Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

THE CRIMEA :

ITS ANCIENT AND MODERN HISTORY.

CHAPTER 1.

THE PENINSULA AND ITS WATERS.

GEOGRAPHY AND WAR. — GENERAL NOTICE OF THE

CRIMEA. — PENINSULAS OF KERTCH AND ARABAT. — TKE BLACK SEA. - ITS ANCIENT AND MODERN NAMES. - OVID AND TERTULLIAN. — CHARACTER OF THE NAVIGATION. — SEA OF AZOF. -THE PUTRID SEA. — STRAIT OF KERTCH. — MUD VOLCANOES. — FISH OF THE EUXINE. — THE SALGHIR RIVER. — THE ALMA. --- THE TCHERNAYA RETCHIA. - SALT LAKES. - MUD BATHING.

WHATEVER may be the political issue of the present exciting war, one result has already accrued from it, not designed by either of the belligerent parties — the improvement and extension of geographical knowledge. “My Lords” of the Admiralty have had their charts of the Baltic and Black Seas in no slight degree corrected and amplified by the surveying

B

ships of the squadrons, and are now acquainted with the position, contour, capabilities, and dangers of many a fiord and inlet, before not known at all, or inaccurately delineated. Not a few also among the educated classes of society have received enlightenment respecting various localities, so as to form definite ideas of their configuration and features, with which aforetime they were only verbally familiar; while the names of countries and places, of seas, shores, rivers, straits, and islands, have become household words to tens and hundreds of thousands, who were profoundly ignorant of them eighteen months ago. Who has not heard and talked of the Crimea, of Sebastopol and Balaklava, Perekop, and Eupatoria, Inkerman and the Alma? Nobles in their palaces, squires in their halls, peasants by their hearths, artizans at their craft, cottagers on lonely moors, and fishermen on dreary shores, have alike been hearing and repeating these terms, with an intelligent apprehension of their significance. But to a very large proportion of the community, at a recent date, the region to which they refer was a perfect terra incognita. If Sebastopol had then been mentioned, it would have been a dubious point to smine host” of the hamlet and his satellite the ostler, now enfranchised with competent ideas,

1

whether king or queen, man or woman, fish, flesh, or fowl, was the object intended. Journalising accounts of the passage of fleets, the march of armies, the hurly-burly of camps, and the stern tug of battle, with cheap plans of the seat of hostilities, have performed the office of the geographical instructor.

While information has thus been extended in western Europe respecting its eastern countries, the advantage has doubtless been reciprocated by the Orientals, at least to some small extent. Never since the days of Godfrey de Bouillon has Constantinople seen such a gathering of Europeans in its neighbourhood, as that which the passage of the Anglo-French fleets and armies through the Bosphorus presented to its inhabitants. The spectacle wrung many a Mashallah! Allah is great! from the cross-legged, coffee-sipping, chibouque-smoking, and apathetic Turks. Their ideas can scarcely fail to have been rectified and enlarged by it respecting the resources of the two great nations of the Giaours who so gallantly came to their aid against the overbearing Muscovite; while it may be surmised, that some knowledge of the home quarters of their occidental auxiliaries has been incidentally acquired. The subjects of His Highness the Sultan have not been famous for their geographical accomplishments. Even

no

members of the Divan have more than once made an amusing display of their deficiencies. Von Hammer relates, that when he was interpreter at Constantinople, in the year 1800, and it was proposed to bring an Anglo-Indian force to the assistance of the Porte, the grand-vizier stoutly denied the possibility of the undertaking, not being aware of any communication subsisting between the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. Sir Sydney Smith with great difficulty convinced him, by the exhibition of charts and other authorities, that the two seas are connected. Farther back, in 1769, when the Russian fleet for the first time made its way round western Europe, intent upon cruising against the Turks in the Greek Archipelago, the Divan positively refused to credit the tidings of the armament, gravely alleging that no maritime passage existed between the Baltic and the Mediterranean! When somewhat staggered in its incredulity, application was made to the Austrian government to prevent the passage of the ships by Trieste and the Adriatic! The counsellors of the Sultan are now better acquainted with the map of Europe, for through nearly half a century, the dangers with which the Ottoman Empire has been menaced, have enforced attention to it, especially to the whereabouts and means of its western nations, -topics which the present tremendous struggle must have illustrated more generally to the oriental mind. Not to deal unfairly, it may be remarked, that authorities on the Bosphorus have not been the only men in office at fault in their geography. It is within memory, that our own Colonial office sent out a document, the work probably of some new hand, not put into place by merit, in which one of our dependencies on the South American main was defined to be a West India island.

A brief description of the physical geography of the Crimea will appropriately precede a general review of its history.

The Crimea, formerly called Crim-Tatary, and in remoter times known by the designation of Taurica Chersonesus, is a peninsula on the northern shore of the Black Sea, projecting into it from the mainland of southern Russia. It forms part of the extreme south-eastern corner of Europe. The territory, henceforth of celebrity in our annals, lies between the meridians of 32° 45' and 36° 39' east longitude, and between the parallels of 44° 40' and 46° 5' north latitude; thus corresponding in its latitudinal position with the north of Italy and the south of France. It extends rather more than 130 miles from north to south by 170 miles from west to east; but the latter

« НазадПродовжити »