troughs and ridges like the lofty prow of a ship. The
course of these streams of lava is signalised by these causeways of
agglomerate rocks; you may follow from a point of vantage upon the
mountain the numerous branches into which they have divided to several
parent or larger streams. On this side of Ararat they have been turned
in an oblique direction, from south-east towards north-east; they skirt
the western margin of the little valley, curving outwards to the river
and the plain. It is just beneath the first of these walls of loose
boulders that our two little tents are pitched; beyond it you see
another, and yet another still higher, and above them the dome of snow.

The distance from this valley of the summit of Great Ararat, if we
measure upon the survey of the Russian Government along a horizontal
line, is rather over 5 miles. The confused sea of boulders, of which
I have just described the nature, extends, according to my own
measurements, to a height of about 12,000 feet. Above that zone,
so arduous to traverse, lies the summit region of the mountain,
robed in perpetual snow. From whatever point you regard that summit
on this south-eastern side, the appearance of its height falls short
of reality in a most substantial degree. Not only does the curve of
the upward slope lend itself to a most deceitful foreshortening when
you follow it from below, but, indeed, the highest point or crown of
the dome is invisible from this the gable side.

If you strike a direct course from the encampment towards the roof
of snow, and, crossing the grain of successive walls and depressions,
emerge upon some higher ridge, the numerous ramifications of the lava
system may be followed to their source, and are seen to issue from
larger causeways which rise in bold relief from the snows of the summit
region, and open fanwise down the higher slopes (Fig. 34). In shape
these causeways may be said to resemble the sharp side of a wedge; the
massive base from which the bank rises narrows to a pointed spine. As
the eye pursues the circle of the summit where it vanishes towards the
north, these ribs of rock which radiate down the mountain diminish in
volume and relief. Their sharp edges commence to cut the snowy canopy
about 3000 feet below the dome. It is rather on this south-eastern
side of Ararat, the side which follows the direction of the axis of
the fabric--the line upon which the forces have acted by which the
whole fabric has been reared--that a formation so characteristic of the
surface of the summit region at once attains its greatest development,
and is productive of a phenomenon which cannot fail to arrest the
eye. At a height of about 14,000 feet, a causeway of truly gigantic
proportions breaks abruptly from the snow. The head of the ridge is
bold and lofty, and towers high above the snow-slope with steep and
rocky sides. The ridge itself is in form a wedge or triangle, cut
deep down into the side of the mountain, and marked along the spine
by a canal-shaped depression which accentuates the descending curve
(see Fig. 34). The troughs and ridges, which you will now be crossing,
have their origin in this parent ridge; you see it bending outwards,
away from Little Ararat, and dividing into branches and systems
of branches as it reaches the lower slopes. Whether its want of
connection with the roof of Ararat, or the inherent characteristics of
its uppermost end, be sufficient evidence to justify the supposition of
Abich that this ridge at its head marks a separate eruptive centre on
the flank of Ararat, I am not competent adequately to discuss. I can
only observe that it is not difficult to find another explanation. It
is possible that the ridge where it narrows to the summit has been
fractured and swept away. This peak, or sharp end of the causeway,
to whatever causes its origin may be ascribed, is a distinguishing
feature on the slope of Ararat, seen far and wide like a tooth or
hump or shoulder on this the south-eastern side. [74]

Although the most direct way to the summit region leads immediately
across the zone of boulders from the camp by the sirdar's pool,
yet it is not that which most travellers have followed, or which
the natives of the district recommend. This line of approach, which
I followed for some distance a few days after our ascent, is open
to the objection that it is no doubt more difficult to scale the
slope of snow upon this side. The tract of uncovered rocks which
breaks the snow-fields, offering ladders to the roof of the dome,
is situated further to the south-east of the mountain, above the
neck of the valley of the pool. Whether it would not be more easy to
reach these ladders by skirting slantwise from the higher slopes,
is a question which is not in itself unreasonable, and which only
actual experience will decide. It was in this manner, I believe,
that the English traveller, my friend the Rt. Hon. James Bryce, made
an ascent which, as a feat, is, I think, the most remarkable of any
of the recorded climbs. Starting from the pool at one o'clock in the
morning, he reached the summit, alone, at about two in the afternoon,
accomplishing within a space of about six hours the last 5000 feet,
and returning to the point from which he started before sunrise on
the following day. We ourselves were advised to follow up the valley,
keeping the causeways upon our right, and only then, when we should
have reached a point about south-east of the summit, to strike across
the belt of rock.

At twenty minutes before two on the 18th of September our little party
left camp in marching order, all in the pride of health and spirits,
and eager for the attack. Thin wreaths of cloud wrapped the snows of
the summit--the jealous spell which baffles the bold lover even when he
already grasps his prize. We had taken leave of the Cossack officers
and their band of light-hearted men. Our friends were returning to
Akhury and Aralykh, the one body to hunt the Kurds of the frontier,
the other to languish in dull inactivity until their turn should
come round again. Four Cossacks were deputed to remain and guard
our camp; we ourselves had decided to dispense with any escort
and to trust to our Kurdish allies. Of these, ten sturdy fellows
accompanied us as porters to carry our effects, their rifles slung
over their many-coloured tatters beside the burden allotted to each
(Fig. 35). With my cousin and myself were the young Swiss, Rudolph
Taugwalder, a worthy example of his race and profession--the large
limbs, the rosy cheeks, the open mien without guile--and young Ernest
Wesson, fresh from the Polytechnic in London, burning to distinguish
himself. My Armenian dragoman followed as best he was able until
the camp at the snow was reached; his plump little figure was not
well adapted to toil over the giant rocks. Of our number was also
an Armenian from Akhury, who had tendered his services as guide;
he was able to indicate a place for our night's encampment, but he
did not venture upon the slope of snow.

A little stream trickles down the valley, but sinks exhausted at this
season before reaching the sirdar's well. In the early summer it is
of the volume of a torrent, which winds past the encampment, like a
serpent of silver, uttering a dull, rumbling sound. [75] It is fed
by the water from the snow-fields, and there is said to be a spring
which contributes to support it at a height of nearly 11,000 feet. [76]
After half an hour's walk over the stony surface of the platform--the
ragged herbage burnt yellow by the sun--we entered the narrows of
the mountain saddle, and followed the dry bed of this rivulet at the
foot of rocky spurs. The tufts of sappy grass sparsely studded on the
margin of the water-course gave place, as we advanced, to a continuous
carpet of soft and verdant turf; here and there the eye rested on the
deep green of the juniper, or the graceful fretwork of a wild rose tree
quivered in the draught. The warm rays flashed in the thin atmosphere,
and tempered the searching breeze. The spurs on our right descend
from the shoulder of Great Ararat, from the causeway of which it forms
the head, and are seen to diverge into two systems as they enter the
narrow pass. The one group pushes forward to the Little Ararat and
is lost in confused detail; the other and, perhaps, the larger system
bends boldly along the side of the valley, sweeping outwards towards
the base. At three o'clock we reached a large pool of clouded water,
collected on a table surface of burnt grass; close by is an extensive
bed of nettles, and a circle of loose stones. This spot is, no doubt,
the site of a Kurdish encampment, and appeared to have been only
recently abandoned by the shepherds and their flocks. The further we
progressed, the more the prospect opened over the slopes of Ararat;
we were approaching the level of the tops of the ridges which skirt
the valley side. Passing, as we now were, between the two Ararats,
we again remarked that the greater seemed no higher than the lesser,
so completely is the eye deceived. In the hollows of the gully there
were small pools of water, but the stream itself was dry.

By half-past three we had left the gentle water-course, and were
winding inwards, up the slope of Great Ararat, to cross the black and
barren region, the girdle of sharp crags and slippery boulders which
is drawn round the upper seams of the mountain, like a succession of
chevaux de frise. We thought it must have been on some other side
of Ararat that the animals descended from the Ark. For a space of
more than three hours we laboured on over a chaos of rocks, through a
labyrinth of troughs and ridges, picking a path and as often retracing
it, or scrambling up the polished sides of the larger blocks which
arrest the most crafty approach. The Kurds, although sorely taxed
by their burdens, were at an advantage compared to ourselves; they
could slip, like cats, from ledge to ledge in their laced slippers of
hide. In one place we passed a gigantic heap of boulders, towering
several hundred feet above our heads. The rock is throughout of the
same character and colour--an andesitic lava of a dark slaty hue. A
little later we threaded up a ravine or gully, and, after keeping for
awhile to the bottom of the depression, climbed slowly along the back
of the ridge. I noticed that the grain or direction of the formation
lay towards east-south-east. From the head of this ravine we turned
into a second, by a natural gap or pass; loose rocks were piled along
the sides of the hollow, which bristled with fantastic, but unreal,
shapes. Here a seated group of camels seemed to munch in silence
on the line of fading sky, or the knotty forms of lifeless willows
stretched a menace of uplifted arms. In the sheltered laps of this
higher region, as we approached our journey's end, the snow still
lay in ragged patches, which increased in volume and depth.... The
surface cleared, the view opened; we emerged from the troubled sea of
stone. Beyond a lake of snow and a stretch of rubble rose the ghostly
sheet of the summit region, holding the last glimmer of day.

It was seven o'clock, and we had no sooner halted than the biting
frost numbed our limbs. [77] The ground about us was not uneven, but
an endless crop of pebbles filled the plainer spaces between little
capes of embedded rock. At length upon the margin of the snow-lake we
found a tiny tongue of turf-grown soil--just sufficient emplacement
to hold the flying tent which we had brought for the purpose of this
lofty bivouac near the line of continuous snow. We were five to share
the modest area which the sloping canvas enclosed; yet the temperature
in the tent sank below freezing before the night was done. Down the
slope beside us the snow water trickled beneath a thin covering of
ice. The sheep-skin coats which we had brought from Aralykh protected
us from chill, but the hardy Kurds slept in their seamy tatters upon
the naked rocks around. One among them sought protection as the cold
became intenser, and we wrapped him in a warm cape. It was the first
time I had passed the night at so great an elevation--12,194 feet above
the sea--and it is possible that the unwonted rarity of the atmosphere
contributed to keep us awake. But, whether it may have arisen from the
conditions which surrounded us, or from a nervous state of physical
excitement inspired by our enterprise, not one among us, excepting
the dragoman, succeeded in courting sleep. That plump little person
had struggled on bravely to this his furthest goal, and his heavy
breathing fell upon the silence of the calm, transparent night.

The site of our camp below the snow-line marks a new stage, or
structural division, in the fabric of Ararat. Of these divisions,
which differ from one another not only in the characteristics presented
by each among them, but also in the gradient of slope, it is natural
to distinguish three. We are dealing in particular with that section
of the mountain which lies between Aralykh and the summit, and with
the features of the south-eastern side. First, there is the massive
base of the mountain, about 10 miles in depth, extending from the
floor of the river valley to a height of about 6000 feet. At that
point the higher seams commence to gather, and the belt of rock
begins. The arduous tracts which we had just traversed, where large,
loose blocks of hard, black lava are piled up like a beach, compose
the upper portion of this middle region, and may be said to touch the
lower margin of the continuous fields of snow. The line of contact
between the extremities of the one and the other stage partakes of the
nature of a transitional system, a neutral zone on the mountain side,
where the rocky layers of the middle slopes have not yet shelved away,
nor the immediate seams of the summit region settled to their long
climb. In this sense the fields of stone about our encampment, with
their patches of last year's snow, are invested with the attributes
of a natural threshold at the foot of the great dome. The stage which
is highest in the structure of Ararat, the stage which holds the dome,
has its origin in this threshold, or neutral district, at an altitude
which varies between 12,000 and 13,000 feet.

Very different in character and in appearance from the region we were
leaving behind was the slope which faced our encampment, robed in
perpetual snow. You have pursued the ramifications of the lava system
to the side of their parent stems; and in place of blind troughs and
prospectless ledges a noble singleness of feature breaks upon the
extricated view. You command the whole summit structure of Ararat
on the short, or gable side; and the shape which rises from the open
ground about you is that of a massive cone. The regular seams which
mount to the summit stretch continuous to the crown of snow, and are
inclined at an angle which diverges very little from an average of
30°. The gradients from which these higher seams gather--the slopes
about our camp--cannot exceed half that inclination, or an angle of
15°. Such is the outline, so harmonious and simple, which a first
glance reveals.... A more intimate study of the summit region, as it
expands to a closer view, disclosed characteristics which were not
exactly similar to those with which we had already become familiar in
the neighbourhood of Sardar Bulakh. It was there the north-eastern
hemisphere of the mountain--if the term may be applied to the oval
figure which the summit region presents--displayed to the prospect upon
the segment between east and south-east. Our present position lay more
to the southward, between the two hemispheres; we were placed near the
axis of the figure, and the roof, as viewed from our encampment, bore
nearly due north-west. The gigantic causeway which at Sardar Bulakh
was seen descending on our left hand from the distant snows, now rose
on our right, like a rocky headland, confronting a gleaming sea of
ice. But, when the eye pursues the summit circle vanishing towards
the west, you miss the sister forms of lesser causeways, radiating
down the mountain side. It is true that the greater proximity of our
standpoint to the foot of these highest slopes curtailed the segment
of the circle which we are able to command. This circumstance is not
in itself sufficient to explain the change in the physiognomy of the
summit region, as we see it on this side. In place of those bold,
black ribs or ridges, spread fanwise down the incline, furrowing the
snows with their sharp edges, and lined along the troughs of their
contiguous bases with broad streaks of sheltered nevé, it seems as
if the fabric had fallen asunder, the surface slipped away--all the
flank of the mountain depressed and hollow, from our camp to the
roof of the dome. The canopy of snow which encircles the summit--a
broad, inviolate bank, unbroken by any rift or rock projection for
a depth of some 2000 feet--breaks sharply off on the verge of this
depression, and leaves the shallow cavity bare. From the base of the
giant causeway just above us to the gently-pursing outline of the
roof you follow the edge of the great snow-field, bordering a rough
and crumbling region which offers scanty foothold to the snow, where
the hollow slope bristles with pointed boulders, and the bold crags
pierce the ruin around them in upstanding combs or saw-shaped ridges,
holding slantwise to the mountain side. On the west side of this broad
and uncovered depression, near the western extremity of the cone,
a long strip of snow descends from the summit, caught by some trough,
or sheltering fissure, in the rough face of the cliff. Beyond it, just
upon the sky-line, the bare rocks reappear, and climb the slope, like
a natural ladder, to a point where the roof of the dome is lowest and
appears to offer the readiest access to the still invisible crown. [78]

In the attenuated atmosphere surrounding the summit every foot that is
gained tells. An approach which promises to ease the gradient at the
time when it presses most seems to offer advantages which some future
traveller may be encouraged to essay. We ourselves were influenced
in the choice of a principle upon which to base our attack by the
confident counsels of the Armenian, which the local knowledge of
the Kurds confirmed. We were advised to keep to the eastern margin
of the depression, by the edge of the great snow-field. You see the
brown rocks still baffling the snow-drifts near the point where the
deceitful slope appears to end, where on the verge of the roof it
just dips a little, then stands up, like a low white wall, on the
luminous ground of blue.

The troubled sea of boulders flowing towards the Little Ararat, from
which we had just emerged, still hemmed us in from any prospect over
the tracts which lay below. The flush of dawn broke between the two
mountains from a narrow vista of sky. The even surface of the snow
slope loomed white and cold above our heads, while the night still
lingered on the dark stone about us, shadowing the little laps of
ice. Before six o'clock we were afoot and ready; it wanted a few
minutes to the hour as we set out from our camp. To the Swiss was
entrusted the post of leader; behind him followed in varying order
my cousin and Wesson and myself. Slowly we passed from the shore of
the snow-lake to the gathering of the higher seams, harbouring our
strength for the steeper gradients as we made across the beach of
boulders, stepping firmly from block to block.

The broad, white sheet of the summit circle descends to the snow-lakes
of the lower region in a tongue, or gulf of deep nevé; you may
follow on the margin of the great depression the western edge of this
gleaming surface unbroken down the side of the cone. On the east the
black wall of the giant causeway borders the shining slope, invading
the field of perpetual winter to a height of over 14,000 feet. The
width of the snow-field between these limits varies as it descends;
on a level with the shoulder, or head of the causeway, it appeared to
span an interval of nearly 200 yards. [79] The depth of the bed must
be considerable, and, while the surface holds the tread in places,
it as often gives and lets you through. No rock-projection, or gap,
or fissure breaks the slope of the white fairway; but the winds have
raised the crust about the centre into a ribbon of tiny waves. Our
plan was to cross the stony region about us, slanting a little east,
and to mount by the rocks on the western margin of the snow-field,
adhering as closely as might be possible to the side of the snow. It
was in the execution of this plan--so simple in its conception--that
the trained instinct of the Swiss availed. Of those who have attempted
the ascent of Ararat--and their number is not large--so many have
failed to reach the summit that, upon a mountain which makes few,
if any, demands upon the resources of the climber's craft, their
discomfiture must be attributed to other reasons: to the peculiar
nature of the ground traversed, no less than to the inordinate
duration of the effort; to the wearisome recurrence of the same kind
of obstacles, and to the rarity of the air. Now the disposition of
the rocks upon the surface of the depression is by no means the same
as that which we have studied in connection with the seams which lie
below. The path no longer struggles across a troubled sea of ridges,
or strays within the blind recesses of a succession of gigantic waves
of stone. On the other hand, the gradients are as a rule steeper;
and the clearings are covered with a loose rubble, which slips from
under the feet. The boulders are piled one upon another in heaps
as they happened to fall, and the sequence of forms is throughout
arbitrary and subject to no fixed law. In one place it is a tower of
this loose masonry which blocks all further approach; in another a
solid barrier of sharp crags, laced together, which it is necessary
to circumvent. When the limbs have been stiffened and the patience
exhausted by the long and devious escalade, the tax upon the lungs
is at its highest, and the strain upon the heart most severe. Many of
the difficulties which travellers have encountered upon this stage of
the climb may be avoided, or met at a greater advantage, by adhering
to the edge of the snow. But the fulfilment of this purpose is by no
means so easy as might at first sight appear. You are always winding
inwards to avoid the heaps of boulders, or emerging on the backs of
gigantic blocks of lava towards the margin of the shining slope. In
the choice of the most direct path, where many offered, the Swiss was
never at fault; he made up the cone without a moment's hesitation,
like a hound threading a close covert, and seldom if ever foiled.

At twenty minutes to seven, when the summit of Little Ararat was
about on a level with the eye, we paused for awhile and turned
towards the prospect, now opening to a wider range. The day was
clear, and promised warmth; above us the snowy dome of Ararat shone
in a cloudless sky. The landscape on either side of the beautiful
pyramid lay outspread at our feet; from north-east, the hidden
shores of Lake Sevan, to where the invisible seas of Van and Urmi
diffused a soft veil of opaline vapour over the long succession of
lonely ranges in the south-east and south. The wild borderland of
Persia and Turkey here for the first time expands to view. The scene,
however much it may belie the conception at a first and hasty glance,
bears the familiar imprint of the characteristics peculiar to the
great tableland. The mountains reveal their essential nature and
disclose the familiar forms--the surface of the tableland broken
into long furrows, of which the ridges tend to hummock shapes. So
lofty is the stage, so aloof this mighty fabric from all surrounding
forms, the world lies dim and featureless about it like the setting
of a dream. In the foreground are the valleys on the south of Little
Ararat, circling round to the Araxes floor; and, on the north-east,
beside the thread of the looping river, is a little lake, dropped
like a turquoise on the sand where the mountain sweeps the plain.

In the space of another hour we had reached an elevation about equal
to that of the head of the causeway on the opposite side of the snow,
a point which I think we should be justified in fixing at over 14,000
feet. [80] We were now no longer threading along the shore of an inlet;
alone the vague horizon of the summit circle was the limit of the
broad, white sea. But on our left hand the snowless region of rock
and rubble still accompanied our course, and a group of red crags
stood up above our heads, just where the upward slope appeared to end.

Yet another two hours of continuous climbing, and, at about half-past
nine, the loose boulders about us open, and we are approaching the
foot of these crags. The end seems near; but the slope is deceitful,
and when once we have reached the head of the formation the long
white way resumes. But the blue vault about us streams with sunlight;
the snow is melting in the crannies; a genial spirit lightens our toil.

And now, without any sign or warning, the mysterious spell which holds
the mountain begins to throw a web about us, craftily, from below. The
spirits of the air come sailing through the azure with shining gossamer
wings, while the heavier vapours gather around us from dense banks
serried upon the slope beneath us, a thousand feet lower down.

The rocks still climb the increasing gradient, but the snow is
closing in. At eleven we halt to copy an inscription, which has
been neatly written in Russian characters on the face of a boulder
stone. It records that on the third day of the eighth month of 1893
the expedition led by the Russian traveller Postukhoff passed the
night in this place. At the foot of the stone lie several objects:
a bottle filled with fluid, an empty tin of biscuits, a tin containing
specimens of rock.

At half-past eleven I take the angle of the snow slope, at this
point 35°. About this time the Swiss thinks it prudent to link us all
together with his rope. The surface of the rocks is still uncovered,
but their bases are embedded in deep snow.

It is now, after six hours' arduous climbing, that the strain of the
effort tells. The lungs are working at the extreme of their capacity,
and the pressure upon the heart is severe. At noon I call a halt, and
release young Wesson from his place in the file of four. His pluck is
still strong, but his look and gait alarm me, and I persuade him to
desist. We leave him to rest in a sheltered place, and there await
our return. From this time on we all three suffer, even the Swiss
himself. My cousin is affected with mountain sickness; as for me, I
find it almost impossible to breathe and climb at the same time. We
make a few steps upwards and then pause breathless, and gasp again
and again. The white slope vanishing above us must end in the crown
of the dome; and the boulders strewn more sparsely before us promise
a fairer way. But the further we go, the goal seems little closer;
and the shallow snow, resting on a crumbling rubble, makes us lose
one step in every three. A strong smell of sulphur permeates the
atmosphere; it proceeds from the sliding surface upon which we are
treading, a detritus of pale sulphurous stones.

At 1.25 we see a plate of white metal, affixed to a cranny in the
rocks. It bears an inscription in Russian character which dates from
1888. I neglect to copy out the unfamiliar letters; but there can be
little doubt that they record the successful ascent of Dr. Markoff,
an ascent which cost him dear.

A few minutes later, at half-past one, the slope at last eases,
the ground flattens, the struggling rocks sink beneath the surface
of a continuous field of snow. At last we stand upon the summit of
Ararat--but the sun no longer pierces the white vapour; a fierce gale
drives across the forbidden region, and whips the eye straining to
distinguish the limits of snow and cloud. Vague forms hurry past on
the wings of the whirlwind; in place of the landscape of the land of
promise we search dense banks of fog.

Disappointed perhaps, but relieved of the gradient, and elated with
the success of our climb, we run in the teeth of the wind across the
platform, our feet scarcely sinking in the storm-swept crust of the
surface, the gently undulating roof of the dome.... Along the edge of
a spacious snow-field which dips towards the centre, and is longest
from north-west to south-east, on the vaulted rim of the saucer which
the surface resembles, four separate elevations may conveniently be
distinguished as the highest points in the irregular oval figure which
the whole platform appears to present. The highest among these rounded
elevations bears north-west from the spot where we first touch the
summit or emerge upon the roof. That spot itself marks another of
these inequalities; the remaining two are situated respectively in
this manner--the one about midway between the two already mentioned,
but nearer to the first and on the north side; the other about south
of the north-western elevation, and this seems the lowest of all. The
difference in height between the north-western elevation and that upon
the south-east is about 200 feet; and the length of the figure between
these points--we paced only a certain portion of the distance--is
about 500 yards. The width of the platform, so far as we could gauge
it, may be some 300 yards. A single object testifies to the efforts
of our fore-runners and to the insatiable enterprise of man--a stout
stake embedded upon the north-western elevation in a little pyramid
of stones. It is here that we take our observations, and make our
longest halt. [81] Before us lies a valley or deep depression, and on
the further side rises the north-western summit, a symmetrical cone of
snow. This summit connects with the bold snow buttresses beyond it,
terraced upon the north-western slope. The distance down and up from
where we stand to that summit may be about 400 yards; but neither
the Swiss nor ourselves consider it higher, and we are prevented
from still further exploring the summit region by the increasing
violence of the gale and by the gathering gloom of cloud. The sides
and floor of the saddle between the two summits are completely covered
with snow, and we see no trace of the lateral fissure which Abich,
no doubt under different circumstances, was able to observe.

We remain forty minutes upon the summit; but the dense veil never lifts
from the platform, nor does the blast cease to pierce us through. No
sooner does an opening in the driving vapours reveal a vista of the
world below than fresh levies fly to the unguarded interval, and
the wild onset resumes. Yet what if the spell had lost its power,
and the mountain and the world lain bare? had the tissue of the air
beamed clear as crystal, and the forms of earth and sea, embroidered
beneath us, shone like the tracery of a shield?

We should have gained a balloon view over Nature. Should we catch her
voice so well?--the ancient voice heard at cool of day in the garden,
or the voice that spoke in accents of thunder to a world condemned
to die. "It repented the Lord that he had made man, and it grieved
him at his heart. The earth was filled with violence: God looked
upon the earth and behold it was corrupt. In the second month, the
seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of
the great deep broken up and the windows of heaven were opened. And
the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights."

We are standing on the spot where the ark of gopher rested, where first
the patriarch alighted on the face of an earth renewed. Before him
lie the valleys of six hundred years of sorrow; the airiest pinnacle
supports him, a boundless hope fills his eyes. The pulse of life beats
strong and fresh around him; the busy swarms thrill with sweet freedom,
elect of all living things. In the settling exhalations stands the
bow of many colours, eternal token of God's covenant with man.

The peaks which rise on the distant borderland where silence has
first faltered into speech are wrapped about with the wreaths of
fancy, a palpable world of cloud. Do we fix our foot upon these solid
landmarks to wish the vague away, to see the hard summits stark and
naked, and all the floating realm of mystery flown? The truth is firm,
and it is well to touch and feel it and know where the legend begins;
but the legend itself is truth transfigured, as the snow distils into
cloud. The reality of life speaks in every syllable of that solemn,
stately tale--divine hope bursting the bounds of matter to compromise
with despair. And the ancient mountain summons the spirits about him,
and veils a futile frown, as the rising sun illumines the valleys
of Asia and the life of man lies bare. The spectres walk in naked
daylight--Violence and Corruption and Decay. The traveller finds in
majestic Nature consolation for these sordid scenes; while a spirit
seems to whisper in his ears, "Turn from him!--turn from him, that
he may rest till he shall accomplish, as an hireling, his day."



CHAPTER XIII

THE HEART OF ARARAT


Retracing our steps down the side of the cone, we soon regained the
streaming sunlight. I called a halt, and we rested on some rocks,
embedded in snow. Our next task was to search for Wesson; but he had
left his sheltered cranny, and, as the day was warm, we concluded
that he had returned to camp. The Swiss and myself determined to
try a glissade down the snow slope; my cousin preferred to adhere
to the rocks. I was aware of the danger of the glissade down Ararat,
and we therefore planned our course with care. We broke the descent
at several points, made errors on the side of caution, and glided
safely into one of the inlets about the base of the cone. It was
still some distance to the encampment; we proceeded with the utmost
leisure across the boulder-strewn waste. At last we beheld the lake
of snow, and our tiny tent beside it, and the gaunt figures of the
Kurds. These also perceived us, and sent us a cry of greeting, which
vibrated in the still air. Wesson and the dragoman were there to meet
us; my cousin arrived almost at the same time. Our climb had been
accomplished without a single mishap, and all except the dragoman,
who pleaded that he had been half frozen in camp, were pleased with
the day's work. It was twenty minutes past six o'clock; yet I thought
it best to strike our tent and seek a less exposed and less elevated
spot. After a toilsome walk of about half an hour we found some grass
in a little valley, and there composed ourselves for the night.

I had sent two Kurds to collect firewood while we were sleeping; it was
morning before they returned. We breakfasted beside a pleasant fire,
and decided to devote the earlier hours to rest. I was able to avail
myself of a convenient physical habit of being refreshed by violent
exercise. The summit was clear of cloud, and I sallied forth with
the camera to seek a standpoint in full view of the cone. At some
little distance from our camp I found such an eminence, whence all
the characteristics of the summit region were exposed (Fig. 36). The
peak of Great Ararat bore almost due north-west of this point,
that of Little Ararat a little south of east. [82] On the left of
the picture you see the hollow in the face of the cone and the rocks
struggling upwards to its top; on the right is the shoulder, or head
of the causeway, bordering the snow slope on the opposite side. In
the afternoon we regained our standing encampment in the valley of
Sardar Bulakh.

Relieved of the tension of a fixed purpose, we were able to turn with
real enjoyment to the contemplation of the surroundings in which
we were placed. There can scarcely exist in the world another such
standpoint as the platform of the sirdar's well. You never tire of
the contrasting shapes of the massive dome and the graceful pyramid;
below you in the plains the silent operations of Nature proceed on
their daily course. Morning breaks, and the floor of the plain is
shrouded in white mist; the sun rises, and the opposite peaks of the
Sevan ranges are crowned with banks of billowing cloud. Stray films
wander out into the blue vault of heaven, and graze the sides of the
dome. As the day grows, the warm air mounts these sides and melts
the snows, which distil into a white vaporous mass. The ground of the
landscape increases in definition of feature--the rich campagna, the
looping river, the sites of the towns. It is the subtle quality no less
than the scale of the composition which distinguishes this prospect
from other views, similar in character, which are unfolded from the
summit of a pass. And if you turn from the immense expanse and rest
the eye on the forms about you, those forms respond to your emotions
and invest them with a deeply religious cast. This vast fabric, so
harmonious in design, in position so self-sufficient, touches chords
in the nature of man which sound through all the religions, and die
away only when they die. Yet how vulgar appear their dogmas in this
pure atmosphere of religion, in the courts of this great cathedral
of the natural world! You feel that this mountain has been the parent
of religions, whence they strayed into devious paths. To this parent
you would again collect the distracted; in this atmosphere you long
to bathe the populations of our great towns. Our morbid dramatists,
our nervous novelists need the inspiration of these surroundings--the
promptings of Nature in her loftiest manifestations, from which the
life of man can never with impunity be divorced.

In a lighter sense, to the traveller who seeks rest and enjoyment,
I can confidently recommend a pilgrimage to this beautiful upland
valley, and a sojourn among the marvels of this site. For the
sportsman there are partridges in abundance; the botanist and the
man of taste will admire the brilliancy of the flowers which nestle
in the crannies of the rocks. Junipers clothe the ground, and a
plant with spiked foliage like the juniper, and with a lovely little
flower like a star. I have taken a specimen to Kew, and they call
it Acantholimon echinus--a peculiarly appropriate name. Tiny bushes
of wild rose flutter in the breezes; and, a little lower down, the
earth is yellow with immortelles (Helichrysum), which, as I write,
recall the southern sun. The journey to Erivan, by way of Tiflis,
can be performed in luxury; from Erivan you can drive in a victoria
to the foot of Ararat; on the mountain you have need of nothing but
a tent and a cook. The Kurds are well-behaved, and will provide you
with milk and mutton, of which it is a treat to taste. The old lawless
times are passing into legend, thanks to the vigorous rule of the
Tsars. The Russian officials abound in real kindness of disposition;
and, if you can only succeed in patching a peace with the system,
you feel that they really wish you well. We returned to Aralykh on
the 22nd of September after an absence of nearly six days.



The cantonment of Aralykh faces the jaws of the great chasm which
extends from the snowy roof to the base of Ararat, and lays the heart
of the mountain bare (Fig. 37). We were anxious to penetrate within
these dark recesses, and, after a day's rest, carried our project
into effect.

It is a melancholy reflection that nothing is lasting--that the
strength of the earth withers and the strength of the human body,
that faith dies and the closest friendships dissolve. In the world of
sense Time is all-powerful, and nothing escapes destruction at his
hands. [83] This painful lesson is written with terrible emphasis
on the fabric of Ararat, where it fronts the historic river and the
historic plains. Another earthquake, and the massive roof may tumble
headlong into the abyss which now yawns beneath its cornice of snow. I
have already observed that Herrmann Abich was able to remark a lateral
fissure between the two highest elevations in the surface of the crown
of the dome. He suggests that this fissure may have been caused by
the convulsion of 1840, to which the present configuration of the
chasm is due. [84] It would therefore appear that Time has already
taken a decisive step towards the overthrow of the uppermost portion
of the cone. The chasm itself and the subsidence of the flank of the
mountain date from an epoch beyond the range of history. Tournefort,
who visited Ararat in 1701, presents us with such a vivid picture of
the rent side of the giant, that one cannot doubt that the essential
features of the chasm existed in his day. [85] The little monastery
of St. Jacob, which, prior to the catastrophe of 1840, stood within
the recesses of the gulf, probably occupied the same site when it
was first erected in the early Christian times. The reader may not be
acquainted with the story of the catastrophe, and may like to learn
or to recall it in this place.

Several travellers have presented us with a description of the
locality as it existed before those events. [86] Some 10 miles from
the banks of the Kara Su, on the base or pedestal of Ararat, at a
height of some 5600 feet above the sea, or 2900 feet above the plain,
[87] was situated the Armenian village of Akhury or Arguri--the only
village, we are informed by Dubois, which had hazarded a position on
the side of the mountain, [88] and a place which boasted a remote
antiquity. According to Armenian tradition, it was there that Noah
built the altar, and offered up the burnt sacrifice, after his
departure from the Ark and safe descent of the mountain, with his
family and the living creatures of every kind. It was at Akhury or
Arguri--a name which is said to signify in the Armenian language he
has planted the vine [89]--that, according to the same tradition, the
patriarch planted his vineyard and drank to excess of its wine. The
inhabitants would point to an ancient willow of stunted growth,
bent by the action of snow and ice; it stood in an isolated spot
above the village, a rare object on a mountain which is almost devoid
of trees. They believed that it drew its origin from a plank of the
Ark which had taken root; and they would not suffer any damage to be
done to the sacred object, or the least of its branches to be taken
away. The population amounted to about 1000 souls; [90] the houses
numbered some two hundred, and were built of stone with the usual flat
roofs. The settlement owed its prosperity, and even its existence,
to a stream which then, as now, issued from the jaws of the chasm,
fed by the melting ice and snow. It was placed at the open exit from
the gorge, where the trough flattens out into the base. The church and
the larger portion of the village were on the right bank of the stream;
on the left, opposite the church, stood a square-shaped fortress, built
of clay after the fashion of the country. A near eminence was crowned
by the walls of a spacious palace, which served as a summer residence
for the Persian sirdars of Erivan. It was indeed a delightful resort
during the heats of summer. A cool draught descended from the snows
of the summit region; and the little stream supported considerable
vineyards and orchards, so that the traveller, on approaching Akhury,
could take refuge from the glare of the plain in quite a little wood
of apricot trees. The church--said to have been called Araxilvank
(Arakelotz Vank?)--was reputed to have been built on the site of Noah's
altar. It dated from the eighth or ninth century; and to such a height
had the ground about it risen since its foundation, that the two side
doors had become embedded in soil up to the crossbeams. Just beyond
this pleasant oasis you entered the chasm, and, after proceeding
for nearly two miles up its boulder-strewn hollow, you reached the
little monastery of St. Jacob, which stood on the edge of a natural
terrace a few hundred feet above the bottom of the gulf, immediately
overlooking the right bank of the stream. The chasm had at this spot
a depth of some 600 to 800 feet, [91] and the elevation of the site
of the monastery above sea-level was 6394 feet. [92] Parrot, who
established his headquarters in this lonely cloister, has handed down
to us a charming illustration of the place, and a pleasant description
of the chapel, with its walled enclosure and garden and orchard,
the residence, at the time of his visit, of a single monk. Like the
church of Akhury, it commemorated a religious event in the story of
Ararat. A monk of the name of Jacob, afterwards bishop of Nisibis,
reputed to have been a contemporary and relative of St. Gregory,
was seized with the desire to convince the sceptics of the truth
of the Biblical narrative, and to assure himself of the presence of
the Ark on the summit of Ararat by the evidence of his own eyes. In
the pursuit of this purpose he made several attempts to scale the
mountain from the north-east side. On each occasion he fell asleep,
exhausted by the effort; as often as he awoke, he would find that he
had been miraculously transported to the point from which he had set
out. At length God looked with compassion upon his fruitless labours,
and sent an angel who appeared to him in his sleep. The Divine message
was to the effect that the summit was unattainable by mortal man;
but the angel deposited on his breast a fragment of the holy Ark,
as a reward for his faith and pains. [93] Beyond St. Jacob's, on the
same or eastern side of the chasm and on the edge of the precipice,
was situated a tiny shrine, built of hewn stone, at an altitude of
about 1000 feet above the monastery. [94] It stood by the side of
one of the rare springs which are found on Ararat--a well of which
the waters are still deemed to possess miraculous powers, and which
still attracts numerous pilgrims from the plains. As you followed
the gulf still further, the sides increased in steepness and the
abyss in depth, until, at a distance of about two and a half miles
from the cloister, [95] it ended in an almost perpendicular wall of
rock which towered up to the snowy cornice of the dome. Tournefort,
whose description is in other respects fantastic, has used language
to portray the aspect of the upper end of the chasm which would be
true at the present day. He speaks of the terrible appearance of the
ravine, one of those natural wonders which testify to the greatness
of the Saviour, as his Armenian companion observed. He could not help
trembling as he overlooked the precipices, and he asks his readers,
if they would form some conception of the character of the phenomenon,
to imagine one of the loftiest mountains in the world opening its
bosom to a vertical cleft. From the heights above, masses of rock
were continually falling into the abyss with a noise that inspired
fear. [96]

On the evening of the 20th of June 1840 a terrific earthquake shook the
mountain, and not only the shrine and cloister, but the entire village
of Akhury with the sirdar's palace were destroyed and swept away. An
eye-witness, who was pasturing cattle on the grassy slopes above the
chasm on the side opposite to the shrine and the well, tells us that
he was thrown on to his knees by a sudden reeling of the ground, and
that, even in this position, he was unable to maintain himself, but
was overturned by the continuing shocks. Close by his side the earth
cracked; a terrific rolling sound filled his ears; when he dared look
up, he could see nothing but a mighty cloud of dust, which glimmered
with a reddish hue above the ravine. But the quaking and cracking
were renewed; he lay outstretched upon the ground, and thus awaited
death. At length the sounds became fainter, and he was able to look
towards the ravine. Through the dust he perceived a dark mass in the
hollow, but of what it was composed he could not see. The sun went
down; the great cloud passed away from the valley; as he descended
with his cattle in the failing light, he could see nothing within the
abyss except the dark mass. Another spectator has left us an account
of the various phases of the phenomenon, as they were experienced
from a standpoint below the village. He happened to be working in a
garden a few versts from Akhury, on the side of the plain. His wife
and daughter were with him; two of his sons appeared towards evening
and brought him a report about his cattle. Two riders, returning to
the village, exchanged a few words with the party, and rode on. The
sun was beginning to sink behind the mountains, and he and his people
were preparing to go home. In an instant the ground beneath their feet
oscillated violently, and all were thrown down. At the same time loud
reports and a rolling sound, as if of thunder, increased the panic into
which they fell. A hurricane of wind swept towards them from the chasm
and overturned every object that was not firm. In the same direction
there arose an immense cloud of dust, overtopped, towards the upper
portion of the ravine, by a darker cloud, as of black smoke. After
a momentary pause the same phenomena were repeated; only this time a
dark mass swept towards them from the direction of the village with
a rolling and a rushing sound. It reached the two riders; they were
engulfed and disappeared. Immediately afterwards the two sons were
overtaken by the same fate. The mass rolled onwards to the gardens,
and broke down the walled enclosures. Large stones came tumbling
about the unfortunate peasants; and a great crag swept down upon
the prostrate witness, and settling by his side, caught his mantle
fast. Extricating himself with difficulty, he succeeded in lifting
his unconscious wife and daughter from the earth, and in flying with
them over the quaking ground. After each shock they could hear the
sound of cracking in the chasm, accompanied by sharp reports. They
were joined by fugitives, escaping from the neighbouring gardens,
and they endeavoured to make their way to Aralykh. It was morning
before they reached their goal; during the night the sounds and
shocks continued, always fainter but at periodical intervals. This
catastrophe was followed on the 24th of June by a second and scarcely
less momentous collapse. On this occasion a mass of mud and water burst
from the chasm, as though some colossal dam had given way. Blocks of
rock and huge pieces of ice were precipitated over the base, and the
flood extended for a space of about thirteen miles. Not a trace was
left of the gardens and fields which it devastated, and the Kara Su
was temporarily dammed by the viscous stream. [97]

It is to the credit of the times in which we live that no such event
could now occur in Russian territory without exhaustive and local
scientific investigation, while the results of the catastrophe were
still fresh. The task of reporting to the Government was entrusted to a
Major of Engineers, who was ordered to open an enquiry on the spot. His
account was to the effect that masses of rock were precipitated into
the chasm from the overhanging heights; that they were accompanied
in their descent by vast quantities of snow, unloosed by the sinking
foundations of the uppermost seams. A river of boulders and snow
and ice streamed with lightning rapidity down the gulf, buried the
cloister and the village with all its inhabitants, and choked up the
trough of the abyss. The earthquake was attended by the opening of
fissures in the ground, from which there issued water and sand, and
even flames. [98] The mention of this last phenomenon appears to have
aroused the curiosity of men of learning, and to have excited in them
a strong desire for further light. The site was visited in 1843 by a
German man of science, Dr. Wagner, and in 1844 by the great geologist
Herrmann Abich, whose researches are always careful and complete. [99]
These two authorities unfortunately arrived at opposite conclusions
as to the character of the convulsion. Wagner begins by discrediting
the account of the Russian Major, and suggests that he had never left
the walls of Erivan, having lost his travelling money at play. He
considers it absurd to suppose that the mass which destroyed Akhury
and the fragments of rocks which were projected far and wide can be
attributed to the operation of purely seismic forces, dislocating
the crown and sides of the abyss. They must have been due to eruptive
volcanic action, of which he thought he could see the traces at the
upper end of the chasm, the site, according to his view, of one of the
old craters of Ararat. They were impelled through the air by steam
and escaping gases from a fissure in the bottom of the ravine. We
must therefore form the conception of an eruption accompanied by an
earthquake, not of a landslip effected by seismic shocks. [100]

That this theory is open to objection on the simple ground of
probability, it does not require scientific knowledge to perceive. In
the first place an eruption of Ararat is unknown within the historical
period; in the second, the destruction of Akhury was only one of many
catastrophes which were occasioned by earth movements on the same
day. On that same evening the valley of the Araxes was visited by a
violent earthquake, and thousands of houses were overthrown. [101]
It is true that Wagner supposes an eruption of steam rather than of
fire, and favours the hypothesis of vast reservoirs of water beneath
the mountain having burst in upon the molten mass below. But this
ingenious supposition is rendered unnecessary and improbable by the
minute researches of the next trained worker in the same field. Abich
asks how it would be possible for eruptive action to have broken
forth in a narrow valley--on such a scale that huge crags of 100 to
150 feet in circumference were propelled for a distance of over three
miles [102]--without leaving any trace of volcanic ejectamenta on the
adjoining heights and on the slopes beyond. A careful examination of
the disposition and character of the débris, as they were disclosed
within the trough of the chasm, as well as on the surface of the base
of the mountain, established in his mind the veracity in all essentials
of the official version of the Russian Major of Engineers. He observed
that the fragments of rock which are strewn over the basal slopes
before the entrance to the chasm is reached, become concentrated as
you proceed, and are collected into long ridges of boulders, which
issue from the mouth of the gulf. Yet not a single one among these
fragments was found to be identical in nature with the fragments on
the adjacent valley sides. How account for this striking circumstance
on the hypothesis of an eruption from fissures along the base of the
valley? When he came to investigate the origin of these piled-up
boulders, he discovered that they exactly corresponded with the
rock of the seams which are found along the upper end of the chasm,
overhanging the abyss. He was even able to ascribe approximately the
former position of the largest of the crags which recline upon the
base to a site on the left wall of the chasm, immediately beneath and
supporting the snows. From his writings we may extract the following
explanation of the phenomena to which the destruction of Akhury was
due. The upper structure of Ararat had been seriously weakened on the
north-eastern side by the slow but persistent action of snow and ice,
and by the corrosive tendencies of veins of sulphurate of iron. The
earthquake precipitated portions of the higher seams into the chasm,
together with masses of snow. A dense cloud of dust was induced by
the falling rocks, and the setting sun lent to this cloud a lurid
hue. Immense quantities of boulders were hurried down the trough
of the chasm, accompanied by a stream of mud and melting ice. The
course of this composite current was directed upon the village by the
configuration of the left wall of the chasm. As the sides of the valley
fell in, its upper portion became obstructed at the neck or narrow
which still exists about at the point where the little shrine used
to overlook the abyss. A mighty dam was formed by the fallen masses,
and the head of the valley became a huge morass. Further lapses of
rock and snow took place from the summit region, and the heats of
June dissolved the frozen elements in the morass. On the 24th the
dam yielded to the overpowering pressure, and the second act of the
catastrophe was fulfilled.

As a result of this earthquake, the ridge enclosing the uppermost
end of the chasm was found to have acquired about double its former
extent. The height of the precipice had also increased considerably,
especially on the eastern side. The summit remained intact, but the
fabric of Ararat lay henceforth exposed to its innermost core. [103]



We set out at a quarter-past eight in the morning, mounted on
little hacks. The Armenian Makar, who had accompanied us on the
previous expedition, was deputed to be our guide. It took us some
twenty minutes to cross the belt of sand and camelthorn at a pace
of about six miles an hour. Then the ground commenced to rise with
more perceptible acclivity, and we made our way across the massive
base. The still air, and the restfulness of the stately fabric before
us exercised upon us their now familiar spell. Grey clouds enveloped
the snows of the summit region, collected above a veil of tender mist.

We were pointing towards the entrance to the chasm, and we noticed
that, in that direction, there exists a considerable concavity in
the surface of the base. One might almost form the conception of
a flaw in the mountain, extending to the pedestal upon which it is
reared. On either side of us, but more especially on our left hand,
the rounded contours of the basal slopes were curving inwards to a
wide depression, up the trough of which we rode. Is this feature the
result of landslip and of floods issuing from the chasm, or was the
pedestal always weaker upon this side? I am inclined to ascribe it in
part to an inherent defect in the structure, which has been enlarged
and accentuated in the process of centuries. It would appear that the
streams of lava which fed the base on the north-west and south-east
were not directed in equal volume to these north-eastern slopes. Such
a distribution of the molten matter which contributed to build up the
fabric would account, at least in some measure, for the subsequent
subsidence of Ararat on this its north-eastern flank.

As we proceeded, this hollow formation became more pronounced; we
were approaching the mouth of the chasm. We observed how much more
copious was the flora which covers this portion of the base. In place
of the burnt herbage over which we had ridden on our journey to Sardar
Bulakh, we here admired an abundant growth of low and thorny bushes
of which the tiny and delicate pink and white flowers were showered
upon a ground of grey and green (Atraphaxis spinosa). Long streamers
of sansola (Kochia prostrata, Schrad.) bent towards us, and gigantic
yellow grasses rose like spears (Calamagrostis epigejos, Roth.). The
stream which issues from the chasm--exhausted at this season--feeds and
fertilises the sandy soil, and, perhaps, the layers of mud which were
left by the flood of 1840 have not been without effect on the nature of
the land. We were reminded of that catastrophe by the huge fragments
of conglomerate rock which are strewn over the hollow throughout a
considerable area. On our return I took a photograph of the largest
of these crags, where it lay, among bouquets of spangled atraphaxis,
outlined against the sky (Fig. 38). Abich informs us that the fragment
which lies immediately in front of it was incorporated with it at the
time of his first visit in 1844; the mass then measured at the base 285
feet in circumference, with a height of 45 feet. [104] I have already
said that this careful investigator was able to trace its origin to a
site at the upper end of the chasm, overhanging the abyss. According
to his theory, it must have fallen in after the first act of the
catastrophe, and been transported in the course of the second act to
its present place. It was pushed down the trough of the ravine and
over the gentle incline of these basal slopes by the action of the
viscous stream, until that action lost its force when the stream was
freed from the compression of the gorge and radiated outwards over the
pedestal. [105] To us plain people the position of these crags was
a source of amazement, and the Greeks would have made the chasm the
residence of a Cyclops who hurled such missiles at adventuresome men.

At half-past ten we halted at a small Kurdish village, situated at
the mouth of the chasm. These Kurds have erected hovels of loose
stones with roofs of mud, and they can boast or deplore, in the
person of a starshina, a direct official connection with the Russian
Government. It was amusing to see a Kurd in the dress of a Russian
dignitary stepping out to meet his European visitors. He wore a dark
blue coat; a large brass badge of office hung upon his breast. Ever
since the great convulsion the Kurds have haunted the site of Akhury,
rummaging for anything valuable in the buried ruins. Makar explained to
us that we were now standing where once stood the prosperous township,
with its ancient church and pleasant gardens. The woods of apricot,
the rich vineyards have disappeared entirely; it would be difficult
to discover a single tree. Just west of the miserable hamlet you
still remark the deep watercourse which is the principal vent for
the drainage of the ravine. The channel is dry at this season, and is
overhung by steep banks some 100 to 150 feet high. We observed that
these banks are composed of a sandy soil, inlaid with rocks. Yet
the valley, even in autumn, is not entirely devoid of water; here
and there we were refreshed by the sight of growing grass, and by the
sound of little runnels. The trough of the ravine has at this point an
elevation above sea-level of about 5570 feet, while its sides, which
are formed by the cleft in the base of outer sheath of the mountain,
are as yet scarcely more than 200 feet high. It extends almost in a
straight line, and in a south-westerly direction, to the very heart
of Ararat. The flanking cliffs rise and the valley narrows, until
the formation assumes the proportions of a gulf many thousands of
feet in depth, overhung by the snows of the summit region. Imagine
a gigantic cutting, with a length of several miles, at the uppermost
end of which an almost perpendicular precipice supports the snowy roof
of Ararat! Even from this standpoint we could perceive the vertical
seams at the head of the chasm, shadowed walls of grey rock with veins
of orange hue, the higher ledges sprinkled with the first snows of
autumn and half concealed by light, dissolving mist.

We mounted to the top of the cliff on the right or eastern side
of the ravine, in order to obtain a view on either hand. Towards
the east stretched the contours of the upper portion of the base,
clothed with withered grass and strewn with stones. Abich tells us
that these fragments are different in origin and character from the
boulders and stones in the trough of the ravine; and, as we have seen,
he uses the fact as a powerful weapon against the eruptive theory
which Wagner propounds. Looking across the valley, our eyes rested on
a little settlement on its opposite or western flank. It occupies a
higher site than that of the Kurdish village, and may have been about
a mile distant from where we stood. It interested us as well by its
lonely and dangerous position as by an adjacent and isolated group
of trees. It is called New Akhury, and, according to the official
statistics, contains a population of some 400 Tartar inhabitants. It
is the seat of a Cossack station, and bids fair to increase in size
before the next earthquake shall sweep it away.

Makar directed our attention to some fallen gravestones, not many yards
distant from where we stood. They are the remains of the cemetery
of the old Akhury, and among them we admired several crosses with
rich chasing in the old Armenian style. We found them overgrown with
a thick, orange-hued lichen, resembling the appearance of rust. He
told us that many of his relations had been buried in this graveyard,
and he pointed out in particular a group of seven stones. He said
that they marked the graves of seven brothers who had been killed in
the gardens of the vanished township by the attacks of a single snake.

After regaling ourselves with delicious milk and eating an egg or two,
we started at noon on our excursion up the ravine. We made our way
along the eastern side of the chasm, sometimes picking our course
as we might among the boulders, at others following a beaten path on
higher ground. Not far beyond the hamlet we noticed a little spring,
of which the water was trickling over. The next object to excite our
interest was the peculiar formation of the floor of a side valley,
in which we found ourselves at half-past twelve. Throughout an area of
some 350 by 200 yards the ground was perfectly level, like a billiard
table, with a smooth surface of sand and little pebbles. The length
of this round ellipse followed the direction of the main ravine, which
lay at some considerable depth beneath it, and from which the basin of
this valley was separated by a low bulwark of rock and soil. We were
impressed by the sharp distinction between the bottom of this flat area
and the banks which, on the one side, were formed by this bulwark and,
on the other, by towering cliffs, overgrown with grass. The basin
has an entrance and an exit gully, through which the waters collect
and escape. Not a single pool lingered within it at this season, and
it was difficult to realise that this warm and sunny recess probably
owes its most distinctive features to the erosive action of ice.

We mounted ever higher up the slopes which flank the ravine. In the
trough of the gulf we noticed another flat space, similar in character
but less pronounced than that which I have described. Bushes of wild
rose luxuriate on these cliff-sides, and from this foreground of rich
tints and red berries we looked across to the dark and perpendicular
precipices which encircle the head of the chasm. At every lift in the
restless vapours we feasted our eyes on the snows of the summit, and we
remarked the great length and horizontal profile of the summit-outline,
seen between the opening arms of the abyss. Muffled women's figures,
astride of their horses, came winding down the path. They were
Armenian ladies, returning from a pilgrimage to St. Jacob's Well;
foot-attendants held their bridles and picked their way.

At two o'clock we arrived at the famous rose bush and the holy
well. The path has been worn by the feet of pilgrims, who journey
hither from the plains. The water issues from a recess in the side of
the mountain which has been levelled with a masonry of hewn stone. The
overflow nourishes the rose-tree, on the twigs of which are attached
countless little ribbons of rag, shreds from the garments of the
devout. Just beyond these sacred objects you are shown a level site,
overhanging the ravine. Rows of stones are interlaced upon its surface,
a sign for pious wayfarers. Here was placed the little shrine which
during the great earthquake must have tumbled headlong into the
chasm. The pilgrims insert tiny sticks into the ground with the same
little ribbons of rag. The holy water is a talisman against all kinds
of calamities, and it is supposed to attract the birds which destroy
the locusts when they desolate the country-side.

It is a fine standpoint from which to command the upper end of the
chasm, which has here a width of some 500 yards. My illustration
(Fig. 39) was taken from a spot close to the well and the site of
the shrine, but perhaps a little lower down. The site itself has
an elevation above sea-level of about 7500 feet. [106] The camera
has belittled the natural features, and I must ask my reader to
interpret my picture with the help of the reflection that the snows
which overhang these perpendicular precipices are nearly 17,000 feet
high. We penetrated further up the romantic valley, along the bed
of a dry watercourse. Skirting the buttresses of the eastern wall,
we observed that they were composed of a compact grey andesite with
something of the appearance of slate. Seams of a rock similar in
character, but which have turned red in weathering, lend variety
to the surface of these bold bastions; while the dark face of the
wall which mounts to the summit region is scored by extensive veins
of that decomposed and orange-hued lava which spells destruction
wherever it appears. The bottom of the ravine is covered by a deep
beach of boulders, worn by the action of ice and water. Animal life
is represented by a flock of crows or jackdaws, which croak and circle
round you as you advance.

Behind the lofty wall of rock which is seen on the left of my
illustration, in jagged outline against the snows, a glacier
descends from the summit region which is probably the only true
glacier on Ararat, and which I should judge to be gradually
decreasing in extent. According to Abich, the long ridges which
have the appearance of piles of boulders, and which are seen in
his illustration descending the trough of the chasm to a point some
distance below St. Jacob's Well, were composed in 1874 of compact and
dirty glacier ice, covered over with stones and débris. He informs us
that in 1844 there was a direct but deeply buried connection between
this ice and the ice in the circus at the lower end of the glacier;
and that in 1874 this connection had been severed, and the ice-hills
themselves had decreased about one-third in height. [107] On the top
of these ridges he discovered a series of marshes and little lakes,
of which the largest was several hundred paces in circumference. I
cannot testify myself to the present condition of these ice-hills; I
cannot even say that they exist. I did not see any ice in the trough
of the chasm, although it was evident that its present condition was
largely due to ice action, and although we admired a little lake of
glacier water, set like a turquoise in the waste of mud and stones. It
is computed that the actual glacier descends as low as a level of
about 8000 feet--a notable fact when we consider that the line of
perpetual snow on this side of Ararat is as high as 14,000 feet.

We lingered for some little space in the ravine beyond St. Jacob's
Well, waiting for the clouds to lift. But they hung jealously about the
upper slopes of the precipices, whence a mist descended upon us like
rain. The mountain thundered; from time to time the mist was gently
parted, and gave passage to the sun. If we were disappointed of a
clear view of the higher regions, we were at least able to appreciate
to the full the vista down the weird chasm to the fair landscape of
the plain. The comparative straightness of the gulf renders such a
prospect possible, even from its uppermost end. No projecting spur or
interposed eminence obstructs the continuous stretch of the hollow
outlines to the distant campagna of the river-side. On the horizon
were the crinkled mountains in the direction of Lake Sevan, flushed
with tints of delicate yellow and amethyst, lightly shaded with opal
hues. Deep gloom lay upon the floor of the abyss, and only the pools
of blue glacier water caught the brilliance of day. On the open base
beyond these shadows the sinuous lines of dry watercourses led the eye
into the expanse of the plain; and we could still see the recumbent
blocks which once hung in pinnacles above the spot upon which we stood.

Evening was drawing in when we again reached the entrance to the
chasm. We skirt the Kurdish village, we pass a pool of water and
a group of barefooted Kurdish girls. Away on our left are the mud
houses of the Tartar settlement, and the green clump of trees. To these
succeed the bouquets of pink and white atraphaxis, and the scattered
crags of conglomerate rock. A flora of great variety starts from the
sand and among the stone. While we are crossing this upper region
of the base, the sun disappears behind the still, grey clouds; the
blue zenith pales and fades. A full moon rises from the grey clouds,
wreathing the landscape with soft lights. Heavy quiet reigns over the
vast and lonely scene, and the only sound is the cicada's hum. The
low, dark outline of the trees of Aralykh is a mere shadow on the
plain. Nature touches the chords of that stately and solemn movement
which issues in and faintly accompanies the life of man.


SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE

The identification of Mount Ararat with the mountain upon which the
Ark rested is at least as early as the adoption of Christianity by the
Armenians, and may have been originally made by Jewish prisoners of
war. But there does not appear to have existed in the neighbourhood of
Ararat an independent local tradition of the Flood; and the mountain
is still locally known not as Ararat, but as Masis to the Armenians,
and as Aghri Dagh to the Tartars. It is, however, called Ararat
in Armenian literature as early as Faustus of Byzantium, who uses
the name in relating the story of St. Jacob of Nisibis (Faustus,
iii. 10. The name appears to have been wrongly spelt Sararat by the
copyists). The Ararat of Scripture is the Assyrian Urardhu; and the
"mountains of Ararat" of Genesis viii. 4 must be sought within the
country of Urardhu. Dr. Belck has quite recently examined, in the light
of his remarkable researches into the lore of the Vannic texts, the
question of the original geographical application of the term Urardhu
(Zeitschrift für Ethnologie, Berlin, 1899, pp. 113 seq.); it appears
to have spread from a district in Kurdistan, south-west of Lake Urmi,
to the country about Lake Van. It would, therefore, seem that the
tendency of the term has been to travel north; for the Urardhu or
Ararat of the historical period is the province about Mount Ararat,
one of the great divisions in the kingdom of the Arsakid monarchs
of Armenia, and well known under the name of Ararat to Agathangelus
and the earliest Armenian writers. Mount Ararat could scarcely have
been known to the peoples of the lowlands, among whom the Biblical
legend of the Flood originated. Various aspects of the subject
are well discussed by Suess (Das Antlitz der Erde, Leipzic, 1885,
vol. i. pp. 25-92; Die Sintfluth), Bryce (Transcaucasia and Ararat,
edition of 1896, pp. 211 seq.), and Sayce (Dictionary of the Bible,
London, 1898, sub voce Ararat).

The fabric of Ararat composes an elliptical figure with an axis from
north-west to south-east. The base plan measures about 28 miles in
length, and about 23 miles in width. The fabric is built up by two
mountains: Great Ararat (16,916 feet above the sea) and Little Ararat
(12,840 feet). Their bases are contiguous at a level of 8800 feet,
and their summits are 7 miles apart. Both are due to eruptive volcanic
action; but no eruption of Ararat is known to have occurred during
the historical period, and the summit of the greater mountain presents
all the appearance of a very ancient and much worn-down volcano with a
central chimney or vent, long since filled in. I have already described
the summit region of Great Ararat. The estimates or measurements of
my predecessors are at variance with one another in detail; but one
may assert that it consists of two separate elevations, divided one
from the other by a depression some 100 to 150 feet in depth. The
more easterly is much the larger, having the character of a spacious
platform of saucer-like form. The more westerly presents the shape of
a symmetrical cone, when seen from the platform; and is in connection
with the snow-laden and almost horizontal bastions at the head of
the north-western slope. Both elevations have about the same height;
but, if anything, the more westerly is the higher. [108] The reader
will be able to distinguish them in my photograph (Fig. 37), as well
as to observe how they mingle together as mere crinkles in the crown
of the dome. Parrot was inclined to think that the Ark came to rest
in the depression between these two elevations.

Yielding in height to the most lofty peaks of the Caucasus in the
north (Elburz, 18,525 feet), which are visible from the summit,
and to Demavend (over 18,000 feet) in the belt of mountains which
rise along the southern shore of the Caspian Sea, Ararat is by far
the loftiest of the mountains of Armenia, and is over 1000 feet
more elevated than the highest peak in Europe, Mont Blanc (15,780
feet). Moreover, Elburz and Kazbek, Mont Blanc, and even Demavend, all
rise among a sea of mountains, of which they are little more than the
highest crests. The isolation of Ararat is not its least interesting
feature--a feature which I would fain hope is already imprinted upon my
reader's mind. The plains which it overlooks belong to three empires;
the frontiers of Persia, Turkey, and Russia meet upon its slopes.

It has been estimated that as late as the month of May the colossal
mountain is covered with snow to a level of 9000 feet below the summit;
and the appearance of this immense white sheet from the blooming
campagna of the valley of the Araxes is one of the fine sights in the
world. But by the month of September the snowy canopy will be confined
to the dome of Great Ararat; and the limit of perpetual snow on the
side facing the plain on the north is not less elevated than from
13,500 to 14,000 feet above the sea. The extensive depression through
which the Araxes flows collects the heats of summer; and the warm
air from this reservoir ascends the northern slopes of the mountain,
melting the snow to a height which is greater than might be expected
in this latitude. [109]

The best season for an ascent is the latter half of September. During
October there is more chance of obtaining a view from the summit,
which is usually most free from clouds in that month. But the days
are, of course, shorter, and the fresh snow commences to lie. I
should recommend the traveller with time upon his hands who may be
anxious to extend our knowledge of the mountain to adopt the following
programme:--(1) Ascend Little Ararat from Sardar Bulakh. (Good accounts
are furnished by Parrot, op. cit. pp. 219 seq.; Stuart, Proceedings
R.G.S. 1877, vol. xxi. pp. 77-92; Kovaleffsky, Voyage au Mont Ararat,
Moscow, 1899 [in Russian]; Artsruni, Verhand. Gesell. Erdkunde Berlin,
vol. xxii. 1895, pp. 606 seq.; Ebeling, Verhand. Gesell. Erdkunde
Berlin, vol. xxv. 1898, pp. 130-132.) (2) Extend the journey to the
southern slopes of Great Ararat, and thoroughly explore that side of
the mountain. (3) Ascend Great Ararat, perhaps from a point a little
further south than that indicated in my account; and (4) investigate
the condition of the glacier in the chasm of Akhury. An interesting
excursion may also be made to the little crater lake known as Kip
Göl on the north-western slopes (see the accounts of Monsieur and of
Madame Chantre in their writings already cited).

I append a list of the successful ascents of Great Ararat up to
and including our own, so far as I have been able to ascertain them
[110]:--


     1. F. Parrot, 1829. Started from the monastery of St. Jacob
        (chasm of Akhury) and made the ascent by the north-western
        slope.
     2. K. Spasky-Avtonomoff, 1834. From Akhury.
     3. Herrmann Abich, 1845. From Sardar Bulakh.
     4. H. D. Seymour, 1845. (From New Akhury?).
     5. J. Khodzko, N. V. Khanikoff, and others, 1850. From Sardar
        Bulakh.
     6. R. Stuart and others, 1856. From Bayazid.
     7. J. Bryce, 1876. From Sardar Bulakh.
     8. G. P. Baker, 1878. From Sardar Bulakh.
     9. Sivoloboff, 1882.
    10. E. Markoff, 1888. From Sardar Bulakh.
    11. Semenoff, 1888 (?).
    12. Raphalovich and others, 1889. From Sardar Bulakh.
    13. T. G. Allen and W. L. Sachtleben (1892?). From Bayazid.
    14. Postukhoff, 1893. From Sardar Bulakh.
    15. H. B. Lynch, H. F. B. Lynch, and Rudolph Taugwalder, 1893.
        From Sardar Bulakh.



CHAPTER XIV

RETURN TO ERIVAN


September 25.--We passed the morning upon the mound, in the little open
summer-house, face to face with the airy snowfields which we had scaled
to their topmost vaulting, with the cavernous recesses which we had
penetrated to their inmost core. Such is the silence of Nature at the
foot of this solemn mountain that the faintest sound reaches the ear. I
was therefore startled by a clamour of voices in the direction of the
cantonment, and I hurried down towards the noise. A booted figure in
drab uniform, covered with dust from head to foot, was gesticulating
under the influence of extreme excitement to a little group of Russian
military in their white tunics, accompanied by some languid Orientals
at a respectful interval. It was the officer of Cossacks who had joined
our party near Takjaltu, and who had left us at Sardar Bulakh. Suiting
his gestures to his words, he was narrating a thrilling story of a
night encounter with the Kurds. His little eyes were bloodshot and
distended with emotion; his legs were parted and his feet planted
firm. His detachment had fallen in with a band of marauders, who
had carried off some cattle from over beyond Akhury, and made away
towards the Turkish frontier. They had fired on the Kurds, who had
returned their fire; they had recovered the cattle and chased the
Kurds away. I enquired what bag he had made of these human vultures,
and he replied, with a sigh, that they had carried off their dead.

On the further side of the Araxes, opposite Aralykh, is situated
the celebrated monastery of Khor Virap, which marks the spot where,
according to Armenian tradition, Saint Gregory, the founder of
Christianity in Armenia, was imprisoned for thirteen years in a deep
pit. The country about and behind the cloister is extremely rich
in historical and archæological interest, and I would recommend the
traveller to prolong his excursion up the romantic valley of the Garni,
whence he can return across the mountains to Erivan. He will examine
the sites of Artaxata and Dvin, and, proceeding up the river, will
reach the gorge with the basaltic columns, and the platform where
once stood the temple of King Tiridates--a beautiful Greek shrine
given to these solitudes, like the temple of Segesta to the lonely
Sicilian hills. Hard by this platform above the river are found the
relics of the city of Garni; and, near the sources of the stream, at a
distance of some five miles from Garni, the caves and monastery of Surb
Geghard, reputed to have been founded by St. Gregory, respond to the
spirit of a landscape which for grandeur and severity is unsurpassed
among these wilds. I was anxious to make the acquaintance of some at
least among these antiquities; we therefore despatched our luggage
with the Swiss and the cook to Erivan, and, availing ourselves of
the offer of a victoria as far as Khor Virap, resolved to trust to
fortune for the remainder of the way. [111]

Had we been able to procure riding-horses, we might probably have
ridden from the ferry over the Araxes direct to the cloister across
the plain. In a carriage we were obliged to retrace our steps as far
as Kamarlu, where the road which runs parallel to the course of the
river crosses the road to Erivan. The stage which we had made after
nightfall between that village and Aralykh was now performed in the
light of day. The alluvial flats between the Araxes and the base
of Ararat are channelled by a network of irrigation runnels, which
diffuse the stream of the Kara Su. From the fields and marshes rise
luxuriant cotton and castor oil plants, the one with yellow single
blossoms, like a wild rose, and drooping fruit, resembling flakes of
snow; the other, higher than these, raising a tender, juicy stem to
shining, palm-shaped leaves. Here and there, where the water fails,
bushes of hardy camelthorn spring up, like weeds, upon the fallow
land. The oppressive climate of Aralykh, no less than the plague of
insects which infest it, are due to the sand upon the pedestal of
the mountain, and to these swamps with their effluvia and mosquito
swarms. Even at this season the sun beats fiercely upon the plain;
and, when we reached the ferry, a herd of buffaloes and bullocks,
awaiting transport, were rolling parched tongues and casting longing
eyes at the river from the bank of crumbling mud.

A double pontoon, staged across with planks, received our carriage,
and was swiftly impelled along the hawser by the force of the
stream. From the opposite margin a dreary tract of baked alluvial
soil extends to the zone of gardens and orchards which commences at
Kamarlu. I have already alluded to the excellence of the road within
that zone; but by day you will be loth to hasten along it, such is
the charm and so great the interest of the scene. The traffic from
the lower Araxes, from Persia and distant Mesopotamia, finds its way
along this chaussée to Erivan. The district is inhabited by well-to-do
people, who can afford the richness of their national dress. Beneath
the foliage of the needle poplars, between the well-maintained mud
walls--over which you look to the vineyards and to the vegetable
gardens, where the tomato and the chili abound--a stream of wayfarers,
some on horseback, fill the pleasant avenue, chatting and smiling
under the expansive influence of ease and shade. At intervals you
pass a house or cluster of houses, where groups of Armenian women
in their holiday attire are gathered before the open doors. They are
clad in their gayest cottons, and wear their picturesque head-dress
and veils of white gauze. Some among them nurse their babes at the
open bosom, the little infant cleaving to the full breasts. Tartars,
with their black lambskin hats and dark blue or black garments,
compose an element which a cynic would be loth to dispense with in
such a scene of piping peace; yet it would be difficult to detect a
trace on their clean-shaven faces of passions which have, perhaps,
been blunted by time. Laden waggons pass, and numerous bullock-carts,
with their heavy, creaking wheels. We were amused by the appearance
of a curious pair of riders who, to judge from the deference which
was bestowed upon them, were evidently of exalted rank. The man wore
a flowing beard and was dressed in Oriental apparel; but he held in
his hand a parasol of European pattern, and his locks were surmounted
by an English billycock hat. His wife was by his side, astride of
her Arab; but the graceful animal was almost invisible beneath her,
his withers overtowered by the huge bulk of her stomach, and his
back enveloped in the folds of her robes. It was an Assyrian bishop,
journeying from Mosul.

Kamarlu is perhaps a type of these villages of the campagna, in
which the population is composed of Armenians and Tartars, of lambs
and lions living side by side. It can boast a Russian schoolhouse,
a necessary institution in the case of the Tartars, to judge by
the barbarous and hideous frescos which enliven the façade of their
little mosque. The Armenians have their school, and there are two
Gregorian churches in which they satisfy their spiritual needs. The
houses are built of sun-baked bricks and mud; wooden stages rise to
some height above the flat roofs, and provide airy sleeping-places for
the inhabitants during the summer heats. After regaling ourselves with
the delicious white grapes of the district, we turned aside from the
road to Erivan. Crossing the outskirts of the village, we remarked the
huge clay wine jars which were strewn about in the courtyards. Beyond
a few fields, planted with cotton, we again entered the open desert,
and pursued our way over the crumbling mud. A rude and winding track
leads towards the river through patches of dusty desert shrubs. Ararat
fills the landscape, and is rarely seen to greater advantage than
from such tracts of naked land. On our left hand rose a buttress of
the Sevan mountains which had been a landmark from the slopes of
Ararat. It is composed of a sandy rock of various hues, which has
weathered into fanciful shapes. In the delicate evening lights it is
invested with the appearance of some castle in fairyland.

From time to time we passed strings of three or four large waggons,
drawn by teams of oxen. Whole families of Armenians were gathered
within them, well dressed and well-to-do. They were returning to
their dwellings within the zone of gardens from a pilgrimage to Khor
Virap. The men were emptying their little glasses, which they would
replenish from wine-skins, and feasting on water melons.

We arrived at the mound which rises from the flats about the
river and can be clearly seen from Ararat. According to Dubois,
[112] it consists of a mass of dolomite, isolated on the surface of
the plain. The church and cloister have been built on the side of
the eminence; the monastic dwellings screened the church from our
view. St. Gregory's dungeon is situated within the precincts; and it
would appear that the place was famous in the saint's lifetime for
a much-frequented temple of the fire-worshippers.

We were scarcely beneath the walls when the figure of a horseman
springs forward from some recess into the road. Throwing his white Arab
on to his haunches at a few yards before our carriage, he challenges
and constrains us to pull up dead. This proceeding on his part, no
less than his forbidding countenance, throws me completely off my
guard. On Russian soil one is obliged to smother the irritation which
is always threatening to burst forth from a British breast. I shout to
him to move aside, or we will whip the horses and drive through him;
to this he answers by drawing his revolver and threatening to shoot. I
ask him by what right he dared to obstruct the roadway; he replies by
enquiring by what credentials we presume to pass. It flashes through
me that the game is in the hands of this ruffian--we had been spoilt by
the attentions of the high officials, and to such an extent that we had
forgotten to bring even our passports, which had gone in our despatch
box to Erivan. It was useless to urge that one could not be obliged
to show a passport in order to be allowed to visit a church. He paid
no heed to any of our arguments, and compelled us to return with him
to Kamarlu. He even added the insult of requiring us to suit our pace
to his, and to follow at a walk or amble by his side. This we flatly
refused to do, and, taking the reins from the trembling coachman,
proceeded at a brisk trot. Simon Ter-Harutiunoff--such was the name
of this ferocious person--is linked in our memory with the companion
picture of Ivan the Terrible, our stern custodian during the Akhaltsykh
days. Both are Armenians, and either might be taken as a model for the
embodiment of the fighting instincts in man. Tartars and Cossacks are
amenable creatures besides them; and of the two, we were inclined
to bestow the palm upon Simon. His face was black with exposure
to the sun; the eyes were yellow round the dark iris and shot with
red veins. His features were large and pronounced, but of singular
deformity; the massive head was placed upon broad shoulders above a
frame of great bulk and iron strength. He wore two medals, won during
the war with Turkey through personal bravery. His function in time of
peace was to police the Persian frontier in the district of Khor Virap.

These particulars we learnt in the office of the Pristav, upon our
return under such escort to Kamarlu. We claimed and were permitted
to proceed to Erivan; but the chapars were instructed to prevent us
from diverging, and to hand us over to the Nachalnik at the provincial
capital. In this manner we were foiled in our antiquarian researches
among these ancient sites. At Khor Virap we saw nothing but some
slight convexities in the surface of the ground, which may be caused
by buried remains. Beyond the mound we observed a natural wall of rock,
rising like a gigantic ruin above the plain.

Evening had approached as we left the village, and proceeded through
the gardens, and crossed to the barren zone beyond. From the rising
ground we looked back over the forest of poplars to the sun setting
behind the peaks of the Ararat chain. The satellite range wore the
same tints of deep, opaque opaline which fretted the horizon during
our outward journey. It was shadowed upon the same ground of orange
and amber; and the opal hues of the land forms extended round the
circle and included the huge, horizontal outline of Alagöz. But the
Sevan mountains, in the opposite segment, were touched with pink and
luminous yellows; the higher summits were white with fresh snow. In
the south-east the landscape was dim and vaporous; nor could the
eye distinguish among the gathering shadows the basal slopes of
Ararat. The snow-fields of the dome shone with a cold light in the
sky, above vague banks of cloud. It was after eight o'clock when we
reached the pleasant town garden, and discussed our adventures with
the Nachalnik over a cigar.



CHAPTER XV

AT ERIVAN


Oriental cities--and Erivan is still essentially Oriental--may
perhaps be said to be built upon two planes. There is the plane of
the street, and there is the plane of the flat roofs, all at about the
same level. Where the climate during summer renders the rooms of the
house untenantable after the walls have been heated through by the sun,
the daily life of the inhabitants undergoes a corresponding division
into the life of the street and the life of the roof. About an hour
before sunset the entire population mounts from the lower apartments,
or even from the cellars, to the open platforms, floored with mud and
sometimes protected by a low balustrade, which receive the freshness
of the evening breeze. It is there that the last and first meals of
the day are served, and the quilts spread upon which sleep is enjoyed
beneath the stars. A strange scene it is when the faint light of
morning has broken, and when the recumbent forms commence to stir. The
divisions made by the narrow streets are scarcely perceptible; your
own roof appears to join the roofs of your neighbours, and these to
compose a single and elevated stage above the landscape of dim earth
and flashing stream. Figures, erect from the waist, are revealed
in every posture; and it may happen that the cotton drapery has
dropped from a woman's shoulders as she stretches her arms in the
fancied seclusion of some partial screen. Such scenes are the daily
accompaniment of a summer sojourn in the towns upon the lowlands
through which the Euphrates and the Tigris flow. In Armenia, with
a mean level of several thousand feet above the sea, the practice of
sleeping in the open is confined to the depression of this plain of the
Araxes; and even here it is only partially indulged. The better-to-do
among the inhabitants take refuge in the adjacent mountains when their
dwellings have become little better than furnaces. The traveller is
advised to swelter within four walls rather than tempt fever from
the expanse of irrigated land by exposing himself to the night air.

Yet the twofold division of the city into an upper and a lower region
is nowhere more productive of startling contrast than in this town of
gardens which is Erivan. In the streets, lined as they are with the
rude stone walls of the enclosures, surmounted by a crumbling ridge
of clay, the vistas are confined by inexorable foliage to the space
of a stone's throw. The central park, with its wide spaces, enjoys
no further landscape than that which is limited by the zones of the
adjacent buildings or by its own lofty forest trees. Where you are not
threading the narrow alleys of the more thickly inhabited quarters,
you will be winding by irregular ways, deep in white dust, by the side
of swirling water or within hearing of its murmur beyond the bulwark
which screens the orchard from the lane. But from the standpoint of
the roof the horizon expands to boundaries which are so remote that
they are scarcely conceivable by a European mind. The foliage or the
hollow of the site eliminates the middle distance; and the opposite
piles of Great Ararat in the south (Fig. 40) and of Alagöz in the
north (Fig. 41) rise immediately from the soft foreground of the
embowered houses. The landscape from the high ground on the north,
as you approach Erivan by the road from Tiflis, is difficult to forget
(Fig. 42). The whole fabric of Ararat is exposed from base to summits;
but so tall are the poplars and luxuriant the countless varieties of
fruit trees, that they almost conceal the domes of the mosques and
the cupolas of the churches, spread over the straggling township at
your feet.

All this verdure is mainly due to the river Zanga, the Hrazdan of the
Armenians, which collects the drainage of a section of the southern
slopes of the border range, and which is fed by the waters of Lake
Sevan, called also Gökcheh, from its sky-blue colour, and by Armenian
writers the Lake of Gegham. This beautiful alpine sea is surrounded
by lofty mountains and has an area 2 1/2 times as large as that
of Geneva. It produces salmon trout of delicious flavour which are
seldom absent from the bill of fare in the provincial capital. It
finds an outlet through the Zanga into the Araxes at a difference in
the level of 3600 feet. The brawling Zanga, already weakened by the
canals which diffuse its waters, pursues a devious course at the foot
of high and rocky banks on the western outskirts of the town. Further
eastwards the irrigation is supplied by the Kirk Bulakh, a stream of
which the name signifies forty springs, and which has its sources
at no great distance from Erivan. Such abundance of running water
should secure to this growing city a large measure of prosperity
under settled government. As the centre of the most populous of the
Armenian provinces of the Russian Empire, to which it gives its name,
it is already a place of some pretensions. But the inhabitants do
not at present number more than 15,000, of whom half are Tartars and
half Armenians. This total also comprises about 300 Russians, whose
most conspicuous units are the drivers of the carriages on hire,
belonging, I believe, exclusively to the Molokan sect. [113]

Erivan does not possess any monuments of first-rate merit or of great
antiquity. Her origin is obscure. Noah may quite well have lived here
before the Deluge, as one of the earliest of modern European visitors
was informed by his Armenian friends. [114] The popular derivation of
the name is from the Armenian verb erevel, and it is said to signify
appearing. The place would, indeed, be about the first locality in
the plain region to appear to the eyes of the patriarch of old. [115]
Hither may have been directed his steps and those of his family when
the waters had receded from a world renewed. This may be the site of
the original city of Noah, perhaps preserved beneath the soil upon
which is built the present town. The more learned are inclined to
a much later foundation, but do not yield in point of philological
plausibility to the champions of the identification with Noah's
city. They say that the name has been shortened from Erovantavan, which
they render the place where Erovant was defeated. Erovant or Ervand was
an Armenian monarch of the first century who was vanquished in this
region by the lawful heir to the throne of the Arsakids at the head
of a Persian army. The event and the survival of the name Erovantavan
are attested by Moses of Khorene. [116] The Mohammedan derivation
from Revan Kul, a prince of the reign of Shah Ismail (1502-1524),
[117] who is said to have fortified the place by his master's order,
cannot be reconciled with the fact that Erivan was already in existence
certainly in the eleventh and probably in the seventh century. [118]
But it played no prominent part whether in ancient or mediæval history
until the advent of the Ottoman Empire. From the sixteenth century into
modern times it was continually disputed between the Sultans and their
powerful neighbours on the east, the Persian Shahs. The enumeration
of the sieges it sustained at the hands of Turks and Persians would be
a tax upon my reader's patience which I am not disposed to levy. When
the Russians appeared on the scene it was in Persian possession; and
an unsuccessful attempt on their part to capture the fortress in 1804
supplied the ground for the firm belief in its impregnability which
was cherished by its Persian governors. This confidence was rudely
shattered by Paskevich in October 1827. His shells wrought fearful
havoc in the unsubstantial town, and one is said to have pierced the
dome of the mosque in the citadel, whither thousands of the wretched
inhabitants had fled for protection against the hail of the cannon. The
Russian army entered the place without encountering any serious
obstacle, and the Russian flag has waved there ever since. [119]

One might expect to find some mosques of considerable age in a city
which flourished under its Mohammedan masters. One must, however,
recollect that the Ottoman Turks are Sunnis and the Persians Shiahs;
what the one may erect the other loves to destroy. We are expressly
told that when Shah Safi took the place in A.D. 1635 all the mosques
built by the Turks were razed to the ground. [120] About the same time
the position of the town, or perhaps only of the fortress, underwent
a change, being removed some eight hundred paces to its present site
on the rocky cliffs at the foot of which the Zanga flows. [121] The
Persians do not appear to have enriched it at that period with any
remarkable buildings; and it was recovered by the Turks in 1724. [122]
Some ten years later it again fell into the hands of the Persians as
one of the conquests of Nadir Shah. The principal mosque is said to
date from the reign of this monarch. The curious old tower which was
seen by Chardin as well as by Tournefort, and of which the lineaments
have been handed down to us by the former of these travellers, has
long since disappeared.

Still the buildings which at present exist are well worth a visit;
and I propose to invite my reader to accompany me in a leisurely
ramble through the alleys of Erivan. The more populous quarters are
divided into a western and an eastern half, at first by the broad,
metalled road which comes from Tiflis, and, further south, by the
central park. Speaking generally, the eastern half is inhabited by
the Tartars and the western by the Armenians. In the one you will
discover the mosques, in the other the churches. But the churches
are either small and quite insignificant stone structures, or have
been restored beyond recognition in comparatively recent and tasteless
times. I counted no less than six, including the Russian church at the
southern extremity of the town. Of these the oldest foundation would
appear to be that of Surb Katholike, which stands in a pleasant walled
garden, adjoining the great road, in the upper or northern quarter.
An ancient elm dwarfs the humble oblong edifice, which is entered from
a portal on the south side, added in 1861. The interior, which is very
low, is disposed in a nave and aisles, an apse and two side apses or
chapels. Chardin attributes a church of this name to the latest kings
of Armenia, and the priests assured me that it was indeed the earliest
in date at Erivan. It was here that in Persian times the katholikos
would officiate, while residing in the provincial capital.

A little lower down the road we pass Paulos Petros (Paul and Peter),
the largest and the least pleasing of the town churches. But once we
have left the wide avenue to become involved in the network of gardens
on the north and north-west, any mediocrity in the buildings we visit
is amply compensated by the charm of the enclosures in which they
stand. Such verdure of every shade and constant hum of flowing water!
To Surb Joannes we come first--four walls and a metal roof, to which
is attached a wooden belfry, painted green. You see the Zanga issuing
from a cleft in the barren hills, of which the hardness contrasts with
the foliage at their base. The little portal of Joannes is quite a
pretty feature, and I was informed that the church dates from the
latter part of the seventeenth century. A more ambitious structure
is Surb Zoravar, situated some little distance in an easterly
direction, but still within the zone of these high slopes on the
north. It is surrounded by old gardens and overshadowed by walnut
trees. The body of the church is quite plain, four walls and a roof
of low pitch; but an elaborate portal, surmounted by a belfry and
supported by four massive piers, extends the whole length of the west
front. Two piers in the centre are panelled and richly carved by the
most delicate of chisels. There is a very old doorway on the south
side with spiral mouldings, and the frescos over the principal
entrance--a rare feature--are well drawn and show good feeling for
colour. I understand that the present church has supplanted an older
building; but I will not vouch for the statement that the portal is
due to Moses Katholikos (A.D. 1629-1632), as I was informed by the
aged and ignorant priest. He came at last, after many peals from the
belfry, his tottering frame supported by a lay companion. The clergy
of Erivan are not more enlightened than the most backward of their
profession in remote districts of the Turkish provinces.

On the other hand the greater material well-being of the laity is
made manifest by the air of comparative comfort presented by the
interiors of their places of worship. Of course one misses the pews
of our English churches, or the serried lines of chairs which furnish
the temples of the Continent. But the floors are well carpeted and the
bare walls kept in repair. From Surb Zoravar one may readily regain
the Tiflis road and pass in a southerly direction along the central
park. Thence it is no great distance to the principal mosque of the
city, the Gök Jami or mosque of heaven. This edifice is situated in
the western half of Erivan, and is surrounded by dwellings of Tartars
in considerable number, overlapping into the Armenian quarters. It is
approached from the narrow streets of a bazar consisting of booths,
and is entered by a handsome doorway at the side of an imposing
minaret, of which the surface is diversified by designs in polychrome
tiles (Fig. 43). You pass through a vaulted passage into the great
court (Fig. 44). It is a vast place, shady and serene. Lofty elms of
great age shadow the basin of overflowing water which bubbles in the
centre of the paved spaces. Upon its margin are gathered figures in
long robes and turbans, or attired in the Persian fashion and wearing
the Persian lambskin hat. These are busy with their ablutions; while
elsewhere, beneath the shade, mollahs are instructing groups of their
younger pupils, seated on mats spread upon the flags. Beds of single
dahlias refresh and please the eye. Of life and movement there is no
lack; people are coming and going; there in the distance a train of
shapeless forms in deep blue draperies makes its way to the women's
mosque. But the absence of the least suspicion of haste spreads an
atmosphere of delightful repose. It requires no small fortitude--they
would call it diseased curiosity--to pace from side to side and
ascertain that this quadrangle measures 87 paces by 58. The latter
is the dimension of the side on the south, upon which is built the
temple itself (Fig. 45). Beneath the spacious dome men and women are
gathered indiscriminately, the women veiled in Persian fashion. There
is nothing very remarkable in the architecture of the mosque; but the
floral paintings which adorn the ceiling of a companion and smaller
edifice on the north side of the court are of very high merit. The
remainder of the quadrangle is taken up by rows of low buildings,
containing chambers in which the older scholars pursue their studies.
One wonders what they may be learning. A mollah of importance informs
us that the Gök Jami was built in the time of Nadir Shah (A.D. 1736-
1747) by the sirdar, Hoseyn Ali Khan.

With the exception of the mosque in the fortress, the religious
edifices of the Mohammedans are extremely well maintained. I counted
three mosques in the Tartar quarters. That of Haji Nusrallah Bey and
the Shehr Jami (town mosque) are almost exactly similar in design.
The former is evidently a replica of the latter, which displays a
Turkish inscription on the outer door with a date which we read as
1098 (A.D. 1687). But it must have been restored since that time.
Although much smaller than Gök Jami, it bears some resemblance to
that building; and the walled court with its fountain and beds of
long-stalked dahlias is as pleasant a refuge from dusty alleys as
man could desire.

But perhaps the most interesting monument is the kiosque of the
sirdars, in the extreme southern angle of the town. We may approach
it from the west, and take Surb Sargis on the way. That church and
pleasant terrace on the high land above the Zanga commands an
extensive view over the southern quarters and across the plain to
Ararat. The deeply-bedded river is flowing on an easterly course
towards the fortress and the gardens of the sirdars outside its walls.
After skirting those parapets it will turn abruptly in the reverse
direction, and pursue a more tranquil career to the Araxes. The
fortress to which we proceed is still some distance off, and the
walls of mud and rubble which line the cliffs on the left bank of
the Zanga are rapidly falling into total ruin. While they are flanked
by the swirling stream they may once have possessed some power of
resistance; but after the river has deserted the site beyond the
abrupt bend, the town is exposed immediately to the plain. The
sirdar's palace composes the kernel of the fortified area, and its
windows overlook the river. But the extensive buildings of his well-
stocked harem, the magazines of his garrison and the abodes of his
courtiers have either disappeared altogether or are rapidly crumbling
away. From among a heap of ruins rises intact a single edifice, which
is kept in repair by the Russians. It is the pavilion in which the
sirdar was wont to beguile his leisure. From the window in the alcove
of this elaborate interior (Fig. 46) he would feast his eyes on the
landscape--the river at his feet, his own shady garden in the plain,
the dim spaces backed by the fabric of Ararat. Here he exercised his
skill as a marksman upon the donkeys of the unfortunate peasants,
sending a ball through them as they wound along the road on the right
bank of the Zanga towards the bridge with its two pointed arches. [123]
This bridge is placed just below the pavilion, and is still the only
avenue of communication between Erivan and the country beyond the
river. What consummation of Oriental felicity to sit on cushions in
this glittering apartment and watch the caravans which fill your
coffers defiling below! From time to time there may come an embassy
to your overlord of Persia, and there will be a report to dictate upon
the size and splendour of the cavalcade. The beauties of Georgia and
Circassia luxuriate in the adjoining halls, and water flows in
abundance everywhere. The governor of Erivan was quite a little king
in the country, and, when he travelled, the inhabitants of the
villages along his route would immolate an ox in his honour. [124]

The incrustation which my reader may admire upon the vaulting of the
alcove is composed of pieces of mirror which shine like the facets
of a jewel. An encrusted cornice of the same material surmounts the
walls of the pavilion below a ceiling profusely adorned with floral
designs, conspicuous being the iris and the rose. Eight paintings
on canvas, applied to shallow recesses, are distributed around the
room. I believe they are copies, made since the Russian occupation,
of originals which had fallen into decay. The two which are comprised
by my illustration, one on either side of the alcove, represent on
the left hand the figure of Hoseyn Khan Sirdar, and, on the right,
the Persian hero Feramez. Of the remainder, three are portraits--Fath
Ali, Shah of Persia (1797-1834), his son Abbas Mirza and Hasan Khan,
brother to the Sirdar Hoseyn; while an equal number are indifferent
renderings of heroic personages--the warriors Sherab and Rustem,
and a Persian Amazon. One of my predecessors has recorded that at
the time of his visit in 1834 the panels in the alcove were adorned
with four pictures setting forth subjects which were well conceived
to amuse the fancy of an old debauchee. A Mussulman was receiving
wine from a fair Georgian in the presence of the monks of Edgmiatsin,
whose arguments had been less potent to effect his conversion than
the fleshly charms of the Christian girl. A Persian beauty in loose
trousers and diaphanous upper garment was making her obeisance to the
Shah. Here a prince of the blood royal in costume of the chase dallied
with a maiden while her aged father lay asleep; there the beautiful
features of Joseph spread havoc among the assembled ladies at the house
of the wife of Potiphar. [125] These various incitements to delight
no longer grace the forlorn kiosque, and perhaps their disappearance
is no great loss to the world of art. The original decoration, which
is quite intact, upon the walls and ceiling enables us to judge how
great had been the artistic decadence of Persia since her painters
displayed their skill upon the walls of the Chehel Situn, the noble
pavilion on the banks of the Zenda Rud.

From this kiosque we may make our way to the adjoining mosque of
the fortress, which is now no longer frequented by the faithful. It
stands a little east of the old palace; the interior beneath the
spacious dome is decorated with much skill by means of little bricks
of many colours. The great court is already ruinous. An old henna-
stained attendant informed us that it was erected in the reign of
Fath Ali Shah and that it was known as the Abbas Mirza Jami. Walls
and palace and mosque are, I conclude, already doomed. Hard by their
crumbling remains are seen the barracks of the Russian garrison and
the metal roof of a Russian church. The last of the sirdars is
already long since dead, he whose portrait hangs on the wall of the
pavilion. He died in a miserable stable, bereft of everything but the
squalid garment which clothed his aged body. Yet his memory is
pleasantly associated with one of the favourite episodes of Persian
romance. It is related that a young Georgian travelled to this
fortress above the Zanga to catch a glimpse of his betrothed in the
sirdar's harem. The girl, espying her lover, precipitated herself
towards him from the window, and was saved from certain death by a
willow which broke her fall. The pair were captured; but the incident
touched the heart of her jealous owner, who pardoned them both and
let them go. His generous speech has been preserved: "Hearts so
closely united let no man endeavour to part." [126]

Perhaps the best introduction to the population of a city consists in
a visit to the schools. Erivan is better supplied in respect both of
elementary and secondary education than any other town in the Armenian
provinces of the Russian Empire. But, before recording my personal
impressions of what I saw during a brief inspection, I should like to
review the conditions which govern the schools. When Russia became
mistress of a large portion of Armenia, her rulers found that their
Armenian subjects were already in possession of a school system of
which, with their customary tenacity, they were extremely jealous,
and which probably dated from the invention of the Armenian alphabet
as early as the fifth century. The Church has been for long ages the
pillar of Armenian nationality; and the schools were affiliated to
the Church. There were not therefore wanting all the elements of a
bitter quarrel; and if any question more than another has envenomed
the relations between the Armenians and their Russian rulers it is
this question of the schools.

When the constitution of the Armenian Church and its relations to the
Government were embodied in a State document, a chapter was inserted
by virtue of which the Tsar of Russia formally recognised the Church
schools. [127] They were stated to have as their object the religious
and moral education of the children, and to be under the guidance
and supervision of the bishops. It was provided that their rules and
curricula should be submitted to the synod at Edgmiatsin, and that
this body should in turn transmit them for acceptance to the Minister
of the Interior. A rider was added to the effect that it was a matter
of importance that the clergy should become acquainted with the Russian
language, and with the history and geography of the Russian Empire.

It is only fair to the Government to remark, by way of parenthesis,
that although a period of over half a century has elapsed since the
promulgation of this document, few teachers and still fewer pupils
have yet displayed even moderate proficiency in the speaking and
writing of Russian. With the growth of material prosperity, which
was the outcome of the Russian occupation, the Armenian schools
prospered and their standards rose. The teachers, who were laymen,
were taken from good families; and one may safely assert that
at the present day the Armenian youth are instructed by the best
educated and best informed among their countrymen. Many of them have
studied in Europe, principally in Germany, and are men of far higher
attainments in the field of knowledge than such as might be required
by the teaching which they are permitted to dispense. The first step
taken by Government to cut the wings of the national schools was the
limitation of the standard of instruction. The class is in Russia the
measure of this standard, the first class standing at the bottom of
the scale. Schools of five classes were frequently attached to the
churches; and the scholars who desired to pursue their studies still
further passed to the so-called seminary of the diocese in which they
lived. In this manner it was possible for a youth to receive all but
the highest university education in his native language and through
his native institutions. It is true that the Minister of the Interior
had a right of censorship; but in view of the gravity of the fancied
danger this safeguard was only partial. So the Government drew the pen
through the third, fourth, and fifth classes and left the Armenians
nothing more than the elementary course. Such action was thought to
be arbitrary in view of the fact that these schools are supported by
purely voluntary contributions.

Empire! what insidious wickedness, surpassing the horrors of war, is
committed in the name of empire! Surely it is a right as elementary
as that of security for life and property to supervise the education
of your children. One might sympathise with the Russian Government had
they merely required that the standard of instruction should not fall
below the standard of schools in Russia. Nor should we be inclined to
withhold our sympathy if they had only renewed their insistence upon
the necessity of a knowledge of Russian. That was the wise as well as
the humane policy. The ukase of 1884 was conceived in a very different
spirit, and may be branded as an infamous document. It provided that
Church schools with more than two classes should be placed upon the
same basis as private schools in Russia, that is to say that the whole
of the instruction should be conducted in the Russian language. This
was tantamount to closing such schools. The supreme control of the
elementary schools was transferred from the Ministry of the Interior
to the Department of Education. The seminaries were suffered to exist
upon the basis of the decree of 1836, but their object was defined
to be the preparation of clergymen to meet the requirements of the
Armenian Church.

The synod at Edgmiatsin, although already placed in leading strings
by Government, did not see their way to accept this decree. They
urged that, since it had been issued during a vacancy of the Chair,
its consideration should be postponed until the election of a new
katholikos. Government retaliated by closing the schools. Nor were they
again opened until in 1886 the pontiff Makar signified his consent
to the provisions of the ukase, subject to some small concession as
to the scope of the curricula in schools of two classes. The higher
classes remained closed. Such was the situation at the time of my
visit. It had, however, been further enacted that after the lapse
of a prescribed period every teacher in an Armenian school should
be required to possess a certificate from the Russian Department of
Education. In order to obtain this certificate the candidate must
pass an examination conducted in the Russian language. The term of
grace was coming to an end in a few months, and I gathered that few
teachers had acquired the necessary linguistic proficiency. [128]

Education is not a department of human activity which can be properly
conducted upon military principles. The only discipline healthy for
the mind is that which is derived from the unfettered exercise of the
faculties with which it has been endowed. In Erivan I had occasion to
remark the contrast in intellectual atmosphere between the Russian
and the Armenian school. Here were offered two typical examples of
these diverse species, still existing side by side. As the capital of
a diocese, the Church has still the right to possess a seminary in the
town of Erivan. The seminary embraces the standards which we may call
secondary education, and has no less than six classes. It has contrived
to evade the restrictions which are in the spirit of the ukase of 1884
in respect of the character of its pupils. It was quite obvious that
very few were destined to take orders, although perhaps the majority
of the 360 scholars were included in the elementary classes. There
was no trace of any clerical bias in the choice of treatises; and
the teachers in secular subjects were, I believe, all laymen. One
at least was a young man of exceptional ability, trained in Europe
at his own expense. It would be difficult to find among the staff
of our secondary schools a master better equipped for his task. The
pupils, whose age extended from ten to twenty years, did not appear
to acquire knowledge by rote. The Principal spoke the German language
fluently and was in touch with the thought of the West. Yet even this
privileged institution has been clipped of much of its usefulness
by being placed at an unfair advantage as compared to the Russian
school. It is interdicted the seventh and eighth classes, although
there can be no doubt in respect of the competency of its staff. It
is perhaps for this reason that it is not as a rule attended by sons
of the richest citizens. Its income of £1800 a year is principally
subscribed by Armenians of means. Only about a sixth of the sum comes
from the pupils. The majority receive their education free of charge.

The subjects taught in the highest class are theology and psychology,
mathematics, physics, logic, modern history and modern languages. In
the latter category they are restricted by order to Russian and
French. The instruction is conducted in Armenian except in the case of
Russian language and literature, when the Russian tongue is used. Their
text-book in psychology was a Russian translation of Alexander Bain and
in logic of W. S. Jevons. Besides this seminary, which is attached to
the church of Surb Sargis, there is a school for girls with 200 pupils.

The Russian school is mainly supported by the State out of revenues
derived from taxation. It has the rank and is known by the name of
a gymnasium in the German acceptation of that term. Its subvention
produces a yearly income of £4500, which is supplemented by the
fees paid by nine-tenths of the scholars, amounting to about £4 a
head. Out of 260 boys and youths some 26 were boarders and the rest day
pupils. The boarders sleep in a long dormitory, kept scrupulously clean
and neat. The majority pay for their maintenance £25 a year; the poorer
can only afford £15. The school is housed in a commodious building
in the centre of the town and exhibits every sign of prosperity. It
has large and well-furnished reception rooms for days of fête. The
class rooms, with their rows of forms and large black-boards, inspire a
salutary awe. The library is well stocked and does the Russian Director
great credit, as does the general organisation of the institution.

But the spirit of the place is that of the camp; the methods are
purely military, and one almost expects the sound of a bugle to
announce which lesson shall be rehearsed. Since human memory is of
brief span and the recollection of facts is of no great value, it is
not so much this faculty that requires cultivation as the habit of
study and the power to collate facts. The education dispensed by this
school will not produce scholars or thinkers; indeed the pen is here
the servant of the sword. But at least it serves to sharpen the wits,
and to induce a nimbleness of mind which can scarcely fail to be of
use to its Mohammedan members.

All who can afford to buy a uniform appear in trousers and tunic of
blue cloth, enlivened with brass buttons. A dress of similar material
is worn by the ushers. The pupils are drilled and put through simple
military exercises; they may be seen marching with music at their
head. Yet this is a civil institution. It is the only gymnasium or High
School in the Russian provinces of the Armenian plateau. At the time
of my visit the school list contained the names of 159 Armenians, 67
Russians, 9 Georgians, 7 Poles and 18 Tartars. Only the last belonged
to the Mohammedan religion.

When it is remembered that the Tartars compose one-half of the
inhabitants and are numerous in the districts about Erivan, the poor
show which they make among the inmates of this important school is
a very significant fact. As a body, they shut themselves off from
Western education; and for this reason they appear destined to be
edged out by the Armenians, as a species unable to adapt itself to
the new environment. They are still in possession of some of the
richest land in the province, and many among them are wealthy men of
leisure. These khans occasionally send a son to the school. But the
Director informed me that youths of this class were rarely successful;
they were indolent and left at an early age. Those who belonged to
the middle class stayed longer and were much more hopeful. Although
I passed through every room while the students were pursuing their
tasks, I only counted six Tartars, all told. The method of procedure
was extremely entertaining. Accompanied by the amiable Director,
I was introduced to the presiding usher, who would descend from his
daïs and extend his hand. Some fifty to a hundred bright black eyes
were focussed upon us; all were standing, not a muscle moved and
not a sound was heard. Then some such little comedy as this would be
gone through:--

The Director (addressing myself in German). "This is the Latin
class. Permit me to present you to M. ----off". (In Russian) Pupils,
you may sit down (a single clap and shuffle--perfect silence). You,
Sir, will please address the Professor in the Latin tongue."

Myself (after a long and embarrassed pause). "Gratias ago;
clementiam, benigne rector, reposco. Consuetudinem linguæ Latinæ
parum conservo. Verum versus video in nigra ista tabula inscriptos,
mihi valde familiares: 'O utinam tunc quum Lacedæmona classe petebat,
obrutus insanis esset adulter aquis.' Vellem interrogare discipulos
quisnam ille fuerit adulter."

The Usher (a forlorn and crushed individual. At first listless; but he
encounters the flashing eyes of the little Director, and stammers). "Sv
... svit ... niet, niet ..." (and he proceeds in Russian).

The Director. "My colleague desires me to state that he quite
understands what you said. You wished to express admiration of our
new blackboards. I thank you in his and my name. Is there any question
you would like to put?"

Myself. "There appear to be about thirty boys in this class. I wonder
what proportion Tartars bear to Armenians among them."

The Director. "Russians, stand up!" (some four or five fair-haired
and closely-cropped youths rise in their places. Their faces show
intelligence, and one likes them)--"Armenians, stand up!" (the
first batch sit down; practically the whole class springs to its
feet)--"Tartars, stand up!" (one little boy at the extreme end of
the class confronts his seated schoolmates).

One feature of this institution seemed specially well conceived;
it was the manner in which the religious difficulty was solved. Two
different religions--the Mohammedan and the Christian--and three
distinct professions of the latter--the Gregorian Armenian, Roman
Catholic (Poles), and so-called Russian Orthodox--were represented
among the pupils and were expounded to their several votaries by
as many diverse types of the holders of sacerdotal office. Separate
rooms were set aside in which the mollah taught Islam, and the papa
or padre or vardapet explained the New Testament. In this manner
each youth received instruction in the faith of his fathers at the
hands of one of its official exponents; while the rub and wear of
continual intercourse in the secular classes accustomed Mohammedan
and Christian, Russian Orthodox and Gregorian Armenian to respect
their classmates and to tolerate each other's faith. The extension
of such a system over the whole of these provinces would be likely
to work incalculable good; and, side by side with glaring defects in
the methods of secular instruction, it is a real pleasure to be able
to congratulate the State schools upon such a salutary feature and
cordially to wish them success.

The Tartars of Erivan are for the most part of Turkish descent, and
of kindred race to the bulk of the inhabitants of the neighbouring
Persian province of Azerbaijan. But some of the number included
under this name in the statistics may more properly be designated as
Persians. All profess the Shiah tenets. I had expected to find them
extremely fanatical, judging by my experience of their co-religionists
in Persia, and by an account given of them by a French traveller. [129]
But not only are Christians permitted to enter their mosques; they are
even received with cordiality by the groups assembled in the outer
courts. I do not know whether this altered demeanour may be due to
a policy of no nonsense pursued by the Russian Government. If such
be the case it is a significant fact. How often have I stood before
the door of a mosque in Persia, casting eager glances at the vista of
priceless treasures within! On each occasion I have in vain appealed
to the Governor, who would urge that he could not be responsible for
my safety, and beg me not to attempt to enter. At Erivan I was invited
to penetrate into every part, and to stand by the side of the faithful
while they prayed. I have already stated that the Tartar inhabitants
include many men of means, who live on the proceeds of their extensive
gardens. But a good proportion of the large shop-keepers belong to
this race, and are well-mannered and fairly well-educated men. I
fancy, however, that they would scarcely be able to compete with
the Armenians, were it not for the support of patrons of their own
blood. For the rest, the small hucksters and the sellers of fruit
are in a very large proportion Tartar. So, almost exclusively, are
the workers in mud after their various kinds: plasterers, embankers,
makers of ducts to water the gardens. The gardeners and drivers of
carts largely belong to this nation; but there is scarcely a carpenter
or a skilled mason who is not an Armenian.

While the Tartars are reputed to hoard, the Armenians are excessively
lavish, and spend large sums in building themselves fine houses. Many
an ornate villa in Italian style may be seen emerging from the
foliage of the gardens. Here and there quite a little palace faces
the street. Yet, with all their comparative wealth, they have not
yet emerged from the material stage, and I searched in vain for a
bookseller. Indeed, in spite of many signs of progress and of her
favourable geographical position, Erivan can scarcely yet be said
to be connected with the pulse of the great world. Here is a city
not so far from Europe, and needing capital for her development;
yet scarcely any capital has found its way in. Teheran, although
much more distant, has a numerous European colony; and there is not
an enterprise, from banks to electric lighting and tramways, which a
number of candidates are not contending with each other to supply. You
will not meet a single foreign industrialist in Erivan, nor be able
to purchase any but Russian newspapers. Even the Armenians are not
encouraged to develop the resources of the country. The following
question which I addressed to a prominent Armenian capitalist may
exhibit, together with the answer, the magnitude of those resources
and the reasons assigned for the fact that they are not exploited.

Q. "Can you explain to me why so little use is made of your natural
advantages--the immense extent of idle soil and the abundance of
water? In the north you have the vast reservoir of Lake Sevan;
in the south the Araxes, running in full stream to the Caspian
Sea. Cultivation might surely be increased to many times its present
area without any great expense."

A. "The waste lands are for the most part in the hands of the
Russian Government, and they are not inclined to sell or lease them
to Armenians. They are believed to be keeping them for Russians,
but the Russians do not come. A successful piece of reclamation has
been made by General Cheremetieff in the neighbourhood of Ararat. We
have made repeated proposals to take lands and irrigate them, but we
have never been able to obtain permission."

Perhaps, if these lines come to the eyes of M. Witte, he will give
the matter the attention which it deserves.

The same exclusive economical policy, as manifested in protective
duties, has deflected commerce from the natural avenue of the valley
of the Araxes, and caused it to pursue more lengthy and less convenient
routes. There is scarcely any transit trade with Persia. The prosperity
of the place is therefore dependent on native industries, which
comprise the cultivation and export of cotton, wine and rice. Cotton
to the value of about £400,000 is annually despatched by waggon or
camel to the station of Akstafa on the Tiflis railway, and thence, viâ
Batum and the Black Sea or Baku and the Caspian, to the manufacturing
centres of Russia. Three large Russian firms are locally represented
by offices and factories, where the cotton is purchased and cleaned
and pressed. The presses, which are of English make, are driven by
horse power. While this industry is in the hands of Russians the trade
in wine is conducted by Armenians; and very excellent wine have they
succeeded in producing. The value of the yearly export, which goes
exclusively to Russia, is as yet only £20,000. But the enterprise of
M. Karapet Afrikean, who has closely studied his subject in Germany,
has already effected a marked improvement in the quality of the wine,
and is likely to lead to a great increase in the demand. Rice is also
exported and in considerable quantities to Erzerum and the Turkish
provinces. The fruits of Erivan are almost unrivalled in the world;
but I do not know that they are preserved and sent away.

Such is the city which, with its vast and populous province,
absorbs all the time and all the energies of its Russian governor,
sitting at his green baize table overlooking the park. General Frese
has a real affection for that table, which he has shaped to fit his
figure. From early morning to late night his erect and military form
is condemned to that inactive but rigid posture. He never indulges in
the relaxation of an arm-chair. While you puff your cigarette among
his hospitable cushions, he will discourse upon the mighty rivers
and forests of Siberia from across the field of green baize. Dinner
is served in a room displaying all the skill of Persian artists,
and overlooking, through a window composed of tiny panes of glass,
a miniature garden disposed as for the stage of a theatre. I need
hardly say that this work of fancy was not created by the order
of the present occupant of Government House. Still the fare at his
table is worthy of the most refined palate; such excellent trout and
tender chickens and the pick of the native wine! Immediately after
the meal he resumes his seat in the adjoining room behind the green
baize. He attributes the backwardness of the country to excessive
centralisation at St. Petersburg, a process which has been tending
to assume increasing proportions now that the Caucasus is no longer
administered by a Grand Duke.



CHAPTER XVI

EDGMIATSIN AND THE ARMENIAN CHURCH


At five o'clock in the afternoon of the 4th of October we set out for
Edgmiatsin. It is a drive of about thirteen miles across the plain. Our
luggage was consigned to a waggon of the post, and we ourselves enjoyed
the luxury of a light victoria, drawn by four horses abreast. They
covered the distance in an hour and forty minutes, although the road
is in many places a mere track.

What a drive! It is so well within reach of Europe that it ought to
be included, like the journey to Italy, in the programme of a liberal
education. The railway will before long arrive at Erivan, and then the
pilgrimage will be still easier to undertake. Not all the tourists in
the world will disturb the harmony of this landscape; the screeching
trains, the loud hotels, the Babel of tongues will be lost, like
a flight of starlings, in this expanse. It is here that the spirit
of Asia is most intensely present--an inner sanctuary to those outer
courts through which the traveller may have wandered and never crossed
the threshold of this plain. And it is a spirit and an influence which
arouse deep chords within us and send them sounding through our lives.

The landscape at once combines and accentuates the salient features of
the Asiatic highlands. There is the plain which was once the bed of an
inland sea. It stretches west and east without visible limits; and this
evening it has all the appearance of water. In the west it is mirage
which produces this effect. The long north-western slope of the Ararat
fabric assumes the character of a dark and narrow promontory rising
on an opposite shore. From the east, beyond the train of the Little
Ararat, a cold mist--may it be from the Caspian?--is slowly wafted over
the steppe, and the illusion is complete. Into those liquid spaces
sweep the basal vaultings of Alagöz--the boulder-strewn declivities
which we keep on our right hand, and which seem to embody on a typical
scale that quality of hopeless sterility which is characteristic of
vast portions of the continent. But the same vague distance receives
the Zanga, diffused into many channels, and lost beneath luxuriant
foliage. For over a quarter of an hour after leaving Erivan we pass
at a rapid trot between the walls of orchards; and in places the water
gushes from the conduits across the road. Once outside this intricate
zone the track wanders over the idle soil, skirting the stony slopes
in the north. In the opposite direction the plain blooms with fields
of cotton and rice, sustained by a small canal which pursues a westerly
course before it falls into the Araxes, if indeed it flow so far.

And there are the mountains of Asia--the volcanoes with their vaulted
summits, as well as those long ridges with their serrated outline
which represent the operation of less impetuous forces through longer
spaces of time. To this second category belongs the fine chain on the
west of Ararat which gains in definition as we proceed. It stands
a little back and behind the fabric of Ararat, and volcanoes too
have built themselves up upon this wall. But its rugged and tumbled
appearance is the feature which predominates, in striking contrast
to the symmetry of the mountain of the Ark. That giant overpowers the
lesser Ararat and appropriates their common base. One stands in wonder
at the force which could have rent that massive pedestal and opened
the yawning chasm which fronts the plain. Night creeps into those
recesses, where the blaze of a Kurdish camp-fire calls attention to
the extraordinary transparence of the air. The snow-fields, bare and
cold above the amber of the sunset, are already free of their coronal
of cloud. One full-puffed vapour still floats behind the uppermost
pinnacle; another clings to the bastion on the north-west. While we
admire this stately scene, made more impressive by the heavy silence,
a grove of trees rises from the steppe on our point of course. Two
little conical shapes just emerge above their outline, and are
recognised as the domes of Edgmiatsin.

We pass through the thin plantation, sustained by runnels derived from
Alagöz, and come to a halt before the doorway of a lofty mud wall with
round towers at intervals. It might belong to a Persian fortress; but
it is the outer wall which surrounds the cloister with the cathedral
of St. Gregory. The massive gate is closed, and we thump and thump for
some time in vain. The parapet with its crumbling surface betrays no
sign of the life within. But there is just sufficient light to reveal
the surroundings of the fortified enclosure--a straggling village of
above-ground houses, outlying churches, poplars, dust. [130]

At last the hinges creak and the porter appears. We are ushered
into a court, like that of a college at Cambridge, adjoining the
great gate which is in the south wall. It is known as the pilgrims'
court (Fig. 47). Low buildings, rudely built, with a continuous
wooden verandah, compose the quadrangle. The windows are all lit up
behind a line of young trees of which the foliage rustles in the night
air. Several figures may be discerned on the steps of a basin of water
in the centre of the court. The place is all bustle and stir. Every
room, so we are told, in the whole monastery is occupied by as many
people as it will hold. Quarters have been reserved for us in the
principal court; but we are not expected until to-morrow. Sooner than
disturb the peace of evening we retire to a room in the village where
we erect our camp beds. It is quite a dormitory. My immediate neighbour
speaks English and is a correspondent of the Daily News. He is an
Armenian gentleman who has come all the way from Tabriz, partly in the
capacity of delegate of his countrymen in the Persian city, and partly
as the representative of the London newspaper. He talks incessantly;
his companions do the same. The great event of the coming days will
form an epoch in their lives, and every incident will be indelibly
imprinted upon their memories. A thrilling and detailed narrative
will be despatched to London, where it will filter through the brain
of the sub-editor and issue in the form of a paragraph in small type.

But the newspaper will be to blame; for it is an event, this
consecration of the latest pontiff of the Armenian Church. It is
an event both by reason of the personality of the new katholikos and
because within recent years the fact has slowly dawned upon Europe that
the politics of Western Asia must react upon the Western peoples,
and that in those politics the Armenians are destined to play a
part. The Church is at the present day the only native institution
which has been preserved to that people. All their aspirations as
human beings desirous to live as human beings are focussed by that
single organisation. The broad democratic basis upon which reposes
the election of the patriarch invests him with a representative
character. Moreover he is not chosen by a section of his countrymen but
by the nation as a whole. The Armenians of Turkey and of Persia as well
as those within Russian territory contribute their suffrages. It is
therefore only natural that, in the absence of secular institutions,
the head of the Church should be much more than a merely spiritual
ruler, and should reflect and in no small measure be expected to
instruct the temporal hopes and fears of his flock.

The Russian Government have not been slow in recognising this fact;
nor does the anxiety with which it is regarded in official circles
date from the contemporary prominence of the Armenian Question. In
the heyday of their relations with this Christian nation which hailed
them as liberators, and which was placed in the very centre of the
Mussulman peoples over which they were slowly establishing their sway,
the Russians lavished favours upon Edgmiatsin; [131] and rightly or
wrongly they are now accused by their Armenian allies, become their
subjects, of having excited hopes which, when they had served the ends
of Russian policy, were rudely and almost brutally suppressed. It
is certain that the Armenian inhabitants of the provinces which now
belong to Russia favoured the Russians in their campaigns against
Persia and Turkey at the risk of reprisals on the part of their
Mussulman masters. They smoothed the way for the extension of the
Russian Empire from the valley of the Kur to that of the Araxes. The
first great step in this direction was effected at the commencement of
the present century, when the kingdom of Georgia was organised into
a Russian province. The acquisition of Georgia afforded the Russians
a foothold upon the tableland, and brought them into direct contact
with the Persians and with the Turks. Their first battle against the
Persians was fought on the 20th of June 1804, and resulted in the
repulse of the Shah's forces, which were led by his son, the famous
Abbas Mirza. This action took place in the immediate neighbourhood of
Edgmiatsin, and on the same day upon which was celebrated the annual
festival of St. Ripsime, one of the saints who are the special glory
of the cloister. The Armenians did not disguise the direction of their
sympathies, and attributed, the Russian victory to the intervention
of their Saint. [132] Ten years later, when the monastery was visited
by Morier, the patriarch was wearing a high Russian order, of which
the star glittered on his purple robe. [133]

In 1828 Edgmiatsin was annexed to Russia after the capture
of Erivan from the Persians and as a result of the Treaty of
Turkomanchai. Throughout the wars which ensued with Turkey the
Armenians espoused the Russian cause; and one cannot doubt that
their assistance was of considerable benefit both to Paskevich
during the campaigns of 1828-29, and to Loris Melikoff, himself of
Armenian origin, in that of 1877. [134] Little by little a certain
bitterness becomes appreciable in these honeymoon relations. The
origin or perhaps the reflection of this new feeling may be found
in the provisions of the important statute which defines the status
of the Armenian Church in Russia and regulates the constitution of
Edgmiatsin. This statute, which is generally known as the Polojenye,
is headed by the signature of the Tsar Nicholas and bears the date
of March 1836. It was translated for me by one of the monks. In
some respects it deals most liberally with the national Church. Her
congregations are accorded full liberty of worship, and her clergy
are relieved from all civil burdens. The principle of the election of
the katholikos by the whole Armenian people professing the national
religion is expressly recognised. The method of his election is
minutely prescribed. The national delegates assemble in the church
of St. Gregory, and submit two names to the Emperor, who makes the
appointment. [135] On the other hand, in true Russian fashion, what
is given with one hand is taken away with the other. The synod of
Edgmiatsin is an ancient institution which, according to Armenian
traditions, advises the katholikos, and may even resist him should he
desire to effect changes in matters intimately affecting the national
faith. [136] The Polojenye emphasises and develops the constitutional
importance of this body, and places it under the titular presidency
of the Emperor. The decrees of the synod are headed "By order of the
Emperor of Russia"; and they are submitted to a Russian procurator,
resident at Edgmiatsin, who examines into their validity. In matters
of a purely spiritual nature the katholikos takes counsel with the
synod, but need not necessarily accept its recommendations. But in
all the general business of the Church, as well as of the cloister,
it is the synod which has jurisdiction subject to the approval of
the Minister of the Interior. In the synod, which consists of eight
priests resident at Edgmiatsin, the katholikos has no more than a
casting vote. It is true that he might act by Bull. But such action,
were it contrary to the resolutions of the synod, would, as matters
now stand, be revolutionary. In this manner the katholikos is put
into leading strings, of which the ends are held by the officials on
the banks of the Neva, duly instructed by a professed and resident spy.

Nor are the remaining provisions of this double-faced instrument
calculated to shed balm over the wounded dignity of the head of the
Church. It is the Emperor who appoints the members of the synod,
although the katholikos is entrusted with the important function of
submitting two names for the Imperial choice. It is not legal for
the pontiff to punish a member of the synod without the Imperial
consent. The same authority is necessary should he desire to suspend
a bishop. He may not leave the cloister for more than four months
except with the sanction of the Tsar. When a bishopric falls vacant he
submits names to the Emperor, with whom the appointment rests. Should
the bishop desire to go abroad for more than four months, application
must be made to the same high quarter. But perhaps the most serious
because the most insidious weapon against the independence of the
national Church is the provision which enacts that a year shall
elapse between the death of a katholikos and the election of his
successor. This clause was accepted with singular want of foresight
at a time when travelling was even slower than it is at the present
day, and when it was difficult to collect the delegates from Turkey
and Persia within a lesser period. In practice it is not easy for
the new katholikos to take up his duties until some time subsequent
to his election; and, should further delay be of advantage to the
Government, the Tsar can always defer confirming the choice of the
representatives. Thus a vacancy in the Chair is always accompanied by
a long interregnum, during which the Government plays off one party
against the other, and succeeds in obtaining whatever concessions
may have been resisted during the preceding pontificate.

An English traveller who visited Edgmiatsin the year after the
conclusion of this enactment found the synod with its Russian
procurator in full swing. The katholikos was at once reduced to
a position of president of the synod, and the synod to one of
subservience to Russian policy. [137] Von Haxthausen speaks of the
procurator as a Russian and quite an autocrat; this was in 1843. [138]
At that time the pontiff Nerses was in occupation of the Chair, and
his conspicuous abilities were regarded with suspicion by the Russian
authorities. His schemes for the higher education of the Armenians had
come to nothing owing to Russian opposition. But the hardest blow was
reserved for the year 1885, when the Katholikos Makar was appointed by
the Emperor in defiance of the expressed sentiments of the delegates of
the nation. It was then realised that the independence of the Church
was at an end. The ukase of investiture confirmed this pessimist
view. Instead of the usual wording "upon the recommendation of the
Armenian people," the appointment was based "upon the recommendation
of the clergy." Instead of the pictures from Armenian history which
adorned the ukase of the pontiff George, Russian insignia and coats
of arms enlivened the scroll. The constitutional phrase has been
restored to the ukase confirming the present pontiff, but not the
patriotic pictures! [139]

Still, in spite of the fetters which have been imposed upon the actions
of the katholikos, as much by the manner in which the Polojenye is
worked by the Russian bureaucracy as by the provisions which that
statute contains, the average Armenian and especially the lower
classes are immensely interested in the event of the coming days. At
Batum, at Kutais, at Alexandropol, at Erivan--wherever we have been
in the society of Armenians, talk has centred upon the triumphal
journey and the approaching consecration of His Holiness Mekertich
Khrimean. It is not only the ancient ceremony, and it is not merely
the assembling of delegates from all parts of the Armenian world
that appeals to the heart of the nation. It is the personality and
reputation of the man. The people forgets, but it does not change. The
imagination of the race still sees in the holder of the pontifical
office not alone or so much an archbishop or katholikos--the keystone
of the edifice of the Church--as a high priest in the old Biblical
sense. Khrimean is the ideal of a high priest. He is a figure which
steps straight out from the Old Testament with all the fire and all
the poetry. At the ceremony of his consecration it seemed as if at
the foot of Ararat the ancient spirit were still alive, and that
the holy oil which descended upon that venerable head from the beak
of the golden dove anointed a law-giver to the people who announced
the Divine Word. This impression was in part derived from the Semitic
cast of his features. The large brown eyes and aquiline nose above a
long and full beard, are characteristics which we associate with the
Jewish nation, but which are not uncommon among the Armenians. What
is more rare among this people is the spirituality and refinement
which is written in every line of this handsome face (Fig. 48). But
the whole character of the man would seem to have been moulded upon a
Biblical model rather than upon that of the Christian hierarchy. He
is the tried statesman to whom the people look for guidance in the
abeyance of the kingly office. With him religion and patriotism
are almost interchangeable terms; and the strong reality which he
has given to the old Armenian history may be illustrated by an act
which those who lack sympathy with such a character might almost
regard as childish. In the cloister of Varag near Van, over which
he has presided for many years, are buried the remains of Senekerim,
king of the Van country, who abdicated his kingdom in favour of the
Byzantine emperor, Basil II., and retired to the town of Sivas in Asia
Minor, which he received in exchange. Over his tomb a wooden canopy
had been erected and decorated in a manner befitting royal rank. But
such honours, paid to so unworthy a monarch, shocked the keen sense
of the patriot in Khrimean; he stripped the frame of its trappings
and ornaments, and the structure stands bare to this day. The simple
surroundings among which his life has been passed recall the setting
of a Bible story. At a later stage of our journey, when we arrived
in the town of Van, I was shown the house where he had resided and
which he has now devoted to a school for girls. As I alighted to visit
the school a man with the appearance and dress of a peasant stepped
forward to hold the reins of my horse. Yet this individual was none
other than the nephew of the Katholikos, and the brother of Khoren
Khrimean, who has accompanied his uncle to Edgmiatsin, and who does
the honours of the patriarchal household with so much dignity and
natural grace. During our stay in Van, his native province, we were
afforded an instance of the magnetic influence which through a long
life Mekertich Khrimean has exercised upon his countrymen, and which
takes the form of superstitious veneration among the humble and the
poor. As we were winding up the slopes of Mount Varag on our way to
the ancient monastery where he lived so long, teaching in the school
which he had founded within its walls, and often taking this very path
from the cloister to preach in the little church of Hankusner, on the
outskirts of the gardens of Van, our attention was called to a spot
where an assassin had lain in wait for him, deputed by his enemies to
kill him as he rode unaccompanied towards the town. The story is told
that when the man perceived him and raised his rifle to his shoulder,
a sudden fear seized his limbs, his arm shook like a wand; and he
fell upon his knees before his victim, whose look he had been unable
to bear. As a writer Khrimean has expressed through the vehicle of a
prose which is full of poetry and emotion conceptions of Scripture
and thoughts upon the troubles of his time which might have sprung
from the warm imagination of the early Christians in the East. He has
often suffered for the fire of his sermons, and he possesses both the
style of the consummate orator and the personal charm which keeps an
audience under a spell. He has for many years been in the forefront
of the Armenian movement; and it was he who pleaded the Armenian cause
at the Congress of Berlin. A people whose spirit has been crushed and
whose manhood has been degraded gather new life from such a teacher
and learn to become men. But perhaps the most striking quality in
a character which is at once complex and clear as the light of day
is the ever-welling kindness and open-armed sympathy with which he
shares the troubles of his fellow-men. As the throng press round him,
the holder of their highest office, and endeavour to kiss his hand or
gain a glimpse of his face, the mind travels back to that solemn scene
in which the Greek king receives his stricken and distracted people:
"O my poor children, known to me, not unknown is the subject of your
prayer; well am I aware that you are sore afflicted all; yet, though
you suffer, there is not one among you who suffers even as I. For
the grief you bear comes to each one alone--himself for himself he
suffers--and to none other else; but my soul mourns for the State
and for myself and you." [140]

Side by side with personal relations of greater freedom than I had
anticipated towards this remarkable man, there grew up at Edgmiatsin
and during the course of subsequent travel a fairly intimate
acquaintance with the events of his life. He was born on the 5th of
April 1820; and it is therefore in his seventy-fourth year that he
ascends the throne of St. Thaddeus and of St. Gregory. His father and
uncle were well-to-do citizens of Van, who had come to be known under
the name of Khrimean because of a trade which they had conducted with
the Crimea. The young Mekertich had a single brother and no sisters;
and he appears to have been educated with some care by his uncle. His
youth and early manhood were devoted to secular pursuits. For five
or six years he acted in the capacity of an overseer in a weaving
business. But already in 1841 he had become a traveller and a
thinker; in that year he made a journey in the province of Ararat
and visited Edgmiatsin. At the age of twenty-five he married and in
due course became a father; but his wife died after giving birth to a
daughter who only lived to be six or seven years old. To a layman of
intellectual tastes among the Armenians of Turkey there is scarcely
any other profession open than the honourable but ill-paid calling
of a teacher. Shortly after his marriage Khrimean proceeded to the
capital and earned his living by private tuition. His first book
appeared in 1850, and consisted of a description in poetry of his
travels in Ararat. The period of his residence in Constantinople was
diversified by further journeys; to Jerusalem and the Holy Land,
of which he published an account; and to Cilicia, the seat of the
latest Armenian dynasty, where he remained some time as a teacher
in the convent of Sis. In 1854 he returned to his native city, and
in the following year took orders and became a vardapet or monastic
priest. It is at this date that the more conspicuous portion of his
life may be said to have commenced. The pulpit gave full scope to
his natural eloquence; while the qualities of the student and writer,
which he had carefully cultivated, were displayed in the columns of a
journal which he founded about 1856 and named the Eagle of Vaspurakan,
or of the province of Van. The proceeds of the sale of this periodical,
which was at first printed at Constantinople, whither he had returned
in 1855, enabled him to purchase an instrument of great rareness in
Turkey, which the Armenians prize with the same childish affection
and reverence as the Persian highlanders value a rifle or sporting
gun. Khrimean re-entered Van with the title of abbot of the famous
monastery which overlooks the landscape of the city and the rock
and the waters from the slopes of Mount Varag. He came the proud
possessor of a printing press, with which to conquer the sloth of
the faint-hearted among the laymen and edify the crass ignorance of
the priests.

In the good old times in Turkey one might read or write what books one
liked, and the freedom which was enjoyed by the average individual
might have excited the envy of the citizens of some of the European
states. When the abbot of Varag cast his stone into the stagnant
waters, the report woke little echo beyond the borders of his native
province and the ranks of his countrymen. But the waves which he set
in motion have never yet subsided; and who can tell upon what shore of
promise or disappointment they are destined to break and disappear? If
ever there was a good cause, such was the cause which he championed,
and no advocate could be more pure-minded than himself. His avowed
object and real aim was the elevation of the Armenians and their
preparation for the new era which he foresaw. That era he conceived
as one of national activity in the rapid decline of the Mussulman
peoples and the approach of new influences from the West. If we tax
him with having resuscitated a realised and played-out ideal--that
national ideal which is still the bane of our modern Europe, but which,
except perhaps in the case of some paradoxical German Professors,
has lost its hold upon educated minds, he might reply that it is the
only talisman with which to touch the Armenians, the most obstinate
nationalists which the world has ever seen. He might further point
to the almost hopeless condition of the Ottoman Empire, and under
his breath he might suggest that the methods of Russian despotism
were not such as to excite the enthusiasm of a strongly individual
people capable of assimilating Western culture at first hand. Lastly,
he might dwell upon the fact that the Armenians have a long history,
and that their progress, to be solid and permanent, must be based on
a revival of consciousness in the dignity of their past.

But the inculcation of such doctrines in the minds of his countrymen
was sure to produce a ferment among a people who have been regarded as
the inferiors and almost as the slaves of the Mussulmans for upwards
of eight hundred years. It was imputed to him that he was working to
revive the old Armenian kingdom--a consummation which a sensible Turk
should regard with equanimity, since the time necessary to attain
this end would far exceed all possible limits which he might assign
to his solicitude for posterity. But sensible people are a minority
of the inhabitants of this globe, and they are not numerous in the
governing circles of the Ottoman Empire. The great activity of the
Abbot of Varag, who trained his youths in the school of the cloister to
conduct unaided the redoubtable magazine, slowly aroused the suspicion
of the authorities. His own party in the Church supported him with much
zeal, and another monastery, still more famous, that of Surb Karapet
above Mush plain, was added to his spiritual administration. No
sooner was he installed than a second printing press was set up
and another school founded. The Armenians of the plain of Mush were
edified by a new local journal, the Little Eagle of Taron. In 1869
he was elected Patriarch of Constantinople, a dignity which he only
held for four years. The Turkish Government had become alive to his
great and growing popularity, and it was found expedient that he
should resign. Then came the tribulations of the Russo-Turkish war,
during which the new movement among the Armenians cost them several
little massacres and untoward events. When the Congress met at Berlin
the ex-patriarch, who had been busy with literature, undertook, in
concert with an archiepiscopal colleague, a mission on behalf of his
nation to the German capital. This was his first visit to the West,
and he extended his journey to Italy, France and England. The result
of his efforts and of those of Nerses, Patriarch of Constantinople,
was the insertion of the well-known clause in the Treaty of Berlin
pledging Europe to supervise the execution of reforms in the Asiatic
provinces of Turkey inhabited by Armenians. Khrimean returned to his
native country the object of the resentment of the Ottoman authorities;
much of this portion of his life was spent in Van. But Armenian
discontent was spreading; the alarm of Government was increasing;
and in 1889 the eloquent preacher was sent to Jerusalem in honorary
exile. In the month of May 1892 he was elected to the primacy of the
Armenian Church. The Russian bureaucracy perhaps reflected that their
safeguards at Edgmiatsin were quite sufficient to bridle the vigour
of a septuagenarian. These shrewd diplomats therefore humoured the
Armenians in the matter, and the election was allowed to stand. The
Sultan raised difficulties about releasing the exiled prelate from
his Ottoman nationality and oath of allegiance. When this objection
had been overcome his consent was qualified by the condition that
the katholikos-elect should not pass through Constantinople. A year
elapsed in these parleyings. For two years the Armenian Church had been
without a head. During that period it had been ruled by the Russian
procurator. Now in the autumn the elect of the nation is at length
presented to the delegates who have assembled from all parts of the
Armenian world. And he comes from Russia, from the north, released
from exile in Turkey at the pressing instance of the Tsar. One must
admire the extraordinary cleverness of these Russian bureaucrats!

The sun was already high when we sallied forth from our lodging,
having with great difficulty prepared our breakfast in the crowded
room. We passed down the long and dusty street of the village, which
is dignified by the historical name of Vagharshapat. Nothing remains
of the capital of King Tiridates, which was built upon this site or
in the immediate neighbourhood. You are shown the remains of an old
bridge which spanned the Kasagh, or river of Vagharshapat, some little
distance north-west of the present settlement. The river has changed
its course since it was erected. But the character of the masonry
is rather that which was prevalent in the Middle Ages--conglomerate
piles, faced with carefully hewn and jointed blocks of stone. Several
shops bestow a modern appearance upon the street, having windows and
being disposed as in Europe. A commonplace edifice with many windows
and standing in private grounds recalls an Institute in one of our
provincial towns. It is the Academy or Seminary. We entered the
cloister from a door on the north, through which we issued into an
open space on the west of the great court. A covered way conducted
us to the quadrangle, in the centre of which rises the cathedral
(Fig. 49, taken from south-west).

Imagine the Old Court of Trinity College at Cambridge without the
gateway, the hall and chapel, and with a church of some size placed in
the centre where the fountain stands. All four sides of the figure are
defined by low buildings, resembling the dwellings which constitute
two sides of the Cambridge court. I had always understood that our
quadrangle at Trinity was the largest in the world; although I believe
some American university was building one a few inches bigger not
so very long ago. But the great court of Edgmiatsin perhaps already
makes the record; it has a length, from west to east, of 349 feet
6 inches, and a breadth of 335 feet 2 inches. These measurements I
took myself, much to the astonishment of the crowd which assembled;
they were at a loss to find a theory which might explain so strange
an act. The length will be very much increased in a short while,
when the condemned east side has disappeared. A fine row of stone
buildings is in course of erection, which will enlarge that dimension
by many yards. Our cousins across the Atlantic must bestir themselves.

The western side of the court on the south of the covered way is
devoted to the residence of the Katholikos, while the block on the
north of the same passage is occupied by the bishops. There is no
style or pomp about the pontifical dwelling; and it would bear the
same relation to the Master's Lodge at Trinity as a four-roomed
cottage to a mansion. At the back is a little garden. The north
side consists of the rooms inhabited by the monks, and a terrace,
raised on pointed arches, extends from end to end. The building on
the east is in process of demolition, and, like its fellows on the two
sides which have already been described, is composed of comparatively
fragile material. I was given to understand that it had once housed
the seminary and printing press; a little bakery still occupies
the junction with the buildings on the south. These are constructed
of stone, and, although very plain, lend an air of solidity to the
entire quadrangle. Beginning on the west of this block we have first
a long refectory on the ground floor. Its dimensions are a length of
155 feet, and a breadth of 16 feet 6 inches. But it is a very humble
place when compared to the magnificent dining halls at Cambridge,
and it is not more than 14 feet in height. The ceiling is vaulted,
and like the walls is whitewashed over; the apartment is well lit
and is cool in summer. Two rows of narrow tables extend down it,
and on the west side is the throne and the canopy of the Katholikos,
both in carved wood. Should he join the monks at dinner, his table is
spread beneath the canopy. Parallel with this refectory and facing the
outhouses on the south is placed a similar chamber for the servants,
a part of the space upon the east being occupied by the kitchen. The
storey above the refectories is tenanted by the library, while the
eastern portion of the buildings is taken up by granaries and store
rooms both on the ground and upper floors.

Except for the pilgrims' court, with adjacent structures, and
the garden of the Katholikos--the one on the southern, the other
on the south-western side--the space between the outer wall and
the great court is for the most part vacant ground. What edifices
there have been raised within it are of an unsubstantial character,
and may have been allowed to fall into ruin. The fine sites which
are thus forthcoming are being rapidly utilised, and I have already
referred to the row of buildings which will extend the great court
upon the east and which at the time of our visit were approaching
completion. In a line with this new block, in which red and grey
stones diversify the masonry, is situated further south the house
which lodges the printing press, a solid stone structure. The
transformation of Edgmiatsin from a residence of ignorant monks
into a seat of education, the home of cultured men, is proceeding
year by year; and it is even possible that the bricks and mortar,
or, to speak more correctly, the excellent masonry is in advance
of the needs which it is intended to supply. Wealthy Armenians are
fond of endowing the famous cloister, for which they do not need the
incitement of meetings at some Devonshire House. But the form of gift
dearest to them is the erection of a building, which stands there
so that all may see. This preference for the concrete and visible
is deeply ingrained in them, and they are able to gratify it owing
to the great skill of the Armenian masons. Plans were shown me which
provided a palace for the Katholikos and the rebuilding of the north
side of the quadrangle. These, I believe, have already been decided
upon, one of our party at the private table of the Katholikos having
provided the greater part of the funds. I was also invited to look at
some very elaborate drawings for the enlargement and adornment of the
church. No sooner had they been handed round than one of the guests
of His Holiness expressed his readiness to defray the cost. Speaking
as one who came fresh to Edgmiatsin, I did my best to dissuade the
acceptance of this last project. To enlarge the church would be to
dwarf the fine proportions of the court; indeed the contrary course
would be well-advised. One would not very much regret the abolition
of the portal, while the excrescence on the east, containing the
treasury and room of relics, should certainly be pulled down. His
Holiness favoured the idea of erecting a new church outside the walls,
to supplement the space available in the present building.

We were assigned a room in the condemned block on the east of the
quadrangle, wherein we spread our rugs and erected our camp beds. It
was 26 feet square, with a lofty wooden ceiling, supported by two
pillars of the same material. The adjoining apartment was in process
of demolition, but, although without a roof, it served admirably as a
kitchen, while the flooring provided fuel for our fire. When all was
in order we should not have exchanged the results of our improvisation
even for the creations of the Cambridge upholsterer, mellowed in the
hands of the Cambridge bedmaker; while, as for living, was it not
preferable to possess the whole of our scapegrace cook than to share
the services of the most virtuous of gyps? Each day as we mounted our
staircase, which exactly recalled its sad Cambridge counterparts, I
was struck by the resemblance of my new surroundings to those among
which I had grown up in the Old Court of Trinity, with the sky and
the fountain and the adjacent cloister, where the glory of the foliage
and lawn and river is spread in mystery beyond the trellis screens.

Even beneath this tropical sun the mind of man has surpassed his
difficulties; and just as the Cam has been converted from a melancholy
ditch into a brimming waterway, threading a landscape of lawn and
forest, so the Kasagh has been impressed into the service of an
artificial lake, bordered by shady avenues. Extremely pleasant is the
stroll round this spacious basin, which is due to the refinement of
Nerses V. (1761-1857). It is situated just outside and south of the
cloister; and while from one side the view discloses the dome and a
cupola of the cathedral (Fig. 50), on the other it is the vault of
Ararat and the pyramid of the Lesser Ararat that are outlined above
the soft foreground of water and trees (Fig. 51). It was a pleasure
to instance this work to General Frese and my Russian acquaintances
as bearing testimony to the sense of security inspired by Russian
rule. The cloister and even the bazar are surrounded by walls worthy
of a fortress, a relic from the old Persian times. The Russians
appear on the scene, and the imprisoned monks disport in the open,
which they make to bloom with luscious groves.

On the morning following a restful day which introduced us to our
new environment I was invited to visit His Holiness. He had arrived
within the walls of the cloister during our sojourn on Ararat, and it
appeared that he had scarcely been able to leave his apartments owing
to the enthusiasm of the humbler among his admirers, who could not be
restrained from pressing round him whenever he walked abroad. This
enforced seclusion had developed a tendency to asthma; but with
this exception I found him in excellent health. Even the garden
had been invaded by the peasants, who would wait hour after hour to
catch a glimpse of their Hayrik--a term of endearment, signifying
little father, under which Khrimean is very generally known. Two
footmen in scarlet robes with blue sashes stood upon the flight of
steps or busied themselves with errands. I was ushered into a long
apartment, modestly furnished in European style, where I was received
by an Armenian gentleman, of the handsome aquiline type of face,
who addressed me in fluent English. He had been interpreter to the
delegates to the Berlin Congress, and more recently had been much in
the society of the Katholikos, residing at Jaffa (Jerusalem). Baron
Serapion Murad--the first name is the equivalent of Mr.--holds a
position of the first importance in the counsels of His Holiness
at this juncture in his career. He is the shrewd man of the world,
who weighs you in the balance with a single glance of his intelligent
eyes. I appear to have emerged on the right side of the scale; for his
formidable scrutiny rapidly relaxed into an amiable smile. We passed
from this outer room into a chamber with a daïs at the further side;
and presently the Katholikos entered and mounted the daïs, begging
us be seated on two chairs which were placed on the floor below,
but quite close to his own arm-chair.

I do not remember having ever seen a more handsome and engaging face;
and I experienced a thrill of pleasure at the mere fact of sitting
beside him and seeing the smile, which was evidently habitual to
those features, play around the limpid brown eyes. The voice too is
one of great sweetness, and the manner a quiet dignity with strength
behind. The footmen and the daïs and the antechamber were soon
forgotten in this presence--forms necessary to little men and perhaps
useful to their superiors, though they are always kicking them off
when they are not stumbling among their folds. Happily the temperament
of His Holiness is averse to all baubles; the cross of diamonds was
absent from his conical cowl, and his black silk robe, upon which fell
a beard which was not yet white, was unrelieved by the star of his
Russian order. These ornaments are strangely out of place on such a
figure, and their formulas out of keeping with this character. I was
closely questioned upon all the incidents of our climb on Ararat;
nor was it doubted that we had reached the summit. In the old days
such a pretension would have been met with a smile. Then we passed
to his sojourn in England, and I asked his opinion of Mr. Gladstone,
with whom he had enjoyed some intercourse. He had been impressed, like
so many others, with the theological cast of that supple mind. The face
contracted when we came to speak of his life in the Turkish provinces;
and he laid stress upon the terrible reality of the sufferings of the
Armenian inhabitants. All the struggles and hopes and anguish of his
strenuous days and sleepless nights seemed to rise in the mind and
choke the voice. Then he sank back, with a sigh which seemed to regret
them. "I have come," he said, "to the land of Forgetfulness."--And
from the quadrangle came the sound of a slowly-moving Russian anthem,
and the measured step of a detachment of Russian soldiers.

His Holiness invited me to take my meals in his private dining-room,
and expressed his regret that he would not be present himself. It
happened to be a fast day, and nothing was offered but lentils and
peas. But on the day following quite a banquet was spread before
us--salmon trout from Lake Sevan, delicious dolmas of minced meat
and rice bound together by tender cabbage leaves, and the usual
not very tasty chickens. At the head of the table sat the vicar or
substitute of the Katholikos, with M. Pribil on a special mission
representing the Emperor on his right hand, and General Frese on his
left. One or two Armenian notables were of the party, which, however,
consisted for the most part of bishops resident at Edgmiatsin. All
wore their black silk cowls during the meal. As one looked down the
line of clerics the aquiline type of face predominated--fine human
animals they seemed, with their pronounced features and limpid eyes
and the long beards which keep their colour and speak of a mind at
ease. One of the monks present spoke French fluently; but he had been
imported from the Crimea by the present Katholikos. His name was Khoren
Stephaneh. Many a pleasant talk I had with him, but not during dinner;
they have too much respect in the East for their food and cook to
divert the tongue at such a time from its proper function. What little
ripples of conversation diversified the natural sounds of the meal
were due to that restless spirit of the West, which is always asking
questions and living several hours in advance of the actually present
time. I do not know that either of the high Russian functionaries
were much troubled by this particular product of Western culture;
but, if they were, they must have suffered from the inability of
their hosts to comprehend their language. The wine of the cloister
flowed freely, and was supplemented by European liqueurs. Then the
restless spirit broke bounds, attacking first the taciturnity of the
Governor of Erivan. The formula I had heard so often was the first to
take wing; and "How long are you staying here?" came across the table
in a somewhat loud voice. It was not the least unkindly meant. Next
the same little sprite perched upon M. Pribil, and extracted several
questions, which it let fly. When we rose from table he engaged me
in a discursive conversation which ranged freely over the Armenian
Question. He affirmed that the Armenians did not compose more than
one-fifth of the population of the Russian provinces south of Caucasus.

The apartment was soon empty, every one retiring to their siesta; but
I strolled out and made my way to the humble monastic buildings which
adjoin the lonely church of Saint Gaiane. There I found a new friend
whom I had learnt to value, a young monk recently ordained. Mesrop
Ter-Mosesean belongs to the new school of clerics who will before
long remove that stigma of crass ignorance which still attaches to
the bulk of the Armenian priesthood. Men like Khrimean have long
perceived that in matters of education Germany occupies the first
position among the nations of the world. With greater insight than
the Turks, who send their young men to Paris--the very worst school
for the full-blooded Oriental--they encourage their promising scholars
to study in Germany, and find the necessary funds. The monk of Gaiane
had just returned from the German University, and he does credit to the
solid attainments which it supplies. He is a splendid physical example
of his race. Tall, with the bold features of the handsome type which
I have described, with a massive forehead and teeth white as snow,
he combines with these outward advantages a manner which is most
winning and a simple, straightforward character. Hours I spent in his
little sitting-room during my sojourn, and I was always sorry to come
away. He occupies the post of librarian at Edgmiatsin, and he is now
busy with the compilation of a new and comprehensive catalogue. [141]
On this occasion we walked across to the library, and found it full of
people. It is entered from the side of the Katholikos' garden. I was
shocked by the spectacle of valuable manuscripts lying open on a long
table, and being fingered by a promiscuous crowd. Such was the license
of this national festival. I noticed among them a New Testament of
the tenth century, bound in richly carved ivory sides. The type and
pose of the Christ in the centre of the one panel recalled that of a
Roman emperor. [142] Beautiful manuscripts of the thirteenth century
and a minutely illuminated missal of the seventeenth figured among
the treasures which any hand was allowed to soil.

Evensong was at hand, and my companion and myself entered the
dimly-lit church. The Katholikos was already seated in the throne
with the canopy, attired in a rich white satin robe. The cross of
diamonds flashed from his cowl. Bishops and monks composed two rows,
extending to the daïs of the apse; they wore robes of yellow silk,
embroidered with coloured garlands of flowers. The congregation was
very numerous, but clustered in groups about the Katholikos; there
was no order or assignment of places, as with us. They sat or knelt
upon the floor. On either side of the lines of clerics were gathered
the choir, in gorgeous dresses, holding large and cumbrous books
of Armenian music. The priests conducting the service stood upon
the pavement of the church with their backs to the daïs. Above them
rose the shapes of crosses and gorgeous eikons, held aloft by their
attendants. Incense was scattered at intervals. I noticed that His
Holiness twice changed raiment, although I was at a loss to discover
when and where the transformation had taken place. The strongly nasal
chants hurt my unaccustomed ear, and I found it impossible to educate
my sympathy into communion with this show.

An hour or two later symbols and eikons and tight little formulas
were all blissfully asleep; and the great court flooded over with
good, healthy human spirits, released from the restraints of the
day. Bonfires were lit within it, from which the leaping flames shot
into the shadows of the church of the Illuminator and revealed the
circles of the dancers. From many a brightly-lit room, given over
to the pilgrims, came the shrill sounds of the flute and the beats
of the small drum. Hai-this and Hai-that--the refrain and burden
of every song celebrated the glories of the sons of Hayk. In the
street of Vagharshapat our friends the musicians from Alexandropol
were reaping a golden harvest. Was there ever collected together a
more motley crowd? They must have come great distances. There were
ladies from Akhaltsykh, with the pretty fillets across the brow;
there were frock-coats and uniforms. The bright calicoes of peasant
women enlivened the scene; some of the men, the poorest class, wore
their rough sheepskin hats, while the better-to-do had donned low
caps with a peak, like that of a naval officer. Long before midnight
quiet had settled upon the great quadrangle, and nothing was heard
but the plash of the fountain. But sombre patches marked the spots
where whole families were encamped; while the steps all around the
church and every niche and doorway were black with the forms of
serried human beings in every attitude of slumber.

Next morning, the 8th of October, popular excitement was at its
highest, the central event which they had come to celebrate being
imminent. From the earliest dawn throngs of sheepskins and peak hats
and coloured calicoes had been busy reconnoitring the most suitable
positions; and, when the hour approached, all the roofs which commanded
a view of the portal, and a good part of the quadrangle enjoying the
same advantage, were densely packed with spectators. Rows of Russian
soldiers kept clear the approaches to the western or principal entrance
of the church. They wore dark green uniforms with shoulder-straps
of a faded pink, and peaked caps of white canvas. Wesson and I
made our way with difficulty to the residence of the Katholikos,
where, in the private room of Baron Murad, we set up the camera
right in face of the scene of the approaching ceremony. It had been
decided to perform the rite of consecration upon a daïs in front
of the portal. This improvised wooden structure was covered with
carpets and costly embroideries. Over the doorway of the portal
were emblazoned large Armenian letters upon a ground of cloth or
canvas. The inscription reminded us that we were assembled upon the
actual site where Jesus Christ is believed to have descended from
heaven. The name of the cloister and cathedral is said to signify
"The Only-Begotten has descended"; and the text over the doorway
may be translated "The Only-Begotten has descended from the Father,
and the light of glorification with Him." Upon a higher plane, from
the tower of the belfry, was suspended a banner, embroidered with the
device of the Katholikos and with the eagle of Vaspurakan (Van). The
device consisted of a mitre, surmounting the figures of two angels,
one carrying a cross and the other a pastoral staff. These emblems
crossed one another, and at the intersection was placed an ornament
of diamond shape peculiar to the Katholikos. The eagle with the wings
outspread was purely personal to Khrimean, recalling the many links
which attach him to Van. The scroll was to the following effect:--"O
God, the knower of hearts, protect for long years our chief of
shepherds (Hovapet) Mekertich Hayrik." Left and right of the daïs,
in niches of the façade of the portal, were exhibited two eikons,
or religious pictures, richly framed, of which that on the left--a
Virgin and Child--was a painting of very high merit, said to be of
Byzantine origin.

At a quarter to nine the procession is formed, and proceeds from
the pontifical residence down the avenue of soldiers to the church
door. The service which is held within the cathedral of the Illuminator
lasts for over an hour. The party assembled in our upper chamber spend
the time with conversation and in gazing down upon the multitude. It
consists of a nun from Tiflis, a frock-coated teacher in a school
of that city, and a pretty woman of the rich Armenian bourgeoisie of
Tiflis, attired in a dress of Parisian model. The nun is a charming
woman, and we make great friends. She informs me that she is almost
an unique specimen of her order; the convent at Tiflis is perhaps
a solecism. Nunneries are not popular with the Armenians. I think
my reader may appreciate the magnificent robes which belong to
her office, and of which, by her kindness, I am able to supply an
illustration (Fig. 52). I notice that among the women assembled in the
quadrangle the Armenian national dress is not often seen. The Georgian
head-dress--a band of black velvet, embroidered with beads or jewels,
across the temples, and a white silk kerchief over the head--appears
to predominate. This fact would show that the greater number of those
present have come from Tiflis and the northern districts.

Just as we are getting a little bored with the finicking architecture
of the portal there is a movement and a rustle, and the procession
issues from the church. First to appear are the high Russian officials
in Court dress--M. Pribil, General Frese and the rest. They take
up position on the floor of the quadrangle in front of the crowd,
and face the still vacant daïs. Between them and this central
object room is left for the choir and deacons, who are presently
introduced. Hats are doffed in spite of the fierce sun. A brief,
intense pause, and the twelve bishops [143] in gorgeous attire mount
the daïs from behind. They escort the venerable form of the Katholikos,
over whose head two attendants support a canopy of crimson material,
embroidered with gold lace. For a short space the aged patriarch fronts
the multitude in a standing posture; then sinks on the carpet with his
feet beneath his body in Eastern fashion. Erect beside him, a bishop
reads from a heavy volume. From time to time you detect a movement of
the deeply-bowed head of the seated figure, as a particular passage
is recited. Next a bishop advances, bearing in his hands the image
of a dove, wrought in gold. It is the receptacle of the holy oil. In
the southern apse of the cathedral stands a chest containing a vase,
in which is preserved oil blessed by St. Gregory. It is nothing, they
say, but a mass of dry material. Of this substance they take a pinch
and mix it with consecrated oil, specially prepared and scented with
essence of flowers. Such is the liquid which is allowed to flow from
the beak of the dove upon the head of the father of the nation. The
bishops gather round, and each with his thumb spreads the oil over the
scalp, making the figure of a cross at the same time (Fig. 53). Then
a mass of wool is applied to the crown of the head, in the folds of a
muslin veil which is adjusted to fall over the face. The Katholikos
rises after a brief interval, places his feet in his embroidered
slippers and with the bishops re-enters the church. The ceremony has
occupied a quarter of an hour.

Some little time elapses, and the same procession leaves the building,
accompanying the anointed pontiff to his residence. The choir sing
from their great books the old Armenian chants [144] with their loud
lamentations and long shakes. The band of the Russian regiment play a
slow and solemn music, of which the sweetness puts to shame the nasal
choristers. They are mostly Armenians in this band. These strains
bring the rite to a conclusion, and we all disperse to our various
amusements or occupations.

The dinner "in hall" upon this festival of the consecration was a very
interesting incident. We were all to dine in the refectory. When
I entered, the long apartment was crammed. The scholars of the
Academy partook of the meal in the parallel chamber. The bishops,
the monks, the delegates composed a sombre assembly, stretching
in rows of long perspective down the tables. A single exception to
this dark apparel was furnished by a delegate from Karabagh, who was
seated next myself. He wore his national dress--a spare black tunic,
fastened at the neck, displaying the front and sleeves of a light blue
silken vest. His face was large and expressive of great resolution,
especially the chin, which, like the cheeks, was shaved. The bronze
complexion heightened the whiteness of the bold moustache. One was
reminded of the best type of peasant proprietors in Europe; and,
indeed, a view of the faces round one confirmed that favourable
impression which one receives from the society of Armenians in
their native country. There is depicted a striking union of force of
character with intelligence. In the midst of these reflections the
Katholikos enters the building, and we all rise from our seats. He
sits on his throne beneath the canopy, and a monk ministers to his
needs. On either side stands a scarlet footman with a blue sash;
the choir are drawn up behind. After the first course His Holiness
rises, wearing his cowl and the glittering cross, and proposes the
toast of the Emperor. It is a delight to hear him speak. He has all
the personal fascination of Mr. Gladstone. Dinner proceeds as the
catalogue of toasts is gone through, and between each toast European
melodies are sung by the choir, and songs by an Armenian tenor of
repute. The health of the Emperor is received with cries of Oura;
but the remaining toasts without exception with the Armenian cheer of
Ketsze! the equivalent of the French Vive! In proposing the health of
M. Pribil His Holiness recites the various occasions upon which that
functionary has come to Edgmiatsin to attend the consecration or the
funeral of a Katholikos. Turning to his guest with a winning smile,
he begs him to defer his next ceremonial visit until after the lapse
of a moderate interval.

In the evening the whole quadrangle was illuminated with strings of
coloured glasses containing candles. They made a very pretty show. At
intervals huge firebrands threw a lurid light upon the buildings. The
numerous choir of the Academy was marshalled in the court, including
many ladies. The programme comprised several cantatas and some
concerted music, and the standard was fairly high. But it appears
difficult to eliminate the nasal pronunciation. The music-master
was a great swell with his inspired look and flowing hair. The
band discoursed the waltzes of the immortal Strauss. Before eleven
all sound was hushed save the plash of the fountain, and darkness
unrelieved had settled upon the scene. I made my way to the rooms
of His Holiness and ascertained that he would receive me in spite of
the lateness of the hour.

I found him reclining on a wooden couch in a bare white-washed
apartment; a single rug was suspended upon the wall beside the
couch. Such is the bed and such the furniture natural to the object
of all this pomp, which I do not doubt is profoundly distasteful to
such a character. He took my hand in his, and we sat together for
some time, the office of interpreter being, I think, performed by
Dr. Arshak Ter Mikelean. Our talk ranged over many subjects; but
I should have preferred to sit still, look in those eyes and hear
that voice. I think we both felt that we were very near each other;
and religion is a subtler thing than can be defined in creeds and
dogmas or embodied in what the world calls "views."

On the following days the state of tension was gradually relaxed;
the cloister settled down to ordinary life, and it was possible to
examine the churches at one's ease. These are actually four in number,
although in Mohammedan times the district was known under the name
of Uch Kilisa, or Three Churches. [145] Their origin is bound up
with a legend which plays such a considerable part in the history of
the Armenian Church that, before passing to a description of them,
it may not be inappropriate to instruct or amuse my readers with this
curious story. [146]

Towards the close of the third century, while Tiridates was on
the throne of Armenia, the Emperor Diocletian (284-305), [147]
in search of a beauteous spouse, sent artists into all parts of
his empire to depict the charms of suitable candidates for the
imperial embrace. Now there happened to be in Rome a convent of
nuns of austere life, of which the superior was called Gaiane. Under
her charge was a virgin of surpassing beauty and of royal lineage,
whose name was Ripsime. The artists entered her retreat by force,
committed her lineaments to their tablets, and sent the portrait with
several others to their master. The emperor had no sooner gazed upon
the image of the high-born virgin than he fell violently in love. No
pains were spared to hurry forward the preparations for the marriage,
and the wretched bride was in despair. Her vow of chastity and the
hatred she felt for the persecutor of her sect encouraged her to
adopt the counsels of despair. She took to flight, attended by Gaiane
and a numerous company of the nuns; and after many wanderings the
band arrived upon the banks of the distant Araxes, in the outskirts
of the Armenian capital of Vagharshapat. There they discovered a
secluded retreat in a place which served as a store for vats, the
city possessing extensive vineyards. One of their number was versed
in the art of the manufacture of glass objects; she made glass pearls,
and their price defrayed the cost of their daily sustenance.

Meanwhile the emperor had despatched messengers in every direction,
and a Roman ambassador arrived at the court of the Armenian king. He
was the bearer of a letter to that monarch from his master, who related
how the Empire was suffering from the misdeeds of the Christians, and
in particular how a beautiful virgin whom he himself had desired to
marry had been abstracted by her infatuated co-sectaries and taken into
the territory of his Armenian ally. The emperor begged his beloved
colleague to track the party out, and, with the exception of the
wondrous virgin, to put them all to death. As for the lovely fugitive,
it would only be necessary to send her back; but the missive added,
with an amiability truly worthy of an emperor, that the king might
keep her if overcome by her charms.

As might be expected, no time was lost on the part of Tiridates to
institute and elaborate the search. The band was found; the beauty
of Ripsime needed no identification; and the fame of it attracted a
multitude of all ranks--princes and nobles, shoulder to shoulder with
the common people, closing round her under the sting of licentious
desire. The nuns raised their hands to heaven and drew their veils
about their faces; and perhaps this display of modesty averted their
ruin. Early on the following morning there arrived from the palace
magnificent litters and costly robes, the design of the king being
to take to wife the Christian maiden and make her queen of the
Armenians. But at this juncture a peal of thunder carried terror
into all hearts, and a voice was heard descending from the sky. It
was the voice of the Saviour, adjuring the nuns to take courage and
remain firm for the glorification of His name among the peoples
of the north. "Thou Ripsime," it proceeded, "hast been cast out
(exerriphthês) with Gaiane and thy companions from the realm of death
into that of eternal life." Meanwhile the thunder had caused a panic
among the assembled people, and the king's officers hastened to the
royal presence, bringing a written report of all they had heard. But
the monarch hardened his heart, and, since she refused the pomp he
offered, gave orders that the maiden should be taken by force and
brought to the royal apartments.

These directions were executed, but not without difficulty; the pious
virgin was of stalwart frame, and the soldiers were obliged to drag
her along the ground, or carry her struggling in their arms. When they
had placed her in the king's chamber, and it was announced that the
king had entered, the people outside the palace feasted and danced
and sang. But their rejoicings were premature; for the intrepid Roman
maiden was more than a match even for the powers of so redoubtable
an antagonist. Tiridates was widely famed for physical strength and
deeds of prowess; yet, although he persisted in his suit for not less
than seven hours, he was at last compelled through sheer exhaustion to
give in. The offices of Gaiane were invoked; she consented to speak,
but her counsels were addressed to confirming the courage of her
companion. Her Latin speech was understood by some among those present;
they took stones and tore her face and broke her teeth. After a brief
repose the king returned, and again endeavoured to overcome the girl's
obstinacy; but after a long struggle the inspired amazon was a second
time victorious; she threw the king (erripsen), destroyed his diadem,
and dismissed him from the chamber, fainting and gathering around
him his tattered robes.

A tender respect for the honour of women is a virtue of Christian
origin, which the romance of Western chivalry converted into a cult of
the fair sex. But the king of Armenia was an Oriental, a heathen and
a barbarian; nor had he been instructed in the code which precludes
the sentiment of humiliation in the vanquished where the victor is
possessed of a female form. His passion as a lover was overcome by
his fury as a thwarted despot; the virgin had fled from the palace,
but his savage emissaries were soon on her track. The unfortunate
maiden directed her steps to the retreat where the vats were stored,
and gave the alarm to her companions. All those present, excepting one
who was stricken with illness, accompanied her flight. But when they
had reached some rising ground near the road which led to Artaxata,
they were overtaken, bound with cords and put to death with great
cruelty. With Ripsime there perished thirty-two of her attendants,
while the poor nun who had been left behind presently met the same
fate. The martyrdom of Gaiane and of two companions took place on the
following day and was attended with tortures which I should shudder
to commit to paper.

Not many days after this tragedy its author was visited by the
vengeance of heaven; a demon entered his body, and, like his
prototype of Babylon, the king of Armenia was turned into an animal
eating grass. In the form of a wild boar he resisted all attempts to
confine him; and similar punishments overtook the royal family and
attendants. At length the sister of the king, by name Khosrovidukht,
beheld in the watches of night a vision. A man with a radiant face
appeared and addressed her, to the effect that the only remedy was
to send to the town of Artaxata and summon thence a prisoner named
Gregory. When she related the vision people shook their heads,
and attributed it to the incipient madness of the princess. For
Gregory, who was once an honoured servant of King Tiridates, had been
cast by the tyrant into a deep pit, on account of his profession
of Christianity, not less than fifteen years ago. Would even his
bones be forthcoming from such a place? But when several times the
vision had been repeated, and the princess renewed her insistence,
a great noble was despatched to the place where the pit was situated,
near the town of Artaxata. A rope was let down into the cavern; and,
to the astonishment of all, there emerged a human form, blackened to
the colour of coal. It was none other than St. Gregory.

The saint was met by the king and nobles, foaming and devouring their
flesh, as he approached the city along the road from Artaxata. Sinking
on his knees, he obtained from heaven the restoration of their reason,
although not of their human forms. His next care was the burial of
the martyrs; he found their bodies, lying where they fell, and still
untouched by corruption after the lapse of nine days. No dog or beast
or bird had approached the remains. St. Gregory took them with him
to the place where the vats were stored; and for sixty-six days he
sojourned in that place, instructing the king and nobles. After the
lapse of that period he related to them a vision which he had beheld
during the middle watches of the night. The royal party had come at
sunrise to prostrate themselves before the holy man.

During his vigil, while his mind was revolving the recent acts of
Divine grace, a violent peal of thunder, followed by a terrible
rumbling sound, had fallen upon his startled sense. The firmament
opened as a tent opens, and from the heaven descended the form of a
man, radiant with celestial light. The name of Gregory was pronounced;
the saint looked upon the face of the man, and fell trembling to the
ground. Enjoined to raise his eyes, he beheld the waters above the
firmament cloven and parcelled apart like hills and valleys, extending
beyond the range of sight. Streams of light poured down from on high
upon the earth, and, with the light, innumerable cohorts of shining
human figures with wings of living flame. At their head was One of
terrible face whom all followed as the supreme ruler of the host;
He bore in his hand a golden mallet, and, alighting on the ground in
the centre of the city, struck with His mallet the crust of the broad
earth. The report of the blow penetrated into the abysses below the
earth; far and near all inequalities of the surface were smoothed out,
and the land became a uniform plain.

And the saint perceived in the middle of the city, near the palace
of the king, a circular pedestal made of gold and of the size of a
large plateau, upon which was reared an immensely lofty column of
fire with a cloud for capital, surmounted by a flaming cross. As he
gazed he became aware of three other pedestals. One rose from the spot
where the holy Gaiane suffered martyrdom; a second from the site of the
massacre of Ripsime and her companions; and the third from the position
occupied by the magazine of vats. These pedestals were of the colour
of blood; the columns were of cloud, and the capitals of fire. The
crosses resembled the cross of the Saviour, and might be likened to
pure light. The three columns were equal in height one with another,
but a little lower than that which rose near the royal palace. Upon
the summits of all four were suspended arcs of wondrous appearance;
and above the intersection of the arcs was displayed an edifice with
a dome, the substance being cloud. On the arcs stood the thirty-seven
martyrs, figures of ineffable beauty attired in white robes; while the
crown of the figure above the edifice was a throne of Divine fashioning
surmounted by the cross of Christ. The light of the throne mingled
with the light of the cross and descended to the bases of the columns.

When Gregory had related this vision he bade all present gird up
their loins and lose no time in erecting chapels to the martyred
virgins, where their remains might be deposited. Thus the saints
might intercede for the afflicted king and people and assist them to
become healed. Forthwith the multitude set to work, collected stones
and bricks and cedar-wood; and, under the guidance of the saint,
constructed three chapels after a prescribed design. One was placed
towards the north and on the east of the city, on the spot where
Ripsime and her companions met their death. The site of the second
was further south, where the Superior Gaiane was massacred; while
that of the third was close to the magazine of vats. These they built
and adorned with lamps of gold and silver, with candelabra of which
the flames were never quenched. Coffins were made for the remains
of the martyrs; but no man was suffered to touch these relics, for
none had been baptized. The saint himself and in solitude consigned
the bodies to their receptacles. And when this was done he fell on
his knees and prayed for the healing of the king, that haply the
king might share in the work. The prayer was granted, and the horn
fell from the royal hands and feet. To the monarch was assigned the
task of digging tombs in the chapels to receive the coffins of the
martyrs; and his consort, the queen Ashkhen, together with his sister
Khosrovidukht, were associated with him in the work. The return of his
vigour was signalised on the part of the king by a labour worthy of
the patriarch Hayk. He made a journey to the summit of Ararat, which
the compiler rightly observes would occupy seven days. [148] When he
had completed this feat, he was seen bearing upon his shoulders eight
blocks of stone of gigantic size which he had taken from the crest
of the mountain. These he placed before the threshold of the chapel
of the martyred Ripsime in expiation of the unholy battle which he
had waged. [149] In this manner all was accomplished according to the
vision of St. Gregory; while, as for the locality where had stood the
column of fire on the golden pedestal, it was surrounded by the saint
with a high wall and heavy gates; the sign of the cross was erected
within it, that the pilgrims might there worship the all-powerful
God. Upon his return from Cæsarea, and after the baptism of king and
people, St. Gregory completed his task by building the cathedral upon
this site.

Such is the legend which, with variations, has supplied the patent
of the famous monastery, and invested the pilgrimage to the church of
Christ descended and to the chapels of the martyrs with the character
at once of a religious and of a patriotic act. The first of these
edifices stands in the centre of the great quadrangle of the cloister,
and, as we have seen, is believed to have been originally raised by
St. Gregory the Illuminator, to whom the Armenians attribute their
conversion to Christianity. The spot where the Saviour alighted and
struck the broad earth with the mallet is situated about the middle
of the building; and in the old days was indicated by a slab of hewn
stone, 3 feet square and 5 feet in thickness. [150] This stone was
said to have been substituted for the original marble slab which
was reputed to have been due to St. Gregory himself and to have been
carried off by Shah Abbas. [151] In the first quarter of the eighteenth
century, during the pontificate of Astvatsadur, an elaborate altar
was placed upon this hallowed site, and still stands there beneath
the dome. It is surmounted by a canopy supported by four pillars of
Tabriz marble, and is well seen in my illustration of the interior
(Fig. 55). It appears to have replaced one of simpler design erected
by the Katholikos Eleazar.


    I cannot invite my reader to admire the architecture of this
    cathedral, although the interior, with its spacious body,
    central dome and four apses, one at each point of the compass,
    is sufficiently remarkable. Much the same design is seen in
    the church of St. Ripsime; but in that building it underlies
    important developments which probably argue a later date. The
    original form of the exterior is rather difficult to unravel
    owing to the excrescences, of which I may safely say that none
    are improvements, that have been added at various times. But let
    me briefly undertake the work of demolition, addressing myself
    to the illustration, which was taken from the south-west (Fig. 49).

    The portal on the left of the picture is a work of the seventeenth
    century; it was commenced by the Katholikos Philip and completed
    by his successor Jacob in 1658. It is probably due to the mania
    for portals prevalent in Armenia at that period and not to a
    feature of the earlier plan. Just east of and adjoining the
    balcony of this structure is seen a window with a richly carved
    column in the centre, surmounted by a cross and supporting two
    ornamental arches. This window and the upper portion of the
    building to which it belongs are in subservience to the portal,
    with which they are in architectural harmony, and which they link
    with the main edifice. The lower part, including the frieze or
    quasi-classical moulding, which runs right round the church,
    is in a different style and of a different form of masonry,
    being indeed an integral member of the body of the church. You
    have only to remove the window and pointed roof, build up the
    wall above the cornice and cover it with a flat roof, and you
    obtain precisely the same projection which the picture shows on
    the south side and which is necessitated by the south apse.

    We have now obtained the figure of a body with four projecting
    members, each of which represents an apse. The roof would appear
    to have been always built at a very low angle; it is, as usual,
    of stone. But we have yet to disencumber the apse on the east,
    which is completely hidden by the stupid building which contains
    the treasury and room of relics--an annexe which from outside
    lengthens and perverts the original edifice. We owe this feature
    to the Katholikos George IV., who died in 1882. This apse had a
    lesser projection than its fellows from the wall of the church,
    owing to the incidence of the two indispensable side chapels,
    which were small and merely entailed a slight advance of the
    rectangular walls. Over each apse it has been customary to have
    a belfry; when the portal was added this feature of the apse on
    the west was transferred to that structure. The open cupolas
    with belfries which are at present seen over the three apses
    were built in the year 1682 by the Katholikos Eleazar. They are
    of bright red stone, of which the hue contrasts in a displeasing
    manner with the dull grey of the body of the church.

    The central dome, which is supported on piers in the interior,
    consists of a polygonal drum with a window in each face surmounted
    by a conical roof. A false arcade with slender columns and pointed
    arches enriches, together with a carved cornice, the simplicity
    of the design. This dome is believed to date from the seventh
    century, and to be the work which the Katholikos Komitas (617-625)
    erected in place of an earlier structure in wood. If this be the
    case we have an example of this form of dome in Armenia a hundred
    years before the time when it is supposed by Fergusson to have
    been developed. [152] It is a pity that some vandal has daubed
    it over with plaster and paint, which invests it with a grotesque
    appearance. Above each window is a medallion containing the head
    of a saint, and I saw traces of spiral carving on the columns. An
    almost flat-roofed building with this dome in the centre, with
    four projecting apses, one at each point of the compass and each
    surmounted by a little belfry--such would appear to have been the
    original exterior of the edifice which we see at the present day.

    An ingenious traveller, whose judgment was influenced by the
    cornice of the building, and perhaps too by certain stone slabs
    with Greek inscriptions which are inserted in the walls, has
    conjectured that this exterior, with the exception of the dome and
    belfries, dates at least in part from the reign of King Tiridates
    (end of the third and commencement of the fourth century). [153]
    He has gone so far as to present us with an illustration,
    showing what he conceives to have been the original form. [154]
    We know from Moses of Khorene that this monarch erected at Garni
    in the district of Erivan a building of surpassing beauty to his
    sister Khosrovidukht; and it is almost certain that the remains
    of a purely classical building which have been seen by modern
    travellers upon that site belong to this monument or to one of
    the same period. [155] The presumption of Dubois is therefore
    justified that a building of the reign of Tiridates would be likely
    to display classical features and ornaments. But his conjecture
    as regards this particular church must at present be considered
    to belong to the realm of hypothesis. The presence of the slabs
    with the Greek inscriptions would prove nothing; they may have
    been taken from an earlier building, or they may quite well be
    later in date than the invention and use of the Armenian alphabet
    in the fifth century. Dubois indeed is inclined to ascribe them
    to a period earlier than the conversion of Tiridates, and to see
    in them memorials of a Christianity practised in Armenia prior to
    the preaching of St. Gregory. This conjecture, which is adopted
    with complacency by Ritter, is probably quite baseless. The
    inscriptions have quite recently been subjected to the critical
    scrutiny of a scholar in Byzantine lore. I may refer my reader to
    his work. They are incised upon two slabs inserted in the wall,
    rather high up and a little east of the northern apse. The slabs
    are close together. I was unable to decipher the writing with the
    aid of my glasses, as the stone has been much worn. The slab with
    the figures of Paulos and Thekla is attributed by this scholar
    to the fifth or the sixth century, and its companion to about
    the same date. His opinion is based upon internal evidence. [156]

    It would take too long to pursue a study relying on this kind of
    testimony into the approximate date of the cathedral. It must
    suffice to have placed my reader in possession of the leading
    facts. As regards the evidence of literature as to restorations
    and additions it is summarised in the accompanying note. [157]
    If the essential features of the present building be due to
    the restoration of Vahan Mamikonean (A.D. 483), it will be a
    work anterior to Justinian. At that time the Armenian architect
    would not have enjoyed the advantage of studying the designs of
    the several churches which, according to Procopius, that emperor
    erected in Western Armenia. [158] It would appear preferable to
    ascribe these features to the restoration under Komitas (618), if
    we were obliged to choose between the two. But this and kindred
    questions respecting the origin of the church and monastery are
    wrapped in obscurity. At what date did Edgmiatsin become the
    residence of the katholikos? This cardinal question still remains
    without a certain answer. We know that he transferred his seat from
    Vagharshapat to Dvin in the year 452, and that he did not return
    until 1441. We also know that the seventh century was a period of
    building activity; after Komitas we have the Katholikos Nerses
    III. (640-661), surnamed the builder, who erected a magnificent
    church in close vicinity to the churches of Edgmiatsin and buried
    the relics of St. Gregory beneath its four colossal pillars. [159]
    There is no reason to doubt that the four Byzantine capitals which
    are preserved in the Academy belonged to this edifice. [160]
    The independence of the national church, so jealously guarded
    by the Armenians, was intimately bound up with the Edgmiatsin
    legend; and the pontiffs appear to have spared no pains during
    the earlier centuries to maintain the holy places and prevent
    them sharing the fate of the temporal capital, Vagharshapat.

    The entrance from the portal to the church is through a rather
    low doorway, conducting you into the apse-formed projection
    on the west. The stone panels about and above this doorway are
    richly carved and show traces of gilding (Fig. 54). In the south
    wall of the building you are shown an old door, long walled up,
    which is supposed to date from a hoar antiquity and is called
    the door of Tiridates. Lastly you will probably be taken to the
    belfry above the portal and be shown the famous Tibetan bell. It
    bears the thrice repeated legend Ôm a hum, the mystic formula of
    the Buddhists. [161] Before the portal are several tombstones,
    commemorating deceased pontiffs, and among them that of the
    enlightened Nerses V. One in marble is raised over the remains
    of Sir John Macdonald, British envoy to the court of Persia. The
    bald inscription contrasts with the eloquence of the situation
    under the shadow of this St. Peter's of distant Armenia and among
    the graves of the highest dignitaries of her national church. [162]

    Passing now to the interior (Fig. 55 and plan), it is the form
    which is impressive--the quadruple apse with a canopy altar in
    each of these recesses, except that on the west. In the centre,
    beneath the dome, stands the altar which I have already described;
    there are therefore four altars in this church. In front of the
    apse on the east rises the parapet of the daïs, as usual; but
    the higher level of the floor in those on the north and south is
    approached by steps which extend from wall to wall. The lateral
    chapels on the east, which are so constant a feature in Armenian
    churches, are scarcely noticeable in this building, being, I think,
    incorporated in the additions which were made by George IV. at
    the back of the church. The space on the floor of the edifice
    is railed off in two places from north to south. There is of
    course no pulpit, and there are no pews. The light falls from
    twelve little windows in the spacious dome upon a scene which is
    rendered dim by the darkness of the mural paintings, and which
    serves to enhance the flashing ornaments on the central altar. I
    am told that there are in all no less than thirty-five windows;
    but they are small and insignificant. Their distribution is not
    subordinate to any plan. The paintings on the walls are of no
    merit; they represent Biblical subjects, and while some are in
    fresco, others are on canvas applied to the stone. They must have
    been added at a comparatively recent date; for we are expressly
    told by Chardin that in his time the interior was quite bare. The
    dome has been pleasantly decorated in the Persian style with
    coloured arabesques. These and the various frescos are attributed
    to an Armenian artist who lived during the reign of Nadir Shah
    (1736-47). [163]

    The church is large if compared to other ancient Armenian temples,
    but small if judged by a Western standard. The area enclosed must
    be rather less than in the case of the cathedral at Ani, although
    the dimensions are about the same when the four projections are
    included. The measurements of the interior, which I took myself,
    give an extreme length of 108 feet 4 inches, and an extreme breadth
    of just over 98 feet. Each apse has a depth of about 15 feet 3
    inches--a dimension which I have included in my totals. [164]
    In the south apse stands the chest containing the vessel with
    the holy oil, and beside it a little lamp which flickers night
    and day. The recess of its opposite counterpart is adorned with
    mural paintings representing eight full-length portraits of the
    pillars of the Armenian Church. They are identified as St. Gregory,
    with his sons Aristakes and Verthanes, and his grandson Grigor;
    as Yusik, Nerses the First, Sahak and Mesrop. The ceremony of
    ordination of bishops takes place in this northern apse. A cistern
    has been sunk below the floor in front of the recess to serve in
    time of siege. Two thrones are conspicuous in the body of the
    church, both of which may be discerned in my illustration. The
    first, which adjoins the central altar, is inscribed with the
    name of Petros Katholikos (Peter II. 1748) and is said to have
    been a present from the Pope. [165] The second, situated further
    east, is that which was occupied by the Katholikos during the
    service which I attended. It is the gift of Armenians during the
    pontificate of Astvatsadur (1715-25).

    The treasury and room of relics contain many interesting
    objects. To these chambers is allotted the building on the east of
    the church. Both are entered from the interior and through doors
    in the east wall, that on the north of the apse communicating
    with the treasury, and that on the south with the apartment
    containing the relics. Among the treasures are several objects
    which deserve the attention of the student of art, examples of
    mediæval Armenian craft being, I imagine, none too frequent. I
    observed a crystal cross, said to belong to the Bagratid period,
    and some other crosses reputed to have come from Ani. A gold
    crown, inlaid with jewels, is ascribed to King Tiridates, and,
    whatever its origin, is a very interesting object. The same may
    be said of a silver saucer with repoussé figures dating from
    the pontificate of Nerses IV. (1166-73). There are a quantity
    of jewelled mitres and embroidered stoles and ornaments for the
    church. There are seals of the pontiffs and coins of the Rupenian
    (Cilician) dynasty. Some store is set upon a head of Dionysus which
    is believed to be of Egyptian origin. The monastery has become
    possessed of a most curious object in the shape of a huge caldron,
    standing on three legs, and having as handles four tigers in the
    act of climbing. It was found not many years ago in a cloister
    near Tiflis; buried within it was a bell. An inscription round the
    rim gives the date of the Armenian era 781 or A.D. 1331. In the
    chamber of relics are preserved a fine collection of episcopal
    staves surmounted by a cross above a knot of hissing serpents'
    heads (Fig. 56, Nos. 1 and 2). Many are of exquisite workmanship.

    The principal relics are the hand and arm of St. Gregory, preserved
    in a silver gilt case; the head of the holy spear, reputed to
    possess the power of staying epidemics; [166] a fragment of the
    Ark, to which is attached a jewelled cross; the head and arm
    of St. Thaddeus, the apostle; the hand and arm of St. Jacob of
    Nisibis; a panel carved with a crucified Christ, said to be the
    work of St. John the Apostle and to have been procured by Ashot
    Patricius; finally a box containing relics of St. Ripsime.

    The chapels of the martyrs, which are churches rather than chapels,
    are situated within short walks from the monastery. Thus St. Gaiane
    is not more than about a quarter of a mile distant in a southerly
    direction. St. Ripsime is a little further, say three-quarters
    of a mile; it is placed to the east of Edgmiatsin and is the
    first building which you see as you drive from Erivan, on the
    very outskirts of the trees and greenery. Shoghakath is a near
    neighbour of Ripsime on the side of the great cloister.

    Of these the largest and certainly the most interesting is that
    which commemorates the brave deeds of the beautiful virgin from
    Rome. In designing the church of the Holy Ripsime the architect has
    been faithful to the essential features of that of Edgmiatsin--the
    quadruple apse and the central dome. But the problem before him
    was how to eliminate the unsightly projections of the apsidal arms,
    and how to rear the whole fabric by successive stages to the crown
    of the dome. His solution of the problem, if somewhat rudimentary
    and fantastic, is certainly successful from the point of view of
    looks (Fig. 57 and plan). My reader will of course eliminate the
    portal and belfry in appreciating this piece of architecture. They
    were added, the portal in 1653 by the Katholikos Philippos, and
    the belfry in 1790. He will observe that the outer walls compose a
    rectangular figure; and a moment's reflection will show him that
    such a figure could only be presented by a stupendous thickening
    of the wall on either side of each apse. This difficulty has
    been in part surmounted by the introduction of niches, two for
    each apsidal recess. These external niches are nearly six feet
    deep on the north and south sides, a little shallower on the
    west and east. The treatment of this feature is quite inchoate;
    but we shall see it in perfection at Ani. At the same time it
    is evident that provision had to be made for a side chapel on
    either side of the apse on the east. These have been supplied
    according to a design which I have not seen elsewhere, although
    it appears to be repeated in the church of Sion in the valley of
    the Tana, a tributary of the Kur, erected at the end of the tenth
    century. [167] Between the four apsidal recesses of the interior
    are inserted the narrow openings of four circular and much smaller
    cavities, communicating by doors which are almost imperceptible
    with rectangular chambers or chapels. Of these chambers the two
    on the east provide the requirements of the church, while those
    on the west were probably added for uniformity. [168] The effect
    of the eight recesses, crowned by a dome of unusual diameter
    for the size of the structure, [169] is extremely pleasing to
    the eye; and St. Ripsime is the most impressive ecclesiastical
    edifice which I have yet presented to my reader. The drum of the
    dome has sixteen sides; besides the windows which it contains,
    light is admitted through bold apertures in each of the apsidal
    recesses. Standing beneath the dome, one admires the great height
    of the building. The interior measurements are a length of 74
    feet 1 inch and a breadth of 58 feet 4 inches.

    The question of the date of Ripsime is again not free from
    difficulty. We know that the Katholikos Komitas rebuilt the
    church in A.D. 618; [170] nor, so far as I have been able to
    ascertain, do we possess records of any subsequent change in the
    plan. Students of architecture may be inclined to assign it to a
    later period. The tomb of the martyr is placed in a grotto beneath
    the apse on the east. [171] Just west of the portal there is a low
    building, serving as a residence for monks, and, adjoining it,
    an enclosure for cows. Church and cloister are surrounded by a
    high mud wall, with round towers at the angles.

    St. Gaiane is an edifice of much humbler architectural pretensions,
    which is said to date from the pontificate of Ezra (A.D. 628-640)
    (Fig. 58 and plan). [172] The porch was added, as we learn from
    an inscription, in the year 1687 by the Katholikos Eleazar. It
    serves as a place of burial for the pontiffs and contains many
    alabaster slabs. On the north side have been inserted in the
    archway of a wide aperture two old Armenian crosses, framed within
    an ornamental trophy. Entering the building from this portal we
    are impressed with its simplicity; and this feeling is enhanced
    by the absence of all decoration, the beautiful masonry being
    left without any covering of lime. The architect has wisely
    dispensed with the quadruple apse, and has contented himself
    with one. But he has retained the rectangular form of the side
    chapels, and he has separated them by a wall from the body of
    the building. Four detached piers support a dome which is much
    smaller than that of Ripsime, but resembles it in the sense of
    great height which it lends to the interior. The length of the
    building is 70 feet 2 inches, and the breadth 47 feet. The vault,
    containing the grave of Gaiane, is approached from one of the side
    chapels, and is covered by a simple stone with a little carpet,
    upon which devotees offer coins. The adjacent cloister consists
    of a humble building on the south-west. The church is surrounded
    by tombs. Lying against the north wall are some interesting old
    stones, one of which is exquisitely sculptured (Fig. 59). It
    probably constituted a boundary-stone, and may have been brought
    hither as an offering to the saint. The two figures which are seen
    in my illustration of the building represent opposite types among
    the inhabitants of Edgmiatsin. The white-headed abbot on the left
    belongs to the old school, with habits and standards which are not
    agreeable or exalted. That on the right is the figure of Dr. Arshak
    Ter-Mikelean, fresh from the atmosphere of a German university.

    The third and smallest of the churches marks the site of the
    wine-press, where the holy martyrs sojourned and where St. Gregory
    resided after his release from the pit at Artaxata. It is situated
    to the north-east of Edgmiatsin and to the west of St. Ripsime. It
    bears the name of Shoghakath, or Effusion of Light. I was informed
    that the attendants of Saints Ripsime and Gaiane were buried in
    a vault on the south side of the apse. [173] In disposition the
    building resembles St. Gaiane; but it is much longer (58 feet 2
    inches) in comparison with its breadth (24 feet 8 inches). We learn
    from an inscription over the door of the church that the portal was
    added by the Katholikos Nahapet in A.D. 1693. The belfry is due to
    the same pontiff; [174] his grave is conspicuous within the portal
    (Fig. 60 and plan). The dome rests on four massive piers attached
    to the wall. The joints of the pink and grey stone are visible in
    the interior, as in the case of the two buildings described; and so
    admirably are they fitted that one would regret the introduction
    of any internal decoration. A scrutiny of the exterior reveals
    the fact that the church has been most carefully restored, stones
    having been removed here and there and replaced. Brosset informs
    us that mention is made in certain records of Armenian Councils
    of the construction by Nerses III. (A.D. 640-649) in the town of
    Vagharshapat of a church of Shoghakath; but he supposes--it would
    appear upon inconclusive evidence--that this name is intended to
    designate the cathedral, Edgmiatsin. [175] If it be taken to refer
    to the wine-press chapel, then all three edifices will have been
    rebuilt in the seventh century by the testimony of records. I
    may add that according to an inscription in the monastery of
    Uch Kilisa, near Diadin, that cloister was also restored in the
    seventh century. [176] If the buildings as we now see them were
    erected in that century, the framework at least of Edgmiatsin
    must be attributed to an earlier date.


I return from this detailed description of the cathedral and the
chapels of the martyrs to the more general tenour of the contents of
this chapter. Edgmiatsin is rapidly developing into a home of the
higher education, and it enjoys the proud privilege of possessing
an institution which is unique in all Armenia for the comparatively
exalted standard of the course of study which it provides. The Academy
at once dispenses the usual curriculum of a seminary and supplies
a higher course, extending over three years. Such an excessive
disporting in the realms of dangerous knowledge was only sanctioned
by the Russian Government on the understanding that the privilege
should be confined to candidates for the priesthood. The nature of
their profession may have appeared a sufficient guarantee that the
learning imparted would be strictly subordinated to "views." Besides,
there was always the safeguard that the curriculum must be submitted
to the Russian bureaucracy, and approved in due course by these
aureoled arbiters, enthroned above the shifting mists and slippery
quagmires among which poor Knowledge often faints and sometimes
sinks. Her youngest and hardiest offspring, pertinacious Natural
Science, has been excluded from these intellectual preserves; and I
was assured that the mere mention of the name of this arch-enemy in a
prospectus would produce the same effect among the august censors as
a challenge from the prince of devils among the blessed. The course
is confined to theology, history and literature, foreign as well
as Armenian. To these subjects is added a study which the Germans
have developed under the name of Pädagogik. Within this formula,
I was given to understand, are included at Edgmiatsin, besides the
art of the teacher, a certain general knowledge of philosophy and
psychology. The students are obliged to pass a certain standard by
examination at the end of each year.

The idea of founding such an institution was conceived by Nerses
V. (d. 1857), whose liberal mind sought to satisfy by this
project the needs of his countrymen both in secular and religious
education. [177] His proposal was rejected by the Russian Government,
and he was himself sent into honorary exile. Better fortune attended
the instances of George IV.; and the Academy was actually founded
during his pontificate in 1873 or 1874. An inscription over the door
records that the principal aim of the founder was the encouragement of
the study of Armenian theology and literature. It is interesting to
note that the bulk of the scholars do not in fact become enrolled in
the priesthood. As a rule there are about 150 to 200 students in the
various grades of the seminary and the academy; but I was informed that
during the last ten years only about 15 had taken orders. The rest have
become teachers in the Armenian schools, or migrated to universities
in Russia, or adopted professional or commercial pursuits. I enquired
as to the nature of the instruction in theology, and learnt that until
the year 1892 that pompous term had been applied to a simple course of
religious instruction. In that year a promising scholar who had been
sent to Germany for education appeared upon the scene. I have already
mentioned the name of Dr. Arshak Ter-Mikelean; he took his degree
in the University of Jena, and now presides over the theological
course. At the time of my visit two young Armenians were studying
theology at Leipzic at the expense of the Armenian Church. At the
same date the students in the academical course numbered about forty.

My reader is aware that in Russian Armenia the word seminarist does
not necessarily apply exclusively to candidates for the priesthood. The
seminary is nothing more than the highest grade in the Armenian school
system, with the single exception of the more exalted course provided
by this Academy. The great majority of the pupils are maintained
out of the revenues of the cloister; but those who are able pay
what they can. A youth enters the seminary when about thirteen or
fourteen years old, and the academy at about nineteen or twenty. Both
institutions are housed in the same building. Each diocese is invited
to make a certain number of presentations; and boys and young men are
encouraged to come from the Turkish provinces. As a matter of fact
few are able to avail themselves of the offer. The scholars reside
within the building, one dormitory being allotted to the academy and
another to the seminary. These dormitories are kept scrupulously neat
and clean. There is a fine music room with a grand piano, and there
is also a nice library with casts of the immortal works of Greek
sculpture illuminating the shadows above the shelves. How strange
they seem in this distant land, where the study of the classics is
not included even in the higher education!

The effect which is being produced upon the character of the monastic
priests by the wise solicitude for education which has characterised
the Armenian movement is almost incalculable. In old days the monks
were chosen by the bishops from among their attendants; and this custom
obtained even after the development of seminarial instruction within
the cloister. But in 1892 the synod issued a decree enjoining that,
except in very special circumstances, no person should be ordained monk
who had not passed through a seminary. He is nominated by the bishop,
but must be approved by the synod. It is a pity that hitherto no steps
have been taken to raise the standard of the ordinary clergy. But we
must admit that it would not be easy to effect such a reform from
above. For all practical purposes we may count three grades in the
hierarchy of the Armenian Church. In the first figure the bishops, the
second comprises the monks and parish priests, and the third includes
the deacons. Over all three is exalted the authority of the katholikos,
the keystone of the dome of the edifice. Celibacy is imposed upon
the bishops and monks, while marriage is rendered obligatory upon the
parish priests. Thus a sharp division exists between the two orders of
clergy, arising out of a complete difference in mode of life. Moreover
the ordinary clergy are elected by the laity--a custom to which the
people jealously cling. The inhabitants of a town or village select
their future pastor from among their own number. Of course the bishop
might refuse to ordain. But such a course would only be warranted in
very special circumstances; the same being predicated of the right
of the bishop to depose a priest. Thus the parish clergy occupy a
special and somewhat independent position. In the rural districts
the spread of education has not yet commenced to touch them; nor will
they emerge from their present deplorable debasement until a general
quickening of public opinion shall take place.

The monks or celibate priests are, I believe, always connected with
convents; they are known under the style of vardapet, or doctor, which
is attached to their individual names. They are governed according
to the rule of St. Basil of Cæsarea, the contemporary and monitor of
the Armenian pontiff, Nerses the Great (A.D. 340-374). They do not
practise the tonsure, and they wear their beards. They are attired
in long black robes with conical cowls. Their numbers must have
considerably diminished since 1700, at which date we are informed this
convent alone contained over a hundred monks. [178] At present there
are in all not more than some fifty vardapets within the wide limits
of the Russian provinces. Of these about half reside at Edgmiatsin. As
members of the synod or as bursars, as overseers of the printing press
or as editors of the official journal, Ararat, their profession is no
sinecure. All monks in Russian territory are ordained at Edgmiatsin,
and it is the custom for all bishops, whether in Russian Armenia or
abroad, to be consecrated in the church of the Illuminator.

The revenues dispensed by the katholikos are derived from several
sources. There is the property of the monastery, consisting of lands
and villages in the valley of the Araxes and elsewhere, to which,
in the absence of statutes of mortmain, additions are constantly
being made. The income from this source and from offerings and
contributions of various kinds amounts, I believe, to about £8000 a
year. The general property of the Church is also administered from
Edgmiatsin, the synod being specially invested with this important
function. Donations in lands or money are frequently forthcoming, and
are devoted to the support of the various institutions. The accounts
of the monasteries and bishoprics in Russia are audited and passed
by the synod. But the clergy are supported by their own flocks; and,
beyond submitting their accounts to the proper authority, the parishes
are practically autonomous.

There can be little doubt that the overseeing by the katholikos and
synod of the administration of the funds of the Church in Russia has
already effected a salutary change. Should Russia become possessed of
the Turkish provinces, and should her counsels incline to the sounder
policy of encouraging the Armenians to work out their salvation in
their own way, this concentration is likely to promote a general reform
of the Armenian clergy. The authority of the katholikos at the present
day extends to practically all Armenians professing the national
religion. That authority suffered division during the troubled period
of long duration which followed the overthrow of the Bagratid dynasty
(A.D. 1045) and the gradual dispersal of the Armenian people. But the
Katholikos of Sis has quite recently professed his spiritual allegiance
to Edgmiatsin; [179] and the recluse of Akhtamar, that beauteous island
in the lake of Van, alone continues pretence to the title and station
of a supreme pontiff. His jurisdiction is confined to his rock and a
few villages on the mainland. The patriarchate of Constantinople is
an institution which is the result of political exigencies, and which
in no way derogates from the spiritual supremacy of the successor of
St. Gregory, enthroned in the cloister near the banks of the Araxes.

My reader has perhaps divined from a perusal of the foregoing
paragraphs that an interesting feature of the Armenian Church is
the power enjoyed by the laity, which indeed may be described as
predominant. With them rests the choice of the ordinary clergy, and in
practice their voice prevails in the selection of a katholikos. That
Church is indeed a compromise, so far as her ministers are concerned,
between opposite principles in the organisation of Christianity. The
monastic priests represent the principle of elevating a hierarchy into
a position of lofty independence. From among their ranks are taken the
bishops. But the great body of the clergy are strictly the ministers
of the people, supported by their voluntary contributions. From these
conclusions, derived from a study of contemporary conditions, I pass
to a brief examination of the Edgmiatsin legend, and of the history
and character of that interesting ecclesiastical edifice which rises
in the background of all that I have written in the present chapter.



The Armenians boast that the Gospel was preached to their ancestors
by the first apostles, and that they were the first people to adopt
Christianity as the religion of the State. They separate these two
events by a respectable interval, for they attribute the conversion
of king and people to a miracle performed by St. Gregory towards the
close of the third century. We have seen that the current version
of that miracle comprises a vision by which Jesus Christ becomes in
effect the Founder of their cathedral church. The inference is perhaps
legitimate that they hold their own Church, as an organisation, to
have been established by Christ Himself; and its independence of all
hierarchies, whether of the East or of the West, to be based upon the
same supreme sanction. [180] We are carried back by a discussion of
these claims to the very dawn of the Christian religion; and it will
be wise to keep them before us as prominent landmarks to control the
discursiveness of an enquiry which must also be brief.

I. The apostles mentioned by Armenian writers as having carried the
Gospel into Armenia are St. Bartholomew, St. Thaddeus--the son or
brother of St. James--St. Simon and St. Jude. [181] Of these the two
first named are alone in general repute. But the fame of St. Thaddeus
reposes upon no less a title than that of having executed a commission
from Jesus Christ Himself to the court of an Arsakid king of Lower
Armenia or Mesopotamia, whom the Armenians claim as one of their own
royal line. King Abgar of Edessa is said to have corresponded with
the Saviour and to have begged Him to come to his capital and heal
him of a malady. The letter is preserved which purports to contain
the reply of Jesus, to the effect that after His ascension He would
despatch one of the disciples. With this epistle came a portrait
of the features of the Redeemer, which in subsequent times was the
peculiar pride of Edessa. In due course the disciple arrived in the
person of St. Thaddeus, and the king was restored to health. Monarch
and people embraced the Christian faith. After the death of Abgar,
which appears to have taken place at no long interval, his dominions
were divided between his son and nephew. The former returned at once
to the religion of his ancestors and reopened the temples of the
gods. The latter, who seems to have reigned over a portion of Armenia
proper, and who bore the name of Sanatruk, was visited by the apostle
and embraced the faith. But fear of the Armenian nobles compelled the
ruler to apostatise; the disciple was overwhelmed by the storm which he
had himself aroused, and perished in the border province of Armenia
on the side of Persia, in the country which receives the eastern
slopes of Ararat. [182] The legend of Abgar and his correspondence
has provoked the attack of modern criticism and has perished in the
unequal affray. [183] But the preaching and martyrdom of St. Thaddeus
at the hands of King Sanatruk are well known to one of the earliest
and most reliable of Armenian historians; and the same authority of
the fourth century speaks of the throne of the Armenian pontiffs
as the chair of St. Thaddeus. [184] In the absence of conclusive
evidence that this saint did not preach in Armenia I shall prefer to
suppose that he did. The name of St. Bartholomew is often mentioned in
connection with that of St. Thaddeus; he is said to have been active
in the mountainous region to the south of Lake Van, and to have been
flayed alive by the same monarch who put his colleague to death. [185]

These stories were perhaps invented at a comparatively late period. We
are on surer ground when we surmise that Christianity was professed
in Armenia long anterior to the miraculous cure of King Tiridates and
his conversion by St. Gregory. Indeed it would be strange if such had
failed to be the case. The interposition of one vast desert between
the Holy Land and Armenia is a comparatively modern geographical
fact. It is due entirely to bad government. In the first century the
two countries were united by a long string of cities, the populous
capitals of the low-lying districts. From such centres as Edessa and
Nisibis the religion was carried into the border ranges, and over
the passes to the plains of the tableland. There the first regions
designated by Nature to receive the new culture were situated in the
fertile country about the shores of Lake Van, and further east around
the margin of Lake Urmi. As early as the middle of the third century
we hear of an Armenian bishop, whose name, that of Merujan, would
naturally connect him with the great Artsruni family, which possessed
extensive territories in the neighbourhood of Van and subsequently
furnished to that country a line of mediæval kings. [186] It is also
probable that the Archelaus, in whose mouth is placed a disputation
with Mani towards the close of the same century (c. A.D. 275-277),
was bishop of a see not far removed from Van. [187] These early
ecclesiastics would almost certainly have made use of the Syriac
character, and it is more than likely that many among them were
Syrians. Their activity and the circle of their disciples may not have
extended to Northern Armenia; although there is presumptive evidence to
show that the Christianity of Albania (Eastern Caucasus or Daghestan)
and Siunik (country around Lake Gökcheh and part of Karabagh) dated
back to pre-Gregorian times. [188] It seems at first sight strange that
the earliest historians, such as Agathangelus and Faustus, maintain
silence upon this older Christianity of their native land; but the
edict of Tiridates against the enemies of paganism, preserved in the
earliest source of the first of these works, implies the existence of
Christians within the limits of his dominions whom the king persecutes
after the example of his colleagues at Rome; and the luminous argument
of one of the latest scholars in this field carries conviction that
the priestly compiler Agathangelus and the monk Faustus had good
reasons to ignore this pre-Gregorian Christianity, as being opposed
to the character of the later orthodoxy. [189] The big gap left by
Armenian writers between the preaching of the apostles and the advent
of St. Gregory in narrating the religious history of their country
is in itself a suspicious fact; Armenian vanity was satisfied by the
connection of their ancestors with the first disciples, and would not
be wounded by a temporary relapse; but the laborious methods of modern
research are year by year illuminating the interval, and removing
the shroud which is perhaps due to ecclesiastical prejudice or fraud.

What was the nature of this early Christianity which made its way
in despite of persecution among a barbarous people, professing a
crude and perhaps unamiable form of paganism? It is difficult to
believe that the religion of the first Christians resembled even
remotely the later State religion of the Roman Empire, which under
the name of Christianity was spread over the world by the imperial
armies and has been bequeathed as a troublesome legacy to the modern
world. The origins of this great spiritual movement are veiled in
twilight; but from the shadows and uncertain glimmer shines forth a
Personality which no doubts and no disappointments can assail. Round
this Personality centred many and diverse spiritual conceptions,
old as time itself and young as time. They were quickened into new
life by the emotional quality of a great example; and they were kept
alive and made to focus upon the domain of morality by the daily and
intimate intercourse of the members of a brotherhood which should
embrace all the creatures of God. It is essential to the fruitfulness
of such a community that they should maintain, not internal discipline
nor even the agreement of the members upon matters of doctrine among
themselves, but the enthusiasm which prompted their first efforts,
a high sense of individual responsibility among the members, and the
habit of mutual tolerance, mutual help, mutual consolation, and, above
all, of mutual love. The simple ceremonies of the early Church were
calculated to promote this spirit. The candidate was admonished by
the rite of baptism of the serious nature of the resolve which he had
taken to break with the world of sense and appearance, and to become
initiated into the higher meaning and purpose by which it is supported
and inspired. The fast redressed the balance between the soul and the
unruly flesh; and the agapes or love-feasts induced a close communion
among the brothers, the necessary corollary to communion with God.

It is scarcely open to doubt that the theoretical side of the religion
was not defined by any rigid formula. "Tell me," says Archelaus,
"over whom it was that the Holy Spirit descended like a dove. Who
is this one whom John baptizes? If He was already perfect, if He was
already the Son, if He was already Virtue, the Holy Spirit could not
have entered into Him; a kingdom cannot enter into a kingdom. Whose
was the voice which came from heaven and bore testimony to Him: 'This
is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased'?" It is clear that the
theory of Archelaus was of an adoptionist nature, or, in other words,
that he believed Jesus to have been adopted as the Son of God by the
descent of the Holy Spirit at the baptism. It is also plain that he
was not arguing as an irresponsible disputant, but as giving voice
to a strong current of orthodox opinion in his Church, as opposed
to the docetic teaching of Mani, representing Jesus as a heavenly
spirit assuming the mask of man. Other currents there certainly were
in other dioceses than that of Archelaus, and perhaps even among
his own flock. But there seems strong reason for believing that the
adoptionist Christology was firmly established towards the close of
the third century in outlying portions of the Roman Empire and among
the Christian communities outside its pale. [190] In Antioch it had
been suppressed in the person of Bishop Paul of Samosata after the
overthrow of his patron, Zenobia, queen of Palmyra, by the Emperor
Aurelian in the year 272. The weight of the Empire was placed in the
scale of those tendencies which were to crystallise in the celebrated
formula of Nice (A.D. 325): Christ a very God, begotten of God, but
not a creature of God; Son of God, of one nature with the Father; Who
came down from heaven, and took flesh, and became man, and suffered
and ascended into heaven; Who was before He was begotten and Who has
always been. The same Council of Nice enjoined that the followers of
Bishop Paul, or Pauliani, should be re-baptized before admission to the
Church. The recalcitrant were driven out into the mountain fastnesses,
where after the lapse of several centuries and under the Armenian
terminology of Paulicians (Paulikean), the inheritors of their spirit
again emerge as a sharp thorn in the side of the orthodox Churches
both of Constantinople and of Armenia. The history of the wholesale
persecutions of this hardy people by the successors of the Cæsars
during the ninth century, and of the successful reprisals which they
made, is outside the scope of these remarks; they were driven into the
arms of the Mohammedan Power, and their decimation by the imperial
armies drove another nail into the coffin which was being prepared
for the cancerous body of the Roman Empire.

The connection of the assailants of Armenian orthodoxy, who were known
as Paulicians, with their namesakes in the more westerly provinces of
the Empire, and of these with Paul of Samosata, has not yet, perhaps,
in spite of the luminous researches of the scholar I have quoted, been
sufficiently worked out. But we rise from a perusal of his work with
the conviction that this connection was at least of the nature of a
strong family resemblance dating back to apostolic times. The important
document which he has disinterred from the library at Edgmiatsin,
and of which the title suggests the hopes that were excited in the
breast of Socrates by the pretensions of a certain work of Anaxagoras,
affords us a full and detailed, if partially mutilated account of the
religious profession of the descendants of these Armenian heretics,
as copied from previous copies by a member of the sect in 1782. The
same voice which found expression in the disputation of Archelaus
rings out from the pages of the Key of Truth not less clearly than
of old. Jesus is human, though free from sin, until He is baptized
by John in the Jordan when He has reached His thirtieth year. Then
the Spirit of the Father, descending upon Him, fills Him with the
Godhead. After adoption the elect Christ is forthwith led up to the
mountain, where He enjoys the mystery of intercourse with the Father
for forty days. Baptism must therefore constitute a central event
in the life of the Christian, or imitator of Christ. He must come
to baptism after the full awakening of his individual conscience to
a knowledge of sin and to the nature of repentance. He must come
at mature age, when the heats of youth are passed and his natural
instincts have been brought under control. No remission of sins can
be effective until he shall have reached this age; nor is baptism
under other circumstances more than an empty form. Through baptism he
becomes a Christian; and the meal which follows baptism is the symbol
of that feast of divine converse with God of which the Son of God,
after His adoption, partook. The Holy Ghost enters the catechumen
immediately after baptism, and he in effect becomes filled with the
spirit of God. The note of aversion to hierarchical grades which is
struck in this treatise was no doubt accentuated by the opposition
of the sect to the methods of their natural enemies, the Orthodox
Church. But their polity--if the word may stand--could in this respect
be based on Scripture; and it encouraged that sense of individual
responsibility and that habit of self-reliance which are not less
effective qualities in the domain of evangelical enterprise than the
opposite methods of the Jesuits. The elect of God composed a body of
which each member was sublimely conscious of his resolve to pursue
a life of ideal justice by communion with the spirit which resided
in himself. The example which they set was not that of a selected
and exotic hierarchy, but was the example of simple peasants and
artisans. When we meet such people, whatever the proximate origin
of their particular tenets, we take farewell with a tear and perhaps
with a sigh. The Dukhobortsy, of whom I have spoken, would find much
in the manual of these Armenian adoptionists with which those resolute
children of the Reformation in Europe would cordially agree.

Traces of adoptionism are to be found in the teaching of St. Gregory
himself and in the early institutions of the Armenian State
Church. We must regret that what is probably the earliest source for
our knowledge of that teaching has not yet been translated into one
of our Western tongues. [191] In one passage the saint instructs us
that the Spirit, coming down at the Baptism, gave to Jesus the glory
which became His. John the Baptist is represented as the depositary
of the Divine favours conferred of old upon Israel; and it was he
who conferred these favours--priesthood, prophecy and kingship--upon
our Lord Jesus Christ. [192] It is, I think, scarcely fair to argue
from such passages that the Christianity of Gregory was, as a whole,
of an adoptionist type. But it is interesting to remember in this
connection that the Armenians celebrate the birth and the baptism
of Christ upon one and the same day, the 6th of January. And we may
perhaps be surprised to read that in the canons of St. Sahak, one of
the pillars of the early State Church (390-439), the feast of the
birth of Christ is not included in the list of festivals which are
formulated in some detail. [193] We know that St. Gregory himself
brought to Armenia with great pomp certain relics of St. John the
Baptist; and the number of monasteries in Armenia which are dedicated
to the hermit on the Jordan testify to the peculiar veneration in which
he has been held. But the influence of orthodoxy in the West must early
have restrained these adoptionist tendencies; and it is not improbable
that they became identified with that stubborn heresy of their native
land which is often mentioned and deplored by Armenian writers. [194]
There are reasons for supposing that the Messalianism (meteslenuthium)
against which is directed a cruel canon of the Armenian Council of
Shahapivan, convened in about the middle of the fifth century, was in
effect a manifestation of this native heresy, and was identical with
the Paulicianism which was specifically stigmatised by a canon of the
Council held in Dvin (valley of the Araxes) in the year 719. The first
of these synods enacted that priests convicted of Messalianism should
be branded on the forehead with the figure of a fox. This particular
punishment was the same which was meted out to the Paulicians of
Armenia during the persecutions of the eleventh century. The Council
of Dvin forbade all intercourse with members of this sect under pain
of heavy punishments. The pontiff of the day, John the Philosopher,
composed a tract against them, in which he speaks of them as dregs of
the incestuous flock of the Paulicians, and informs us that they had
been placed under a ban by Nerses Katholikos, under which name he is
probably alluding to Nerses III. (640-661). [195] He represents them as
joining hands with certain refugees from the Albanian Church (Eastern
Caucasus) who were opposed to the use of images. There is at least
a family resemblance between these sectaries of the eighth century
and those who, under the name of Thonraki (Thonraketzi), suffered
persecution in the tenth and eleventh centuries at the hands of the
Armenian State Church. Their fiercest adversary, Gregory Magistros,
who in the middle of the eleventh century carried fire and sword
into their mountain retreats, alludes to them as having imbibed the
poison of Paul of Samosata, and adds the important statement that their
proximate founder was one Sembat, and that for 170 years they had been
continuously admonished and anathematised by successive patriarchs and
bishops of Armenia as well as of Albania. [196] Their seats in Armenia
were in the radial mountain mass of the Ala Dagh (Thonrak), in Sasun,
south of Mush, and in the neighbourhood of Khinis, whence were derived
the band who were the object of perhaps the latest persecution, that of
1837-45. It was on this occasion that the documentary proof of their
professions was wrested from them and taken to Edgmiatsin. It is the
book entitled the Key of Truth. The plain of Khinis contained members
of this sect into quite recent times; but they suffered severely
owing to the customary powers possessed by the heads of the Gregorian
community in Turkey to inflict corporal punishment upon members of
their own flock. The sectaries were not recognised by the Government
as an independent religion. Not many years ago the remnant came over
to the American missionaries and embraced the Protestant faith.

II. What does my reader know about the ancient history of Armenia? At
least he remembers the wonderful march of Xenophon (401-400 B.C.),
who crossed the entire block of the Armenian tableland from the
plains of Mesopotamia to the Black Sea. At that time the country
was under the overlordship of the Achæmenian king of Persia--that
splendid dynasty which was at length destroyed by a great wave from
Europe, and of which the latest champion was murdered by a satrap of
Bactria after his decisive defeat in the belt of mountains south of
Lake Van by Alexander the Great (331 B.C.). The name of the Greek
hero is still alive in Southern Armenia, sharing the honours in
this respect with Solomon. Perhaps our next familiar memory will be
the visit of Hannibal to the court of Artaxias, one of the numerous
governors in the empire of the successors of Alexander, and a ruler
whose territory embraced the scene of these travels. [197] Nor are
we likely to have forgotten the recoil of the East upon the West
which took place under the leadership of the picturesque Mithradates,
that strangely composite embodiment of two diverse cultures. Behind
Mithradates looms the power of a great king of Armenia, whom, again,
we know as a scion of a new dynasty which had arisen in Asia--the
Arsakid or Parthian dynasty. With these Arsakid kings of Armenia we
are fairly familiar; the Parthian archers ride unrevenged through the
polished verse of Horace, and the Arsakids of Persia and Armenia supply
the pages of Tacitus with several lively interludes to his throbbing
narrative. Some acquaintance with these various events is part of the
equipment of most among us--a little less or a little more. We may
learn a great deal more of the subsequent history of Armenia; but
from what sources shall we collect material for a fuller knowledge
of the older period? The Armenian historians are all but worthless;
the West was little inquisitive; and even now we can scarcely answer
the leading questions: whence the Armenians came to the seats which
they have occupied throughout the historical period, and how they
fared in culture, in art, or in arms. Upon these subjects the Fool
is almost as well instructed as the Wise Man; we search the mists in
vain for any definite image; till from among them emerge the thrones
of these Arsakids--a Northern or Scythian dynasty, holding Persia as
well as Armenia, and crowning a polity which was of a strongly feudal
type. [198]

The last of the kings of this dynasty who ruled over Persia was the
ally and kinsman of the father of King Tiridates, who was destined,
after much vicissitude of fortune, to embrace Christianity and to
adopt it as the religion of the State. Ardavan and Chosroes were
seated on the thrones of Persia and Armenia, when a prince of the
Persian province which is now known under the name of Fars (Shiraz,
Persepolis) overthrew the former of these monarchs by a decisive
battle, in which Ardavan himself was slain (A.D. 227). The victor,
Ardashir, became master of the great Persian monarchy in which the
king of Armenia held the second place. His dynasty, the Sasanian,
supplanted the Arsakids in Persia, and continued to rule until the
middle of the seventh century, when it succumbed to the Arabs and to
Islam. The Sasanians are familiar to all of us as the permanent enemies
of the Roman Empire; and the traveller may be said to be on terms
of intimacy with them, for they have left him several monuments of
great solidity and architectural merit which mock the squalor of their
surroundings at the present day. These, it is true, they erected with
the aid of architects and artisans taken captive in their wars with
the Empire. [199] Fars was in those days a centre of Zoroastrianism
or Mazdaism; and Ardashir was the champion of the fire-worshippers,
leaned on their support and closely identified them with his dynasty.

When the news of the death of his kinsman and ally was brought
to the Arsakid king of Armenia, profound grief filled the soul of
Chosroes. For the moment he was powerless to arrest the triumph of
the usurper; but in the following year (A.D. 228) he had matured
extensive preparations, and, at the head of an army which comprised
Huns from beyond Caucasus as well as other nomads, marched to the
frontiers of Persia and laid waste her provinces to the gates of
Ctesiphon. Thirsting to avenge his race, he endeavoured to enlist the
Parthian satraps in the empire of Ardashir; but these temporising or
jealous princelets had thrown in their lot with the Sasanian monarch
and could not be induced to stir. He was, however, assisted by a
portion of the Medes and by the sons of Ardavan. [200]

For a period of ten years the war was continued by the Armenian
potentate; his capital, Vagharshapat, [201] was filled with the booty
of successful raids; and, while the temples of the gods throughout
Armenia were adorned with costly offerings, their priests received
munificent largesses. His fortunes were assisted by an alliance with
the Empire; the reigning Cæsar, Alexander Severus, was alarmed by
the rise of the new dynasty, and may have been stung by impertinent
messages on the part of Ardashir. A Roman army attacked Persia
from the side of Armenia, while two more divisions, one under the
leadership of the emperor, assailed other portions of the dominions
of the king of kings. [202] If the result of the various engagements
may appear ambiguous (231-233), it at least ensured the quiescence of
the Persian during several years. Ardashir continued to be harassed
by the Armenian ally of the Romans, and resolved to rid himself by any
means of his inveterate foe. A Parthian of the blood royal volunteered
to execute his desire; he went over with his family as a refugee to
the court of Chosroes, who received him with the greatest warmth as
a valuable ally. After much pleasant intercourse, when spring came
on and the king was preparing to take the field, Anak--for such was
his name--bethought himself of the pledge which he had given and of
the reward promised by Ardashir. In company with his own brother he
succeeded in drawing the king aside, when the two villains despatched
him with their swords. The crime was committed at Vagharshapat; the
guilty pair fled down the valley, hoping to cross the Araxes at the
bridge of Artaxata. But they were cut off by the Armenian horsemen
and precipitated into the river. The king, before he expired, gave
orders that the family of Anak should forthwith be massacred. Only
two little children were rescued from the carnage; one was brought
up in Persia, and the other, Gregory, in Greece (A.D. 238). [203]

This unnatural treachery on the part of a Parthian towards the Parthian
King of Armenia in the interests of a dynasty which had supplanted the
Parthians on the throne of Persia came near to costing the Armenians
the permanent loss of their independence. But Ardashir appears to have
contented himself with the enjoyment of his personal revenge and of
a few raids into Armenian territory. His death occurred a few years
after the date of the tragedy (in 241 or 242); and the government
of Armenia appears to have been conducted by the nobles, under the
nominal sovereignty of the son of Chosroes, by name Tiridates, a
child of tender years. It was not until the year 252 or 253 that the
successor of Ardashir was enabled to establish his sway over Armenia
with the assistance of the uncles of Tiridates, whose cruel treatment
compelled the youthful king to take refuge in the Empire. [204]
But the triumph of Shapur was not destined to be of long duration;
the young Tiridates grew up and prospered in the territory and under
the protection of the Romans; and, after distinguishing himself by
personal bravery in a campaign of the emperor against the Goths, was
restored to his native dominions with the support of a Roman army
and perhaps in consequence of the victory of Odaenathus, prince of
Palmyra, over the armies of the Persian king (264 or 265). [205] It
was in the first year of his restoration that occurred an event which
no Armenian can hear related without experiencing a thrill of emotion.

When the son of Anak, the murderer, who was being educated in Roman
territory, at Cæsarea, the capital of Cappadocia, had come to years
of discretion, he was informed--perhaps after his marriage and
the birth of two children--by the faithful guardian or governess
under whose care he had grown up, of the crime committed by his
father. Forthwith the pious youth--for he had been brought up in the
Christian faith--sallied forth in search of the son of the murdered
monarch, and attached himself to the person of the exiled Tiridates,
whom he commenced to serve with the utmost zeal. Upon the subject of
his origin and parentage Gregory maintained a wise silence; but he
was unable or unwilling to conceal his religion, which at that time
happened to be not only unpopular, but subject to persecution. [206]
Tiridates in vain endeavoured to wean his servant from the Christian
faith; time after time he assailed his constancy with reproach and
even with imprisonment; but the decisive moment arrived when he
had recovered his long-lost dominions, and stood within the famous
temple of Anahid, hard by the present town of Erzinjan. At the feast
which followed the sacrifice he gave vent to his emotion in words
characteristic of a king. Addressing his trusty counsellor among the
assembled guests, he commanded him to make an offering of garlands
and leafy branches to the shrine of the great goddess; and, upon his
refusal, "How dare you," exclaimed the king, "adore a God whom I do not
adore?" The resources of persuasion and torture were without effect
upon the will of the Christian; and the monarch was meditating some
fresh inducement when one of the nobles approached and said: "Sire,
this Gregory is not deserving of life, and hence his unwillingness to
live and see the light. We knew not who he was, this long while that
he has sojourned among us--but now we know: he is son of that Anak
who killed thy royal father, and to whom Armenia owed her exhaustion
and captivity." When Tiridates heard these words, he gave orders to
bind the martyr and to conduct him to the castle of Artaxata. There
he was cast into a pit of great depth, where he was left to perish.

For thirteen years Gregory languished in this noisome dungeon,
forgotten by the world but saved from death by the ministrations of a
widow who resided in the castle. The hatred or fear of the Christians,
so early manifest in the new reign, was emphasised by Tiridates
in a pompous edict, which admonished his subjects to beware of the
resentment of the gods--of Aramazd, who gave fertility; of Anahid,
the goddess defender; of Vahagn, the courageous god. The king had been
a witness--so it proceeded--during his sojourn in the Empire, of the
great solicitude of the Cæsars for the cult of the national divinities,
to the prosperity and glory of their people. Following the example
of his august instructors, he bade his subjects, nobles and peasants,
to lay hands on any offender against the gods. They should bind him,
hand and foot, and bring him to the gate of the palace. His lands
and possessions would be bestowed upon the denouncer. The religious
policy of a Decius and a Valerian was at least extended by Tiridates
to the holier sphere of legitimate homicide. At the head of the Roman
cavalry he rode down the Persian cohorts, and among his levies were
reckoned a contingent of Huns. Of lofty stature and broad shoulders,
his appearance was the signal of victory; and it became a proverb
that Tiridates would destroy the dams in his impatience, and in his
courage arrest the rivers in their course towards the sea.

At the point where the historian I have been following was perhaps
about to change his theme, and to present the opposite picture
of a king and people overtaken by calamities which could only be
attributed to the wrath of heaven, the priestly compiler of the
Agathangelus treatise has gone to work with his scissors, and has
substituted for the more straightforward account of the authority he
was using one of those prolix and portentous legends, familiar to the
student of hagiographical literature, which were at once the outcome
of the diseased fancy of the cloister and the food with which it was
sustained. The tale of the advent of the Roman virgins, of the assault
upon the modesty of the fairest among them, of their martyrdom and of
the transformation of the royal violator into a wild boar, wallowing in
mud and eating grass, bears the imprint at every phase of a monkish
invention, which was probably stolen in its essential features
from the literature of Greek monasteries and adapted to the local
conditions at Vagharshapat. [207] But carelessness or want of skill
on the part of the compiler has happily preserved for us a fragment
of the original story, from which we learn that the Armenians were
afflicted by an extraordinary outbreak of diverse diseases: leprosy,
palsy, dropsy, madness. [208] We are given to infer that the king
himself was visited by some grave malady, and that he was cured in
a miraculous manner upon the appearance and at the hands of Gregory,
who had long been numbered among the dead. [209] We are told how, from
all parts of Armenia, the people flocked to the province of Ararat, to
Vagharshapat, the royal residence; how they were cured of their various
disorders; and how king and people embraced the faith in the service
of which the saintly doctor had effected their cure. The testimony
of the historian is supported by a Greek writer of the fifth century,
who attributes the conversion of King Tiridates to a miracle. [210]

It is not unlikely that the mind of the monarch was influenced by some
occurrence of the nature deducible from the mangled narrative of the
original biographer. Tiridates was a full-blooded heathen, prone to
all forms of superstition, and free from any taint of rationalising
tendencies. Yet we may suspect that the number and power of the
Armenian Christians prior to his conversion loomed much larger in
the consciousness of himself and of his contemporaries than we are
led to suppose by Armenian histories. Was he desirous of finding a
counterpoise to the Mazdaism of his Persian enemy, which had been
elevated by the Sasanians into a strongly organised State religion
and identified with the throne? Was he impressed with the cohesion
of the Christians among themselves, and by the contrast thus offered
to the fissiparous tendencies of his feudal polity? Was the widow in
the castle of Artaxata a Christian, and was the old authority of the
prisoner in the king's counsels exploited by her co-religionists at
an opportune moment, when his wisdom should appear restored, as by a
miracle, to a necessitous land? If such questions be mere matters of
surmise, we at least know that at the date of the conversion the Roman
Empire was hesitating in a policy towards the Christians, and that the
repressive measures of a Valerian were no longer in repute. [211] The
Armenian king became a convert before their revival under Diocletian
(284-305); and Christianity was adopted as the religion of the State
in Armenia some thirty years prior to its triumph in the West by
the decisive action of the Milvian Bridge (312), and over a hundred
years before the edicts of Theodosius the First against the practice
of paganism. [212]

The measures taken by Tiridates and his statesman and mentor,
Gregory, to supplant polytheism by Christianity were such as might
have excited the envy of a Cæsar, and which only an Eastern despot
could hope to enforce. From Vagharshapat the king proceeded down
the valley to Artaxata at the head of the troops which garrisoned
the capital. On the way he set fire to the temple of the god Dir,
from whom he is said to have derived his name (Dirtad or gift of
Dir). [213] In a graphic figure our historian likens the priests and
their followers to demons; and he relates how, some on horseback,
others on foot, and all fully armed, they hurried hither and thither,
gesticulating and screaming, until they were put to flight. But the
swarm took refuge in the temple of Anahid at Artaxata, where from the
roof they discharged arrows and precipitated a hail of stones upon
the advancing host. Gregory, making the sign of the Cross, ran to the
gate of the edifice, which dissolved into its foundations, wreathed
in flames. The dusky troop vanished like a puff of smoke from the
face of the land, to Caucasus and Chaldia [214] in the north. The
treasures of the temple were distributed among the needy; some of
the priests were selected or accepted for the service of the Church,
to which body was also allotted the confiscated land.

King and minister travelled the country in all directions, preaching,
[215] overthrowing temples and endowing the Church with their rich
possessions. One after another the most famous sanctuaries succumbed
to the royal zeal: the fane of Aramazd, father of the gods, at Ani,
the modern Kemakh, the burial-place of the kings; that of Nanea,
daughter of Aramazd, at Til, beyond the Western Euphrates; the temple
of Mithra, son of Aramazd, at Pakharij in Terjan, and the temple
of Barshamin at Tortan. A more personal delight may have thrilled
the saint--if saints be capable of such emotions--as he shattered
the golden statue of the goddess Anahid at Erzinjan, and watched
the lofty walls of her numerous shrines sinking to the level of the
ground. They were the most magnificent of all the sacred edifices in
Armenia, and they were defended to the last by quite an army of dusky
foes. Within the vacant enclosures was erected the sign of the Cross.

Months and perhaps years were occupied in the overthrow of these
strongholds of paganism; [216] but it was not until after the return
of Gregory from ordination at Cæsarea of Cappadocia, whither he was
escorted by sixteen of the great nobles and conducted in a car drawn by
white mules, [217] that king and people received at the hands of the
minister, no longer a layman, the crowning benefit of baptism. The
first act of Gregory upon his return to his native country was to
destroy the temples of Astishat in the province of Taron (Mush),
which lay upon his road and which were still frequented. These were
three in number and dedicated to three gods. The first was the shrine
of Vahagn, destroyer of serpents; the second belonged to Anahid,
the golden mother; while the third preserved the cult of the goddess
Astghik, the Aphrodite of the fair mythology of Greece. They were
situated on the summit of Mount Karke, close to the Euphrates, and in
full view of the chain of the Taurus mountains. The place was called
Astishat because of the frequent sacrifices which were offered up;
and it was there that the kings of Armenia had been wont to appease
the gods. The saint was carrying with him certain relics obtained in
Roman territory, namely a parcel of the bones of St. John the Baptist
and of those of the holy martyr Athenogenes. [218] When his numerous
party had arrived in front of the temples, and were not further from
the Euphrates than a space which a horseman would cover in two careers
of his steed, the white mules of the car with the relics came to a
standstill in the hollow of a valley, where there was a little water
and which still remained to be crossed. Efforts were being made in
vain to induce them to proceed, when an angel appeared to Gregory and
signified the Divine Will. The relics should be deposited upon the
spot where they were stationed. Forthwith the entire company busied
themselves with the erection of a chapel, where in due course the
bones of the saints were laid to rest. The next care of pontiff and
princes was to demolish the temples of the idols which stood above
the valley. In their place Gregory laid the foundations of a church,
and erected an altar to the glory of God. [219] It was here that he
first commenced to build churches, and to erect altars in the name
of Christ. For twenty days he sojourned on the spot; and having
prepared fonts for baptism, baptized first the great princes who
had journeyed with him, and next the people to the number of over a
hundred and ninety thousand. In the chapel of St. John and Athenogenes
he dispensed the holy sacrament; and it was ordained that an annual
festival should be celebrated in that place in honour of the saints
and in commemoration of the first foundation of Christian churches
and ordination of Christian priests. From Astishat the Illuminator
journeyed to Bagaran in the province of Ararat; but it was at the
foot of Mount Nepat and on the banks of the river Euphrates that the
son of Anak administered to king and assembled army the regenerating
rite. A church was erected upon the site and endowed with a remnant
of the relics; and a festival was appointed in honour of the saints
in place of that of Amanor, at the season of first fruits. [220]

It would not be easy to find an account equally graphic and
circumstantial of the methods employed to substitute Christianity for
polytheism, which, although, no doubt, they were less violent and more
gradually operative in more civilised countries, were yet essentially
similar. We learn from the Armenian writer how the churches rose on
the sites of the temples, how the ancient festival in honour of the
god was converted into the festival of a martyr, and how, in fact,
while the myth was new and unfamiliar, much of the ritual and all the
surroundings remained the same. The sacred groves were taken by storm
amid scenes of carnage which our historian skilfully veils by the use
of metaphor. The lands and slaves of the heathen fanes were made over
to the Church; the number of the chapels exceeded that of the shrines
which had been demolished, and separate endowments were made to all by
royal decree. The children of the priests were distributed among the
newly founded seminaries, where they were instructed in the Greek and
Syriac languages and introduced to the literature of the Church. Their
loyalty to the new religion was stimulated by an annual salary; and the
most deserving among them were consecrated bishops. Such was the nature
of the revolution accomplished by St. Gregory with a thoroughness and
decision which we cannot but admire. The old cult was not extinguished,
but irremediably disabled; it lurked even in the highest places,
and we hear of a queen of Armenia who encouraged the polytheists to
assassinate Verthanes, the son and successor of St. Gregory. [221] Many
Armenians practised Christianity as a mere matter of form, regarding
it as an aberration of the human intelligence to which they had been
compelled to subscribe. [222] Those who had embraced the faith with
conviction were limited to the circles which spoke Greek or Syriac,
or were at least fairly familiar with those idioms. [223] Yet Gregory
preached to the Armenians in the Armenian language. [224] Under the
shadow of night the devotees of the old religion would adore their
divinities and chant the tempestuous epics of their native land. [225]
Years elapsed before they would abandon their lamentations for the
dead, a practice specially repugnant to the Christian spirit. [226]
Still, in spite of the constant undercurrent and frequent ebullitions
of paganism, the institutions of the Illuminator were never
jeopardised by a decisive relapse. The religion which he invested
with all the authority of the State became inextricably interwoven
with the self-consciousness of the Armenian nation, and derived from
their inveterate obstinacy or admirable heroism a stability which
hardened the more it was threatened from without.

Then, as now, the keystone of the ecclesiastical edifice was the person
of the katholikos. I do not know that we can instance among Christian
organisations any counterpart of this high office. Beside it that of
the king seems mere fable and tinsel. The title itself was unimportant
and unpretentious, designating as it did among the Christians of the
East an archbishop with plenary powers (ad universalitatem causarum),
such as were necessary in countries removed by distance from the
hierarchical centres. It is applied by our earliest extant authority
to St. Gregory; [227] and, so moderate are the claims or pronounced
the hierarchical spirit of his successor, Faustus, that he coins
the cumbrous superlative, katholikos of katholikoi, to express the
superior dignity of the metropolitan of Cæsarea. [228] But, whatever
grade in the army of the Church may have been assigned to him by his
clerical colleagues, the position occupied in his native country by
the katholikos of Armenia was one of extraordinary glamour. The office
was hereditary in the family of the Illuminator; and that family had
been endowed with territories extending over fifteen provinces and
comprising several princely residences. [229] The pontifical palace was
at Astishat, in the neighbourhood of the mother-church of Armenia and
the chapels of St. John the Baptist and of St. Athenogenes. From the
spacious terrace expanded a landscape which aroused the envy of the
richest laymen and which was only commensurate with a fraction of the
pontifical possessions. When the scions of the family were unwilling
to sustain the burden of the office it was entrusted to prominent
clerics of the church at Astishat, while the unworthy heirs pursued
the vocation of arms or the attractions of pleasure, surrounded by a
court which polluted the sanctity of the pontifical residence. [230]
It was customary for the descendants of Gregory to marry into the
king's family, and they were accorded many of the honours due to
royalty alone. As often as the king aroused and probably deserved the
censure of the katholikos, that spiritual castigation was unflinchingly
enforced. In a vacancy of the Chair, owing to failure in the line
or renunciation on the part of the heirs, it was not the priesthood
who chose the successor but the king, the nobles and the army. [231]
In these several respects the office was identified with the existing
institutions of the country, and it was perhaps indeed modelled upon
that of the high priest among the polytheists and the Jews. [232]
But, however great was the prestige derived from such a splendid
establishment and from the fame of the first occupant of the Chair, the
hold of the pontificate upon the imagination of later generations was
derived from a less antique and more constantly operative source. Two
descendants of the Illuminator, one in the fourth, the other in the
fifth century, added new and peculiar lustre to the institution. Nerses
the First introduced the refinements of hierarchical government; Sahak
the Great gave to the people an alphabet of their own. The throne
of the successors of Tiridates crumbled away in the course of about
a century from the death of the first Christian monarch; that of the
successors of St. Gregory has weathered the storms of sixteen centuries
and remains a solid and impressive monument at the present day.

Two events of high importance remain to be mentioned in this brief
survey of the momentous revolution carried through by the great
king and his great minister. The first is the journey to Europe. The
reciprocal advantage of the ancient alliance between Tiridates and
the Empire had been experienced in the campaigns which were waged by
the Cæsar Galerius against the Persians (A.D. 296 and 297); and the
memory of comradeship in arms may have preserved the first Christian
State from incurring the active displeasure of the colleague of
Diocletian during the subsequent onslaughts upon the Christian religion
(303-311). But the Cæsar Maximin was less patient or more oblivious,
and their new faith cost the Armenians a war (312). [233] The advent
of Constantine averted their ruin and set the seal of political wisdom
upon the spiritual policy of their monarch; and it was only natural
that the two exalted instruments of the Christian profession should
desire to profit in every sense by the Christian sympathies of so
great a prince. The journey of Gregory and Tiridates to the court of
Constantine has been regarded as unauthentic by a competent authority;
yet it probably took place. The meeting perhaps occurred in Serdica, a
residence of the emperor in Illyria, and it was attended by the friend
and relation of Constantine, Bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia. The highest
honours were paid to the aged visitors, and the emperor prostrated
himself at the feet of the saint. The pair were escorted with much
pomp to their native country, having still further strengthened the
link which attached them to their powerful neighbours, and perhaps
concluded a formal treaty. [234]

The second event reposes upon less questionable evidence; it is the
participation of the Armenian Church in the deliberations of the
Council of Nice (325), and her formal subscription of its acts. The
great age of Gregory may well have deterred him from personal
attendance; his younger son Aristakes represented the Armenians in
the famous assembly. Upon his return he communicated the canons to
his father, who accepted them and contributed a few additions. The
formula of Nice with its uncompromising identification of Christ with
God was adopted as the dogmatic base of the State religion. [235]

III. A general impression which one receives from the perusal of the
early histories is that the Armenians of the fourth century were not
far removed from barbarism. The king might here and there set up a copy
of a classical building; but I should doubt whether he could have left
us any monument which might approach the originality of the creations
of the Bagratid sovereigns in the Middle Ages. Very few among his
subjects had a knowledge of Greek and Syriac, still less of Latin,
the languages of the literature of their day. The Scriptures--that
mine of knowledge--were read in the Syriac or Greek versions to
congregations of which not even the most intelligent members could
profit by the service. [236] Identity of interests with the Empire on
the score of culture was a bond which, I suppose, scarcely existed
in that age; and, alas, when at length it became a reality, how
fragile it proved--how fragile such bonds have always proved! Still,
although we must be careful in thinking of the Armenians of the
fourth century as we might think of their descendants in the tenth,
the ties which should have united them to their powerful neighbours
on the west were of a nature which could appeal to all. There was
the tie of a common religion, which either nation had recently
adopted and subscribed at a joint conference. Both were threatened
by a common enemy--the fire-worshippers of Persia, enlisting all the
resources of the further East. From that Persian dynasty the Armenian
monarchs were separated by difference of origin and by a blood feud,
unmitigated by the lapse of time. They had been restored to their
possessions by the Roman power. A great king and a great statesman,
in whom they recognised a saint, had crowned their life work by the
conclusion of an alliance with Rome which in no previous age could
have reposed upon so stable a base. Shall we therefore be edified
by the spectacle of their successors following in their footsteps,
patiently waiving differences, insisting upon elements of union,
ranging themselves upon the side of Christianity and civilisation
and fighting their battles in such sacred causes as these?

King Tiridates was followed on the throne by his son Chosroes the
Little, to whom is ascribed a reign of nine years. [237] If perhaps
his stature was small and his body feeble, he at least possessed the
merit of keeping well with the successor of Gregory, whom his queen
in vain endeavoured to remove from the world. His name is therefore
in favour with the priestly historian, who indeed narrates the events
of this period in a somewhat fabulous manner, but presents us with
a picture of contemporary society which is lifelike and full of
movement and colour. [238] That the early years of the reign were
not disturbed by a war with Persia was perhaps due to the youth of
the Persian monarch; but the storm burst before its close. After
sustaining with success the brunt of a Hunnish invasion--in which,
however, the capital, Vagharshapat, was temporarily lost--Chosroes
was called to the defence of his eastern frontiers by the approach
of a Persian army. The first encounter took place near the shores of
Lake Van, and resulted in a victory for the Armenians. The assistance
of imperial troops [239] may have nerved the king's resistance, which
continued until the close of his life. With Chosroes is contemporary
the pontificate of Verthanes, the eldest son of the Illuminator. That
saintly personage did not long survive the successor of Tiridates;
but he may have lived to confirm the reign of his son Tiran, and he
was perhaps instrumental in placing him upon the throne. [240]

It is during the rule of Tiran that we observe for the first time
manifestations of that bitter rivalry between the head of the Church
and the head of the State which was destined, as much, perhaps, as
any other cause, to bring about the downfall of the dynasty. Such
an outcome of the ecclesiastical institutions of the first Christian
monarch might indeed have been foreseen. Had Armenia not been exposed
to a struggle for life and death with enemies from without, her
statesmen might well have solved the problem of this dangerous dualism
without endangering the safety of the nation. Enveloped as they were
in such a struggle, the only policy was to postpone the issue; King
Tiran chose the opposite course. He had given his daughter in marriage
to the son of Verthanes, Yusik; but after the experience of a single
night the youth deserted his bride, in apprehension, it is said, of
the terrible progeny which she was destined to give to the world. Such
conduct and such explanations could scarcely have satisfied her royal
parents; but the princess died after giving birth to twin sons. Upon
the death of Verthanes, Yusik was placed in the pontifical chair,
the ceremony of his installation being performed at Artaxata. The
king was a lukewarm Christian and, perhaps, an inveterate sinner;
the katholikos was at once pious and severe. A long feud and partial
estrangements resulted in an open rupture; and, when the sovereign
on a certain feast day was about to attend divine service, he was
publicly denounced by the enraged prelate and forbidden to enter the
church. Yusik was beaten to death under royal orders; and a similar
fate befell the saintly bishop of Astishat, who, although a Syrian
and not a member of the family of St. Gregory, was summoned by king
and nobles to fill the vacancy in the Chair. We are told that King
Tiran lived on friendly terms with Persia; however this may be,
he contrived to fall into the hands of these powerful neighbours,
who put out his eyes and led him to the feet of their master.

A deputation of the great barons was forthwith despatched to
Constantinople in order to obtain succour from the emperor. Before
their return a Persian army was let loose upon Armenia, and those of
the inhabitants of every rank who were able to make good their escape
took refuge upon Greek territory. The arrival of imperial troops--it
is said with the emperor at their head--was shortly followed by a
decisive victory and the capture of the harem of the Persian king. That
potentate was summoned to restore Tiran to his native country; but,
upon the refusal of his blind prisoner to undertake the office, the
son of Tiran, Arshak, was placed upon the throne. Two occurrences
in the reign of this prince, as it is described by Faustus, may
be identified with known events. The one is his connection with
the great massacre of Christians in Persia which took place during
the reign of Shapur. [241] Our historian attributes the wrath of the
Persian monarch to the monstrous perfidy of the Christian sovereign of
Armenia. The other is the conclusion of a treaty between the Roman and
Persian empires, of which a provision was the engagement on the part
of the former power not to offer any assistance to Arshak. These terms
are familiar to us from other sources as having been wrung from the
commander of the luckless Roman army after the death of Julian. [242]

The reign of Arshak is, indeed, contemporary with the great wars
which were waged by Shapur with the power which disputed his supremacy
over the East. However little credit we may attach to the narrative
of the Armenian historian, it is at least plain that a king who owed
his throne to the Cæsars was often their enemy and never their loyal
ally. We are told, indeed, that on one occasion his armies violated
the Roman territory and advanced as far as Angora; on another that
the king himself led his troops against those of the Empire, and fell
upon them as they were preparing to receive a Persian attack. When
the duel was being waged most fiercely he maintained an attitude of
expectant neutrality, waiting to see which of the antagonists would
offer him the best terms. The only palliation which we may discover
for such a course of outrageous conduct is derived from the obscure
notice of a religious persecution, directed against the Armenian
pontiff, Nerses, by one of the successors of Constantine. Yet that
prelate with true wisdom enjoined resistance to the Persians at a
moment when it might well have seemed a desperate course. The king,
left to his fate by the provision in the Roman treaty, maintained
for awhile a courageous front to the Persian onslaught. But he was
at length compelled to sue for peace and to place his person in the
power of his enemy under a guarantee of security. His former treachery
was requited, as it deserved, by the same treatment; and, while he
himself was taken to Persia and consigned to the castle of oblivion,
his queen, after a brief resistance, was brought to the presence of
Shapur and outraged before the eyes of his army until she expired.

A series of massacres on a large scale and organised by Shapur in
person was the sequel of these events. The unfortunate Armenians
were collected into large bodies and trampled down under the feet
of elephants. The number of the victims is said to have amounted
to thousands and tens of thousands of either sex and every age. The
great cities, including Artaxata and Vagharshapat, were ruthlessly
destroyed. Whole populations, among which were conspicuous the numerous
Jewish colonies, were driven off into captivity. From this calamity,
which must have occurred after the year 363 and before 379, the
Arsakid dynasty does not appear to have recovered. The son of Arshak,
by name Pap, was indeed placed upon the throne by the emperor, and
reigned for several years. But, like his father, he turned his arms
against his protectors the moment they had cleared his frontiers of
the inveterate foe. Like his father he coquetted with the Persian
power, forgetting the unspeakable insults to which his family had
been subjected. He even possessed the effrontery to despatch to the
emperor an insulting message, summoning him to restore Edessa and
Cæsarea and ten other cities which he averred had belonged to his
ancestors. Pap was put to death by imperial order, and another member
of the Arsakid family sent to reign in his place. But that prince was
expelled by the most valiant of the Armenian chieftains, who proceeded
to administer the country in the interests of the sons of Pap. When
these had come of age the royal authority was divided between them,
while the numerous Persian party among the Armenians selected a rival
Arsakid and enlisted in his favour Persian support. Armenian politics
were becoming a farce when the rulers of the two great powers arrived
at a solution to which both had been provoked. The buffer state was
divided between them, the Persians taking the greater portion, and
the smaller, including the valley of the Western Euphrates, falling
to the Roman Empire (A.D. 387). Phantom kings of Arsakid descent were
set up by either power, until in the course of time Persian governors
and Greek prefects administered the government in either sphere.

I have anticipated in this brief summary upon the sequel of the
ecclesiastical policy pursued by King Tiran. After the murder of
the bishop of Taron, whose diocese included Astishat, a priest of
the church in this religious centre was elevated to the pontifical
dignity and duly consecrated at Cæsarea. He was succeeded by a
scion of the House of Albianus--a House of which the founder is
mentioned first in the list of bishops chosen by St. Gregory from
the ranks of the children of the heathen priests. [243] Meanwhile
the sons of Yusik--the terrible progeny given to the world by his
bride of a single night--had reached an age which permitted the full
indulgence of their wicked appetites in every kind of vice. They are
said to have met their death in the pontifical palace, where their
wassail was cut short by the angel of God. One of the twins, by name
Athenogenes, had already produced an heir; and it was this child who,
when he had reached the estate of manhood, was acclaimed katholikos
by army and nation during the reign of King Arshak. Nerses--such
was his name--had been brought up at Cæsarea, the native city of his
contemporary, St. Basil the Great. After an early marriage he adopted
the military profession and became chamberlain and counsellor to his
king. He is delineated as the ideal of a perfect cavalier--tall and
supple of figure, with a face of great beauty, which enlisted the
sympathy of both sexes and all classes. Yet the youth wore the flower
of a blameless private life; and his high capacities were from the
first bestowed upon the intimate care of the poor or afflicted, and
the protection of the oppressed. His function at court was to stand
behind the person of the king, attired in a rich and elegant robe,
and bearing in his hand the royal sword of tried steel with its golden
scabbard and belt inlaid with precious stones. Such was the station
which he was fulfilling when the nobles and assembled troops approached
the steps of the throne. They had come to demand his acceptance of the
high office, hereditary in his family; but the embarrassed chamberlain
waved them aside. His profession of personal unworthiness was received
with laughter; his indignant protests by the clash of shields. Upon
his persistence King Arshak gave orders that he should be bound
in his presence, and shorn of his long and abundant hair. Many of
the bystanders shed tears when the ruthless scissors severed those
silky and floating locks. Stripped of his gay apparel, he was made
to assume the garb of a priest; and it was difficult to recognise in
the face of the deacon, who was being ordained by a venerable bishop,
the brave soldier and princely courtier of a few minutes ago. [244]

The national character of the Armenian Church is mainly derived from
the institutions of St. Gregory; but it was this Nerses, his direct
descendant, who brought it into line with the Church of the Empire in
the important sphere of internal development and discipline. The family
likeness which it still presents to the neighbouring Greek Church is
largely due to this prelate. The monastery is still the pivot of the
ecclesiastical organisation; and it was this contemporary, perhaps this
disciple of St. Basil of Cæsarea, who spread broadcast cloisters and
convents over the land. A single rule was established for the several
orders of monks; and the laity were bidden to observe certain wholesome
regulations, among which was included abstention from animal food. The
poor and the sick were lodged in hospices, and were not allowed to beg;
a humane enactment provided that their neighbours should bring them
food to their public or private dwellings. In each district was founded
a school for the instruction of the people in the Greek and Syriac
languages. Every action of the great katholikos bears the imprint
of a high purpose, and overwelling zeal. That purpose was to conquer
the lusts of a full-blooded and intemperate people by subduing their
unruly bodies and fanning into life the spark of the soul. But just
in the execution of this lofty project he was brought into conflict
with the king, and the fate of his grandfather stared him in the
face. The son of Tiran was indeed the son of that obstinate sinner,
nor was Nerses less inflexible than Yusik. Perhaps the monarch acted
with design, and wished to divide his people into separate communities
of the black and the white sheep. The saints might be handed over to
the sway of their prince-prelate; over the sinners his own prerogative
would remain supreme. He proclaimed an edict which enacted that every
debtor or accused person, those who had shed the blood or taken the
property of their neighbours, should assemble in an appointed place,
where no law would be allowed to touch them and each man might lead
his life after his own guise. [245] To that haven beyond their dreams
flocked the company of the unrighteous--women with the husbands
of other women, and men with the wives of other men. The brigands
and the assassins and the unjust judges and the perjured witnesses,
all collected at the given tryst. The place was at first a village;
but it soon prospered, and became a town, which again extended until
it filled an entire valley. Then the king built a palace in the
midst of his congenial subjects and called the city by his own name
(Arshakavan). Upon the return of the katholikos--he is said to have
been exiled by a Roman emperor; but his vicar during his absence had
not betrayed his trust--this truly original and royal solution of the
problem of joint government was vigorously arraigned. The pontiff taxed
the monarch with having founded a second Sodom; but, relenting to a
mood of greater amiability, he suggested that the sovereign might
continue to reside in his city if he would entrust its management
into the hands of the katholikos. The rejection of this kind proposal
was shortly followed by the outbreak of a malady, which decimated
the inhabitants. The king was constrained to sue for pardon from the
saint and to disband his colony. The quarrel broke out anew when the
inveterate profligate shed the blood of a subject and espoused his
beautiful wife. Nerses left the court and did not return. Arshak, in
open defiance, appointed a katholikos in his stead--a certain Chunak,
who was nothing better than one of his minions. He could not hope
that his action might be endorsed at Cæsarea; so he summoned all
the bishops of his own country and bade them consecrate the object
of his choice. Only two could be persuaded to perform the ceremony;
and these were perhaps pensioners of the king. [246]

The full activity of the lawful pontiff was not resumed until after
the calamity which resulted in the bondage of his old enemy and
the seclusion of Arshak in the castle of oblivion. The accession of
Pap was attended by the presentation of a solemn petition, in which
sovereign and nation craved the assistance of their true pastor. Nerses
devoted his energies to the restoration of the churches which had been
destroyed by Shapur. But the son of Arshak was quite as licentious,
although less capable than his father; and he is said to have added to
the sum of the delinquencies of his predecessor the habitual practice
of unspeakable vice. The monster was forbidden entry even into the
porch of the church; and he retaliated by poisoning the katholikos with
a cup of peace which, in token of repentance, he tendered with his own
hand. The death of Nerses, which occurred not later than the year 374,
[247] marks an epoch in the history of the Church.

On the one hand its emoluments were considerably curtailed; on the
other--and this is a fact with the most far-reaching consequences--it
was dissevered for good and all from the Church of the Empire. It
is quite evident that Nerses failed to gauge correctly the temper
of his countrymen; and it was the defect of his undoubted virtues
that he at once endeavoured to go too far and to accomplish too
much. The reaction from his severe ordinances enabled the king to
proceed unhindered in the work of overthrowing the structure which
his victim had reared. The hospices were abolished, the convents were
destroyed and their inmates given over to prostitution. Moreover the
greater portion of the lands bestowed upon the Church by Tiridates
were appropriated by the State. Of each seven domains belonging to
the former institution the revenues of five were allotted to the
Treasury. Nor can we doubt that popular support was forthcoming for
the revolution which the monarch initiated in the relations with the
Greek Church. The Armenians have at all periods approved a national
policy, and preferred to perish than unite with their neighbours. A
bishop of the House of Albianus, always obsequious to the throne,
was invested with the vacant primacy. The consent of Cæsarea was not
even applied for, nor was the bishop despatched to the capital of the
province of Cappadocia for consecration in accordance with the usual
custom. With the possible exception of the two sons of St. Gregory
and, of course, of the pseudo-katholikos, Chunak, each successive
holder of the pontifical office, including the Illuminator, had been
in the habit of proceeding with great pomp through the territory of
the Empire to the steps of the episcopal throne in the Greek city. It
was there that the chosen of the Armenians bowed his head before
a prelate who loomed in the eyes of his countrymen as the living
embodiment of the authority of the Church of Christ. The defiance
offered him by the king was accepted by Basil in a similar spirit. He
called together all the members of the provincial synod of Cæsarea,
without inviting the nominee of King Pap. A violent despatch was
addressed to the Armenian bishops and a similar one to the king. The
right of consecrating bishops was taken away from the katholikos, and
he was left the single prerogative of blessing bread at the court of
the king. The result of this hot temper upon either side was a bitter
conflict in the Armenian Church itself. The clergy were divided into
followers of the king and the House of Albianus, and those who held to
the necessity of consecration in Cæsarea and to allegiance to the House
of Gregory. [248] The subsequent lapse of the greater part of Armenia
under Persian influence promoted the policy initiated by Pap; and when,
towards the close of the century, the chair was again occupied by a
descendant of St. Gregory, the link with Cæsarea was not restored.

There can, I think, be no doubt that the story of the foundation of
the Armenian Church by a direct mandate of Christ Himself was invented
not earlier than the period at which we have now arrived. The mandate
is said to have taken the form of an injunction to St. Gregory to
build the church of Vagharshapat. Neither the author of the Life of
the Illuminator, as we can trace that source through the Agathangelus
treatise, nor the historian who continues his narrative, displays any
cognisance with such a momentous event. The former tells us that it
was at Astishat in the south of Armenia, the country of the Murad,
that Gregory built the first Christian church. The cult of martyrs
which he first introduced was not the cult of the Ripsimians but that
of St. John the Baptist and Athenogenes. We learn from the latter
that after the death of the saint, and at least down to the murder of
Nerses, the mother-church of Armenia was situated at Astishat and not
at Edgmiatsin. Faustus, indeed, expresses himself not once alone or
in a doubtful manner upon this important point. Astishat contains the
"first and great mother of Armenian churches," "the first and greatest
of all the churches of Armenia, the principal and most honoured seat
of the Christian religion." It was at Astishat that was situated
the palace of the katholikos. The great synod which was convoked by
Nerses of all Armenian bishops was held at Astishat. When that prelate
wished to chide the chief of the king's eunuchs for casting covetous
glances upon the wide domains which surrounded the church, he quoted
the scriptural injunction against such ignoble conduct, and added that
such was the will of Jesus Christ, "Whose choice had first fallen upon
the church at Astishat for the glorification of His Name." [249] On
the other hand, I cannot help detecting in these passages indications
that their author was aware of the growing rivalry of the church at
Edgmiatsin. Faustus wrote after the severance from Cæsarea and after
the partition of Armenia (A.D. 387). He displays acquaintance with the
Ripsimian legend. But there is no trace in his pages of a knowledge of
the vision of St. Gregory upon which Edgmiatsin has founded her claim.

As time went on, several causes, which perhaps we may distinguish,
contributed to widen further the breach with the Church of the
Empire. The Persian occupation and the ultimate removal of the Arsakid
dynasty, whose hereditary blood feud with the House of Sasan had
long embittered the antagonism of the peoples, were no small factors
in an estrangement from Greek influences which the policy of Persia
lost no occasion of promoting. The invention by Mesrop of an Armenian
alphabet, [250] and the institution of a school of translators during
the pontificate of the son of Nerses, Isaac the Great (c. 390-439),
constitute elements which, while they worked for the attachment
of the Armenians to Greek culture and for the wider propagation of
Christianity, were yet calculated to foster the strong proclivities
of this people towards complete religious independence. Lastly--if
indeed there be an end to such a catalogue, in which each item is as
much an effect as a cause--the peculiar genius of the Armenian nation
imprinted a stamp upon the dogma of their Church which was not the
stamp sanctioned by that of the Empire.

The Council of Chalcedon (A.D. 451) addressed itself to the solution of
the problems which were the natural outcome of the dogma adopted at the
Council of Nice. What was the true view of the mystery expressed by the
words of the formula: Son of God, of one nature with the Father, Who
came down from heaven and took flesh and became man? How explain the
character of the union of God with man in the person of Christ? Over
the answer which should be returned to this question conflicts arose
which destroyed thousands of innocent people, and which prepared the
way for the disappearance of the Roman Empire from the map of Asia,
and for the triumph of Islam. The compromise adopted at Chalcedon
is difficult to place in a short sentence; but perhaps no essential
feature is omitted in the following phrase: Christ according to His
Godhead is of one nature with the Father, according to His humanity is,
apart from sin, of one nature with us. This one and the same Christ is
recognised in two natures indissolubly united but yet distinct. The
Armenians were not represented at this Council; [251] and, indeed,
it is contemporary with the fierce religious persecutions directed
against them by Yezdegerd II. But, when once the unfortunate nation,
or what remained after the orgy of the fire-worshippers, had settled
down to a more peaceful routine, they proceeded to hold a synod of
their own, which assembled at Vagharshapat (A.D. 491), and which
with all solemnity cursed the Council of Chalcedon. This procedure
was repeated at several subsequent synods; nor has the bitterness
which was consequent upon this open breach with the Church of the
West subsided at the present day. At Edgmiatsin, the seat of this
synod, held fourteen centuries ago, I was informed that the Armenian
Church expressly rejects Chalcedon; and the emphasis of language was
underlined by the tone of the voice. The Armenians therefore differ
both with the Greek and with the Roman Church in their expression of
the mystery of Christology. They will not hear of two natures. They
hold that in Christ there is one person and one nature, one will and
one energy; and their liturgy presents this dogma in an impressive
manner in the Trisagion, which runs: "O God, holy God, mighty God,
everlasting God, who wast crucified for us." [252] At the same time
they deny and denounce the teaching of Eutyches, protagonist against
the Nestorians. Eutyches held that the body of Christ is not to be
regarded as of one nature with ours; the Armenians maintain that God
became man in the fullest sense. [253]

One might argue this question to all eternity; but one feels that the
Greeks were the subtler disputants. The Armenians, like the Persian
Mohammedans, would appear to be averse to abstractions; they go,
perhaps, to extremes in the concreteness of their conception of God--a
God-man in the crudest sense. This Christology has probably embodied
the sentiments of the people; but it had the effect of estranging
them not only with the Church of the Empire, but also with the great
body of their fellow-Christians of different nationality within the
Persian dominions. At the synod of Beth Lapat (A.D. 483 or 484) the
old Christian Church of Persia welcomed into its bosom the flying
forces of Nestorianism, and adopted the Nestorian confession. The
Georgians, it is true, followed the lead of the Armenians, with whom
their Church was directly connected. But these allies broke away
before the close of the sixth century, and went over to the teaching
of Chalcedon. As the centuries rolled by, these various breaches
became wider, and they are still marked features in the Christianity
of the East. Martyrdom and political slavery were alternatives which
were gladly accepted rather than compromise dogmatic and doctrinal
differences. When Heraclius visited Armenia after replacing the Cross
in the churches of Jerusalem, the Armenians refused to camp with his
troops. In the Middle Ages, when the Sasanians were already forgotten,
when the caliphs, their successors, were approaching their doom, the
stubborn hierarchy insisted upon baptizing babes a second time if the
ceremony had been performed by a Greek priest. All attempts to effect a
union--and they have been many and serious--have invariably failed. The
more attractive the offers of the Greeks, the greater grew the hatred
of them; nor have the popes met with better success. They have added
costly objects to the treasury at Edgmiatsin; the result remains a
blank. When we reflect that this obstinate people are as intelligent
as any in the world in the various pursuits of civilised life, our
anger at such conduct, which gave away the cause of civilisation, may
be tempered by a different feeling. The Armenians have fought at all
hazards to preserve their individuality, and the bulk of the nation
have perished in the attempt. The remnant may be destined, like the
son of Anak, to redress the wrongs inflicted by their ancestors upon
the common Christian weal. On the other hand, the lesson which is
taught by history is that no nation and no Christianity will succeed
with the Armenians which endeavours to deflect them from their own
opinions and to preclude them from working out their own salvation
in their own way. [254]



CHAPTER XVII

TO ANI AND TO KARS


October 14.--We left the cloister at half-past eight, our little
party of five persons including the Armenian cook. We had hired
in the district ten miserable ponies, of which five carried our
effects. The most direct way to Ani crosses the basal slopes of
Alagöz, from the southern to the most westerly extremities of the
shield-shaped mass. You proceed from Edgmiatsin in a north-westerly
direction, the ground rising at every step of your advance. On the
point of course, beyond oases of verdure in the foreground, lie the
stony and arid declivities of the mountain--contours of immense length
and low vaulting, joining the plain to the horizontal outline in the
sky. The belt of verdure consists of fields of the cotton and the
castor-oil plants, of patches of orchard and vineyard, and sparse
groves of poplar, rising from the dusty and boulder-strewn waste. It
is sustained by runnels which exhaust the waters of the Kasagh or
Abaran Su, the stream which collects the scanty drainage of the
volcano upon its eastern flank. The boulders are worn by water and
have been dispersed by the swollen river, during the season of spring
floods. Where we crossed the Kasagh itself, or principal channel,
it was a languid and soil-charged body of water, threading these
stony tracts. We passed several villages within the irrigated area,
some inhabited by Armenians, others by Tartars, and a few by both
races alike. Hiznavuz, or Kiznaus, an Armenian settlement, containing
the State-school of the district, was the last of these hamlets of
the fertile zone. We stayed a few minutes before the open windows of
the schoolhouse, listening to a lesson given in Russian to Armenian
boys. Behind the village, a sterile eminence leads over into the
barren highlands which compose the pedestal of Alagöz.

The moderate elevation of these highlands above the plain of the Araxes
and their long extension from east to west are conditions favourable
to the full appreciation of the landscape, and of each new feature in
the slowly-changing scene. Their free position contributes to invest
them with the character of a natural gallery, which commands unbroken
prospects over some of the grandest works of Nature in her most
inspired moods. The European, whose conception of mountain scenery is
founded upon the arbitrary peaks and scattered valleys characteristic
of his Alps, who has looked with emotion upon the doubtful features
of his lowlands from the summit of some famous pass, can scarcely
fail to be deeply impressed by the attributes of a panorama in which
reliefs and depressions of stupendous scale are disposed as members
of a great design, and are seen in the pure atmosphere of an Eastern
climate with all the clearness of a model in clay. At his feet lies
a plain which is level as water, which in no very remote geological
period was covered by an inland sea. It is a distance of some thirty
miles to its opposite confines; yet the towns and the plantations
are pencilled upon its surface as though they had been traced by
a draughtsman's pen. The plain is bordered by the volcanic range
which we have come to know as the Ararat system--a chain of which
the jagged and fantastic outline is already familiar from many a
rich sunset effect. The summits rise to nearly 8000 feet above the
campagna; but how humble they appear behind the train of the fabric
of Ararat, gathering immediately from the floor of the plain! The
bold snow bastions of the north-western slope are seen in face from
these highlands; and it is difficult to realise that the pronounced
lineaments which compose that airy figure are removed by a space of
nearly forty miles. We had not yet lost sight of the line of poplars
which screens the cloister when the distinctive features of this
magnificent landscape were unfolded to our view. The several ranges
and mountain masses were disposed in the form of an amphitheatre, of
which we seemed to occupy one of the middle tiers. In the east, along
the Araxes, the crinkled buttresses of the northern border were still
visible, projecting in a southerly direction beyond the cock-combed
hill of Karniarch. In the west, at an interval of sixty miles from
those eminences, the level ground extended to a double-peaked mountain
which juts out into the valley from the Ararat system, and is known
under the name of Takjaltu. Face to face with one another stood Alagöz
and Ararat. In the plain we could discern an isolated hummock, north of
the Araxes and bearing about south-west. It marks the site of Armavir.

That this scene--in itself a world, and a world which fills the mind
with wonder--has of necessity been the theatre of momentous events in
the life of humanity, the traveller realises at a single glance. His
pious predecessors were surely justified in accepting the ancient
belief of the Armenians, that our first father and mother loved and
suffered in this plain. [255] If we are to seek the site of Paradise
within the limits of Armenia, neither the Euphrates nor the Tigris
crosses a country equally appropriate to have been the earliest and
fairest home of man. It looks the land of hope which Noah tilled and
planted with vineyards, the second nursery of the human race. The
Armenians, whose mythical history connects them closely with Babylonia
and Assyria, who from the earliest times have been accustomed to
receive Jewish immigrants and to see Jewish colonies established in
their midst, must at a remote date have localised the events of the
Biblical narrative in this the most favoured of all their valleys
and at the foot of the loftiest of their mountains. [256] If the
Jewish writings which they inherited were believed to have reference
to their native surroundings, it was only natural that they should
identify with the same districts the primeval setting of the later
creations of the Jewish mind; the whole countryside became hallowed
by religious tradition; nor need we feel surprise when we read that
a tree in the neighbourhood of Karakala on the Araxes was believed
to have sheltered Job and his three friends. [257] When the horizon
narrows and embraces the particular history of the Armenians, we
find that some of the first beginnings of their history are placed
within this fertile and spacious plain; it was the chosen seat of
Armenak, the son or grandson of their progenitor, Hayk, to which he
descended from the mountains about the head waters of the Euphrates,
accompanied by his whole race. Here were situated their most ancient
cities, of some of which the relics still stand above ground and
invite discussion of which city they denote the site. Armavir, the
contemporary of Nineveh, with the grove of plane trees which worked the
magic of the oaks of Dodona, has been identified with the ruins that
are found on the little hillock which we distinguish from the detail
of the landscape at our feet. [258] Further west, on the southern bank
of the river, where it is enclosed by rocky cliffs of basaltic lava,
due to the passage of a lava stream, modern travellers have discovered
considerable remains of ancient masonry, which have been utilised
to build the castle of Karakala, and which are still, I believe, in
want of their older name. [259] Traces of the fortress of Ervandakert,
and of Ervandashat, its companion city, which were built in the first
century of our era by an Armenian monarch of Arsakid descent, have
been remarked on either bank of the Arpa river, the ancient Akhurean,
where it issues from the elevated country on the north of the Araxes
and effects its confluence at the head of this plain. [260] In the days
when those cities flourished, the haughty Araxes was spanned by bridges
of which, here and there, a pier or a buttress still survives. [261]
Below the lofty rock of Takjaltu lie the famous salt mines of Kulpi,
which have been exploited from immemorial times.

After leaving the Armenian village we continued in the same direction
over the barren highlands, in possession of the landscape which I
have endeavoured to describe. We were riding at walking pace; our
immediate surroundings were indifferent to us; nor for the space of
three hours did we meet a single settlement, except here and there a
group of Kurdish tents. When at midday the clouds cleared above the
summit of Alagöz, we remarked that the fangs of its rocky core were
invisible behind the bulging contours of the outer sheath. Above us,
upon those slopes, we could discern some small green patches, which
mark the site of hamlets, peopled by Tartars and Armenians who eke
out a scanty subsistence on the mountain side. When we had reached
a point some thirteen miles in direct distance from Edgmiatsin,
we crossed a close succession of deep ravines. The first of these
was the most considerable of the three, and contained the broad
bed of a dry watercourse, which descends from the central mountain
mass. On the further side of the last among them we came upon the
remains of a large church, of great simplicity but of much beauty of
form. It was built of hewn stone, in the style of the best Armenian
architecture; and the ancient frescos still stained the walls of the
apse. But the lofty dome had fallen in, leaving nothing but a yawning
circle, with fragments of cloud crossing the blue above our heads. An
inscription in the interior bears the date 876 (Armenian era), which
corresponds to the year A.D. 1426. Just beyond this ruin is situated
the little Armenian village of Talysh, on the southern confines of
which we visited the remains of some towers which are probably of
the same period as the church, and which overlook the ravine upon the
west. Both the starshina and the priest of Talysh were absent from the
settlement; the inhabitants professed complete ignorance of the history
of their antiquities, which, since they could neither read nor write,
was perhaps not feigned. The afternoon was well advanced when we left
this pleasant site; a mist arose, and developed into rain. In less than
two hours we were glad to find shelter in the Tartar village of Akhja
Kala, a refreshing oasis of green willows on these sterile slopes.

The essential majesty of the Armenian landscapes derives enhanced
value from the presence at all seasons of clouds. In this respect
Armenia is more favoured than Persia, where month after month you
long for a cloud to temper the glare. To the radiance of her pellucid
atmosphere is added the charm of effects of vapour; but the vapour has
already been tamed in the passage of the border ranges, and floats
in quiet masses over the central regions of the tableland. We awoke
on the following morning to a scene which is characteristic of the
season and of this plain. The whole valley of the Araxes was covered
by a sheet of white mist, and had the appearance of a vast sea. From
invisible limits in the west to the foot of the Ararat fabric the
deceptive substance followed the base of the mountains, as though we
had suddenly been introduced to that geological period when the waters
washed these rocky shores. In the east several islands rose above the
shining surface, eminences of the plain. The high ground upon which we
stood was bathed in pure sunlight, and all Nature was intensely still.

As the morning advanced the vapours lifted or were dissolved; films of
white cloud were wafted across the blue. We continued our march over
highlands of the same stony character as those which we had traversed
during the preceding day. But beyond the village the land had been
cleared in places, and wheat planted, which was showing green above the
ground. It is protected by the snows which cover these slopes during
winter, and it is reaped in spring or early summer. The rocky heart of
Alagöz was still concealed behind the declivities which swept towards
us, on our right hand. In the great plain, which still lay beneath us,
we missed the stretches of pleasant verdure which in that direction
had become familiar to our eyes; desert tracts, seared by gullies,
had taken the place of the gardens; while further west the valley was
broken into hummock waves. A ground of ochre, washed in places with
rose madder--such were the colours which clothed this naked expanse;
the delicate tints were continued up the sides of the mountains which
border the plain upon the south. These lower slopes of the Ararat
system receive the light at sunrise; and, being composed of a marly
substance, which is modelled into soft convexities, display a variety
of tender hues. Bold peaks, of which the summits had been strewn with
snow during the night, rise along the spine of the range; but they
are dwarfed, even at this distance, by the fabric of Ararat. We could
discern on the west of the mountain the pass which leads to Bayazid,
and we had not yet lost sight of the mound of Armavir. But it was
evident that the even ground in the valley of the Araxes was coming
to an end. The western limits of the level plain may be placed in the
neighbourhood of Karakala; and, according to Dubois, the last canal
which derives from the Araxes waters the fields on the west of the
village of Shagriar. [262]

Villages became less rare as we rounded the mass of the mountain and
opened a view over the country in the direction of the Arpa Chai. An
hour from Akhja Kala our attention was attracted by a still distant
eminence, rising above the shelving land upon that side. It was the
crag of Bugutu, which is probably due to a later eruption on the flank
of Alagöz. We passed two Tartar settlements, and crossed a couple of
ravines, the first of which must have had a depth of nearly a hundred
feet. It contained a pleasant growth of lofty poplars and other trees,
and it was threaded by a babbling brook. When the prospect extended to
the upper slopes of the mountain, we observed that they were sprinkled
with fresh snow. A stage of two and a half hours brought us to the
village of Talin, a prosperous and picturesque little township at
the foot of Bugutu (Fig. 61).

Both the Pristav and the priest were quickly forthcoming; we were
by them conducted to a house which contained two storeys, and which
was the residence of the priest. While food was being prepared,
we were accompanied by our hosts in a walk round the place. We were
informed that it contained some thousand inhabitants, all of whom were
Armenians. It possesses a church, but is still without a school. The
old prejudices survive, and it was impossible to persuade the young
women to submit to the camera. But Talin is distinguished by the close
proximity of a piece of architecture which appears to date from the
golden period of the Bagratid dynasty and which ranks among the most
charming examples of the Armenian style. It is a church--they call
it cloister (vank), and it perhaps belonged to a monastery--which,
although in ruins, is fairly well preserved. The roof has fallen
in; the walls display wide breaches; but the masonry is still sharp
and fresh, as when first put together, and the traceries might just
have undergone the finishing touch. With its bold windows--no mere
apertures--and bands of elegant sculpture, I thought it the most
beautiful building I had yet seen in Armenia. I reproduce some of
these chiselled mouldings of the exterior. The first, a vine pattern
(Fig. 62), belongs to the southern transept; and the second (Fig. 63),
representing a pear or apple, is taken from that upon the north. On
the south side of the ruin we observed a sun-dial, carved in stone;
and we were shown a square block, which had been found among the
débris, and upon which was sculptured a relief, representing the
Virgin and Child, attended by two angels. A graveyard surrounds the
building; some of the old crosses have been built into the walls of
the village church. A little on the east we noticed the remains of
a small chapel. The ground was strewn with fallen stones, some red,
others grey--the two colours which are so skilfully blended or placed
in contrast by Armenian architects upon the broad, undecorated spaces
of their walls. We enquired the history of the ruin, and were referred
to a partially defaced inscription on one of the piers which once
supported the dome. It mentions the name of King Sembat, a member of
the Bagratid dynasty, which reigned from the ninth to the eleventh
century. [263] The grandfather of the priest informed us that both
the monastery and the church had been maintained up to a comparatively
recent period. He said that the priests had fled during the campaign
of Paskevich, since which date the buildings had been allowed to fall
into decay.

Ker Porter, who crossed the district on his way from Ani to Edgmiatsin,
mentions the existence in this neighbourhood of extensive ruins--the
deserted relics of two churches, of walls and houses, which he saw
at a distance, but did not stay to examine. He calls the place Talys,
and Ritter hazards the conjecture that these may have been the remains
of Bagaran. [264] That city, which was founded by the same monarch
who gave his name to Ervandakert and Ervandashat, became a royal
residence of the Bagratid dynasty, and at the end of the fourteenth
century of our era still continued to exist. We did not hear of further
antiquities in the vicinity of Talin; but the correspondence of name
suggests that Ker Porter's account may have been called forth by the
former condition of the site which we visited. It was evident that
these highlands had been the seat of a flourishing civilisation,
later in date than that which produced the vanished cities of the
plain. First at Talysh and next at Talin we discovered traces of this
mediæval culture, of which the evidence was lavished upon us when we
had reached the banks of the Arpa, at Ani and at Khosha Vank.

The upper chamber of the priest's house and the company therein
assembled recalled the simplicity of the early Christian times. Our
host was still a young man, and his natural capacities had not been
blunted by indigence and ill-treatment. His villagers were well off,
and appeared to live on terms of friendship with their neighbours of
Tartar race. A Tartar khan, a grandee of the district, happened to
be visiting the place on business (Fig. 64); and we were glad to see
that his intercourse with the principal people was marked by tokens of
mutual respect. His grave face and dignified figure contrasted with
the vivacity of the Armenians; his presence added to the interest
of the group which I photographed, and which included the Pristav
(Fig. 65) and the priest (Fig. 66). Neither the official head of
the village nor our clerical acquaintance possessed any education,
except what had been provided by an Armenian primary school. But
both, and especially the former, were men of great intelligence,
and did honour to the peasant class from which they had sprung.

We were in want of another pony, which we were able to hire at
Talin; his owner, a Tartar belonging to Akhja Kala, accompanied or
followed us on foot (Fig. 67). Measured on the map, it is a distance
of sixteen miles from the village to the point at which we struck
the Arpa Chai. We owed it to the nature of the ground and to the
sorry condition of our horses that we were four and a half hours in
performing the stage. It seemed an interminable ride; the landscape was
monotonous; and we soon lost any glimpse of the valley of the Araxes,
as we continued our north-westerly course. We crossed the neck of the
ridge which culminates at its western extremity in the crag of Bugutu;
and, on its further side, descended into the little Tartar settlement
of Birmalek, where a stream trickles down from Alagöz. A dam had been
constructed which, aided by the nature of the ground, had forced the
waters to collect into a small lake. Beyond Birmalek a second ridge
was placed athwart our way, and constrained us to deviate towards
the west. In the hollow we passed a small settlement of Kurds, called
Sapunji, of which the inhabitants were the wildest people we had yet
met. It speaks well for the Russian officials that they did not dare
to lay hands upon us, travelling, as we were, alone and unarmed. This
second ridge was succeeded by another, similar in character, which
was followed by several more. They are the outworks or spurs of the
central mass of the mountain, from which they radiate outwards in
a westerly direction towards the trough of the Arpa Chai. Although
their relative elevation above the valleys is not considerable, our
guide preferred to turn them than to take them in face. Their sides
were clothed with burnt grass, or were sterile and strewn with stones,
like the depressions which they confined. For more than two hours we
continued among such dreary surroundings, crossing the western basal
slopes of Alagöz. These decline, by an almost imperceptible transition,
into a tract of open and undulating ground. We were refreshed by the
sight of a village, which stood alone and without neighbours on the
bare surface of the more even land.

It belonged to a colony of Armenians from the plain of
Alexandropol. Let us hope that they will be followed by further
migrations of their countrymen into the valley of the Arpa Chai. That
classical river of their ancestors crosses a region which was long
famous for its salubrious climate and productive soil. It has not
yet recovered from the state of abject desolation to which it was
reduced when it formed the borderland between the Turkish and Persian
empires. During a ride of nearly two hours from this settlement to
the bank of the river, we were not aware of any sign of the presence
of man.

Yet the features of this more level zone reminded us of the plain of
Alexandropol, of which in some sense it forms an outlying part. We
stood in face of the western declivities of Alagöz, with the rocky
core of the volcano again disclosed. The contours of the mountain were
composed of a number of ridges, which in perspective appeared to belong
to two principal groups. One group declined away into invisible limits
on our left hand; the other into an uncertain distance on our right. We
were placed in the fork between these two diverging branches. It was
evident that the last group separated us from the valley of the Araxes;
nor could we doubt that the principal and humble ridge in the reverse
direction was the only barrier between us and the plains on the north
(Fig. 68).

In the west, to the far horizon stretched the loamy tracts about us,
bare of surface, like the sea. Above the outline of this high land
rose the peaks of the Ararat system, fretting the sky from south-west
to a bold mountain in the south, which we recognised as the familiar
Takjaltu. We knew that we were overlooking the trough of the Arpa; but
the river was hidden from sight. The light was failing as we entered
the Armenian village of Khosha Vank, on the left bank of the stream.

It is a picturesque little settlement of some 120 tenements, grouped
around a stately church. I have referred to it under the name which
I received from the priest and the Pristav, but which more properly
belongs to the neighbouring monastery. It is called Kizilkilisa (red
church) on the Russian maps. It was our intention to sleep in Ani,
after fording the river at this village; and we were surprised to learn
that the ruins were four hours distant, and that it would be almost
impossible to reach them that night. Since the baggage was behind us,
we listened to the counsel of our informants, who conducted us to a
stone house, containing a single room--the only decent building in
the whole place. Although without a school, the inhabitants are no
dullards; they seemed extremely ready to make a little money, and
pleased to be able to exchange ideas. In fact we discovered on the
following day that they had deceived us about Ani, with the express
purpose of retaining us for the night. We waited some time in vain
for the luggage to overtake us, and then composed ourselves to sleep.

When morning came our effects had not yet arrived; we reflected that
we had given the rendezvous at Ani, and, although we felt sure that
the laggards would cross the river at our village, decided to push
on. The Arpa flows between high banks, a deeply eroded and sinuous bed,
hidden by precipitous cliffs of black rock. You form the conception of
a trough or fissure in the surface of the tableland, which undulates
away into the distance on every side. After fording the stream, we
proceeded along the right bank, and, at no great distance, opened
out a romantic valley on our left hand, similar in character to that
which adjoins the site of the Armenian village. In both places the
river describes a complete S, and is lost in the gloom of overhanging
walls. The disposition of these rocky sides assumes the appearance of
a glen, in which are situated the remains of an extensive monastery,
bearing the name of Khosha Vank. Just beyond this standpoint we
gained the high land above the river; and there before us, on the
plain, lay the ruins which we had been seeking, at the distance of
an hour's canter from the cloister, or of a couple of hours' ride
from Kizilkilisa.

Descrying horses in the direction of Ani, we galloped forward and
overtook them; they proved to be our missing cavalcade. They had passed
the river at a place lower down than where we had crossed it, and were
pursuing their way in a most leisurely manner. After opening one of
the cases in order to replenish the slides of the camera, we returned
to the glen, and again forded the stream. We spent a considerable time
at the cloister and in its neighbourhood; it was certainly the most
remarkable building which we had yet seen. Reserving a description
of its ancient church and halls of audience, I shall only refer to
a couple of illustrations in this place. The one (Fig. 93, p. 386)
shows the ensemble of the monastery; but, having been taken from the
east, where the ground is open and the landscape tame, misses the
peculiar characteristics of the site. The other (Fig. 94, p. 387)
may convey some conception of the appearance of the glen, when seen
from the river-bed below the cloister. From the flat and water-worn
bottom rises a little tongue of higher land, upon which stand the
remains of two little chapels. On the cliff above the ravine you see
the pier of a ruined gateway, outlined against the sky. The track to
Ani leads up the cliffside and passes that ruin, which stands on the
plain in which the still-distant city lies.

It was late afternoon when we reached the walls of the ancient capital
(Fig. 70, p. 369), and passed within the great gateway. No massive
doors creaked upon their hinges; we rode through empty archways into
a deserted town. From among the débris of the public and private
buildings rose the well-preserved remains of a number of handsome
edifices--here an elegant church, there a polygonal chapel. An old
priest with a few attendants were the sole inhabitants--they and the
owls. We had only to follow the track to be brought to the humble
tenement in which the priest lived. He stepped forth to meet us,
a grey head, a feeble figure; he walked with difficulty, and with
the demeanour of a man who is awaiting death. He told us that he
had dwelt here since 1880, the only custodian of these priceless
architectural treasures, and the only exponent of the topography of
the site. He had been attacked in his house by a band of Kurds in
1886; they had inflicted knife wounds, and stripped him of everything
he possessed. We remained two whole days within the walls of Ani,
examining the creations of a vanished civilisation, and collecting
material with which I propose to deal in a separate chapter. At nine
o'clock on the morning of the 19th of October we took leave of our
aged host; and, leaving the city by the same gate through which we
had entered it, pursued a track which leads in the direction of Kars.

Clouds were clinging to the hill slopes upon our point of course
and concealing the shield-shaped mass of Alagöz. Lost fragments
of opaline vapour lay on the surface of the grassy plain. Here and
there we perceived the ruins of little chapels and other buildings,
or the scattered débris of masonry. From these suburbs we looked back
upon the bold line of the city walls, with their double girdle and
towers at regular intervals. It seemed as though the stream of life
had wandered off into other channels, leaving behind this eloquent
evidence of its former course. We could not descry the form of man
or of animal in the landscape; even the sky was without a wing. We
rode in silence and at ease along a beaten path, where the burnt
herbage had been worn away from the rich brown soil. West of Ani,
at a distance which leaves the site of the city open, rises a hill of
irregular shape and moderate elevation, known as the Alaja Dagh. It
is due to volcanic action, and covers a respectable area; its sides
and summits are overgrown with grass. It is placed across the direct
line between Kars and the ancient capital, and compels you to deviate
a little to the north. As we rose along the north-eastern slopes of
the mass, we were lifted at a convenient altitude above the plains.

Outspread before us lay a vast extent of undulating ground, on
the south, on the east, towards the north. After we had passed the
small Armenian village of Jala, we could just discern in the lap of
the expanse the city of Alexandropol, at a distance of over twenty
miles. We had again opened out the northern slopes of Alagöz; and we
could even see the meridional range which intersects it upon the east,
and the gap through which we had journeyed to Erivan. When one reflects
upon the significance of this panorama, it must be recognised that our
standpoint on the skirts of the Alaja deserves a high rank among those
apposite and commanding positions which Armenia appears to lavish upon
her admirers, and which imprint her features indelibly upon the mind.

We might be said to have been standing on the dividing line between
two landscapes and even of two climates. On the north lay the immense
plains around Kars and Alexandropol, vague and grey in spite of
the clear atmosphere, and with their distant limits shrouded in
haze. These pass over, along the course of the deeply-bedded Arpa,
into the ever-widening valley of the Araxes, bathed at all seasons in
sun. Had it not been for the projecting spurs of the hill which we were
skirting, the prospect would have embraced the peaks of the Ararat
system, bounding the expanse upon the south. Snow had fallen upon
the upper slopes of the mountains--Alagöz, no longer a shield but a
towering parapet; the Chaldir system, the border range in the far east.

As we proceeded towards the west, the instructive lesson was
developed--no ridge to cross, but continuous tracts of level land. The
plain rises with gentle gradation from the right bank of the Arpa to
the labyrinth of hills on the west of Kars. Its surface is slightly
vaulted, and the configuration of the ground is such that you lose
the outlook towards the east. We passed through Subotan, a prosperous
village of Turks and Greeks. The gay dresses of the Greek girls
formed a brilliant patch of colour, and their trinkets sparkled in
the sun, which was already high (Fig. 69). Education is provided
in a little schoolhouse, built and maintained at the charges of the
Christian inhabitants, but supplied with a teacher by the State. A
little further on we entered a second and smaller settlement, and
again found ourselves among Greeks. I am under the impression that
these scattered colonies date from the campaigns of Paskevich, when
Christians in considerable numbers accompanied his armies across the
frontier after their evacuation of Turkish territory.

On and on we rode over the spacious plain, beating the brown and idle
soil, with nothing to divert us from the simple pleasure of cantering
along. Vague tracks came converging towards us from the distance,
the arteries along which the supplies of the fortress flow. It was
evident that there was a pronounced slope of the ground upwards; and,
at length, on the western horizon we opened out a long, low ridge,
against which we could just discern without the aid of glasses the
yellow masonry of the castle of Kars (Fig. 98, p. 406). As we neared
the site, we were impressed by its strange and romantic character. From
the hills upon the west a mass of gloomy basalt projects towards
the east into the level and loamy land. Concave towards the plain,
to which it presents a line of cliffs, it forms an extensive bay
and terminates on the east in a commanding promontory, called the
Karadagh. The answering horn of this sinuous line is composed or
accentuated by the cluster of modern buildings which the Russians
have erected, and which jut out from the ancient city on the side of
the cliff into the even ground. Their white faces and iron roofing,
coloured a quiet red or green, present a contrast to the black masonry
which mounts the slope behind them--groups of houses, a few minarets,
a large church. Above these towers the well-preserved pile of the
old castle--an object which is rendered the more conspicuous by the
yellow stone of which it is composed. Further eastwards along the
summit of the ridge you see the ruins of the old Armenian fortress,
with the remains of a wall rising towards it from the foot of the
cliff. In the bay itself you will always find a confused medley of
sheep and cattle, of bullock-carts threading the piles of hay and
stores. We were met and challenged by a gendarme upon our arrival,
but were allowed to proceed to a modest inn.

I am conscious of having hazarded to tire my reader with the continuous
narrative of a journey of four days' duration and of more than the
usual variety of interest. Anxious to avoid diverting his attention
from the features of the country, I have not suffered him to rest,
as we rested, at Ani; but have taken him without a break from the
sunny depressions at the foot of Ararat to the wintry highlands
about Kars. He has almost traversed from east to west one of the
central regions of Armenia; and I would ask him to reflect that he
has not crossed a single mountain barrier, but has throughout been
riding upon the margin or over the surface of immense plains. In so
far as it may be possible to parcel out this level surface, a triple
division is suggested to the mind. In the north the basin-like area
of the plain of Alexandropol (5000 feet) declines along the banks of
the Arpa Chai; on the western side of the river the ground again rises
and develops into the spacious plain of Kars (5700 feet). In the south
lies the sheltered valley of the Araxes, commencing on the west with
an elevation, in the neighbourhood of the confluence of the Arpa,
which is rather less than 3000 feet above the sea.



CHAPTER XVIII

ANI, AND THE ARMENIAN KINGDOM OF THE MIDDLE AGES


In Europe we may find examples of mediæval towns from which the tide
of life has long since receded, and which have been preserved almost
intact to the present day. Less fortune attends the footsteps of the
traveller in Armenia, until he arrives before the walls and towers of
the city on the Arpa Chai. It is perhaps to the complete desolation
of the neighbourhood that is due this welcome surprise. No settlement
has arisen in the immediate vicinity to despoil these architectural
remains. Favoured by the dryness of the Armenian climate, the pink
volcanic stone displays all the freshness of the day when it was
fashioned by the mason's tool. Even lichen has failed to effect
much hold upon its surface, while our persistent ivies and sweet,
irresistible wallflowers have not adventured into these sunny and
treeless plains. We admire these buildings in much the same state
and condition as when they delighted the eyes of Armenian monarchs
nine centuries ago. Such a site would in Western lands be at least
occupied by a small town or village; the solitude of Ani is not shared
by any such presence; and the mood engendered by the spectacle of her
many noble monuments is not disturbed by the contrast of commonplace
successors or of miserable tenements, clinging to the creations of
a culture that has disappeared.

The impression of the ancient city which is perhaps likely to prove
most permanent is due to the aspect from without of that long row of
double walls with their even masonry and graceful towers at intervals
(Fig. 70, p. 369). How well they are seen from the floor of this plain
without limits; how strange they look among surroundings which scarcely
display a trace of man! When we reflect that we are face to face with
the capital of a kingdom, towards which the roads converged from every
direction, and which was situated in the midst of a fertile province,
famous for the production of corn, we are the more affected by the
bareness and the loneliness of the countryside, which is only traversed
here and there by a few vague tracks. Years upon years have elapsed
since district and city throbbed with the pulse of human life. Yet
if the Present be quite voiceless, the Past is doubly eloquent;
and by reason not only of these many memorials, with their countless
inscriptions, but also happily because of the comparative richness of
the material which has been preserved in literature. In the case of
many an old Armenian city, of which we shall visit the scanty remains,
we have to deplore the broken skein of History. Ani has been better
treated both by Time and by written records; and the dynasty which
produced her splendour still lives in the lifelike narrative of the
most attractive of the Armenian writers of that age. [265]

In the ninth century of our era the plains and mountains of Armenia
were divided between the two great contemporary Powers which held
sway in the East. The western portion of the country formed a part
of the Roman Empire; while that on the east, comprising by far
the largest and most populous area, was subject to the caliphs at
Baghdad. The span of this single century is sufficient to include
the full splendour and the decay and incipient disruption of the
caliphate. At its commencement Harun-al-Rashid (786-809) was real
master of vast dominions--a personality round which the romance of
the age collected to adorn the literature of all times. Before its
close many of these possessions had become parcelled out among petty
dynasties, whose titular overlord--a Mutaz (866-869), a Muhtadi
(869-870), a Mutamid (870-892)--was scarcely better than a puppet
in the hands of his Turkish bodyguard. Such was the period and such
the political environment in which the Armenian dynasty of the Middle
Ages rose by successive steps to the position of Kings of Armenia--a
rank which was recognised by their co-religionists, the Greek Cæsars,
but which was conferred or confirmed by the Commander of the Faithful,
within whose realm their dominions lay. [266]

The native institutions of the Armenian people were not unfavourable to
such a development. At the present day they cannot be said to possess
a class of nobles, and they are devoid of natural leaders. But in the
ninth century their councils were governed by a strong territorial
nobility, a relic of the period when they possessed their own
independent kings of Arsakid descent. The Arsakid dynasty had struggled
on into the fifth century, when it succumbed to the Sasanian monarchy
of Persia and Mesopotamia, and a Persian governor was sent to rule
over the land (A.D. 428). But the great nobles maintained and perhaps
increased their ascendency; they were supported by the obstinate
patriotism of the people; and the interval between the overthrow of
the ancient and the rise of the mediæval kingdom is filled by the
almost incessant clash of arms. From the east the pertinacity of
the Armenian race is challenged at first by the Persians, eager to
convert them to the religion of the Magi, and next by the Arabs, who,
after supplanting the Sasanian dynasty, seek to impose upon them the
precepts of Islam. Their neighbours upon the west are scarcely less
obtrusive; and we may discover beneath the religious controversies
with their fellow-Christians of the Roman Empire the same fervid
self-assertion which has enabled this strange people to preserve,
in the face of odds which appear to us to have been overwhelming,
the inflexible individuality of their race. While their clergy are
resisting the menaces or the blandishments of the Church of the
Empire, their nobles are combating the worship of the Persians or of
the Mohammedans at the head of the native levies. It thus happened
that, when the bonds relaxed which bound the subject states to the
Arab caliphate, the Armenians possessed, in their class of nobles as
well as in their patriarchate, institutions which had been tested in
the furnace of adversity during a period of over 400 years.

Two Armenian families of princely rank were conspicuous at that
time. The Artsruni had extended their possessions during the
domination of the Arabs, until they comprised a vast territory and
some of the richest districts in the neighbourhood of the ancient
city of Van. They claimed descent from one of the kings of Assyria,
whose two sons were reputed to have escaped to Armenia after having
perpetrated parricide. They drew their name from the lofty office
which had been bestowed upon their ancestor, that of bearing before
the Arsakid king the emblem of the golden eagle--an emblem which
is cherished by the Armenian inhabitants of Van at the present day
as the distinctive ensign of their city and province. The family of
the Bagratuni or Bagratids had attained a position in the centre and
north of Armenia which rivalled and perhaps surpassed that of the
Artsruni in the south. Of Jewish origin, they were already powerful
in the earliest Arsakid times, when they had been invested with the
hereditary privilege of crowning the king. Their ancient seats appear
to have been placed in the Chorokh country, in the vicinity of the
town of Ispir. But this nucleus became lost in the territory which
they subsequently acquired, whether by marriage or by conquest. The
province of Shirak, by which is designated the extensive grain-growing
district on the right bank of the Arpa Chai, was perhaps the richest
appanage of their House; but they were masters of the Armenian
districts on the side of Georgia, while towards the west and south
their possessions at one time extended into the plain of Pasin and
the fertile districts about the present town of Mush. A branch of
this same family established themselves in Georgia--the salubrious
uplands and rich plains at the southern foot of Caucasus, which are
separated from the highlands of Armenia by the belt of mountains on
the right bank of the river Kur. The Georgians, like the Armenians,
professed the Christian religion, and at the period with which we are
dealing were being harassed by the Arab caliphs. During the decline
of the caliphate, when native impulses were revived in Georgia as
well as in Armenia, the movement centred in a dynasty of Bagratid
descent. This dynasty outlived that of their kinsmen in Armenia by
many centuries. The Georgian sovereigns weathered the storm of Seljuk
invasion in the eleventh century, which swept before it the feeble
thrones of the Armenian monarchs. Perhaps they owed their escape in
part to the geographical position of their country, removed as it was
by a zone of intricate mountains from the highway of the Armenian
plains. Yet their capital, Tiflis, fell a prey to the same sultan
who captured Ani, the famous Alp Arslan. During the first half of
the twelfth century they were successful in expelling the invaders,
and a little later their kingdom was increased to the limits of an
extensive empire during the reign of the great queen Thamar. The
Georgian Bagratids maintained their throne until the end of the
eighteenth century, when the last king renounced his crown in favour
of the Russian Tsars. [267]

About the middle of the ninth century, to which I return from this
brief digression, the reigning caliph, Mutawakil, despatched an army
into Armenia with instructions to punish the inhabitants and to bring
them over to the Mohammedan faith. His severity had been invited by the
behaviour of his subjects, who had fallen upon and killed their Arab
governor. The Arab commander, by name Bugha, acquitted himself of his
congenial mission in a manner which accords with the best traditions
of Eastern statecraft. He crossed the Taurus, descended into the
plains about the Murad, and took prisoners all the Armenian chiefs of
the districts through which his route lay. The Bagratid family had
become involved in the preceding troubles; one of their members was
already in the hands of the caliph; and his two sons were now added
to the train of the avenging general, who directed his march from the
territory of Taron (Mush) to that of Vaspurakan (Van). The Artsruni
were not more fortunate in their resistance; their prince was captured,
loaded with chains, and sent to the caliph. Bugha pursued a leisurely
course through the Armenian country, giving over to the sword the less
prominent among the people, selecting some for their birth or personal
qualities as worthy of conversion to Islam. When he arrived at the
capital of central Armenia, the city of Dvin, in the neighbourhood
of the present town of Erivan, which had been conquered by the Arabs
in A.D. 642, [268] he was met by a native prince who bore the title
of commander-in-chief [269] and the name of Sembat. This notable
was the great-grandson of a distinguished Bagratid chief, Ashot, who
had been entrusted with the government of Armenia by the last of the
Ommiad caliphs, and who had been deprived of sight by his countrymen,
incensed at his Arab proclivities. According to the Armenians, this
Ashot was the progenitor alike of the Georgian sovereigns and of the
Armenian dynasty of the Middle Ages. His descendant endeavoured to
propitiate the tyrant, who appeared to listen to his fair words. But
Sembat was conveyed to Baghdad with the rest of the prisoners, and
accompanied the triumphal return of the caliph's legate. Arrived
at court, the Armenian princes were offered the choice of Islam and
freedom or a painful and violent death. Sembat was one of those who
refused to abjure his religion and who perished as a martyr to the
Christian faith (A.D. 856 [C.]). [270]

The pompous title of the deceased chieftain, together with his
influence, descended to his son Ashot. This prince had contrived
to  escape the meshes of the Moslem net; and in the period which
immediately followed the departure of the Arab general he proved
himself worthy to sustain the burden of his high position. In the
flower of his age, he enjoyed the union of imposing physical qualities
with habits of mind which gave peculiar weight to his counsels, and
with a natural suavity of disposition and expression. An agreeable
face--in which, however, the eyes, with their heavy black eyebrows,
were shot with blood, like a speck of red upon a pearl--was set around
with a magnificent beard, and sprang from broad shoulders in keeping
with his fine stature. Whatever defects might belong to such an
exterior were compensated by the habitual purity of his life. The
prince was missed at the sumptuous banquets of the rich, but his
presence was felt by the poor in every action of their daily life.
He once said, "The service of humanity is a life-long service"; and
his precept was illustrated by the example of his own long life. How
far the qualities of the son of Sembat were instrumental in obtaining
a reversal of the policy of the caliphate, or whether the complete
change which ensued in the treatment of the Armenians may have been
due to causes of a different order, our historian has omitted to
relate. Five years after the martyrdom of his father and of the
leading nobles of his country, Ashot is invested by the new Arab
governor with the title of prince of princes, and becomes the
recipient of almost royal distinctions (A.D. 861 [D.]). [271] Those
of the nobles who had become apostates during the recent persecution
openly return to their old faith. For twenty-five years he continues
to exercise his authority, which reposes not only upon the goodwill
of the Arab governor, but also upon the loyalty of his fellow-nobles,
who consent that his family shall be assigned a special and quasi-
royal rank, and be permanently elevated above all other princely
families. At the end of this period the Armenian nobility unanimously
petition the caliph in favour of the elevation of their prince to the
rank of king. Their desire is conveyed to their suzerain by his
representative in the country, a governor by name Isa. It is accorded
with the greatest readiness. A royal crown is despatched, and placed
by Isa himself upon the head of Ashot. Armenian royalty is revived in
this branch of the Bagratid family after an interval of over 450 years
(A.D. 885 [D.]). The reigning Cæsar, Basil I., confirms this
investiture, and accompanies the friendly sentiments of an attached
ally and a spiritual father with the gift of a crown, the second to
be worn by the new monarch. [272]

For five years Ashot continued in the exercise of his kingly
prerogative, supported by the Armenian nobles, the most powerful
of whom he attached by marriage, and enjoying the favour both of
the Caliph and of the Emperor. His capital was the city of Bagaran,
on the banks of the Akhurean, the modern Arpa Chai, situated to the
south of the later capital at Ani. [273] He died in advanced age
(A.D. 889 [C.] or 890 [D.]) [274] and with unimpaired reputation at a
date when the empire of the caliphs was in process of dismemberment,
and when a number of petty Mussulman dynasties, such as the Tahirids
and the Saffarids, had arisen in the adjacent lands. [275] We can
scarcely doubt that his elevation was occasioned by the decline of the
central authority; and he and his descendants were glad to purchase
by the promise of an assured tribute the greater independence of the
Armenian people and their own ascendency.

At the time of the death of Ashot I. his son and successor Sembat was
absent on an expedition of conquest in the country of the Upper Kur.
He received the homage of his subjects upon his arrival at Erazgavors,
a town in Shirak, which was his own particular residence. Thither
repaired the prince of Georgia, Aternerseh, himself a Bagratid,
proffering his sympathy and his aid (A.D. 890 [C.]). The succession
was hotly disputed by Abas, brother of the deceased monarch, a vain
and ambitious prince. His animosity appears to have been directed in
the principal degree against the prince of Georgia; he broke the peace
which he was induced to make at the instance of the patriarch with
that potentate, and at length he turned his arms against the province
of Shirak. The approach of Sembat at the head of a numerous army
compelled him to take refuge in a strong place, and his condition was
desperate when he obtained from the clemency of his royal nephew a
pardon which he had not deserved. Sembat was already in possession of
supreme power when he received from the Arab governor of Azerbaijan
[276] on behalf of the caliph a royal crown such as had been bestowed
upon his father. At the same time he confirmed the friendly relations
which had subsisted between Ashot and the Byzantine Empire. The
reigning emperor, Leo VI., received his ambassadors with great
distinction, and dismissed them charged with valuable presents.
In the missives between them the king of Armenia was addressed as
a beloved son, and the Cæsar with the reverence due to a father. Nor
was this intercourse confined to a single and a splendid occasion; it
appears to have been renewed every year. It naturally excited the
jealousy of the Arab governor of Azerbaijan, the powerful neighbour
of the new state upon the east.

This individual, by name Afshin, is depicted by the priestly historian
with all the resources of the vocabulary of hate. He is a wild beast;
he is armed with the poignard of perfidy, and his death is described
as the outcome of a loathsome malady which destroyed the body before
the soul descended to hell. Throughout the reign we see him harassing
the dominions of the Armenian monarch; but his first expedition
appears to have been met by a vigorous and successful resistance,
which no doubt helped the remonstrances of Sembat. At the head of
his troops the king reasoned with his Mohammedan adversary, and
represented that his friendship with the emperor of the Greeks was
to the advantage of the master of Afshin. "You yourselves," he said,
"may at any moment have need of the support of the Greeks, and your
merchants require openings in Greek territory, whence they will draw
riches which will swell the treasury at Baghdad." These advances were
met on the part of the Arab governor by the offer of a peace, which was
duly ratified. Afshin returned to Azerbaijan, and the king retraced
his steps up the Araxes and appeared before the walls of Dvin. This
city, which was at this period the acknowledged capital of Armenia,
was reduced to an obedience from which it had lapsed. Its situation
in the neighbourhood of the present town of Erivan was calculated
to invest it with the character of a strong place on the side of the
Arab possessions in Persia. Its subjection to Sembat does not appear
to have been of long duration; during the subsequent portion of his
reign we find it in the hands of the Mohammedans, serving, it would
seem, as an advanced base to the troops of Afshin and of his successor.

The diplomacy no less than the prowess of Sembat was successful in
other directions nearer home. If his kingdom remained essentially
feudal in character, its limits were at least extended over the
adjacent lands. On the west his sovereignty was acknowledged as far as
the city of Karin, the modern Erzerum; while on the north-east and east
it embraced the foot of Caucasus and the shore of the Caspian Sea. The
Armenian princes who ruled in the country on the southern side of the
barrier of mountains which culminate in Ararat were attached to him by
feudal or family ties; his name must at least have been respected among
his countrymen beyond the limits of the lake of Van. His ascendency
was for a second time challenged by Afshin, who advanced to Nakhichevan
and Dvin; but he led his troops in person against the Mussulmans, and
inflicted upon them a signal defeat. The subsequent defection to his
enemy of his nephew, the prince of Vaspurakan (Van), who was joined
for a time by the prince of Siunik, a province bordering that of Van
upon the north, does not appear to have materially shaken his power; we
find him directing his attention to the outer limits of his territory,
and endeavouring to establish his dominion not only over the country
of Taron (Mush), but also as far south as the Mesopotamian plains.

This advance brought him into collision with an Arab emir, named Ahmed,
who, in the decay of the caliphate, cherished pretensions to these
districts. The Armenian prince of Taron was unable to withstand his
Mussulman adversary, and Sembat was obliged to take the field in person
(A.D. 896 [C.]). At the head of a numerous army he marched towards
Taron, west of which his enemy was encamped. The reverse of his arms
was due to the treachery of a countryman, a prince belonging to the
province of Vaspurakan; and, indeed, the jealousy of the chiefs of
the Van country seems to have paved the way for the successes of his
Mussulman neighbours. His old enemy Afshin was not slow to profit by
this turn of fortune. After attempting in vain to seduce the loyalty
of the northern feudatories of Sembat, he entered the province of Kars
and laid siege to that fortress. Thither had taken refuge the Armenian
queen, a daughter of the king of Kolchis, and several of the wives of
the principal nobles. The capitulation of Kars and the capture of the
queen came as a melancholy pendant to the disaster of the king's arms
in the south. He was obliged to purchase peace on humiliating terms,
and to give his niece in marriage to the Mohammedan potentate. But
it was not long before hostilities were again resumed in the same
quarter. Afshin directed his march towards the city of Tiflis, swept
like a whirlwind through the Georgian country, and advanced upon
Shirak. Sembat and his army were obliged to take refuge in the strong
places of his ally Aternerseh, upon whom he had previously bestowed
a royal crown; while his adversary, after having endeavoured in vain
to sap the loyalty of the Georgian prince, retraced his steps along
the Araxes to Azerbaijan. Afshin was meditating a fresh attack when
he fell a victim to a malignant malady, which appears also to have
made ravages among his troops (901 [St.-M.], 898-99 [D.]).

The tyrant was succeeded by his brother Yusuf in the government
of Azerbaijan. Upon the accession of this potentate the Armenian
monarch despatched an embassy to the caliph at Baghdad with the
view of contracting a stable alliance with the nominal sovereign
of Persia and of that portion of Armenia which lay within the Arab
sphere. His advances were well received by the successor of the
Prophet, who confirmed him in his royal dignity. [277] Although Yusuf
continued to pursue the hostile policy of his predecessor, he appears
to have been thwarted by the greater readiness of Sembat. Armenia
enjoyed a short respite from the inroads of the Mussulmans. "At this
period," says our historian, who is fond of allegory, "our Saviour
visited the country of the Armenians, and protected their lives
and property. Lands were bestowed, vines were planted and groves of
olive-trees; the most ancient fruit-trees yielded their fruits. The
harvests produced corn in excessive abundance; the cellars were filled
with wine when the vintage had been gathered in. The mountains were
in great joy, and so were the herdsmen and the shepherds, because of
the quantity of pasturage and the increase in the flocks. The chiefs
and notables of our country lived in perfect security and were not
afraid of depredations; they were free to bestow their leisure and
zeal upon the construction of churches in solid stone, with which
they graced the towns, the open country, and the desert places." The
king enjoyed the favour of his Byzantine ally, and the gifts of Heaven
were supplemented by the imperial presents. The ambition of the king
of Kolchis, who was striving to extend his dominions eastwards at the
expense of his relative, the Armenian monarch, was restrained by a
conjunction of the Armenian forces with those of the king of Georgia;
the unhappy kinglet was taken prisoner and lodged in a fortress, from
which he was released by the clemency of his captor and restored to
his possessions. This mild treatment of a rival excited the jealousy
of Aternerseh; the attached ally became converted into a perfidious
enemy; and the incident, while it seems to mark the culmination of this
brighter era, was the prelude of the domestic and foreign calamities
in which the reign of Sembat was brought to a tragic close.

A curious incident now occurs, which is characteristic of the
times (A.D. 905 [St.-M.]). Yusuf prepares in secret to sever his
allegiance to the caliph, and goes so far as to issue orders in his
own name. Apprised of his proceedings, the sovereign at Baghdad sends
messengers throughout his dominions to effect a rising against his
rebellious servant. One of the highest in rank of these envoys arrives
at the court of the Armenian monarch, and delivers a personal letter
requiring the prince to assemble his forces and to march against
the emir of Azerbaijan. As an inducement, the vassal is remitted
the payment of a year's tribute. This request or command was at once
difficult to comply with and impossible to elude or reject. Sembat
was bound to Yusuf by the terms of a treaty, and still more forcibly
deterred from offending his neighbour by motives of interest. It
was only natural that he should have recourse to perfidy, the usual
expedient in such circumstances among Eastern princes. But his
double-dealing was of transitory advantage: and it may, perhaps,
be excused by the reflection that his own weight would have been
insufficient to turn the scale to the advantage of either side. Yusuf
affected submission to his spiritual and temporal superior; the
Armenians were confronted by a coalition of the contending influences;
and the unhappy king was besieged by emissaries from both the Mussulman
princes, demanding the arrears of tribute in imperious terms. On four
occasions he had succeeded in acquitting his obligations by making
the prescribed payment in kind; but this time he was compelled to
discharge the debt in money, and to impose taxes which strained the
structure of his feudal rule.

A combination of some of the nobles with Aternerseh of Georgia was
the outcome of these events. Ani, which was then a fortress, was
handed over to Aternerseh, together with the treasures of the royal
palace at Erazgavors. Sembat at the head of his forces hurried back
to Shirak, whereupon the conspirators evacuated the province, laden
with spoils. The Armenian monarch carried the war into the territory
of Aternerseh, who was constrained to sue for peace. Many of the
revolted nobles fell into the hands of their sovereign, who, after
putting out their eyes, dispatched some to the Byzantine emperor
for custody and others to the king of Kolchis. This rising had no
sooner been quelled than the reigning prince of Vaspurakan separated
himself from the king. The cause of quarrel was a dispute about the
town of Nakhichevan in the valley of the Araxes, which Sembat had
conferred on another noble, but to which this prince had a hereditary
claim. Gagik--such was his name--had recourse to the common enemy,
Yusuf, who was eager to profit by such dissension among his Christian
neighbours. The emir bestowed upon him a royal crown in order to
perpetuate his rivalry with Sembat. It was all in vain that our
historian, who was at that time patriarch, endeavoured to avert the
rising storm. He even journeyed to the court of the emir in Azerbaijan,
taking with him magnificent presents, among which were included some
of the sacred vessels belonging to the churches. He was treated with
distinction by his Mussulman host so long as his gifts held out. When
these were exhausted he was thrown into prison, where he lingered for
a considerable time. The hardships of his condition were aggravated
by the mortification which he must have experienced at the complete
failure of his good offices. He was strictly refused an audience
of his countryman, King Gagik, who shortly afterwards arrived at
the court of Yusuf in order to concert an invasion of the territory
of Sembat. At the approach of spring the emir set out for Armenia,
taking with him the unhappy patriarch, loaded with chains. In the
neighbourhood of Nakhichevan were received the messengers of Gagik,
who announced the approach of their master with his troops (A.D. 909
[St. M.]). Sembat endeavoured to pacify his enemy by a payment of
money, which the emir swallowed without arresting his advance. The
king was quite unable to cope with the forces arrayed against him;
he fled to the fortresses of Georgia, whither he was pursued by his
implacable adversary.

It is unnecessary to follow in detail the developments of a situation,
of which the historical interest consists in the light which it
throws upon the Armenian monarchy of the Middle Ages, and upon the
relations of that monarchy to the neighbouring states. We see the
Artsrunian prince of the extensive province of Vaspurakan turning
his arms against his own countrymen and their Bagratid king, and
in active alliance with the enemies of his religion and race. The
Mussulman horsemen overran the fertile plains of Armenia, and the
tardy repentance of Gagik came too late. Sembat appealed in vain to
the suzerain at Baghdad, who was too much occupied by domestic troubles
to intervene. Better success attended his entreaties at the Byzantine
court, and his old friend, Leo, collected troops and marched in person
to his assistance. The death of the emperor at the inception of the
enterprise, and the internal troubles of the new reign, removed all
hope of succour from the side of the Roman provinces. The Christian
state in the heart of Asia seemed doomed to destruction, and the king
and queen were taken prisoners. Sembat was conducted to Dvin, where
he was barbarously tortured in the presence of the populace. Every
indignity was inflicted upon him, and each refinement of Oriental
cruelty; after he had expired, his body was nailed to a wooden stake
and exhibited to the townspeople (A.D. 914 [C.]).

A desperate effort was made by his son Ashot to retrieve the fortunes
of the Armenian arms. He expelled the Mohammedans from many of the
fortified places which they had occupied, and allied himself closely
with the king of Georgia, who placed the crown of Armenia upon his
head. Yusuf was not slow to revenge the reverses of his adherents,
and the whole country was given over to war. The wretched inhabitants
fled to the mountains and the deserts; the remnant wandered about in
a state of nakedness, and experienced all the tortures of famine. When
winter came thousands perished in the snow. If they fell into the
hands of the enemy they were either massacred or subjected to every
description of torture. In many cases they were offered liberty and
even affluence if they would abjure the Christian religion; but these
advances were almost always without effect. Our historian relates with
pride the tragic incidents of this period of martyrdom; and the
profession of faith which he puts in the mouth of one of the victims
is worthy of the highest conceptions of religious minds. "We are
Christians," exclaimed a young noble in the presence of Yusuf; "we
believe in God, Who is Truth and Who dwells in the midst of Light
without limits." These afflictions might have excited the compassion
of their Christian neighbours. But perhaps these neighbours were
conscious of their own helplessness; they preferred to ride on the
wave of the Mussulman invasion, and to share in the spoils of the
Armenian provinces. Whole towns were destroyed and whole countrysides
depopulated; while the nobles, instead of combining, were involved in
civil war. This state of affairs continued for no less than seven
years, exhausting the country and denuding it of cultivation. "We sow,
but we do not reap; we plant, but gather not the fruit; the fig-tree
bears not, and the vine and olive-tree are barren. We collect a little
and abandon the rest." Page after page our author unfolds the tale of
all the miseries which were endured by himself and his countrymen. He
himself was a refugee at the court of the king of Georgia, where he
was in correspondence with the patriarch of Constantinople. It was the
aim of Byzantine policy to unite the Christian nations of Transcaucasia
with the Armenians; and the historian, as the spiritual head of the
latter people, used his best endeavours towards this end. Issuing from
his retreat, he made his way to the province of Taron (Mush), whence he
addressed a long missive to the Byzantine Cæsar (A.D. 920 [C.]). In
touching terms he entreated him to become the avenger of the Armenian
Christians, whom he represented as the spiritual sons and servants of
Constantine. At his instance the Byzantine court despatched an imperial
legate to the son of Sembat, with the view of renewing the relations
which had subsisted between his father and the deceased ruler of the
Eastern Empire. Our writer met this envoy in the territory of Taron,
and accompanied him to the presence of Ashot. The prince returned with
the legate to Constantinople (A.D. 921 [C.]), where he was received in
a manner becoming his royal rank. He was addressed as the son of a
martyr and the spiritual son of the Cæsar, was arrayed in purple and
invested with the insignia of royalty. Meanwhile the historian was
sojourning in the province of Terjan, a district which has retained
its name to the present day. He naïvely exhibits the difficulties of
his position, endeavouring, as he was, to avoid complying with the
pressing invitations to the imperial city which were lavished upon
him by his spiritual brothers of the Greek Church. He was deterred by
the fear that he would be pressed to conform to the doctrine which
had been laid down at the Council of Chalcedon. His peregrinations
brought him to the scenes where St. Gregory the Illuminator passed
his later years in the seclusion of an anchorite. He describes the
cavern where the saint lived, and where his remains were deposited,
to be removed by an angel to a grave in the vicinity. His account
of this lonely place, so difficult of access, agrees in a striking
manner with that of a modern traveller, which it invests with an
impressive reality. [278] The patriarch found the district inhabited
by anchorites, who maintained an altar in the holy cave.

In the meantime Yusuf had become embroiled with his old ally
of Vaspurakan, and the war was being carried into the southern
province. A vigorous resistance was offered by King Gagik, who
owed his title to his enemy. Hostilities appear to have lingered
on without decisive result. Such was the state of affairs when King
Ashot II. returned to his dominions, accompanied by several generals
of the Roman Empire, together with a considerable detachment of the
imperial troops. This material support, as well as a subsidy in money,
enabled him to recover his position among his feudatories; and we
may conclude that the relations between himself and King Gagik had
become improved by the change in the attitude of the latter towards
the Mussulman emir. But that crafty statesman knew too well the weak
spots in the political organisation of the Armenians. If two kings
did not suffice to divide his opponents, it could do no harm and
might bring him fortune to create a third. His choice fell upon a
cousin of King Ashot, who had previously been invested by that monarch
with the title of general-in-chief. His name, which was also Ashot,
introduces further confusion into the turbid narrative of the priestly
historian. The stage becomes filled with a crowd of nobles, contending
with each other and combining to mutual destruction round the persons
of the two Ashots. Behind these figures emerge those of the king of
Kolchis and the king of Georgia, while in the background we perceive
the light cavalry of the Mohammedans and the gorgeous functionaries
of the Byzantine Empire. It is scarcely possible during this troubled
period to follow the threads of the emir's policy. No sooner has he
placed a crown upon the forehead of the one Ashot, than he invests
the other with similar insignia of royalty. [279] Nor does the king
of the Van country yield in splendour to his colleagues; the caliph
himself sends him a crown and magnificent robes. This act excites
the fury of the emir of Azerbaijan, who presently revolts from his
sovereign at Baghdad. His capture and imprisonment removed for awhile
the sword suspended over the head of Gagik, and were the occasion of
a general although transitory improvement in the condition of the
Armenian provinces. The caliph sent one of the highest in rank of
the officers about his person to take over the administration of the
province of his rebellious emir. This official not only concluded a
treaty of peace and alliance with Ashot II. (son of King Sembat), but
also conferred upon him the title of Shahanshah, or king of kings. In
this manner the Bagratid dynasty of Shirak recovered their titular
sovereignty over Armenia; and the fact illustrates a marked divergence
between the policy of the caliphate, which appears to have desired a
strong Armenia, and that of the semi-independent emirs of Azerbaijan,
who strove incessantly to prepare the country for their own yoke. On
the other hand, while the caliphs were anxious to secure a counterpoise
to their turbulent governors, the Byzantine Cæsars were well pleased
by any accretion of strength to a buffer state which was attached to
themselves by community of faith.

Our historian was not spared to witness the splendour of this dynasty,
as it is manifested in the noble buildings of their capital, Ani,
which had not yet become a royal residence. His closing years were
spent under a recrudescence of the old troubles--disunion from within
and new inroads of the Mussulmans from without. The release of Yusuf
restored this malefactor to the scene of his iniquities; [280] he
crossed the Kurdish mountains, and descended into the territory of
Vaspurakan. King Gagik was in arrears with several instalments of the
annual tribute, and was obliged to collect all the available riches of
his country and deliver them up to his implacable foe. Yusuf continued
his journey to Persia, and, upon his arrival, sent one of his officers
to assert his authority over the Armenian provinces. There ensued an
era of constant activity on the part of the Mussulmans. The patriarch
became a fugitive, taking refuge in the little island of Lake Sevan,
and proceeding thence to a small castle in his own possession. But the
enemy surrounded the place and took him prisoner, together with the
companions of his flight. Escaping from their clutches, he made his way
to the court of Ashot, who was residing in the royal palace of Bagaran;
and the curtain falls upon his narrative while he is on a visit to King
Gagik, with whom he appears to have maintained relations which were
perhaps prompted by motives of interest, since the patriarchal palace
and domains were situated within his dominions. [281] Panic had taken
hold of the feudal levies, and his countrymen were being massacred (924
[C.]). In one of the closing sentences in which he describes that Reign
of Terror he, in fact, resumes the larger history of his race: "Who
can foretell our future? Spare me the attempt. We are like a harvest
reaped by bad husbandmen amidst encircling gloom and cloud." [282]

We close these graphic pages with the feeling that we have been
privileged to gain some insight into the state of the country during
the reigns of the Bagratid sovereigns, as well as to estimate the
nature of their rule. If I have eliminated by this brief abstract
whole chapters of our author, I may perhaps have saved my reader
from becoming wearied by his declamations, and from losing the main
thread of his thrilling narrative among the side issues in which he
allows it to become involved. The sovereignty of the Bagratids was
essentially feudal in character; and the loose ties of such a political
organisation were ill adapted to withstand the strain to which they
were subjected at the hands of their Mussulman neighbours. Indeed,
the fact that such a dynasty could ever have arisen in the heart of
Asia, among a people which could not have numbered more than a few
millions of souls, can only be explained by the comparative weakness
of their contemporaries professing the Mohammedan faith. The Armenian
historians are fond of railing upon their countrymen on account of
the internal divisions which precipitated their political fall. They
are not less inclined to attribute the miseries of their nation to
their desertion in critical moments by the Greek Empire. But they
do not appear to have reflected that the frequent instances of
treachery among the Armenian nobles need not have been due to any
inherent defects in the character of the Armenian people. Similar
examples abound in the annals of our European nations while they
were still in the feudal stage of development. Again, the Greeks,
while they were no doubt prejudiced by dogmatic differences, might,
one cannot doubt, have established a good case for their abstention
from more strenuous succour of the young state. Their subsidies were
spent, and their troops were marched across Asia with little further
result than the aggrandisement of one princelet at the expense of a
competing claimant of the same race. The lesson which may be derived
from a perusal of this contemporary record explains to us many points
which would otherwise be obscure in the much more meagre annals of the
subsequent period which witnessed the frail blossoming and premature
destruction of the Armenian kingdom of the Middle Ages. When the hordes
of Turks descended from the valleys of the Tien-shan and swept across
the settled territories of Persia towards the richest portions of the
Old World, they found upon the high road of the Armenian tableland a
state which was as little adapted to provide a bulwark against their
invasions as any other of the fissiparous fragments of the caliphs'
empire.

The narrative of John the Patriarch brings us down to the closing years
of Ashot, second king of that name. The picture which he has presented
of the troubled reigns of these Bagratid sovereigns may enable us to
dispense with the repetition of similar struggles during the reigns of
their successors. Even were I permitted by the scope of this work and
by the material at my disposal to assign to that later period the same
proportion of space which has been devoted to the actions of the first
three kings, I should run the risk of inflicting upon my reader the
same fatigue which I have myself experienced by the perusal of a Samuel
of Ani [283] and a Matthew of Edessa, [284] to say nothing of the
industrious compilers of our own times. The storm-clouds, beneath which
the work of the priestly annalist closes, appear to have lifted over
the setting of Ashot's career; and a mild light envelops the reign of
his brother Abas, who succeeded him on the throne. This tranquil era
seems to have been induced by the weakness or somnolence of the
neighbours of Abas. The activity of the Sajid family in Azerbaijan,
which had been manifest in the exploits of Afshin and of Yusuf, came
to an end at the commencement of his reign. The caliphate was becoming
more and more the shadow of a reality; and the death of Radi (A.D. 940)
removed the last of the successors of the Prophet who sustained a
measure of personal power and prestige. In the West the Armenian
monarch might observe without anxiety the enforced seclusion of the
Cæsar, Constantine the Seventh, as well as the later application of
his benignant mind to the affairs of state. Such a wholesome respite
was employed by king and nobles in adorning Armenia with churches and
monasteries. In the city of Kars, where Abas appears to have placed
the seat of government, a cathedral of unusual grandeur rose into
being. [285] The pugnacity of the race was exercised in fierce
religious dissensions with the Church of the Empire. The western
provinces, subject to the Cæsars and administered by them, were
convulsed by the rival battle-cries of Greeks and Armenians, each
imputing to the other heretical opinions upon the unfathomable subject
of the divinity of Christ. Many Armenians took refuge within the
dominions of the Bagratid king; and if their babes had been baptized
according to the Greek ritual, the ceremony was performed a second
time by the jealous clergy of the Armenian Church (944 [C.]).

But it was under the next two reigns that the brilliancy of the dynasty
attained the culminating point. Upon the death of Abas his son Ashot
assumed the government; and it was perhaps due to a combination of
domestic dissensions and war with his neighbours that for ten years he
remained an uncrowned king. On the part of the Mussulmans, an Arab
emir, whom the historians name Hamdun, and who may perhaps be
identified with the powerful adversary of the Cæsars in Mesopotamia,
Seif-ed-Daula of the Hamdanid family, made incursions into the
southerly provinces of Armenia, and even threatened the dominions of
Ashot. The signal victory of the Armenian monarch (A.D. 960) [286]
appears to have gratified the caliph and his masters the Buwayhids,
a petty dynasty which had arisen in Persia, and into whose hands had
fallen Baghdad (945). The same event may have been instrumental in
consolidating the power of Ashot at home. In the year 961 he was
anointed king at Ani, in the presence and with the consent of the
great nobles. The rulers of the neighbouring states, Mussulman and
Christian, signified their goodwill by sending valuable presents.
His suzerain at Baghdad bestowed upon him a royal crown, addressing
him as Shah-i-Armen or Armenian shah. But we must impute to this
sovereign a new division of authority, and a consequent reduction of
the resisting powers of the Armenian nation in face of foreign
aggression. By investing his brother Mushegh with royal prerogatives
at Kars, he added yet another to the number of kinglets whose mutual
jealousies prepared the way for the passage of the Seljuk Turks towards
the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. His successor continued and even
developed this baneful policy, adding to the kings of Kars the kings
of Lori, in the mountains which border Armenia upon the north. This
latter Bagratid dynasty struggled on into the thirteenth century;
but the kings of Kars made over their realm to the Cæsar Constantine
the Tenth after the capture of Ani by the Seljuks under Alp Arslan.

The reign of Ashot the Third is contemporary with the campaigns of
Nikephorus Phokas and of John Zimiskes against the Saracens. Throughout
this period the Arab emirs of Syria and Mesopotamia are actively
engaged in harassing the outposts of the great Christian empire,
and are not less actively repulsed. The conceptions of the Crusaders
are anticipated by these generals over a century before the arrival
of the Western chivalry. Both successively ascended the throne of
the Cæsars; and it was in the capacity of emperor of the Romans
that Zimiskes, himself of Armenian descent, summoned the Armenian
monarch to attach to his army a contingent of troops. His expedition
appears to have excited the alarm of the Armenians; and the native
levies had been marshalled to the proportions of a large army under
the command of the three Armenian kinglets, Ashot, his colleague of
Kars, and his colleague of Van. Zimiskes advanced into the territory
of Mush; but an alliance was secured by the despatch of a body of
10,000 Armenian warriors to share in the victories which were about
to secure the triumph of the imperial arms over the followers of the
Prophet. These brilliant feats are narrated for the benefit of King
Ashot in a despatch which was addressed to him by the emperor, and
which has been preserved by Matthew of Edessa. The Armenian monarch
is styled Shahinshah of Great Armenia, the spiritual son of the Cæsar
(A.D. 974). [287]

The reign of this prince has a special interest for the traveller
to Ani; for it is at this period that the city on the Arpa emerges
from the condition of a mere fortress into the splendour of a royal
residence and capital of a kingdom. Ashot the Third is known to
have added both to the defences and to the public buildings of
a town which had witnessed the ceremony of his coronation. [288]
It was considerably enlarged by his son and successor, Sembat the
Second, who built the outer wall in face of which I have brought my
reader at the commencement of this chapter. [289] Sembat also laid
the foundations of the cathedral, but died before it was completed.
[290] The title which is assigned to this king by the Armenian
historians dissembles with truly Oriental ingenuity the inherent
weakness of the structure which supported his throne. He is styled
the king of Armenian kings, Shahinshah-Armen. Sembat was succeeded
by his brother Gagik the First, a prince who is described as at once
victorious in the field and strenuous in the works of peace. His
military qualities may have been displayed in a campaign against
the Mussulmans under the emir of Azerbaijan, Mamlun. But the credit
of the victory over this successor of the Afshins and the Yusufs
belongs in the principal degree to an Armenian prince of the country
of Akhaltsykh, David, who endeavoured, at the head of forces composed
of Georgians and Armenians, to wrest from the Moslem yoke the
fortresses in the south of Armenia, Melazkert, Akhlat, Arjish. [291]
It is rather in the sphere of a patron of art that we may be able to
remember Gagik. It was during his reign that the noble cathedral at
Ani was brought to completion, largely at the expense and by the
initiative of his queen. [292] He built another of the great churches
which adorned his capital, that of the Illuminator on the side of the
Valley of Flowers. [293] The monastery of Marmashen, near Alexandropol,
was constructed at this period by one of the Armenian princes, Vahram.
[294] Lastly, the seat of the patriarchate was removed to Ani from the
neighbouring town of Arghina. [295]

Upon the death of King Gagik the eldest of his three sons ascended the
ancestral throne. Rare natural intelligence belonged to John Sembat--
the monarch is known under either name; but these mental qualities were
perhaps clouded by an excessive corpulency. On the other hand, his
brother Ashot displayed the union of physical symmetry to ardent
courage and passion for war. The man of action chafed under the
supremacy of the peaceable civilian; and no sooner was the natural
heir in possession of his heritage than his ambitious brother broke
into open revolt. A peace was at length concluded upon the terms that
John should reign in Shirak, with the capital Ani, and Ashot over the
remainder of his father's dominions. [296] This compact was observed
at least so far that Ashot the Fourth was never permitted by his
jealous colleague to enter the capital. [297] But the civil war
loosened the bonds which attached the feudatories to their king, and
the neighbouring states to a dynasty in its strength. The one partner
was obliged to have recourse to the Cæsar Basil; and it was not
without the assistance of a contingent of imperial troops that
Ashot IV. imposed his rule upon his allotted territories. The other
was defeated at the commencement of his reign by the Bagratid king
of Abkhasia and Georgia, whose troops entered and pillaged Ani. [298]
These events appear to have been followed by a period of comparative
tranquillity, during which either monarch was enabled to recover
breath. But the Mussulman emirs were encroaching; the Seljuk Turks
were harrying the frontiers; and the Armenian nation, the natural
bulwark against their invasions, was distracted by the separate
counsels of the king with Ani and the king without Ani, of the king
of Lori and the king of Kars. The king of Van, upon whom the brunt of
the Mussulman and Turkish incursions had fallen, was preparing or had
already accomplished the cession of his kingdom to the Cæsar, in
despair of withstanding these unceasing assaults.

The tribes composing the wave of the great Turkish invasion appear
upon the stage of Armenian history as early as the commencement of the
eleventh century. [299] The aspect and dress of these savages were
as unfamiliar to the Armenians as their mode of conducting war. The
Christian warriors, armed with the sword, encountered swarms of
archers whose long hair floated behind them like that of women. [300]
The signal defeat of his son David by these nomads about the year
1018 caused the reigning king of the Van country to lose heart. The
news was brought to him while he was residing in the delicious town
of Vostan, upon the wooded spurs of the Kurdish mountains overlooking
the lake of Van. His despondency was confirmed by the recollection of
a prophecy in which St. Nerses, the fifth successor of St. Gregory,
had foretold the advent of great calamities at the hands of a barbarous
people a thousand years after the divine mission of Christ. Senekerim
despatched his son to the court of Constantinople, where he was
received with the greatest kindness by the Emperor Basil II. The Cæsar
accepted the gift of his extensive and populous realm, and gave in
exchange a secure retreat within the borders of the Empire, the city
and territory of Sivas (A.D. 1021). An imperial governor was sent to
take over the ceded dominions, in which were included no less than 72
fortresses, 4000 villages, and 8 towns. [301] Some display of force
was necessary in order to fasten upon the southern province the rule
of the Byzantine monarchs; and it is probable that the measures taken
to assert their authority still further enfeebled the rampart they had
come to defend. The progress of the shepherds may be traced through the
pages of the Armenian historians during the ensuing years. In A.D. 1021
they advanced from Azerbaijan upon the town of Nakhichevan under the
conduct of their prince, the famous Toghrul Bey. This incursion was
directed up the valley of the Araxes into the country about Ararat. It
was resisted by a force of Georgians, who retired without coming to an
engagement, and, a little later, by a small detachment of the Armenian
army under Vasak, the commander-in-chief. But no concerted action
was taken against the invaders, the Armenians contenting themselves
with deeds of personal prowess, and the Turkomans swarming over the
settled country, plundering, destroying, and putting the inhabitants
to the sword. [302] In the year 1042 they were encountered by the
king of Armenia, Gagik, the successor of John Sembat and Ashot. At
the head of his troops he inflicted upon them a signal defeat on the
banks of the Zanga, the river of Erivan. The Turks retired into the
Van country, which they devastated anew. [303] Three years later
they appeared again in the same province; but this time they were
fugitives from Mesopotamia, where they had been repulsed by the
emir of Mosul. Their prayer for a safe passage home into Persia was
refused by the imperial governor residing at Arjish, on the lake of
Van. But the forces at his disposal were routed by the tribesmen, who
took him prisoner and put him to death. [304] The Turks returned in
greater numbers during the following years, laying waste the southern
province, flooding northwards into Pasin and into the valley of
the Chorokh. To this period belong the sack of Arzen (near Erzerum)
in 1049, and the pillage of Kars and massacre of its inhabitants in
1050. Neither the imperial generals nor their Georgian and Armenian
dependents were successful in making headway against the storm. [305]
The year 1054 was made memorable in the native annals by the siege
of Melazkert. Toghrul had arrived at the head of an immense army in
the districts bordering the lake of Van on the side of Azerbaijan. The
town of Berkri was taken by assault, that of Arjish purchased immunity;
and the conqueror led his host across the level country at the foot
of Sipan to the walls of the fortress on the Murad. Melazkert was at
that time in the possession of the Empire, and was stoutly defended
by its governor. After a close investiture, during which the garrison
displayed great resource and bravery, the Seljuk king was constrained
to retire. But he had already despatched detachments of his army in
all directions; the Turks penetrated as far north as the slopes of
Caucasus and the Pontic forests, and as far south as the mountains
bordering the southern shore of Lake Van. [306] The area of their raids
was still further extended during the subsequent decade. The territory
of Mush was overrun in 1058; and the lonely cloister of Surb Karapet,
which overlooks that extensive plain, witnessed the prowess of the
Armenian chiefs, who directed their gaze towards it before falling
upon their savage foes. [307] These bands had perhaps returned from
the sack of Malatia beyond and on the west of the Euphrates. [308] In
the following year the advancing tide reached the city of Sivas, that
peaceful haven in the interior of Asia Minor which had been allotted
to King Senekerim, and which was now in possession of his sons. These
princes fled for their life, and the Turks were for a moment arrested
by the spectacle of the multitude of white domes, belonging to the
churches, which they mistook for the tents of their enemy. But both the
city and the plain of Sivas were given over to pillage and massacre;
streets and countryside were deluged with blood. [309] North, south,
and west spread the relentless inundation; at one time the current
sets towards the territory of Karin (Erzerum), at another it eddies
around the mountains in the south between Diarbekr and Palu. [310]

Armenian patriots of the present day brand the memory of King
Senekerim, the Artsrunian, and insult his tomb in the cloister of
Varag, overlooking Van. No more lenient judgment is meted out to the
Bagratid king of Ani, who, as early as the year 1022, willed away
his dominions to the same Cæsar who had supplanted the sovereign of
the southern province. But these events are but the outward signs of a
general retreat of the Armenians before the advance of Turks and Kurds,
battering in the gates of the caliphate and pressing forward into
the settled countries. [311] A fairer view might impute it to these
Christian kinglets that they failed to stand their ground upon the
bulwarks of Eastern Christendom, drawing support from their powerful
neighbours of the same faith, who were welded together in a single
and magnificent empire. But that empire, so justly respected by the
Mussulmans as the realm of the Romans, was an object of particular
aversion to the Armenians as the home or the prey of the hated and
unorthodox Greeks. On every page of Armenian history is written
large the mutual suspicion which envenomed the relations of the
two races. Where co-operation might have seemed impossible we may
perhaps excuse the abdication of the weaker party, and even justify
the usurpation of the stronger. And the judicial historian, who may
sift the facts with greater care than the inquisitive traveller, will
perhaps conclude that the blame must be laid on wider shoulders--upon
the Pan-Greek policy of the Byzantine Cæsars and their masterful
hierarchy, and upon the perversity of two cultured and Christian
peoples, who, rather than compose or postpone their quarrels, threw
this culture and this religion into the maw of savages.

At the time when the Bagratid kingdom of Armenia was suffering from
a fresh division of the regal authority under John Sembat and Ashot,
the neighbouring Empire was administered by a worthy successor of
Nikephorus and of Zimiskes. The Emperor Basil the Second stands out
in the Byzantine annals as a monarch who did not disgrace the title of
the Roman Cæsars. His personal intervention in the affairs of Armenia
dates from the reign of Gagik the First, and was occasioned by the
death of the prince of the Akhaltsykh country, David, who had during
his lifetime been a fast ally of the emperor, and who had named him
heir to his principality. Basil hurried to Armenia to take over his
new possessions; he was greeted by the kings of Kars and of Van;
but King Gagik excited his displeasure and provoked his resentment
by somewhat pointedly remaining away. The Cæsar appears to have
made a peregrination of the Armenian country, visiting Shirak, and
perhaps occupying some of the fortresses in the south, such as Akhlat,
Melazkert, and Arjish. [312] Years later he was again summoned to the
scene of his former successes; but on this occasion it was his duty
to combat the folly of two Christian princes who had taken up arms
against that Empire which alone could save them from their doom. King
George the First of Georgia, in concert with King John Sembat of Ani,
had been raiding in the imperial dominions. Basil established his
camp in the plain of Erzerum, and summoned the Georgian monarch to
submit. Upon the failure of his embassies he made his way by the
plain of Pasin to the territory of Kars. The armies came together
in the neighbourhood of Lake Chaldir; and if the issue of a furious
engagement may have seemed uncertain, the result was established by
the retirement of the Georgians into their strong places, and by the
devastation of their country by the imperial forces, which included
contingents of barbarous peoples such as Russians and Bulgarians. The
emperor spent the winter in the neighbourhood of Trebizond, where
he received an envoy from the king of Ani, no less a person than the
patriarch, accompanied by twelve bishops, seventy monks, two scholars,
and three hundred knights. The presence no less than the gifts of
this distinguished embassy might have appeased the just wrath of the
most Christian emperor; but his expectations were perhaps exceeded
by the production of a testament in which John Sembat named him the
heir to his dominions. This voluntary cession (A.D. 1022) secured the
immunity of the kingdom of Ani; and Basil was free to exact his terms
from the Georgian. Measures were taken to ensure the future safety of
the domains of Akhaltsykh, and the imperial army was paraded upon the
extremities of the Armenian country, carrying fear into the hearts of
the inhabitants of Azerbaijan. Basil returned to his distant capital,
having smoothed the way for the extension of the Empire across the
natural bridge of the Asiatic highlands. The masters of Akhaltsykh
in the north and of Van in the south could afford to wait for the
death of a feeble and childless king. [313]

But the Emperor Basil died in the year 1025, and was followed upon the
throne by no less than six sovereigns within the space of seventeen
years. His bold policy was committed to feeble hands and incapable
brains; and perhaps the testament of King John was forgotten by
the Emperor Romanus when he bestowed his niece in marriage upon its
author. [314] The bridegroom did not profit by this opportunity of
producing an heir who might have rivalled the claims of the heir of
Basil. Upon the death of John, which occurred some years after this
event, the reigning emperor, Michael, took steps to enforce those
claims. One of the most powerful of the Armenian nobles, by name
Sargis, supported the cession of the kingdom in accordance with the
imperial demand. His proposal was resisted by his compeers, and the
imperial forces were despatched into Shirak. Arrived under the walls
of Ani, they were surprised by a sally of the garrison, who were led
by the chiefs of the faction opposed to Sargis, under the supreme
command of the intrepid Vahram (A.D. 1041). The Greek army was routed
after incurring heavy losses, and the river of Ani was reddened by the
blood of the Greeks. Gagik, the son of King Ashot, who was then a mere
youth, was raised to his uncle's throne; and the hateful Sargis was
taken prisoner by the successful party, but restored to liberty by
the clemency of the young king. The imperial anger continued to harass
an inexperienced prince who was regarded by the Byzantine court as an
usurper; but the death of Michael in the same year suspended the
delivery of a decisive blow. His nephew, another Michael, ruled or
tyrannised for a few months; the disorders of his reign were followed
by those consequent upon his expulsion; and a short period was perhaps
necessary for his successor, Constantine Monomachus, to establish
himself upon the throne. The revenge which he inherited against the
kingdom of Ani was stimulated by the intrigues of Sargis, who
suggested that the youthful Gagik should be enticed to Constantinople,
in order to smooth the way for the surrender of the city. The promises
of the emperor, and the oaths of the nobles that they would conserve
his capital during his absence, were successful in drawing the monarch
away; but a considerable display of force was rendered necessary
before the garrison could be induced to surrender Ani. After a first
reverse, measures were taken by the absent emperor to secure the
triumph of his arms. A Kurdish emir, who was powerful in Karabagh and
the valley of the Araxes, was induced to join his forces to those of
the Empire; and matters had become hopeless when the city was
delivered over to the emissary of the Cæsar by the notables in
concert with the patriarch (A.D. 1045). King Gagik was allotted a
territory in Cappadocia and a palace at Constantinople. A Greek
governor was despatched to take over Ani and the new possessions,
which placed the crown upon the extension of the Roman Empire along
the valley of the Araxes and round the shores of Lake Van. [315]

In this manner and by these several stages the protagonists in a world
struggle were brought face to face. The Seljuks reinforced the failing
energies of Islam, but infused into the body to which they lent new
vigour an intractable strain of barbarism which it has retained to
the present day. On the high-road of their depredations they were now
confronted by a redoubtable adversary, the champion of Christianity
and of whatever culture the age possessed. But that religion, become
debased, had already sapped the foundations of culture; the winged
mind of the Greeks had been imprisoned by a rigorous dogmatism; and
their bodies were either crushed by the discipline of the monastery
or exhausted by the refinements of the life of sensual pleasure. The
greatness of their inheritance and the extent of the resources
which they administered had been equal to producing a Nikephorus,
a Zimiskes and a Basil; but this grain of Roman genius was allowed
to wither by the succeeding princes; and we feel the force of the
comparison which is drawn by the Armenian historian between the quiet
strength and benignant policy of Basil and the dissolute habits and
feeble half-measures of Monomachus. [316] The safety of the provinces
was made subordinate to the interests of the Greek hierarchy; the
Armenians were irritated by renewed attempts to bring them over to
Byzantine orthodoxy; and their resistance was punished by the removal
of the strongest characters from the native seats in the defence
of which they would have given their lives. The new territories
were handed over to Greek eunuchs, to whom was entrusted their
administration and defence. [317] In the year 1055 the inhabitants
were massacred outside the walls of Ani by an enemy which perhaps
consisted of a detachment of Seljuks in concert with the forces of
the emir of Karabagh. [318] The final blow was delivered nine years
later by the successor of Toghrul, the famous Alp Arslan. After a
successful campaign in the Georgian country he arrived before Ani
in the summer of 1064. The appearance of the city at that date is
described in eloquent terms, if with some exaggeration, by Matthew
of Edessa. Such was the number of the population assembled within
its ramparts that the Turks believed them to comprise the greater
part of the Armenian nation. Mass was celebrated in a thousand and
one churches. Precipitous cliffs protected the site for almost the
whole circuit, and it was embraced by the sinuous course of the Arpa
Chai. On one side only was there level or slightly shelving ground for
a distance about equal to the flight of an arrow. It was upon the walls
which defended this vulnerable side that the Seljuk sultan directed
his attack. After a siege of twenty-five days the Turks penetrated
into the city. Each man carried a knife in either hand and a third
between his teeth. The garrison had retired into the inner citadel,
and the defenceless inhabitants were mown down like grass. One of
the barbarians mounted upon the roof of the cathedral, and hurled to
the ground the great cross which rose from the dome. A little door
gave him access to the interior of the dome, whence he precipitated
a crystal lamp, perhaps of Indian origin, which had been presented
by King Sembat the Second. The capture of Ani prepared the way for
the investiture of Kars; but the king of Kars appeased the victor
by attiring himself in black robes, which he affected to be wearing
out of respect for the death of Toghrul. From these successes the
Seljuks were carried forward into the bosom of the Empire; and the
signal defeat near Melazkert of the Cæsar Romanus in 1071 finally
decided the long struggle in favour of the Mohammedan world. [319]

From these momentous issues, with which the fortunes of Ani were
so closely connected, it is an abrupt descent to the plane of her
subsequent history. I have already had occasion to mention the two
chief actors in this minor drama, the Bagratid dynasty of Georgia
and the Kurdish dynasty of Karabagh. [320] The Georgian Bagratids
weathered the storm of the Seljuk invasions; and they attained during
the course of the twelfth and the commencement of the thirteenth
century a wide dominion over the adjacent lands. A lesser station must
be assigned to the Mussulman family of the Beni-Cheddad, who in the
decline of the caliphate had established themselves in the valleys of
the Kur and the Araxes, and whose kinsmen probably wandered over the
mountains of Karabagh, which at the present day still harbour Kurdish
tribes. The particular clan to which they belonged is said to have
been named Rewadi; but they became possessed of the important town
of Gandzak in the valley of the Kur (the modern Elizabetpol), and of
Dvin, the ancient Armenian metropolis, in that of the Araxes. I have
twice spoken of their prince, a figure of some importance during the
reigns of John Sembat and Gagik the Second, at first the ally and
then the determined adversary of the Empire and the coadjutor of Alp
Arslan. Abulsevar--the Chawir of the Arabs, the Aplesphares of the
Greeks--is well known to the Byzantine annalists, and is styled by
them, no less than by the Armenian writers, the prince of Dvin. [321]
His son and successor, Fathlun, purchased Ani from the Seljuk sultan,
and gave it over to his brother Manuchar (A.D. 1072). This ruler
appears to have governed with moderation; and he was confirmed in
his dignity by the successor of Alp Arslan, the humane Malek Shah,
who extended the Seljuk empire to the Mediterranean. After the death
of Manuchar in A.D. 1110 [322] the inhabitants were much harassed by
their Mussulman and Georgian neighbours during the government of his
son and successor, another Abulsevar. They appealed for help to the
Bagratid king of Georgia, David the Second, and opened their gates to
that monarch (A.D. 1124). Abulsevar and his sons were carried off to
Tiflis, and the unhappy prince, with two of his children, perished
in an unhealthy prison. [323] This revolution restored the city to
a Christian administration, after a Mussulman occupation of sixty
years. The cathedral, which had served as a mosque, was restored to
Christian worship and consecrated anew with great pomp. But David
the Second died in the following year; and his son and successor
Dimitri was confronted with an investiture of Ani by Fathlun, the
eldest son of the deceased ruler, who had been absent at the time of
the Georgian conquest and who was thirsting to avenge his father. The
issue of a lengthy siege was a happy compromise, by which the Kurdish
emir assumed the government under a pledge to reserve the cathedral
to the exclusive use of his Armenian subjects (A.D. 1125-26). [324]
Fathlun was killed in battle in the year 1132, and was succeeded by
his brother Mahmud. [325] The Kurdish dynasty continued to drag on a
precarious existence as lords of Ani until towards the close of the
twelfth century; but they lost Gandzak to the Seljuks in 1088, and
Dvin to the Georgians in 1162. [326] The conqueror of Dvin, George the
Third, was twice the conqueror of Ani. His first expedition belongs
to the year 1161, when he made himself master of the place after a
single day's siege. [327] But his success exasperated his Mussulman
neighbours, and he was confronted in the same year by the emir of
Akhlat at the head of an army numbering 80,000 men. The pompous title
of this prince, that of Shah of Armenia, serves to accentuate his
signal defeat by the Georgian king. But the Mussulmans renewed their
attacks under the guidance or at the prompting of Ildigiz, the Atabeg
governor of Azerbaijan. About the year 1165 George was constrained
to restore Ani to them, and it again came into the possession of
the Beni-Cheddad. From these it passed for the third time into the
hands of the Georgians in 1173-74. [328] During the reign of Thamar
the luckless inhabitants were surprised and massacred by the emir of
Ardabil in eastern Azerbaijan. Even at that period, the commencement
of the thirteenth century, the city was still rich and populous. [329]
But the advent of the Tartars in A.D. 1239 was the occasion of a new
catastrophe, the place being sacked by the savage bands of Jenghiz
Khan. In 1319 Ani was visited by a severe earthquake, to which Armenian
writers ascribe her final abandonment. But there exists evidence to
show that this consummation was deferred to a later and uncertain date.

I feel that I owe an apology to my reader for this long excursion into
Armenian history. But my endeavour has been to encompass a double
purpose, that of presenting in a sufficient narrative the capital
events in the annals of Ani, and that of sketching in from various
and scattered sources the larger history of the Armenian kingdom of
the Middle Ages. The attention of the traveller, no less than that of
the statesman and the man of culture, is frequently directed to that
neglected but fascinating subject, which indeed explains the present
condition of the Armenians and which conducts us to the threshold of
our own era. We cannot learn much from the long intervening spaces
of time during which Tartars and Turkomans, and Ottoman Turks and
Persians ruled in a country which was forgotten by the West. A deep
sleep settles on the land, given over to shepherds, from which it
scarcely awakes at the distant calling of the modern epoch. The
natural development of the Armenian people was suddenly arrested by
the Seljuk conquest, and the abler among them were forced to seek new
homes. Some stout spirits established themselves in the mountains of
Cilicia, where they founded a petty kingdom which endured for nearly
three hundred years (A.D. 1080-1375). The obstinacy of their race was
made manifest by the long resistance of this colony to the spiritual
guidance of the popes of Rome. The friends of the Crusaders, they were
at length overwhelmed by the Turks, who suppressed the dynasty. Their
descendants still maintain themselves about their adopted seats,
secure in their mountain fastnesses. But perhaps the most remarkable
outcome of this dispersal was the emigration of the inhabitants of Ani
to Poland, Moldavia and Galicia, to Astrakhan on the northern shore
of the Caspian, and thence to the Crimea. Many of these colonies have
endured to the present day. Some among them were permitted to retain
their own laws; and the jurisprudence of the Armenian kings figures
in the code of the colony of Lemberg, which was administered by the
Armenian notables with the express sanction of the Polish kings and
which has been preserved to the curiosity of our own age. [330]



My reader is now in possession of an outline of the history of
the deserted city before the walls of which he stands. He is also
familiar with the large surroundings which overpower this elegant
architecture--in the distance the pile of Alagöz and the dome of
Ararat; far and near the undulating upland plain, deeply cañoned by
the sinuous course of the Arpa Chai. But the site of Ani calls for
some particular description. [331] It has been built within the fork
described by the meeting of two ravines which have been eroded by
the action of water to a considerable depth below the level of the
plain. In the more westerly of these ravines flows a small stream
coming down from the Alaja Dagh (p. 330), which was known to the old
priest by its older name of Tsaghkotz, [332] but which some travellers
have called the Alaja Chai. The more easterly is occupied by the Arpa
Chai, the ancient Akhurean. Near the confluence, the two streams are
only separated by a narrow spit, and their waters hiss at the base of
crags composed of lava. But the greater portion of the site consists
of a spacious platform, flanked on two sides by the ravines. At a
distance of about a mile above the junction of the waters two small
side valleys descend into the principal depressions from within the
area which they enclose. The one is directed towards the west and
joins the trough of the Alaja; the other pursues a south-easterly
course to the chasm of the Arpa Chai. The heads of these two side
valleys are separated from one another by a considerable stretch of
unbroken ground. It is on that side only and along that space that
the site is weak. And it is there that the double line of walls have
been erected, fronted in ancient times by a moat (Fig. 70). [333]


    The character of this double wall and the appearance of the towers
    are exhibited in my illustration, which was taken from outside,
    in front of the principal gateway. The long line of fortifications
    is seen extending towards the east. Such walls are composed at
    Ani of an inner core of solid conglomerate, faced on either side
    with rectangular blocks of hewn stone. One admires the exquisite
    art with which the masonry is disposed and the minute fitting
    at the joints. We enter the enclosure between the two parapets,
    and walk for a short distance in an easterly direction. Above us,
    upon the face of the inner wall, is placed a fine bas-relief
    of a lion (Fig. 71); and almost immediately we arrive at the
    inner gateway, just west of the great tower. A somewhat effaced
    inscription is seen above the arch. It has been copied, but the
    interpretation and date are obscure. [334] We know that these walls
    were originally built by King Sembat the Second (A.D. 977-989);
    [335] but they must have been restored and towers added at later
    dates. The earliest inscription which has been discovered was
    found on a round tower not far from this entrance. It is in Cufic
    character, and records that the tower was erected by Manuchar the
    son of Chawir, or Abulsevar. We have already seen that Manuchar was
    the first ruler in Ani of the Kurdish family of the Beni-Cheddad
    (A.D. 1072). Other inscriptions belong to the latter half of the
    twelfth century and the commencement of the thirteenth. They are
    in Armenian and establish the fact that some of the towers were
    constructed by private persons as memorials to themselves. [336]

    Once within the archway through the inner wall, the interior of
    the city is displayed in a long perspective to our gaze. But we
    might have to mount upon one of the parapets, in order to survey
    the irregularities of the large triangular space as far as the
    citadel at its further and narrow end. This north-easterly or
    broader portion of the site is covered with the débris of the
    private dwellings, not one of which has remained erect. They
    must have been packed together in a most uncomfortable manner,
    and they were probably built for the greater part of inferior
    material. [337] It is as though a Persian runner had swished them
    away with his long cane to open the view to the noble monuments
    which still stand. Behind us, as we proceed, the long barrier of
    the fortifications opens out on either side. The inner walls of
    many of the towers have fallen in, and their vaulted interiors
    are laid bare. They suggest the appearance of a series of apses
    as they soar up into the sky.

    Directing our steps towards the cathedral, the largest of the
    buildings, we pass the scattered fragments of an octagonal
    tower (No. 11 on the plan), which must have succumbed at a
    comparatively recent date. It has been seen while still perfect by
    my predecessors, who have described it as a minaret. It may have
    also served as a watch-tower. One huge block of masonry which has
    held together still displays the large proportions and the form
    of the structure. The remains of a spiral staircase engage the
    eye, and one is impressed with the excellence of the masonry. Two
    inscriptions have been found upon this pile. One in Persian bears
    the date Heg. 595 or A.D. 1198-99, and is to the effect that
    one Kei-Sultan of the Beni-Cheddad family "forbids the sale of
    sheep and camels in front of this mosque of Abu-l-Mamran." The
    other is in Armenian and without date or personal sanction,
    being a mere exhortation to obey the order. One must suppose,
    in the absence of evidence to the contrary, that the minaret
    belonged to a mosque which has disappeared. [338]

    The cathedral will surprise the traveller, even if he have come
    from Edgmiatsin. Although of small proportions, if judged by a
    European standard, it is nevertheless a stately building. [339]
    It bears the imprint of that undefinable quality, beauty, and can
    scarcely fail to arouse a thrill of delight in the spectator. It
    is seen to great advantage, adjacent edifices having disappeared
    (Fig. 72). The extreme simplicity of the design--an oblong figure
    of four almost unbroken walls--at once appeals to the eye. The
    skill with which these plain spaces have been treated is the
    feature which is admired in the next place. The apse is only
    indicated by two niches which recess back from the face of the
    wall on the east (Figs. 72 and 73). Two similar niches are seen
    on the south, and, I think, also on the north side; but their
    purpose is ornamental and to secure uniformity of design. The
    remainder of the space is diversified by the lightest of false
    arcades, which rises almost to the roof, embraces the niches and
    extends to all four walls. My illustration (Fig. 72) displays
    the southern and eastern fronts; that on the north resembles
    its counterpart, but is less ornate. The façade is practically
    the same as the eastern front, but without the niches and with
    a low doorway. Similar doorways are conspicuous on the northern
    and southern sides. One remarks the tall and slender pillars of
    the false arcades, the cushion form of the capitals with their
    richly chiselled faces, the low spring of the rounded arches which
    curve inwards at the base, but scarcely suggest, so slight is the
    curve, the horse-shoe shape. The row of these arched mouldings is
    pleasantly broken at the doorway, which is surmounted by a narrow
    window with a rectangular frame of chiselled stone. And the bold
    arched moulding of pointed form, which envelops door and window,
    takes the eye above the tops of the neighbouring arches and leads
    it upwards to the loftier roof of the transept.

    The architecture of the roof is less single of
    feature. Multiplicity of outlines and contrast of shapes are the
    characteristics which are here displayed. At one level you have
    the aisles, at another the nave and transept, at yet another
    the supreme crown of the dome. Here it is a group of gables;
    there the large circle of the drum of the dome; there again the
    cone formed by the roof of the dome. This uppermost member of the
    series has unhappily fallen in; but enough remains of the drum
    to enable the eye to complete the picture, and to reconstruct
    the delicate mouldings of a false arcade. We have in fact a roof
    scene essentially Byzantine in character, but which is quite free
    of that suggestion of a series of box-like elevations which is
    engendered by the appearance of some specimens of the style. On
    the contrary, we receive the impression of a stately simplicity
    underlying the diversity of outline and form.

    The interior is quite remarkable from the standpoint of the history
    of architecture; it is also calculated to deserve the admiration
    of the lover of art. It has many of the characteristics of the
    Gothic style, of which it establishes the Oriental origin. [340]
    The dome is supported by four massive piers of coupled pillars with
    plain capitals. Four similar piers are placed at either extremity
    of the building, a pair at the entrance and one on each side of
    the apse. A feature of the edifice is the extreme narrowness
    of the aisles and the corresponding constriction of the side
    chapels at their eastern extremity. The relative proportions of
    the apse and of these minor apses may be discovered by a glance
    at the illustration of the eastern front, where the extent of
    the latter is indicated by the two arches with little windows,
    one on either side of the niches. The Gothic appearance of
    the interior is still further accentuated by the bold pointed
    arches which spring from the piers. Our curiosity is aroused by
    these characteristics; but our emotions awake as we contemplate
    the magnificent apse (Fig. 74). [341] That element of grandeur
    which we miss in Armenian churches is here made manifest in a
    high degree. It is imparted by the apse to the whole interior;
    and the apse becomes, by a happy inspiration of the architect,
    indeed the head and soul of the church.

    Vestiges of paintings upon the ceilings have been observed by my
    predecessors; but I do not know that the building suffers from
    their destruction. The plaster has fallen, and the perfection
    of the masonry is exposed. The roofs as well as the walls are
    composed of stone, and, as usual in Armenian churches, no wood or
    metal has been used. Even at the present day the Armenian masons
    are possessed of exceptional skill; and their natural gifts have
    been here directed by the conceptions of genius. Although the
    interior is almost free of ornament, the art of the sculptor has
    been employed upon the enrichment of the outside niches, of the
    doorways and windows, and of the mouldings of the false arcade. In
    no case do we discover any trace of barbarism; the designs are
    sober and full of grace, the execution is beyond praise. [342]
    The impression which we take away from our survey of these various
    features is that we have been introduced to a monument of the
    highest artistic merit, denoting a standard of culture which was
    far in advance of the contemporary standards in the West.

    Several inscriptions in Armenian are visible upon the walls
    and have been copied and translated. [343] The earliest in date
    is found upon the south wall and is of some length. It records
    that in the year 1010 (Arm. era 459), during the reign of Gagik,
    king of the kings of Armenia and Georgia, the cathedral, which
    had been founded by King Sembat, was completed by Katranideh,
    queen of Armenia and daughter of the king of Siunik, at the
    bidding of her husband, King Gagik. The queen adds that she had
    also embellished the church with precious ornaments, an offering
    to Christ on behalf of herself and of her sons Sembat, Abas,
    and Ashot. [344] Two inscriptions belonging to the period of the
    occupation of Ani by the Byzantines figure upon the façade. Both
    appear to be without dates, but both refer to known personages. The
    one mentions the Empress Zoe (1042), and is a memorial to her
    general, Aron-Magistros, who was entrusted with the government
    of the city. [345] The other is an edict of Bagrat-Magistros,
    governor-general of the eastern provinces, abolishing by order
    of Constantine Dukas (A.D. 1059-67) certain taxes which pressed
    upon the inhabitants. Other inscriptions detail offerings on the
    part of private individuals; and the date of one, if it has been
    copied correctly, is as late as 1486. [346]

    An edifice of much smaller scale than the cathedral, [347] but
    closely resembling it in plan and style, is the church which is
    dedicated to St. Gregory the Illuminator, and which occupies
    a secluded site at the eastern extremity of the town upon the
    side of the cliff which breaks away to the bed of the Arpa by a
    series of black crags (No. 4). It is indeed a romantic spot. The
    side valley already mentioned joins the valley of the Arpa at
    this point, and is flanked by walls which descend to the river
    with bold bastions. The stream hisses in a gloomy ravine of grey
    and lichened rock. Subterraneous passages lead inwards into the
    town. In presenting my photograph of the building I must ask my
    reader to imagine for a moment that the ruinous porch has been
    removed (Fig. 76). He will then seize the characteristics with
    which he is already familiar: the oblong figure of unbroken walls;
    the elegant false arcades; the roof scene of nave, and transept
    and aisles, surmounted by a polygonal dome with a conical roof. The
    niches in the exterior of this church are perhaps less pronounced
    than in the case of the cathedral; but they are discovered upon
    all four walls. The stone is uniform of hue. Tall double shafts
    support the arches of the false arcade which extends round the
    building. The face of these arches has been richly sculptured with
    the most elegant traceries, while the spaces above the capitals,
    between the arms of the arches, display the forms of birds
    and flowers in moderate relief (Fig. 77, from north side). The
    architect has wisely discarded the use of the pointed arch in any
    part of this gem-like structure. But the slender pillars suggest
    the Gothic. The Byzantine feature of a narthex is wanting both
    to this building and to the cathedral. The porch has been added
    at a later date and is purely Saracenic in character. It displays
    several traceries and designs of high merit, among which I would
    call attention to the zigzag moulding which is so common in Norman
    architecture (Fig. 78).

    Entering the building we are at once impressed by its almost
    perfect preservation; the plaster adheres to the walls and
    ceilings, and the frescos with which they were adorned are still
    intelligible. Yet here we have a monument erected nearly 800
    years ago, and which has not yet been touched by a restorer's
    hand. The disposition of the interior resembles that of the
    cathedral; the dome rests on four piers, the apse is flanked by
    side chapels, which are of diminutive size. The frescos, which
    are also found upon the façade, represent Biblical subjects. They
    must have appreciably faded since they were seen and described
    by my predecessors. [348] The legends which accompany them are
    all in Georgian or in Greek characters. This fact has led to
    the supposition that the church was designed for the Greek form
    of worship. But we know that it was built by an Armenian, as the
    church of an Armenian convent dedicated to an Armenian saint. One
    can scarcely fail to remark the dim lighting of the interior, a
    characteristic or defect which also belongs to the cathedral. Both
    might easily have been flooded with light from the dome.

    The commemorative inscriptions are found upon the exterior and
    are in Armenian character. Within each of the three most easterly
    arches upon the south wall there is an inscription of twenty-five
    lines. It would appear that the lines are carried across, and
    that they constitute a single text. We are informed that in
    the year 1215 (Arm. era 664), during the government of Zakarea,
    chief of the mandatories, and of his son Shahanshah, one Tigran,
    of the family of Honentz, built a monastery upon this site in the
    hope that his good work would bring long life to his House and
    to the son of Zakarea. At the time when he bought it the place
    was covered with rocks and brushwood; but there was a building
    upon it known as Our Lady of the chapel. Tigran surrounded it
    with a wall, constructed dwellings for the monks, erected this
    church of St. Gregory, and enriched the church with ornaments
    and precious vessels. He also bestowed a permanent endowment
    upon the monastery. [349] The edifice is therefore a work of
    the period of Georgian occupation. An inscription upon the east
    wall belongs to a later epoch, the date being given as 759 of
    the Armenian era, or A.D. 1310. [350] But the city was still
    governed by a member of the family of Zakarea. It records that
    one Matheh, chief secretary of the ruler Shahanshah, restored
    some conduits which brought water to the monastery, but which
    had been destroyed during certain foreign or civil troubles. It
    supplies us with the names of two other personages--Khvandzeh,
    the wife of this Shahanshah, and Zakarea, their son.

    In the immediate neighbourhood of this church, but upon a
    higher level, we observe two ruins which are of interest. The
    one consists of the remains of a massive wall and a chamber which
    stand in an isolated position (No. 22). They are of the character
    which is usually known as Cyclopean. The other ruin is that of
    a small and almost subterraneous bath. Recent excavations have
    disclosed subsidiary chambers and passages; but the bath itself,
    which is divided into four small vaulted chambers, could scarcely
    have accommodated more than four bathers at a time (No. 13). [351]

    Not far from St. Gregory, as you follow down the stream of the
    Arpa, are met remains of a walled enclosure of the usual finished
    masonry and in fair preservation. The walls descend the cliff-side
    to a projecting mass of rock which rises from the bed of the
    river with almost vertical sides. On the edge of this promontory,
    overlooking the stream, is placed a little chapel which, although
    ruinous, still retains many of the elements of its former beauty
    (No. 9, Fig. 79). It is distinguished from the walls about it by
    the pink stone of which it is built. The form of the roof is a
    pleasant variation from the prevailing type, as is also the plan of
    the interior. Six semicircular recesses are crowned by the circle
    of the dome. Contiguous to this elegant monument is a chamber or
    chapel of different form. At the upper end of the enclosure are
    seen the ruins of the long vaulted staircase which was taken across
    the enclosure and through the wall on the west, in order to debouch
    upon the ravine on the western side of the promontory, and so to
    lead down to the water's edge. About 300 yards still further down
    the current you observe the piers of a bridge of which the single
    arch has fallen in. It was on the cliff-side above this bridge that
    the remains of a gateway were seen by my predecessors, bearing an
    inscription of the year 1320. It commemorates the allocation of
    a tax on cattle to the monastery of St. Gregory by one Sargis,
    chief of the Custom-House. The gift is made for the repose of
    the soul of the master of Sargis, Shahanshah, and for the long
    life of Zakarea and the other sons of Shahanshah. Fragments of
    inscriptions found within the neighbouring enclosure yield the
    dates of 705 and 759 Arm. era (A.D. 1256 and 1310). [352] I am
    inclined to think it possible that the enclosure and chapel may
    have formed part of the same monastery of St. Gregory of which
    I have already described the church.

    One of the most conspicuous buildings is the mosque with the
    polygonal minaret (No. 10, Fig. 80). It rises from the cliff on
    the right bank of the Arpa and overlooks the ruinous bridge. An
    Arabic inscription, done in brick and inlaid in the masonry
    of the minaret not far from the summit of that lofty column,
    displays to the city in colossal characters the name of Allah. The
    mosque is the work of the first Mussulman prince of Ani, Manuchar,
    the son of Abulsevar. This fact appears to be established by a
    Cufic inscription which may be perceived in my illustration upon
    the north-west wall, the wall adjoining the minaret. [353] Just
    above it is seen a long Persian inscription which must be over
    two hundred years later in date. It is in fact an edict of the
    Mongol king of Persia, Abu-Said, one of the successors of Jenghiz
    Khan. Abu-Said is styled Bahadur, or the brave. The edict is
    therefore posterior to the year 718 of the Hegira (A.D. 1318-19),
    when that sultan acquired this personal title. The contents of
    this text are to the effect that the inhabitants of the city and
    neighbouring provinces had been suffering from illegal exactions
    on the part of their rulers. They had been emigrating and selling
    their goods and houses. The obnoxious imposts are specified and
    their abolition decreed. [354] Of the trilingual inscription which
    was found by Khanikoff I saw no traces; it was a mere fragment
    at the time of his visit. It mentions the name of Zakarea, to
    which is attached the title of Atabeg; and it may belong to the
    year 1237 and to the reign of Zakarea III. [355]

    The architecture of the mosque resembles nothing that has yet
    been mentioned. Five massive and isolated pillars, of which
    originally there were six, [356] are seen rising from the floor
    of the chamber and supporting the vaultings of the roof. The
    circumference of these pillars is 9 feet 2 inches. The dimensions
    of the chamber itself are insignificant, being only 47 feet
    by 41 feet. Beneath it and below the level of the ground on
    the north-west, but overlooking the river upon the south-east,
    are four square apartments with narrow windows. My illustration,
    which was taken from the south, does not embrace this feature;
    nor does it quite reproduce the peculiar effect of the masonry,
    in which pink and black stones have been variously employed.

    During the summer preceding our visit excavations had been made
    in Ani by the Russian archæologist Mr. N. Marr. [357] Not the
    least interesting result of his labours, as they were manifest
    upon the site, is the discovery of a line of walls with bastions,
    crossing the neck or narrowest portion of the platform from the
    ravine of the Arpa to that of the Tsaghkotz. The one extremity
    of this fortification starts from the former of these valleys
    in the immediate neighbourhood of the mosque. South-west of this
    neck, with its transverse rampart, the platform again opens out;
    and at the same time it attains its greatest elevation, gathering
    together and composing a hill with a flat top. The summit and sides
    of this hill display the substructures of walls and buildings;
    and at least two edifices in a fair state of preservation rise
    against the background of sky. One can scarcely doubt that this
    strong position was the site of the old fortress of Ani before
    it became a city and the residence of the king. It is flanked by
    the two ravines with the two rivers, which presently unite. It is
    only accessible from the level ground on the north-east. But on
    that side, as we have seen, it has the form of a narrow isthmus,
    easily defensible by a line of walls. This fortress must have
    composed the nucleus of the more recent city--that inner fortress
    of which we read. Upon the summit of the hill, some four hundred
    feet above the rivers, was built the citadel. And there is ground
    for supposing that the citadel was also the palace, as in the
    case of Trebizond and perhaps also of Melazkert.

    Unfortunately nothing remains of the actual walls of the
    palace; and the buildings which I have mentioned are two small
    churches. One stands upon the north side of the fortified eminence,
    and the other upon the south. The former is not noteworthy, except
    for the fact that its northern wall rises from lower levels and
    composes part of the wall of the citadel. But the edifice on the
    south is of considerable interest. It consists of two vaulted
    chambers placed side by side, and having the inner wall in common
    (No. 28, Fig. 81, taken from the north). The more southerly is
    the largest; and the round arches which support the roof rest upon
    four pilasters of curious design. I photographed one of the best
    preserved among them, which is adorned with the figures of two
    birds in low relief (Fig. 82). They are represented in the act
    of pouncing upon animals. The pilasters are composed of blocks
    of black stone; while for the capitals and the upper portion of
    the building only pink stone has been used. The façade and the
    apse have fallen away. The dimensions are small: a length of
    30 feet 9 inches and a breadth of 17 feet 4 inches. One of my
    predecessors discovered in the contiguous building a bas-relief
    upon which was portrayed two figures on horseback, one of which is
    St. George with the dragon at his feet. But this piece, as well
    as another, in which a mounted and aureoled archer is displayed,
    surrounded by the forms of birds and wild animals, is no longer
    to be seen. I showed the reproductions in Brosset's Atlas to the
    aged priest; he recognised the latter of these sculptures and
    informed us that it had been stolen. Quite probably both are now
    lost in some museum. [358] Elements derived from Assyrian art may
    be recognised in these bas-reliefs as well as the ornament of the
    pilaster. But in the absence of inscriptions one is thrown back
    upon internal evidence in assigning a date to the south chapel.

    Such is the site of the ancient fortress of Ani, which must have
    enjoyed a fine view over the city. I observed that this view
    comprises the south and west sides of the cathedral, while the
    north side is turned towards the town. The fact that the south
    wall of that edifice has been more profusely decorated than its
    counterpart which faces north confirms the supposition that the
    palace was situated within the citadel, and that it was for the
    royal windows that the decorative resources of the architect were
    principally displayed.

    If we descend the hill of the citadel in a southerly direction,
    as it falls away to the crags which separate the two ravines about
    the confluence of the rivers, we cross the remains of an inner
    wall and pass the ruin of a little chapel, of which the four piers
    as well as the cupola still stand. I photographed the charming
    detail of the doorway on the south, overlooking the Arpa Chai
    (No. 29, Fig. 83). [359] What a contrast between these classical
    mouldings and the somewhat barbarous architecture of the chapel
    in the citadel, between the sobriety of the designs in these
    bands of sculptured stone and the wild spirit of the ornament on
    those pilasters! Ani is indeed a museum of architectural styles--a
    characteristic in keeping with her geographical position and with
    the inquisitive and impressionable culture of her inhabitants. Just
    west of this building is seen a piece of masonry which is in
    the last stage of decay (No. 30, Fig. 84). It may represent the
    apse of another chapel. From here the view ranges over the crags
    below the citadel, of which the most southerly is crowned by the
    walls of a third chapel. The Arpa is seen emerging from the deep
    ravine on the left of the ruin; it is joined by its affluent in
    the neighbourhood of the rock with the chapel. [360]

    Just below the standpoint of this picture are situated the
    remains of the outer wall which encircled the peninsula. At
    the extremity of the figure stands a tower, which is concealed
    by the lie of the ground. But portions of the wall are visible
    in the illustration; and it appears to have extended along the
    valley of the Alaja in a northerly direction, and to have been
    joined to the outer fortifications of the city on the side of
    the plain. Where I examined the masonry of this wall I found it
    faced on both sides, and 3 feet 4 inches in thickness. Issuing
    from the citadel or inner fortress, we examined the substructures
    of a curious building which had been recently brought to light
    by Mr. Marr. But the length of this notice warns me that I must
    confine it to a description of the monuments which are still erect.

    Let us therefore retrace our steps in the direction of the town,
    keeping as close as we may to the ravine of the Alaja, the ancient
    Tsaghkotzadzor or Vale of Flowers. On the summit of the cliff, in
    full view of the city, rises a circular building with a drum-shaped
    dome and a conical roof. Of this edifice, the chapel of St. Gregory
    (No. 5), I am able to present three photographs, one of the east
    side (Fig. 85), another of the entrance on the west (Fig. 86),
    and a third of the interior (Fig. 87). It is a charming little
    monument, which, like the cathedral, blends elements of Byzantine
    and Gothic art. But the niche is here again a prominent feature,
    a feature dear to the architecture of the East. The body of the
    edifice is polygonal rather than circular, having no less than
    twelve sides. Of these six are recessed, the niches facing the town
    being framed by ornamental arches with classical cornices. The six
    niches correspond with the same number of cavities in the design of
    the interior. Although the inside diameter is not more than about
    30 feet, including these cavities, [361] yet the impression as you
    enter the chapel is one of space and height. Especially remarkable
    is the great depth of the dome. Traces of paintings may be observed
    upon the walls. Two small vaulted chambers have been built into the
    wall on the east side, and are now in a ruinous condition. They
    are seen in the illustration on either side of the window. They
    may have served the purpose of sepulchral chambers, of which
    there are also vestiges outside the building upon the north side.

    We learn from the inscriptions that the chapel was dedicated
    to St. Gregory; and it is a work of the period of the Armenian
    kings. It seems to have been used as a place of burial by the
    Pahlavuni or Pahlavid family, which furnished some of the most
    illustrious names in Armenian history. The great noble who led the
    faction which was opposed to the cession of Ani to the Byzantines
    was a Pahlavid, Vahram. He met his death in battle against the
    Beni-Cheddad of Dvin in A.D. 1047. Embodying as he did the policy
    of resistance à outrance both to Mussulmans and Greeks, he has
    been the idol of Armenian patriotism. The name of this hero figures
    in the inscription over the door, which, although without a date,
    is probably assignable to him. He bestows the revenue of certain
    shops upon the church of St. Gregory to defray the cost of masses
    for the soul of his son Apughamir. In the same place have been
    found inscriptions of the mother of Vahram, the lady Shushan,
    making over certain revenues to the same church and recording
    the number of the masses obtained in return. She is styled the
    wife of the prince Grigor. But a date is happily forthcoming to
    elucidate the identity of these personages. It is furnished by a
    long inscription of no less than fourteen lines upon the north
    wall. Record is made that in the year of the Armenian era 489
    (A.D. 1040) Aplgharib, prince of Armenia, erected a sepulchre
    in this place [362] for his father Grigor, of whom he describes
    himself as the youngest son, for his brother Hamzeh, and for his
    maternal uncle Seda. Masses are to be said for his mother Shushan,
    for his father Grigor, for his maternal uncle Seda, and for his
    brother Hamzeh. I cannot help thinking that the sepulchre referred
    to is represented by the remains which I observed upon the north
    side of this building. And the vaulted chambers in the east wall
    may be the tombs of Grigor and his wife Shushan, an inscription
    over the highly decorated window on that side being a prayer to
    Christ for mercy upon Grigor. [363]

    A question of great interest with reference to this building is
    whether it may be regarded as the same church which is mentioned by
    the historians as a work of King Gagik I. We are informed by Samuel
    of Ani that in the year 447 (A.D. 998) a church of St. Gregory was
    completed by this monarch in the Tsaghkotzadzor. The same event
    is recorded in the pages of Kirakos, who gives the same date,
    and describes the situation as overlooking the Valley of the
    Tsaghkotz. [364] Asoghik tells us that it was built on the model
    of a large church at Vagharshapat, dedicated to the same saint,
    which had fallen into ruin. He adds that the edifice of King Gagik
    was built on a high platform on the side of the Tsaghkotz, and
    in possession of an admirable view. He speaks of three doorways
    and of the marvellous dome, reproducing the appearance of the
    sky. [365] I did not observe more than one door to this edifice,
    and perhaps the church which is referred to by these authorities
    was some larger building in the immediate neighbourhood which
    has disappeared.

    The chapel of St. Gregory invites comparison with another monument
    of the same order in the opposite quarter of the town (No. 6,
    Fig. 88). [366] My illustration was taken from the north. The
    design is less elaborate and the dimensions are rather larger,
    the dome especially having a much greater span. But the effect
    produced by the interior lacks the magic of the companion
    building, while the symmetry is marred by the recess for the
    altar on the east side. This building will not endure for many
    years longer, unless steps be taken to save it from falling
    in. The lower portions are in a state of advanced decay. The
    ornament on the exterior closely resembles that employed upon
    the cathedral. Inscriptions bristle upon the panels of the false
    arcades. One records that in the year 483 (A.D. 1034) the prince
    Aplgharib, having journeyed to Constantinople by order of Sembat
    Shahanshah, obtained with great difficulty and at considerable
    expense a piece of the Holy Cross. Upon his return he built this
    church, and directed that nightly services should be held within
    it until the coming of Christ. The name of Surb-Phrkich, or church
    of the Redeemer, is given in this and the following inscription,
    and may be applied either to this chapel or to some neighbouring
    church with which it was in connection. A second inscription
    belongs to the Armenian year 490 (A.D. 1041), and mentions the
    contemporary reign of Sembat, son of Gagik Shahanshah. [367] The
    chapel of the Redeemer is therefore the work of the same Pahlavid,
    Aplgharib, who built the sepulchres to the chapel of St. Gregory,
    and it belongs to the period of the kings. [368]

    Continuing our walk along the cliff above the valley of the
    Alaja, we pass a lofty mound, surmounted by the ruin of a wall
    (No. 31). The old priest was of opinion that it denotes the site
    of the priestly synod house, where endowments were received and
    other business of the Church transacted. A little further, and
    west of this mound we stay to examine a small chapel which has
    been hollowed out of a solid mass of rock. But our attention is
    distracted from this fantastic object by the walls and yawning
    apartments of the castle (No. 12, Fig. 89). It is situated in
    the extreme north-western angle of the town, where the ravine of
    the Alaja is joined by the side-ravine already mentioned in the
    description of the site. My photograph displays the southern side
    of this extensive edifice and the junction of the valleys. The
    entrance is on the east and faces the town (Fig. 90). You admire
    the exquisite masonry of the walls and the elaborate decoration
    of the doorway. That doorway is one of the most conspicuous
    objects in Ani; and inasmuch as this building has been sought
    to be identified with the royal palace, it has been despoiled
    of many of its mosaics by patriotic Armenians, who strip them
    off and carry them away as souvenirs. My reader will observe
    the recurrence of the form of a Greek cross in the ornament on
    the face of the gate. This ornament consists of inlays or, as
    one might say, mosaics composed of a light red and of a black
    stone. The effect is original and pleasant to the eye. In the
    absence of any inscriptions--we searched in vain for any trace
    of writing both on the outside of the edifice and within its
    walls--I am inclined to consider that this so-called palace was
    nothing more than a magazine and barrack, in close connection
    with the outer defences of the city on the vulnerable side, the
    side of the plain. The only ornament in the interior was found
    over a doorway, and consisted of a chain moulding and inlays of
    red and black stone. On the other hand, the uses of the place
    appear to be denoted by the vaulted passages and by the spacious
    underground chambers. Two of these chambers, smaller in size,
    have evidently served as dungeons. [369]

    Two edifices of considerable interest remain to be mentioned. Both
    are situated in quarters of the town which must have been densely
    built over, and both are in an advanced state of decay. The more
    westerly is perhaps the most curious of all the monuments of Ani,
    and I do not pretend to have quite unravelled the complexities
    of its compound plan (No. 2). The eye is engrossed by the ruin
    of a spacious portal, longest from west to east. The western
    and southern walls have fallen away; but the east front and the
    whole of the vaulting of the most easterly portion have been
    spared by the ravages of time. Entering this portal from the west
    (Fig. 91), we are able to reconstruct in fancy the features of the
    design. There appear to have been three distinct domes to the roof,
    supported by arches resting on pillars. Of the three divisions
    which were thus introduced into the interior, the largest was that
    in the centre. That on the east alone remains; and we may gauge
    the dimensions of the whole figure when we consider that this
    division measures within the pillars a square of 19 feet. The
    architecture is pure Arab or Saracenic, recalling that of the
    mosque. It is certainly later than the period of the kings. As
    in the mosque, the effect is heightened by the mixture of black
    with reddish blocks of stone. A large stone, sculptured with a
    cross, is inlaid in the south-east wall, and may be the same as
    the one which has been described by my predecessors as containing
    the figure of a double-headed eagle. [370] The walls are covered
    with inscriptions. The outer face of this portal or east front
    is extremely elaborate (Fig. 92). The doorway on that side forms
    the centre of a Saracenic façade in which honeycomb vaultings,
    false niches, and a mosaic of black and pink stones have all been
    made to play a part. Four inscriptions in Armenian are observed
    upon this front.

    This portal must have served as an entrance to two or more
    chapels. Of these one alone remains. It is entered by a doorway
    with rich mouldings in the north wall of the most easterly
    division. The interior is of grey stone, and it is disposed
    in four semicircles. [371] But the dimensions are small as
    compared to those of the portal, and the portal is much longer
    than the chapel. The ruinous masonry upon the west of the latter
    building indicates the site of a second and contiguous chamber
    or chapel. That of a third is denoted by similar evidence upon
    the east wall. This structure projected beyond the east front of
    the portal, to which it was placed at right angles. Traces of it
    may be seen in my illustration. It bears an Armenian inscription.

    The inscriptions, which unhappily I had not leisure to identify,
    have been already published and translated. [372] The earliest in
    date appears to have been found upon the doorway of the chapel,
    and identifies it as a work of the period of the kings. It records
    that in the year 480 (A.D. 1031) Apughamir, son of Vahram, prince
    of princes, bestowed an endowment upon this church of the Apostles
    for the health and long life of his brother Grigor. My reader
    is already familiar with these names of members of the Pahlavid
    family. The inscriptions upon the portal are of much later dates,
    ranging over the period of Georgian occupation when the city was
    governed by the Mkhargrdzels. Some are in the name of the Mongol
    overlord. Most are of the nature of public proclamations; and
    from the one latest in date we learn that in A.D. 1348 members
    of this Georgian family were still personages at Ani, and that
    the city had not yet been abandoned by her inhabitants.

    The second of the monuments is also the last which I need mention;
    it is situated between the cathedral and the chapel of the
    Redeemer (No. 3). It is of small dimensions and, as usual, of
    great elegance; but the roof and the whole of the upper portion
    have unhappily fallen away. In fact, the only portions which
    are still erect are the north wall, the apse, and part of the
    south wall. A vaulted chamber extends around the edifice. Two
    bas-reliefs are seen in two of the panels of the arcade upon the
    north wall. The one on the left evidently represents the subject
    of the Annunciation; while that on the right probably portrays
    the figures of two saints. I could not discover any trace of an
    inscription. But the old priest bases his opinion that the ruin
    is that of a church dedicated to St. Stephen upon an inscription
    which has disappeared. [373]

    My illustration of the castle (Fig. 89) will have revealed
    a characteristic of the ancient city which is of historical
    interest. The ravine of the Alaja, as well as both the side
    valleys, which open respectively to this ravine and to that of
    the Arpa, present the appearance of having been riddled into
    quite a network of cavities; such is the number of the troglodyte
    dwellings which they contain. Legend peoples this underground city
    with the souls of those citizens of Ani who, sooner than emigrate
    into distant lands, preferred to die in her defence. A stir and
    hum, as of a teeming and busy populace, may be heard by night
    above the rustling of the Arpa Chai. [374] The tuff composing
    the cliffs must at all times have invited such burrowings; and
    we know that, when Ani was surprised during the reign of Thamar
    by the emir of Ardabil, the inhabitants, who were still numerous,
    took refuge in these caves. [375]

    Our conception of the city of the kings would be wanting in an
    essential feature were we to pass over the neighbouring convent
    of Khosha Vank (Fig. 93). It was there, we can scarcely doubt,
    that the monarch was often wont to deliberate; and it was under
    the shadow of those walls that his bones were laid to rest by
    the side of his ancestors. The triumphal archway through which
    he would pass on his way from the capital may still be seen
    on the summit of the cliff on the right bank of the Arpa Chai
    (Fig. 94). The cloister is situated, as we have seen, upon the
    opposite or left bank, [376] and is bordered on two sides by a
    loop of the river. The bridge has disappeared. A small village has
    grouped itself between the monastery and the bed of the stream,
    where repose beneath the gloom of lofty cliffs of lava the two
    chapels and the tomb of King Ashot.

    The monastic buildings occupy a considerable area upon the high
    ground within the bend of the river. They are surrounded by a
    lofty wall. Entering from the west, we cross a court to an opposite
    doorway which opens into a vast and gloomy chamber (Fig. 95). On
    the further or eastern side of this chamber we perceive the door
    of the church. The architecture of this outer hall or pronaos
    is quite remarkable. In some respects it resembles that of the
    mosque at Ani. The ceilings are vaulted, and there are no less
    than four rows of pillars. The space is divided into the form
    of a nave and two aisles. The circumference of the pillars is
    9 1/2 feet. The central vaulting of the nave is surmounted by a
    dome, different in shape from any of the domes which have been
    described. Viewed from the outside, it becomes merged in a tall
    belfry, which is seen on the left of my illustration (Fig. 96),
    taken from the south-west. To the interior it displays a drum of
    eight panels; and the only light which it transmits comes from
    above. The panels are of stone and covered with sculpture in low
    relief. Here it is an architectural figure, there a beautiful
    vine pattern which is the subject of the ornament. One space
    displays the form of the Virgin Mary, set in a rich frame. The two
    extremities of the frame are supported by the shapes of animals,
    a bull and a lion. On the back of the lion is seated an eagle,
    and a child on that of the bull. Two angels keep watch, one on
    either side of the Mother of Christ. The gloom of the building
    is due to the design of this dome, as well as to the smallness
    of the round windows, resembling the port-holes of a ship, of
    which there are three in the north and two in the south wall.

    The interior of this edifice is covered with inscriptions in
    Armenian, which none of my party were able to read. Perhaps they
    include some of those which were brought by Abich from this
    cloister and which have been translated by Brosset. [377] One
    of these inscriptions records a donation in the Armenian year
    650 (A.D. 1201) under the government of Zakarea. Another is to
    the effect that the monastery was restored in 1102 (A.D. 1652)
    by one Daniel, a monk from Tigranocerta. We are told that the
    buildings had previously fallen into ruin, and had become polluted
    by accumulations of dust and filth. The cloister is styled Horomosi
    Vank, and is described as having been constructed by the kings. I
    will not venture to express an opinion upon the age of the pronaos;
    but I would suggest that the belfry is perhaps of later date. The
    sculptures in the dome appear to belong to a hoary antiquity. The
    edifice may have served as a model for a rock chamber which is
    described by a modern traveller as belonging to the cloister of
    Surb Geghard. [378]

    You enter the church through the door in the east wall of
    the pronaos, passing a slab engraved with a pastoral staff,
    which marks the place of burial of some spiritual dignitary. A
    spacious dome rests upon four piers, and there is a single apse
    with the usual daïs. The walls are covered with a coating of
    whitewash. The interior measures roughly 53 feet by 33 feet,
    the former dimension including the apse. The attendant priest
    showed us an old but undated manuscript, which proved to be an
    illustrated New Testament. It would appear from an inscription
    that the church was dedicated to St. Gregory, [379] and it may
    perhaps be ascribed to the period of the kings.

    The monastic buildings are placed upon the south of the church
    and pronaos, and are approached from the southern side of the
    entrance court. They are just outside the area embraced by my
    illustration of the south walls of the edifices just named. Two
    large apartments, communicating with one another, serve as
    antechambers to a great hall with pillars and vaulted ceilings,
    which is entered from the second of the two chambers, and in plan
    extends along the most easterly of its walls. The whole suite are
    impressive examples of the art of the mason and stone-sculptor,
    effect being gained by the regularity and perfect fitting of
    the blocks, while the stone takes an admirable surface. Friezes
    with stalactite patterns are employed in one room as a cornice
    for the ceiling. In the second and smaller room there is a
    square aperture in the centre of the roof with a stalactite
    ornament. The same feature belongs to the hall of the synod
    (Fig. 97), and is clearly seen in my photograph. At the further
    end of the two rows of pillars may be discerned a niche with a
    daïs, the recess being richly sculptured. It was there that was
    placed the throne. But I think these buildings are all later than
    the time of the kings, although they may have been used by the
    Georgian princes who governed Ani. We learn from an inscription,
    which was probably copied in the larger of the antechambers, that
    at least one of these apartments was constructed in A.D. 1229 to
    serve as a receptacle for the holy relics. [380]

    On the north side of the church buildings there is nothing but
    a narrow and vacant space separating them from the wall of the
    cloister. But at the east end of this part of the enclosure, and in
    line with the east front of the church, are situated the roofless
    remains of a little chapel, crowning a ruinous substructure which
    is overgrown by rank weeds, and of which the sculptured stones
    litter the ground. The pendant of this building on the south side
    of the church is seen in my illustration (Fig. 96). It is much
    better preserved than the companion edifice, and the chamber in
    the lower storey is still intact. This chamber is oblong in shape,
    with a vaulted ceiling and an altar with sculptured stones. The
    chapel is of triple design, with three apses, the whole surmounted
    by a dome. It is possible that both these buildings, which so
    closely correspond, were designed to receive the remains of some
    high personages.

    But the actual tomb of one of the kings has been spared by a happy
    chance, and may be found quite close to the second and larger of
    the chapels which repose in the bed of the Arpa Chai (Fig. 94). It
    is placed near the south-eastern angle of the building. With what
    a thrill of delight did we discover this eloquent relic--a rounded
    slab resting on two stone steps! In spite of the lichen and the
    wear of the stone, the words "Ashot Thagavor" (Ashot, the king)
    were distinctly legible. The chapels are placed in a line from west
    to east, and were originally three in number. Of these the most
    westerly is falling into ruin, a state which has already overtaken
    that on the east. The central member of the group is at once the
    largest and the best preserved. It contains an inscription over
    the south door to the effect that it was built in 460 (A.D. 1011)
    by one George, son of the patriarch Martiros. But I have not
    been able to identify this patriarch; and it is possible there
    may be some error in the translation made by my dragoman, who,
    although well educated, was not a scholar in old Armenian. The
    king whose name appears on the tomb is probably Ashot the Third.

    The inscriptions establish the fact that the monastery was
    known by the name of Horomosi Vank, which probably signifies
    the convent of the Greek. [381] History supplements and explains
    this information. We learn from Asoghik that it was founded in
    the tenth century under the reign of Abas by Armenian priests
    who had emigrated from Greek territory. It was burnt by the
    Mussulmans in A.D. 982. [382] An inscription of King John Sembat,
    dated 487 (A.D. 1038), appears to have been found within its
    walls; and it has been inferred that the cloister was restored
    by that prince. [383] We know that he was buried by the side of
    his predecessors who ruled at Ani; and we have an inscription
    of John Sembat by which he bestows the revenue of a village in
    support of the royal cemetery at this monastery of Horomos. [384]


For the benefit of such of my readers whose leisure may be unequal to
a perusal of this long description, I would single out for particular
study the cathedral (Figs. 72 and 74), the church of St. Gregory
(Figs. 76, 77, and 78), and the two polygonal chapels (Figs. 85 and
88). These monuments are examples of the Armenian style at its very
best, before it was brought under the direct influence of Mussulman
art and adopted with slight variations Mussulman models. Except in
the case of the church of St. Gregory, we have authentic evidence
that they are works of the kingly period. The merits of the style
are the diversity of its resources, the elegance of the ornament in
low relief, the perfect execution of every part. It combines many of
the characteristics of Byzantine art and of the style which we term
Gothic, and which at that date was still unborn. The conical roofs of
the domes are a distinctive feature, as also are the purely Oriental
niches. Texier is of opinion that the former of these features was
carried into Central Europe by the colonies of emigrants from the
city on the Arpa Chai. [385]

In the portals of St. Gregory and of the church of the Apostles
(Figs. 78 and 92) we have elaborate examples of the later period
when the influence of Mussulman art was supreme. And the pronaos of
Khosha Vank, with its massive pillars and groined ceilings, with the
finely sculptured panels in the dome, seems to blend some of the
characteristics of the architecture of the kings with the plainer
style which belongs to the mosque.

But a lesson of wider import, transcending the sphere of the history
of architecture, may be derived from a visit to the capital of the
Bagratid dynasty, and from the study of the living evidence of a
vanished civilisation which is lavished upon the traveller within
her walls. Her monuments throw a strong light upon the character
of the Armenian people, and they bring into pronouncement important
features of Armenian history. They leave no doubt that this people may
be included in the small number of races who have shown themselves
susceptible of the highest culture. They exhibit the Armenians as
able and sympathetic intermediaries between the civilisation of the
Byzantine Empire, with its legacies from that of Rome, and the nations
of the East. They testify to the tragic suddenness with which the
development of the race was arrested at a time when they had attained a
measure of political freedom, and when their capacities, thus favoured,
were commencing to bear fruit. The Armenian architects thenceforward
subserve the taste of their Mussulman masters; and during the long
centuries which have elapsed since the Seljuk conquest, the genius of
their countrymen has been exploited by the semi-barbarous peoples of
Asia, while their abilities and character have progressively declined
and become debased.

For all these reasons a special duty devolves upon the traveller to
address a pressing appeal both to the Armenians and to the Russian
Government for the preservation of these monuments. I have already
mentioned the abstraction of two important bas-reliefs, and the
petty thefts which are taking place with increasing frequency. Of
the buildings observed by my predecessors within comparatively recent
years, the octagonal minaret has already succumbed. A like fate will
presently overtake the chapel of the Redeemer, unless measures be
promptly taken to maintain that edifice. The monastery of Horomos
is falling into ruin. Rich Armenians spend vast sums upon the
embellishment of Edgmiatsin; can none be found to conserve for the
instruction of posterity the noblest examples of the genius of their
race? The co-operation of the Russian Government should be secured
in this laudable enterprise; nor need we despair that it will be
forthcoming in such a cause. Much as that Government is inclined to
discourage Armenian patriotism, it rarely omits to perform a service in
the interests of culture when the appeal is general and the interests
are clear.



CHAPTER XIX

KARS


While Ani, the deserted stronghold and capital on the banks of the
Arpa, appeals to the patriotism of Armenians, her neighbour Kars,
that fortress at once of ancient and modern repute, awakens a feeling
of national pride in the bosom of the English visitor. Few, indeed,
of my countrymen have been privileged to gaze upon a site and scene
which is associated in their memory with a most brilliant achievement
of British officers. Of the sieges which Kars has sustained during
the course of the present century only one has been conducted with
any skill and spirit on the part of the defence. On that occasion a
garrison of about fifteen thousand Turks resisted, under the strategy
of an English general, a force of from thirty to forty thousand
Russians for a period of over five months. The exploits of Williams
and his companions in 1855 are still familiar to the townspeople. It
is they who first traced the design of the fortifications, such as
we see them at the present day. The old school of Russian officers
still view with alarm or suspicion the approach of an Englishman to
the neighbourhood of their prize. Kars is rigorously excluded from the
jurisdiction of our consuls, and our travellers have rarely penetrated
within her walls. On the other hand, the new school are of quite a
different temper, and give free rein to the hospitable and amiable
qualities which are natural to their race. They received me with open
arms, overwhelmed me with attentions, and took pains to let me feel
that, side by side with the Russian laurels, one in honour of their
British opponents had not been allowed to fade.

I have already endeavoured to describe the characteristics of the
site of Kars as you approach the fortress from the east across the
plain. The plan which I now offer will at once assist that description
and supplement it with a view of the surrounding features. The volcanic
mass which is pierced by the river where it projects into the level
expanse is due to a local outbreak of basaltic lava, which is in
orographical and, probably, in genetical connection with the volcanic
water-parting between the Araxes and the Kur. The real boundary of
these plains on the west and south-west is formed by the breaking
away to the Pontic region of the uplands of the Soghanlu Dagh; and
the low water-parting between the two great rivers extends from the
northern extremity of the Soghanlu to the Kisir Dagh which confines
Lake Chaldir on the west. Upon that line of intermediary elevation the
principal points of eruption have been the Kabak Tepe or Kizilkaya
(10,010 feet), and, further north, the Buga Tepe (8995 feet). Minor
emissions of volcanic matter have issued from radial fissures,
which may be traced back to these parent stems. In this manner we
may connect the Ainalu Dagh, on the west of Kars, with Kabak Tepe;
and, perhaps too, the local eruptions which have produced the rock
of Kars with the system of the Ainalu. [386]

It is with a feeling of astonishment, which will not be diminished
by better acquaintance, that the traveller surveys the site of the
fortress. That impression will be derived not so much from the course
of the river--although one would expect to see it flowing towards
rather than from the south, the direction of the Araxes to which it is
tributary--but rather from the phenomenon which attends its approach
to the cliffs on the northern margin of the plain. It is seen for some
distance following at the base of a low ridge which culminates further
eastwards in the towering parapet behind the town. All of a sudden,
when the obstacle becomes most pronounced, instead of indulging in
an easy and not very lengthy bend and taking the rampart in flank,
the wayward stream throws its waters at the face of the cliff and
disappears in an almost invisible gorge. For a distance of about
four miles, measured along its banks in the trough of the chasm, it
cleaves the mass of gloomy rock; then issues into the plainer land
on the north of the rampart, which it has isolated from the heights
on the west. An insular mass of mountain, rendered impregnable on one
side by the precipices which overhang the river, and easily defended
on other sides--such a site must have been fortified from the earliest
times, commanding as it does a wide area of fertile plains.

At the commencement of our era the district but not the town is
described by Strabo under the name of Chorzene. [387] It is possible
that the Chorsa or the Kolsa of Ptolemy occupied the position of
the present Kars. [388] But it is not before the Middle Ages that we
become apprised of its certain existence, when it is mentioned under
its present name by the imperial author Constantine, and under that
of Karutz by Armenian writers. [389] From both sources we learn that
it was a capital of the Bagratid dynasty before the rise of Ani to
the dignity of a royal residence. It was conferred by Ashot the Third
(A.D. 951-977), the founder of the fortunes of Ani, upon his younger
brother Mushegh together with the prerogatives of local kingship. The
kinglets of Kars were submerged by the wave of Seljuk invasion; but
the reigning prince contrived to appease the wrath of the conqueror
of Ani, and to gain time for the cession of the principality to
the Cæsars, which was effected in the year 1064 in exchange for a
retreat in Asia Minor. [390] The Byzantines did not remain long in
the possession of their prize, and it became incorporated in the
empire of the Seljuks. Nor, so far as I am aware, was it recovered
from the Mussulmans until its capture by the Russians under Marshal
Paskevich in 1828. The Armenians, the Seljuks, and the Ottomans have
all successively imprinted their stamp upon the town, such as it has
come down to our times. The only noteworthy building is a church of
the period of the Armenian kings; and the citadel and walls are in
part due to the Armenians and in part to the Seljuks and the Ottomans.

The names Kars and Karutz are believed to be derived from the Georgian,
in which language Kari signifies a gate. The fortress would be known
in that tongue as Karis-Kholakhi, or the gate-town. It would seem
to have been originally a stronghold of the Iberians, the ancestors
of the Georgians of the present day. [391] If this derivation be
correct, we must suppose that the Kars near Marash in Asia Minor,
which is mentioned by a writer of the seventeenth century, was
named after the city in northern Armenia. [392] During the Bagratid
period the province of Kars was called Vanand, [393] and the river
Akhurean. This last name was also applied to the present Arpa Chai
from the confluence with the river of Kars to its junction with the
Araxes. These appellations have disappeared during the long spell of
Mussulman rule, nor have they been revived by the Russians. I must
not weary my reader with an attempt to follow the fortunes of Kars
from the eleventh to the nineteenth century. But it may interest
him to know that among its conquerors figure two great names, that
of Timur in the fourteenth century and that of Shah Abbas in the
seventeenth. Nadir Shah attempted in vain to effect its capture in
1744, although he brought up no less than sixteen large cannons and
spared no pains to reduce the Ottoman garrison. [394] The memory of
this failure and of that of the Russian general Nesvateff in 1807 had
confirmed the Turks in the conviction that the place was impregnable
when the army of Paskevich appeared beneath the walls. [395]

The appearance of the fortified town upon that historic occasion must
have been much more imposing than at the present day. Mounting the
hillside from the plain on the south, the walls and houses of black
stone rose then as now to the very summit of the ridge. But instead
of ruinous parapets, interrupted by wide breaches, a double wall with
an interval of about 16 feet frowned out upon the advancing host. The
inner rampart was defended by towers, the outer by bastions; and the
whole circumference of the figure which enclosed the western portion
of the insular rock measured 2555 yards. The height of the walls
ranged between 14 and 28 feet, and they were from 3 to 5 feet thick.

At the north-west angle of the enclosure, and immediately overlooking
the river, which winds at the foot of vertical cliffs, was placed the
inner fortress or citadel--Narin Kala--consisting of not less than
three fortified spaces of which the most westerly or innermost was
the keep. It was built throughout of solid stone. For a considerable
space on the side of the plain the outer wall of the city was flanked
by a moat, communicating with a marsh. In the plain itself the suburb
on the south, which has now been transfigured by the Russians and
composes the modern town, was surrounded by walls and defended by
towers. A fort had been erected on the horn of the Karadagh, beyond
the smaller suburb of Bairam Pasha. On the left bank of the river the
only work of importance appears to have been a quadrangular fort with
towers at the angles, called Temir Pasha, and protecting the outlying
houses on the margin of the stream. [396]

The Russian army approached from the side of Gümri, the present
Alexandropol, and passed within sight of the walls to the banks of
the river where they encamped near the village of Küchik Keui. Their
number amounted to about seven thousand men, while the besieged
counted about eleven thousand under arms. But Paskevich was allowed
to occupy the high land on the left bank, and to direct his attack
from the south-west as well as from the south. The fortified suburb,
Orta Kapi, was stormed on one flank and the Karadagh on the other. The
citadel capitulated on the same day, the fifth after the commencement
of operations. Kars was restored to the Turks after the termination
of this war, and was again besieged by the Russians in 1855. Four
British officers were despatched by our own Government to direct the
defence, and the garrison numbered some fourteen thousand infantry,
fifteen hundred artillery, and a small body of cavalry. The enemy,
under Muravieff, were more than double this strength; the advance
was again made from the side of Gümri, and the Russian headquarters
were established in the vicinity of the river, on the south-west of
the town. But on this occasion the Russian general discovered that
all the approaches had been protected by works, which covered a large
area. Under the conditions of modern warfare Kars is most assailable
from the heights on the west, which rise from no great elevation along
the left bank of the river, until they reach imposing proportions
just north of the site, on the further side of the chasm. There
they form a plateau which must be higher than the rock of Kars,
and which overlooks the ridge of that insular mass, the town itself
being turned towards the plain. Once gain possession of this line
of heights and the old town is at your mercy. Realising this fact,
General Williams and his subordinates had erected a line of forts
to bar the approach on this side. The principal work on the west
was situated some two miles from the town, at the extremity of
the higher levels in that direction. It was called Fort Takhmas or
Tahmasp. Inside of that position, immediately covering the heights on
the north, a string of fortifications was constructed on the plateau,
commencing on the south-west with Fort Lake, the strongest of all,
and terminating on the north-east in Fort Teesdale near the edge of
the cliff, where the river has almost effected its passage through
the gorge. While such was the disposition of the defences on the left
bank, the protected area on the right bank, the side of the plain,
was considerably extended. A line of breastworks, enclosing a wide
rectangular space, was taken from the foot of the Karadagh on the
east to the margin of the river on the west. At the angles of this
enclosure stood the Karadagh fort on the north, and the forts of
Hafiz Pasha and Kanly on the south. The point of junction with the
river was defended by Fort Suwari, and breastworks and redoubts,
placed upon commanding positions, joined these works of the plain to
those upon the heights already described. [397]

With certain changes in name my reader can follow this disposition of
the defences upon the plan at the commencement of the present chapter,
which is founded upon plans made during the last Russo-Turkish war
in 1877. The Russians have since added to the strength of the works
and have vastly improved the communications between them. But they
do not appear, so far as I was enabled to judge, to have materially
altered their arrangement. The greater range of modern guns has perhaps
already necessitated a further extension of outlying forts. The old
citadel has sunk into insignificance; and the defence of the future
will have to deal with a very large area, and will require many times
as many men as in the past. How Williams with such a small force could
have held out for five months against an organised army of twice his
own strength is a question which I cannot answer with satisfaction
to myself. His ultimate surrender was occasioned by starvation; but
he had already repulsed, with enormous losses to the enemy, the main
attack, which was directed against Fort Takhmas. [398] For the second
time the victors were compelled at the peace to disgorge their prize,
which they justly regarded as the outer bulwark of Erzerum and Asia
Minor. Its permanent conquest was reserved for the war of 1877, when
the Turks were left by England to their own resources, and when they
practically gave it away to Loris Melikoff after the defeat at the
Alaja Dagh. [399]

My hopes of being able to investigate this historical site reposed upon
the high authority of the letters which I carried with me and upon the
doubtful factor of the personality of the governor. To measure this
uncertain quantity was my first object, and I set out to accomplish
it in fitting style. An open landau, driven by a Russian coachman of
the Molokan sect, conveyed me from the modern town in the plain along
the right bank of the river and for some distance into the gorge. A
metalled road follows that bank under the shadow of the precipice for
the space of about half a mile. It ends at a little respite of even
ground between the cliff and the water's edge. In former days there
had been planted here a grove and a flower garden, which was known as
the paradise of Kars. But, since the present governor appropriated
the place to himself, and built upon it his private residence, it
goes by the name of paradise lost. General Fadéeff is not exactly a
popular personage--if, indeed, he may still be numbered among mortal
men. His abode is far removed from their habitations, and I came to
the conclusion that it concealed a mystery. I rang in vain several
times at the door. At last I contrived to summon a very pretty young
woman with a very sulky countenance. As she spoke both French and
German, I contrived to win her to my side, and she promised she would
enquire after the General. She returned with a set expression which I
felt I could not assail. I did, however, succeed in making her smile,
and that was something pleasant in itself. His Excellency was absent;
it was not known where, nor by what time he would return. I enquired
whether he made a practice of sleeping out. At last she relented into
suggesting I might call in the evening; she would do what she could,
but she was only a subordinate member of the household. She did
not come to the door when I repeated my visit, and I received the
same unsatisfactory answers. The vice-governor, General Petander,
examined my papers at the seat of government, but pleaded that his
authority was extremely limited. He could not say when the Governor
would return to his house. I was glad to escape from him to the
hospitable home of Colonel Rzewuski, in command of the Uman regiment
of Cossacks of Kuban. I had accepted an invitation to dine with him
and Madame Rzewuski; and the party consisted of a group of as amiable
and charming people as it would be possible to meet. All had travelled
and knew the world. The conversation was free, and ranged at ease over
every topic, including the mysterious Governor. They were immensely
entertained by my own experiences in that quarter, and they repaid me
by narrating the gallant deeds of Fadéeff, who appears to have been
instrumental in the conquest of Kars in 1877. But they left me in
doubt whether he still existed in the flesh. I thought I detected a
certain legendary phraseology in their remarks about him, from which
a master of the higher criticism would easily be able to establish
that they were not contemporary with the personage of whom they spoke.

My host was determined that I should not be blindfolded, and that
I should see what might be seen without endangering the safety of
Kars. His own aide-de-camp had recently returned from a visit to
England, where he had been accorded facilities of a similar nature,
and whence he brought back the most agreeable recollections. The
deficiencies in our insular manners are in such cases outweighed in
the mind of the visitor by the freedom of our life, the absence of
suspicion against foreign designs, and, above all, by the world-wide
bond of sport. Never in the height of the hunting season at home
have I listened to a more animated discussion of the relative merits
of our countries and packs of foxhounds than after dinner in the
company of these officers in this remote corner of Russian Asia. From
hounds we passed to horses, and to an interesting experiment which
had recently been made by the Colonel. It is well known that the
Cossack horses are of great endurance; but they have little pace,
and their shoulders are of the worst. My host had crossed one of
his mares with the English thoroughbred, and had produced a colt of
much promise which had only just been broken. If I did not object I
should ride him on the morrow, when he would take me to have a peep
at the fortifications on the heights. In spite of the twinkle in his
eye when he spoke of the vivacity of the youngster, I felt that the
opportunity was cheap at this price, and merely stipulated that I
should be allowed my English saddle.

Very early on the following morning I sallied forth to the Colonel's
residence, and was surprised to find a whole squadron of Cossack
cavalry drawn up in the road. His aide-de-camp was conspicuous in a
magnificent uniform, which set off his tall and graceful figure. The
band of the regiment was mustered at its full strength; but these
troops were only a portion of the effective, which numbered some
eight or nine hundred horsemen. The remainder were distributed over
the extensive tract of country between Akhaltsykh and the Turkish
frontier at Sarikamish. An iron-grey charger, over 15 hands in
height, was being paced to and fro before the door. He excited the
admiration and the curiosity of the onlookers, having a long and
elastic walk, and arching his neck to the hand of the groom instead of
stolidly following where he was led. That was a horse, they were all
saying--those of the country were ponies beside him, and, as for the
mounts of the Cossacks, they looked mere dross by his side. My small
and plain-flap saddle, which I recognised upon his back, brought out
the points of his sloping shoulder and strong loins. A word from the
aide-de-camp, and the squadron was brought to attention with the band
at their head. When the Colonel emerged from the doorway a salute
was exchanged, and when he had mounted, the march commenced and the
band prepared to strike up. None too soon had I adjusted my stirrup
leathers on the iron-grey, for at the first sound he bounded high
into the air. But he had plenty of room at the head of the regiment,
where the Colonel beckoned me to ride by his side.

This was the second time I had ridden at the head of Cossacks; I
mention the fact merely to justify the assertion that there can be
few more inspiriting positions. One feels the peculiar quality of the
material behind one; it is in the air and makes the pulse beat. There
is no champing of bits and impatient curvetting; nor do the riders
sit up in their saddles and look smart. They may be seen in every
posture, lolling about in their shabby drab uniforms, and holding
their reins long. But they communicate the impression that each man
is a born soldier, and that one might march with them from one end of
Asia to another without troubling much about the commissariat or the
length of the particular stage. They are just the troops with which
to traverse these vast plains. The long-backed horses are hardened to
every kind of privation, and so are their owners, for every Cossack
owns his mount. Where would you march? Say the word, and we go now.

On this occasion the proceedings were quite of a gala order. We
passed through the main streets of the modern town upon the plain;
and all the Karslis were there assembled to hear the inspiriting music
and to pass remarks upon the foreigner on the grey horse. We wound
along the side of the river, at the foot of the precipice crowned
by the citadel, where a window in the walls of that airy edifice
marks the spot whence the Turks were wont to precipitate spies. We
crossed to the left bank by the lower of the two bridges, and followed
along the chaussée upon that side. It is now the principal avenue of
communication with Alexandropol; but it is destined to be replaced by
a road which will pass to the south of the town, leaving this chaussée
with its secrets for purely military use. The further we proceeded
the loftier loomed the walls of the chasm, especially that upon our
left hand. It rises almost vertically from the margin of the road to
the edge of the plateau, some five hundred feet above the stream.

The heights on the left bank are here called by the name of Mukhliss,
and such is their elevation that the buildings upon them--the military
hospital and the redoubts--may be seen from the plain on the south of
Kars, showing up behind the insular ridge against which the ancient
town is built. Opposite the old citadel they are known as Vali Pasha,
and, further west, as Takhmas. On the right bank the mass of rock
which falls abruptly to the river is styled Kars and Karadagh. We had
arrived at a point whence the solitary house of the Governor could
be clearly seen beyond the winding channel on that side. The choice
was offered between two roads. The one we had been following pursued
its course through the chasm; the other took advantage of some milder
acclivities in the cliff to mount to the plateau above our heads. The
forts upon the plateau are the interesting feature of modern Kars;
the word was given to take the upper road. The Colonel and myself
were still riding in front of the band, and could look back upon the
long train of one of the finest of Cossack regiments defiling in half
column up the incline. When we had reached a considerable elevation,
all of a sudden a human figure springs into the road. It is a little
gendarme, and he stands immovable in the centre of the road. The
regiment is at once brought to a halt. The figure enquires whether
there be a foreigner riding with them, and receives an affirmative
reply. Then he points to an adjacent bifurcation of the road, one
branch leading to the heights, and the other rejoining the chaussée
at a point some distance down the stream. He directs us to take the
latter way. The Colonel bites his lip, turns pale and obeys. We have
come up all this distance, and now we are to go down. The ghost of
General Fadéeff must be chuckling--if ghosts can chuckle--behind
those windows in the speck of a house on the opposite bank!

It had been the plan of my kind host to cross the block of heights
containing the forts, and thence to descend into the plain upon the
north. A little Molokan village, called Blagodarnoe, is situated
in the more level country on that side. A troop of his Cossacks was
billeted within it, and it had been thought convenient to pay them a
visit. The return journey would be made by way of the chaussée. There
was now nothing for it but to proceed and to come home by the same
route, since the little gendarme had given orders to this effect. We
continued our passage through the chasm. I was impressed with the
admirable communications which the Russians have established at great
cost between the heights on either bank. Soon after regaining the main
road we passed two opposite flights of steps, of which the one scaled
the steep side of the plateau on the left, and the other that of the
insular rock of Kars. Both were broad and perfectly maintained. The
latter conducted from the water's edge to the Karadagh fort, now
called Fort Fadéeff, invisible on the further side of the ridge. And
from the base of these steps a military road was carried slantwise
towards the citadel. During the last siege the garrison suffered
from the want of ready access to the outlying positions. This want
has now been supplied. Troops can be moved with rapidity between the
town and these positions as well as between the positions themselves.

The cliffs on either hand retain their elevation until you have reached
the fourth military verst stone (over two and a half miles). Then
they decline and become less rocky and steep. The formation on the
right bank is continued into the distance in a low outline; that
on the left already opens to plainer land at about the sixth stone
(four miles). We now left the chaussée, and cantered over the plain,
across which it was a pleasure to extend the iron-grey. He had all
the makings of a very valuable horse.

Luncheon was served in one of the neat little houses of the Molokan
village, and many a glass of white liqueur was consumed before the
meal. On the way home there was a display of Cossack exercises, a
succession of riders galloping past us in single file, and vaulting to
the ground with one foot in the stirrup in full career. Or they placed
their bodies parallel with the flanks of their horses, avoiding the
arrows of their ancestors or the bullets of their contemporaries. Like
Kurds and Circassians they raised wild shouts; but, unlike these,
they never got out of hand. Last of all there was a race, conducted
on strict principles, in which I cantered in, an easy winner, on the
grey. The squadron then re-formed, and we retraced our steps through
the chasm to the inspiriting music of the band. It soon ceased playing;
and with the last strain, at first low, then gradually louder, a sad
and mysterious chant broke from the ranks. It was carried like sobs
into the recesses of the gorge, rising and falling like the sighing
of the wind. What did they sing in that expression of bottomless
misery? Their homes had been laid waste, their parents were no more,
nor their horses any longer at tether or stall. Then the theme would
change abruptly, and a note of triumph would be heard. Nowhere except
in Hungary have I heard such moving music, giving utterance through the
canons of Western harmony to the tempestuous motives of Eastern songs.

It remains to say a few words about the town of Kars, as you see
it at the present day. It is a mere shadow of its former self. The
old fortress city on the side of the insular rock is scarcely better
than a heap of ruins. The suburb on the plain--Orta Kapi of Mussulman
times--is rapidly pushing it out of existence. This suburb contains
the residences of the high officials and officers, and can boast
of a new Russian church, at its southern extremity, and of a number
of single-storeyed but spacious and well-supplied shops. The church
displays the masonry of the grey stone found at Kars; but the bulk
of the buildings have their walls painted white, and their roofing
of sheet metal, coloured pink or a soft green. The aspect of this
modern quarter, jutting out from the hill into the plain opposite
the answering horn of the Karadagh on the east, presents a striking
contrast to the uniform grey of the old city, overlooking the bay
of the plain. The stone of the walls and of the old Armenian church
have weathered almost black. But the majority of the ancient houses
have disappeared, and the walled area is for the most part covered
with rubble and ruin, or with straggling hovels, resembling those of
a village. The citadel was blown up by the Russians prior to their
evacuation at the close of the Crimean War, [400] and has been rebuilt
in a softer and yellow stone (Fig. 98). It now forms a most admirable
target for artillery, being the only patch of brighter colour on a
ground of the sombrest hue. The population of city and suburbs is
censused at not more than 4000, of course excluding the garrison. Of
these 2500 are Armenians and only some 850 are Turks. The Russians,
including Molokans, number 250, and the Greeks over 300 souls. It is
true that the total might perhaps be doubled if there were included
in it those families who are allowed to reside here on sufferance,
prior to being settled elsewhere. Kars is constantly receiving refugees
from the Turkish provinces, flying before the excesses of the Kurds.

Still the number of the inhabitants has grown smaller and smaller,
if we even confine ourselves to the present century. Prior to the
campaign of Paskevich, we are informed by a credible authority that
Kars with its suburbs contained some 10,000 families, or from 50,000
to 60,000 souls. [401] After it was evacuated by the Russian army upon
the close of that war, the bulk of the Armenian population deserted
their homes and followed the Russian retreat. [402] The figure then
drops to a pretty uniform estimate of 2000 houses or families, giving
a result of some 10,000 to 12,000 souls, of whom the vast majority
were Mussulmans. [403] It must now be further reduced by more than
one-half. Perhaps the projected railway will increase the prosperity
of Kars if the military regulations be relaxed. But it will be a long
time before it can recover its former splendour, when the fortress city
contained no less than 3000 houses, 47 mosques and 18 schools. [404]

I was prevented by the number and ubiquity of the gendarmes from making
use of my camera. The only illustration which I am able to offer is
a view of the citadel, reproduced from a photograph which has been
placed at my disposal by my friend Mr. F. C. Conybeare (Fig. 98). I
should have liked to reproduce the interesting features of the Armenian
church, now converted into a temple of the Russian Orthodox profession
and serving as the principal resort of the garrison. In Mussulman times
it was used as a mosque. There can, I think, be little doubt that
this is the same building which was erected by the Armenian monarch
of the Bagratid dynasty, Abas, in A.D. 930. [405] The teachers in
the Armenian school ascribed it to this prince, but were not certain
about the date. I have remarked upon the blackness of its walls from
without. The interior has been covered with a yellow buff paint, and
its proportions are spoilt by an elaborate altar. It wears an air of
comfort and even of luxury, all the ornaments being out of keeping
with the austerity of the ancient pile. The form of this church is one
I have not seen elsewhere, presenting on plan four semicircular arms
with a rectangular projection between each arm. The vaulting of the
ceilings above the projections composes with that of the ceilings of
the apsidal recesses a group of eight arches. Another monument of the
same period is said to be the ruinous castle at the upper end of the
wall on the east. The wall on the south has well-nigh disappeared,
and what remains is almost lost among the houses. The gate on this
side contains an Arabic inscription, and several Armenian crosses
are inserted into the adjacent rampart. From the citadel a wall still
descends the side of the precipice, and is taken by an archway over
the road to the margin of the river. I cannot help thinking that the
plan of the place and its essential features have not changed much
since the time of the Armenian kings. Sultan Murad III. (1574-1595)
is credited with extensive works, but it may be questioned whether
they were much more than restorations. A renewal is ascribed to Sultan
Selim, but it appears doubtful to which monarch of that name. [406]
The days of the fortified town, with its mediæval castle and ramparts,
are perhaps already numbered. The Russians will build in the open,
where there will be room for their favourite boulevards, although trees
are rare at present in Kars. The fortifications will year by year be
extended over a larger area, the neighbourhood being sown with volcanic
eminences admirably adapted both for the attack and for the defence.

The Armenian inhabitants have a single elementary school, or, rather,
one for boys and one for girls. It is housed in the buildings adjacent
to the little church of St. Mary, under the citadel at the western
extremity of the rock. The teachers simply cowered with fear during
my visit. The Russian school dispenses a somewhat higher standard
of education, and profits by the disabilities imposed upon its
rival. I was shown specimens of the Easter cards which each child
had received this year from inmates of schools in France. The little
French boy sends some poetry translated into Russian to his Russian
contemporary. The girls here received similar presents from French
girls. It would appear as if no Russian school within the limits
of the Empire had been passed over by the organisers of an act of
demonstrative patriotism which, let us hope, is not spontaneous with
the young.



CHAPTER XX

ACROSS THE SPINE OF ARMENIA


The long and lofty barrier of the Ararat system affords a natural
partition of the surface of the Armenian highlands, and, corresponding
with the frontier between the Russian and the Turkish empires, divides
Armenia into two. The fairest districts of either territory are
found on their southern confines; and what the valley of the Araxes
is to the Russian provinces, that is to those under Turkish rule the
country of Van. Van, with her famous lake and immemorial antiquity,
became the next, and not the least alluring objective of the journey
which we had planned. A new world lay on the further side of the
mountains towards which we now directed our course.

October 22.--During our stay in Kars we had experienced the first spell
of cold, bleak weather that the coming winter held in store. On the day
of departure the district was visited by a storm of rain which delayed
us until afternoon. At a few minutes after one o'clock we were crossing
the bridge which spans the river, and taking a last view of the castle
and the gorge. Above the entrance to the cleft the stream flows between
humbler slopes; but they are still of rock, and the metalled road,
which follows the western shore at no great distance, is without a
prospect on either side. A few versts are covered among such cheerless
surroundings; then the river comes towards you through a nice tract of
flat pasture land which opens out upon the right bank. The meadows,
brown of hue after the heats of summer, were seen to extend to the
cultivated skirts of a hill range, some six miles distant, at the
foot of which we were shown the village of Azat. A second settlement,
Little Tikma, was nearer to us, in the same direction; and on our
side of the water a group of low stone houses were aligned upon the
road. We were surprised to hear the German tongue and the mournful
sounds of a concertina; the dress, the hymn reminded us that the day
was Sunday; and the simple people were delighted to converse with a
son of Protestant England in the language of their fatherland. They
told me that it was two years since they had left the colony at
Tiflis, and migrated to these distant wilds. The soil was rich, and
it only needed a small expense of capital to diffuse the river over
the adjacent plain. But whence could they draw the money for works
of this nature? They harvested their corn in the month of August,
but the crops suffered from want of water. Although they possessed
no school, they were not without the rudiments of learning; their
frank, intelligent faces were a pleasure to see. Petrovka is the name
of their settlement, which contains some forty houses. A few versts
further we entered the Russian colony of Vladikars. We were crossing
an open country which stretched away on either hand to the outlines
of low hills. Several of these Russian villages were visible in the
landscape, and the brown loam had been exposed by the plough.

Vladikars bears a strong resemblance to Gorelovka--the same white
faces and little windows of the neat stone houses, ranged at intervals
on either side of the road. The inhabitants, too, display a family
likeness to the dwellers in the northern watershed--the men with their
lank figures and dull but honest faces, the women with their broad
shoulders and massive hips. The feminine members of the colony were
especially conspicuous--strapping wenches, as one might call them,
attired in the gayest of printed cottons and exhibiting a plainness
which was almost repulsive. I entered the oblong and single-storeyed
building in which they conduct their services of prayer. A wooden
bench along the walls, a few wooden chairs were its only furniture;
you saw no pulpit or altar or religious picture; God resided in the
living objects of His love. This village as well as its neighbours
are peopled by Molokans, a sect of which the doctrine, like that of
the Dukhobortsy, represents an extreme and a logical form of the
Protestant faith. An old man to whom I turned, and whose striking
features I was able to record (Fig. 99), spoke to me with much
charm of voice and manner concerning their religious beliefs. They
reverence Moses and the prophets and the Holy Gospel, but they practise
their religion in their own way. Singing psalms appears to be their
principal method of spiritual expression. Infants are not baptized,
but are brought to this building; a passage from the New Testament
is read in the child's presence and his name is publicly declared. A
similar ceremony consecrates the marriage tie.

A little beyond this village--in which is placed the eleventh verst
stone--the road bifurcates. The well-metalled and well-maintained
chaussée, which we had been following, pursues its course to the
confines of the Turkish frontier at the station of Sarikamish. The
other branch--which is in places a road, but more often a simple
track--stretches off towards the south. Taking the latter direction,
we drove for some distance over even ground, where here and there
the rich, brown soil had been exposed by the plough. On our left hand
rose a grassy and hummock-shaped eminence, scarcely a mile away. Hill
ranges of similar appearance circled around us, their summits capped
with lowering clouds and strewn with fresh snow. In such surroundings
the gay houses of Novo-Michaelovka were a pleasing diversion for the
eye. The elaborate fretwork of wooden gables and shutters, the lavish
display of vermilion and cobalt, lent an air of festivity to the
place (Fig. 100). It was evident that the inhabitants were extremely
well-to-do; yet, like all these sectaries, they neither possessed nor
appeared to desire a school in which to educate their young. Near
this village we had again approached the banks of the river, which
had a width of some 20 yards. We now crossed to the right bank.

On our point of course, a little to our left, we held a bold and
lofty hill, of which the outline assumes the appearance of two
humps. It bears the name of Akh Deve or the white camel; and one can
understand how appropriate would be this appellation during the winter
months. Snow had not yet rested upon its grassy convexities, which
still wore the ochreous hues of autumn, and were flushed in places by
a detritus of red, volcanic stone. After losing all prospect for the
space of some twenty minutes, during which we crossed a bleak side
valley of the sluggish river, and a stream which winds along the base
of rocky slopes, we again opened this landmark on the further rim of
the amphitheatre, close by the village and station of Chermaly. The
post house stands at a little distance from this Armenian village;
our tired horses were replaced by a fresh team of four, having covered
a stage of 23 versts or 15 miles.

It was half-past four o'clock; we made our way over lofty uplands, of
which the moist loam held our carriage-wheels. Or we jolted upon large
boulders, embedded in the track. Away on our right rose the slopes
of the Akh Deve. Magnificent eagles, with their square shoulders and
long plumage, circled round us or observed us from adjacent rocks. We
were not long in discovering the bait of this assemblage--the mangled
remains of a horse. In three-quarters of an hour we had reached
the skirts of the hill mass, whence we commanded an unbroken view
towards the north. Vast tracts of idle soil extended to the horizon,
except where, here and there, the yellow herbage was interrupted by
little carpets of ploughed land. Hills, which appeared little better
than hummocks, were set at random in the expanse. Their summits
were streaked with snow; from the white linings of their satellite
clouds vague lights descended upon the plain. We were standing upon
the elevated but imperceptible water-parting between the Araxes and
the river of Kars. A gradual descent of some 500 feet brought us to
the considerable village of Kemurly, where we passed the night in the
posting house. It was the first settlement which we had seen during
a stage of 20 versts, or a little over 13 miles.

The latter portion of the drive from the Akh Deve to the village had
been performed under the shadow of night. It was only on the following
morning--which broke serene and radiant--that we were able to realise
the great significance of our position in a geographical sense. The
even ground over which we had travelled from the banks of the Arpa to
Kars, from Kars to the southward-flowing streams, does not descend,
as one might expect, to the valley of the Araxes through a series of
gradual inclines. The transition is effected by an exactly opposite
process; the plain continues to rise until it has almost reached the
latitude of the river, then suddenly breaks away, and overhangs the
valley in a long line of gigantic cliffs. These cliffs extend for miles
along the left bank of the Araxes; and it has been ascertained that
for a space of over 30 miles they maintain about the same elevation,
namely, a height of 6400 feet above the sea, and of 2000 to 2500
feet above the river. [407] They may in fact be regarded as forming
the rim of an extensive plateau, which commences at the confluence
of the Arpa with the Araxes, and stretches westwards, unbroken by
any considerable mountain barrier, along the narrows above Kagyzman,
and along the broad depression of Pasin to the very threshold of the
plain of Erzerum. Their peculiar boldness in the neighbourhood of
Kagyzman may in part be attributed to the lavas which have issued in
considerable volume from centres of emission along their edge. These
eruptive centres, long since dormant, are seen in the shape of low
convexities, stretching inwards from the brink of the cliff.

There is seldom wanting to such formations a natural pass or opening,
through which the communications with the lower levels flow. Our
road availed itself of a deep and gulf-like inlet in the rim of the
plateau. The descent along this avenue was comparatively long and
gradual, commencing indeed above the village--which has an elevation
of some 6500 feet [408]--and ending in the neighbourhood of the Lower
Kemurly. Measured on the map from point to point, the distance between
the two settlements is about 6 1/2 miles. The road was carried along
the slopes through an infinitude of windings, which measured 18 versts
or 12 miles.

It was not yet eight o'clock when we proceeded in our carriage down the
easy gradients of this descent. Beyond a foreground which was choked
by a succession of shelving convexities rose the crags and peaks of
the Ararat system--that long range to which in a collective sense this
name may not be inapplicable, and which, like Ararat, is known to the
inhabitants of these districts under the name of Aghri Dagh. Aghri
Dagh! These words, with their roughness on the palate, are just as
appropriate to express the ruggedness of the barrier which we were
fronting, as they are unsuited to reflect the harmony of the giant in
the east. The eye, already accustomed to the vaulted eminences of the
tableland, is impressed by the contrast of these sharp, precipitous
shapes. It seems some invasion of the border ranges into the area of
the great plateaux. The sun was touching the summits of the chain,
which were softened by a covering of fresh snow. But the underlying
rock still asserted its essential character, moulding the snow into an
infinite number of facets, which sparkled in the light (Fig. 101). The
northern wall of the valley--the heights we were leaving behind us--is
composed by the lofty cliffs already described. Their even outline
was drawn across the sky into invisible limits, as we made our way
over the broken ground to which they decline (Fig. 102).

Marls and sandstone had taken the place of the layers of volcanic
matter; far and wide, the slopes about us were broken into hummock
shapes, tinged with delicate yellows and pinks. The only vestige of
wood were some low trees and bush, seen on the lower tiers of the
opposite mountains in the far west. Again we opened out the distant
outline of Ararat, beyond the dark peak of Takjaltu. The Araxes was
long invisible; when at length we overlooked the narrow floor of
the valley, the river resembled a slender white thread. Kagyzman was
distinguished on the first of the slopes which faced us--an oasis of
verdure and some faint blue smoke. We felt the power of a southern sun;
and, as we neared the end of the descent, bouquets of atraphaxis,
with succulent flowers and blaze of madder, clothed the waste and
sandy soil. At twenty minutes before ten we were at the Lower Kemurly;
and, a little later, our wheels were cleaving the shallow waters of
the Araxes, spread in a wide bed of silt and shingle, over which a
rapid current flows (Fig. 103). The ground rises from the opposite
margin of the river up the beautiful side valley of Kagyzman. The
town is situated at an elevation of some 700 feet above the ford,
which crosses a hollow of nearly 4000 feet above the sea. [409]

The houses nestle among lofty trees, on the left or western bank of
a broad depression, which harbours in its deep and wooded recesses a
scanty affluent of the Araxes. The soft tracery and mellow tints of
the luxuriant foliage are backed by the rugged sides of the Ararat
system; while, in the north, the eye follows the horizontal edge
of the tableland, with the low volcanic eminences protruding above
that outline, and robed, this morning, in fresh snow (Fig. 104). The
inhabitants of this little paradise are Armenians and Mohammedans,
the latter of whom belong to the Sunni persuasion and are classed in
the Russian census as Turks. [410] A strong detachment of Cossacks
was quartered in the place--a significant outpost of the northern
empire. I was anxious to cross the mountains on the following morning;
and it was painful to realise that we were at the mercy of the civil
authorities--of a sour-faced Nachalnik who had no doubt received his
instructions, but in what sense remained to be seen. Had Fadéeff
hardened his heart? Had the order come to arrest us? The question
remained for some time in suspense. The route which we were taking
excited suspicion; with what object were we pursuing this unbeaten
track? There were not wanting practical difficulties which might excuse
the authorities, should they decide to detain us at Kagyzman. We
were in need of transport; to purchase suitable animals was next
to impossible; and, as for hiring, the owners were not accustomed
to cross the frontier, and might reasonably apprehend detention on
the other side. Indeed we failed in all our efforts to induce them
to make a contract; and we were brought to recognise that it would
be necessary to abandon our intention, unless the Nachalnik would
intervene. By dint of much persistence and some cajolery we were able
to bring him round. He of course protested that Oriental methods were
out of place in Russia; we approved the sentiment, and expressed the
hope that something would be devised to take their place. The owners
were given their orders to appear before dawn on the following day. I
rose at four, certain that they would not obey. But there was still
a hope that we might create the necessary quantity of initiative by
rousing the Nachalnik from his sleep. This plan, based, as the reader
knows, upon former experiences, was productive of instant success.

By half-past seven our tiny caravan was in motion, pointing along
the base of the mountains a little south of west. We sank by a steep
incline to a long valley which follows the Araxes in the relation, as
it appeared to us, of a parallel trough. It was filled with hummocks
of a red, sandy substance; the slopes on either side screened off
the view. Those on our left hand were the more stony, and were tinged
in places a greenish hue. In about an hour after starting we opened
out the river, flowing at some little distance from the heights upon
which we stood. A lateral depression afforded access to the principal
valley, which we followed, keeping to the high ground. The Araxes
was threading the narrow bottom of a fork, of which the arms rose
to thousands of feet above its bed. Close up now, on our left hand,
towered the escarpments of the range, fronting the opposite cliffs
of the tableland. At a little before nine we turned our backs to the
river and rose, on a southerly course, up the mountain side.

We had reached an elevation of some 5500 feet, when a little village,
with a few willows and the ruins of an ancient monastery, broke
upon our view (Fig. 105). It is inhabited by Armenians, and bears
the name of Kara Vank (the black cloister). The even masonry of hewn
stone which composed the crumbling edifice recalled the culture of a
forgotten age. What a contrast it presented to the rude and featureless
walls of the modern village church! We passed through this little
settlement, which contains some thirty houses, and mounted the slopes
on the further side. In a valley on our left hand we noticed some
sparse brushwood, and bushes of wild rose here and there relieved the
rock. We were nearing the level of the opposite edge of the tableland,
of which the cliffs were seen descending to the narrow river valley
with shelving sides of richly modelled marls. At a quarter before
ten we made halt on the neck of a spur, whence we obtained a wide
prospect over the more distant scene.

We overlooked the surface of the tableland. Towards the east, the mass
of Alagöz could be distinguished from banks of cloud, which clung
to the recent snows upon its slopes. Kagyzman was still visible in
the trough of the landscape; the two low cones on the cliffs beyond
the town were especially prominent, enveloped in a sheet of unbroken
snow. Our people identified them with the great and the small Jagluya,
and said they were famous for their rich pasture-land. From east
to west, in a wide half-circle, land and cloud were woven together,
the horizontal outlines always felt and sometimes seen. But in the
west these nebulous shapes met the profile of the savage ridges which
were seen descending from the range about us, almost at right angles,
into the narrows through which the river flows.

From this point we continued during a considerable space of time to
skirt these upper slopes. The keen air was full of sun; the prospect
was inspiring; we loitered for an hour over our lunch. I focussed the
camera upon one of the long meridional parapets which cleave the soft
landscape of the west (Fig. 106). I would ask my reader to observe the
deep incision of its flanking valley; these valleys extend to the very
spine of the mountain system, and, in some places, appear to break it
through. We were obliged to descend to the bottom of this particular
ravine; a slender stream was rustling over the boulders in the hollow,
which had an elevation of some 5800 feet. The rocky escarpments of
the opposite parapet were seen to consist of a compound diabase,
veined in places with beautiful marbles. Of wood there was little,
even within these recesses--a brushwood of beech and willow and
fir. The rose bushes were still with us, and the yellow immortelles,
which we had not seen since our sojourn on Ararat.

Beyond this valley we rose towards the summits of the chain and made
our way through this winter's snow. We were on the pass at four o'clock
(Fig. 107); a grass-grown eminence on our right hand was identified
as the Akh Bulakh Dagh. The range was highest on our left; the saddle
by which we crossed it has an elevation of some 8600 feet. Half an
hour later we had passed into the opposite watershed, and planted
our feet upon Turkish soil.

Vast plains lay below us--dim tracts of even soil, broken in places
by hummock shapes. The outline of an opposite chain was drawn across
the horizon, loftier in the east, where it was crowned with snow,
declining in the west to a range of blue-grey hills upon our right. It
was the system of the Ala Dagh. Beyond this barrier, the harmonious
shape of a single mountain formed a beautiful white presence in
the sky. We could not doubt that it was Sipan, nearly seventy miles
distant, the goal to which we were directing our steps. A thread of
water on the plains reflected the blue heaven, and was recognised as
the Murad. We had crossed the spine of Armenia, and were descending
to the banks of the Euphrates, to the sources of the streams which
issue into the Persian Gulf.



CHAPTER XXI

GEOGRAPHICAL


In the present chapter I shall invite my reader to make good his
advantage over the traveller, and to realise, before proceeding
further with the journey, the true meaning and wider connection of
those natural features which have composed the landscape day by day. At
the same time I shall endeavour to trace the limits of north-eastern or
Russian Armenia, extending our view for awhile to comprise the whole of
Armenia, and again narrowing it to the area of the Russian provinces.

But at the outset we are prompted to examine the conception so vaguely
expressed by the metaphors of tableland and frame of mountain ranges
which, with slight variations in the figure, have in the foregoing
pages so often been employed. The pursuit of this analysis carries us
beyond the sphere of our particular survey, compelling us to consider
the structure of Asia as a whole.

From the Mediterranean to the Pacific the Asiatic continent is
traversed by a zone of elevated country, which, flanked on the north
and south by great chains of mountains, breaks off on the west to the
Ægean Sea and to the lowlands of China on the east. Extensive areas
of land with considerably lesser altitude are outspread on either
side of this gigantic system: in the north the plains of Russia
and Siberia, in the south the peninsulas of Arabia and India. The
mountain chains which confine the zone of elevated country have been
reared during different geological periods; yet they are subject to
common laws. They are disposed in extensive arcs, of greater or lesser
curvature, which are festooned across the continent on either side
of the plateau region with a general direction from east to west. The
plateau region is in general synclinal or, in other words, of slightly
hollow surface, and, in comparison with the flanking ranges, is flat.

If we enquire of the geologist the origin of these phenomena,
we receive an answer which, while it leaves many points obscure
and doubtful, still enables us to trace the operation of fixed
principles in the mighty work unfolded before our eyes. Our globe
sails through the wan expanse of æther, diffusing the heat with which
it is charged. The cooling crust shrinks and gathers inwards towards
the centre; but the material of which it consists is inelastic and is
thrown into gigantic wrinkles or folds. Radial contraction induces
tangential stresses at the surface, colossal forces which bend over
and invert the folds, and even thrust the strata one beneath another,
causing them to be disposed like the tiles upon a roof. This lateral
tension finds most relief where the crust is weakest; and it is at
such points, or along such zones, that the process of mountain-making
has been developed on the largest scale. It is the tendency of such
folded ranges to form arcs of large curvature, which are drawn inwards,
where the lateral pressure meets with most resistance, and expand
outwards, where it is withstood in a lesser degree.

In Asia the operation of this process of mountain-making has been
accompanied by, or has produced, the elevation in mass of large
portions of the earth's crust. The intensely folded regions, or, in
other words, the great chains of mountains, are found along the inner
and the outer margins of the elevated mass. Between these zones the
stratified rocks have no doubt been subjected to the folding process;
yet they have escaped the immense contortions that have taken place
on either side.

Throughout the continent the lateral force which has been most
operative in mountain-making has proceeded from the north. The fact
may perhaps be explained by supposing that this force is the result
of the active pressure exerted by the hard, unyielding material of
which the steppes of Siberia and the basin of the Arctic Ocean are
composed. The great arcs which are described by the mountain ranges
are in general convex to the south. Thus in western Asia the chains
on the inner and outer margins of the elevated area are disposed in
two roughly parallel series of arcs bulging towards the south. Of
these series the inner arcs have less curvature than the outer,
to which they are roughly parallel.

The inner series may be traced with greatest singleness of feature on
the west of Hindu Kush--that natural centre of the mountain systems
of Asia which at once supplies the most convenient standpoint for a
general survey of the structure of the continent, and is placed at
the junction of the two great divisions, western and eastern, into
which geographers have partitioned this vast area. The Hindu Kush
inclines over into the Paropamisus; and the southern portion of the
latter range is continued, on the north of Persia, by the mountains
of Khorasan. A sharp bend in the belt, just east of the Caspian,
turns southwards into the Elburz range, and the beautiful curve
of the chain along the margin of the shore may be admired from the
waters of that inland sea. The line of Elburz is protracted across
the depression of the Araxes valley into the peaks of Karabagh; while
the Karabagh system unites with the bold and lofty ridges which in
full face of their gigantic neighbour, the Caucasus, overtower the
right bank of the Kur. These ridges again connect with the chain we
have ourselves crossed between Kutais and Akhaltsykh--a chain which
joins the mountains on the southern shore of the Black Sea. The Pontic
range forms a bow of wide span and gentle curvature, ending in the
hump of Anatolia, where it meets the arc of the Bithynian border hills.

The parallel series on the outer margin of the elevated area commences
with the outer arc of the Hindu Kush system, the severely bent and
S-shaped Salt Range. Thence it proceeds into the mountains which flank
Persia upon the east and belong to the outer Iranian arc. [411] The
bold sweep of this arc into the chain of Zagros may be recognised
by a glance at the map. We remark the greater protraction of the
north-western arm of the bow, a feature which may be traced in the
configuration of most of the great Asiatic chains. We admire the clean
and uniform outline of the curve, broken only by a slight indent
at the straits of Ormuz, which may be answered by the bend in the
inner system which we have already noticed on the east of the Caspian
Sea. The outer Iranian arc effects a junction with the Tauric ranges
along two parallel but fairly distinct orographical lines. Of these
the inner line crosses over from the Zagros to the Ararat system,
and assumes commanding orographical importance in the western arm of
that system, known as the Aghri or Shatin Dagh. It is in the Shatin
Dagh that the bend to the west-south-west is effected, which may be
followed through a series of volcanoes into the Anti-Taurus and the
Mediterranean range. The outer line is formed by the grand half-circle
of the Kurdish mountains; from the parched plains about Diarbekr you
see them, as from the well of an amphitheatre, covered or capped with
gleaming snow. This principal chain of Taurus extends to the coast
of Syria, and emerges from the sea in the island of Cyprus and in
many a headland and island of the Anatolian coast.

It can scarcely fail to impress the most casual of observers that
this double series of arcs, from Hindu Kush to Mediterranean, meet
or almost meet at three distinctly traceable and widely separated
points. Such approximations occur in Hindu Kush, in Armenia, and in the
mountainous districts which border the Ionian seaboard. We can scarcely
doubt that they are due to the incidence of a strong opposing force,
moving from the south and causing the arcs to be constricted, the
ranges to be piled up one behind another, and mountain development to
assume its grandest forms. It is probable that the resisting pressure
has been furnished in the first two cases by the Indian and Arabian
peninsulas. Another feature, less obvious but not less noteworthy,
is furnished by the fact that in Armenia and Asia Minor the arcs have
been fractured in the process of bending over at or near the points
where the approximations between the two series have taken place. The
closer the constriction, the sharper, of course, becomes the curve,
and the greater the tendency to split. In Asia Minor the union of
the series has resulted in complete fracture; the folded area sinks
beneath the waters of the Ægean to be represented by the islands
which stud the Archipelago, and, further west, by the mountains of
the Dalmatian coast.

On the east of Hindu Kush we are as yet in want of sufficient material
for so convincing an analysis as the researches of geologists have
rendered possible on the west. We know that in eastern Asia a vast
area of elevated land is bounded both along the inner and the outer
margins by mountain systems of wide extension and great height. Such
are the systems of Altai and Tian-shan upon the north, and the mighty
bow of the Himalayas on the south. Probably the Kuenlun range carries
over the inner series of western Asia, extending eastwards from the
Pamirs and serving as a buttress to the immensely elevated plateau
of Tibet. If this view be correct, then the Tian-shan and Altai
systems may perhaps be regarded as minor earth-waves, following close
upon the heels of the Kuenlun, and supporting the highlands of the
Tarim basin and the desert of Gobi, the Han-hai or Dry Sea of the
Chinese. The plain reader may be content to observe the echelon of
mountain ranges which extends from Hindu Kush towards Behring Sea;
to note the constant curvature of the arcs towards the south, until,
in the Altai group, the eastern arms of the bows are protracted ever
further towards the north; to contrast the low-lying plains along
the western ends of the echelon with the lofty highlands of Mongolia
on the east. The necks of the valleys issue upon the depression of
Siberia and the low country through which the Oxus and Jaxartes flow.

In western Asia the elevated area with its flanking ranges is
bordered on the north by the northern Paropamisus and further west
by the Caucasus chain. The Paropamisus may perhaps be regarded as
the most southerly of the many branches which belong to the system of
Tian-shan. [412] Geologists invite us to connect the Paropamisus with
the Caucasus, and trace the links of the broken chain to the mountains
of Krasnovodsk on the Caspian, whence a submarine ridge carries the
line into the mountains of Caucasus, to be protracted far to the west,
through the Crimea, and emerge from the waters of the Black Sea in
the Balkans, Carpathians and Alps. In this manner we see described on
the north of the Asiatic highlands, with their series of inner arcs,
a further arc of immense span and wide curvature, which is represented
on the east by the northern Paropamisus and by the Caucasus on the
west. Both these ranges may best be viewed as independent of the
inner series; but Paropamisus is closely adpressed to the inner arc
of Persia, and Caucasus is joined at a single point to the series,
namely by the Meschic linking chain. Lines of elevation, similar
to that which we have traced from Paropamisus, may be discovered,
although with less orographical distinction, proceeding westwards
and struggling over towards Europe from the more northerly branches
of Tian-shan; they are almost lost in the great depression of the
Turanian lowlands, but they follow arcs of increasing width of span.

This interesting study of the structure of Asia, which is due to the
researches of recent years, not only serves to explain the pronounced
features of Asiatic landscapes, as integral members of a vast design,
but also enables us to understand many of the movements of history and
many of the phenomena of the human world. [413] India is enclosed on
all sides by the sea or by the outer mountains, and appears reserved
by natural causes for herself. China, with her teeming millions,
is separated from western Asia by the whole bulk of the broadest
and least hospitable portion of the system of lofty plateaux with
peripheral ranges. The echelon of chains, which seam the continent
in a north-easterly direction, are the nurseries of the hardiest
tribes. The valleys which space these ranges are the arteries
of human movement, and they lead from west to east, from east to
west. Thus during the period of armed migrations which is represented
by the Tartar conquests, one division of the Tartar armies might be
fighting in China on the Yellow River while another was laying waste
Khorasan. The bend of the arcs towards the south places the framework
of Nature in harmony with the migrations of man. The tablelands of
Persia, Armenia and Asia Minor are members of a continuous system
of elevated plains at a temperate altitude, which extend like some
great causeway along the breadth of Asia, giving access from east to
west, from west to east. This causeway forms the natural avenue of
commerce and of conquest, by which the tide of war or of commercial
intercourse ebbs and flows between the remote recesses of Central Asia
and the Ionian shore of the Mediterranean Sea. Only on the east is
the causeway blocked by Nature to human traffic, by the constriction
of the arcs on the north of India, leading over by a gigantic knot of
mountains into the impassable plateau of Tibet. The stream is therefore
diverted from the highlands to the lowlands; great cities arise on
the lowlands, at the mouths of the Tian-shan valleys, Merv, Bokhara,
Samarkand. And when we contemplate and contrast the structure of Asia
and of Europe--the vast forces which have produced the stately body
of eastern Asia dying out towards the west in the insignificant but
widely ramified elevations of the European mountain chains--we may
readily understand how different has been the influence exercised by
structural features upon the peoples of either continent. In Asia such
features are a factor of the first importance, determining climate,
controlling migrations, setting barriers to intercourse or relentlessly
fixing the highways which it must pursue. In Europe, on the other
hand, they have done little more than diversify the scenery, and for
purposes of peaceful or hostile movements among the nations may with
some exceptions be almost left out of account. What are our European
mountains but arbitrary wrinkles on the face of the continent? One
valley leads over into another of much the same height above sea-level
by a pass which is not more lofty than the neighbouring ridges. One
plain is succeeded by a companion expanse of similar character, and
only some small diversity in the forms of the spires of the churches
tells the tale of national distinctions. Differentiation rather than
the presence of marked ethnological types is characteristic of the
peoples of Europe. But once the narrow strait is passed we may no
longer dally with our geography; and the further we proceed towards
the east and the inner sanctuaries of Nature the greater grows the
necessity of comprehending phenomena which must always exercise a
dominant influence upon human affairs. It will not suffice in Asia
to observe the latitude of a great plain in order to know beforehand
the degree of heat which it will support in summer, the rigour or
the suavity of the climate during winter. You will be freezing
in Erzerum while Erivan is relaxed in sunshine; yet both cities
are placed on the margins of level expanses, and the advantage of
latitude is in favour of the temperateness of that first named. Not
even the convenient distinction of highlands and lowlands will
carry us very far. We must enquire into the nature of the highlands;
are the mountains their prevailing feature, or are those mountains,
as we see them from the floor of the lowlands, a mere buttress to
a sequence of elevated plains? Penetrate the chain, and you rise by
successive steps from valley to valley, while each ridge is higher
than the last. Follow its extension upon the map and you will see it
rising from the Mediterranean and terminating in the knot of mountains
north of India. Mark the characteristics of the people who inhabit it,
be they Kurds or Lurs or Lazes, they will not offer much divergence
from a common standard. Yet what a gulf of human nature between these
and the inhabitants of the lowlands--a gulf which is scarcely spanned
by the equalising tendencies of a long spell of misgovernment! When
at length these alps expand, and you overlook a more level country,
everything--climate, the aspect of the sky as well as of the land,
people, language, cities, villages are new. And yet our diplomatists
who dwell on the Bosphorus, and ruminate Asiatic problems with the
aid of indifferent maps which they would not pretend to understand,
group the highlands and the lowlands, the shepherds of the mountains
and the cultivators of the plains, all together--a strange collection
of birds and beasts and fishes--in a single scheme of administrative
reforms. The Turk is little wiser; but we may perhaps view with a
large indifference his passive resistance to such reforms.

But to return to our plains and mountains--the country which we
may still call Armenia takes its place as an integral member of the
system of tablelands, buttressed by mountain ranges, which extends
from the Hindu Kush to the Mediterranean Sea. It is not separated
by any important natural frontier from Persia on the east or from
Asia Minor on the west. Moreover most of the characteristics which
are found in either of these neighbours are prevalent in Armenia
to a greater or a lesser degree. The stratified rocks include the
later Palæozoic, the Cretaceous, Eocene and Miocene series; and
these extend across the whole system. The salt deposits of Miocene
age which are spread so widely over Persia are not among the least
remarkable of the surface features of Armenia; although they have
not produced that widespread devastation which attends the extension
of the great salt deserts over the Persian plateau. [414] In Armenia
they are friendly to man, providing him with one of his necessaries;
and the various salt works, known in Turkey under the name of tuzla
or salt pans, have been exploited from immemorial times. Considerable
depressions of the surface of the highlands are phenomena common to
all three countries; and the same may be said of the volcanoes which
are dominant in Armenian landscapes, but are not wholly absent from
the contiguous territories on either side. All participate in the
benefits of a southern climate, and are exempted by their elevation
above sea-level from the excesses of a southern sun. Slowly-flowing
rivers threading vast plains, mountains which determine districts
rather than states; a natural penury of vegetation, enhanced by the
depredations of countless goats, but perhaps balanced in the eyes of
the traveller by the beauty of the land-forms--such are some among
the many impressions which may be derived in various degrees from a
visit to any of the individual members of the group.

But, if Armenia be closely linked with her neighbours on the west and
east, she is divided by some of the most effective of natural barriers
and natural distinctions from the countries which lie to the north
and south. The zones of mountains which on the one side separate
her from the coast of the Black Sea and the Georgian depression,
and on the other from the lowlands of Mesopotamia, possess in an
equal degree the rugged character due to intense folding and are
both of considerable width. Sharp ridges with serrated outlines
rising one behind another, narrow valleys in which the shadows lie,
hissing rivers and bush-grown rocks, grassy uplands or stretches of
forest determine the scenery both of the northern and of the southern
zone. The alpine region has a breadth of some fifty miles more or
less in the direction of the Black Sea, while the corresponding zone,
facing the lowlands about Diarbekr, extends, on the whole, over a
smaller span. Both zones are practically unlimited in length. They have
been factors of paramount influence in the history of the peoples,
not only screening the territories they confine from those which lie
outside, but also investing them with distinct climatic conditions. For
these parallel belts of peripheral mountains do in fact perform the
function of supports or buttresses to a series of elevated plains;
the valleys in the alpine region are but the succession of terraces
which rise to the margin of a lofty platform. A difference in level
of several thousands of feet is productive of marked features in the
habits and character of the inhabitants; while the alps themselves must
necessarily determine the mode of life of the dwellers within them,
constraining them to follow the vocation of shepherds rather than that
of agriculturists. Thus along the section between Diarbekr and the
Armenian highlands three strongly-contrasted types of people will be
met. The nomad Arabs or Arabic-speaking cultivators of the lowlands
are succeeded by the pastoral Kurds with their tribal organisation,
and these again by the Armenian tillers of the soil.

I have already indicated the intimate connection of these peripheral
mountains with the structural system of the Asiatic continent. The
northerly belt belongs to the inner series of arcs, and that on
the south to the outer series. The compression of these arcs--a
phenomenon which has engaged our attention--has been effected in
the greatest degree within the section of country between Diarbekr
and Trebizond. You see the two opposite arcs, one bent to the south
and the other to the north, endeavouring to meet under the stress of
contending pressures; while on either side of the section the curves
diminish in intensity and the spines of the ranges have been allowed
to expand like the spokes of a wheel. The northern boundary of Armenia
is constituted by the mountains of the northern peripheral region,
which enter the country on the west in the Gumbet Dagh. The line may
be followed on the map on the north of Shabin Karahisar through the
Giaour Dagh and the Kuseh Dagh to the pass over the Vavuk Dagh, lying
to the north-west of the town of Baiburt. From the Vavuk pass the spine
of the chain confines the valley of the Chorokh by a well-defined and
regular parapet; until just east of the town of Ispir it commences
to lose this singleness of feature, and to favour a tendency towards
bifurcation and branching out. The ridges stretch across the valley in
an east-north-easterly direction, the direction which the spine has so
long pursued; and their course may be traced through the mountainous
country on the north of Olti until they become buried beneath the
volcanic accumulations of the plateau country in the districts of
Göleh and Ardahan. It is most interesting to trace their probable
emergence from this canopy on the further side of the tableland, and
to recognise in the elevations of Shishtapa (north of Alexandropol)
and of Madatapa ridges that have survived the splitting and fracture
of the Pontic chain. But this is a feature of greater interest to the
geologist than to the geographer; and the latter will follow the Black
Sea range through the heights of the Khachkar and Parkhal mountains
to the Kukurt Dagh on the west of Artvin. The ridge which stretches
thence in a north-north-easterly direction towards the seaboard,
giving passage to the Chorokh and determining the Russian frontier,
has been deflected by the mass of the Karchkhal mountains, the radial
system to the north-east of Artvin. It crosses the river close to the
coast behind Batum, and may be traced through the peaks of Taginaura,
Gotimeria and Nepiszkaro along the plains of Imeritia to the passage
of the Kur through the gorge of Borjom. These last-named peaks belong
to the Akhaltsykh-Imeritian border range, which my reader has crossed
with me by the pass of Zikar, and of which the direction is almost
due east and west.

It is impossible to delimit the northern frontier of Armenia by a
slavish insistence upon the boundary of the Black Sea range. That
system is the natural boundary for a distance of very many miles,
as it extends along the course first of the Kelkid Su, the ancient
Lycus, and then along that of the Chorokh. But the fracture of the arc
which has taken place in the country watered by the uppermost branches
of the Kur and Arpa Chai, and the eating back of the more easterly
affluents of the Chorokh, which have carved out the intricate country
in the neighbourhood of Olti, have resulted in the interruption of the
normal sequence until it is again resumed in the Akhaltsykh-Imeritian
range. It is consonant with the natural conditions to take the
frontier across the valley of the Chorokh in the vicinity of Ispir,
and to lead it by the heights which contain the sources of the Chorokh
and the Serchemeh Chai to the Dümlü Dagh, the parent mountain of the
Western Euphrates. It will then follow, first in an easterly and then
in a north-easterly direction, the elevated water-parting between
the basins of the Araxes and the Black Sea; and, after effecting
a union through the Chamar Dagh with the volcanoes of the Soghanlu
Dagh, will be protracted along the meridional and volcanic elevation
which confines the highlands of Göleh and Ardahan on the west. The
junction of these vaulted heights with the Akhaltsykh-Imeritian range
may be traced through the ridge of the Sakulaperdi Dagh to the peak
of Gotimeria. All the rivers on the northern slopes of this section
of the Armenian frontier drain into the Black Sea.

The passes across this zone are of considerable elevation, though
a good number are open all the year round. I have been unable
to ascertain the height of the pass over the Gumbet Dagh between
Karahisar and Kerasun. But the valleys of the Upper Kelkid and the
Upper Chorokh may be reached from Trebizond without encountering a
greater altitude than something less than 7000 feet. To this figure
must be added another 600 to 1000 feet before the traveller will
have crossed the block of elevated tableland interposed between those
valleys and the great Armenian cities, Erzinjan and Erzerum. East of
Baiburt the spine of the Pontic range becomes more lofty: and the track
which leads from Rizeh to Ispir in the Chorokh valley surmounts it at
a height which has been estimated at 9000 feet above the sea. Where
the frontier has become coterminous with the northern border heights
of Erzerum and Pasin the roads are taken by passes of over 7000 feet
(Erzerum-Bar-Olti) and 8500 feet (Hasan Kala-Olti) into the basin
of the Black Sea; while during its protraction northwards through
the Soghanlu Dagh to the Sakulaperdi Dagh it may be traversed by
well-beaten paths or tolerable roads at elevations which range between
6085 feet (Eshak-Meidan Pass) and about 7000 feet. The principal
avenues of communication across the mountainous region are those of
Erzinjan-Gümüshkhaneh, Baiburt-Gümüshkhaneh, Erzerum-Olti, Kars-Olti,
Ardahan-Olti and Ardahan-Ardanuch. A road has been constructed from
Kutais to Abastuman, and is gaining traffic every year.

Copious rainfall and abundant vegetation are characteristic of the
northern peripheral mountains. In some of the valleys the clouds
settle for several months in the year, seldom lifting to disclose a
view of the sun. It may often happen that during several weeks or even
months crests and depressions alike will be shrouded in mist. In summer
there is produced the likeness of a succession of forcing houses, the
slopes and hollows being covered with a bewildering tangle of trees
and creepers and scarcely passable undergrowth. From the branches
are festooned the lichens, grey-white streamers like human hair;
the crimson stools of a fungus shine out from the gloomy brakes,
and the pointed pink petals of the Kolchian crocus clothe each
respite of open ground. Such conditions are most prevalent in the
narrow valleys near the Pontic coast, while the slopes which face
the Rion and the opposite Caucasus are distinguished by magnificent
forests. Several peoples, distributed over fairly distinct zones,
inhabit these fastnesses. On the west we have the Greeks, inclined
to commerce and close to a seaboard; they may be found struggling
upwards to the spine of the range and even in a sporadic manner upon
its southern slopes. Further east dwell the Lazis, a wild people; and
their neighbours, the Ajars, in the mountains behind Batum. These are
succeeded by a population of Georgian shepherds and small cultivators,
whose picturesque chalets are surrounded with Indian corn.

It remains to follow the extension of the mountains of the northern
border during their progress eastwards from the Borjom gorge. The
comparative narrowness of the belt in the neighbourhood of that great
cleft is explained by the fracture of the arc to the south of this
region and the covering up of its more southerly members by volcanic
emissions. But this decrease in width is to some extent balanced
by the propinquity of the Caucasus. It is in this neighbourhood
that the single link connecting the belt with Caucasus stretches
across the Georgian depression, dividing the Rion from the Kur;
it may be known as the Meschic linking chain. East of this barrier
the vegetation diminishes in luxuriance. The Akhaltsykh-Imeritian
range is continued beyond the gorge by the latitudinal Trialethian
chain--a system of which the backbone is formed by the Arjevan ridge,
and which is bounded on three sides by the course of the Kur. A branch
of this system is seen to continue the direction of the Pontic range,
inclining off at a sharp angle from the principal elevation to form
the valley of the Gujaretis. It culminates in the peaks of the Sanislo
group at an extreme height of 9350 feet, and sinks beneath the lavas
of the plateau region. The Trialethian mountains have undergone a
process of uptilt, which has caused them to fall away abruptly towards
the north and to form terraces of plateau-like character on the south.

Just as on the west we were constrained to draw the natural frontier
inwards from the spine of the Pontic range, so on the east the next
successors of the Trialethian ridges lie outside the proper boundary of
the Armenian plains. A glance at the map will show that a dislocation
of the natural features has taken place in this region. The inner arc,
so clearly defined on the one side by the Pontic chain and on the
other by the Shah Dagh, overlooking Lake Gökcheh, has snapped during
the process of bending over; and the survivors of the catastrophe,
the ridges which obstruct the Khram and the Somketian mountains,
are constrained to play a subordinate part. The water-parting and
principal elevation is composed of volcanoes, reared in a meridional
direction. What an impressive analogy to the phenomena on the side
of the Black Sea! These volcanoes pursue two lines, one line close
behind the other, and the outer or more easterly far the longer of the
two. It is the outer series, known as the Gori Mokri, or wet mountains,
that constitute the border of the Armenian highlands on this side. The
traveller who journeys westwards from the plateau of Zalka (5000 feet)
up the elevated valley of the river Kzia to the little upland plain
of the same name (7000 feet) [415] will be treading on the dividing
line between the folded mountains of the Trialethian system and the
meridional volcanic series. On his left hand he will admire the shapely
cone of Tawkoteli (9211 feet), which constitutes the most northerly
of these volcanic elevations. The barrier is continued southwards
through the Samsar Dagh (10,770 feet) to the Daly Dagh; and thence
along the eastern shore of the lonely lake of Toporovan (6875 feet)
to the dual crown of Agrikar (9765 feet) and to the conical summit
of the Emlekli Dagh (10,016 feet). The sequence ends in the heights
of Karakach (over 10,000 feet), of which the southerly extension is
interrupted by the latitudinal ridges of Aglagan and Shishtapa. But
the border is protracted along the parting of the waters into the
westerly extremities of the Pambak chain.

We may, perhaps, regard this chain as the most southerly
of the latitudinal ridges which begin on the north with the
Akhaltsykh-Imeritian and Trialethian systems. It extends the area
of the highlands for some distance towards the east, when, after
commencing to incline in an east-south-easterly direction, it effects a
junction with the Shah Dagh. This last-named ridge takes the frontier
along the eastern shore of Lake Gökcheh to the confines of Karabagh;
and the elevation may be traced through the spine of the northern
Karabagh mountains across the Kur to the range which faces the Caspian
Sea. But Karabagh may be regarded as a separate geographical unit,
combining in miniature many of the characteristics of the Armenian
highlands--an inner plateau region flanked by peripheral ranges. The
immemorial home of Armenian inhabitants, the seat of Tartar immigrants
and the happy hunting-ground of nomad Kurds, it constitutes a solid
outer buttress to Armenia on the side of the Caspian. [416] The true
boundary must be taken southwards from the Ginal Dagh (over 11,000
feet) to the Kety Dagh, where it forms a loop towards the west; and,
after almost encircling an upland sheet of water, called the Ala Göl,
is protracted through the heights of Sir-er-syrchaly (11,298 feet)
and Salvarty (10,422 feet) to the valley of the Araxes at Migry just
east of Ordubad. The Karadagh mountains on the southern bank of the
river continue the ridges of Karabagh; and the natural frontier is
pushed westwards up the course of the Araxes as far as the village
of Julfa. From this point you have the choice of two methods of
demarcation, both of which repose on geographical facts. The line may
be taken south-eastwards along the marginal ridge of the Karadagh to
the water-parting between the basin of the Araxes on the one side and
that of Lake Urmi on the other. This parting is of little orographical
relief, but it would conduct the frontier almost in a straight line
to the serried ridges of the southern peripheral zone on the south
of Lake Van. [417] Or the more pronounced bulwark between the Lake
Van and Lower Araxes basins may seem to constitute the true boundary
of the Armenian country. In this case an arbitrary line must be drawn
from behind Bayazid, leading from the crest of these mountains, which
at present constitute the Turko-Persian frontier to our original
starting-point, Julfa. My reader will observe that we have left the
barrier of the northern peripheral mountains, to explore the less
certain limits on the side of Persia.

We have now pursued the northern border of the Armenian highlands
from the coast of the Black Sea to that of the Caspian, where the
belt passes over into the mountains framing Persia upon the north to
be protracted into the Hindu Kush. The corresponding southern zone
is much more simple of feature; but it lies outside the province of
the present chapter, being included, throughout its entire extension
along these highlands, within Turkish territory. Between the northern
and southern zones of peripheral mountains several distinct but minor
members of the orographical system we have been examining furrow the
surface of the tableland. These will receive their proper attention
in the companion chapter of the second volume, situated as they are
for the most part beyond the limits of our present survey. But one
of them may be traced to the commanding elevation which determines
the valley of the Araxes during its passage through Chaldiran to the
confluence of the Arpa Chai; and it is this range--for it deserves
to be described as a range--that not only constitutes the present
frontier between the Russian and Turkish Empires, but in fact divides
the area of Armenia into two parts. You must either cross the spine of
this chain, which describes a symmetrical curve, or follow along the
plains at its northern or southern flanks, should you desire to pass
from the plateau region on the north and east to the corresponding
districts on the south and west. In the preceding chapter we have
become familiar with some of its interesting features; and we have
been introduced to it under the general name of the Ararat system
or Aghri Dagh. Shatin Dagh is another name under which its westerly
portion is designated by some writers, and which is scarcely less well
qualified to express its ruggedness. This range carries the natural
frontier between the two divisions from the Kuseh Dagh (11,262 feet)
in the west to Little Ararat (12,840 feet) in the east.

It will thus be seen that the present area of Russian Armenia
corresponds in a remarkable manner with the limits assigned by Nature
to the more north-easterly of the two extensive regions into which she
has parcelled Armenian soil. The Russian frontier is drawn from the
coast of the Black Sea along the water-parting of the tributaries to
the western bank of the Lower Chorokh through the peripheral region,
and west of the town of Olti, to the Armenian border at the Chakhar
Dagh. Thence it is taken across the Araxes to the spine of the Aghri
or Shatin Dagh just north-west of the dome of Kuseh Dagh. It follows
the spine of the range to the neighbourhood of Great Ararat, whose
hallowed summit it embraces within the dominions of the Tsar. From the
crest of the Little Ararat, whose south-eastern slopes are left to
Persia, it reaches across the plain to the right bank of the Araxes
a little below the famous monastery of Khor Virap. The Araxes forms
the boundary between the Russian and Persian Empires from this point
to near its confluence with the Kur.

It is a misleading, nay, a false conception of natural features
to distribute the surface of the plateau region into a number of
distinct geographical units. That is a method which is favoured by
Russian sciolists with political connections in their endeavour
to confuse the essential unity of a country which Russia has not
yet fully absorbed. Enter this region where you will and with the
eyes of any qualified traveller, the same or similar impressive
characteristics will at once appeal to the mind. The German scientist
Koch has well described these idiosyncrasies as they may be observed
from the marginal districts on the west. After a long and laborious
climb from the valley of Ardanuch (1800 feet) to the summit of the
pass which leads to Ardahan (at least 7000 feet), he was astonished
to observe that instead of a rounded ridge, descending with more or
less abruptness to lower levels on the further side, the elevation
upon which he stood was continued towards the east by the gentle
slope of a lofty plateau. "Here was the commencement," he says,
"of the plateau which slopes away from the pass, and which is
usually called the Armenian plateau." The same traveller journeyed
back into the Chorokh region from the highlands of Göleh on the
south of Ardahan. On this occasion he crossed the water-parting
at the Kanly Dagh between Ardahan and Olti. He tells us that it
consists of a narrow ridge with red, porphyritic rocks. He describes
the double prospect from the summit, with its contrast of forms and
impressions. On the one side, towards the Kur, a scarcely perceptible
incline, forming upland valleys after a descent of only some 1500
feet, and leading over to vague and vaulted heights. On the other,
in the direction of Olti, rent mountains, gaping ravines--nowhere a
gentle, convex shape. Where he was placed the climate was raw, even
in early September, and scarcely tempered by a southern sun. Deep
down, and far away, they could see the river of Olti, winding like
a snake through a maze of sheltered valleys. [418] The language in
which Herrmann Abich describes his impressions, coming from the side
of Georgia up the valley of the Akstafa, and reaching the pass (7355
feet) over the eastern marginal heights between the village of Bekant
and the town of Alexandropol, is not dissimilar to that of Koch. He
speaks of the strong contrast between the physical characteristics of
the plateau region before him and those of the peripheral mountains he
was leaving behind. He describes the prevailing horizontality of the
land-forms which he overlooked, extending to the limits of sight. In
another place he alludes to the lofty, rim-like elevation with which
"the Armenian plateau breaks away to the valleys of Ajara." [419]
I might multiply the instances in which the most competent observers
have at the same time recognised the unity of the plateau region and
its sharp distinction from the peripheral mountains.

My reader has journeyed with me from the Zikar Pass to Akhaltsykh and
Akhalkalaki; from the cañon of the Toporovan river and the basin of
the Kur to the streams which constitute the most northerly sources of
the Araxes. We have crossed the country from Alexandropol to Erivan,
from Erivan to Kars, from Kars to Kagyzman. What an impressive unity
underlies the pleasing diversity of the landscapes, which melt into one
another as you pass! The partings of the waters are formed by slopes
which you perceive with difficulty, so gradual has been the rise and
the decline. The territories of Akhaltsykh, Akhalkalaki, Alexandropol,
Kars and Ardahan are all bound up together in the distribution of the
space, and share features in common to a much greater extent than they
are distinguished by local idiosyncrasies. The mountains, of which
the outlines are never absent from the landscape--soft, long-drawn,
convex shapes--stand on the floor of the tableland, like pieces upon
a chessboard, which one may move from square to square. Such are
the radial mass of Dochus Punar near Akhaltsykh (over 9500 feet),
the two considerable elevations which enclose Lake Chaldir (Akhbaba
Dagh, 9973 feet; Kisir Dagh, 10,472 feet), and even the colossal
Alagöz (13,436 feet). All are due to volcanic action, quite recent
in geological time; and a similar origin belongs to the minor shapes
which stud the country like bubbles upon a cooling body. Mountains
of this character perform the function of boundary columns between
the various districts, great and small. They determine but do not
separate. How different in form and function from the folded ridges
of the peripheral region, among which a single example of such recent
volcanic fabrics could seldom be observed.

If we desire for convenience to partition the plateau region which
is Russian Armenia, it falls most naturally into two spheres. The
one will comprise a rectangular area, of which the limits on the
west and east are the meridional volcanic water-partings from the
Soghanlu Dagh to the heights of Sakulaperdi on one side and from
the Karakach Dagh to Tawkoteli on the other. The southern boundary
of this area will be the cañon of the Araxes from its entrance into
Russian territory to below the confluence of the Arpa Chai. Towards the
north it includes the districts as far as the Sanislo extension of the
Trialethian mountains and the Akhaltsykh-Imeritian border chain. The
vast circumference of Alagöz is placed on its south-eastern confines,
sending out long feelers towards the left bank of the Arpa Chai,
pushing back the mountains of the eastern border and, as it were,
propping up the highlands on the north-west. This volcano may be said
to lead over to the second sphere, which is for a great part an area
of considerable depression, and, as compared with the longitudinal
axis and symmetrical shape of its companion, is of irregular form with
the greatest length from north-west to south-east. These two spheres
are distinguished by features which are sufficiently contrasted to
suggest a double image to the mind.

I. I have invited attention to the characteristics which Armenia
shares in common with her neighbours in the series of the Asiatic
tablelands, Persia on the east and Asia Minor on the west. In the
brief survey to which I proceed of the plateau region within the
Russian frontier it is necessary at the outset to remark upon some
of the idiosyncrasies which distinguish Armenia as a whole from the
other members of the series. There is in the first place the far
greater elevation, investing her territory with the attributes of a
roof to the adjacent countries, from which the waters gather to be
precipitated in different directions, and to find their way not only
to the Black Sea and the Caspian but also by almost endless stages to
the Persian Gulf. The prominent part which has been played by recent
volcanic action is another and not less impressive phenomenon. Which
of her neighbours could compete with her in this respect? Where could
one meet with an Ararat, a Sipan and a Nimrud, to say nothing of an
Alagöz and a Bingöl? Both these manifestations are exemplified in a
striking manner by the surface features of the rectangular area of
the more northerly sphere.

The higher levels of this region are situated at an altitude of some
7000 feet above the sea. I am speaking not of the mountains but of
the plains. The uplands which give rise to the Kur in the district of
Göleh must come very near to this level. The parting of the waters of
the Kur and Araxes near the village of Shishtapa, in an open landscape
which may be compared to rolling downs, lies at about 7000 feet. Lake
Chaldir has an elevation of 6522 feet; while of the smaller sheets of
water Lake Toporovan, with 6876 feet, and the Arpa Göl, with 6706 feet,
slightly better this already considerable figure. Where the plateau
falls away to the abysmal cañon of the Araxes its edge is nearly 6500
feet high. The town of Ardahan stands at a level of 5840 feet and Kars
of 5700 feet. Alexandropol, the principal city, occupies the hollow of
a vast basin-like plain; yet it is over 5000 feet above the sea. These
elevations are much greater than the average even in Persia, though
they are to a certain extent maintained in the frontier province of
Azerbaijan and along the edge of the southern peripheral mountains
(Tabriz, 4650 feet; but Tehran, 3800 feet; Ispahan, 5070 feet).

The process of gradual uplift of the region by earth movements has been
attended by eruptive action, flooding the country with volcanic matter,
levelling inequalities of the ground and adding to the height. It has
been estimated that the volcanic deposits laid bare in the ravines of
the streams which descend from the radial Dochus Punar attain a depth
of hundreds of yards. [420] A similar phenomenon is made manifest
in the cañon of the Araxes--a cleft which in the neighbourhood of
the village of Armutli, west of Kagyzman, has a depth of about 2000
feet and a width on top of at least a mile. [421] There the Miocene
sedimentary deposits are overlaid with tuffs and lavas in a belt over
300 yards deep. [422] The points of emission of volcanic matter are
in some cases true volcanoes, in others mere pustules or fissures
of varying extent. One or other of these features is never absent
from the landscape. But the fires are extinct; the viscous seas have
long been solid; not a breath of smoke rises from the stark summits
which erewhile were wreathed with vapours reflecting the glow of the
flames beneath.

The distribution of such shapes due to volcanic agency may often appear
arbitrary to an unpractised traveller. Here a group of stately forms
resembling the giants of a forest, there a number of insignificant
eminences representing the small fry. All will be found to be subject
to definite and ascertainable principles, the nature of which becomes
clearer at each step forward of scientific research. Perhaps the
most interesting principle which we see operative in this region is
the outcrop of volcanoes along meridional lines. Such groups pursue
a course at right angles to the strike of the rocks within the area
of the peripheral mountains. In this connection we may recall the
fact that the plateau region with which we are dealing occupies the
apex of the bend over of the inner arc. Lines of fracture have been
thrown out at right angles to the folding, and eruptive agency has
fastened upon these weakened zones of the earth's crust. Not only may
these lines be traced on the west and east of the plateau, of which,
indeed, they have largely determined the shape, but also well inside
of the marginal districts. In the west we have the Soghanlu group
stretching north to Allah Akbar (10,218 feet), whence the direction
is continued through the Ueurli Dagh (9055 feet) and the Arzian Dagh
to the Chibukh-Naryn-Bashi Dagh. There the volcanic water-parting
effects a junction with the Akhaltsykh-Imeritian chain in the ridge of
the Sakulaperdi Dagh. In the east we have already followed the row of
marginal volcanoes from Tawkoteli to Karakach. Inside these series we
recognise this same north-south direction in the Abul-Samsar system,
in the mountains on either side of Lake Chaldir, and, lastly, in the
connection which we can scarcely err in assuming between the Kisir
Dagh, overlooking the westerly shore of this lake, and its neighbour
on the north, the Dochus Punar.

Compared with Alagöz and Ararat even the absolute height of these
mountains may be termed insignificant. The lofty level of the
plains from which their slopes gather robs them of several thousand
feet. Great Abul, with an altitude of nearly 11,000 feet, rises from a
plain which itself lies at an elevation of 5500 feet. The dome-shaped
vaultings of the Soghanlu Dagh near some of the sources of the Kars
river are almost entirely shorn of their considerable stature by
the height of the adjacent downs. In such surroundings the mountains
appear to the eye as little more than hills.

The rivers as a rule flow in deep cañons which they have eroded in the
volcanic soil. Their head waters meander over grassy downs. Temperately
they thread their way over the uplands or in the cañons, except where
blocks of lava may have tumbled into the trough, causing the stream
to wreathe and hiss. You pass from district to district either along
such natural avenues, with the towering cliffs, for the most part
bare, on either hand; or, emerging from the weird scene within the
hollow, over the surface of almost limitless plains. Not a tree in the
landscape, and only patches of fallow and stubble, without a boundary,
with rarely a village discernible from afar.

From time to time you may obtain a glimpse of the peripheral
mountains--serrated summits, bush-grown slopes. These contrast to
the soft convexities of the forms about you and the vaultings of
the volcanic eminences. The surface of the friable soil is devoid of
wood and almost of vegetation; and the volcanic matter of which it is
composed produces tints of pink and ochre upon which the shadows lie
transparent and thin. The rarefied atmosphere of these high regions
braces the faculties and sharpens the senses; and whatever clouds may
have climbed the barrier of the peripheral ranges are suspended high
in the heaven, seldom obscuring the brilliant sun. During winter the
land is covered with snow.

It is a country admirably adapted to grow cereals. The plains
through which the Arpa Chai (grain river) eats its way to the
Araxes constituted one of the granaries of Armenia in historical
times. [423] At the present day they have not recovered from the
devastations of the Mussulman peoples, and the Russians are jealous
of allowing the Armenians a free hand. Extraordinary fertility is
induced by the intermixture of the lavas with alluvial or lacustrine
deposits. The black earth of the plains about Akhalkalaki is famous
[424]; and the soil in the neighbourhood of Alexandropol derives its
richness from the incidence of a peculiar kind of lava side by side
with the sediment of a former lake. The southerly extension of these
vanished waters is marked by the belt of high ground extending from
Alagöz across the plains to the Arpa Chai. The river has forced its
way through this elevation between Ani and Magaspert. [425]

Other effects of the violent disturbance to which the region has been
subjected are manifest on a large scale. Thus all the way from the
Soghanlu Dagh on the south to the neighbourhood of the mountains of
the Ajars on the north the ground has fallen away to the labyrinth
of valleys which feed the Chorokh by what geologists would call an
extensive fault. The edge of the plateau region stands up boldly upon
that side from the levels adjacent on the west. A still more recent
earth movement may be represented by the uptilt towards the north-east
of a considerable block of country lying between Kars and the junction
of the Arpa with the Araxes. This phenomenon, which recalls a similar
occurrence in the Trialethian district, has occasioned the curious
course of the stream of Kars, which, rising in close vicinity to the
flood of the same river to which ultimately it becomes tributary,
pursues a course almost at right angles to that of the Araxes for
a distance of thirty miles. To the same cause is in part due the
extraordinary elevation of the levels along the left bank of the
Araxes between Armutli and the confluence of the Arpa Chai.

Besides the last-named stream this lofty stage of the Armenian
tableland gives birth to one of the great rivers of western Asia. The
Kur rises from the highlands on the south of Ardahan, between the wall
of mountain which overlooks Lake Chaldir on the west and the rim of the
plateau region. In Turkish times this district constituted a separate
fief, and was governed by a hereditary prince of Georgian origin who
resided at Urut. The name of the district, Göleh, still figures on
the Russian maps. It is subject to a rigorous climate, the snow lying
during eight months in some years. Only the hardiest of the cereals
come to maturity; yet the olive and the pomegranate flourish in the
valley of Artvin, but thirty miles distant, and even at this altitude
and during winter the rays of a southern sun temper the cold. One of
the principal arms of the river comes from the south-west, and is named
the river of Ardahan; it is joined by four considerable tributaries,
of which the most easterly is said by Koch to have been known to the
inhabitants under the name of Kyürr. [426] Even at the present day the
Kur is called the river of Ardahan until its entry into the passage of
Borjom. The basin from within which these various branches gather has
a length which may be computed at eight hours' journey on horseback
and a breadth equivalent to about six hours. It abounds in springs,
and marshes cover its floor. Below Ardahan, where it skirts the base
of the Dochus Punar system, the Kur threads a narrow valley, deeply
buried in the volcanic soil. So it flows past the grottoes of Vardzia
and the Devil's City at Zeda Tmogvi, augmented by small affluents of
which the largest is the Karri Chai. At Khertvis it is joined by the
Toporovan river, bringing the drainage of the districts on the east,
and swirling into the channel with foam-shot waves. The united volume
dwells for a short space in wider landscapes, until it pierces the
extreme base of the Sanislo branch of the Trialethian mountains,
and is again confined in a narrow valley. Thence it issues upon the
plains about Akhaltsykh, receives assembled tributaries from the
northern border range, and disappears into the gorge of Borjom.

II. A traveller coming from Alexandropol down the stream of the Arpa
or along the valley of the Abaran, further east, can scarcely fail to
become sensible of an appreciable change in climate and scenery by the
time he shall have rounded the colossal pile of Alagöz. It is not,
indeed, a new country or a new clime. The shapes which rise on the
skyline are due to the same volcanic agency which has imprinted its
character upon the northern landscapes. The shelving away of the ground
to the basin-like depression which receives the Araxes recalls similar
surface features in the northern districts. The rays of the sun fall
from a heaven which remains blue. Clouds are still floating upon the
azure, or are suspended upon the higher outlines. What has changed is
the scale and intensity of the phenomena. The hills have given place
to great mountains, the down-like expanses to one vast area of sloping
ground. Into those dreamy spaces sweep the forms of the landscape,
circled round them for a visible distance of some sixty miles.

The valley of the Araxes from the neighbourhood of Sardarabad to that
of Julfa--a space of over a hundred miles--composes nearly one-half
of the more southerly sphere of north-eastern Armenia. We are already
so familiar with its overpowering individuality that it would be
turning finished ground to describe it anew. For many a mile it is
only confined at an immense interval by the fabric of Ararat and the
pile of Alagöz. But, even when the river--a ribbon in the expanse--has
already distanced the Little Ararat, the folds of the landscape are
ample into which it descends. Volcanoes on such a huge scale as these
two Armenian giants could scarcely be expected to rise save on the
margins of a great depression, whether subsidence may have been the
cause or the effect. To the 7000 feet of the plateau region on the
north this basin-like plain opposes a maximum elevation of 3000 feet
and a minimum of something over 2000 feet.

The vine flourishes and is cultivated in these plains of the Araxes,
and fields of castor-oil plant grace the ground. Such oases with
thriving villages soften the lap of the landscape, and diversify the
wide stretches of rich but idle soil which the network of trenches
with their fertilising waters have not yet reached. Irrigation rather
than rainfall is here the productive agency; and, indeed, this valley,
with a yearly rainfall of only about six inches, is probably the driest
throughout Russian Transcaucasia. The storms of the Pontic region
spend themselves before reaching this haven; but they beat against
the volcanoes of the meridional water-parting on the easterly margin
of the more northerly sphere. Even at Alexandropol the yearly rainfall
is almost three times as great as in the neighbourhood of Ararat. And
while the climate of the city on the Arpa may compare with St. Lawrence
in North America, that of Erivan resembles Palermo or Barcelona. [427]

On the north of this most extensive depression of the surface of
Armenia lies the plateau region supporting Lake Gökcheh. The axis or
greatest length of that expanse of sweet water lies about parallel
to the course of the Araxes, to which it sends a tributary varying
in volume with the season of the year through a trench-like passage
at its south-westerly extremity. [428] On the north the lake is
confined by a long ridge of the peripheral mountains, and its lofty
level (6340 feet) is held up by the volcanic plateau of Akhmangan,
acting as a dam on the side of the low-lying plains. The Akhmangan
region consists of a gently vaulted platform, interrupted by a series
of volcanic eminences extending over a distance of nearly thirty
miles. Several of their cone-shaped summits attain a height of nearly
11,000 feet, and one, the Akh Dagh, of close upon 12,000 feet above
sea-level. An absence of springs, due to the nature of the volcanic
rock, is characteristic not only of this region but also of that part
of the neighbouring Karabagh country which lies within the embrace of
the two mountainous zones. [429] In this respect it contrasts to the
well-watered and wooded retreats of the district of Darachichak to
the west of the lake. The wealthier citizens of Erivan take refuge
in those pleasant upland valleys when the plain of the Araxes has
become a furnace under the rays of a midsummer sun.

The area of the country comprised within the two spheres of which I
have been speaking is about 20,587 square miles. With the exception
of a narrow strip on the right bank of the Araxes, measuring 1518
square miles, the entire territory--more than commensurate with that
of Servia--lies within the dominions of the Tsar.



CHAPTER XXII

STATISTICAL AND POLITICAL


The solid block of territory over which Russia now rules on the
tableland of Armenia is neither a new acquisition nor the fruit of a
single conquest. At the commencement of the last century she gained a
foothold upon it by the voluntary accession of the Georgian kingdom
and its constitution into a Russian province in 1802. This event,
the outcome of the folly of the Mussulman powers, who had driven
the Christians to despair, was followed by the rapid expansion of
the northern empire in these countries as the result of successful
war. Karabagh was taken from Persia in 1813, and the important khanate
of Erivan in 1828; from Turkey, the district of Akhaltsykh in 1829, and
the fortress and province of Kars in 1878. Appearing as a deliverer of
the Christian peoples and profiting by their aid, Russia has succeeded
in advancing her border beyond the Araxes and to the threshold of
Erzerum, and in establishing herself behind a well-rounded frontier
which comprises the venerated mountain of Armenia as well as the seat
of the supreme spiritual government to which the Armenians bow.

The Armenian provinces constitute a part of the great administrative
system of the Caucasus, which is presided over by a single
Governor-General. Formerly it was usual to appoint a Grand Duke to this
important post, who exercised, not without advantage to the country,
a very large measure of personal initiative. At the present day
it is occupied by a nobleman of high rank; but his administration
has become much more intimately connected with the bureaucratic
machine which is worked from St. Petersburg. He remains, however,
the principal civil and military authority in the Caucasus, which
consists of no less then twelve Governments, and is divided into
North Caucasus and Transcaucasia. North Caucasus is composed of the
Governments of Kuban, Terek and Stavropol; while the Governments of
Chernomorsk (a narrow strip of coast at the foot of the Caucasus range
between Novorossiysk on the Black Sea and a point a little north of
Pitsunda), Kutais, Tiflis, Zakataly, Daghestan, Baku, Elizabetpol,
Erivan and Kars are embraced under the title of Transcaucasia. Five of
the Governments, namely Kuban, Terek, Daghestan, Zakataly and Kars,
are still in the military stage of administration. The territories
of North Caucasus lie quite outside the scope of the present work;
and the Government of Daghestan ought more properly to be classed
with the Northern Governments, lying as it does to the north of the
main ridge of the Caucasus range. To the same category belong certain
districts of the Government of Baku; but for statistical purposes it
is advisable to retain them under Transcaucasia, in order to preserve
the unity of the Government. On the other hand, the little Government
of Chernomorsk may either be left out of account, or be included under
North Caucasus. Transcaucasia will thus consist of seven Governments,
of which the names and population, according to the two last censuses
of 1886 and of 1897, are exhibited in the following table. I must
explain that the figures of 1897 have not yet been split up into the
different racial elements of which the populations of the various
Governments are composed.


TABLE I.--Population of Russian Transcaucasia (including Russian
Armenia)

+-----------+-----------+-----------+-----------+---------+----------+---------+
|Government | Pop. 1886.| Armenian  | Pop. 1897.|Square   | Pop. per | Pop. per|
|           |           | Pop. 1886.|           |Mileage. | sq. mile | sq. mile|
|           |           |           |           |         | 1886.    | 1897.   |
+-----------+-----------+-----------+-----------+---------+----------+---------+
|Tiflis[430]|   875,429 |  211,743  |  958,775  |15,305.4 |  57.2    | 62.643  |
|Erivan     |   670,405 |  375,700  |  804,757  |10,074.75|  66.54   | 79.878  |
|Kars[431]  |   200,868 |   44,280  |  292,498  | 7,307.29|  27.489  | 40.028  |
|Kutais     |   923,306 |   16,399  |1,075,861  |13,967.5 |  66.1    | 77.026  |
|Elizabetpol|   728,943 |  258,324  |  871,557  |16,720.5 |  43.6    | 52.125  |
|Baku       |   712,703 |   55,459  |  789,659  |15,094.59|  47.216  | 52.314  |
|Zakatal    |    74,449 |      521  |   82,168  | 1,542.04|  48.28   | 53.285  |
|-----------+-----------+-----------+-----------+---------+----------+---------+
|Total      | 4,186,103 |  962,426  |4,875,275  |80,012.07|  52.318  | 60.931  |
+-----------+-----------+-----------+-----------+---------+----------+---------+


The admirable volume of statistics for Transcaucasia which we owe
to the labours of M. de Seidlitz, and which was published at Tiflis
by order of the civil government in 1893, supplies us with the most
detailed information concerning these Russian provinces--the numbers
of the different races and of the votaries of the various religious
sects, and how the inhabitants may be classed and labelled as nobles
or clergy, as tradesmen or as tillers of the soil. The figures are
derived from the census of 1886, and we are thus presented with a
fascinating statistical picture of the country towards the close
of the nineteenth century. I do not propose to spoil the effect of
his ingenious combinations by transferring them to my own pages in a
mangled form; or to forestall the pleasure which the perusal of his
serried columns is sure to bring to every well-regulated mind. But
their aid will be useful, and indeed indispensable, in fixing upon a
surer foundation those more general conceptions and conclusions which
are suggested by the experience of travel. The country immediately
on the north of the Armenian tableland--the plain of the Rion on the
north-west, and the wide trough of the Kur on the north--is inhabited
by various branches of the Georgian family and by settlers of Tartar
race; while the Caucasus itself, the northern boundary of the whole
geographical system, contains within its countless recesses an Homeric
catalogue of nations whose names it is difficult to pronounce and whose
languages are as mysterious as their names. Of a total population
in Transcaucasia of 4,186,000, the Armenians numbered upwards of
962,000 souls in 1886, or a proportion of nearly one quarter. But
the importance of the Armenian element must be measured not so much
by its numerical strength as by the solidarity of the Armenian people
when compared to the peoples among whom they live. The Armenians are
little divided by religious differences; the Roman Catholics are a
mere handful among the solid ranks of the Gregorians; and the Gregorian
Church is not only the symbol of national existence, but the stronghold
of national hopes. Two other races in Transcaucasia slightly exceed the
Armenians in number; the Tartars with 1,139,000, including Daghestan,
and the different divisions of the Georgian family who number over a
million souls. But the bitter religious antipathies of Sunni and Shiah
divide the Tartars, and the Georgians are in a period of transition
from their old feudal system to a new and more settled social order,
while the union of their Church with the Orthodox Church of Russia
has deprived them of the natural rallying point for that community of
sentiment which is based on a consciousness of race pride. Should the
Russians become possessed of the Armenian provinces of the Turkish
Empire, the most numerous as well as the most solid of the elements
of population in Transcaucasia will be furnished by the Armenian race.

The distribution of the Armenians within the present limits of Russian
Transcaucasia, but outside the area of the Armenian tableland, may
be pr