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Author of " Eastward to the Land of the Morning;" "The Kingdom of
'The White Woman"




Copyright, 1895,
By The Robert Clarke Company.



As I send these notes of last summer's journey out into
the world for better or for worse, he whose protection we
enjoyed for many months lies silent and cold in death
within the cathedral fortress of Peter and Paul.

From our entrance into his dominions at Wirballen
to our departure at Irkeshtan the power and protection of
the Czar were forever around us, and though at times it
seemed to one from America irksome to be so eternally
watched, yet I could not but feel with it all a sense of
security utterly impossible under any other power. The
face of Alexander III., as it smiled down upon us at
every point or post, through the Caucasus and Georgia,
over the Caspian Sea and Black Desert, at Bokhara the
Noble and fair Samarkand, at Tashkend and Osh, or in
some lonely outpost of the "Valley of Paradise," was for-
ever that of a friend.

The mere mention of the name of the " Little Father"
insured us protection in city or hamlet, on the steppes or


1 cell 28

vi Pi' e face.

the mountains, and when I wandered back from the deserts

of Western China, sick and weary, his painted semblance

banished a world of trouble. The journey was long and

full of interest, amongst people and cities but little known

to our western world. I venture, therefore, to hope that

these notes may afford, to those whose travels must be by

books alone, some small portion of the pleasure that my

wanderings have given to me.

M. M. S.

Cincinnati, December 25, 1894.


Chapter Page

I. St. Petersblrg, ....... i

II. Rlssi,\n Red Tape 15

III. Over the Dariel Pass, . . . . . 21

IV. TiFLIS, 42

V. En Route to Baku, ...... !;6

VI. The Oil Regions and the Caspian, . . 63

VII. Usin-ada. THE Portal OF Trans-Caspia, . . 74

VIII. The Plains of Turkistan, .... 81

IX. GoEK Tepe and the Desert of the Black

Sands 84

X. Bokhara the Noble, ...... 04

XI. Samarkand and the Kok Tash, . . . ng

XII. The Shah Zindeh and the Cholera, . 1^2

XIII. Over the Famished Steppes to Tashkend, . i6i

XIV. Ancient Kokand and Modern Margiiilan, 174
XV. OsH AND OUR Departure for the Mountains, 189

XVI. Through " Paradise" tothe DesektsofChina, 202

XVII. Ill in the Desert, ...... 221;



viii Contents.

Chapter Page

XIX. The Gates and Tablets of Tamerlane, . 25S

XX. The Deserted Cities of the Turkomans, . 274

XXI. Trebizond and the Cholera Lazarettos

OF SiNOPE, 2^)6

XXII. The Dying Czar, 301

XXIII. Stamboul as it was and is, . . . 304




Dost thou see on the rampart's hight
That wreath of mist, in the light
Of the midnight moon? O, hist!
It is not a wreath of mist ;
It is the Czar, the White Czar
Batyushka ! Gosndar !

Berlin, May, 1894.

SECURING the proper document this morn-
ing at the consulate of our country, I pro-
ceeded therewith to that of his Majesty, the
Czar, in order to assure my entrance at Wir-
ballen into Holy Russia, I had fully expected —
as of old — to be closely questioned as to whether
or no I was a Jew — whether my parents were
Jews, and if so, why so — but the fact that my
passport already bore the visa of the Russian

2 Trans- Caspia :

consul in New York caused its representative
here to arise and salute most profoundly, assur-
ing me that Holy Russia was as an open book
to me, and strongly hinting that our consul here
knew these facts when he made out my docu-
ments ; knew them when he demanded my fee —
1 6 marks; also suggesting that I return and de-
mand restitution. However, knowing that our
consul-general was at the time lying dead,
poor man, and that his " understudies" had done
their best, I pocketed my loss and moved on to
the frontier. There are two of us, "and we are
bound for the ridge-pole of the roof of the
world," the distant and gigantic Himalayas. It
is our intention — Russia and England consent-
ing — to pass, via Samarkand and Osh, to Gil-
git, in Cashmere. The way is long, and may
be hot and may be cold, but we shall go forward.
I carry with me letters from the Marquis of
Ripon to the Viceroy of India, and am assured,
also, of all the assistance I desire when I reach
St. Petersburg. De B. has gone forward, and I
must take the long ride to that city alone ; there-
fore, I decide for a two nights' journey instead

The Sealed Provinces of the Czar. 3

of two days. I can always sleep in a train, and
the way is deadly uninteresting. Though pass-
port restrictions are very great in Russia, I can
not but feel that I am well taken care of, and
that it w^ould be impossible to "disappear"
unless the authorities desired it. I am also
impressed with the knowledge that, if they so
desired, my disappearance would be most com-
plete — "gone" would be an excellent epitaph,
after which it would be well to place an interro-
gation mark. On setting out on a tour like this
in Central Asia, one can not but wonder what the
end will be. If you have ever gazed upon the
Himalayas, you will understand what it means to
penetrate those solitudes, and the place toward
which we are moving is beyoiid those solitudes.
The " Pamirs." Our route lies over the Cau-
casus and Caspian Sea — through Merve and
Bokhara to Samarkand, and thence into the
wilderness of plains and mountains to the south-
east, until the mountains be past and the roses
of Cashmere breathe us a welcome.

" Guide Abbas available for two months and
perhaps longer by arrangement." That is the

4 Trans- Caspia :

answer to our telegram sent from the chief city
of Holy Russia to the English consul at Odessa.
Abbas is a guide of experience, such as we will
need to pilot us through the vast solitudes of
the Pamirs and on downward into Cashmere.
We wire him to hold himself in readiness to
move at a moment's notice, though according to
the usual slowness of Russian officials Abbas
will have to possess his soul in patience for some
days at least. Russia is not anxious to have
even such disinterested persons as a Dutchman
and an American penetrate into those lands of
great and constant debate between herself and
the English Lion. However, we mean to go,
and have therefore moved on the powers that be
with all the collected artillery of the Holland
and American legations and embassies, both
here, in England, and in Holland. I am sorry
to say that my own government appeared, until
I Reached our embassy at London, both ignorant
and helpless. The honorable secretary of state
insisted upon it that no extra passport was nec-
essary, and I truly believe that such names as
Samarkand, Osh, Merve, Bokhara, Gil^it, Tash-

The Sealed Provinces of the Czar. 5

kend, and Kashgar, conveyed no meaning to his
mind. So, aside from the visa of the Russian
consul at New York, my passport left our
country without indorsement. Our ambassador
in London fully understood all the difficulties
and rendered me most useful assistance by pro-
curing letters to the Viceroy of India from those
high in authority in her majesty's government,
securing a passport from the Chinese minister,
and in many other ways. Our minister here in
Russia had already put the wheels in motion,
and I found on arriving that every thing would
be granted — at least that is the hope and belief
at present; and as B. has received every neces-
sary permit, there is no reason to imagine that I
shall be refused. At any rate, we have tele-
graphed Abbas to meet us at Tiflis, while we
shall go by rail to Vladikavkas, some seventy-
six hours to the southward — no very charming
prospect. There we shall take stage over the
mountains of the Caucasus to Tiflis. That will
be something grand ! From Tiflis we take the
train — seventeen more hours — to Baku, where

6 Trans- Caspia :

we cross the Caspian. But let us leave further
" itinerary " for the present.

We look forward to pleasant weather over the
Dariel Pass, as the spring here in Russia is a
month ahead of its usual time. The changes of
the seasons are very rapid in this land of the
north. To-day is, at noon, warm and balmy,
and yet but three weeks back snow lay thick on
the "Islands" — St. Petersburg's great pleasure
park, around which flows the majestic Neva, and
on one side of which the delicate spire of the
Cathedral of Peter and Paul rises from the
center of the terrible fortress prison of that
name. Under its shadow sleep the royal dead
of Russia from Peter down to Alexander II.
As we sit in the legation to-day, discussing
coffee and cigars with Mr. White, a brilliant
sun lights up the gold on the delicate spire of
the royal sepulcher, the green woods of the
"Islands" and dancing waters of this grand
river, shines over a scene of m.ost entrancing
beauty — so beautiful that one forgets that those
low red walls surround the suffering living
dead as well as the silent emperors. Those

The Sealed Provinces of the Czar. 7

walls of Peter and Paul encompass and entomb
more horrors than the Bastille ever did, and to-
gether with that other prison, the Schliisselburg,
some two hours away on the banks of Lake
Ladoga, constitute Russia's greatest fortresses.
To them the poor wretches are carried first, and
on any, and sometimes every, night while we are
sleeping, the midnight requisitions are going on,
separating dear ones, plunging them forever in
those great bastions, only to pass thence to the
grave, or worse than the grave — the mines of far

Some of the members of the diplomatic circle
claim that Russia is charming — in fact, the most
charming place in Europe for those of their rank
to live in. One man, from Switzerland, whose
duties are over, avows his intention of living
here the remainder of his life. That is as it may
be. Of course, I can not contradict him ; but
when I ask of the " people," he shrugs his
shoulders and claims that they are too debased,
too ignorant, and too stupid to care for advance-
ment, too sodden to be able to use greater
privileges if granted unto them. A century or

8 T7'ans- Caspia :

so may cnange this ; but now, knowing not of
their own misery, they have no desire for, nor
could they utiUze, any greater freedom. "And
what of those who have reduced them to this?"
"One must not criticize the Czar." The people
must not praise him, for that would imply a right
to blame him. The people must say nothing
and do nothing, otherwise the ScJdiisselbiLj'g,
Peter and Paul, the mines, and Siberia, death
having long since ceased to be a terror in
Russia. Yet it struck me upon my entrance at
Wirballan on Saturday, that the espionage and
restrictions were not nearly so great as a few
years since. My luggage was scarcely examined
at all, and I noticed that it was likewise with
crowds of the most suspicious-looking characters.
I could have smuggled no end of Nihilist litera-
ture and other contraband articles, and perhaps
the very fact that less attention is paid to such
things makes their authors less anxious to
introduce them. A constitution for Russia
was signed by the late Czar, and was to have
been promulgated in April, but his murder on

The Sealed Provinces of the Czar. 9

the 1st of March, 1881, ended all that. An-
archists, Nihilists, and their like will never suc-
ceed until they acknowledge that no good ever
comes from evil. Alexander was a noble, pro-
gressive ruler, and the people in Russia mur-
dered their own cause when they blew him to
atoms. Poor man ! He rests over there in
Peter and Paul near his broken-hearted father,
the great Emperor Nicholas ; while not far off
Catherine sleeps, dreaming somewhat of her
little German home, but more often of her many
lovers. On the tomb of the late Czar, Dolgo-
rouke keeps fresh flowers always, but his wife,
the lonely Empress, is remembered by none.

Apropos of this same Empress, there is a
story told by the guides of St. Petersburg — all
idle talk, perhaps, and almost too sad to repeat.
She was, as the world knows, a victim of con-
sumption, and had been exiled to Italy by her
physicians ; but her homesickness became so
great that she prayed hourly to be allowed to
return to Russia. Finally the Czar asked if it
were possible, and was told that, if a suite of

lo Trans- Caspia :

apartments could be arranged so that the tem-
perature would stand always as it did in Italy,
she miofht be taken home and migrht live there
for some months. So it was done. Rooms in
the "Winter Palace" were provided with triple
windows to keep out the cold, and the sufferer
was taken back. For a little while she was
happy, and then the terrible disease, stayed
apparently for a season, asserted itself, and her
sufferings became so great that her prayers for
death drove the Emperor to inquire how long
she would live if the cold were allowed to enter.
"Twenty minutes," was the reply; and the cold
was allowed to enter, and she died " in twenty
minutes," "utterly alone" — so the story runs.
The old guide babbled on as we wandered from
room to room of the vast pile, now into the
golden drawing-room, now into the vast white
throne-room, near which is that strange bust
of the great Peter. Finally he led us into a
small apartment, furnished like a soldier's tent,
while every here and there lay folded hand-
kerchiefs, on which I read in faded ink the
name "Nicholas." The garrulous old custodian

TJie Sealed Provijices of the Czar. 1 1

droned on and on, telling a story of how the
great Emperor, broken-hearted over the Crimean
War, had one day summoned to his presence an
obscure chemist of the city, and commanded him
to "furnish the Czar with a potion that would
end life quickly and painlessly." At first the
man refused absolutely, but he was told that the
" Czar " commanded it, and his life would be the
forfeit of a refusal. So it was given, and the
chemist, guaranteed safety, was conducted over
the border into Germany, where he shortly was
found "dead in his bed;" but in the meantime
"Nicholas" had been found dead, here on this
simple cot before us. Truth or fiction, I know
not, but such is the story. There is no fiction,
however, about that other terrible bed in the
room below it, where Alexander the Second was
laid after the explosion in 1881, and there he
died, and the traveler of to-day shrinks with
shuddering away from the blood-stained mat-
tresses. The gorgeous fetes and splendid court
functions pass away and are forgotten, but these
"shadows" forever abide amidst the gloomy
splendors of the Winter Palace.

1 2 Trans- Caspia :

Funeral ceremonies are something terrible in
this Greek Church. They buried on Friday last
a grand duchess. The diplomatic corps were
summoned at lo, and from ii a. m. until 2 p. m,,
all, from the Emperor to the lowest, stood on
the cold floors of Peter and Paul. One strong
soldier near the catafalque grew suddenly white
and rolled over. The Czar himself, and he only,
retired for an hour. No one ever sits in a
Russian church, so you can fancy the fatigue.
It is, however, a great sight to go, for instance,
to St. Isaac's, which to my mind is the grandest
church in Europe, and see the thousands of
worshipers, the large majority of whom are men,
standing or kneeling in silent prayer. I notice
that the people crowd up around the priests,
seeming to take actual part in the conducting of
the services. Off to one side a choir of magnifi-
cent voices roll out grand music, for no tone
save that of the human voice — God's instru-
ment — ever awakens the echoes of a Russian
church. The shadows were very thick in St.
Isaac's yesterday. Long rifts of sunshine lit up

TJie Sealed Pi'ovinccs of the Czar. 1 3

here and there some jeweled shrine or malachite
column. Tapers glimmered faintly before the
numerous Icons. Gold and silver, marble,
bronze, and lapis lazuli, glowed faintly or slum-
bered in darkness. The air was heavy with the
odor of incense, while over the thousands pros-
trate in prayer, one deep grand voice breathed a
benediction: "Peace be unto you; peace be
unto you." Verily one could almost fancy that
peace had come unto Russia, until, turning, they
caught through an open doorway a glimpse of
the distant " Peter and Paul."

St. Petersburg is a grand city as to distances
and general effect. Her river is superb, her
squares immense, her churches and monuments
surpass any in Europe ; but the architecture of
her houses and palaces strikes me as most in-
ferior. The Winter Palace is simply immense,
but neither grand nor beautiful inside or out.
The " Hermitage " presents a notable exception,
and is certainly a very pleasing structure, while
its portico stands unrivaled in Europe. The
caryatides thereon are colossal, and were carved.

14 Trans- Caspia :

I believe, by an uneducated Finn. If so, he
could give lessons to most of his craft on this
globe. I do not know their equal. But, how-
ever, as this is to be a journal of Asia, I will say
no more about this city of the North.

The Sealed Provinces of the Czar. 1 5


May 2 2d.

I HAD a sample of Russian red tape and
slowness to-day. My application for per-
mission to pass the Pamirs went in on Saturday
last. This is Tuesday. Yesterday was fete
day, Sunday ditto, to-morrow ditto. I went this
morning, with our military attache — a very nice

fellow, by the way — to General , to see

whether the permission could not be hurried
somewhat, as the weather here is nasty and we
want to get into the sunshine, of which we will
probably have more than enough before we

reach the Vale of Roses. General was

only approached after much formality and the
passing in review of many aide-de-camps.
However, we reached him at last — reached him
in his inner sanctum, surrounded by numerous
war maps of this terrible empire, conspicuous
among which were those of Turkistan and the
Pamirs. Of course, Russia absolutely controls

1 6 Trans- Caspia :

all that section, and the desired permit could be
given in five minutes and with few strokes of
the pen. Yet this comfortable official looked us
calmly in the eyes, knowing that he was deliver-
ing himself of nonsense, and knowings that we
were fully aware of that fact, and assured us
that the minister of war would be most happy to
ask the Governor-General of Turkistan for our
permission, but that it must be done by numer-
ous telegrams to that distant region, all of which
would take some days, and they had only been
at work on it " four." He would be happy to
do all he could, but we must await the pleasure
of those rulers of the Far East.* So we bowed
deeply and departed.

I know of no more dreary place for tourists
than St. Petersburg in bad weather, when the
rain is coming down in torrents. After one has
done the sights of the town, there is nothing for
it but to retire to one's hotel, which is far from
good, but good as Russian hotels go. I was
told by a foreign secretary, whom I met at

* The Governor-General at Tashkend, the Ameer of Bokhara, the
Governor of Askerbad, and the Governor of Osh.

The Sealed Provinces of the Czar. 1 7

dinner last night, that it was for strangers in
winter most desolate. If you do not possess
your own home and do not care for society, you
are dreary, indeed. The " Islands " are, of
course, closed, most of the bridges over the
Neva being taken away until the ice goes out in
April. There are but few cafes in the town.
The Opera and French theater form the stock
of play-houses, to get into either of which you
must be "booked" weeks ahead. Day com-
mences at 1 1 A.M. and ends at 2 p.m., when
darkness and the snows come down over Russia.
The rich who live here make life gay, but God
keep the poor! One can not but contrast these
wretched peoples with the happy, free-from-care
darkies of our Southern States. There is never
any music or banjo playing here. One never
sees a dancing bear surrounded by dancing
people. It is all sodden wretchedness for the
poor of Russia.

The authorities have delivered their ultimatum
as to an Englishman whom we still had hopes
of getting through. They will not allow him to
go under any circumstances. We had hoped

1 8 Trails- Caspia :

that he might be allowed to pass as a servant or
secretary ; but no, it must be given up, and
to-day's mail carries two letters to London that
will make him blue as indigo. It would have
been an excellent thing for one in his position,
an officer, to make the tour ; and then again, he
must be back at his Indian post in August, and
must now go via the oft-traveled route of the
Red Sea. I am warned by the authorities to be
careful and state upon every occasion that I am
an American ; and to-day I spent an hour plod-
ding the streets in a pouring rain in a vain
search for an American flag, and very odd it
seemed not to be able to find that of which
every child at home has dozens.

Desiring to secure the visa of the Chinese
minister, I sent my passport there to-day, only
to have it returned with the information that the
entire embassy had gone for a several days'
picnic to Finland. To-morrow will be another
fete day, during which nothing will be done, but
we shall move southward on Thursday, and wait
on the other side of the Caucasus at Tiflis, which,
by the way, means "warm spring." Even if one
misses the Pamirs, the Caucasus is well worth

The Sealed Provinces of the Czai'. 1 9

a journey of seventy-four hours by railway to
see, although a railway journey in Russia is flat,
stale, and most unprofitable.

May 25th.
News came last night from our legation that
Russia had granted my pass, but the same mes-
senger brought her final refusal to pass B., of
England. A telegram came from London that
my Chinese passport was also en route. So we
start to-morrow, and it rests now only with
myself and the good God as to whether I go
beyond Tiflis. We owe much to the kindness
of Prince G., who has given us several let-
ters and introductions that will prove of ines-
timable service, not the least being that to his
guide and servant near Osh, whose services he
has placed at our disposal, stipulating only that
we return hini from Bombay to Prince G.'s
estate in Odessa, and not allow him to go to
America, that Mecca of all the world.* Prince
G. has made the tour both ways, and, knowing
the route, has given us a tracer. We learn
that near Hunza Naga, to the north of Gilgit, we

* On reaching Margeland, we discovered that the man was in
jail for robbing his master.

20 Trans- Caspia :

may have some trouble. Therefore I purchase
another revolver, with which I have not the
slightest doubt I shall do myself more harm than
the enemy.

There is quite a discussion on between De B.
and myself concerning the time necessary to
make the passage from Osh to Gilgit. Prince
G. says " one month," De B. two and a half.
The latter would bring our arrival about Novem-
ber I St, or long after the snows had set in on the
mountains. If such is the case, I do not make
the trip. We are not explorers, and can not
give the world any information it does not
already possess. That being the case, I am
not disposed to risk a winter on the Himalayas.
On my part, this is supposed to be a pleasure
tour, and I do not think that could be called, by
the most enthusiastic traveler, " pleasure." It
will take us some time to get up our train of
ponies, etc., at Samarcand, and we must make
a detour to Tashkend to visit the governor-

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